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Timeline - Coronavirus (COVID-19) response from UK retailers

As all non-essential stores close across the UK, Retail Economics takes a look beyond the closures and rounds-up how retailers have been responding to the coronavirus in the timeline below.

Click on the link to view our Covid-19 Retailers Trading Status table: List of UK retailers’ trading status from Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Thursday 15 October

  • AO.com saw UK sales climb by 54% in the six months to 30 September, while sales in Germany surged 83%. AO believes its strong momentum in the second quarter despite the reopening of UK stores indicates “a lasting step change in online penetration”.
  • Dunelm registered a 37% uplift in sales to £359m in the first quarter to 26 September. Online sales rose by 12% on last year to account for 30% of overall sales. The retailer’s margin increased 100 basis points year-on-year as it relied less on discounts and made sourcing improvements.
  • Boots registered a 29.2% decline in like-for-like sales in its fourth quarter to 31 August, despite online sales jumping 155%, as footfall plummeted across major high street, train station and airport locations. It noted a drop in its market share across health, as buyers shifted to one-stop grocery shopping.

Wednesday 14 October

  • Asda has launched a concession partnership with The Entertainer, which sees the toy specialist take over toy aisles in five Asda stores from February, as the grocer looks to make better use of excess space.
  • Just Eat reported that UK orders grew by 43% to 46 million in its third quarter as it struck striking more partnerships.
  • Asos reported pre-tax profit soared 329% to £142m in the year to 31 August, as group revenue rose by 19% to £3.26bn, on the back of operational improvements and strong trading in its second half to “match customer demand in lockdown categories”.
  • Despite a “solid start” to its new financial year, Asos said it was “retaining caution on outlook for consumer demand whilst economic prospects and lifestyles of 20-somethings remain disrupted”.
  • AO.com has partnered with Tesco to launch its first ever stores, trialling five shop-in-shops for six months.
  • Wren Kitchen launched a new transport hub in Avonmouth, Bristol, to support the growing demand, creating more than 30 jobs for drivers, porters, supervisors and office staff.

Tuesday 13 October

  • Ikea announces a scheme to buy back consumers’ unwanted or old Ikea furniture, providing a voucher for up to 50% of its original retail price.
  • French Connection’s losses deepened to £12.2m in the six months to 31 July, compared to a loss of £3.6m a year earlier. The fashion retailer’s sales plummeted 53% year-on-year to £23.9m “predominantly caused by impact of the Covid-19 pandemic”.
  • Boohoo terminated its links with Rose Fashion Leicester Ltd as the company was allegedly involved in fraudulent activities.

Monday 12 October

  • Indian retail giant Reliance Retail has withdrawn its bid to rescue the battered department store Debenhams.
  • Waitrose has launched its first website for overseas shoppers in the United Arab Emirates.
  • Boris Johnson announced that retailers “will remain open” even under the firmest “three-tiered system” introduced from Wednesday to fight the spread of Covid-19.

Friday 9 October

  • Poundland acquired frozen food retailer Fultons Foods for an undisclosed amount. Poundland said they plan to invest £25m into its grocery proposition over the next two years.

Thursday 8 October

  • Pureplay The Very Group saw sales climb 2.9% to £2.05bn in the year to 30 June, which saw the group return back in the black with a pre-tax profit of £48m. By category, electricals were up 18% in the year, while home rose 13%, fashion 0.9% and other categories including toys and beauty jumped 10.5%.
  • Very Group said it had made a strong start to its new financial year “with group retail sales in double-digit growth” as chief executive Henry Birch says “our flexible and resilient business model will help us thrive as customers continue to rely on online shopping.”
  • Electrical retailers are sizing up to Amazon’s Prime Day this month with a host of sales to pull Christmas spending forward. Dixons Carphone’s autumn Sale is running until 9 November, while AO.com is launching a Sale to rival Prime Day.

Wednesday 7 October

  • Tesco saw a 29% uplift in pre-tax profit to £551m in its half year to 29 August, as group sales rose by 6.8% to £26.7bn. This comes despite it racking up £533m in Covid-related costs. Its UK and ROI sales rose 8.5% to £24.3bn in the period, supported by a 69% surge in online sales. Growth at convenience stores outperformed, increasing by 7.6% compared to 1.4% at larger stores.
  • Fashion etailer Sosandar reported a 52% spike in sales to £4.3m in the six months to 30 September. Sales in September rose a staggering 54% month on month compared and were up 36% year on year. This comes despite slashing marketing costs by 49%, as repeat orders rocketed 88% year on year and new customer numbers were up by 26%.

Tuesday 6 October

  • Watches of Switzerland raised its full-year profit guidance and now expects EBITDA margins to edge up between 1% and 1.5% compared with last year, while full-year sales are now forecast to come in between £880m and £910m, compared with its previous guidance of £840m to £860m. This follows UK sales rising by 12.6% to £145m over the first 10 weeks of its second quarter.
  • The Restaurant Group, which owns Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s, swung to an adjusted pre-tax loss of £63m in the 26 weeks to 28 June from a £28m profit last year, as revenue dived 56% to £227m.
  • However, since lockdown measures eased in July, The Restaurant Group saw like-for-like sales at Wagamama jump 11% year on year in the 11 weeks to 20 September, while Frankie & Benny’s saw LFL sales rise 4% and pubs 14%.
  • Sporting goods chain Decathlon is set to open a new branch in Aberdeen this year and four more stores next year.
  • Footwear retailer Clarks has launched a CVA in a bid to close 50 stores and move the remainder of its portfolio onto turnover-based rents. This will enable a cash injection, as a proposed £100m rescue deal from private equity firm LionRock Capital is contingent on creditors approving the CVA, seeing the business move out of private ownership.
  • Ikea posted a 4% decline in sales to €35.2bn (£32bn) in the year to end-August, following the mandated closure of 75% of the group’s stores due to Covid measures. It saw online sales surge 60% in the period to account for 18% of total sales.
  • Ikea believes its performance will continue to be resilient in its new financial year as shoppers adjust to home living including home offices and gyms. The retailer and its franchisees are set to open 30 store worldwide next year, including the brand’s first UK city-centre store in London. Chief digital officer Barbara Martin Coppola said: “80% of our customers start their shopping online, but very few who are channel-specific.”

Monday 5 October

  • In a preliminary update, Mulberry saw group revenue slide 10% to £149.3m in the year to 28 March, reporting an underlying loss of £14.2m on an underlying basis.
  • Mulberry said results were “ahead of expectations” in its new financial year, with group revenues down 29% in the 26 weeks to 26 September while digital sales surged 69%.
  • Ann Summers has engaged with the British Property Federation to mull the launch of a CVA. This comes despite more than half of the landlords across its 90-strong store portfolio agreeing to change to turnover-based rents, as the retailer looks to pursue the arrangement at stores where negotiations failed.

Friday 2 October

  • Walmart completed the sale of Asda to global convenience and forecourts retail business co-founders the Issa brothers for £6.8bn. Walmart retains an equity investment. As part of the deal more than £1bn will be invested by the Issa brother in Asda’s supply chain over the next three years, with a commitment to increase its proportion of UK-based suppliers.

Thursday 1 October

  • H&M recorded a SEK2bn (£174bn) pre-tax profit in its third quarter to 31 August, despite a 16% drop in sales in local currencies as it drove cost cutting including rental cuts.  The retailer has said that it will look to close a net 250 of its least profitable stores in the coming year.
  • B&Q and Screwfix parent company Kingfisher sold its Russian Castorama division in Russia to Maxidom in a £73m deal, to focus on UK, France and Poland markets.
  • Halfords posted a 22% uptick in group like-for-like sales growth in the five weeks to 25 September, as cycling like-for-like sales were up 46% and autocentres were up 18%, which has seen it launch a recruitment drive for technicians.It has now upped its profit expectations for the half-year.
  • Morrisons has extended its commitment to pay farmers, local food makers and small businesses immediately to January 2021. Farmers and foodmakers will also continue to receive a 5% discount off their grocery shop at Morrisons until January.

Wednesday 30 September

  • The Hut Group has acquired US luxury skincare brand Perricone MD for $60m, adding to the group’s a growing stable of beauty brands at a time when “the online beauty and skincare sector is growing rapidly” according to The Hut Group boss Matthew Moulding.
  • Morrisons is creating 1,000 new picking jobs across 50 stores to help it fulfil orders on its services with Amazon and Prime.
  • N Brown sales were down 18% in its first half to 29 August, easing from a 22% slump in its first quarter, as demand for apparel stabilised, while demand got home and gift was up on last year. It said 92% of its product revenue came from online.
  • Topps Tiles reported that like-for-like sales were up 16.5% in its fourth quarter to 26 September, driven by a “robust home improvement market”. It stated it’s been recording double-digit year-on-year growth since July, with shoppers doing more research online before visiting a store. It expects a modest level of adjusted profit before tax for the full year.
  • Boohoo posted that sales increased by 45% to £817m in its first half to 31 August, with gross profit up by 47% to £449m. UK revenue was up 37%. It expects adjusted EBITDA would be “at around” 10% for the full year.

Tuesday 29 September

  • ScS reported a 20% drop in sales to £268m in the year to 25 July on the back of lost store sales during lockdown, which saw profit slide 20% to £120m. Order intake was down just 5.9% as orders spiked following reopenings in May. It has since launched a new website to drive future growth and seen order intake surge 46% on a like-for-like basis in the nine weeks since 25 July.
  • ScS chief financial officer Chris Muir noted that: “Average order value didn’t particularly move in April and May – those customers still wanted to go into a store, which was one of the reasons we saw that pent-up demand in June and July.
  • Card Factory suffered a £22.2m statutory pre-tax loss in its half year to 31 July, down from a £24.3m profit a year earlier, as sales dived 49% to £100.5m despite online growing by 64% in the period.
  • B&M group revenue rocketed 25% in its half year to 26 September, with UK like-for-likes up 23%. It now expects to post an adjusted EBITDA of approximately £285m for the period. It now expects to open between 40 and 45 new UK stores, most of which during its fourth quarter.
  • Greggs has reinstated store opening plans, following like-for-like sales in company-managed shops recovering to 76% of 2019 levels during the four weeks to 26 September. New stores would be “predominantly in locations accessed by car”, shifting focus from travel sites.
  • However, Greggs is looking to reduce staff hours, and has launched a consultation with staff ahead of the furlough scheme ending next month. Itneeds to
  • Hotel Chocolat swing to a loss in its year to 28 June, with a statutory pre-tax loss of £6.5m compared to a £10.9m profit last year. Sales were up by 3% to £136.3m in the year, but was heavily impacted by store closures during the critical Easter period.
  • Hotel Chocolat has struck a five-year deal with THG Ingenuity, The Hut Group’s global technology platform, to grow its reach in the US. THG will provide chilled storage distribution, offering next-day delivery to shoppers on the east and west coasts of the US. 
  • EG Group and TDR Capital consortium have reportedly been selected by Walmart as the preferred bidders for Asda. 

