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

3.01pm Sainsbury’s CFO joins Centrica as non-exec

Sainsbury’s chief financial officer Kevin O’Byrne has been appointed a non-executive director of multinational energy and services company Centrica.

He will also become chairman of Centrica’s audit committee.

Rick Haythornthwaite, chairman of Centrica said: “Kevin brings a wealth of retail and finance experience and was previously chair of the audit committee at Land Securities Group plc.”

O’Byrne joined the Sainsbury’s board in January 2017 and was previously chief executive of Poundland.

1.22pm FSB: Clamp down on big business late payments

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) wants harsh new penalties for large companies that pay suppliers late.

The FSB wants the Prompt Payment Code, a voluntary system of rules governing payment terms, toughened up to stop large companies exploiting smaller ones.

The call comes one year on from the collapse of Carillion, which owed millions to suppliers.

FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: “The collapse of Carillion was a watershed moment that brutally exposed the shocking ways that some big businesses treat their suppliers.

“The construction giant used its dominant position to squeeze smaller firms with late payments and unreasonable payment terms in an attempt to shore up its own precarious position. These practices did not save them, and their failure has resulted in very real human consequences.

“Many small businesses were left with nothing for the hard work they had undertaken beforehand and given nothing in compensation after. Some didn’t survive.”

1.05pm John Lewis sees slight rise in weekly sales

John Lewis has posted a 2.5% year-on-year rise in sales for the past week (to 12 January).

The John Lewis Partnership’s sales for week 24 in 2018-19 hit £212.5m, up from £207.4m for 2017-18.

Waitrose & Partners posted a 3.7% increase for the same period, while John Lewis & Partners sales rose 0.7%.

Maggie Porteous, director, shop trade at John Lewis & Partners, said: “Total sales for the week were up 0.7% on last year driven by customers continuing to shop clearance offers and beginning to shop spring/summer ranges.

“Fashion sales were up 4.9%. Womenswear accessories had a particularly strong week with sales up 19.2%. Childrenswear, nursery and haberdashery also performed well with sales up 7.3%.

“Overall home sales were down 0.5%. Gifts, cook and dine had a strong week with sales up 8.2% on last year driven by clearance and Special Buy products. Furniture and flooring sales were up 2.5% on last year.

“Electrical and home technology sales were down 1.2%. Communications technology sales were up 7.1%, primarily due to strong demand for Apple products.”

Martin George, customer director at Waitrose & Partners, added: “Our fresh categories in particular saw strong demand for the week, as many customers stocked up on fresh and healthy food including our new stir fry bags, and our poultry and seafood ranges.

“Our vegan and vegetarian ranges had their biggest week of sales outside of Christmas. Many were looking for fresh convenience, with increased demand for packs of sushi and Good to Go salads.”

10.22am Games Workshop’s sales and profits rise

Tabletop gaming retailer Games Workshop reported a 14% increase in revenue for the half-year period to December to £125.2m, while pre-tax profit grew 7% to £40.8m.

The six months to June 2018 for the company – famous for its Warhammer franchise – saw pre-tax profits almost double to £74.5m, while revenue grew 39% from £158m to £220m.

Kevin Rountree, CEO of Games Workshop, said: “Our business and the Warhammer hobby continue to be in great shape.

“We have remained true to our long-term strategy, and once again delivered on our promise to produce and sell the best fantasy miniatures in the world, while engaging and inspiring our fans.

“We continue to strive to make the Warhammer hobby ever better. Exciting times.”

Boohoo posts strong Christmas sales

Online fashion group Boohoo has raised sales guidance for the year after a strong Christmas quarter.

Boohoo reported group sales up 44% to £328.2m in the quarter to December 31, when gross margin advanced 170bps to 54.2%.

Brexit woes for Build-a-Bear

US retailer Build-a-Bear Workshop has cut its full-year sales forecast because of political uncertainty in the UK.

The retailer said “unresolved issues related to Brexit” had “negatively impacted consumer confidence”, the BBC reported.

Build-a-Bear expects sales outside the US to be down by 17% to 20% “largely isolated to the UK”.

Build-a-Bear also said that the new European GDPR rules “impeded our marketing communications” and that sales of themed stuffed toys slipped because of “significantly fewer family-centric, character-based movies”.

Jigsaw reshuffles top team

Jigsaw’s interim chief executive Chris Stephenson, is stepping down after six months in the role and chairman Charles Atterton is to retire, Drapers reported.

Atterton worked at Jigsaw for more than 20 years in various roles.

Stephenson will take up a non-executive post at Jigsaw and HR director Toby Foreman will become interim chief executive.

Jigsaw’s UK like-for-likes rose 6.3% in the 10 weeks to December 22.