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

7:22am Findel garners Schroders support as it fights off Ashley

Online shopping retailer Findel has won the support of its second largest shareholder, institutional investor Schroders, in a showdown with Mike Ashley.

Ashley, who is Findel’s majority shareholder, made a formal bid retailer for the last month having struck a supply chain deal with it in 2018.

Findel published a letter from Schroders, in which the firm said it “remains supportive of Findel and its management team and the operational and financial progress that the group has made under the leadership of Phil Maudsley and Stuart Caldwell.

Findel rejected Ashley’s £139m offer last month, saying that the Sports Direct mogul had “significantly undervalued” the group at 161 pence per share.

7:09am Boots to open in store M&S exited due to debilitating business rates 

Boots is set to open in the former M&S store in Covent Garden, which the retailer closed last year blaming a rise in business rates for its exit.

M&S faced a rise of £500,000, or 40%, in business rates, bringing its total bill to £1.7m a year. Boss Steve Rowe attributed its exit to the rise.

Boots has signed a 20-year lease for the store, This is Money reports, which will set it back £3.3m a year in rent. The store will be the first of a string of upgraded shops being rolled out by boss Seb James.

7:05am Superdry row descends into ‘dirty tricks’ as more investors back Dunkerton

The battle for control of fashion retailer Superdry has descended into “dirty tricks” hours before investors choose whether to reappoint co-founder Julian Dunkerton to the board.

Lawyers for Dunkerton warned Superdry yesterday about making alleged defamatory statements about him to shareholders.

Law firm Debevoise & Plimpton reportedly issued the warning after chairman and chief executive

Peter Bamford and Euan Sutherland cited Dunkerton’s behaviour during his time at the retailer in a bid to persuade a shareholder to vote in their favour. The fight for control had become a “dirty tricks campaign”, a source told Sky News.

Dunkerton, who together with co-founder James Holder holds a 29% share, is expected to be supported by Schroders and Investec Asset Management, who hold just over 10%.

Earlier bids of support from Aberdeen Standard Investments and proxy advisors ISS and Glass Lewis have recommended backing  Dunkerton and Superdry respectively.

Retail Week understands that Dunkerton has added two more top 20 investors to his roster in recent days. The battle for control is on a knife edge with investors voting at 11:30am today.

John Lewis posts weekly sales fall

John Lewis & Partners total sales fell 13.7% in the week to March 30. A 25.4% decrease in electricals and home technology drove the decline, which also reflected strong sales in the comparable week last year due to the earlier fall of Good Friday and Easter Saturday, colder weather that drove footfall and promotions.

Sales of home products fell 19.7% but fashion sales advanced 3.9%, helped by purchases of Mother’s Day gifts.

At grocery stablemate Waitrose & Partners sales fell 9.9%, also reflecting the timing of Easter.