Monday 28 September

  • Following a delay, Amazon has confirmed that its annual sales event Prime Day will launch next month on October 13 and 14 in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Spain, Italy and Germany. It is still on course to launch its Black Friday event in November.
  • Aldi has committed to invest £1.3bn into upgrading stores and distribution centres over the next two years. The grocer is expected to open 100 new UK stores in 2020 and 2021, creating 4,000 new jobs next year following the 3,000 permanent roles created this year.

Friday 25 September

  • John Lewis has launched a virtual Christmas shop on its website, allowing customers to virtually walk through its Oxford Street store. The department store group said that shoppers have been buying Christmas products earlier this year, with festive sales up 112% year-on-year.
  • Following Morrisons, Tesco has reinstated a purchase limit on essentials such as rice, flour, dried pasta, toilet paper, baby wipes, and anti-bacterial wipes.

Thursday 24 September

  • Morrisons has launched a home delivery subscription box, with customers able to sign up for weekly, fortnightly or monthly deliveries of food boxes without needing to book delivery slots.
  • Shoppers at Morrisons face restrictions of three items per customer on items including toilet paper, kitchen roll, Calpol, soap and disinfectant products to prevent shortages from panic buying.
  • Tesco’s departing chief executive Dave Lewis has called for more food companies to set food waste target and publish their progress. This comes as Tesco revealed that it had reduced food waste across its combined operations by 200,000 tonnes since 2013. 
  • Ted Baker has entered a three-year licensing agreement to sell its lingerie and nightwear collections through Next’s online channels.
  • DFS has swung to a loss, posting an underlying pre-tax loss (pre-IFRS 16) of £56.8m in the year to 28 June, as revenue dropped 19.6% to £724.5m.
  • 24: DFS reassured that sales since stores reopened have improved both in store and online, with sales ‘significantly ahead of expectations’ in the six weeks to end-August.
  • Pets at Home released a statement to say it expects full-year underlying pre-tax profit to be ahead of current market expectations, as it delivered double digit like-for-like growth in the eight weeks to 10 September.

Wednesday 23 September

  • Following a pilot among staff at one of its stores in the Midlands, Aldi is trialling the click-and-collect service among customers at a cost of £3.99, with its full range of products available online, at the same prices as in-store. 
  • It has been reported that US private equity firm Lone Star has dropped out of the bidding war to purchase Asda, leaving asset manager Apollo as the leading suitor.
  • Nike posted an 82% surge in online sales in the three months to 31 August, offsetting losses in store sales. Nike chief executive John Donhoe claimed: “We know that digital is the new normal. The consumer today is digitally grounded and simply will not revert back.”
  • Joules saw group sales fall 18% year-on-year to £39.6m in its quarter to 31 August, as store closures hit revenue. Joules’ revenues through its own online channels jumped 63% in the period. But since its phased reopening of stores from mid-June, Joules said sales were down just 10% year-on-year.

Tuesday 22 September

  • Philip Day, owner of Edinburgh Woollen Mill, has reportedly asked for a valuation of the Peacocks business, having appointed FRP to find potential buyers.
  • B&Q parent Kingfisher has seen ecommerce sales soar 164% in its first half to 31 July statutory pre-tax profit up by 62% to £398m despite sales slipping 1.3% to £5.9bn.

Monday 21 September

  • Superdry’s group sales plummeted by 19.2% to £704.4m in the year to 25 April, while statutory pre-tax profits fell 87% to £167m. The retailer says it has had to discount more over the past few months to shift excess stock, with store sales down 48% in the 20 weeks to 12 September while online sales surged 112%.

 

Friday 18 September

  • Asda is piloting a new On The Move c-store format on three petrol station forecourts in the Midlands, as well opening four B&Q shop-in-shops as the grocer seeks to make better use of space while shoppers “look to complete multiple shopping missions on a single trip”.
  • Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky investment vehicle VESA upped its stake in Sainsbury’s to 3.05% to become the fourth largest shareholder.
  • Aspinal of London has launched a company voluntary arrangement in a bid to close all of its UK stores and move the brand online. It currently operates 10 stores across the UK, as well as concessions in Selfridges and Harrods.

Thursday 17 September

  • John Lewis Partnership posted a £635m pre-tax loss for the six months to 25 July – or £55m excluding exceptionals such as a £470m write-down in store values – while telling staff that they will not receive a bonus for the first time since 1953. Lockdown closures and shoppers buying less profitable items, such as toilet paper or laptops, hit its bottom line.
  • John Lewis’ online sales rose 73% in the first half, accounting for more than 60% of total sales, but shops saw around a £200m drop in sales.
  • At Waitrose, supermarkets had seen "a return to the weekly shop" with trading sales climbing 7.6% to £3.7bn in its first half to 25 July, with like for likes up 9.6%. 
  • The Co-op reported a sales rise of 7.6% in its first half to 24 July, with group underlying operating profit doubling to £121m. Food sales rose 5.2% to £3.9bn “as customers shopped closer to home and ate out less frequently during lockdown”.
  • Following rivals, the Co-op is set to invest in pricing and customer-facing technology as its customer base shifts online.
  • Next reported a 97% plunge in pre-tax profits to £9m in its first half to 25 July, but upped guidance for the full year from £195m expected in July to £300m as its “sales performance through the pandemic has been more resilient than we expected”. Online sales dipped 14% to £863m in the period, while store sales were down 61% to £345m.

Wednesday 16 September

  • Waitrose is set to close three stores and sell another to Tesco by the end of the year, putting 124 staff at risk of redundancy.
  • Fashion group Inditex swing to a loss of €195m (£179m) in its first half to 31 July, despite recording a €214m (£197m) profit in the second quarter as it suffered a €409m (£376m) loss in the first quarter. Sales for the second quarter were down 31% year-on-year, compared with a 44% decline in the first quarter, as stores reopened.
  • The Hut Group began trading on the London Stock Exchange, after its successful float raised £1.88bn.

Tuesday 15 September

  • New Look has had its company voluntary arrangement approved by creditors, moving 402 stores to turnover-based rent agreements of up to 12%.
  • H&M reported that sales were down 19% in SEK year-on-year in its third quarter to 31 August, with its pre-tax profit down 93.7% to SEK £2bn (£177m).
  • Next reportedly acquired a 51% stake in Victoria’s Secret’s UK business.
  • Eve Sleep narrowed its pre-tax losses to £1.3m in the six months to 30 June, compared with £6.7m a year ago, despite sales dropping 5% to £12.2m.
  • Eve Sleep has partnered with Boots to launch a Well Slept range of Christmas gifting products.
  • Ocado saw retail revenues rise 52% to £587.3m in the 13 weeks to 30 August, as average weekly order numbers were up by 9.6% to 345,000. It expects full-year EBITDA to be at least £40m.
  • Tesco upped the supermarket price war by announcing it would roll out “hundreds of exclusive deals on familiar branded and own-brand products” for its Clubcard members, and extend its Aldi Price Match on a further 500 or so items across its range.

Monday 14 September

  • Aldi is trialling click-and-collect among staff at one of its stores in the Midlands, where online orders are brought to cars in time slots and contact-free. It plans to test the service out for customers in the “coming weeks”.
  • Burberry partnered with streaming service Twitch to livestream its spring/summer 2021 fashion show on 17 September, as restrictions put a limit on large gatherings.

Friday 11 September

  • & Other Stories has introduced a vending machine in its Galeries Lafayette Paris concession to drive contactless cosmetics sales, allowing shoppers to shop bed and bath products across four of its fragrance ranges.

Thursday 10 September

  • Dixons Carphone reported a 12% year-on-year rise in sales in the 17 weeks to 29 August, with online sales up 164% having tripled last year’s levels during lockdown and more than doubled since stores reopened. However, Dixons Travel facias suffered a 90% slump in sales.
  • Dunelm sales slipped by 3.9% year-on-year to £1bn in the year to 27 June, with its pre-tax profit tumbling 13.3% to £109m. The retailer noted that online sales more than doubled year-on-year after its stores were forced to close in its fourth quarter.
  • Dunelm hailed “strong trading” in the first two months of its new financial year, with sales jumping 59% in July and 24% in August on the back of its summer sale and pent-up demand.
  • Morrisons recorded a 28.2% decline in pre-tax profit to £145m in the half year to 2 August, suffering around £155m of pandemic related costs. Total turnover dipped by 1.1% to £8.7bn following a significant drop in demand for fuel. Excluding fuel and VAT, like-for-like sales jumped 8.7% year on year.
  • Morrisons expects further costs associated with Covid-19 in 2020/21 will be “broadly offset” by business rates savings.
  • Tesco is to start testing home grocery deliveries by drone from a store in Ireland with start-up Manna.

Wednesday 9 September

  • In Boden’s 2019 full year update, the clothing retailer noted a “material reduction in sales” since the pandemic, with sales in March and April particularly affected although it had some improvement since May. Boden is now reducing its reliance on holiday, smart and occasion clothing sales, and focusing on more casual offerings for the foreseeable future.
  • Iceland is hiring 3,000 new staff, made up of new delivery drivers and in-store pickers to deal with the surge in online sales.
  • Iceland also launched a trial with Uber Eats for grocery delivery in London – which could be rolled out nationally.
  • Quiz has negotiated more flexible leases after putting its stores business into administration. Rents at 48 reopened stores are now predominantly payable based on turnover, with the average lease length at 24 months. It expects to trade from 60 eventually.
  • Quiz reported a 77% drop in sales to £12.8m between the start of April and end of August slid, with sales from stores and concessions down by 89%, while online dived 54%. Gross margins were down 6% year-on-year on the back of discounting.
  • Home shopping retailer Freemans – traditionally a catalogue business – has relaunched as a ‘digital department store’ with a new website, app and TV marketing campaign.
  • Edinburgh Woolen Mill boss Philip Day has appointed advisers FRP Advisory having reportedly received interest in at least three of his brands – Jaeger, Austin Reed and Jacques Vert.

Tuesday 8 September

  • Travis Perkins reported an 81% year-on-year decline in adjusted operating profit to £42m in its first half to end-June, as turnover dropped 20% to £2.79bn and 19% on a like-for-like basis. The retailer noted a slower return to activity in new housebuilding and major commercial projects.
  • JD Sports posted a 61% drop in pre-tax profit in its half year to 1 August, with sales down by 6.5% to £2.5bn, as a result of additional costs associated with the jump in online sales. It has invested over £2m into its Kingsway warehouse in Rochdale to enable it to “handle the volumes that we saw on Black Friday last year, every day whilst maintaining strict social distancing”. The retailer reinstated its full-year profit guidance in the range of at least £265m.
  • Halfords reported a 5% increase in like-for-like (LFL) sales in the 20 weeks to 21 August, supported by a 160% surge online. Cycling LFL sales were up 59.1% on the back of shoppers holidaying in the UK and commuting by bike, while Halfords autocentres division saw a 30.2% uplift in revenue.

