Unilever should sell its underperforming Flora margarines business and buy more personal care companies, according to an investor survey that includes some of the Anglo-Dutch company’s biggest shareholders. A survey of 100 investors by Bernstein showed that while most agree with the strategy set by Paul Polman, chief executive, many were frustrated with a perceived loss of momentum at the FTSE 100 company (The Financial Times £).
Warren Buffett said he had made a ‘huge mistake’ by investing in Tesco in his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. Buffett admitted that “thumb-sucking” over selling his Tesco stake cost $444m (The Guardian)
The billionaire founder of Dunelm homeware stores has taken a stake in Morrisons, saying the ailing supermarket has “turnaround potential”. Bill Adderley has bought about 2m shares in Morrisons, arguing: “I bought them because I thought it couldn’t get any worse… My belief is that shopkeepers should run shops, and they should concentrate on getting their fruit and veg right” (The Times £).
Irish food groups Kerry and Glanbia are readying a glut of M&A deals as they become established as key operators in global nutrition. Both companies expect acquisitions to build on their main businesses – ingredients and flavours for Kerry and ingredients and sports nutrition for Glanbia (The Financial Times £).
Walmart has kicked off a war over wages in the US after it increased the wages of 500,000 staff to at least $9 an hour. Analysts have said pressure is mounting on other retailers to follow suit in order to ensure they can attract enough talent (The Guardian).
European companies are finally showing signs of benefiting from the economic recovery in the region as the falling value of the euro against the dollar begins to help continental firms. “Revenue beats have been the best for roughly 10 quarters, a lot of it driven by currency,” according to one analyst (The Financial Times £).
The two biggest ecommerce operators in China, Alibaba and JD.com, are ramping up their sales of imported food goods to the country’s army of web-savvy consumers. In the 25-day period leading up to the recent Chinese lunar new year holiday, online sales of imported fresh food jumped more than 300 per cent through JD’s marketplace (The Financial Times £).
British retail stalwarts Marks & Spencer, Cadbury and Heinz have seen their reputation among UK consumers slide, according to the annual Consumer Superbrands survey. M&S fell out of the top 20 for the first time since 2009 (The Telegraph).
A voluntary code is to be established in Australia to help govern the relationship between suppliers and supermarkets (The Guardian)