European Retail Correspondent
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Jun 8, 2011

Asda says interested in buying parcels of stores

LONDON (Reuters) – Asda, the British arm of U.S. retailer Wal-Mart (WMT.N: Quote, Profile, Research), would look at buying parcels of stores from other chains that might become available, its chief executive told Reuters.

Andy Clarke declined to comment whether Britain’s second-biggest grocer was interested in buying Iceland Foods, whose majority shareholder is selling a 67 percent stake, although he did say it was “very focussed” on integrating the 150 or so stores it recently bought from discounter Netto.

Jun 8, 2011

New Look pretax wiped out as UK sales drop

LONDON, June 8 (Reuters) – Budget fashion retailer New Look
saw annual pretax profit wiped out after trading in its main
British market deteriorated in the second half and the group
bought too much stock at the higher end of its price range.

Executive Chairman Alistair McGeorge, the former boss of
budget chain Matalan who was brought in following the abrupt
exit of the previous chairman and chief executive in March, said
on Wednesday he would focus on buying more lower-priced products
and controlling stock more tightly to reduce markdowns.

Jun 7, 2011

Ahold Q1 tops forecast on better U.S. performance

LONDON, June 7 (Reuters) – Dutch grocer Ahold (AHLN.AS: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) beat
first-quarter profit forecasts, helped by the timing of Easter,
and eased fears it is struggling to pass on higher food prices
to cash-strapped shoppers in its main U.S. market.

The group, which runs Dutch market leader Albert Heijn but
makes about 60 percent of sales in the United States, said on
Tuesday operating profit rose 8.6 percent to 444 million euros
($648 million) in the 16 weeks ended April 24.

Jun 2, 2011

Kingfisher stays cautious after barbecue boost

LONDON (Reuters) – Kingfisher Plc (KGF.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), Europe’s biggest home improvements retailer, said a surge in sales of garden furniture and barbecues during warm spring weather had not changed its cautious outlook on consumer spending.

The group, which runs market leader B&Q in Britain as well as Castorama and Brico Depot in France, said on Thursday shoppers in Britain in particular remained under pressure from higher prices and austerity measures, and the recent flurry in spending was probably just brought forward from the summer.

Jun 2, 2011

Barbecue weather boosts Kingfisher Q1 profit

LONDON, June 2 (Reuters) – A surge in demand for outdoor
furniture and barbecues as Europe basked in warm spring weather
helped home improvements group Kingfisher (KGF.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) post a 19
percent rise in first-quarter profit on Thursday.

However the group, which runs market leader B&Q in Britain
as well as Castorama and Brico Depot in France and elsewhere,
kept its cautious outlook for the rest of the year, saying the
good weather might just have brought forward purchases.

May 26, 2011

Burberry steps up investment as luxury booms

LONDON, May 26 (Reuters) – Burberry (BRBY.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) is stepping up
spending on new stores and upgrading existing ones to cash in on
a boom in spending on luxury goods, it said on Thursday, as it
met forecasts with a 39 percent leap in annual profit.

The British maker of raincoats and handbags, best known for
its camel, red and black check pattern, said it would invest
180-200 million pounds ($292-325 million) in the year to March
2012 on new shops and refurbishments in major cities like
London, Paris, Chicago, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Sao Paulo.

May 25, 2011

Suitors line up for Jaeger and Aquascutum

LONDON (Reuters) – British luxury brands Jaeger and Aquascutum have attracted a stream of potential bidders since news of an initial approach in February, but their majority owner feels under no pressure to sell, he said.

“Once you get a headline like that, you do get more enquiries,” Harold Tillman told the Reuters Global Luxury and Fashion Summit, referring to the first reports of bid interest.

May 24, 2011

Silver skull helps Theo Fennell regain sparkle

LONDON (Reuters) – Upmarket British jeweler Theo Fennell (TFL.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) has seen business bounce back from a disappointing Christmas, helped by a new lower-priced range of silver jewelry, its founder said on Tuesday.

Theo Fennell, who returned as creative director in June 2009, told the Reuters Global Luxury and Fashion Summit in London it had taken some time to rebuild a company that went into decline after he fell out with previous management.

May 24, 2011

Marks & Spencer plans store revamp in tough market

LONDON, May 24 (Reuters) – British retailer Marks & Spencer
(MKS.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) plans to test new store formats more tailored to their
localities as it looks to counter tough trading conditions and
build on a 13 percent rise in annual profit.
Britain’s biggest clothing retailer, which also sells
upmarket foods and homewares, said on Tuesday the new formats
would sell products selected against several criteria, such as
age and affluence of shoppers, and have better layout and signs.

It will start testing them from October.

Britain’s retailers are mostly struggling as shoppers are
hit by rising prices and austerity measures. Clothing chains are
also facing soaring cotton prices. [ID:nN19275500]

May 23, 2011

Founder aims to buy Iceland Foods, not sell out

LONDON, May 23 (Reuters) – Malcolm Walker, the founder of
British frozen food retailer Iceland Foods, wants to buy out the
group’s majority shareholder and has no intention of selling his
minority stake, he told Reuters on Monday.

“We are still interested in buying the business,” he said by
telephone, on his first day back in the office since climbing
Mount Everest to raise money for charity.

    • About Mark

      "Based in London, UK. Responsible for ThomsonReuters coverage of European retail companies. Previously worked as Chief Correspondent of UK Equities and before that as reporter on the UK company news desk."
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