Retail news round-up on May 1, 2015: Woolworths staff lose redundancy fight, ex-Sainsbury’s boss King also faces prosecution and warm weather boosts sales at John Lewis Partnership.
Woolworths staff lose fight for redundancy
The European Court of Justice has ruled Woolworths staff who worked in stores with fewer than 20 employees are not entitled to collective redundancy.
The landmark ruling will have significant repercussions for the retail industry because it will make restructurings across multiple stores easier.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling ratifies the UK’s long-held view on the term “establishment” during redundancy procedures.
British retailers will now be entitled to retain the view that collective redundancy procedures are only triggered where an employer proposes 20 or more redundancy dismissals within 90 days at “one establishment”.
Former Sainsbury’s boss King also facing prosecution in Egypt
Former Sainsbury’s boss Justin King faces prosecution in Egypt in a fresh twist to the saga that has engulfed the grocer’s doomed expansion into north Africa.
King, who was Coupe’s predecessor as Sainsbury’s chief, was convicted of the same offence last year and handed a three-year jail term.
King’s conviction for “breach of trust” was overturned on appeal in February, but the public prosecutor in Egypt has since filed a fresh application to review that acquittal.
It comes after the retailer’s chief executive, Mike Coupe, was sentenced to a two-year jail term in absentia after being found guilty of embezzlement.
Sainsbury’s “strongly refuted” all the allegations and said Coupe had not been made aware of the court proceedings, which took place back in September.
Warm weather boost sales at John Lewis Partnership
Sales at John Lewis and Waitrose rose last week after sunny weather saw seasonal goods fly off the shelves at both retailers.
Waitrose sales jumped 9.5% excluding fuel to £123.56m, driven by shoppers snapping up “alfresco dining” options.
Unseasonably warm weather during the week ending April 25 drove up sales of charcoal for barbecues by 54%, while sales of picnicware and lunch boxes soared by 67% during the period.
Sales at John Lewis were up 1.1% as womenswear, accessories and beauty and swimwear all saw strong uplifts compared to the same week a year ago.