Company News Reporter, London
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Nov 14, 2014

Serco chastened by costly lesson in outsourcing risk

LONDON, Nov 14 (Reuters) – From broken Australian Navy
boats, to hotel bills for UK asylum seekers, the costs have
piled up for Serco, a pioneer of an outsourcing boom
that promised lucrative returns but has proved a far riskier
business than many thought.

The persistent payouts, combined with scandals over
government contracts in Britain, have battered profits and
exposed flaws in the way Serco won and operated business,
resulting in the most disastrous spell in its 85 years.

Nov 13, 2014

JD Sports seeks cuts in store rents for ailing fashion arm Bank

LONDON, Nov 13 (Reuters) – UK retailer JD Sports is
asking landlords to reduce rents on some of its Bank stores as
it seeks to cut costs at its loss-making fashion division.

Executive Chairman Peter Cowgill said it had now approached
landlords to seek a switch to turnover-based rents on around 25
of its Bank stores out of a total of just over 80.

Nov 10, 2014

Serco seeks cash injection after writing off $2.5 billion

LONDON, Nov 10 (Reuters) – Serco turned to its
investors for emergency cash on Monday after writing off 1.5
billion pounds ($2.5 billion) and slashing profit forecasts,
sending shares plummeting by a third.

The announcement deepened the sense of turmoil at the
British outsourcer which has reported a string of profit
downgrades, contract problems and scandals since 2013.

Nov 6, 2014

UK’s Halfords has big plans for specialist bike shops

LONDON, Nov 6 (Reuters) – British retailer Halfords
believes its latest attempt at a specialist bike shop can grow
into a nationwide chain of more than 100 stores, thanks to a
recent surge in the popularity of cycling and the lessons from
past mistakes.

The company, which runs 465 Halfords stores offering a split
of bike and car products, as well as 298 Autocentres, will open
its first “Cycle Republic” next month in London, where an
initial rollout will be focused before spreading elsewhere.

Nov 6, 2014

Sainsbury takes fight to discounters with Netto store opening

LEEDS, England, Nov 6 (Reuters) – British supermarket
operator J Sainsbury Plc’s answer to discounters Aldi
and Lidl was unveiled on Thursday, with the opening of its first
Netto-branded store in northern England tasked to win over
thrifty shoppers.

Like the UK’s other big players Tesco, Asda and
Morrison, Sainsbury is enduring a squeeze on sales as
cost-conscious customers switch allegiance to the
straightforward, cheap offers of the German discounters.

Nov 4, 2014

Pub firm Greene King to buy rival Spirit for 774 million pounds

LONDON (Reuters) – Greene King (GNK.L: Quote, Profile, Research) has agreed to buy smaller rival Spirit Pub Company (SPRTC.L: Quote, Profile, Research) for almost 774 million pounds a deal that will boost its network of food-led pubs and hand it a bigger slice of Britain’s lucrative dining market.

The deal creates one of the biggest pub groups in Britain, with over 3,000 pubs, restaurants and hotels.

Nov 4, 2014

Pub firm Greene King to buy rival Spirit for $1.24 bln

LONDON (Reuters) – Greene King (GNK.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) has agreed to buy smaller rival Spirit Pub Company (SPRTC.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) for almost 774 million pounds ($1.24 billion), a deal that will boost its network of food-led pubs and hand it a bigger slice of Britain’s lucrative dining market.

The deal creates one of the biggest pub groups in Britain, with over 3,000 pubs, restaurants and hotels.

Oct 31, 2014

Warm weather set to push M&S non-food sales down again

LONDON (Reuters) – Marks & Spencer (MKS.L: Quote, Profile, Research) is set to report a 13th straight quarterly fall in underlying non-food sales, with trading hurt by Britain’s warm autumnal weather, the continuing “settling in” of a new website and a sluggish economic recovery.

Marc Bolland, M&S CEO since 2010, has spent over 2.3 billion pounds to address decades of under-investment, overseeing the redesign of products and stores. But a new clothing team he set up in 2012 has so far failed to deliver a sustained increase in sales and, for the first time, M&S earned less in the year to the end of March than faster-growing rival Next.

Oct 31, 2014

SuperGroup shares slide as firm warns on profit

LONDON, Oct 31 (Reuters) – SuperGroup, the British
company behind the Superdry fashion brand, warned that full-year
profit would fall short of market forecasts, becoming the latest
retailer to see a warm autumn hit demand for winter clothes.

The firm’s surprise statement follows one on Wednesday from
Next, Britain’s No. 2 clothes retailer, which also cut
its profit forecasts due to the warm weather, prompting analysts
to expect more promotions ahead of Christmas as retailers battle
to shift unwanted stock.

Oct 30, 2014

Serious Fraud Office launches probe into Tesco accounting scandal

LONDON (Reuters) – Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has opened a formal criminal investigation into accounting errors at Tesco, raising the stakes in a scandal that has hammered the reputation of the country’s biggest grocer.

Already battling challenges on multiple fronts, Tesco said on Wednesday it had been notified of the SFO’s new investigation into the 263 million-pound ($424 million) overstatement of its first-half profits that has led to the suspension of eight senior members of staff.

    • 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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