Monday 7 September

  • Morrisons has become the latest of the big four to announce investment into prices as by lowering prices on over 400 grocery essentials by an average of 23%.
  • In a pre-close update for the 52 weeks to 3 November, Primark owner Associated British Foods said the fashion retailer’s profits are expected to come in at the top of its £300-£350m range, although UK sales are expected to be down 12% on a like-for-like basis.

Friday 4 September

  • Dixons Carphone is expanding ShopLive, which launched in April to connect online shoppers to store staff, to include bookable appointments, livestream shopping across all online items and extended operating hours.
  • Pret a Manger is seeking new revenue streams and launched coffee subscription service YourPret Barista, which offers up to five hot drinks, smoothies or frappes a day, for a fixed cost of £20 a month.
  • The Co-op unveiled a £130m investment programme to create 1,000 new jobs and open around 50 new shops, as its online sales through Deliveroo step up and convenience stores benefit from more local shopping following lockdown.

Thursday 3 September

  • Costa announced plans to make 1,650 employees redundant as a result of the ongoing impact from the coronavirus.
  • Eve Sleep expects revenue to total £22m for the year, ahead of its expectations.
  • Amazon are set to increase their UK workforce by a third, meeting its target of hiring an additional 10,000 UK fulfilment roles by the end of the year, with almost a third of the positions already been filled.

Wednesday 2 September

  • Lego reported that sales in their first half year rose by 7% while operating profit accelerated 11% on a year ago with strong investment in their online store and new product development a key driver of sales growth.
  • Growing demand for flowers has seen Morrisons hiring 180 florists, seeing new stalls installed in stores.
  • ‘Asda Price’ has returned after a £100m investment to reduce prices of both branded and own brand products.

Tuesday 1 September

  • The partnership between Ocado and Waitrose ended today (1 September) as Ocado’s joint venture with Marks and Spencer began.
  • Ted Baker entered a “relationship agreement” with founder and former chief executive Ray Kelvin to glean his company brand experience and insight.
  • B&M is set to enter the FTSE 100 index as its sales growth has propelled since the pandemic having been classified as an essential store and being allowed to remain open. Its share price has risen some 17% since the start of the year.
  • Dunelm announced annual sales rose by 59% in July and 24% in August, driven by pend-up demand and timing of their summer sale.
  • Whole Foods Market opened its first online only store in New York to solely fulfil online orders within the Brooklyn area, creating hundreds of jobs.
  • Ann Summers is looking to launch a CVA as the disruption from the coronavirus pandemic hampers sales growth.
  • KPMG have been called in by Moss Bros to look as options to reduce store numbers and head count as it grapples with the impact of falling demand because of the coronavirus.

Friday 28 August

  • Waitrose is trialling a new service with Deliveroo at five of its stores, offering consumers a limited range of grocery products for delivery in just 30 minutes.

Thursday 27 August

  • Screwfix plans to open 40 new UK and Ireland stores by the end of the year, creating 460 new jobs across retail management, service assistance and supervisor roles.
  • DFS announced it is to sell Sofa Workshop to luxury rival Halo for £300,000.
  • In its full year update, The Works said total sales were down 26% in the 17 weeks to 23 August. But across the most recent 10-week period since its stores reopened, like-for-like sales improved 0.7% year-on-year, supported by online sales “more than double” last year’s levels.
  • Online health & beauty business The Hut Group has revealed its intention to float on the London Stock Exchange, with a target valuation of £4.5bn, following sales surging 35.8% year-on-year to £676m in the six months to end-June.

Wednesday 26 August

  • New Look unveiled CVA plans, after conducting a £440m debt-for-equity swap with lender backing.
  • Debenhams has appealed to a tribunal against the 12% hike in its business rates bill to £1.1m on one of its stores in Swansea, Wales. The department store claims: “Unless more realistic assessments are agreed, Debenhams is likely to have to close more stores, with the result that thousands more workers will lose their jobs.”

Tuesday 25 August

  • John Lewis Partnership have partnered with tech firm Qudin to pilot virtual queuing technology at three John Lewis stores and six Waitrose supermarkets. Shoppers will be able to scan a QR code or text a number displayed outside a store to join a virtual queue or book a time slot for getting into the shop.
  • DFS posted in late August that year-on-year order intake growth over the six weeks from mid-July is equivalent to around £70m of sales. This is in addition to its previously reported strong opening order book that will generate a further revenue benefit of £100m.
  • Arcadia has been accused of offering some furloughed employees being made redundant less favourable notice terms, with payments reportedly based on reduced furlough rates.
  • Next is to open beauty stores in three former Intu Debenhams branches.

Monday 24 August

  • Frasers Group has bought DW Sports from administration in a £37m deal that sees it acquire its assets and stock, but does not include the DW name or intellectual property.
  • Debenhams’ parent company Celine has drafted FRP Advisory as it prepares to enter administration. The potential administration reportedly would not impact Debenhams sales, staff, customers or suppliers.
  • Online value retailer Studio has seen sales jump by 42% year-on-year in the 20 weeks since 27 March.
  • Tesco is to create 16,000 jobs following “exceptional” growth in its online business during the pandemic, including 10,000 new picker jobs and 3,000 new delivery drivers.
  • Marks & Spencer is piloting drive-thru order collection at its store in Camberley, Surrey, as well as contactless in-store collection at three shops in partnership with Doddle. M&S now has 239 stores fulfilling online orders –153 more than before the pandemic.

Friday 21 August

  • Cosmetics giant Estée Lauder is cutting 2,000 jobs – around 3% of its workforce – amid plans to shutter between 10% and 15% of its standalone store estate, while reducing its presence in department stores.
  • US-based fitness brand Peloton is to launch concessions in nine of John Lewis’s stores.
  • AO.com is creating 650 new roles across its retail, mobile, IT, financial services and logistics divisions as it looks “to manage the sustained demand” it has experienced since the outbreak of Covid-19.

Wednesday 19 August

  • Fenwick reported a pre-tax loss of £47.3m in the year to 31st January 2020. Sales revenue and gross margin declined by roughly 9% year-on-year. Last year, the department store incurred a 44.2m loss.
  • Amazon provided Morrisons a platform to sell their groceries on its website. 

Tuesday 18 August

  • Marks & Spencer announced that it will be axing 7000 jobs across its business over the next three months at both management and store levels. This follows the implementation of its digital strategy triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Laura Ashley’s administrators have appointed property advisor Avison Young to market the retailer’s manufacturing and distribution facilities.
  • Sosandar reported a loss before tax of £7.66m in the full year to March 31 despite sales growth of 103% to £9.03m. The online fashion retailer attributed the losses to its investment in its team, supply chain and marketing spend, which has positively impacted its first quarter sales during the coronavirus pandemic.

Monday 17 August

  • Mike Ashley has reportedly launched a bid of over 30 million for the sport chain DW Sports which fell into administration earlier this month and put 1700 jobs at risk.
  • Tesco plans to add free delivery to its Clubcard plus membership scheme in retaliation to Amazon’s free home deliveries.
  • Debenhams has appointed Hilco in the event that it does need to liquidate stock but has stressed that this move is not imminent and would be a last resort.
  • Selfridges has launched a sustainability initiative described as “transformational” which will “change the way we shop” over the next five years. They intend to put repair and resale on their agenda.

Friday 14 August

  • The Department for International Development (DFID) has launched the £6.85m vulnerable supply chains facility in partnership with a host of high street retailers to protect supply chains and support international workers.
  • River Island is set to slash 350 jobs across its store estate as it battles to survive the ongoing coronavirus crisis. This is the second job cut wave after the retailer announced it axed 250 office workers earlier in July.
  • Greencore, Northamptonshire-based sandwich supplier for Marks & Spencer announced that almost 300 staff have been forced into self-isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Thursday 13 August

  • The Very group announced that it expects annual revenue for the 12 months to 30 June to exceed £2 billion for the first time. Fourth quarter sales grew by 36% year-on-year.
  • Watches of Switzerland’s Group reported a full year revenue increase of 4.8% to £811 million. EBITDA rose 14% to £78m during the 52 weeks to April 26. Operating profit climbed 6.2% to £48m over the same period.
  • Topps Tiles reported robust retail performance in the last six weeks. On a like-for-like basis, retail revenues were up 16% compared with the same period last year amid “strong” demand for home improvement.

Wednesday 12 August

  • ASOS announced that their revenue and profit will be higher than expected. Revenue growth is now expected to be between 17% and 19% year-on-year with profit before tax set to be in the region of £130-£150 million.
  • Marks & Spencer have invested in a new food distribution centre in Milton Keynes which will see its ambient product capacity increase up to 60%. Full operations are expected to begin next month with 360 jobs created.
  • Dr Martens reported revenue up 48% to £672m in the year to March 31, when operating profit soared 110% to £143m. The footwear specialist is planning to double its current 122 store count over the next five years around the globe.
  • A surge in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic saw Just Eat’s group sales rise 44% to €1bn (£900m) in the first six months of the year. In the UK, the company received 77 million orders in the period, an increase of 18% on the same period a year ago.

Tuesday 11 August

  • Debenhams is axing 2,500 staff across its stores and warehouses as the business grapples to reduce its cost base.
  • The Co-op has extended its delivery partnership with Deliveroo to cover 400 of its stores in the UK.
  • Domino’s Pizza pre-tax profits fell by 4.6% to £48m in the 26 weeks to June 28, as it dealt with “unprecedented times”. That said, UK and Ireland sales increased 5.5% to £629m, with like-for-like sales increasing by 4.8%.
  • Zalando reported a surge in sales and new customers in the first half of 2020. Revenue grew 19.6% year-on-year during the first six months of 2020. The online retailer also achieved a 20.4% increase in its customer base in H1, and now serves over 34 million active customers in Europe.

Monday 10 August

  • Superdry has agreed a £70m new lending facility with its existing banks and extended the repayment terms until January 2023.
  • WHSmith is reportedly threatening landlords with a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) to push cuts to rents through if they don’t agree to ad hoc changes and rent holidays. Property adviser Gerald Eve has been drafted in to help thrash out deals with landlords across its portfolio.
  • Italian footwear retailer Geox reported a 39% year-on-year decline in sales to €243.6m (£219.61m) for the six months to 30 June, due to temporary store closures caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Friday 7 August

  • Online-retail giant Asos published four new supply chain commitments required of third-party brands in the wake of the Leicester sweatshop scandal that engulfed the UK fashion industry.
  • Jigsaw is reportedly planning to launch a CVA next week in a bid to close stores and slash rents in order to stay in business. The retailer operates 75 stores across the UK and employs 900 people.

