Lebanon: Asda is to launch its George fashion label in Beirut as part of its plans to extend the brand as a global franchise. Azadea Group will be responsible for George franchise stores across the Middle East. Said Daher, CEO of Azadea Group, said: “We are looking forward to its launch and development in the Middle East. We are certain that the new George stores will bring our customers a wide range of affordable and fashionable products.”
India: Third quarter profits have fallen 10% at Tata Global Beverages due to losses in its US coffee operations. The world’s second-largest maker of tea said profits fell from INR719.3m to INR640.6m a year ago. Sales rose 12% to INR17.9bn. “The US coffee operations have been impacted by high trade spends to gather higher volumes,” said MD Percy Siganporia. The company now plans to focus on acquisitions in the US and Russia.
United States: Murphy Oil, the US parent company of Murco, this week said it planned to prioritise the sale of its 457-strong UK retail portfolio, which has been on the market since July 2010. Its UK refining and marketing business racked up net losses of $33.3m in 2011, while global operations generated profits of $190.3m, up from $130.6m in 2010. “The sale of our two US refineries was a key step and we are now focused on the divestiture of the UK assets,” said president and CEO David Wood.
Nigeria: Civil unrest has depressed the outlook for Imperial Leather manufacturer PZ Cussons. African sales grew 14% to £162.7m in the six months to 30 November, helping the company increase total sales 10.5% to £414m over the same period. However, a state of emergency has been declared in a number of Nigerian states since Christmas and strike action over the abolition of a fuel subsidy has created significant disruption. As a result, broking firm Panmure cut its full-year profit before tax forecast from £110.6m to £102m.
Switzerland: Barry Callebaut has agreed to supply Unilever with about 70% of its global cocoa and chocolate orders. The deal almost doubles the volumes the Swiss-based company sells to Unilever. Barry Callebaut has set aside €18m to ramp up capacity enough over the next 12 months to meet the supply challenge.
Germany: Schlecker, the biggest drugstore chain in Germany, has filed for bankruptcy protection. The company’s branches will stay open for the time being as it formulates a recovery plan. In 2011, Schlecker announced the closure of up to 1,000 stores and said it intended to give remaining stores a more modern look. The company has attracted criticism for poor treatment of workers.