Unilever has kicked off a strategic review of its health and beauty brands as the consumer goods giant wrestles with slow growth. The process is expected to focus on its lower-end brands, which analysts suggested could include the American haircare product Suave and the skincare treatment Simple, rather than better-performing premium brands. (The Times £)
The competition watchdog has reprimanded Tesco for unlawfully blocking its rivals from opening shops near its own (The Times £). Britain’s competition regulator has demanded the power to fine supermarkets for locking rivals out of nearby stores after Tesco broke the rules but escaped with a slapped wrist (The Telegraph). Tesco has been accused of stifling competition in the grocery market through efforts, over up to 10 years, to prevent rivals from opening stores near their own (Sky News). On Friday, the CMA said Tesco had prevented competitors opening supermarkets in 23 locations in England and Wales, including five in London (The Guardian). Tesco ‘unlawfully’ stopped rival supermarkets opening up near some of its stores for ‘up to a decade’, the competition watchdog said (The Daily Mail). The supermarket giant blamed “administrative errors” and said it had strengthened its “controls and training” (The BBC).
Consumers face higher costs and reduced availability on the four-fifths of food imports that come from the EU, according to the British retail industry body as it renewed its call for Britain to strike a deal with the bloc which cuts red tape and border friction (The Financial Times £). Consumers could be hit with significantly higher food bills unless the government agrees a free trade deal with European Union, the British Retail Consortium has warned (The Times £). Shoppers face higher prices and lower choice if the Government fails to negotiate a comprehensive trade deal with the EU, retail experts have warned (The Telegraph).
Marks & Spencer’s landlords are braced for more closures after senior executives said the shutters would come down at any under-performing stores. (The Times £)
Retail giant Marks & Spencer has been hit by a backlash over its plan to stop distributing paper shopping vouchers to thousands of small shareholders from the end of the month. (The Daily Mail)
Billionaire Mike Ashley has joined calls for an urgent overhaul of business rates as retailers line up to demand help ahead of next month’s Budget. (The Telegraph)
China is to begin importing live chickens from the US as feed shortages due to the coronavirus force poultry farms in the world’s second-biggest economy to start culling millions of young birds (The Financial Times £)
The home delivery model pioneered by milkmen is getting a 21st century makeover as part of the war on plastic. A major new online service backed by the world’s biggest brands will deliver products ranging from soft drinks to washing powder and shampoo in refillable containers to your front door. (The Guardian)
Kraft Heinz faced the consequences on Friday of its decision to maintain dividend payouts to Warren Buffett and other shareholders despite its $28bn debt burden, as two credit rating agencies cut their rating on the food company to junk status. (The Financial Times £)
A US judge lambasted the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for “egregious misconduct” as he handed a partial victory to Kraft Heinz and Mondelez, the food companies who have been battling the US regulator over alleged manipulation of wheat markets. (The Financial Times £)
The pub chain JD Wetherspoon is brushing up its “ethical” credentials by serving up only Fairtrade sugar in all its pubs and hotels in the UK and Ireland. (The Guardian)
The EU has been accused of an “indefensible” approach to human health and the climate crisis in spending tens of millions of euros each year on campaigns to reverse the decline in meat eating and trying to rebut so-called “fake news” on the mistreatment of animals bred for food. (The Guardian)
The Telegraph looks at the “fall of Domino’s” and where it all went wrong for the UK listed firm. “Overambitious expansion plans have meant the company has neglected to invest in technology”. (The Telegraph)
Troubled property giant Intu risks a row with its bruised shareholders over a plan to boost the potential bonus of new boss Matthew Roberts. (The Times £)
The owner of the Slug and Lettuce, Walkabout and Yates chains has been given the green light to buy Ei Group in a deal that will create Britain’s largest pubs company. (The Times £).