The varied fortunes of value retailers were brought into stark relief today by Store Twenty One and Aldi.
Store Twenty One fell into compulsory liquidation today after a drawn out process of belated rental payments and accusations by staff of failure to pay wages last summer.
A recent search for further investment failed to bear fruit and, as a result, the beleaguered value fashion retailer is shuttering its remaining 122 stores, resulting in 900 job losses.
The ongoing cost of business rates and pressure on retailers to fulfil national living wage cost hikes will have no doubt piled pressure on struggling businesses like Store Twenty One – although perhaps failing to keep abreast of the rapidly changing expectations of shoppers played a role in this business’ downfall.
On the other end of the spectrum, discount grocer Aldi unveiled plans today for a major recruitment drive to support its ambition to open 1,000 UK outlets by 2022.
The value grocer overtook the Co-op as Britain’s fifth-biggest grocer earlier this year, demonstrating that, if the offer is right, there is a sweet spot in the market to be found serving the cash-conscious customer.
Superdrug’s value stablemate Savers is another business that has benefitted from this trend.
Also today Marks & Spencer’s boss Steve Rowe downplayed the subdued performance of its food division in its first quarter results and overall retail sales rose, bolstered by warm weather and inflation.
Quote of the day
“The new management under chief executive Steve Rowe still look to be up against it, given the sheer intensity of competition in the mid-market in clothing, and the business still looks over-spaced on the high street.”
Independent analyst Nick Bubb, writing for Retail Week about Marks & Spencer’s results
Today in numbers
The number of new employees Aldi is aiming to recruit to drive its growth plan
Waitrose’s rise in weekly sales
Look out for value powerhouse B&M and luxury fashion retailer Burberry’s first-quarter results.
Grace Bowden, reporter