Source: Unilever

Top Unilever shareholder Terry Smith has renewed his attack on the Marmite owner and called the company’s rejected bids for GSK’s consumer health division a “near-death experience” and urged management to focus on improving the existing business rather than targeting big acquisitions (The Financial Times £).

Terry Smith has taken a second pop at Unilever in as many weeks, accusing its bosses of playing ‘gin rummy management’ (The Mail).

In a wide-ranging critique of Unilever and its management, Smith attacked the company’s long-term performance, accused it of not engaging with shareholders, having a flawed mergers and acquisitions strategy, as well as a “penchant for corporate gobbledegook” (The Guardian).

“It seems to us that Unilever management’s response to its poor performance has been to utter meaningless platitudes to which it has now attempted to add major M&A activity. What could possibly go wrong?” Smith said (The Telegraph).

Smith compared Unilever’s engagement with shareholders to “a dentist pulling a back tooth” (The Times £).

The Lex column in The Financial Times (£) asks ‘what now, Unilever?’. It says three steps would help clean up the mess: steer clear of big acquisitions, discuss the possibility of new blood at the top and prioritise investment in the business.

‘Unilever bid fiasco ramps up pressure on managers to deliver plan B,’ reads a head in The Financial Times (£) looking at the past week in depth. “Consumer goods group faces biggest crisis in years as it seeks to correct faltering strategy.”

Premier Foods raised its profit forecasts after its range of Mr Kipling cakes recorded its strongest ever Christmas trading and shoppers snapped up premium products (The Financial Times £).

Sales at Premier Foods for the 13 weeks to 1 January were 7% higher than they were for the same period in 2019, although Covid disruptions meant that they had fallen from last year (The Times £).

Deliveroo shrugged off proposed new rules from Brussels that might lead to gig workers being reclassified as employees as the food delivery group reported growth at the top end of its expected range last year (The Financial Times £).

Deliveroo attracted more customers in the final weeks of 2021, with users of the food delivery app placing more orders more frequently as Omicron swept the globe, helping the company to top its profit guidance (The Mail).

The boss of Deliveroo yesterday hailed a strong end to the year after the total value of its orders jumped by 70% to £6.63bn (The Times £).

Aldi is ditching grocery deliveries via Deliveroo to focus on its own home shopping service as consumers return to stores in greater numbers (The Guardian).

A column in The Telegraph takes a closer look at the Boots estate as owners prepare to sell the chain. “Walgreens says it has spent £2.8bn on the chemist chain since buying it in 2014, but you may struggle to see where that cash has been spent.”

Almost £1.2bn worth of fruit, veg and bread is binned in the UK every year, with one in five consumers stating the reason they waste so much is they “don’t know what to cook” (The Guardian).

Primark is to axe 400 jobs across its UK business as the fast fashion retailer cuts back its store management roles in response to rising cost pressures, despite a significant bounceback in trading in recent months (The Guardian).

Associated British Foods said it planned to simplify its in-store management as part of a continuing programme to improve the efficiency of its shop retail operations (The Times £). The move is designed to improve accountability and increase management support on shop floors.

British retail sales contracted by far more than expected in December as surging Covid-19 infections and new restrictions hit consumer spending on fuel, clothing and sports equipment (The Financial Times £).

Spending by consumers in Great Britain dropped by almost 4% in December as the arrival of the Omicron variant kept people away from the shops, official figures show (The Guardian).

People have grown much more pessimistic about their finances because of concerns about the rising cost of living, a survey has found (The Times £).

Beleaguered pubs and restaurants are reporting early signs of a recovery in trade, fuelling hope that pent-up demand from a dismal Christmas for the sector is about to be unleashed (The Guardian).

Falling shipping rates point to end of the great supply chain crisis (The Times £).

A daily glass of wine is not good for you, heart experts said yesterday as they sought to dispel the “myth” that moderate drinking might boost health (The Times £).

Nestle has withdrawn a special range of KitKats in India which featured images of sacred Hindu deities on the wrapper, after accusations of hurting religious sentiments (The Guardian).

Amazon’s first clothing store will use artificial intelligence to understand a customer’s preferences and recommend a suitable outfit (The Times £). The store will open later this year at an upmarket shopping complex in Los Angeles, the company said.