Retail news round-up October 3, 2013: Waitrose plots its Northern Ireland debut, Lakeland profits dip in 2012 as it invests in new stores and B&Q hires a digital and social media agency.

Waitrose planning its foray into Northern Ireland

Supermarket chain Waitrose is planning to enter Northern Ireland, with the first store expected to open within two years, according to the Belfast Telegraph. It is understood that the retailer is considering sites in Holywood, Belfast, Ballymena, Coleraine and Lisburn.

However, Nigel Keen, director of development at Waitrose denied any such immediate plans but admitted it remains a longer term aspiration.

Lakeland profits dip in 2012 as it invests in new stores

Kitchenware chain Lakeland has reported a dip in pre-tax profits to £6.2m in 2012 from £7.2m the previous year.

Sales increased 4% to £157.4m over the year.  

Lakeland, which employs 1,700 and has 65 stores across the UK, invested £5m in capital projects in 2012, mainly as a result of new store openings and refurbishments. The retailer also witnessed a 11% drop in telephone calls into its call centre as orders shifted from phone and post to the internet.

B&Q hires Zone to manage digital and social activity

B&Q has appointed Zone as its digital content and social business agency to better connect with customers. Zone will focus on digital content and will work alongside B&Q’s existing creative and media buying and planning agencies, Karmarama and MEC Global.