Thursday 6 August

  • Joules recorded a loss before tax of £2.0 million in the full year ending May 31st. Revenue also declined by 12.5% to £190.8m due to the impacts of coronavirus, as well as a stock availability issue reported over the Christmas period.
  • Hammerson plans to raise £552m through a proposed rights issue and sell off £274m of assets, to counteract “the extraordinary disruption caused by Covid-19 on the retail property sector”. The property giant’s adjusted profit 84% year-on-year to £17.7m, while the value of its overall portfolio value fell 8% to £7.7bn.
  • Lakeland has restructured its operating board as its owners the Rayner family step down from day-to-day running of the business.
  • McColl’s reported a pre-tax loss of £1.3m in the 26 weeks to May 24th, down from a £200,000 profit last year. Total revenue fell 1% to £604.8m, from £611.1m 12 months earlier.
  • The Perfume Shop has recorded a 45% growth in month-on-month sales from new perfume launches during lockdown. The retailer has put this growth down to its live virtual perfume consultations which help customers choose the right scent without visiting a store or smelling samples.
  • Naked Wines announced it continues to trade strongly, with sales in July expected to be up by 73% compared to the same month last year. This would bring sales growth in the first four months of the financial year to 76%, and the retailer said its success is being driven by new customers and repeat sales alike.

Wednesday 5 August

  • WHSmith’s unveiled restructuring plans that could see as many as 1,500 redundancies, mostly in travel locations where sales dived 73% year-on-year in July as just 53% of its travel locations have reopened so far. It plans to close 14 small stores in travel locations.
  • WHSmith said it has seen a gradual recovery, with group sales down by 57% year-on-year in July, driven by high street stores where sales were down by 25%. It expects a full-year loss between £70m and £75m for the year ending 31 August.
  • River Island is mulling a CVA in a bid to close some stores and cut rents.
  • M&Co is to close 42 of its 260 UK stores and axe around 380 jobs in a pre-pack administration deal that has seen the firm sold back to its original Scottish owners the McGeoch family.
  • Frasers Group unveiled plans to open a 90,000 sq ft flagship store in Leicester’s Fosse Park, to combine its Flannels, Sports Direct, Evans Cycles and Game fascias and create 200 jobs.
  • Marks & Spencer has put its full food range on Ocado’s website as the pair formally launch their partnership on 1 September, when Ocado will stop selling Waitrose lines.

Tuesday 4 August

  • Dixons Carphone is to axe 800 jobs as it consults with 1,800 staff, as it overhauls store roles.

Monday 3 August

  • Fashion retailer PrettyLittleThing announced it is to make its first foray into homewares, although a launch date wasn’t given.
  • Sportswear retailer and gym firm DW Sports collapsed into administration, putting some 1,700 jobs at risk as it closes its 50 remaining retail stores.
  • AO.com is to recruit 250 new employees at its Crewe logistics hub, as well as add 225,000 sq feet of warehouse space, including a new 115,000 sq ft warehouse in Stafford opening this month.
  • Apple is looking to slash its store rents across its 38 UK stores, by as much as 50% and a rent-free period in exchange for extended leases.
  • Marks & Spencer cafes have signed up to the government’s ‘eat out to help out’ scheme, passing the hospitality VAT cut onto customers.

Friday 31 July

  • Amazon reported a net income of $5.6bn (£4.3bn) in its second quarter to 30 June, more than doubling on the $2.6bn last year. Net sales jumped 40% to $88.9bn (£67.7bn) in the period, driven by third-party sellers and grocery sales, which tripled year-on-year.
  • In the quarter, Amazon ramped up its grocery delivery capacity 160% and tripled its number of grocery pick up locations.
  • Primark has committed to pay its suppliers in full for outstanding finished garments and fabric costs since March, expanding on its pledge to pay in full for any items that were in production, finished or planned for handover by 17 April.
  • Tesco has extended its improved payment terms for smaller suppliers until the end-January 2021, paying immediately rather than the usual 14-day term.
  • Pets at Home reported a relatively resilient 1% decline in its first quarter to 16 July, as demand for pet ownership jumped in lockdown and stores have remained open throughout the pandemic. The retailer has agreed a lease on the development of a new 607,000 sq ft distribution facility in Stafford, Staffordshire, as part of a £48m capital investment over the next five years.

Thursday 30 July

  • Argos has announced plans to stop printing its infamous catalogue after 47 years, signalling its firm commitment online.
  • ScS saw a sharp 92.5% year-on-year decline in order numbers from 22 March to 23 May, but then experienced a drastic bounce back from 24 May 24 to 25 July, reporting a 92.2% increase in orders as stores reopened.
  • The raft of orders post-lockdown sets ScS up in a strong position going forward, as many of the order will be delivered in the first quarter of its new financial year.
  • Aldi is set to create more than 1,200 new jobs by Christmas as it aims to open one store per week on average this year.
  • In a strategy update to staff, John Lewis Partnership outlined that it expects: “John Lewis to be a 60% online retailer, from 40% pre-Covid-19, and Waitrose to rise above 20%, from 5%”.
  • Marks Spencer has tripled the number of food stores offering a checkout-free experience from 100 to 310.

Wednesday 29 July

  • Primark has rolled out an in-store recycling scheme, allowing customers to donate clothes, textiles, footwear and bags from any brand as it drives sustainability.
  • The number of new businesses joining eBay tripled in its second quarter, up by 256% year-on-year. eBay’s global revenue rose by 21% to $2.9bn (£2.2bn) on a foreign exchange neutral basis in the quarter to end-June.
  • Next reported that stores sales slumped 72% year-on-year in its third quarter to 25 July, while online sales increased 9%. It hailed that the 28% overall drop in full-price sales in the period was “an improvement on the best case scenario given in our April trading statement”.
  • Majestic Wine posted that ecommerce sales quadrupled in lockdown, as it served more than 150,000 new customers online. It said additional online sales were offset by heightened costs and a reduction in sales through its commercial division. Nonetheless, the retailer plans to open two new stores by the end of 2020.
  • Hotter Shoes’ company voluntary arrangement has been given the green light by creditors, paving the way for the British footwear firm to cut its store portfolio from 61 shops to just 15.

Tuesday 28 July

  • Selfridges is axing 14% of its headcount – or around 450 jobs – as it warned sales across the chain would be “significantly less than they were in 2019”.
  • Card Factory revealed that like-for-like sales since reopening were down 22% year-on-year, ahead of its forecast drop of 50% during the first month of reopening. It noted average spend had jumped 25%, although the number of transactions had fallen on 2019.
  • Card Factory has seen like for likes sales online rise by 69% across Cardfactory.co.uk and Gettingpersonal.co.uk since the end of January. However, it expects overall revenue to be around half the level of last year’s in its half year to 31 July.
  • Greggs has slipped into the red, recording a pre-tax loss of £65m in the six months to 27 June, as sales dropped 45% to £301m. However, it said it was “encouraged” by sales reaching 72% of 2019 levels in the week to 25 July. Greggs expects sales “to remain below normal for as long as social distancing is required”.
  • Amazon has launched free two-hour window grocery deliveries for its Prime members, on all Amazon Fresh orders over £40.

Monday 27 July

  • Recipe box provider Gousto is creating 1,000 new jobs as it saw a 115% jump in sales during the first half of the year. It now expects to make its first-ever profit in 2020.
  • Sainsbury’s is testing a virtual queuing app, saving the need to physically queue outside stores, in a bid to help it “respond quickly” if increased restrictions were brought back during local lockdowns. Shoppers would receive a notification when they are at the front of the queue. 
  • Fashion house Arcadia, which includes Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Burton, has reportedly proposed additional cost-cutting to The Pensions Regulator.
  • Debenhams is reportedly raising a ‘for sale’ sign, with City bank Lazard poised to be appointed to oversee the sale process.
  • Luxury group LVMH reported a 24% year-on-year drop in revenues in its fashion and leather goods division to €7.9bn (£7.2bn) during the first half of 2020.

Friday 24 July

  • French Connection has secured a £15m working capital facility with turnaround firm Hilco as it battles coronavirus disruptions. The retailer says sales have been low in reopened store, although conversion is up and sales volumes are said to be growing week-on-week.
  • Hotel Chocolat expects to hit its full-year profit guidance as sales rose 3% to £136m in the year to 28 June, bolstered by a 14% rise in its first half and digital sales surging more than 200% year-on-year in the fourth quarter. The retailer said reopened high street stores were performing better than city-centre and commuter locations.
  • The relative robustness of childrenswear during the pandemic is seeing Jack Wills offer kidswear for the first time this year via a licensing partnership with Brands Machine Group.

Thursday 23 July

  • Unilever posted that its under underlying profit increased 3.8% year-on-year during the first half of the year, despite turnover slipping back 1.6% to €25.7bn (£23.4bn). Its free cash flow increased by €1.3bn to €2.9bn as it has shored up its balance sheet during the Covid-19 outbreak.
  • PrettyLittleThing plans to build a 10,000 sq ft extension to its Wellington Mill headquarters in Ancoats, Manchester, enabling it to accommodate around 200 additional staff.
  • Asos put around 500 day shift roles at its customer care centre in Leavesden into consultation.
  • Nike announced an undisclosed number of job cuts and leadership changes, as it accelerates its move towards a direct to consumer.

Wednesday 22 July

  • B&Q and Screwfix parent Kingfisher said group like-for-like sales climbed 22% in its second quarter to 18 July, as digital sales trebled and stores reopened from mid-April across the UK and France. Group ecommerce sales surged 202% and 225% respectively in May and June. Kingfisher expects interim profits to come in ahead of last year.
  • Eve Sleep cut its underlying EBITDA losses sales by 80% to £1.2m in the six months to 30 June, as sales were ahead of expectations in May and June. This came despite sales dipping by 5.1% year-on-year to £12.2m. The mattress specialist said momentum had continued into July as it benefits from a “strong” homewares market.

Tuesday 21 July

  • Matalan slipped into the red in its first quarter, recording a restated EBITDA loss of £35.8m in the 13 weeks to 30 May, as revenue tumbled 72.3% to £75.3m in the quarter.
  • AO.com has launched a share incentive scheme that could see staff rewarded up to £240m in bonuses.
  • Ted Baker posted a 50% year-on-year retail sales drop to £51m in the 11 weeks to 18 July, as store sales plummeted by 79% to £15.8m while online jumped 35% to £35.2m. In the last four weeks of the period, like-for-like store sales were down 50% on last year as 95% of stores were operational by last weekend.
  • Ted Baker said its results were ahead of its base case scenario set out in June, indicating “a more dynamic trading stance since the beginning of the year, reflecting more sophisticated cross-category merchandising, refreshed social media activity and increased marketing spend”.
  • Walmart has put Asda up for sale again, restarting discussions with potential buyers that were put on hold because of the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Gatemore Capital has acquired a 3.37% stake in Superdry, as the hedge fund is “confident the business is poised to benefit from the trend towards casualwear which has been accelerated by Covid-19”.

