The main focus in a busy day for food and drink is a strong set of Christmas results for Morrisons. The Telegraph flags that the supermarket beat City forecasts with a bigger-than-expected rise in Christmas sales, helped by the strong performance of its premium ‘Best’ food range and its growing wholesale business. Sales were especially strong in the pre-Christmas period, with a 3.7% rise in the six weeks to 7 January contributing momentum to the headline result for the 10-week period, The Financial Times adds. The Times calls it a “bumper” Christmas for Morrisons as it far outstripped forecasts. Shares in Morrisons rose by 3.5%, to 234.5p in early trading, dragging the rest of the sector higher. Sales of its premium range were up 25%, with food made in-store and its gluten-free and dairy-free ranges also proving a hit (The Mail). Lombard in The Financial Times examines why, despite a strong set of figures, Morrisons shares only grew by 2.7% on its Christmas trading statement.
The Telegraph names Tesco the winner of the battle for Christmas as shoppers splurge in the festive period. Sales at Britain’s biggest retailer climbed 3.1% in the 12 weeks to Dec 31, according to data from research firm Kantar Worldpanel, the fastest rate since June. The Friday before Christmas the busiest grocery shopping day in the country on record, according to Kantar (The Financial Times). The grocery research specialist said that the average household spent over £1,000 on groceries in the three months ending over Christmas. While Tesco was the winner of the big four supermarkets, The Guardian says Aldi and Lidl are the biggest winners as consumers spent £1bn extra on groceries this Christmas, parting with £747m on 22 December alone.
Alex Brummer in The Mail says that Amazon is biggest threat to the High Street – “retailers must embrace the online challenge”.
Majestic Wine toasted a lift in sales as Christmas prosecco sales fizz (The Telegraph). The company posted a 3.2% lift in total sales during the 10 week period to 1 January. The Financial Times combines updates from Majestic and Eastern European-focused Stock Spirits. “London-listed alcohol groups enjoyed a decent Christmas period, with central Europe-focused Stock Spirits beating forecasts while retailer Majestic Wine stayed on track despite fears over consumer spending in the UK,” the paper writes. The Guardian flags that Majestic benefitted from consumers increasingly opting for English sparkling wine rather than champagne as their choice of festive fizz. Majestic CEO Rowan Gormley said that the performance was reassuring, given the heavy discounting by supermarkets, which he estimated was at twice the level as the previous Christmas (The Times).
Thousands of small retailers in England could be forced to charge 5p for plastic bags under government plans to tackle Britain’s “throwaway culture”, reports The Financial Times and The Guardian. Under a scheme first introduced in 2015, all retailers in England with more than 250 workers are legally required to charge at least 5p for plastic bags, and donate extra proceeds to charitable causes.
Cigarette giant British American Tobacco is expecting a fillip to its earnings on the back of US president Donald Trump’s tax overhaul, The Telegraph writes.
Marks & Spencer is overhauling its back-office technology as the 134-year-old retailer ramps up efforts to strip out costs from the business while battling rapidly changing shopping habits (The Telegraph).
Trouble burger restaurant chain Byron has announced a financial rescue plan that could close up to 20 shops a decade after it first opened its doors (The Guardian). The company has launched a restructuring process known as a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) as it tries to lower its rental bill and focus on a smaller number of profitable restaurants.
The former owner of BHS was “set up to fail” ahead of the store chain’s collapse, a court heard yesterday, The Times reports. Dominic Chappell, a former bankrupt with no retail experience, bought the business from Sir Philip Green for £1 in 2015. The company crashed 13 months later with the loss of 11,000 jobs and a £571 million hole in its pension fund.