Nando’s is in crisis talks over its debt pile after spending £20m to make its UK restaurants Covid-secure, though the restaurant chain’s boss Rob Papps is “confident in the long-term prospect for the business” (The Telegraph). Nando’s has raised £100 million from shareholders to help it weather the pandemic (The Times £).
Lidl and Pets at Home will pay back business rates relief granted by the UK government, joining a string of retailers allowed to stay open during lockdowns that have decided to return money (The Financial Times £). Lidl will hand £100 million back to the Treasury after it became the latest big supermarket chain to waive business rates relief (The Times £). Lidl, Pets at Home and WholeFoods have became the latest companies to hand back business rates relief as pressure mounts on a raft of retailers allowed to remain open throughout the crisis, with one MP accusing businesses of “profiteering” from the pandemic (The Telegraph). German discount supermarket Lidl and Pets at Home have become the latest retailers to pledge to hand back business rates relief to the Government (The Daily Mail).Lidl and Pets at Home are returning more than £130m of emergency taxpayer support after a dramatic U-turn by Tesco, the UK’s biggest retailer, triggered a domino effect that will result in close to £2bn in business rates voluntarily being paid to the Treasury (The Guardian). The pot of business rates relief money that major retailers have offered to return to taxpayers has risen to almost £2bn (Sky News).
Four supermarkets are still resisting widespread calls to hand back pandemic tax breaks despite seeing a boom in sales. Iceland and Co-op have resisted calls to follow suit, while Waitrose and Marks & Spencer said they will hold on to their rates relief because of the impact of closures on their department stores. (The Daily Mail)
Retailers have urged Rishi Sunak to use the near £2bn of business rates relief paid back by supermarkets to provide extended help to stores that have been hammered by the Covid-19 pandemic. (The Telegraph)
Supermarket business rates relief repayments trigger tax rethink. Tesco’s decision to hand £585m of business rates relief back to the exchequer has triggered a domino effect — and raised questions about the future of the £31bn‑a‑year tax on retail. (The Times £)
British Christmas dinners are under threat from a shortage of luxury turkeys, as the pandemic forces millions of would-be holidaymakers to stay at home this festive season. (The Financial Times £)
Families are preparing for a home-baked Christmas as they tackle the boredom of lockdown restrictions by making their own puddings, mince pies and cakes. (The Guardian)
Shop closures across key markets have caused Primark to lose £430m in sales this autumn, according to its owner Associated British Foods (The Times £). The owner of Primark said the recent forced closure of its shops in England and other European countries has resulted in more lost sales than it previously expected (The Daily Mail). Primark’s owner says autumn COVID-19 lockdowns have resulted in an estimated £430m hit to sales - but insists the fashion chain remains on track to deliver improved annual profits (Sky News). The owner of Primark has revealed that the latest wave of Covid-19 lockdowns cost the fashion chain £430m in lost sales but that it has experienced a “phenomenal” jump in sales this week since stores were allowed to reopen (The Guardian). The owner of Primark said the sales hit from the autumn lockdown was worse than expected but added that trading had been “phenomenal” since stores reopened in recent weeks (The Telegraph).
The collapse of three major chains last week has put 30,000 retail jobs at risk and triggered fears for the future of town centres. But the picture isn’t all bleak, according to experts including the former government retail tsar, Mary Portas, who says there is too much nostalgia and too little optimism about the future of the British high street. (The Guardian)
“Crisis in retail”, writes the FT as UK town centres struggling to survive. With the collapse of Debenhams and Arcadia creating more empty stores, many urban centres need a new purpose. (The Financial Times £)
Crowded scenes on the first weekend of Christmas shopping after the easing of lockdown in England have prompted fears about a lack of social distancing and the risk of spreading coronavirus. (The Guardian)
As giants disappear from the high street, Poundland is on the hunt for bargains: ‘We’ll snap up empty shop sites - like we did with Woolworths’, said its boss Barry Williams, who reveals he is opening half a dozen new stores – and already has his eye on more to add to his existing 856. (The Daily Mail)
Harrods boss Michael Ward: ‘It’ll take us years to rebuild’. Michael Ward charmed Mohamed al-Fayed, but Covid and the VAT row are his toughest challenges yet. (The Times £)
Crisps firm Walkers has adopted a technique it says will slash CO2 emissions from its manufacturing process by 70%. The technology will use CO2 captured from beer fermentation in a brewery, which is then mixed with potato waste and turned into fertiliser. (The BBC)
The world’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler has set out plans to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from its value chain within two decades, becoming the latest company to set an ambitious target under pressure to slow global warming. (The Financial Times £)
Restaurants fight back against Deliveroo fees. Often charged more commission than the big chains, small-time restaurateurs are fighting back. (The Times £)
US companies are sharpening their knives in India’s battle of the burgers, as they scale up their businesses to meet a growing taste for American-style fast-food among the country’s 1.4bn people. (The Financial Times £)