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

John Lewis Partnership’s weekly sales tumble

John Lewis Partnership total sales slumped 4.5% in the week to February 23 compared to the same week last year.

Waitrose and Partners total sales saw a decline of 4.3% in the same week compared to the slight increase of 0.1% for the same period last year.

Ambient and non-ambient sales were down 5.1% and 3.5% respectively while home and general merchandise saw a dramatic drop of 10.5%.

John Lewis and Partners total sales were down 4.8%. A slump of 6.9% in electricals & home technology sales and 9.5% in home sales both made an impact to the decline of total sales.

Total fashion sales advanced 1.1% while sales in menswear were up 3.3% due to the launch of six new independent menswear brands in ten stores and online.

Amazon launches 1,000 new UK apprenticeships

US technology giant Amazon has unveiled plans to create 1,000 full-time apprenticeships in the UK by 2021.

Applications for the new apprenticeships open in the first week of March. Successful applicants will be paid anywhere between £9.50/£10.50 an hour, up to £30,000 a year.

The apprenticeships will consist of nine different programmes lasting between 13 months and four years. They will cover roles in IT, safety and HR, through to software engineering, robotics, leadership and technology.

Harrods and Farfetch strike online partnership

Harrods has unveiled its strategic partnership with Farfetch for its new ecommerce platform due to launch in 2020.

Farfetch Black & White Solutions will work with the famous department store to create a “state-of-the-art” global online platform.

Wickes posts fall in profits

Profits at Travis Perkins’ retail division – DIY giant Wickes and specialist retailer Tile Giant – fell last year in “extremely challenging” market conditions.

However, trading at Wickes has subsequently improved and Travis Perkins reported “good momentum” at the business.

Hotel Chocolat reports first-half profits advance

Hotel Chocolat has reported an increase in interim earnings after delivering a strong Christmas.

The specialist retailer achieved sales growth across all channels – retail, digital and wholesale – and said that trading since the period end is in line with expectations.

MPs hope to quiz Green over NDAs

Arcadia tycoon Sir Philip Green and Karren Brady, chair of parent company Taveta, have been asked to appear before a committee of MPs over the use of non-disclosure agreements.

Steve Johnson appointed chief executive of N Brown

Home shopping group N Brown has named Steve Johnson as its new chief executive.

Johnson had held the post on an interim basis since September last yer, following the departure of Angela Spindler, and previously ran the retailer’s financial services division.

N Brown chair Matt Davies said: “Having conducted a thorough search process, the board is delighted to appoint Steve as CEO. As interim CEO he has shown the strategic thinking, pace, energy and focus which demonstrates that he is the best person to take the business forward. He brings a wealth of senior management experience across a number of large retail and financial services companies.”

Johnson said: “I am excited and honoured to be taking the permanent CEO role at N Brown. During the last six months I have had the opportunity to lead a passionate, talented and committed team. Together, we have made considerable operational and strategic progress which we look forward to building on.”

New owner to revamp ‘£1’ shopping centre

The new owner of The Postings shopping centre in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, intends to overhaul the mall which was put up for sale with a reserve price of £1.

Property company Evergold, which eventually paid £310,000 for The Postings, has “ambitious plans” for its new asset, The Scotsman reported

Evergold’s Tahir Ali said: “Our aim is to reposition and revitalise this centre to the benefit of the local community.

“There are some attractive units here with an existing footfall averaging 15,000 people per week and we are already in advanced discussions with various operators for the large unit formerly occupied by Tesco as well as entering into discussions with prospective tenants offering goods and services that serve the local community.”

Amazon to hire 1,000 apprentices in UK

Online powerhouse Amazon aims to bring 1,000 apprentices on board in the UK.

There will be nine apprenticeship programmes, lasting between 13 months and four years, including software engineering, robotics, technology and leadership.

Apprentices will be paid a starting rate of between £9.50 and £10.50 an hour, up to £30,000 a year.