Monday 20 July

  • Marks & Spencer is axing 950 management jobs across central operations and stores, as it looks to accelerate the ‘Never the Same Again’ restructuring programme unveiled during the coronavirus crisis.
  • Ted Baker is cutting 25% of its overall workforce, or 500 jobs, axing 200 roles from its head office, with the remainder across stores and concessions.
  • Harvey Nichols has written to staff to warn that “there may be staff redundancies at all locations” as it looks to restructure amid the pandemic.
  • Chinese smartphone giant Huawei is investing £10m to launch three UK stores and create 100 new jobs over the next year.

Friday 17 July

  • John Lewis is extending it click-and-collect delivery and returns partnership with the Co-op to 505 stores, doubling the total number of click-and-collect locations to nearly 900.
  • In Iceland’s 2019/20 full year results, it noted that the pandemic has seen it boost its market share, as its stores are typically on neighbourhood high streets and retail parks, as well as operating an established online operation.

Thursday 16 July

  • Turnaround firm Alteri is closing a quarter of Bensons for Beds’s store estate over the next two years, from 242 stores down to approximately 180. The retailer closed 24 stores immediately after being bought out of administration last month by Alteri, and will launch a replatformed website later in the month.
  • Poundland is set to trial its first-ever online delivery service early next year and is set to launch a shop-in-shop concept later this summer. Three stores are set to close with one being converted into an online fulfilment centre.
  • John Lewis has launched a virtual personal shopping service from its Southampton and London’s Peter Jones store using Zoom, enabling customers to be shown around departments on a 30-minute free video appointment by an in-store adviser.

Wednesday 15 July

  • Burberry announced that 150 UK office jobs were at risk as it sought to cut costs, and a further 350 overseas, as its first quarter sales declined 41%, which eased to -20% in June as lockdown measures around the world eased. Burberry expects sales in the second quarter to be down between 15% and 20%.
  • Dunelm sales declined 29% in its fourth quarter to 27 June, despite online sales up by 85% as store like-for-likes plunged 50%. Its suppliers’ direct-to-consumer capabilities are running at four times pre-Covid levels in order to meet increased online demand.
  • Asos reported a 10% increase in group sales to £1bn in the four months to 30 June, driven by a 22% rise in sales across the EU while UK sales dipped 1%. Asos saw a 16% rise in its active customer base on the back of lockdown.
  • Asos vowed to repay all money previously claimed via the furlough scheme to the UK government as its employees return to work.
  • Dixons Carphone saw a 51% drop in adjusted pre-tax profit to £166m in the year to 2 May. Online sales jumped 166% during April as the UK entered lockdown, but profitability came under pressure from store closures and coronavirus-related costs.
  • Dixons warned that Covid-19 has made a “significant impact” with “wide-ranging repercussions of the crisis will be felt for many years” likely to hinder consumer spending.

Tuesday 14 July

  • AO.com recorded a 54% increase in profit to £19.6m in the year to end-March, with sales up by 16% to £1.04bn, as customers bought fridges, freezers and home working equipment in preparation for lockdown.
  • Halfords is set to accelerate its store closures with 60 earmarked to close across its retail and autocentre divisions. It is renegotiating leases elsewhere.
  • DFS sales dropped dropped 27% year-on-year to £725m in the year to 28 June, despite online orders surging 77% year-on-year between 23 March and 12 July.
  • DFS said that sales following the reopening of stores were up 69% year-on-year in the period from 1 June to 12 July.
  • Ocado’s revenue jumped 27% to £1.02bn in its half year to 31 May, but group EBITDA was down 36% to £19.8m as it invested into infrastructure.

Monday 13 July

  • OpCapita and buyout firm Sycamore Partners are reportedly in talks with Clarks to inject cash into the retailer.
  • Quiz committed to a full review of its supply chain auditing process, following allegations of factory workers making its products in Leicester being paid under the national living wage.

Thursday 9 July

  • Frasers Group has told landlords it will not pay rents until trade reaches a level that the retailer and landlord would have expected when agreeing rental terms.
  • John Lewis & Partners confirms it will permanently close eight of its stores, with 1,300 jobs at risk, as “the pandemic has accelerated the switch from shopping in-store to online”. 
  • John Lewis said its nine remaining closed branches will reopen on 30 July, leaving it with a 42-strong store estate.
  • Boots is slashing 4,000 jobs and closing 48 Boots Opticians stores as it accelerates its restructure amid the pandemic. It followed a 48% year-on-year drop in like-for-like sales in its third quarter, with sales at Boots Opticians down by 72%. Boots’ online sales jumped 78% during lockdown.

Wednesday 8 July

  • In a City update, Boohoo announced an independent review into its UK supply chain and pledges £10m to “eradicate supply chain malpractice”. It will update the market on the review at its half-year results in September.
  • Asda has partnered with Uber Easts to trial a 30 minute home delivery service from two stores in Leeds and Birmingham.

Tuesday 7 July

  • All Saints gained creditor backing for its CVA, with the majority of its store estate moving to turnover-based rents and a small number of closures.
  • River Island is axing 250 head office roles as it looks to cut costs, as “the pandemic will change our marketplace for years to come”.
  • Fashion etailer Sosandar saw total sales jump by 54% year-on-year in its first quarter to 30 June, while losses were reduced by 70%. It saw a strong gross margin as it drove full-price sales, following discounting in early April.
  • In it 2019/20 full year update, JD Sports said it is investing further in its Rochdale warehouse as it anticipates “there will be some level of permanent transfer from physical retail to online as a consequence of Covid-19”.
  • JD Sports said its “future store investments highly dependent on rental realism and lease flexibility” as it pushes “for greater correlation between levels of footfall and rents payable”.
  • Halfords announced its like-for-like sales dropped by 6.5% in its first quarter to 3 July, with online sales up 200% year-on-year. Like-for-like cycling sales surged 57%, boosted by the avoidance of public transport, favourable weather and adoption of cycling as a health and leisure activity.

Monday 6 July

  • Tesco is reportedly demanding discounts from suppliers as it looks to offer everyday low prices rather than promotional activity to better compete with rivals such as Aldi.
  • Pret A Manger is permanently closing 30 of its sites, with around 1,000 jobs in consultation, as it suffered a 74% slump in sales at its UK stores during lockdown. Pret said that the recovery has been “much slower” in the UK compared to other countries it trades in.
  • Boohoo faces modern slavery allegations, with claims of workers in Leicester being paid as little as £3.50 per hour.

Friday 3 July

  • Amazon is reportedly delaying its Prime Day discount event until October, due to pressure on its supply chain amid coronavirus disruption.

Thursday 2 July

  • Parent ABF said Primark’s sales were down 75% year-on-year at £582m in its third quarter, with 367 stores worldwide now open out of 375. It said trading in reopened stores has been “encouraging” with strong demand for childrenswear and retail park stores performing strongly.
  • ABF said Primark’s adjusted operating profit is expected to come in between £300m and 350m this year, compared with £913m last year.

Wednesday 1 July

  • Harrods plans to cut 680 jobs due to “the challenge of lockdown”, including social distancing and lack of tourists.
  • John Lewis chair Dame Sharon White warned of store closures and job cuts due to the pandemic, and that the retailer’s famed annual bonus would likely be axed next year for the first time since 1953.
  • Arcadia is set to axe around 500 head office jobs as it looks to cut costs during the pandemic. Buying and design teams at Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins are reportedly impacted.
  • Sainsbury’s posted an 8.5% year-on-year rise in overall sales (excluding fuel) in its first quarter to 27 June, supported by an 87% uplift in online sales. Nearly half of new online grocery customers were first-time Sainsbury’s shoppers. 
  • Sainsbury’s total grocery sales increased by 10.5%, while general merchandise increased 7.2%, supported by a 10.7% uplift in Argos sales. Clothing sales dived 26.7% in the period.
  • The grocer said Covid-19 had impacted profits by approximately £500m, but would be broadly offset by business rates relief and strong grocery sales.
  • Topps Tiles’ online sales surged 139% year-on-year in its third quarter to 27 June, helping it perform ahead of revised expectations set at the start of lockdown, although average weekly sales faced a 53% decline in the period.
  • The tile specialist said sales are improving – with like-for-likes down 5.4% year-on-year in the final week of June, from an average of -20% throughout the month, and -80% in April.

Tuesday 30 June

  • TM Lewin is to close all of its UK stores, having collapsed into administration but been bought back by owner Torque Brands in a pre-pack deal that did not include its shops. Over 600 jobs are now at risk.
  • Walgreens Boots Alliance has stepped up its technology tie-up with Microsoft and Adobe as it looks to drive personalisation. Advantage Card holders will be served online offers on products bought in-store when they are due to run out it, as well as sent push notifications on the loyalty card app when they are near a store that has the item in stock.
  •  Bensons for Beds and stablemate Harveys collapsed into administration. Bensons for Beds has been bought by turnaround specialist Alteri, with plans to close one factory and negotiate store rents. PWC are acting as administrators for Harveys.

Monday 29 June

  • New Look is mulling a pre-pack administration as it works with consultancy CBRE to move to turnover-based rents.
  • Microsoft is to close all 83 shops globally as it focuses online, a year after it launched UK flagship at London’s Oxford Circus.
     

Friday 26 June

  • Tesco’s UK sales were up 9% in its first quarter to 30 May, driven by a 49% jump in online sales and up by 90% at the peak in May. Tesco has doubled its online delivery slots to 1.3 million, having invested £4m into the initiative, which it said has been partially offset by the business rates relief.
  • Tesco said the frequency of UK shopping during its first quarter was down by 32%, but the average basket size leapt 64% as shoppers stocked up. Convenience store sales rose by 10%, suggesting local shopping.
  • The Co-op has warned that it has seen an increase in violence against shopworkers since the coronavirus outbreak, with incidents up 140% in the year to May, and called on the government to introduce legislation to protect store staff.
  • Nike reported a 38% drop in revenue to $6.3bn (£5.1bn) in its fourth quarter to 31 May, impacted by 90% of its store network facing mandated closure across America, Europe and Asia for approximately eight weeks because of coronavirus. This comes despite a 75% jump in online sales to account for 30% of total revenue.
  • Nike has now reopened about nine in 10 stores, with “higher conversation rates” year-on-year.
  • H&M’s group sales decreased 23% to SEK 83.6m during its first half to 31 May, while profits dropped by over SEK 3m. It now plans for further net store closures, anticipating around 170 closures and 130 openings during its full year.
  • H&M chief executive Helena Helmersson said: “During the pandemic it became clear how important it is that the digital and physical channels interact to meet customers’ needs.”
  • Marks & Spencer and Next are reportedly mulling bids for Victoria’s Secret’s UK division, which fell into administration earlier in June.

Thursday 25 June

  • John Lewis continues to open stores in phases, with nine more stores opening today.
  • N Brown reported that group revenue has fallen by 22% in the quarter since March. The group said product sales were down 29%, but had improved slightly to be down 21% over the last three weeks. It has looked to shore up its balance sheet and said “operating costs are significantly lower than last year and net debt has decreased”.
  • In its full year update, Matalan said: “We are accelerating the changes in our working practices and drivers of cost efficiency, and have already delivered rapid enhancements to our model during the crisis”. It is, for instance, now fulfilling online orders from 75 stores, alongside distribution centres.

