Good news for Ocado, which finally announced it first international technology partnership, was overshadowed by the collapse of Palmer & Harvey last night. The food wholesaler that supplied the Costcutter convenience store operator fell into insolvency with the loss of 2,500 jobs, The Financial Times writes. The Guardian adds a further 900 jobs are at risk at the group, which delivers goods to 90,000 grocery and convenience stores, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and the Costcutter chain. The collapse comes just a month after the company signed an exclusivity agreement with private equity firm Carlyle after months of takeover talks, The Telegraph notes. The deal was conditional on cigarette giants Imperial and Japan Tobacco rolling over loans worth £60m and providing additional funding to keep the business solvent, the paper says. The Times adds that sources close to Carlyle expressed “surprise and disappointment” at the outcome, claiming that it had been hoping to complete a deal right up until it was told of the impending administration at 4pm yesterday.
Ocado’s shares soared more than 25% yesterday morning after the online grocer announced it had finally struck a long-awaited deal to supply its technology to an international partner, The Telegraph writes. A robot-run warehouse, to serve Paris and northwest France, will be built over the coming two years to serve Groupe Casino, The Times adds. The French supermarket’s brands, including Monoprix, will also use Ocado’s digital software. Ocado said it expects the deal to create ‘significant long term value to the business’, adding that other international tie-ups could well be on the cards (The Mail). Finance director Duncan Tatton Brown said Ocado would recoup its investment in the deal from a signing fee and ongoing payments from Casino, which he said would relate to “capacity utilisation“ and would begin in 2019 (The Financial Times). The Telegraph retail editor Ashley Armstrong says that Ocado has finally delivered on deal, but the jury is still out. Lex in The Financial Times adds that questions remain about the valuation of Ocado, less so about the technology now it has signed a deal with Casino.
The Financial Times also examines Casino’s bet on the shift to home delivery in France with a report from Paris.
Unilever’s board is to delay a decision on whether to choose the UK or the Netherlands for its headquarters on account of political emotions running high in Europe, The Financial Times reports.
The former Pizza Express boss Richard Hodgson will head up the newly expanded YO! Sushi Japanese restaurant business in a move which sees incumbent veteran Robin Rowland move onto the board, (The Telegraph).
UK consumers told to keep apples in fridge as part of wider labelling shake-up, The Guardian reports. Supermarket packaging will carry new logos advising which items can be kept in the fridge, ensuring they last longer and reduce food waste.
Tesco is enhancing its pet gift range to meet demand from pet owners who want to treat their furry friends this Christmas, The Telegraph writes. The supermarket has quadrupled its special Christmas gifts range for pets from 12 items last year to more than 50 this year, as demand for dedicated festive pet gifts over the past two years has soared by 300%.
‘John Lewis defies the gloom to hit Black Friday sales record,’ a headline in the Guardian says. Beauty and electrical products help sales to weekly high of £214.3m, but some warn of discounting’s impact on Christmas period.