EG Group’s bonds dropped in value on Thursday morning after reports that the auditor of the highly acquisitive UK petrol station operator had resigned over governance concerns (The Financial Times £). The billionaire brothers buying Asda will speak to bondholders in their petrol station empire EG Group on Friday, after its auditor suddenly quit (The Telegraph).
The future of John Lewis and Waitrose will not be exclusively in retail, Dame Sharon White has said as she prepares to unveil a strategy for the group. Dame Sharon, chairwoman of the John Lewis Partnership, said yesterday that while it was premature to sound the death knell of the high street, the employee-owned business needed to find “some balanced sources of profit”. (The Times £)
A further heavy slump in sales at Boots has prompted its US parent Walgreens Boots Alliance to put fixing the British high street retailer at the top of its to-do list (The Times £). Sales at Boots collapsed by almost a third in the three months to August as shoppers shunned city centres, train stations and airports (The Telegraph, The Guardian). Boots continues to struggle due to a ‘significantly reduced’ number of shoppers on the High Street and a collapse in commuter numbers, according to its US owner (The Daily Mail).
The boss of Fortnum & Mason said the Government’s decision to extend harsher lockdown measures will cause ‘a whole generation to suffer’. (The Daily Mail)
The pubs code adjudicator has launched a withering attack on Heineken’s treatment of its pub tenants after handing the brewer a £2 million fine (The Times £). Heineken has been fined £2m by the UK’s pub regulator for a series of alleged “serious” breaches of the pubs code, which is designed to protect pub landlords from being taken advantage of by brewers (The Financial Times £). Heineken has been fined £2m for forcing publicans to sell “unreasonable” amounts of its own beers and ciders (The Guardian, The Daily Mail). Pub bosses plan to appeal a landmark decision to fine Heineken £2m for “serious and repeated breaches” of the industry’s code over a three-year period (The Telegraph).
Marston’s, the UK pub group, is to cut 2,150 furloughed jobs, almost a fifth of its workforce, after a swath of new government restrictions designed to curb the spread of coronavirus caused sales to slump (The Financial Times £). More than 2,000 jobs are at risk at Marston’s after the pub group warned it would have to cut costs because of the government’s new restrictions on trading (The Times £). The pubs and brewing company Marston’s is to axe 2,150 jobs, the deepest cuts in the sector since the pandemic began, blaming government restrictions to curb the spike in Covid-19 cases (The Guardian, The Daily Mail, Sky News).
The Guardian’s Nils Pratley writes: “Marston’s will cope, but a 15% cut in staff at a national and stable operator is significant. It points to the speed of redundancies sweeping through the sector. If Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, is minded to offer tier 2 job support, now is the moment.” (The Guardian)
JD Wetherspoon will axe jobs at its airport pubs after trading plummeted and the pub chain swung into the red. (The Telegraph)
Domino’s Pizza served up like-for-like sales of growth of 17.5% in the third quarter but a fall in orders sent shares of the delivery firm tumbling by almost 9% (The Times £). Staycations and the return of live sports in September helped Domino’s Pizza enjoy a spike in sales during the third quarter (The Daily Mail).
Hammerson only collected 38% of its UK rents due for the current quarter after shop tenants were hit by the pandemic. (The Daily Mail)