Walmart has told Asda staff it is seriously considering a stock market listing for its UK supermarket group – the first time it has acknowledged the speculation about Asda’s future, reports The Financial Times (£). Judith McKenna, head of Walmart’s international division, told staff the group was not rushing into anything but “I want you to know that we are seriously considering a path to an IPO – a public listing – to strengthen your long-term success.” The comments also suggest a sale to private equity is not the US company’s favoured option.
But McKenna also cautioned that any preparations for an IPO would “take years”, according to comments released by Asda afterwards (Reuters).
Walmart, meanwhile, plans to give Amazon a run for its money with plans to cut US shipping times to one day, initially in Phoenix and Las Vegas before expanding to southern California in the days ahead (The Financial Times £). It says those who spend at least $35 (£27) online will be eligible for the faster delivery on up to 220,000 items. The service will be rolled out to about 75% of the population this year.
Greggs’ shares soared after the food-to-go chain reported total sales for the 19 weeks to 11 May up 15.1%, with like for-likes up 11% (The Financial Times £). It raised its profit forecast for a third time this year. The business continues to benefit from the publicity around its vegan sausage roll. The Daily Telegraph says the chain rolled out the Quorn-filled product to its entire estate in February, which helped fix availability problems at the beginning of the year when demand outstripped supply. The Times (£) adds that opening more shops away from high streets also helped the business.
Greggs shares climbed 15.1% yesterday to a record £2,060p. The company expects to have more than 2,000 shops by the end of the year, and more sites open in the evening. The Daily Mail includes comment from CMC Markets analyst Michel Hewson who said UK consumers’ penchant for coffee, bakery, sausage rolls and sandwiches “appear to be padding out the waistline for Greggs”. The Guardian quotes Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell who remarks on the performance of “a humble bit of pastry filled with a meat substitute”.
Dave Lewis, Tesco chief executive, has been handed a £4.6m pay package which The Daily Telegraph says is 226 times the amount average supermarket employees earn. The Daily Mail says the payout, revealed in the group’s annual report, will be scrutinised at its AGM next month.
Premier Foods will launch a new range of plant-based desserts, cakes and soups report The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph. The news came as the business fell to a pre-tax loss of £42.7m for the year to 30 March, dealt a blow by new pension sex-parity rules (The Times £). The Mr Kipling cakes and Ambrosia custard company estimated the cost of equalising benefits dating back to the 1990s at £14.5m. It lifted adjusted pre-tax profit 12.1% to £88m on revenue up 0.6% to £824.3m.
Cow & Gate has recalled Cheesy Broccoli Bake baby food with batch number 28122020 because of fears they contain blue rubber. The 250g jars have a best before date of 28 December 2020 and are sold in Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Boots and Morrisons (Sky News). The juxtaposition of two paragraphs in The BBC report on the story could appear to suggest a contradiction between the recall notice from the Food Standards Agency which said the product may be “unsafe to eat” and Cow & Gate’s statement that said the product “does not pose a health risk” but “does not meet our usual high quality standards”.
MPs on the business, energy and industrial strategy committee have clashed with groceries code adjudicator Christine Tacon in a “testy” hearing after she rejected the need for her to have any more powers and resisted offering a view on several issues affecting suppliers (The Times £). Tacon told MPs they were being “dismissive of what has been achieved.”
Research by Surfers Against Sewage has found that Coca-Cola bottles and cans are the most commonly found items of packaging pollution on British beaches and make up nearly 12% of all litter. (The Guardian).
Elsewhere, research from environmental charity Hubbub reports that Britain’s growing “lunch-on-the-go” habit is generating nearly 11bn items of packaging waste a year, much of which is not recycled (The Guardian).
The Co-op’s chief executive, Steve Murrells, has backed his counterpart at Tesco, Dave Lewis’s suggestions for reforming business rates, which include a 2% tax on internet sales (The Daily Mail).
Brazil wants to export fresh beef to the US, but investors are worried about deforestation (The Financial Times £).
Amazon and Next have launched a click-and-collect partnership across hundreds of shops after a successful pilot (The Times £), (The Daily Telegraph), (The Daily Mail). It has already partnered with Morrisons, the Co-op and petrol stations on its lockers. Amazon said the Next tie-up was partly to rejuvenate interest in bricks-and-mortar shops.
The BBC has found that Holland & Barrett, Boots and Superdrug broke their own policies when they sold diet pills to a 17-year-old without checking for ID.