Wednesday 24 June

  • JD Sports bought its subsidiary Go Outdoors back for £56.5m, following its collapse into administration two days earlier. The group said the main reason for the administration was to secure better rents with landlords, as leases were “extremely inflexible” with upward-only rent reviews.
  • Naked Wines reported its pre-tax losses shrunk by 46% to £5.4m in the year to 30 March, as sales rose 14% to £203m. The online retailer said sales were supported by “Covid acceleration in final weeks of the year”, with revenue up by 81% in the first two months of its current financial year.
  • Very Group is axing 141 roles across head office and customer care, while creating 100 new roles in its technology division as it looks to reshape its business.
  • Jewellery specialist Beaverbrooks reported sales were up 30% year-on-year in the week to 22 June, as its stores reopened. It posted a 23% increase in the average transaction value of jewellery and watches.
  • Amazon has launched an accelerator programme and bootcamp for small businesses in response to Covid-19. The accelerator course comprises free online training, discounts on business supplies and PPE, as well as training for Amazon Web Services. The bootcamp provides businesses without online operations a week programme on how to operate online.
  • The Competition and Markets Authority has cleared Amazon’s 16% stake in Deliveroo.
  • Swedish bed brand Carpe Diem has made its UK debut with a flagship store opening in London, alongside the launch of a UK website.

Tuesday 23 June

  • Poundland owner Pepco reported that its pre-tax profit fell 16% to €89m (£80m) in the six months to March as Covid-19 hit Europe. The group said revenue is now “returning to pre-Covid levels”.
  • Shoe Zone unveiled plans to close 20 stores to cut costs in its half year results, reporting a pre-tax loss of £2.5m in the six months to 4 April. The retailer cautioned that coronavirus shockwaves will “be felt for several years”.

Monday 22 June

  • The Hut Group’s technology arm THG Ingenuity has signed more than £100m of new deals with beauty brands Elemis, PZ Cussons Beauty, Burt’s Bees and Revolution Beauty. The partnerships are set to accelerate the brand’s transition to a direct-to-consumer model.
  • Mothercare is looking to secure new funding as it look to refinance the business.

Friday 19 June

  • Online value group Studio Retail reported a 55% year-on-year uplift in sales in the 11 weeks since 23 April. It saw demand rise across electricals, toys, games, fitness and garden.

Thursday 18 June

  • All Saints launches a CVA as it looks to move the majority of its stores to turnover-based rent
  • Greggs reopened 800 shops for takeaway only. It has temporarily suspended new store openings, but accelerated the rollout of its delivery and click-and-collect services. It is also in discussion with landlords over rent reductions and moving to monthly rental payments.

Wednesday 17 June

  • Boohoo reported revenue jumped 45% to £368m in its first quarter to end-May. The fashion pureplay expects full-year revenue to be up by 25% and adjusted EBITDA margin of between 9.5% and 10%.
  • Boohoo has acquired the intellectual property of Oasis and Warehouse in a £5.2m deal from Hilco, as part of its plan to capitalise M&A opportunities. Boohoo bought its former stablemates Karen Millen and Coast last year.
  • B&Q’s parent Kingfisher reported like-for-like sales dipped 24.8% year-on-year in Q1 due to coronavirus disruption across its store estate – but Q2 like-for-likes rose by 21.8%, driven by online. The group said it has “significant liquidity headroom” including £2bn of cash.
  • The group launched a new ‘Powered by Kingfisher’ strategy to “become a more digital and service orientated company, using our strong store assets as a platform”.

Tuesday 16 June

  • Pret A Manger has launched a trial click-and-collect service in London, available through the Deliveroo app. It is testing pick up points, including a hatch system that means customers do not need to enter a shop to collect their order.
  • Poundstretcher has launched a CVA to restructure its store portfolio. It has appointed KPMG to help drive a turnaround. The CVA proposes that 94 stores would continue to pay the same rent, while 84 stores see reductions of between 30% and 40% over three years, and its remaining 253 stores adopt rents based on their performance.
  • Wickes, Toolstation and Tile Giant parent Travis Perkins is set to cut 2,500 UK jobs and close 165 stores – 8% of its portfolio – as it suffers weak demand for building materials due to the pandemic. Closures would focus on smaller branches where social distancing is difficult to implement.
  • Travis Perkins chief executive Nick Roberts said it did not anticipate pre-coronavirus trading levels to return for building materials during 2020 and 2021.
  • In a City update, Joules said the impact of lockdown “resulted in a material reduction in revenue and lower group gross margin” despite 40% growth in online during the period. It now expects a pre-tax loss of between £2m and £3m for its 2019/20 financial year.
  • Holland & Barrett has partnered with Deliveroo, to offer 200 products for home delivery in under 30 minutes from 50 UK stores.
  • Booths has also joined forces with Deliveroo, offering 300 products from its Salford Media City store for home delivery in 30 minutes or less. Hot food including pizzas, pies and burgers will be available from 23 June, with plans to roll out the service to five more stores in early July.

Monday 15 June

  • H&M sales halved year-on-year to SEK28.7bn (£2.45bn) in its quarter to end-May, as it faced having to close 80% of its global stores during the coronavirus outbreak. However, H&M said online sales grew by 32% in local currencies during the period.
  • H&M also reported that declines had softened during the first two weeks of June as international stores begin to open, with sales down 30% year-on-year.

Friday 12 June

  • Aldi extended its trial with Deliveroo into London, less than a month after its pilot in the Midlands, as it aims to offer the service across the UK by the end of the year. Shoppers can order from a range of 200 products through the delivery provider’s app for home delivery in as little as 30 minutes.

Thursday 11 June

  • In its full year update, value retailer B&M said that trading since its March year-end has been “strong”. Although the pandemic has slowed its rate of store openings, the retailer’s ambition to operate 950 UK stores remains unchanged.

Wednesday 10 June

  • Ocado has raised £650m through new shares and plans to raise a further £350m through unsecured convertible bonds to help it capitalise on the “significant acceleration” in online shopping across the globe since the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Zara parent Inditex reported its first-ever quarterly loss, at €409m (£363m) in the red during the three months to 30 April, as a result of mandated store closures. Online sales surged 95% in April, but this could not offset revenue lost from 88% of the group’s portfolio being closed at one stage.
  • However, Inditex sales are said to have “gradually” recovered since the start of its second quarter. Where stores have reopened, the fashion group said last week’s sales were down 16% year-on-year.
  • Inditex announced a strategic shift for stores to act as “fashion distribution hubs [in] the world’s leading cities”. Group chair and chief executive Pablo Isla announced plans to invest €900m a year over the next three years to grow online and focus on large stores. By the end of next year, Inditex plans to open 450 new stores and shut up to 1,200 smaller stores.
  • Monsoon and Accessorize founder Peter Simon has bought the business out of administration through a new holding company Adena for up to £15m. This has secured the head office, distribution centre and ecommerce arm. It is now in talks with landlords to reach terms to save “as many as 100 stores”. Simon said: ““Monsoon and Accessorize will both emerge smaller and stronger after this”.
  • Fashion retailer Quiz’s property arm Kast Retail Limited has collapsed into administration, appointing KPMG to handle the process. Quiz’s online, UK concession and international channels are unaffected by the administration. Zandra Retail Limited, another wholly owned subsidiary of Quiz, is set to acquire some of Kast’s assets to ensure Quiz has number of stores to continue it omnichannel strategy.

 

Tuesday 9 June

  • Debenhams is to close a further three stores, after failing to agree terms with landlord Intu.
  • Mulberry is axing a quarter of its global workforce to ensure it is “the correct size and structure” post-coronavirus. It said: “Even once stores reopen, social distancing measures and reduced tourist and footfall levels will continue to impact our revenue. As a result of this, we must manage our operations and cost base accordingly to reflect market conditions.”
  • Pureplay fashion retailer Sosander, which has seen sales jump 62% year-on-year between 1 April and 31 May, is to start selling through the John Lewis and Next websites in the autumn. The etailer has benefited from a 98% uplift in online traffic during lockdown, as shoppers seek comfort from casual clothing.

 

Monday 8 June

  • Dunelm has reopened its UK store estate and launched a new Edit fascia in Crawley, West Sussex, which features products that are most popular in the local area. The store features an augmented reality display to allow shoppers to see the full Dunelm catalogue and visualise products in homes.
  • Morrisons has extended its commitment to make immediate payments to small suppliers by a further three months during the coronavirus crisis.
  • Tapi has secured £16m of investment as it eyes profitability within 18 months. It is taking a gradual approach to store openings through appointment only using its ‘Queue Buster’ program, which enables consumers to join a virtual store queue by texting or scanning a QR, allowing shoppers go elsewhere until they are allowed in.
  • Primark has reportedly asked landlords who are set to receive payment for the next quarterly rent day of 24 June to sign NDAs.

 

Friday 5 June

  • Fashion and fragrance group Puig has snapped up makeup and skincare brand Charlotte Tilbury, continuing a trend of large giants swooping up independent health and beauty brands.
  • Debenhams confirms it will reopen 50 stores across England on 15 June, with the rest of its portfolio opening later in the week (excluding Scotland and Wales). Stores in Northern Ireland will open earlier on 8 June.
  • Iceland founder Sir Malcolm Walker and chief executive Tarsem Dhaliwal have bought the remaining stake in the frozen food specialist from Brait SE’s 63% stake, in a deal worth £115m to form a new company Iceland Foods.
  • Victoria Secret’s UK arm, which operates its 25 shops across the country, has tumbled into administration, appointing Deloitte to handle the process. The administration does not apply to the ecommerce division.

 

Thursday 4 June

  • New Look has drafted in advisors CBRE and CWM to negotiate a switch to turnover-based rents, as it seeks to slash its property costs at the majority of its 500 stores in UK and Ireland.

 

Wednesday 3 June

  • In Marks & Spencer’s annual report, the retailer said it is accelerating aspects of its transformation to thrive in the new consumer landscape, hailing increased “multitasking in stores”, quicker decisions and having “action orientation irrespective of hierarchy”. As a result of the pandemic, the retailer expects to emerge with more debt than planned and suffer losses for a large part of 2020/21.
  • The Co-op has expanded its robot delivery service with Sharship Technologies, as the number of customers using the service in Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire has “more than doubled” since lockdown, with transaction values up four-fold. The retailer expects same-day delivery from more than 650 UK stores to be available by the end of the year.
  • Oddbins has been bought out of administration by an undisclosed bidder.

 

Tuesday 2 June

  • Card Factory is set to reopen 10% of its stores on 15 June as a test under “Covid-secure” conditions. The retailer plans to reopen further stores “subject to early learnings”. The first wave of reopenings will be predominantly in retail parks and high streets in the north east and north west that had good footfall ahead of lockdown. Safety measures include sneeze screens, a customer host at the door, hand sanitiser and a one-way system around store.
  • Card Factory’s online sales were up 153% year-on-year at the start of June and have more than trebled since lockdown began. However, it is unable to give financial guidance for the year.

