Up-to-date coverage of the latest events in UK retail.

09:21am Laura Ashley confirms there is no takeover bid

Laura Ashley has confirmed there is no takeover bid on the table despite media speculation yesterday.

The Telegraph reported that businessman Michael Flack was interested in buying the struggling homewares and fashion brand and was set to approach Malaysian controlling shareholders with an offer.

Laura Ashley chair Andrew Khoo said: “As far as I am concerned, there is no takeover bid because there has been no approach whatsoever. If and when an approach is made, the board will discharge its duties as always and assess it on its relative merits.

”I would however like to state for the record that as major shareholders of Laura Ashley, we have no intention of divesting our controlling stake.”

Adding: ”Whilst I understand why potential parties would think we are significantly undervalued, I have complete confidence that we will be able to grow profitably and in a sustainable manner so as to create long-term value for our shareholders.”

07:40am Hammerson ramps up sell-off ambitions as profits fall

Hammerson has posted a decline in its full-year property values in what boss David Atkins described as “a tough year, particularly for the UK”.

The property giant recorded a 5.9% decline in its portfolio value to £9.9bn for the year to December 31, exacerbated by a 9.3% decline in its UK properties during the second half the year.

The group has unveiled plans to rev up its disposal programme as a result with a “portfolio wide review” and ambitions to sell-off £500m worth of properties.

Hammerson said this number could rise as it is currently in “active discussions on transactions with a total value of over £900m.”

07:24am Primark interim sales rise bolstered by UK

Primark has reported an uplift in sales at the half-year mark but like-for-likes slipped due to a slowdown in Europe.

The clothing retailer reported a 4% rise in sales year-on-year in the 24 weeks to March 2, although like-for-likes declined 2%.

The retailer said higher margins mean that its profits for the period will be “well ahead of the same period last year.”

The retailer’s UK sales rose 2% overall while like-for-likes were flat, as November’s low footfall was offset by strong trading during the rest of the period.

07:17am KKR mulls Asda swoop as Sainsbury’s merger stumbles

KKR is reportedly eyeing a bid for Asda under the direction of senior adviser and the grocer’s former boss Tony De Nunzio.

It is understood that the American buyout firm would appoint De Nunzio as Asda’s chairman if it were to make a deal to acquire the chain, according to The Sunday Times.

The private equity firm’s reported interest in the supermarket comes hot on the heels of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issuing provisional findings which highlighted “extensive competition concerns” about the proposed merger between Sainsbury’s and Asda last week.

07:15am The Body Shop full-year sales and profits climb

The ethical beauty specialist posted a 1.7% rise in to £797.5m in its 2018 financial year driven by a 1.8% increase in like-for-likes across non-franchise stores.

The retailer’s UK sales increased 2.3% during the period on a like-for-like basis, and were up 2.5% in the fourth quarter of the year.

The Body Shop’s full-year EBITDA climbed 62% excluding transformation costs, according to parent company Natura.

06:50am Superdry chairman Bamford prepares to step down

The clothing retailer’s non-executive chairman Peter Bamford is understood to have indicated that he will stand down by the end of the year, according The Sunday Times.

Bamford will have served nine years as chairman of the retailer by next January, the limit under corporate governance rules.

However, Superdry said at its annual general meeting last September that Bamford would stay for at least another year and added that the board retained “the discretion to invite Peter to continue to serve as chairman for a further period.”

06:49am Jack Wills looks to offload four stores

The fashion retailer, which entered into crunch talks with landlords in September in a bid to sidestep a CVA, is looking to assign leases for its stores in Brighton, Chester and Worcester to new tenants.

According to The Sunday Times the retailer, which is also looking to sell the lease on its store in Cheltenham, is understood to be seeking cheaper properties in these cities.