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Online retail giant Amazon is to launch ten pop-up shops in the UK to give more than 100 small brands a retail presence and boost the flagging fortunes of the high street.

The first of the stores, dubbed “Clicks and Mortar”, will launch in Manchester today and will stock a range of goods, including food and drink, homewares, health & beauty and consumer electronics.

Other stores will be opened in Wales, Scotland, the Midlands, Yorkshire and a number of locations in the South East.

Amazon is launching the project alongside small business group Enterprise Nation, which will run the logistics of the initiative.

Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, commented: “UK shoppers like to shop both online and in high street stores, and our intention is to help small businesses succeed by combining the best elements of online and high street retail.”

“This new concept will provide small businesses with the space, technology and support to experience physical retail for the first time, while enabling customers to discover new brands on their local high streets.”

Amazon has also launched a £1m apprenticeship fund for SME sellers with annual sales of less than £1m a year.

It hopes to fund more than 150 new apprentice positions across digital marketing, business administration and customer services.

Amazon’s UK country manager Doug Gurr commented: ““From giving up-and-coming online British brands the chance to experience physical retail, to funding the training of full-time apprenticeships and helping to increase SME exports, Amazon is committed to supporting the growth of small businesses – helping them boost the economy and create jobs across the UK.”

“Small businesses are one of our most important customer groups, and we’re thrilled to work with Enterprise Nation to design a comprehensive package to help entrepreneurs across the UK grow their businesses, both in-store and online.”

Morning update

UK wine producer Gusbourne grew sales from 26% last year to £1.26m as it continues to invest in widening its distribution channels both in the UK and overseas.

Gusbourne said that this sales growth continues to reflect limited stock availability, though they do represent a consecutive like for like growth since 2013.

Over the last 5 years the gross profit margin has increased from 17% in 2014 to 56% in the current year reflecting economies of scale in respect of the group’s increased production volumes.

However, gross profit margin for 2018 was 6% lower than in 2017, in line with management expectations, due to the wine sold in 2018 having a slightly higher cost of production resulting from planned increases in the direct costs of wine sold during the year.

It made an EBITDA loss for the year of £782k, up from a 690k loss last year, while pre-tax loss was up to £1.77m from £1.64m.

Gusbourne said these losses “continue to be in line with expectations and the long-term development strategy of the group”, which is based on continuing sales growth of the Gusbourne wines, supported by increasing wine stocks.

It said it is continuing to fund ongoing investment in its growing asset base including vineyards, wine inventories, buildings, plant and machinery and the overall Gusbourne brand.

It raised £3.7m in September 2018 to fund ongoing growth and today has announced the agreement of a £2m loan facility with major shareholder Lord Ashcroft.

Elsewhere, McBride (MCB) has announced the appointment of Igor Kuzniar, a founding partner of investment firm Teleios, as a non-executive director with immediate effect.

The appointment follows recent “constructive discussions” with Teleios Capital Partners regarding board composition and governance considerations. Teleios is currently the largest shareholder in McBride with a shareholding of 28% of the issued share capital of the company.

He will join the board and will become a member of the nominations committee and participate as an observer on both the remuneration committee and the Audit Committee.

John Coleman, chairman of McBride, said “The Board are pleased to welcome Igor with his extensive and relevant experience in finance, restructuring and strategy. We look forward to working closely with him as we look to recruit a CEO to succeed Rik De Vos and to lead McBride into the next phase of its growth ambitions.”

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 has opened 1.1% to 7,082.7pts to continue its poor run in May.

Early fallers include Ocado (OCDO), down 4.1% to 1,145p, British American Tobacoo (BATS), down 1.8% to 2,711p and Greencore (GNC), down 1.7% to 203p.

The few risers include McColl’s (MCLS), up 0.6% to 83.3p, Cake Box (CAKE), up 0.5% to 160.8p and PayPoint (PAY), up 0.4% to 1,092p.

This week in the City

We look set for another very quiet week for scheduled updates in the global fmcg and grocery market.

The only company news note in the diary for the whole week is the full year results of global spirits group Remy Cointreau on Thursday.

This week will bring the publication of the monthly Grocer Price Index (GPI), which has shown annual food prices flat or falling so far in 2019. The GPI for prices across May will be published on Friday morning.

The BRC-KPMG Retail Sales survey for May will also be out tomorrow morning.

The quarterly FTSE 100 index review takes place on Wednesday, which could see Marks & Spencer relegated from the UK’s blue chip shares index for the first time.