Breakingviews

Tesco’s ambitions earthed by UK retail reality

By Edward Hadas
January 13, 2012

Britain’s largest grocer disappointed with a 2.3 percent decline in like-for-like UK sales over Christmas. The lesson: it’s tough to grow profitably in a crowded market with depressed consumers. But while Tesco is clearly down, its model is not fundamentally flawed.

Tesco exec’s share sale pours salt into open wound

January 16, 2012

The grocer’s UK operations chief sold 202,000 pounds of Tesco shares days before a nasty trading update. The company says it was all above board. But after shedding 5 billion pounds of value in one session, the group badly needs to regain investor trust. This move hardly helps.

Buyout risks laid bare by old strippers

October 9, 2012

A $166 mln settlement resolves creditor claims that Cerberus and Sun Capital pillaged and bankrupted a retailer bought from Target in 2004. It’s a reminder of private equity’s asset-stripping reputation and shows why investors can’t afford to let their guards down.

Starbucks belatedly discovers new tax zeitgeist

By Edward Hadas
December 7, 2012

Making tax rules fair used to be lawmakers’ job. Clever tax lawyers battled over how much was owed. Starbucks’ decision to pay quasi-taxes in the UK shows that companies must worry about fairness now. Across finance, the definition of acceptable conduct is shifting.

Bangladeshi accord shows limits of market forces

By Edward Hadas
May 14, 2013

Price isn’t everything, even in the fiercely competitive garment trade. A combination of conscience and public relations has pushed the largest European retailers to agree to curb the industry’s race to the bottom. If the new accord works, it will be globalisation at its best.

$2.3 bln stitch-up of Men’s Wearhouse is no cinch

October 9, 2013

Jos. A. Bank may be only half as large, but its fellow U.S. menswear retailer’s dishevelment makes for a tempting target. Even at a 36 pct premium, though, the clothes aren’t fitting. Men’s Wearhouse isn’t cooperating and the suitor has problems of its own with stagnating sales.

M&S makes smart buy from Morrisons

November 18, 2009

The market's reaction to the defection of Marc Bolland from William Morrison to Marks & Spencer looks the right one. Morrisons has a fresh headache, and may not have internal talent of sufficient quality to plug the gap quickly. Meanwhile, Bolland's record should give him the confidence to deal with the egos at M&S.

Review: A no-nonsense recipe for retail success

November 29, 2013

Having spent four decades building up Iceland, the UK frozen-food chain, Malcolm Walker makes retail sound pretty simple. A 215 mln stg fortune suggests he knows what he’s doing. Still, the many travails in his autobiography show how easily things can go wrong in the food business.

Tesco’s mediocre plan may be as good as it gets

December 4, 2013

Investors’ patience with the UK’s largest supermarket operator is justifiably wearing thin. There’s a desperate shortage of the kind of good news needed to rebuild confidence. But while the turnaround is coming at a painfully slow pace, there’s no obviously better alternative.

Low-end Russian consumers are less crunched

September 28, 2009

On the face of it, Russian consumers appear to have taken a huge hit. Yet the picture may be far less grim. While some Russian consumers have undoubtedly seen their incomes squeezed, others are faring remarkably well.