Waitrose and John Lewis

John Lews is seeking rent cuts from its landlords in a bid to cut running costs. The retailer told landlords in some locations it would withhold 20% of this quarter’s service charge, which covers heating and water on top of rent, because it had become too expensive. However, the move could result in legal action from landlords looking to reclaim the missing money. The decision follows a restructuring announced by John Lewis this week, which will see the retail giant and its supermarket chain Waitrose be run as a single business, a move which will help save around £100m a year (BBC).

According to Sky News, PAI Partners is in talks for the acquisition of Hain Daniels Group, the UK-based operation of Nasdaq-listed Hain Celestial. Citing City sources, Sky said PAI had been in discussions with regards to the takeover of the business behind Linda McCartney, Mary Berry desserts and Sun-Pat peanut butter for several weeks, but it was unclear whether it would proceed (Sky News).

Imperial Brands chief executive Alison Cooper has announced she will step down from her role after nine years at the helm of the company. It comes days after the firm issued a profit warning amid a US crackdown on vaping, which prompted a massive share sell-out (The Financial Times £).

In an opinion piece, The FT argues that news of Cooper’s departure highlights the problems Imperial is facing. “Every line of Imperial’s announcement was a reminder of the problems it still faces”, writes the newspaper. The fact a successor had not yet been identified suggested the board felt it needed to act fast on shareholders’ concerns, it added (The Financial Times £).

Meanwhile in the US, the number of deaths which authorities claim were associated with vaping-related illnesses has risen to 18. The news could prompt another fall in the shares of global tobacco giants, which have suffered since Trump announced a clampdown on vaping last month (BBC).

One of the UK’s largest clean energy funds has revealed plans to invest £120m to create two low-carbon greenhouses in Norfolk and Suffolk, which will be big enough to grow 10% of the UK’s tomato crop. In the greenhouses, 20 tonnes of tomatoes a day will be grown vertically from nutrient-rich water solutions instead of soil (The Guardian). 

The UK could be on the brink of entering its first recession since the financial crisis, as service sector data highlights one of the worst months for the economy in over a decade. After four consecutive sessions in the red, the FTSE 100 lost around £95bn (The TelegraphThe Guardian).

Scotch Whisky makers have warned the latest round of tariffs imposed on EU products by President Trump will leave them “worse for wear”, with the 25% duty set to affect their largest export market (The Times). 

However, shares in Diageo rose on Thursday as investors reacted to news the new tariffs would only impact single-malt Irish or Scotch whiskies. Although Diageo is the biggest whisky producer in the world, analysts at Jefferies said they expected it to cope with the extra costs without raising prices (The Telegraph). 

PepsiCo’s third quarter results showed that, despite a 4% price increase, consumers are still chugging litres of its soft drinks with revenues rising to $17.1bn. Furthermore, the US company said it would “meet or exceed” its target to increase full-year organic revenues by 4% this year (The Financial Times £).