More than 800 senior Asda shop floor staff are facing a pay cut or redundancy, a report revealed last night. In document seen by The Guardian, the retailer told staff it needs to cut operating costs to ‘close price gap’ with rivals Aldi and Lidl. The paper adds that store staff have been briefed this week on a proposal that could mean 842 section leaders being removed from its store management teams. Thousands of other workers will also be affected by a wider move to cut the number of hours spent on stacking and tidying shelves at 600 supermarkets. A spokesman for Asda said the “proposed changes are about making sure we’re doing the best job for our customers in the most efficient way possible”, The Telegraph writes in a follow up to the story.
Steinhoff is fighting to survive amid questions over assets and debt as more than $10bn is wiped from company’s value following discovery of ‘accounting irregularities’, The Financial Times writes. “Steinhoff’s fall from grace has been even more sudden than the company’s rapid rise as one of the world’s largest retailers,” the paper says. “The growing accounting scandal is now threatening the reputation of its biggest shareholder, Christo Wiese, South Africa’s richest man, as well as the country’s globe-trotting business community.”
Two former Tesco executives accused of misleading the market about the company’s profits in 2014 have opted not to give evidence in their trial (The Financial Times). John Scouler chose not to go in the witness box on Thursday in a prosecution brought by the Serious Fraud Office over a £250m accounting scandal, along with Chris Bush.
German discount retailer Lidl has recruited more than 2,500 people in the UK in the past year as it keeps pace with rapid expansion, The Mail reports. According to Companies House, Lidl spent 22% more on staff costs in the year to the end of February, as increased investment in wages and recruitment pushed employee spend to £419m.
Marks & Spencer has begun selling a stoneless avocado that could help banish the pain of “avocado hand” (The Guardian).
Rising costs have hit profits at packaging company DS Smith as higher prices for its materials weighed on otherwise strong results, The Telegraph reports. Pre-tax profits slipped to £144m for the six months to 31 October, from £146m a year earlier, on higher paper prices and fibre costs, as well as costs associated with a recent US acquisition. The Mail looks at the success of the company, writing that Amazon has turned the British cardboard box maker into a FTSE giant. The cardboard box maker revealed that the rise of internet shopping has helped its sales surge by more than £1bn in just five years. London-based DS Smith, which produces millions of tons of cardboard and plastic packaging a year, joined the FTSE 100 last week.
Exports of goods have risen in every region of the UK since last year, according to figures released by HM Revenue & Customs on Thursday (The Telegraph). The data showed that, in the year to September, England exported 14% more goods than a year earlier, reaching £241.1bn, while Scotland’s goods exports rose by 19.9% to £28bn, Wales rose by 18.9% to £16.4bn and Northern Ireland’s by 13.3% to £8.5bn.