Essential reading for retailers and suppliers in the home improvement market

The retail week: April 13 - April 19

Published: 20 April 2008
High street news
April 13: Record quarter for profit warnings

Research released by Ernst & Young revealed that UK plc saw no respite in the first quarter of 2008 as profit warnings reached 114; the highest first quarter figure since 2001 and up 11% from Q1 2007.

Profit warnings remained above the 100 mark for the second quarter in a row.

The highest warning sectors were general retailers with 18, equalling their record peak of Q1 2007, support services with 14, software and computer services with 13 and media and general financial with eight.

The 12 months to the end of March 2007 saw 26% of the sector issuing a warning. By comparison, 42% of FTSE general retailers had issued a warning to the year to date ending March 2008.

April 14: Tesco offers degree in retail management

Tesco is reportedly set to offer a degree in supermarket management.

The two-year foundation degree, which includes display design, special offers and efficient shelf stacking, will be a combination of course work, online study, and some days at university.

The move follows similar employment-related courses from McDonald's, Flybe and Network Rail.

April 15: BIG pressure on chains

An independent retailers’ pressure group in Bath is up in arms over the number of chain stores entering the city – and has set out a list of demands to allow small stores to flourish.

The Bath Independent Group (BIG), under the leadership of local toyshop owner and former mayor of Bath Eric Snooks, presented findings to local authority officials which showed shoppers want cheaper parking, a greater range of shops and more public conveniences.

BIG has the support of John Dean, chief executive of the British Shops and Stores Association (bssa), who said the campaign highlighted a nationwide issue.

BIG represents more than 120 shops around the city.

April 16: Waitrose: It's a slowdown, not a recession

Waitrose md Mark Price dismissed national press reports of a recession in the UK in his daily blog for the grocery chain.

Mr Price said: 'Like Terry Leahy, I don't believe that we're in any kind of recession, rather a slowdown, in which customers are being far more careful about the value choices they make'.

He also went on to correct what he saw as misleading statements in the national press which, he said, were trying to reinforce tales of economic doom facing the UK with a reported sales 'slump' at the grocery chain over the Easter period.

'I'm afraid the truth is altogether less newsworthy,' he said. 'Our sales were down in comparison to the pre-Easter week last year, when people traditionally spend heavily on food and drink. I expect the press will be less eager to report the fact that we were up 17% year-on-year last week as it will disprove their view on the economy.'

April 17: Shut that door!

An Oldham MP is calling for businesses in the Lancashire town to close their front doors to help save the environment.

Chris Davies, Oldham Euro-MP, said shop owners should 'wake up to the waste' after seeing an increase in the number of shops with their front door open while having heating on at 'full blast'.

The Liberal Democrat said: "Open doors are intended to entice customers to step inside. But with the United Nations predicting that billions will suffer from the effects of global warming it is morally indefensible to waste energy in this way."

Mr Davies is backed by pressure group Close the Door, who successfully lobbied clothing chain Jaeger to bring in a closed-door policy.

"Retailers can display a prominent sign telling shoppers they are open," he added.

April 18: E-tail takes a lead

Online sales will continue to enjoy a key and growing role in the retail sector for the foreseeable future, Verdict reports.

The market research agency says online sales have enjoyed strong growth over the last decade, and the boom is set to continue with growth of 32% for this year.

It adds that online retailing is worth £19.5bn and accounts for around 7% of all retail expenditure.

Ten years ago, its value was £362m or 0.2% of all retail spend. By 2012, Verdict forecasts online retail will account for almost 14% of all retail expenditure, which in cash terms will be £44.5bn.


April 19: Retail space hits a low

Demand for retail space on the UK's high streets and shopping centres has fallen to its lowest level in a decade, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has found.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) warns that the first quarter saw a fall in demand for commercial property at its fastest pace in more than six years.

Rics blamed fears of credit turmoil and a slowing housing market.

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