The discounter B&M European Value Retail has reported “strong profitable trading momentum” as it continues to benefit from shoppers seeking out bargains in the cost of living crisis (The Times £). B&M raked in £1.3billion in sales the last quarter, an increase of 13.5%, as squeezed shoppers continue to hunt for bargains to cope with the rising cost of living (Daily Mail). Shoppers searching for ways to trim their budgets have boosted sales at the discounter B&M and the fashion chain H&M in the latest sign of resilient trading on Britain’s high streets (The Guardian). 

The boss of WH Smith has said the retailer won’t be opening any more UK High Street stores. Instead it will focus on UK airports and train stations, as well as opening shops in the US and Europe, its chief executive Carl Cowling told the BBC. (BBC)

A popular artificial sweetener used in thousands of products worldwide including Diet Coke, ice-cream and chewing gum is to be declared a possible cancer risk to humans, according to reports (The Guardian). An artificial sweetener used in Diet Coke and thousands of other popular food and drink products may cause cancer, the World Health Organisation is set to declare (The Times £).

John Lewis has defended a plan to build homes to rent as the group files planning applications for projects in west and south-east London, and prepares to manage tenancies at three sites built by other developers. (The Guardian)

Ministers must “completely reappraise” their immigration policy, a former environment secretary has told the BBC. People who are good with their hands like fruit-pickers should not be deemed “low-skilled”, George Eustice said. (BBC)

The Telegraph examines “how Britain fell out of love with Boots” after news the chemist is set to shut 300 stores across Britain over the next three years. (Telegraph £)

Shares in French food retailer Casino tumbled as much as 37% on Thursday after the heavily indebted group said it would convert up to €1.5bn of secured debt into equity, warning that its shareholders would be “massively” diluted by the move. (Financial Times £)

Almost four decades after the first Pret opened in north London – and three years after the chain faced an existential crisis when the coronavirus pandemic emptied the offices that were its bloodline – it is experiencing a massive expansion. “Apart from marking a startling corporate comeback, the new stores arguably seal the status of a sandwich shop as a barometer not only of Britain’s economy, but its tastes and working habits, too.” (Telegraph £)

As part of the Sunday Times 100 feature on fast growing companies, the paper talks to Aneisha Soobroyen, the co-founder of the natural pet food brand Scrumbles, on leaving the safety of consumer giants behind to start from scratch. (The Times £)