Marks & Spencer hungry for more as it eyes the rest of Ocado, writes The Telegraph. When it comes to Ocado, retail pundits are split as to whether it could be tempted to offload its stake… Back at M&S, one industry observer points out that sales growth is still coming predominantly from its stores. “M&S might want to wait until the honeymoon period is over before it bets the house on its union with Ocado.” (The Telegraph

Who will buy Boots the Chemist, asks The Times? Cash-generative bricks and mortar retailers are back in vogue, with private equity firms sitting on record levels of cash to invest. Meanwhile, supermarkets could yield “enormous” cost savings in buying and logistics. (The Times £

Sky News understands that Boots is preparing to sound out potential bidders for Aromatherapy Associates, which it bought in 2014. (Sky News

Cities brace for empty streets as working from home ushers in another bleak winter as the government’s new coronavirus measures will push shops and hospitality back to the brink (The Telegraph). Firms warn of ‘devastating’ impact of new restrictions – Briitish Chambers of Commerce director, Shevaun Haviland, warned that retail and hospitality businesses are the most exposed to the new measures, but are not being sufficiently supported by the government (The BBC). 

Questions are now being asked about whether the behaviours that took hold when Covid-19 first gripped Britain will become more permanent — working from home and shopping online — and what the impact might be on an economy that was already starting to slow (The Times £). 

Hilton Food, the food packing business that supplies Tesco’s lamb and beef, is tapping shareholders to fund the acquisition of a Dutch smoked salmon company that will see it enter the US market. (The Daily Mail

Primark shoppers have not yet been deterred by the Omicron variant, with sales running ahead of expectations, the owner of the fast fashion company said (The Daily Mail). Christmas Shopping visits to Primark stores have suffered little impact from the arrival of the Omicron variant, the company that owns the fashion chain said (Sky News). Primark owner Associated British Foods said trading at the discount fashion chain has been ahead of expectations, but warned over disruption from renewed Covid restrictions and supply chain issues (The Financial Times £).  

A robotics and automation company backed by Walmart, America’s biggest grocery retailer, is finalising plans for a $4.5bn (£3.3bn) merger with a “blank cheque” company created by the Japanese technology giant SoftBank. (Sky News

Retailers have ramped up a battle against Visa and Mastercard with more than a dozen major brands logging fresh legal claims over card payment fees. (The Telegraph

Britons partial to a festive glass of port or sherry should nurse it carefully this Christmas as a shake-up of alcohol taxes threatens to add at least £1 to bottle prices next year. (The Guardian

The FT looks at the Thai retailer hoovering up Europe’s luxury department stores. Central Group is negotiating to buy Selfridges after buying and transforming names including KaDeWe and Rinascente. (The Financial Times £

Having grown up as a pig farmer and established two sausage brands, there is not much that the Heck Food founder Debbie Keeble does not know about the humble banger. But meat-free sausages and burgers, which now account for 10% of Heck’s sales, are a whole new ball game. (The Times £

McDonald’s has announced big sustainability initiatives but climate experts who reviewed plans and data say the fast-food company is largely dodging the one bold step it must take to slash emissions: dramatically reducing the amount of beef it serves. (The Guardian