European Retail Correspondent
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May 5, 2011

Carrefour fires French boss, shelves property IPO

PARIS, May 5 (Reuters) – Carrefour SA (CARR.PA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) fired the
executive tasked to revive its core French business and said it
was shelving a controversial property listing, fuelling talk of
boardroom dissent and worries over its turnaround plan.

Europe’s top retailer said James McCann was leaving only 15
months after he was picked to boost flagging French sales,
raising concerns over its new Carrefour Planet hypermarket
revamp plan — the lynchpin of the group’s turnaround plan.

May 5, 2011

Royal wedding and deals help Morrison top forecasts

LONDON (Reuters) – Promotions and a surge in spending on bunting and picnics around Easter and the royal wedding helped Wm Morrison Supermarkets (MRW.L: Quote, Profile, Research) beat quarterly sales forecasts and counter a tough consumer backdrop.

The country’s fourth-biggest grocer said on Thursday tougher trading months earlier in the year were more indicative of likely trends going forward as shoppers grapple with rising prices and austerity measures.

May 5, 2011

Promotions and events help Morrisons top forecasts

LONDON, May 5 (Reuters) – Promotions and a surge in spending
around Easter and the royal wedding helped British group Wm
Morrison Supermarkets (MRW.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) beat first-quarter sales
forecasts, countering a tough consumer environment.

Britain’s fourth-biggest grocer said on Thursday sales at
stores open over a year rose 2.5 percent in the 13 weeks to May
1, excluding petrol and VAT sales tax.

May 4, 2011

Retailer Focus DIY eyes administration

LONDON (Reuters) – Home improvements chain Focus DIY is preparing to appoint administrators, putting almost 4,000 jobs at risk as it becomes the latest retailer to fall amid sluggish consumer spending and rising costs.

Focus DIY, majority-owned by private equity firm Cerberus, said on Wednesday it was seeking consent from its lenders to appoint E&Y as administrators “following notification of an event of default under the senior credit facility.”

Apr 27, 2011

Game Group sees outperformance accelerating

LONDON, April 27 (Reuters) – British video games retailer
Game Group Plc (GMG.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) said its expansion online and in
second-hand products would help it cope better than rivals in a
weak consumer sector, lifting its shares from an eight-year low.

Game unveiled a strategy in February aimed avoiding the fate
of other specialist retailers such as music and books group HMV
Plc (HMV.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), which have been hit hard by cut-price competition
from supermarket groups and internet retailers.

Apr 20, 2011

Home Retail eyes investment to tackle tough market

LONDON, April 20 (Reuters) – Home Retail (HOME.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), Britain’s
biggest household goods retailer, posted a 13 percent drop in
annual profit and said it would invest in initiatives like
mobile shopping and a new TV channel to battle a tough outlook.

The group, which runs catalogue-based Argos stores and the
Homebase do-it-yourself chain, also said on Wednesday Argos boss
Sara Weller was standing down for personal reasons and it was
launching a search for a sucessor.

Apr 19, 2011

New Tesco boss says must do better in tough UK mkt

LONDON, April 19 (Reuters) – New Tesco (TSCO.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) boss Phil
Clarke said the world’s third-biggest retailer needs to come up
with new products and services and improve general merchandise
ranges after falling short of its own expectations in a tough
British market.
The supermarket group said on Tuesday group underlying
profit rose 12.3 percent to 3.8 billion pounds ($6.2 billion)
for the year ended February, in line with analysts’ expectations
thanks to a strong performance in Asia.

But profit in Britain, where Tesco accounts for almost 1
pound in every 7 pounds spent in shops, increased 3.8 percent,
with sales at stores open at least a year falling 0.7 percent in
the final quarter, excluding fuel and VAT sales tax.

Apr 15, 2011

New CEO needs to add sparkle to solid Tesco

LONDON, April 15 (Reuters) – Tesco’s (TSCO.L: Quote, Profile, Research) new boss Phil
Clarke needs to convince investors he can improve sales growth
in a tough UK market and lift overseas returns when he presents
his first set of results in charge of the world’s No.3 retailer.

Clarke, who succeeded long-standing chief Terry Leahy in
March, may also seek to spice up a solid rise in annual profits
with a plan to cash in on the British group’s rich property
assets, which some analysts think could fund a share buyback.

Apr 14, 2011

UK retailers say can cope with tough 2011

LONDON, April 14 (Reuters) – Three major British retailers,
Debenhams (DEB.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), WH Smith (SMWH.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Dunelm (DNLM.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), said
they could successfully navigate a grim consumer environment by
focusing on profit margins and pulling “self-help levers”.

Cash-strapped UK shoppers are unwilling to spend,
particularly on discretionary items, with a survey on Thursday
showing consumer confidence recovered only slightly in March
from the record low hit in the previous month. [ID:nL9E7F802Y]

Apr 13, 2011

“Rip-off Britain” vulnerable to food price rises

LONDON (Reuters) – Supermarkets are claiming the credit for an unexpected fall in inflation last month, but a lack of cut-throat competition still makes Britain more vulnerable than other developed countries to food price rises.

Weak consumer demand may currently be causing food retailers to step up promotional activity, capping some prices. But economists and retail analysts say differences between British, European and U.S. grocery markets make it easier for Britain’s stores to pass on higher raw material costs — one reason that some analysts have described the country as “Rip-off Britain”.

    • 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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