Two of the world’s biggest tobacco manufacturers are in talks about a deal to shore up the finances of Palmer & Harvey (P&H), according to Sky News. Imperial Brands and JTI are “mulling options”, including taking a stake in the wholesaler. The Times also picks up the story, writing the move would bolster P&H’s balance sheet amid unease among lenders about the planned £3.9bn tie-up between Tesco and Booker.
An analysis by The Times has found that almost 15 years after Tesco bought One Stop it is still paying staff at the convenience chain less and charging customers more for products than in its Express outlets. The paper says the revelation could put pressure on Tesco as its ownership of the chain is likely to come under scrutiny as part of a competition investigation into its proposed takeover of Booker.
Tesco is also in the news as it rejigs global team as the international chief exec departs. Trevor Masters, chief executive of Tesco International, will leave the business after 40 years at the end of May, with Tony Hoggett and Matt Simister taking the roles as chief executives for Asia and central Europe respectively. The Financial Times writes the shake-up comes as Tesco looks to focus its overseas efforts on a few key markets as part of its turnaround plans. The Times adds since the sale of its Kipa business in Turkey, Tesco has focused on its two overseas businesses in central Europe, which include the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, and Asia, incorporating Malaysia and Thailand.
A collaboration between Finsbury Food Group and former Bake Off judge Mary Berry generates plenty of headlines this morning. The Mail notes is the range of nine cakes will cost from about £3 to £6, and will include round cakes, loaf cakes and celebration treats. The Financial Times writes that Finsbury is looking to Berry to help its cake sales to rise after flat growth in 2016. The listed manufacturer has spent months designing a range of nine traditional cakes with Berry, which will hit the supermarket shelves this spring (The Telegraph).
A prosecco boom has taken the fizz out of champagne sales, writes The Times. Champagne sales went flat last year as the slump in the pound after the EU referendum and a growing taste for prosecco hit exports to Britain (The Mail).
UK retailers have axed 4,000 low-skilled workers this year and invested in technology as higher wage bills bite, The Financial Times reports.
Mars is introducing Maltesers into the US, marking its first chocolate brand launch in its home market in 20 years, as the confectionery-to-pet food conglomerate battles to recover some of the market share it has lost to rival Hershey (The Financial Times).
Heineken’s red star logo could be outlawed in Hungary under draft legal changes to prohibit the use of “totalitarian symbols” for commercial purposes, 28 years after the central European country ended Communist rule (The Financial Times).
Sir Philip Green is in line for a £15m refund from his £363m deal to rescue the BHS pensions scheme, Labour MP Frank Field has claimed (The Guardian)
Finally, the papers cover news that PM Theresa May has set a date to trigger Article 50. The Financial Times asks “The road from Article 50 to Brexit: what happens next?”.