The Hut Group

THG CEO Matthew Moulding

The Hut Group last night struck a deal with Softbank that will lead to the Japanese conglomerate investing $2.3 billion in one of Britain’s fastest-growing technology companies (The Times £).

The Hut Group has struck a complex joint venture deal with Japanese investment giant SoftBank that values a “yet to be formed” technology division of THG at $6.3bn (£4.5bn) (The Guardian).

Boss Matt Moulding said fresh funds would allow him to ‘invest aggressively’ and unlock partnerships with other Softbank firms globally (The Telegraph).

THG boss Matt Moulding, who controls about 24% of the firm, said Softbank’s investment would help the group ‘super accelerate’ its expansion plans (The Mail).

“SoftBank’s vote of confidence for THG is deal-making on steroids,” writes The Guardian’s Nils Pratley.

Greggs, the bakery chain, has said profits could recover to pre-Covid levels as soon as this year as shoppers return to the high street following the latest easing of restrictions in the UK (The Financial Times £).

Greggs could repay more than £87m it received in furlough support at the height of the pandemic as it predicted profits could hit pre-Covid levels later this year (The Telegraph).

In the latest indication that the UK economy is recovering strongly, the bakery chain noted that pent-up demand for retail during lockdowns had boosted high street footfall (The Times £).

Greggs said sales growth since non-essential retail stores were allowed to open in some parts of the UK on 12 April has outstripped the same period in 2019 (The Guardian).

Although it did not give an exact figure for the period, sales for the most recent eight weeks to 8 May dropped just 3.9%, the company said - a big improvement from a 23.3% fall in the ten weeks to 13 March (The Mail).  

Rising online sales of Easter eggs and other chocolate treats for Mothers Day helped lift sales at Hotel Chocolat in March and April in what was the ‘second largest seasonal peak’ for the business (The Mail).

Hotel Chocolat has become the latest company to pledge to repay millions of pounds of furlough money after a strong performance this year (The Times £).

Pret A Manger is to open stores in Tesco supermarkets as it seeks to dispel the perception that it is “just for white-collar office workers” (The Times £).

Waitrose is closing the same-day grocery service it launched less than two years ago after striking a deal with Deliveroo (The Times £). The grocer is shutting Waitrose Rapid at the end of the month.

The supermarket is expanding the partnership with Deliveroo from 40 to 150 shops by the end of summer (The Telegraph).

The Financial Times (£) looks at ‘Walmart vs Amazon: the battle to dominate grocery’ in the first of a series examining the future of retail.

UK consumer spending rose above pre-pandemic levels in April for the first time this year, buoyed by many sectors reopening and older people booking holidays, according to payments card data from Barclaycard (The Financial Times £).

’Plant-based meat hopefuls square up to Brazil’s beef giants,’ says The Financial Times (£). A new wave of start-ups aims to serve the country’s growing army of vegetarians.