The billionaire Issa brothers are weighing up a merger of Asda and their petrol station business EG Group. The Blackburn-based entrepreneurs have been reviewing options to break up their sprawling global forecourt empire, but they could merge the two businesses instead, valuing the combined entity at about $35bn (£26bn) including debt. (Bloomberg £, The Telegraph

The UK has rung up its biggest Black Friday sales day ever, data suggests, with shoppers spending more than one-fifth more than last year as the high street bounced back from pandemic lockdowns (The Guardian). Retailers across Britain were poised for record Black Friday takings yesterday as early data showed shoppers spending slightly more than they did before the pandemic (The Times £). Black Friday sales are on track to beat the bumper shopping bonanzas of the last two years, latest data suggests (The BBC).  

Americans opened their wallets on Black Friday even after getting a jump on holiday spending in the weeks before, undaunted by higher prices and less generous discounts. (The Financial Times £

The bakery chain Gail’s has reported a rise in profits after striking deals to sell its bread and pastries via supermarkets and Deliveroo. (The Telegraph

Consumers are being asked to “respect” new rules on mandatory face masks in shops in England this week following the emergence of a new Covid variant. The British Retail Consortium, which represents the industry, said it is up to the police to enforce the measure. (The BBC

Vets and farmers have made the “soul-destroying” move of carrying out abortion procedures on pigs because they have “run out of alternatives”. It comes as many can no longer cope with the backlog of animals on farms. (Sky News

Every farmers’ worst nightmare is coming to pass; the mass culling of healthy animals because there simply aren’t enough butchers to process them and get them off farms. Sky News looks at the factors behind the crisis. (Sky News

Plant-based meat is losing its sizzle, with falling US sales casting a shadow over expectations that the nascent category would take a chunk out of the real animal meat market. (The Financial Times £

With less than a month to go until Christmas, many retailers are not only having to deal with the impact of the pandemic and a global supply chain crisis but are also experiencing the full impact of Brexit on festive demands for the first time. The Guardian looks at the effect on the availability of alcohol, food and toys and gifts. (The Guardian

Britons are starting Christmas early, with sales of mince pies on track to top £100m amid a fierce supermarket bake-off. (The Guardian

A global shortage of fertilisers is driving up food prices and leaving poorer countries facing crisis, says the boss of a major fertiliser firm. Svein Tore Holsether, chief executive of Yara International, said higher gas prices were pushing up fertiliser costs and affecting food prices worldwide. (The BBC

Distiller Diageo is repurchasing up to £550m worth of shares, part of a pre-signalled £4.5bn capital return programme. The maker of Guinness and Smirnoff is not the only buyer. Shares have been running ahead of the benchmark FTSE 100 index this year, as pubs and bars pulled up the shutters after lockdowns. An upbeat capital markets day in the middle of the month, during which management raised guidance, adds sparkle. (The Financial Times £

Walmart leapfrogs Amazon in the race to deliver by drone. The supermarket giant is piloting instant airborne deliveries of food and medicines. But is this the future or is reality still in the hype’s slipstream? (The Times £

Sir Terry Leahy, the former Tesco chief, has joined an electric car charging start-up as it steps up plans for a London listing. Myenergi is riding a wave of interest in electric vehicles as Britain plans to ban the sale of combustion engine vehicles from 2030. (The Telegraph

Deliveroo is close to naming Goldman Sachs as one of its new brokers, eight months after the Wall Street bank played a major role in what became one of the London stock market’s most calamitous listings. (Sky News

The race to run the National Lottery is of huge public interest, so why the secrecy, asks Dominic O’Connell in The Times. “The Gambling Commission, which awards the licence, gives out no detailed information on the process… The paranoia may stem from an incident more than two decades ago involving Sir Richard Branson’s attempts to win the contract.” (The Times £

Nappy manufacturers shift focus in China from infants to elderly as the market for adults could exceed that for babies by 2025 as population ages, according to analysts. (The Financial Times £

Glass bottle shortage leaves US distillers high and dry – strong spirits demand and vaccine vial competition prompt search for new vessels. Companies as large as Brown-Forman, the maker of Jack Daniel’s whiskey, are expressing concern in recent months over what glass supplies will mean for their outlooks. (The Financial Times £

The FT interviews Itsu boss Julian Metcalfe, who is on a mission to “take on the fast-food giants” and supply “high-nutrient content, high fibre, delicious food” to the masses, he says, and that the price of a hot meal at Itsu should never veer from about £7. (The Financial Times £