The petrol stations giant led by two brothers who have agreed to buy Asda for £6.8bn is to generate hundreds of millions of pounds by selling a stake in its holding company to a group of blue-chip global investors (Sky News).The new owners of Asda have raised hundreds of millions of pounds by selling a stake in EG Group, the petrol stations company (The Times £, The Telegraph).
Discount retailer B&M will pay £37m to brothers Simon and Bobby Arora, its biggest shareholders, as part of a special dividend that will add to the controversy over taxpayer support for companies able to continue trading during lockdown (The Financial Times £). The billionaire brothers behind B&M are in line for a £44 million payout after the discount retailer’s profits more than doubled thanks to shoppers flocking to its stores during lockdown (The Times £). B&M Bargains’ billionaire chief executive has funnelled £44million in dividends to his offshore family trust after emerging as one of the biggest winners from the coronavirus crisis (The Daily Mail). The discount retailer B&M is paying its shareholders a £250m special dividend, after a boost in sales during lockdown almost doubled profits in the first half of the year (The Guardian).
Alistair Osborne writes in The Times: “If it wasn’t for the rates relief, no one could begrudge booming B&M its big dividend: a useful top-up to the Arora family trust. Just a shame it’s partly funded by the taxpayer.” (The Times £)
The Treasury messed up over B&M’s Covid rates freebie, writes The Guardian’s Nils Pratley. Where shops were open and sales booming, there was no case for a year’s relief from business rates. (The Guardian)
WHSmith has reported a smaller-than-expected annual loss but cautioned it was not expecting a new vaccine to alter the immediate outlook for its coronavirus-ravaged travel business (The Financial Times £). The chief executive of WH Smith has warned he does not expect a Covid-19 vaccine to make any improvement to its travel business for the next six months as the retailer swung to a heavy loss on the back of store closures and redundancy costs (The Times £).
WH Smith will close 25 high street stores after plunging sales at rail and airport outlets sent it sinking to a £280m annual loss (The Telegraph). WH Smith is set to close 25 high street stores, affecting nearly 200 jobs, after the coronavirus pandemic pushed the retailer £280m into the red (The Guardian). WH Smith will shut 25 High Street stores in a move that puts another 200 jobs at risk after it swung to a £280m loss (The Daily Mail).
WH Smith is stuck in the eye of the Covid storm, writes The Telegraph. The pandemic has left the high street giant nursing a £280m loss with question marks over its diversification plan. (The Telegraph)
NatWest Group is among a pack of suitors circling Sainsbury’s Bank as it mulls its most significant corporate acquisition since its £45bn government bailout more than a decade ago. (Sky News)
Footfall on high streets and retail parks has fallen to its lowest level since the spring lockdown after shops were closed under new government restrictions designed to slow the spread of coronavirus. (The Times £)
Tougher coronavirus restrictions across the UK caused sales at pubs and restaurants to plunge by a third in October, the latest data reveals. (The Telegraph)
Tesco has revealed plans to accelerate its net zero ambitions, including an all-electric delivery fleet, as business groups join forces to demand additional support from the government in the fight against climate change. (Sky News)
Caffe Nero has become the latest high-profile business casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic – with the second national lockdown being blamed for its plight. (The Daily Mail)
Young’s boss has blasted the ‘absolutely brutal’ impact of the second national lockdown, revealing it has now been forced to slash one fifth of its 5,000 staff. (The Daily Mail)