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

High street benefits as Easter sun draws shoppers

Retail footfall climbed over the Easter holiday when shoppers hit the high street as the sun shone.

Footfall across all retail destinations was up 6.5% on Friday, 1.2% on Saturday and 8.4% by 12pm on Easter Monday.

The rise on Friday and Saturday reflected visits to high streets. Footfall to retail parks and shopping centres was down on both of those days.

Reiss posts earnings rise as it reins in discounting

Reiss has reported an uplift in sales and profits after it cut discounting and invested in operational improvements.

The fashion retailer posted a 21.3% increase in EBITDA to £19.3m in the 25 weeks to February 2.

Total sales at Reiss advanced 8.3% to £186.3m or, adjusting for a 53rd week in 2017, a rise of 10.1%

Superdry boss Dunkerton rips up predecessor’s strategy

Superdry co-founder Julian Dunkerton has reversed decisions made by his predecessor Euan Sutherland since his dramatic return to the retailer.

Dunkerton, who is Superdry’s interim chief executive following his election to the board and the resignation of other directors including Sutherland, has cancelled a childrenswear range and pulled out of a footwear licensing deal with Pentland Brands, the Sunday Times reported.

Debenhams sale process lambasted by Sports Direct’s Ashley

Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley has complained that the administrators of Debenhams are not conducting a “genuine” sale process.

Ashley, who had hoped to take control of the department store group before its collapse into administration, has written to the Financial Conduct Authority about his concerns, the Sunday Times reported.

He fears that restrictions imposed upon potential buyers of Debenhams could put them off from bidding.

British Land offloads Sainsbury’s stores

Property giant British Land has exchanged on the sale of 12 superstores from a joint venture with Sainsbury’s for £429m to Realty Income Corporation. British Land’s share of the proceeds will be £193.5m, which it said represented a “modest premium” to book value in September 2018.

British Land said it was “the latest example of how we are delivering against our clear long-term strategy” which includes “a smaller, refocused retail business. Retail is expected to comprise between 30% and 35% of British Land’s compared to around 50% at present.

The property firm has exchanged or completed on nearly £1bn of retail assets sales (of which its share is £646m) since April 2018.

Once the Sainsbury’s transaction completes, which is expected at the end of May, its superstores exposure will fall to 1.3% of its portfolio.

Angling Direct posts sales rise

Specialist retailer Angling Direct has reported a “record start to the year, with both the store network and e-commerce generating robust sales growth”.

Angling Direct reported store like-for-like sales up 29.5% in February and March, and overall sales were up 28.5% year on year. Online orders in January and February were up by 27%, year on year.

The retailer reported that it has just opened a shop in Nottingham, bringing its store count to 27.

Topshop’s Green offers flagship as pensions security

Topshop boss Sir Philip Green has proposed offering the flagship store on London’s Oxford Street as security to his Arcadia group’s pension funds as he seeks to restructure his fashion empire.

The tycoon aims to turn around Arcadia through a CVA and to halve payments towards its pension deficit

However the Sunday Times reported that a source close to the Pensions Regulator said the body has “pushed back hard” on Green’s attempts to lower contributions to £25m because of the controversy over the collapse of BHS, which he formerly owned.

CVAs push up store closure numbers

The number of chain-store closures is expected to rise above 1,000 as retailers adopt insolvency measures such as CVAs to avoid collapse, the Financial Times reported.

Debenhams, Arcadia, Paperchase and Monsoon are among those either planning or expected to implement CVAs, leading to the likely closure of more than 150 branches.

That is on top of more than 900 store closures in the past two years at retailers such as HMV, House of Fraser and Toys R Us, according to the Local Data Company