 

Monday 1 June

  • Aldo’s UK division has collapsed into administration. It has closed five stores and appointed services firm RSM to explore options for the remaining eight. The retailer said: “The move was necessary based on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as historic profitability challenges and the unprecedented collapse in retail spending.”
  • Primark is reopening all of its 153 branches in England on 15 June, and has pulled forward the opening of a new store in Manchester’s Trafford Centre to that day. Primark's 37 shops across Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are expected to reopen in late June if guidance allows.
  • JD Sports plans to reopen the majority of its 300 or so UK stores on 15 June.
  • Pret a Manger has drafted advisors Alvarez & Marsal and CWM to explore options to reduce its rent, to reflect the “new retail environment” of lower footfall as commuters are likely to continue to work from home.
  • Ted Baker plans to raise £95m in a cash call –  more than its entire listed equity – to see it through the coronavirus crisis and focus on a digital first strategy. It has extended its bank debt by £11.5m. Overall like-for-like sales were down 34% between the start of January and May, while online sales jumped 78%. Without the additional fundraising announced, the retailer would have become insolvent by August.

 

Friday 29 May

  • Virgin Media is permanently closing all 53 UK stores, and shifting operations online. All 341 affected employees have been offered new roles in customer care, following the success of store staff supporting call centres from home during the lockdown.
  • The Entertainer is set to reopen all 173 of its stores on 15 June with a new ‘ready in 10’ service. The fast-track service allows shoppers queuing for the store to make an order from their smartphone, which can be collected in-store within 10 minutes, and enables customers to tell a store colleague at the door what they want and be fast-tracked to the checkout.
  • Pizza Express is considering a CVA to allow the closure of some of its 627 restaurants. Other options for the debt-ridden restaurant include a debt-for-equity swap or splitting the group’s UK and Chinese arms.
  • Pizza Express is planning to launch a new pasta brand for home delivery through Deliveroo.

 

Thursday 28 May

  • Boohoo has acquired the remaining stake in PrettyLittleThing, made for an initial consideration of £269.8m. Boohoo reiterated the acquisition enables growth “whilst retaining a strong balance sheet in order to take advantage of numerous M&A opportunities that are likely to emerge in the global fashion industry over the coming months”.
  • Boots is using digital innovation to reopen its in-store beauty counters on 15 June and launch its latest No.7 product. Shoppers buying the new No.7 product via the Boots app will have their loyalty points doubled for their purchase. It will offer shoppers 15-20 minutes video consultations with No. 7 advisers. Boots will also have social distancing wardens to patrol stores, a queuing system, floor markings and PPE for staff.
  • Boots’ online sales have reportedly nearly doubled since the pandemic, with searches for skincare up by 140% year-on-year.
  • Harrods is to open a two-storey outlet store at Westfield London to shift excess seasonal stock unsold due to the pandemic
  • Debenhams is cutting an undisclosed number of head office jobs amid its turnaround. It plans to reopen 90 stores in the week of 15 June and has re-secured two key locations – Birmingham’s Bullring and Glasgow’s Silverburn – that it previously faced losing to Next, which Debenhams had not agreed to.
  • Monsoon Accessorize is set to file a notice of intention to appoint administrators, having lined up FRP Advisory to handle the process.

 

Wednesday 27 May

  • John Lewis will gradually reopen stores, starting with two shop from 15 June and a further 11 on 18 June, chosen because of their accessibility by car. New safety measures include a ‘customer service host’ to manage footfall in store, reducing entrances, installing screens at checkout, and limiting the number of shoppers on escalators and in lifts.
  • Costcutter chief executive Darcy Willson-Rymer said: “Consumer’s needs and demands [since lockdown] are: much less food to go, much less single impulse purchases and we’re seeing significant increases in fresh food; edible grocery and frozen. We’ve been emphasising less range in one area and more in another, and constantly updating our advice for our partners”.

 

Tuesday 26 May

  • In an update to the City, ScS said as of May 23 it had reopened 80 stores and begun deliveries, having previously closed both its store and online arms on 23 March. The retailer said it holds £48.3m in cash and has “continued to review and reduce cash expenditure to protect our liquidity short term”.
  • Investment firm Brigadier Acquisition found that it has been unable to abandon its £22m bid for Moss Bros. The deal will now be completed.
  • Ikea is reopening 19 of its stores in England and Northern Ireland on 1 June, with a phased approach. New safety measures include a one-way system, social distancing wardens, and one adult and one child from the same household being allowed in at a time. It is reopening its Food Market and Bistro with a takeaway service only.
  • Morrisons is set to open its first standalone clothing and homewares store to drive its Nutmeg clothing range as well as its own-brand homewares.
  • Around 30 suppliers have written to Edinburgh Woollen Mill threatening to stop production and deliveries because of £27m in unpaid bills, claiming the group has taken “undue advantage of the Covid-19 situation”, including demands for discounts, cancelled orders and withholding payment.

 

Friday 22 May

  • Burberry has not been able to provide financial guidance for the current year and warned: “As government restrictions ease across the globe, consumers in different markets are likely to respond in distinct ways, with the travelling consumer likely to take longer to return. As a result, it could take some time for the luxury industry to recover to pre-crisis levels.”
  • Fashion app Mallzee has launched a clothing box service, dubbed Lost Stock, to help suppliers shift cancelled stock. Each box contains spring-summer 2020 items at half price that were rumoured to be for the likes of Gap and Topshop.

 

Thursday 21 May

  • Both Furniture Village and DFS are planning to reopen stores in time for the bank holiday weekend, after the government included homewares retailers in its guidance of what an ‘essential’ retailer – an update from its previous definition of essential ‘home and hardware’ stores.
  • Fortnum & Mason opened its main food halls today. The retailer is planning to open the first floor of its Piccadilly flagship on 28 May, and the second and third floors from the start of June.
  • Pets at Home said that trading in its current 2020/21 financial year is down year-on-year. A strong uplift in online sales has been “unable to mitigate the reduced level of in-store sales, and their weighting towards food”. It cautioned that “an additional £5m of costs relating to our initial response to Covid-19, has had an adverse effect on profits, margins and cashflow in the financial year to date” and expects its pre-tax profit the current financial year to be below last year.
  • Clarks is to cut 900 jobs globally over the next 18 months, but create 200 new roles, as it sets out a new strategy to focus on its heritage and sustainability. This follows the retailer consulting with financial advisers to address liquidity issues amid the coronavirus outbreak.

 

Wednesday 20 May

  • Majestic Wine is expanding its partnership with Deliveroo, adding 50 sites to the Deliveroo app to bring the total to 80 stores that offer delivery. The retailer is also extending the range available for delivery to more than 50 wines, champagnes and spirits.
  • Facebook has accelerated the launch of its shopping platform, which will allow firms to set up online stores and sell products across Facebook and Instagram for no-fee. Initially, shoppers will be able to message sellers directly through Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram to arrange a purchase or get more information.
  • In Marks & Spencer’s full year update, which reported that pre-tax profit fell by 21.2% to £403.1m in the year to 28 March, the retailer said the coronavirus negatively impacted profits by £52m in March and added £212.8m in costs and write downs. The retailer said: “Clothing sales at the low point dropped to 16% of their level a year ago.”
  • However, M&S posted that like-for-like sales in its food arm were up 1.9% in the year to 28 March, with an estimated 0.3% benefit from the effects of Covid-19 in March.
  • M&S has scenario planned for clothing and home sales to dive 70% in the four months to July, with a gradual return to budget by February 2021. It has also stress tested for Food to face a 20% decline in revenue for the four months to July, with revenue level thereafter.
  • Like many other clothing retailers, M&S is facing a mountain of stock. It has cancelled late-summer stock, while around £400m of current and forward orders are basic products that will be carried forward. Around £200m of unsold seasonal stock is being stored to merchandise in spring 2021.

 

Tuesday 19 May

  • In a first quarter update, parent Walmart said that although the number of transactions in Asda fell by 3.4% in the three months to 31 March, Asda’s average basket value grew by 6.9% year-on-year.
  • In a half year update, Topps Tiles said online revenues have surged to three times pre-pandemic levels, but warned that overall sales were “down significantly” because of store closures. The retailer plans to have 250 stores “fully opened” by the end of May, with the remaining 100 opened by the end of June.
  • French Connection warned that without urgent funding, its “cash resources will eventually be eroded in the coming months” if current trading levels continue. The retailer has been unable to access government loan schemes.

 

Monday 18 May

  • Aldi has partnered with Deliveroo to pilot a grocery home delivery service, offering 150 products including bread, milk, fruit and vegetables, which will be picked by the grocer’s staff in stores.
  • Apple has laid out a plan for when stores reopen. As well as giving shoppers “lots of room”, its Genius Bar-style service will be offered throughout the store, while face masks will be worn by staff and given to shoppers who don’t have their own.

 

Friday 15 May

  • Boohoo raised £198m through a share pricing, as it looks at more mergers and acquisitions.
  • Lidl has partnered with InPost to launch collection lockers in 24 of its grocery shops.
  • Sainsbury’s is partnering with Stuart, part of courier firm DPD Group, to expand its Chop Chop bike delivery service to 20 UK cities outside of London by mid-June. The expansion is set to increase online delivery capacity by a further 400% and supports the grocer’s bid to increase the number of delivery slots to 600,000 per week.

 

Thursday 14 May

  • Marks & Spencer is reopening 49 of its in-store cafes today, serving takeaway hot drinks only following a pilot in five branches. The cafes now include Perspex screens at checkouts and floor markings to prompt social distancing. One employee will staff the café at a time – washing their hands every 30 minutes and straightaway after handling cash.
  • Pureplay Global Fashion Group reported revenues grew 8.1% in the first quarter of 2020, as it noted active customers increased 15.5% on its platform to 13.3 million. It saw increased demand for sportswear, wellness and loungewear, while dresses and formalwear faced “significant declines”.
  • Nonetheless, the online retailer is slashing its marketing, technology and administrative budget by €40m, and is cutting its inventory intake in the second quarter by €90m. It is limiting its capex investment to a maximum of €45m for 2020.
  • WHSmith reported that revenue plunged 85% year-on-year in April, as sales through its growing portfolio of shops in transport locations nosedived 91% amid temporary closures, while revenue through high street stores was down 74%. Online sales jumped 400% in the month, driven by book purchases.
  • WHSmith is aiming to “significantly reduce or remove rent payments” and move to turnover-based rent.
  • Marks & Spencer is launching a half-price sale across its entire clothing range, with 10% of the purchase price (excluding VAT) being donated to the NHS as part of its ‘Rainbow Sale’ campaign.

Wednesday 13 May

  • Under new government guidance, garden centres can reopen stores from today, including Dobbies which is reopening its 54 UK stores.
  • TM Lewin has been acquired by private equity Torque Brands.
  • Morrisons has introduced a ‘speedy shopping’ system for those looking to make smaller basket purchases. Three speedy customers are being invited into stores for every one customer looking to make a larger trolley shop.

