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

The Range snaps up Homebase stores

The home and garden specialist have snapped up seven Homebase stores across the country in an ongoing expansion plan for 2019.

Each site will create up to 80 new full and part-time jobs.

Plymouth will benefit from a new 70,000 sq ft “destination superstore” and head office opening in February housing its existing head office staff from another location in the city.

Founder Chris Dawson said: “The opening of our destination superstore and new Head Office in our hometown of Plymouth is a great achievement for the company and one that I, personally, am very proud of as it’s where it all began 30 years ago. All this taking place during our 30th Anniversary year makes it another very exciting 12 months for The Range”.

Unilever in race to purchase snack-food brand Graze

The consumer goods giant is close to securing a period of exclusivity to finalise details to purchase its parent company ND1T Limited, a source told Sky News.

Kellogg and Pepsico have also shown serious interest in buying the company, sources said.

If successful, the acquisition would be one of the first deals made under new chief executive Alan Jope- who replaced Paul Polman at the beginning of the year.

Shop prices rise in January

Shop prices increased at the fastest rate for almost six years in January, despite discounting during the month.

Food prices climbed 1.5% in the month.

Deflation continued in non-food with prices down 0.3%. However, that was the lowest rate of deflation since March 2013.

Apple posts quarterly sales fall

Tech and retail giant Apple has reported a sales slide in its most recent quarter.

Apple’s sales fell 5% year on year to $84.3bn.

Sales of Apple’s flagship product, the iPhone, were down 15% in the period and its price may be cut in some places.

The sales decline had been expected following an earlier warning from Apple, which partly blamed slowing economic conditions in China for the performance.

However the cost of its products, exacerbated by the strength of the US dollar, also impacted sales.

Central England Co-op unveils investment plans

Central England Co-operative is to open 10 new food stores and funeral homes this year.

The retailer said new and revamped branches are planned in Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Leicestershire, Cambridgeshire and Derbyshire.

Chief executive Martyn Cheatle said: “We are proud of the success of our business, especially with our continued good performance in a highly competitive and increasingly uncertain trading environment.

“We want to continue with that success and this is why we are committed to an ambitious growth and investment strategy during the next 12 months.”

M&Co cuts head office jobs

Fashion retailer M&Co is making 59 redundancies.

Most of the roles will go from the retailer’s head office, the BBC reported.

A spokesman for M&Co, which employs about 3,000 people, said: “Having undertaken a detailed, strategic review of the business over recent months, an increased focus on our fast-growing e-commerce operation and further investment in IT are key priorities for us.

“We are a strong, robust and profitable business but we must reduce our central overhead costs to ensure we maintain and build upon that hard-won position.”

“These latest changes, whilst regrettable, are vital to ensure we are in the best possible shape to capitalise on the future developments in our sector.”