Tesco could post a bigger than expected writedown on its UK supermarkets when it announces its annual results next week. Analysts said the impairment could be £3bn-£4bn, ahead of previous expectations of a £1bn-£2bn charge. The writedown is expected to plunge Tesco into a statutory loss for the year to the end of February (The Financial Times £).
After yesterday’s departure of Morrisons trading director Casper Meijer, The Telegraph writes that he was “forced out” by chief executive David Potts as he refused to relocate to the UK from his Netherlands home (The Telegraph). The Times (£) says Meijer has been returning to the Netherlands at weekends to spend time with his wife and teenage twins and living in Yorkshire during the week.
Companies are reining in their investment plans as fears over the result of next month’s general election undermine corporate confidence, a survey of finance directors has found. The Times calls its pool “the clearest sign yet that electoral uncertainty threatens the recovery” (The Times £).
However, an early Easter and robust consumer confidence drive UK retail sales up by most for almost a year. The figures suggest “the forthcoming general election and the uncertainty over what policies a new Government could enforce are having little impact on consumers” (The Telegraph).
Office of National Statistics figures may show that the consumer prices index dropped to -0.1 per cent last month, from zero in February, on the back of falling food and energy prices. The Times says this would be the first time that Britain has experienced deflation in consumer prices since 1960, the year in which John F. Kennedy was elected president, Elvis Presley recorded Are You Lonesome Tonight? and Penguin books was cleared of obscenity over Lady Chatterley’s Lover (The Times £).
Pressure is mounting on Allan Leighton, the new chairman of the Co-operative Group, to overturn the way members of its board are being appointed. Leighton is being urged to reverse a decision to put forward just three candidates for election at next month’s annual general meeting for three boardroom seats, rather than fielding all six candidates selected by representatives of the six million members (The Guardian). Analysing the situation, Nils Pratley says the situation reflects the mess the Co-op has found itself in culturally after Lord Myners’ devastating review of governance failings last year (The Guardian).
Shell has announced it will sell 185 UK service stations to two independent forecourt operators by the end of this year as it continues with its plan to reduce its retail operations across Europe in the wake of lower oil prices. The oil giant, which has more than 1,000 branded UK service stations, said it will sell 90 sites to Motor Fuel Group while the other 68 will go to Euro Garages, in addition to being in talks to offload a further 27 stations. (The Daily Mail)
The heir to the Nina Ricci perfume and fashion fortune has been handed a three-year sentence for tax fraud in the first high-profile conviction to come out of the leaking of client details from HSBC’s Swiss private banking arm (The Financial Times £).
The Telegraph has a feature on fast growing ready meals provider Charlie Bighams, which looks at how it defied the slump in consumer spending to convince shoppers to spend an extra £5 on lasagne.