starbucks cup

Starbucks has shelved plans to sell off its owner-operated UK coffee shops and instead committed to opening 100 outlets this year, after a proposal to move to a fully franchised business model angered existing franchise partners (Financial Times £).

Starbucks has revealed plans to invest £30m in the UK and open 100 new cafes, a year after it was reported to be considering selling the British arm of the coffee chain (The Guardian).

The cafe giant said it aims to invest £30m in store openings and refurbishing existing sites (Mail).

Supermarkets have been accused of arbitrarily increasing the cost of Eccles cakes by the biggest manufacturer of the currant-filled pastries. Lancashire Eccles Cakes said some retailers had increased the price of its products by 25% even though there had been no rise in production costs (Telegraph).

Sky News continued its reporting into shareholder anger at Gousto. The outlet reported that the founder and chief executive of the meal-kit delivery service is facing criticism for taking part in a heavily discounted fundraising while excluding some of his longest-standing backers from the deal. Timo Boldt acquired shares at a valuation of less than $300m earlier this year, having sold a chunk of his stake at a $1.7bn valuation just 13 months ago.

The Co-operative Bank and Sainsbury’s Bank have called off talks about a £650m mortgage deal after failing to agree on a price for the supermarket-owned portfolio. Sky News reports that the former mutually owned lender is no longer in talks about buying the book from Sainsbury’s Bank.

UK consumers sharply cut back their spending in February as soaring living costs damaged household finances, retailers have warned, despite strong sales of jewellery and fragrances for Valentine’s Day (The Guardian).

Consumers increasingly turned to discount retailers last month as their spending on utility bills soared. Household spending in discount stores grew by 5.5% in February as shoppers sought cheaper goods, according to Barclaycard data (The Times £).

An opinion column in The Times (£) says ‘Price gouging’ provides food for thought in the fight against inflation. “In the UK, Spain, France and Germany, the runaway price of groceries is also confronting policymakers with an awkward reality: some retailers are continuing to jack up their prices even as broader cost pressures such as supply chain delays and energy prices are easing off.”

Activist hedge fund Oasis Management has threatened to push for the removal of the boss of the Wagamama owner unless he delivers a shake-up of the struggling UK casual dining operator, according to two people with direct knowledge of the fund’s plans (Financial Times £).

Altria, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, has agreed to buy the American vape firm NJOY for at least $2.75bn after losing billions on its bet on Juul, the e-cigarettes group (The Times £).

A Big Read in Financial Times (£) examines the environmental cost of single-use vapes. “Critical raw metals inside the disposable e-cigarettes enticing Gen Z are more likely to be dumped than recycled.”