Ministers have been urged not to “turn a blind eye” as Asda’s American owner continues negotiations over the sale of a controlling stake to TDR Capital and the petrol station billionaires Mohsin and Zuber Issa. The investors hoping to gain control of the supermarket are being called on to guarantee the jobs of its 147,000 staff. (The Times £)
The billionaire brothers seeking to buy Asda own scores of petrol stations close to its supermarkets, according to new figures likely to spark scrutiny by competition watchdogs. (The Telegraph)
The Issas, backed by private equity firm TDR, have been selected as the preferred bidders in the £6.5bn sale of Asda, fending off competition from private equity group Apollo. The deal is expected to be confirmed as soon as this week (The Financial Times £)
The FT writes that the finances of the main business of the Issas, EG Group, do not inspire huge confidence. EG has expanded fast, purchasing thousands of petrol stations worldwide. It has a lot of net debt — about €8bn in 2019, when the group made a €82m pre-tax loss. Its borrowings are rated “highly speculative” by S&P. (The Financial Times £)
Jobs are at risk at Greggs as the bakery chain faces reduced trading across its stores “for the foreseeable future” (The Times £). Greggs has warned that trading will remain “below normal for the foreseeable future” as it plans cost-cutting measures that could see jobs go (Sky News). Greggs is fighting to limit job cuts as the taxpayer-funded furlough scheme comes to an end, forcing the hospitality industry into a massive wave of redundancies (The Telegraph). Greggs, the UK food-to-go chain, has said that roughly half of its shop staff will need to accept reduced hours or face job cuts while trade remains depressed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic (The Financial Times £). The bakery chain Greggs said on Tuesday that job cuts in its stores are inevitable, as a string of household names laid bare the damage done to their finances by coronavirus (The Guardian). Greggs has warned its outlook is uncertain due to increased coronavirus restrictions put on customers after sales slumped by 30% since it reopened in July (The Daily Mail).
B&M, the variety discounter that entered the FTSE 100 index this month, has upgraded profit forecasts for the second time this year as customers spent more on each visit (The Financial Times £). Rising demand for out-of-town and budget shopping, driven by the pandemic, has boosted sales and profit forecasts at B&M (The Times £). B&M Bargains plans to open up to 45 stores this financial year as sales continued to surge (The Telegraph). Discount retailer B&M has stepped up its expansion plans after its stores, selling everything from tinned and frozen food to wallpaper and bedding plants, became a lockdown sensation (The Guardian). Discount retailer B&M is set to open more stores than expected this year after sales and profits jumped as it emerges as one of the winners of the coronavirus pandemic (The Daily Mail).
Ocado has overtaken Tesco to become the UK’s most valuable retailer after its stock market value soared to £21.66bn (The Guardian). For an enterprise once described by the former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy as a “charity” because of its run of losses in the noughties, Ocado has emphatically come back with its riposte (The Times £).
Hotel Chocolat has seen profits melt away as it counts the cost of the pandemic (Sky News). Hotel Chocolat has signed a five-year deal with the technology arm of e-commerce giant The Hut Group to expand its reach in the United States (The Daily Mail).
The Hut Group, the online retailer and technology company which floated this month, has struck its first takeover deal since going public with the purchase of a leading international skincare brand. (Sky News)
British beef is back on US menus for the first in more than 20 years as exports restart on Wednesday. The beef was banned after the BSE outbreak in 1996 when cattle were infected by what became commonly known as Mad Cow Disease. (The BBC)
Growth is slowing but the economic recovery has been better than expected, the governor of the Bank of England said as he played down the prospect of negative interest rates. (The Times £)
Great rivalries can bring out the best of both parties and this appears to be the case for Walmart and Amazon as they battle for their share of shoppers’ wallets. It is no surprise that both companies have fared well during the pandemic, but it is notable that Walmart’s online grocery business seems to have more than just kept pace with Amazon’s. (The Times £)
Burger King is preparing to shut some of its UK restaurants as part of a restructuring process triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, with a goal of opening more drive-through sites (The Telegraph, Sky News).
Polish ecommerce company Allegro is set for the country’s biggest-ever stock market debut after setting the price for its listing on the Warsaw exchange at 43 zlotys a share. (The Financial Times £)