Sainsbury’s is facing a tougher battle than it had expected to get regulatory approval for its proposed takeover of Asda without onerous conditions, analysts and advisers have said, with an extension to a competition investigation now regarded as likely. (The Financial Times £)
The Financial Reporting Council approved the quality of an audit of Patisserie Valerie’s accounts six months before the café chain revealed a £40m fraud that brought the company to the brink of collapse, according to The Times (£).
Anheuser-Busch InBev is considering listing a minority stake in its Asia operations, which would enable the world’s biggest brewer to more quickly pay down its $100bn debt load (The Financial Times £). The world’s largest brewer is considering a $70 billion float of its Asian business as it seeks to slim its substantial debt pile (The Times £).
The FT’s Lex column says the IPO of Asian business will help the brewer deal with its bloated balance sheet. “AB InBev is a heavyweight… [But] annual free cash flow of over €10bn (before dividends) still means it will need years to trim its balance sheet. An Asian IPO can help accelerate this process.” (The Financial Times £)
A network of “challenger” food and drinks brands has teamed up with a financial advisory firm to launch a funding platform to finance their growth. Young Foodies and Spayne Lindsay have launched YF Funding to support small business owners at their most critical growth phase. (The Times £)
Sales growth at Lidl’s UK stores halved over the festive season compared with the same period in 2017 (The Telegraph). Upbeat Christmas trading figures from Lidl’s UK arm suggested that the march of the discount retailers in Britain continues unabated (The Times £). Fast growing discounter Lidl - the sixth largest supermarket in the UK - tempted shoppers to transfer £58million worth of spending from Waitrose, M&S, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons over the Christmas period (The Daily Mail)
The main challenge for the UK’s under-pressure grocery sector remains the rise of discounters, writes the FT. “The big supermarket chains can at least counter the discounters’ seasonal and patchy product offers, by stocking shelves with a full range of competitively priced staples to maintain footfall.” (The Financial Times £)
Click and Collect fraud is on the rise as retailers are failing to check ID when customers pick up orders, according to The Telegraph.
Shoppers looking to tighten their belts after the Christmas blowout could save money by online shopping at Morrisons, according to a new Which? survey. (The Guardian)
Investment in overseas expansion and product launches caused losses to widen at posh pet food maker Lily’s Kitchen despite record sales. (The Times £)
Landlords are set for a fresh wave of pain after more than 20 struggling high street chains instructed Deloitte to assess whether they are eligible for debt restructuring in the past two months alone. (The Times £)
For most UK retailers, 2018 was a year they would rather forget. For hedge funds that foresaw the growing blood on the high street, however, it was probably a banner year. (The Financial Times £)
The wave of high street gloom has rippled out to the bond markets, with more than £200million wiped off the value of retailers’ debt in two months. (The Daily Mail)
A number of restaurants listed on Just Eat, the biggest online food delivery app in the UK, have been found to sell food that could cause allergic reactions, an investigation has found. (The Guardian)
Heineken is to sell alcohol free beer on tap in 3,000 pubs to target millennials. Heineken sold 15 million bottles of its non-alcoholic 0.0 beer last year and predicts the figure will double in 2019 to 30 million – and even overtake market leader Becks Blue – as the company pushes it as a soft drink alternative to Coca-Cola or coffee. (The Daily Mail)
A new guide to portion sizes warning that people are eating too much without realising has been launched by nutritionists, to suggest how much food people should eat during the day to stay healthy and help combat the obesity crisis. (The Guardian)
British manufacturing has witnessed a “steep decline” contributing to a continued economic slowdown, official figures show. (Sky News)
The BBC looks at how Greggs’ new vegan sausage roll stormed social media. “In a week of dismal news for retail, shares in Greggs hit an all-time high on the back of some savvy marketing and solid trading figures.” (The BBC)