Tesco has said that the proposed merger of J Sainsbury and Asda should not go ahead unless “extensive remedies” are provided by its rivals, writes The Times (£). Tesco also claimed that Asda was the “price leader” in fuel and questioned whether the merged group would still maintain Asda’s low prices, particularly in areas where there was neither a Morrisons nor a Tesco petrol station.
Unilever has agreed to pay €3.3bn for GlaxoSmithKline’s consumer nutrition business, expanding its footprint in India with the popular hot malted beverage Horlicks representing the final major mark left on the Anglo-Dutch giant by its veteran chief executive Paul Polman before he retires in January (The Financial Times £). The deal, which also includes the acquisition of the Boost drinks brand and other nutrition businesses, will increase Unilever’s presence in the rapidly growing Indian market, where Horlicks is a national favourite, with 90% of sales coming from there (The Daily Mail).
The Mail writes of “Glaxo’s £7bn day of drama” as it sold Horlicks is sold for £3bn and the bought a US cancer firm is bought for £4bn only to see its shares tumble 7.6%. (The Daily Mail)
Shares in British convenience store group McColl’s fell by more than a fifth on Monday after it issued its second profit warning of the year citing disruption from the collapse of one of its key suppliers and subdued retail spending (The Financial Times £). Convenience stores chain McColl’s has ended a “very difficult year” by releasing a second profit warning in less than six months (The Times £). Shares in convenience store chain McColl’s sank by nearly a third after it warned investors that profits would be lower than expected following disruption to its supply chain (The Telegraph). McColl’s shares slumped by nearly a quarter this morning after the convenience store retailer said profits would be lower than expected due to disruption caused by the collapse of supplier Palmer & Harvey (The Daily Mail).
Irish meat entrepreneur Tom Cribbin has carved up the rump of collapsed butchers chain Crawshaw, buying the brand, its 19 remaining stores and its Rotherham factory out of administration for £1.4m. (The Telegraph)
The maker of Marlboro cigarettes has held early talks to buy the Canadian marijuana company Cronos in what would be the first major takeover of a pot producer by a big tobacco group (The Financial Times £). Canada’s Cronos Group confirmed the discussions but said it had not yet reached an agreement. It follows reports that Altria was in talks to acquire Cronos as it moves to diversify from traditional smokers (The BBC).
Retail sales fell in November compared with the same month last year as a boost from Black Friday failed to offset fragile consumer confidence (The Times £).
Retail tycoon Mike Ashley wants to see a 20% tax levied on online sales and prison sentences for executives who consistently “fiddle” their way out of paying the levy, as part of his plan to save the country’s “dying” high streets (The Telegraph). Mike Ashley told MPs that they should impose a 20% tax on online sales in a bid to save bricks-and-mortar stores (The Financial Times £). The Sports Direct owner told MPs that the “internet is killing the High Street” (The BBC). Mike Ashley, the founder and chief executive of Sports Direct, has called for a tax on retailers that make more than a fifth of sales online as he said many high streets were “already dead” and more would be killed off without government intervention (The Guardian). Mike Ashley revealed the House of Fraser chain he bought earlier this year could be merged with Debenhams as he batted off criticism from MPs and insisted: “It’s not my fault the high street is dying.” (Sky News).
More than a quarter of all retail floor space in England and Wales disappeared in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, research has shown, as the industry struggled with the shift to online purchases. (The Guardian)
Nestlé’s leadership has defended its governance arrangements against criticism from an influential activist investor, insisting that the collaborative relationship between the chief executive and chairman was not hindering the Swiss food company’s growth plans (The Financial Times £).
Factory orders rose last month as home-based businesses stocked up with goods and parts with one eye on potential Brexit disruption. (The Times £)
The Mail notes that the departure of Unilever’s Paul Polman’s might be met by crocodile tears from some of the Dutchman’s close executives. “Keen marathon runner Polman used to regularly ask colleagues to join him on bracing early morning runs, an invitation eager-to-please underlings were obliged to accept”. (The Daily Mail)