Asda’s American owners have warned of an “incredibly challenging backdrop” after reporting a slip in quarterly sales and regulators torpedoed its merger plans with rival Sainsbury’s (The Telegraph). Asda has recorded its first quarter of falling sales for the first time in almost two years, insisting it kept its “focus” as it fought in vain for its planned merger with Sainsbury’s (Sky News). The American owner of Asda was “disappointed” that its proposed sale to J Sainsbury was blocked by the competition watchdog, its boss said (The Times £).

Walmart’s push to revamp stores and improve its online offering helped power strong US sales in the past quarter, yet the investments the company is making in its global battle with Amazon dented profits (The Financial Times £)

Internet retail giant Amazon is to invest hundreds of millions of pounds in the British food delivery app Deliveroo – revealed by Sky News on Thursday night, the investment ranks among the largest single commitments by Amazon to date in a British-based start-up. Amazon has invested hundreds of millions of pounds in the British food delivery app Deliveroo (The Times £). The exact figure was not given, but Amazon is the biggest investor in Deliveroo’s latest round of fund raising, which in total raised $575m (The BBC). Amazon in investing millions in Deliveroo in a boost to the UK food delivery service as it takes on a rival such as Uber Eats in a competitive market (The Guardian). Amazon recently pulled back on its own restaurant delivery business in the UK, closing the London arm of its the service in December last year (The Telegraph).

Pret A Manger, the UK food-to-go chain, is in talks to buy rival sandwich business Eat to transform its stores into vegetarian outlets, as it seeks to cater to the fast-growing demand for plant-based foods (The Financial Times £). Pret a Manger is in talks to acquire the rival Eat sandwich chain with a view to converting most of its 90-odd stores to the Veggie Pret brand (The Times £). Pret a Manger is in talks to buy its rival sandwich chain Eat as part of plans to expand its specialist vegetarian operation (The Guardian). Pret A Manger is nearing a deal to either buy Eat or its smaller rival’s 94 sites as mounting competition between high street and online delivery players sparks consolidation in the casual dining market (The Telegraph). Pret a Manger is close to snapping up smaller rival Eat in a bid to roll out more vegetarian and vegan-friendly outlets (The Daily Mail). Pret, which has 400 stores in the UK, has four branded as “Veggie Pret” and is aiming to jump on the trend for vegetarian and vegan foods (The BBC).

Waitrose has raised the stakes in its battle with Ocado after turning to one of the founders of the online grocer to boost its digital division (The Times £). Waitrose has unveiled plans to treble the size of its digital business to make £1bn sales online, just three months after its longstanding relationship with Ocado was brought to an end (The Telegraph). Waitrose has announced a big expansion in its online activities in a riposte to its current partner, Ocado, which is ending its supply agreement with the supermarket chain in favour of a joint venture with Marks and Spencer (The Financial Times £). Waitrose is aiming to treble the size of its online business to £1bn annually following the end of its partnership with Ocado, by teaming up with one of the grocery delivery specialist’s co-founders (The Guardian).

Luckin Coffee has raised $561m in an initial public offering that gives the Chinese start-up a market valuation of roughly $4bn, less than two years after the company opened its first outlet in Beijing. (The Financial Times £)

EU judges ruled on Thursday that a Polish plan to tax big retailers more than small ones did not breach the bloc’s state aid rules, making it possible that the idea could be revived. (The Financial Times £)

Writing on the sale of Nestle’s skin care business, the FT’s column says: “The sale at least recoups an estimated SFr6.5bn of cash invested in the business. It allows [CEO Mark] Schneider to focus on high-growth food and beverages sectors, such as coffee. Nestlé’s shares have risen by a quarter this year, easily outperforming the broader sector, on signs he has reversed a slowdown in sales growth and is lifting profitability.” (The Financial Times £)

 

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