Some of the biggest names in retail have become embroiled in an extraordinary legal row involving allegations of corporate espionage and conspiracy in a legal battle between Ocado and Today Development Partners, the new company of its co-founder Jonathan Faiman (The Times £). Ocado has taken one of its co-founders to court in a bitter legal battle which is believed to behind Waitrose’s decision to walk away from an online grocery deal this summer (The Telegraph).
The legal spat – which centres on the historic tie-up between Marks & Spencer and Ocado – shines a spotlight on the battle for control of Britain’s grocery delivery market, with accusations of industrial espionage, top secret meetings and ‘bullying’ business tactics (The Daily Mail).
Corporate espionage, raided hotel rooms, stolen documents, pseudonyms and “burner” phones are just some of the allegations that have emerged in an explosive legal battle between Ocado’s co-founders that involves some of the biggest names in the retail industry. (The Times £)
The chairman of Ocado, Lord Rose of Monewden, has pledged that the retailer “will go to any lengths” to protect its intellectual property as it faces a bitter court battle with one of its co-founders. (The Times £)
Sainsbury’s is expected to exit mortgage lending to improve the profitability of its banking unit and conserve capital, as it sets out a new strategy following its failed takeover bid for rival Asda (The Financial Times £). Mike Coupe is expected to outline how the chain will use data gathered from its Nectar loyalty card to boost sales and will also set out proposals to stem losses at its banking division (The Times £).
Marks and Spencer’s turnaround plan suffered a fresh blow on Saturday after the UK retailer confirmed that its chief financial officer, Humphrey Singer, was stepping down after little more than a year (The Financial Times £, The Times £, The Guardian, Sky News). His departure raises new questions over its cost-cutting efforts and plans to break into the competitive online grocery market (The Telegraph). Marks & Spencer will trade as a FTSE 250 company for the first time today, as bosses grapple with the departure of another executive (The Daily Mail).
Amazon is secretly building a team of senior British property experts to identify sites for more bricks-and-mortar stores amid speculation that the online retailer is preparing for another assault on supermarkets. (The Times £)
The board of John Lewis is preparing a sweeping restructuring drive that aims to run the retail chain and Waitrose closer together, paving the way for further job losses. (The Times £)
Britain’s largest sandwich maker Greencore is seeking to expand into new types of food such as sushi, salads and hot meals, as it seeks a fresh growth engine after selling its US division last year. Chief executive Patrick Coveney, who has led Greencore since 2007, said he aimed to acquire “several” companies worth up to £50m in the next three to five years. (The Financial Times £)
Brewing firm Budweiser is to phase out single-use plastic pack rings from its entire range of UK-produced beer – which include the bestselling brands Stella Artois, Budweiser and Bud Light – by the end of 2020. (The Guardian)
A Leeds-based company riding the vegetarian wave that has turned Beyond Meat into one of the tastiest American floats of the year has secured a seven-figure investment from Channel 4. The Meatless Farm Company has sold a stake worth a few million pounds in exchange for advertising airtime across the broadcaster’s main channel and streaming service. (The Times £)
The UK chancellor is being urged to ease the burden of business rates after new figures suggested councils are sending bailiffs to 310 companies a day over arrears. (The Guardian)
Fifty-five football pitches worth of retail space has been lost in just a year as the crisis on the High Street continues to take its toll. (The Daily Mail)
Pure Circle’s disclosure of accounting issues that could cost it as much as $30 million sent its shares tumbling by almost a third. (The Times £)
Soon Britons will be able to snack on a “luxury handcrafted” version of KitKats – for up to £14 a bar – as the tea-break staple gets a gourmet makeover. (The Guardian)
Walmart is to stop selling e-cigarettes, cutting off a significant source of sales for the vaping industry as it grapples with a backlash over teenage usage and the emergence of mysterious health problems associated with the products (The Financial Times £). Walmart has said it will no longer sell e-cigarettes in the US, amid mounting calls to ban the products entirely (The BBC).
An undercover investigation by BBC Watchdog Live reveals poor hygiene standards at supermarket giant Asda’s home delivery service. Watchdog’s reporter was given no training on keeping delivery crates and vans clean. (The BBC)
Piccolo Foods, the baby food brand that counts Prue Leith, the The Great British Bake Off judge, as an early backer has built a £1.5m export business in the past year to help to cushion it from Brexit uncertainty. (The Times £)