Tesco has reported a slight Christmas sales uptick as strong food sales helped offset what it described as a “subdued” market (The Financial Times £). The retailer has emerged as the frontrunner in the “battle of the major grocers to win Christmas” with UK and ROI like-for-like sales up by a modest 0.4% in the third quarter to £16.8bn (The Telegraph).

The marginal sales rise marked the fifth consecutive Christmas trading growth for Tesco amid subdued spending and low consumer confidence. Furthermore, 23 December marked the supermarket’s biggest day of British food sales in its 100-year history (The Times £).

Tesco’s outgoing CEO Dave Lewis said the grocer had battered rivals in both sales volume and value and highlighted the strong performance of its fresh food ranges (The Guardian).

John Lewis has issued a stark profit warning as weak festive trading is expected to lead to a substantially lower full-year profit. The retailer, which in September revealed its first ever half-year loss, hinted it may get rid of its staff bonus for the first time in over 50 year following difficult trading (The Financial Times £).

John Lewis boss Paula Nickolds is set to leave the retailer in February after 25 years with the company after its latest profit warning. Her departure comes as a surprise after she had been previously expected to take up the role of executive director of brand for both John Lewis and Waitrose (The Telegraph).

Nickolds was often seen as John Lewis “golden girl”, having climbed the retailer’s ranks since starting out as a graduate trainee. Her departure sent shockwaves as John Lewis is heading towards a power vacuum (The Times £). 

Her exit comes as Rob Collins, the boss of Waitrose, leaves this month. New chairwoman Dame Sharon White will also start in her role in February replacing Sir Charlie Mayfield (The Guardian).

Sales at the department store fell 2.3% to £1.13bn in the seven weeks to 3 January. Waitrose sales fell 1.3% in the same period to £1.03bn due to shop closures. On a like-for-like basis the supermarket sales were 0.4% higher (The Times £).

In a comment piece The Telegraph argues that a botched reshuffle and the failure to keep up with change left John Lewis’ upcoming chair with a “mountain to climb”. The group reorganisation, announced in October and intended to save £100m, was a gamble writes the newspaper and one that “immediately backfired”.

The Guardian agrees, arguing the department store is not in a crisis but it has however failed to adapt. The retailer needs fresh thinking, the newspaper writes, adding on a more optimistic note that “its incoming boss may just provide it”.

Marks & Spencer’s shares dropped more than 7% on Thursday after failing to show signs of recovery in its struggling clothing business and reporting high levels of waste in its Food unit (The Financial Times £).

M&S Food performance during the crucial festive period saw sales up 1.4%, though margins were hit by overstocking issues leading to a bumper amount of waste. Clothing and Home sales dropped 1.7% as sales of men’s skinny shirts and trousers failed to take off (The Telegraph).

Despite the challenges, the latest marked M&S’ first total like-for-like sales growth in three years, up 0.2% in the 13 weeks to 28 December. CEO Steve Rowe said despite having “arrested the worst of the issues” experienced in the first half of the year, M&S still faced some “disappointing one-off issues” (The Times £).

Demand for vegan hampers and dairy-free confectionery has boosted sales at premium retailer Selfridges in the run up to Christmas. Sales at the department store were up 5% in the 24 days to Chrstmas while sales of vegan sweets and chocolate were up 96% year-on-year. Rival Fortnum & Mason saw sales up 15% in the five weeks to December 29 (The Telegraph). 

Impossible Foods, maker of meat free burgers, has announced it has pulled out of the race to supply McDonald’s leading the way for rival Beyond Meat to takeover. Impossible CEO Pat brown said it would be “stupid” to sign a deal with a chain as big as McDonald’s without first having increased production (The Times).

Environmental secretary Theresa Villiers has pledged the UK will keep its ban on imports of chlorinated chicken and hormone-grown beef from the US even if President Donald Trump calls on the UK to adopt different standards (The Financial Times £). The ban on chlorinated-washed chicken and hormone-treated beef will be kept under any trade deal with the US, Villiers has promised (BBC). 

Quorn is set to become the first major brand to introduce carbon labelling on its products to help customers understand the environmental impact of their shopping. “Farm to shop” carbon footprint data, verified by the Carbon trust, will be available online for Quorn’s 30 best-selling products from Thursday, with physical labels due to appear on some products from June and on the entire range by next year (The Guardian).

US wine sellers have compared Trump’s decision to raise taxes on European wine imports to 100% to the Prohibition era warning their businesses would not survive if the tariffs go ahead (BBC). 

Analysts at Barclays have slashed AG Barr forecasts as they expect a 26% profit drop to £34.1m following continued weak sales data for Irn-Bru, the business’ star brand (The Times).