Further restructuring at Marks & Spencer as the high street bellwether continues to attempt to turnaround the business is under the media spotlight today. M&S will close six stores in the next three months and is considering shutting eight more, with just under 500 jobs affected, The Telegraph writes. Six stores: Birkenhead near Liverpool, Bournemouth, Durham, Fforestfach in Swansea, Putney in south London and Redditch in Worcestershire, will close by the end of April. M&S said all staff would be moving to nearby stores, The Guardian notes. Consultation is under way on the closure of a further eight stores, employing 468 staff, including Andover in Hampshire, Bridlington in Yorkshire and Falmouth in Cornwall. Employees will be offered redeployment in other stores or redundancy. The closures come as part of a major overhaul announced in November 2016, when the group unveiled plans impacting on a quarter of its clothing and home outlets, The Mail notes. Some of the shops had been fixtures on high streets for more than 80 years, The Times notes. The paper didn’t mince it’s words in its reporting: “The news was tantamount to an admission by the 134-year-old retailer that, despite an almost perennial programme of reinvention over nearly two decades, it has failed to endear itself to the daughters and sons of a generation of women who once regarded it as their first port of call on any shopping trip that involved socks, dresses and stylish slacks.”
More redundancies as drinks giant Coca-Cola is planning to close its manufacturing site in Milton Keynes and distribution warehouse in Northampton with the loss of nearly 300 jobs (The Telegraph). The Times adds that the move comes after the announcement last month by Britvic, the Pepsi bottler, that it will close its Robinsons and Fruit Shoot manufacturing plant in Norwich, where it employs about 240 people.
The Mail writes that strong demand for fizzy drinks lifts UK-based Britvic as the industry braces for April’s ‘sugar tax’ introduction. The group saw sales in the UK rise by 1% in the quarter, largely due to a 4.9% increase in revenue from carbonated drinks. However, The Times says “Britvic loses its fizz despite ‘solid start’.” The group spooked the market with comments on rising costs, including one-off costs from the administration of wholesaler Palmer & Harvey. Shares in Britvic slumped 32p in early trading.
The Times market report examines the good news for shareholders of Dairy Crest after the stock jumped on a strong trading update. “They say the cream always rises to the top, in which investors in Dairy Crest yesterday will not have been surprised by the company’s latest update,” the paper writes.
Mondelez edged out expectations for sales in the final three months of 2017, helping the maker of Oreo cookies boost profits for the quarter, The Financial Times reports. The company said net sales grew 2.9% to $6.97bn in the fourth quarter, just above analyst forecasts for $6.94bn. Organic net sales rose 2.4%.
Scandal-hit Steinhoff International has reported its former chief executive to police, The Financial Times reports. Heather Sonn, Steinhoff’s acting chairman, told South African MPs on Wednesday that Markus Jooste — who resigned after the discovery of accounting irregularities last year — had been referred to the Hawks, an elite anti-corruption unit.
Lidl has launched an online chatbot that recommends wine based on your budget and food choices (The Telegraph).