Retail news round-up July 29, 2013: Tesco to introduce community rooms, Morrisons removes layer of management, Sports Direct contracts in spotlight

Tesco to introduce community rooms into its stores

Tesco plans to introduce community rooms into its stores, which will be used for Yoga classes, music lessons, and birthday parties.

The first Tesco community room is to open in its new Tesco Extra in Watford. The 600 sq ft room will be available for local people to book free of charge through the day, and will include tea and coffee-making facilities.

Morrisons to remove layer of management

Morrisons is looking at stripping out a tier of supervisors and middle managers at its 500 stores which could leave some seeing their roles change and others losing their jobs. The supermarket will test a series of different management configurations in the seven new stores, starting from November 2013, The Mail on Sunday reported.

Co-operative Group asks magazines to change covers with obscene images

The Co-operative has given publishers of lads’ magazines an ultimatum to cover them up in “modesty bags” or face having them removed from shelves across 4,000 stores.

Titles such as Front, Loaded, Nuts and Zoo - known for their pictures of scantily-clad models - have been given until September 9 to deliver the magazines in pre-sealed bags.

Harrods targets affluent women with luxury smartphone launch

Department store Harrods has partnered with Geneva-based jeweler Savelli-Genève to release a luxury smartphone designed with affluent women in mind, Luxury Daily reported.

Savelli-Genève handmade Google Android smartphones started selling in Harrods’ Fine Jewelery Room beginning July 27.  The smartphones are priced from $10,000-$120,000.

Ninety per cent of Sports Direct staff on zero-hour contracts

Sports Direct’s entire 20,000 part-time workforce are employed on zero-hour contracts not knowing how many hours they will work from one week to the next, with no sick pay or holiday pay, and no guarantee of regular work, The Guardian reported.

Recently, the sports retailer announced bonus of up to £100,000 to its 2,000 full-time staff claiming itself as a model employer. The paper reported that the bonus scheme rules give managers the power to exclude a member of staff if they are considered an “unsatisfactory performer”. About 20 current staff are known to have been excluded from the scheme already.

Tesco takes advantage of change in water regulations

Tesco has signed a deal with Business Stream, which was spun out from Scottish Water, to provide water at nine sites across England and Wales. The pilot could eventually be rolled out to Tesco’s entire UK estate of more than 3,100 stores, including sites that use less than five mega-litres of water, The Independent reported.

The recent change in water regulations, applicable from 2017, will allow English and Welsh businesses to have just one supplier across different regions without any restriction of minimum usage of water resulting in savings of £2bn over 30 years.