The owners of Asda are said to be planning an £8bn takeover of Subway. The Blackburn-based billionaire Issa brothers have been considering a bid for the fast-food chain despite the existing heavy debt burden on their petrol stations empire. (The Times £)

Waitrose has called off secret talks about a deal that would have involved it taking a stake in Planet Organic, its smaller rival grocer. A deal would have seen Waitrose inject millions of pounds into Planet Organic in exchange for a significant shareholding. (Sky News)

The world’s biggest spirits maker, Diageo, has appointed Debra Crew as chief executive, one of few women to lead a FTSE 100 company (The Guardian). Debra Crew will become the tenth female chief executive in the FTSE 100 following the announcement that the former US army captain is to succeed Sir Ivan Menezes at the helm of Diageo (The Times £). Former US army captain Debra Crew will take over as chief executive of the drinks giant in July – taking the number of female bosses in the FTSE 100 to ten (The Daily Mail). The promotion will make Crew, an American, one of the most prominent female leaders in corporate Britain. Her challenges in the role will include managing inflationary pressures and growing the appeal of Diageo’s premium drinks at a time of strained household budgets (The Financial Times £).

Crew, a seasoned consumer goods executive, will benefit from Menezes’ efforts to tidy up the group behind Johnnie Walker whisky and focus it on premium spirits. Yet with sales growth fizzling in Diageo’s key US market, it may win fewer toasts from investors. (Financial Times £)

Sky News’ Ian King writes: “The end of an era is approaching at one of the UK’s biggest companies… To call it a distinguished tenure would be an understatement. Shares of Diageo - that rare beast, a British company that is an undisputed world leader in its field - have come close to doubling during his time at the helm. Possibly most remarkable of all is that Diageo now, on its own, accounts for £1 in every £10 of the UK’s total food and drink exports.” (Sky News)

UK grocery prices rose at a record pace this month, adding £837 to the average household’s annual bill as the cost of living crisis held its grip on shoppers, according to new sector data (Financial Times £). Supermarket price inflation in the UK has hit another record high, raising the increase in average annual household bills to £837, as shoppers increasingly turn to multiple supermarkets to hunt for bargains (The Guardian). UK grocery inflation has hit a new record high - with customers now paying hundreds more a year - but there are warnings the worst is yet to come (Sky News).

Dame Sharon White was handed a much needed boost as Waitrose clocked up its best performance for 18 months (Daily Mail). Sales at Waitrose have grown at the fastest rate in 18 months in a boost for owner John Lewis as it battles to raise money (Telegraph).

Bargain-hunting will put pressure on margins, writes The FT’s Lex column. Shoppers are trading down and buying less, hitting mid-market chains and makers of branded products. “They have lettuce-limp ebit margins as it is: 4.5 per cent for Tesco and 3 per cent for Sainsbury’s. With shoppers shopping around they have to be careful about raising prices. The trend towards cheaper products may be margin dilutive.” (Financial Times £)

Ocado’s retail joint venture has shrugged off the challenging trading environment to deliver forecast-beating sales and maintain its financial guidance for the year (The Times £). Ocado Group and Marks & Spencer delivery joint venture Ocado Retail has recommitted itself to a return to profitability in 2023 (Daily Mail).

A few bottles of Irn-Bru might be needed to fortify the board of its maker AG Barr as a descendant of the founder has announced he is to step down after more than six decades with the Scottish soft drinks company (The Times £). The great-grandson of the founder of Irn Bru maker AG Barr is to leave the company after one of the longest stints in corporate history (Daily Mail). The head of the Irn-Bru family dynasty who led the expansion of the Scottish soft drink into the “emerging market” of England and Wales is to leave the board of the listed company that makes the beverage after 58 years (Financial Times £).

The American owner of Boots has described the business as “nice to have” amid renewed questions over its commitment (The Times £). Boots hailed a record-breaking start to the year for its beauty arm as shoppers splashed out on more expensive products. (Daily Mail)