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

3.10pm M&S launches vegan-friendly range

Marks & Spencer has launched a new vegan range as it bids to tap into growing demand for “flexitarian” meals. 

The retailer’s Plant Kitchen range will feature 60 meat and dairy-free meals, salads, snacks and ingredients, including cauliflower popcorn and mushroom stroganoff.

April Preston, director of product development at M&S, said: “This is the year we’ll truly see plant-based food go mainstream.

“We’re thrilled we’ve created a range which tastes as good as you’d expect from M&S, but is also vegan-friendly, so finally people don’t have to compromise on taste.”

10.20am John Lewis festive sales rise

John Lewis & Partners has posted an increase in sales during the final two weeks of December, boosted by a “very strong” Christmas Eve performance.

The department store business said total sales rose 4.5% year on year in the week to December 29, following a 4.2% uplift in the week to December 22.

John Lewis said “strong” sales on December 24 and a “confident start” to its Clearance Sale, both online and in-store, contributed to the uplift in revenues.

Sister retailer Waitrose posted a 19.2% jump in sales during the week to December 29, although it said the figures were “heavily distorted” by the fall of Christmas and New Year.

The previous week, the upmarket grocer suffered an 11.8% slump in sales.

7.15am Greenwoods put into liquidation

Menswear retailer Greenwoods has gone into liquidation.

Greenwoods, which was 158 years old and had 40 shops, employed about 100 people.

At its height Greenwoods had about 200 branches. It fell into administration in September 2017, and was subsequently acquired by Versatile International Trading.

Signs in stores say: “All outlets of Versatile International Trading t/a Greenwoods Menswear have now closed for business permanently.”

7.00am Iceland in £21m dispute with HMRC

HM Revenue & Customs has accused Iceland of breaking minimum wage rules over a staff Christmas savings scheme.

The frozen food specialist could face a bill of at least £21m as a result, according to The Times.

Iceland chief executive Sir Malcolm Walker said the situation was “just madness”.

6.45am Mahabis hits the buffers

Onine retailer Mahabis has gone into administration.

The etailer, which sold own-brand slippers, was launched in 2014 and was thought to be valued at as much as £100m.

A message on the Mahabis website said: “We are very sorry to report that Mahabis Limited entered administration late on the 27th December 2018. We have, for the moment, ceased trading as the administrators take over the business.”