Company News Reporter, London
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Dec 19, 2014

Europe beware! Ashley’s Sports Direct is spoiling for a fight

LONDON, Dec 19 (Reuters) – “If you don’t want to play, we’ll
come to your country and smash you to bits,” Mike Ashley, the
billionaire founder of British retailer Sports Direct
said earlier this year.

That’s not the language you’d expect from a business leader
laying out plans to expand across Europe.

Dec 18, 2014

Hotelier IHG kicks off Chinese-focused Hualuxe roll-out

LONDON, Dec 18 (Reuters) – InterContinental Hotels Group
will open up to three of its new Hualuxe hotels in China
in 2015, the first of a Chinese-specific brand it hopes to
eventually roll out globally.

IHG, one of the world’s largest hoteliers with brands such
as Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and InterContinental, said the
first Hualuxe hotel will open within weeks and has identified
over 100 Chinese cities for sites in the next 15-20 years.

Dec 15, 2014

Legoland operator Merlin puts blocks in place for growth

LONDON (Reuters) – Destined to form models of the Burj Khalifa and Tokyo Tower, 90 million toy bricks will be used in new Legoland Parks in Dubai, Japan and Korea by 2017, building blocks in British operator Merlin’s (MERL.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) expanding empire.

The theme parks, which each house 30 million Lego bricks and offer youngsters rides and shows, make up 30 percent of Merlin’s 1.2 billion pound ($1.9 billion) revenue and are a big part of its punchy expansion plans for North America and Asia.

Dec 11, 2014

Stakes, acquisitions on Sports Direct’s expansion agenda

LONDON (Reuters) – Sports Direct, Britain’s biggest sporting goods retailer, said it would not rule out taking further stakes in rivals and that potential acquisitions in Europe were constantly being assessed as part of its expansion plans.

The group, majority owned by founder and Newcastle United soccer club owner Mike Ashley, has already taken surprise positions this year in department store group Debenhams, online retailer MySale and Britain’s biggest retailer Tesco, all firms it now has retail deals with.

Dec 9, 2014

Pub firm Wetherspoon ends Heineken drinks deal after row

LONDON, Dec 9 (Reuters) – British pub group Wetherspoon
said it would no longer sell Heineken drinks
at any of its 926 pubs after a disagreement with the Dutch
brewer over pricing in Ireland.

Wetherspoon, whose cheap drink and food offers have proved
popular in the UK, has been selling pints of Heineken lager and
Murphy’s stout at prices around 40 percent below the competition
at its first Irish pub in Blackrock, Dublin.

Dec 5, 2014

Balfour rejects $1.6 billion John Laing Fund offer for public-private assets

LONDON (Reuters) – British infrastructure group Balfour Beatty (BALF.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) has rejected a 1 billion pound ($1.6 billion) offer from John Laing Infrastructure Fund (JLIF) for assets it operates in partnership with government, saying the price was too low.

The offer comes amid troubled times at Balfour, which has issued a string of profit warnings, and been forced to fend off takeover approaches from rival Carillion (CLLN.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

Dec 5, 2014

Balfour rejects 1 billion pound John Laing Fund offer for public-private assets

LONDON (Reuters) – British infrastructure group Balfour Beatty (BALF.L: Quote, Profile, Research) has rejected a 1 billion pound offer from John Laing Infrastructure Fund (JLIF) for assets it operates in partnership with government, saying the price was too low.

The offer comes amid troubled times at Balfour, which has issued a string of profit warnings, and been forced to fend off takeover approaches from rival Carillion (CLLN.L: Quote, Profile, Research).

Dec 2, 2014

Regulator Ofcom snubs Royal Mail’s competition concerns

LONDON (Reuters) – Royal Mail’s hopes of being shielded from a new rival were dashed on Tuesday when Britain’s postal regulator Ofcom said it would not overhaul rules for direct mail delivery.

Royal Mail, required by law to deliver Britain’s mail six days a week at uniform prices, had claimed delivery services by Whistl jeopardised its own as the rival could focus on densely populated, profitable, easy to serve areas.

Nov 23, 2014

Gambling companies step up efforts to sway addiction debate

LONDON, Nov 23 (Reuters) – On the websites of Britain’s
bookmakers gamblers can bet around the clock on anything from
soccer in Azerbaijan to financial market fluctuations, while
others in betting shops feed high-stake machines that can devour
300 pounds ($470) a minute.

This anywhere, anytime gambling culture has changed the face
of the industry over the past 15 years and brought fresh
temptations to those who struggle to prevent a harmless flutter
from becoming a dangerous addiction.

Nov 19, 2014

UK pub firms hit by move to curb power over tenants

LONDON, Nov 19 (Reuters) – British pub groups suffered on
Wednesday after lawmakers backed a move to hand publicans more
control over where they buy beer, hitting shares and raising
questions over the structure of the industry.

Shares in Enterprise Inns and Punch Taverns,
owners of more than 9,000 British pubs, tumbled as investors
reacted to bill changes announced on Tuesday, which the
companies fear could lead to job losses and closures.

    • About Neil

      "I'm a company news reporter covering the retail and leisure sectors. Based in London I write on everything from the big retailers to fashion chains, hotels, drinks firms, pubs and coffee shops. I've previously covered the outsourcing sector and before that worked on Reuters sport for three years. You can follow me on Twitter @ReutersMaidment"
      Joined Reuters:
      2008
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