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

Central England Co-op sales rise over Christmas

The Central England Co-op has posted an increase in sales over Christmas and New Year.

The society, which operates stores in 16 counties including Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire, said like-for-like sales rose 1.5% during the three weeks ending January 5.

In its core convenience estate, like-for-likes climbed 4.1%.

Christmas Eve proved to be the society’s busiest day of 2018, when it raked in £3.8m.

John Lewis sees weekly fashion sales grow

John Lewis & Partners has reported strong growth figures across its fashion categories, but said electrical and home technology sales were down.

The department store business said fashion sales for the week were up 7.2% in the seven days to January 19, compared to the same period last year. Electronic and home technology sales meanwhile were down 1%.

Total sales for the week were up 0.7% on the period in 2017.

By contrast, John Lewis’ sister retailer Waitrose reported a 2.8% increase in total sales excluding fuel for the same period.

This growth was driven by a 4% increase in sales of chilled and fresh produce and a 2% increase in ambient groceries.

Dixons Carphone sales advance over Christmsas

Dixons Carphone has posted group like-for-likes up 1% in the 10 weeks to January 5.

The retailer’s core UK and Ireland electricals business notched up a like-for-like increase of 2%.but at its mobile phones arm like-for-likes fell 7%.

More follows

Pets at Home posts Christmas sales rise

Pets at Home has reported a like-for-like sales rise of 5.1% in its Christmas quarter.

Retail like-for-like sales rose 4.7% and at its veterinary business like-for-likes increased 9.1%.

Retailers embroiled in cheap T-shirts row

Retail big names Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Mothercare use a factory in Bangladesh that paid the equivalent of 35p an hour to workers manufacturing Spice Girls T-shirts sold to raise money for Comic Relief, The Guardian reported.

Employees at the factory, who are mainly women, alleged they had been victims of verbal abuse and harassment as they worked shifts of up to 16 hours.

Tesco and M&S have started investigations and Mothercare said it would review the claims.

End Parliamentary Brexit ‘games’, urges BRC

Trade body the BRC has called for action to avoid a no deal Brexit following Prime Minister Theresa May’s statement to Parliament yesterday.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “For all the Parliamentary games over the last couple of months, we appear to be little closer to a solution, ready to be implemented before March 30 that ensures frictionless, tariff-free trade with the EU.

“And while Parliament remains fractured, the retail industry is united in saying that a no deal Brexit would be disastrous for both business and the public. If we want to avoid higher prices and less choice on the shelves, then Parliament must take steps to ensure we avoid a no deal scenario at all costs.

“While we welcome the Prime Minister’s offer of engaging with business groups, the first priority must be to ensure we have an agreement that can get us to a transition period.”

Aldi increases store staff pay

Aldi is to pay store assistants’ minimum hourly rates of £9.10 nationally and £10.55 inside the M25, from the start of next month.

The rates will rise after three years to £10.41 nationally and £10.89 in London. Staff previously earned £8.85 and £10.20 respectively.