Tesco and Carrefour, Europe’s two largest supermarket groups, have joined forces to put the squeeze on suppliers in an effort to cut costs as they step up their assault on Germany’s discount grocers (The Financial Times £). Food and drink manufacturers face being squeezed by Tesco and Carrefour after the companies revealed a wide-ranging partnership that they said could lead to lower prices for shoppers (The Times £). Analysts said the move was likely inspired by the proposed merger of Tesco’s two largest rivals, Asda and Sainsbury’s, which was announced in May (The Telegraph). The tie-up will give Tesco and Carrefour greater buying power – spelling more misery for suppliers who will face more pressure to keep a lid on the price of goods on supermarket shelves (The Daily Mail).
The Times (£) argues that shoppers may feel benefits of Tesco and Carrefour’s merger-lite, writing: “The result for customers should be positive — the point of the shared supply arrangement is to drive down costs, with some of the benefits to be passed on to customers. The two sides will also look at other areas of possible co-operation, which could lead to more French goods in the aisles of Tesco, and vice versa.”
Nils Pratley in The Guardian writes that the Tesco and Carrefour alliance “sounds like a tough gig for suppliers”. He writes: “The worries should be for small suppliers and providers of own-label products. Selling to a retailer that sees itself as a part of supranational alliance, created to find supply chain “efficiencies”, sounds like a very tough gig for them.” (The Guardian)
FT FT’s Lex column suggested neither suppliers or investors should get carried away. “The share prices of Tesco and Carrefour barely moved on Monday. That is partly a sign that alliances have not historically generated big benefits. Savings are far smaller than those that might be achieved through a merger.” (The Financial Times £)
Nestlé has hit back at activist criticism over its profitability, outlining a series of measures that it said left it well-placed to deliver shareholder value. (The Financial Times £)
The FT interviews Nestlé boss Mark Schneider, noting the fate of the Swiss group will be a defining test for an industry under pressure from changing consumer tastes and activist investors. (The Financial Times £)
Mr Kipling cakemaker Premier Foods has reiterated its support for CEO Gavin Darby, who is under pressure from a major shareholder to step down. (The Financial Times £)
Shareholder Oasis Management said Gavin Darby’s tenure as chief executive of the cake maker’s owner Premier Foods has left the group in ‘a zombie-like state’ (The Daily Mail). Oasis Management, an activist investor, has said it wants Premier Foods, the owner of Mr Kipling, Oxo and Bisto, to inject more money into its underfunded pension scheme in the latest stage of an increasingly bitter boardroom row. (The Times £)
Patrick Hosking in The Times (£) writes about Premier’s large pension obligations, arguing: “Trustees have a tendency to cling to incumbent managements, for fear of ending up with worse. That may not always be in the best interests of pension fund members. Sometimes the bold option can be less risky than kicking the can down the road.”
The founder of Poundworld has said that the discount retailer’s administrator is putting a rescue plan at risk by dragging its feet over striking a deal (The BBC).
Administrators for the failed high street chain Poundworld have hit back at its founder after he accused Deloitte of ignoring his bid to save the company and thousands of jobs (The Times £). Administrators for collapsed high street chain Poundworld have fired back at its founder, who accused Deloitte of ignoring his bid to save the company (Sky News).
The Scottish government is preparing for sweeping restrictions on sugary and fatty foods including ice-creams and takeaway meals to cope with surging rates of obesity. (The Guardian)
Theresa May is being warned that businesses are running out of patience on the lack of Brexit clarity, more than two years after the vote to leave the EU (Sky News). The British Chambers of Commerce has published a list of 23 “real-world” questions that it says urgently need answers as the UK’s EU exit approaches (The BBC).
Food manufacturers will have to reformulate the way they produce breakfast cereals if the government’s obesity strategy is to succeed, the head of the NHS in England has warned. (The Guardian)
Some of the largest private equity groups in Europe and the US are circling Wagamama ahead of the sale of the noodle restaurant chain, which could come as early as this summer. Bridgepoint, CVC, KKR and L Catterton among those circling the restaurant chain. (The Financial Times £)
Whitbread is to lose 250 staff in Beefeater and Brewers Fayre pub-restaurants as part of its £250 million cost-cutting programme. The Premier Inn and Costa Coffee owner said the move was part of an efficiency drive and unrelated to April’s announcement of a proposed demerger of its Costa business. (The Times £)
The BBC has an article looking at “how UK shoppers fell in love with own-label groceries”. (The BBC)
Supplies of carbon dioxide (CO2) may not return to normal levels for another two to three weeks – triggering likely shortages of meat for UK shoppers – the processing industry has warned. (The Guardian)