Retail news round-up on February 18, 2015: Topps Tiles’ media account; Outgoing Pandora chief; online sales decelerate; compensation and more.

Topps Tiles media brief goes to Universal McCann

Universal McCann Birmingham has won Topps Tiles’ media account after a competitive pitch. The media agency will be responsible for providing national and local support to the company’s 330 stores, including its new, smaller store format. This appointment news comes ahead of a marketing push by the British retailer that will roll out mid-March, The Drum reported.

Outgoing Pandora chief accepts £3.4m payoff

Danish jewellery retailer Pandora is to hand its departing boss Allan Leighton a pay​-off worth £3.4m. The cash and shares compensation payment, laid out in the brand’s annual report, is equivalent to more than three times his annual salary last year, according to The Guardian. Leighton, who is relinquishing his chief executive role next month, is lined up to be the Co-op Group’s new chairman. However, he will remain on the company’s board as co-deputy chairman​.

Online sales decelerated in January

British retailers saw online retail sales rise by just 7% in January compared to the same month last year, The Telegraph reported. This is well below the 12% growth forecasted by IMRG and Capgemini.

Alex Smith-Bingham, head of retail at Capgemini, said: “January’s Index shows that we have entered 2015 with steady growth in etail sales, with a shift in spending to categories such as travel, which offered differentiated promotions in January compared to previous months.

Despite the slowdown in sales, the average spend per transaction rose to £81 last month, the most in January since 2011.

Surge in compensation claims against retailers

Compensation claims against retailers have more than doubled in the last five years with claims-management companies targeting the sector. This has prompted retailers to pay larger insurance premiums and highlights another area of strain for the sector, according to a research by Axa. Last year, 45% of retailers faced a claim from employees, while 5.1% were targeted by the public. This is a dramatic increase from 23.6% and 1.9% in 2009.

Amanda Blanc at Axa said claims-management companies were targeting retailers after new regulations made it more difficult to make a profit from claims against the motor industry.

Scottish retail sales down 2.3% in January

Scottish retailers had got off to a ‘difficult start’ to 2015, with sales value last month falling 2.3% year on year. The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) has cited stronger economic growth and a sharper rise in house prices in other parts of the UK, notably London and south-east England, as possible reasons for the weaker retail sales performance in Scotland.

Value of non-food sales in January slumped 3%, recording the sharpest year-on-year decline in sales in this category since last September. Sales of entertainment electrical goods slowed, with January being a tough month for footwear retailers. Food sales value in Scotland also declined by 1.4% on a year earlier.