Britain’s biggest tobacco distributor Palmer & Harvery is to be put up for sale just weeks after sealing a financial rescue package led by two of the world’s largest cigarette makers.

According to Sky News, P&H could change hands within months after creditors decided to use last month’s refinancing to explore a change of ownership. PricewaterhouseCoopers is understood to have been asked to supervise a sale process. The move to sell the business, which is owned by current and former employees, is said to have been instigated by P&H’s creditors, with Imperial Brands and Japan Tobacco International now ranking among the largest of those. (Sky News)

The Times (£) writes that CEO Mike Coupe “sets sights on long-term as profits fall again”. “Sainsbury’s warns on consumer confidence as profits fall” is the headline in The Financial Times (£). Sainsbury’s has warned that a squeeze on real pay growth and lower consumer confidence is hitting non-food sales as it revealed a third consecutive year of falling profits (The Guardian). The Daily Mail rights that Coupe insists: ‘I’m in it for the long haul’ (The Daily Mail). The supermarket warned it could be five years before it again sees steady growth in earnings (Sky News)

Sainsbury’s is considering expanding its convenience store chain by offering franchise deals to independent retailers as it struggles to find suitable new sites. The UK’s second biggest supermarket chain said it planned to open just 25 of its own Sainsbury’s Local convenience stores this year, down from 41 last year and 66 the year before. (The Guardian)

The FT’s Lombard column ponders: “Although J Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe remains committed to providing shoppers with “market-leading product choice . . . whenever and wherever,” one wonders if his finance director dreams of cutting back on food . . . everywhere and now.” (The Financial Times £)

The Telegraph’s Ashley Armstrong writes: “If “strong and stable” is to be the squawk of this election, then “remarkably resilient” deserves to be Sainsbury’s new slogan. Supermarket boss Mike Coupe chirruped the phrase numerous times on Wednesday in order to bat away pesky questions about another food sales slip.” (The Telegraph)

The chief executive of Halfords has quit after only two years in the job to become the head of Marks & Spencer’s struggling clothing, home and beauty division (The Times £). McDonald’s shock appointment has surprised the City as industry experts believed that she was only halfway through her plans to overhaul bicycle chain Halfords (The Telegraph). M&S had courted the former Next clothing chief Christos Angelides, but he signed up as head of fashion chain Reiss (The Guardian). A former McDonald’s executive, McDonald said she counted herself “an M&S customer and professional fan, so working with the brand was a career opportunity that I just couldn’t turn down” (The Financial Times £). The Daily Mail highlights the “no-nonsense mum taking on the toughest job on the High Street”.

An outlay of more than £320m on Easter eggs helped push all 10 of the UK’s major supermarkets into growth for the first time in three and a half years, fresh figures show (The Telegraph). The Easter bunny may have arrived late this year but it didn’t disappoint, with sales of chocolate eggs and hot cross buns driving the fastest rise in grocery sales in three years (The Times £).

Lidl is on track to overtake Waitrose to become the UK’s seventh-biggest grocer as early as this summer as the discounters benefit from new store openings and shoppers search out bargains amid a return to food price inflation. (The Guardian)

Kraft Heinz, the packaged-food company behind brands like Jell-O and Heinz ketchup, reported sales fell 3% in the first quarter, as snack food industry strives to adjust to more health-conscious consumers. (The Financial Times £)

Imperial Brands is looking to launch new tobacco-less products this year as it seeks to grasp a greater share of the $6bn e-vapour market and counter declining cigarette volumes (The Telegraph). Cigarette maker Imperial Brands is to launch edible caffeine energy strips in a bid to woo younger customers (The Daily Mail). Imperial Brands is experimenting with caffeine energy products as cigarette sales slow and new rules on plain packaging loom (The Evening Standard). Tobacco group Imperial Brands cut costs more quickly than expected after a 6 per cent fall in cigarette sales in the first half (The Financial Times £).

Pizza Express has failed to stem a decline in comparable sales in its home market even after linking up with delivery giant Deliveroo. (The Telegraph)

Amazon is adding 400 staff to a new research and development centre focused on machine learning, in a move that reinforces the retail group’s long-term investment in the UK. (The Financial Times £)