AB InBev is to put Peroni and Grolsch up for sale as it tries to “squeeze” a £177bn merger with SAB Miller past EU regulators, according to The Sunday Times. The world’s biggest brewer will sell two of SAB’s leading brands in a deal that will raise billions of pounds, City sources said. The sale is a pre-emptive strike to appease competition regulators in Brussels, who have the power to block the takeover. Potential bidders include European giant Heineken, American brewer Molson Coors and Dublin-based C&C, owner of Bulmers and Magners (The Sunday Times £). The story has been followed up by The Financial Times £, The Guardian, and The Daily Mail.
“UK retailers hope Cyber Monday pays off after flat-footed Black Friday”, writes The Guardian. Imported from the US like its Black Friday cousin, Cyber Monday is forecast to bring in more than £900m for online retailers – up nearly a third on last year. By the end of Cyber Monday, total sales over the four-day shopping event will surpass £3bn in the UK, some analysts have predicted. (The Guardian)
British shoppers are expected to have spent more than £3bn by the time Cyber Monday ends, after the American phenomenon of Black Friday led to an online sales surge (The Guardian). While big US retailers were also rolling out a new round of discounts on Sunday ahead of the official start of Cyber Monday, one of the biggest shopping days on the US calendar (The Financial Times £)
Black Friday itself was a mixed bag, with UK sales falling 10% from last year. “Fewer customers ventured out for the traditional busiest shopping day of the year, while online retailers saw sales jump”, wrote The Guardian.
“Black Friday shoppers get stuck in overcrowded web”, said The Times (£) noting that online retailers reported record-breaking sales in the first few hours and it appears likely that online retail sales will surpass £1 billion in one day. However, customers reported a number of problems with websites.
Footfall across the UK fell almost 10pc during Black Friday and over the rest of the weekend, “perhaps in fear of a repeat of last year’s chaotic scenes”. However, online traffic was up 12% and Amazon sold more than 6 million items on Black Friday alone. (The Telegraph).
Black Friday “looks like being the latest victim of the disruptive power of the internet”, says The Telegraph. Sales on Black Friday and its online adjunct, Cyber Monday, peaked in 2012 at around $60bn (£40bn) in the US. Last year they were just $51bn despite the plunge in the oil price which should have given a boost to the US consumer.
In the US, consumers turned to their smartphones and tablets to drive a sharp increase in online sales, as early indications signalled a mixed start to the Black Friday weekend of bargain hunting. (The Financial Times £)
Elsewhere, The Government has clawed back more than £400m from high street retailers in a move which has infuriated campaigners who have been fighting a losing battle to promote Britain’s battered town centres. Former high street tsar Mary Portas and retail veteran Bill Grimsey accused Chancellor George Osborne of a betrayal of the businesses that are working hard to keep high streets alive for local communities. (The Daily Mail)
An influential committee of MPs has thrown its support behind a sugar tax and for government curbs on price discounts on unhealthy food, in an increasingly polarised debate about how to tackle Britain’s childhood obesity problem. (The Financial Times £)
The cost of cocoa has rocketed to the highest level in four years, driven by fears of poor harvests in west Africa. Strong winds driven by the El Niño weather system in the Pacific, which is at its strongest since 1998, were expected to bring drier conditions to the region, hampering this year’s crop. (The Times £)
Customers of Patisserie Valerie are having their cake and eating it — at the rate of more than 81,000 slices and 6,000 celebration cakes a week, not to mention 35,000 pastries and croissants. Patisserie Holdings, the owner of the chain, yesterday reported a 29.2% jump in adjusted pre-tax profits to £14.6m in the year to the end of September. (The Times £)
The Telegraph profiles Karma Cola, a challenger soft drink brand, which is taking on Cola-Cola with a Fairtrade and organic version of the famous sugary drink and gives 3p of the cost of every bottle sold to cola nut producers in Sierra Leone. (The Telegraph)
Thomas Tunnock hit the publicity jackpot last year when dancing Tunnock’s teacakes were featured in the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow – an event seen by a billion people worldwide. Accounts just filed show that the family-owned company recorded a 7% increase in sales for the year to February 28, 2015, and saw profits jump 17% to £7.9m. (The Daily Mail)