Retail news round-up: The Hut Group’s takeover of US firm, August footfall up due to tourist influx, and John Lewis’s pension hole problem

Retailers outside London to wait years for rates benefit

Retailers outside London hoping for business rates cuts of as much as 44% could have to wait for years before they feel the full benefit, experts have revealed.

The government will unveil its initial view of revised charges at the end of the month and bills are expected to be sent out in March, This is Money reported.

CBRE’s senior director for rating Tim Attridge said: "The upward relief would be phased in, possibly over years, and help retailers cope in places where there will be big increases. But the government then has to recover what it loses from within the system, which means other areas could carry the burden. Smaller businesses might well suffer if there is a transitional delay."

The Hut Group set to snap up US dieting firm Ideal Shape

Beauty etailer The Hut Group is poised to acquire US-based dieting and sports nutrition brand Ideal Shape as it continues with its expansion, according to Sky News.

The online retailer, which is thought to be paying in the region of $100m for Ideal Shape, will reveal its acquisition in the coming days.

Ideal Shape is focused on female consumers and is growing revenues by more than 250% annually.

The Hut Group is understood to be financing the purchase from its existing financial resources.

High-street footfall up in August, driven by tourists

UK high-street footfall rose 0.1% year-on-year in August due to an influx of tourists and a return of the 'staycation' in the country as 5.1 million Brits decided to holiday at home over the bank holiday weekend, The Guardian reported.

It is only the third time that the footfall has increased this year, according to the British Retail Consortium and Springboard survey.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “High streets were the real winner in terms of the destinations we were favouring this month. They saw footfall rise a healthy 1.1%. This compares with a fall in retail sales for the same period.”

Springboard’s insights director Diane Wehrle said the increase in footfall was driven by more visits to high streets after five in the evening.

The only increase in footfall during daytime trading hours was in retail parks, where it grew 0.4%. Footfall in shopping centres slipped by 1.9%.

John Lewis in £1.5bn pension deficit challenge

John Lewis Partnership is facing a "nigh on impossible" task to cut its increasing pension deficit, which rose by £512m in six months owing to its partnership structure, This is Money reported.

Pensions consultant John Ralfe said the department store retailer faces an unusual conundrum because staff control the business and are unlikely to be supportive of action that might cut their pensions.

Ralfe said: "No one is going to vote to cancel Christmas. The shareholders are the current employees, so it is nigh on impossible for the management to do what other companies have done. Simply by keeping the scheme open they are continuing to dig themselves into a hole."