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

Intu suffers drop in footfall but rental income rises

Intu suffered a drop in footfall to its shopping centres last year but hailed “robust” growth in rental income.

Shopper numbers to the property giant’s malls decreased 1.6% in the year to December 31, 2018.

Intu said that, despite “a difficult retail and uncertain economic environment”, it registered a 0.6% uptick in like-for-like rental income. However, net rental income came in at £450.5m, down on the £460m it recorded the previous year.

Iceland Christmas sales fall despite ‘Rang-Tan’ ad storm

Iceland suffered a fall in sales during the crucial festive trading period despite the impact of its Christmas advert.

In a note to bondholders seen by the Financial Times, the frozen-food specialist said like-for-like sales were down 1% in the 16 weeks to January 4. Total sales increased 3.5%.

Laura Ashley warns on profits amid ‘market turbulence’

Laura Ashley has warned full-year profits will “fall short of market expectations” following “difficult” trading conditions in the first half of its financial year.

The homewares and fashion brand swung into the red, suffering a pre-tax loss of £1.5m during the 26 weeks to December 31. In the same period the previous year, the business recorded a £4.3m pre-tax profit.

Sainsbury’s-Asda merger on knife edge after CMA findings

Sainsbury’s £13bn merger with rival Asda could be blocked by the competition watchdog after it found “extensive competition concerns” surrounding the deal.

The watchdog will now either block the deal, or insist that the grocer sells off “a significant number of stores and other assets”, which could include one of the Sainsbury’s or Asda brands.

The CMA said it believed that it would be “difficult for the companies to address the concerns it had identified”.

Sainsbury’s boss Mike Coupe told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the CMA had “fundamentally moved the goalposts, changed the shape of the ball and chosen a different playing field.

“A UK plc with Brexit looming, and a completely unpredictable set of competition rules, who would invest in this country? This is just outrageous.”