Tuesday 12 May

  • Morrisons posted like-for-like sales growth (excluding fuel) of 5.7% in the quarter to 10 May, with retail sales up 5.1% and wholesale 0.6%. Weeks five to seven reportedly marked a “considerable stocking up” period for customers, which pulled sales forward, while Easter sales were “significantly down year on year”. The grocer is aiming to have rolled out click-and-collect to 280 stores by mid-June.
  • AO said it expects sales and profits for the financial year to be in line with analyst expectations, as “shopping online has become an unavoidable way of life” with customers “relying on electrical and electronic products like never before”.
  • B&Q and Screwfix parent Kingfisher said group sales fell 24% in the three months to 30 April, impacted by store closures in the UK and France. B&Q sales declined by 22.1% to £663m in the period, while. Screwfix reported 0.1% sales dip to £432m. Kingfisher said more than 95% of stores “are currently either open and/or offering a contactless click-and-collect service”.
  • Moss Bros is set to reopen online from tomorrow (13 May), having closed its ecommerce and store operations on 26 March. In line with government expectations, the retailer is “developing plans to reopen stores in an orderly manner” from 1 June.

 

Monday 11 May

  • Morrisons and Pret a Manger are using partnerships with Amazon to offer new online services. Morrisons said 40 of its stores are fulfilling same-day deliveries through Prime Now.
  • Meanwhile, Pret a Manger has partnered with Amazon to launch its first retail coffee range.

 

Thursday 7 May

  • Debenhams is to shut five stores in Hammerson centres, after failing to agree on terms with the landlord. The closures are likely to result in around 1,400 job losses.
  • However, Next has snapped up these sites to launch a new beauty store concept.
  • Asda launched an electric vehicle fleet from 48 stores to increase its online delivery capacity during the pandemic, while also playing a role in the grocer’s target to halve carbon emissions across its estate by 2025.
  • Hotel Chocolat is trialling the reopening of up to six stores as takeaway locations from next week. The retailer is looking at a phased reopening and has identified high street and independent self-standing stores as the first to open, with stores in transport hubs and shopping centres likely to be the last.
  • In a full year update, The Works said sales rocketed 81% in the week to 22 March ahead of lockdown, bolstered by demand for “products to support children’s ongoing education, mindfulness materials to support mental health and products to beat the boredom during this period of social distancing”.
  • H&M reported total global sales decreased by 57% between 1 March and 6 May, as 80% of its 5,061-strong global store estate closed by mid-March. The retailer said that 3,050 of its stores – around 60% of its total estate – currently remained closed, with trading at reopened stores said to be “muted”.
  • Zalando expects total sales to grow between 10% and 20% this year, having added 50 new partners to its luxury fashion marketplace in the past three weeks, including Vaude, American Eagle Outfitters and Lipsy London.
  • White Stuff is preparing to make a “significant” number of redundancies as demand plummets.
  • Matalan has reportedly asked existing lenders Barclays and Lloyds to inject a combined £50m of government-backed funding into the business to prevent it running out of cash.
  • Superdry reported a 57% fall in store sales in its fourth quarter following mandated store closures, which contributed to a 19.1% decline in full-year group revenue to £705.5m in 2019/20.

 

Wednesday 6 May

  • Ocado said its retail revenue from its second quarter to date was up by 40.4% year-on-year, compared to a 10.3% rise in Q1. Demand has remained “unprecedented”, although Ocado said basket sizes have passed the peak seen between mid-March and early April.
  • Ocado said its established consumer fulfilment centres (CFC) are running at full capacity, while its Ertih CFC has increased the capacity of orders it can process to 110,000 from 80,000 in Q1.
  • In a City update, Halfords group like-for-like sales for the four weeks to 1 May were 23% down on a year earlier, but “better than we initially anticipated” as cycling received a boost from shoppers exporting alternatives to public transport and staying healthy. However, its motoring arm showed “overall weakness” due to a drop in car journeys in lockdown. The retailer expects its pre-tax profit to be at the upper end of its guided range of £50m to £55m for 2019/20.
  • Halfords reportedly has £159m of total liquidity, including overdraft facilities. The retailer is looking to preserve cash as it looks towards the next phase of easing the lockdown.

 

Tuesday 5 May

  • Waitrose is opening a new customer fulfilment centre in London’s Enfield on Thursday, reporting that this would see it double the number of available online delivery slots for Londoners by September, adding 13,000 weekly delivery slots.
  • Amazon executive Tim Bray made headlines for leaving his role in protest of the retailer’s treatment of staff who protested against a lack of coronavirus safety measures in its warehouses.

 

Monday 4 May

  • Harrods is launching ‘remove clienteling’, which offers personal shopping for some of its most valuable customers over the phone and by smartphone messaging.
  • Hotel Chocolat is increasing its banking facilities with a new £35m line of credit from Lloyds Bank, replacing a £10m overdraft facility. £25m is provided under the terms of the government’s coronavirus large business interruption loans scheme, expiring in December 2021.
  • Essential retailer Homebase is expected to reopen all of its shops over the coming weekend. This follows rival B&Q stepping up reopenings, trading from 288 stores by the end of last week.

 

Sunday 3 May

  • Essential retail Superdrug has asked landlords to accept rent cuts. A letter addressed to landlords on 22 April said it intended to “reduce our lease payments to 25% of our passing rent commencing from the next due rental date for a minimum period of three months”, despite keeping stores open.

 

Friday 1 May

  • Following the announcement that Gregg’s wanted to reopen 20 stores on a trial basis next week, the business has rowed back on the plans following “significant interest” as it fears excessive customer numbers to operate with safety measures.
  • In its first quarter trading update, Amazon warned that earnings in its second quarter will be wiped out by costs related to coronavirus, including personal protective equipment, cleaning of warehouses, higher wages, social distancing processes and its own development of coronavirus testing facilities.
  • Intu has negotiated waivers on covenants with lenders until 26 June on a £600m revolving credit facility, which were set to be breached. The landlord has also appointed David Hargrave to the new position of chief restructuring officer to focus on shoring up its turnaround.
  • In a first quarter update, Apple said it has seen an “uptick” in the second half of April from sales of its new iPhone SE, Airpods headphones, and updates for the iPad tablet and MacBook Air. This follows a “sharp decline” in worldwide demand in March.
     

Thursday 30 April

  • TK Maxx has restarted selling online – more than two weeks after it stopped taking orders. It has set daily order limits and warned that lead times could be extended. The retailer has also adopted contactless deliveries with its partner Hermes.
  • In its full year update, Sainsbury’s said its food sales rocketed 48% in the week to 21 March amid peak stockpiling.
  • Sainsbury's said food sales rose 12% in the seven weeks to 25 April. This represents an 8% uplift in total sales (excluding fuel) and offsets the 53% and 22% sales declines across clothing and general merchandise in Sainsbury’s stores respectively.
  • Sainsbury’s expects its underlying profit in 2020/21 to be flat, providing lockdown restrictions have eased by the end of June. This assumes that a £500m coronavirus hit – from protection measures and weaker sales across clothing, general merchandise and fuel – is broadly offset by £450m of business rates relief and increased grocery sales.
  • In an update to analysts, John Lewis said it is mulling the permanent closure of some of its department stores, even after the coronavirus lockdown ends as the department store chain struggles to return to profitability.
  • In its full year update, essential retailer Wilko said: “We quickly invested in safety and protection measures, we’re providing full pay for all our team members without seeking government assistance to do so, we’re working hard to protect as many jobs as we can, and we’ve met all rent and supplier obligations in full to date.”
  • Law firm Clifford Chance and investment bank Moelis & Company are advising bondholders on the £1.3bn of debt secured against Intu shopping centres, as the landlord is at risk of breaching covenants on debts. Sites include the Victoria Centre in Nottingham and Lakeside in Essex, as well as the Braehead centre in Glasgow and Watford centre in Hertfordshire. A standstill agreement during the pandemic is expected, meaning covenant breaches would be temporarily waived.

 

Wednesday 29 April

  • Homebase opened a further 50 stores across the UK, following the reopening of 20 shops earlier in the week.Its remaining UK stores are set to reopen from 2 May.
  • In a trading update, Dixons Carphone said that in the five weeks to 25 April its online channels had seen sales rise by 166%, compared to 23% in the 11 weeks to 21 March. The electricals retailer said online sales in the UK and Ireland have recovered around two-thirds of sales lost to store closures.
  • Dixons Carphone also said it had extended its debt facilities by £266m, giving access to over £1.3bn in borrowing.
  • In a trading update, Next said it saw deep declines from the second week of March, which accelerated as each day passed. In the three days before lockdown, Next’s retail sales were down an eyewatering 86%.
  • Next has made strong use of the government’s Job Retention Scheme and initially furloughed 88% of its staff across the business as both stores and warehouses shut down. By the end of April, this had reduced to 84% following the reopening of its online operations.
  • Next said basic spring summer lines such as plain T-shirts and chinos planned to be sold this year will instead be retailed in 2021. Next is storing around £330m (at selling value) of 2020 stock to sell in 2021, representing around 15% of the total spring summer 2021 buy.
  • The multichannel giant has scenario planned for sales to decline this year between 50-62% in Q2, 19%-33% in Q3, and 17%-28% in the final quarter.

 

Tuesday 28 April

  • Marks & Spencer is looking to shore up its balance sheet during “highly uncertain trading conditions”. It plans to borrow from the government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility and has additionally reached an agreement with banks to “substantially relax or remove covenant conditions” on its existing £1.1bn credit facility.

 

Monday 27 April

  • Homebase has reopened 20 of its bricks-and-mortar stores on a trial basis, following the closure of its entire store estate on 25 March.
  • John Lewis is making plans to reopen stores next month, but stressed it would not happen until the government signals that restrictions can be relaxed.
  • Greggs is looking to open branches on a limited trial, with distancing measures in place.
  • Timpson has reopened 40 supermarket shop-in-shops.

 

Friday 24 April

  • As a cost-cutting measure, JD Sports chief executive Peter Cowgill has taken a voluntary 75% pay cut, while the retailer’s board and senior management team have temporarily reduced their salaries by a quarter.
  • In a bid to reduce queues, Sainsbury’s is extending its opening hours from 8am until 10pm, with opening hours in many convenience stores extended to 11pm. It will also reopening its petrol filling station stores.
  • Additionally, Sainsbury’s is installing additional protective screens at manned checkouts in a further 150 stores.
  • Sainsbury’s is aiming to offer 600,000 online slots per week by the end of April, as boss Mike Coupe says its home delivery and click-and-collect services “are in more demand than ever before”. Its on-demand delivery service ChopChop is also being extended to London zones 1 and 2.
  • The Co-op warned that it faces additional costs of more than £200m due to the coronavirus crisis, which will only “in part” be offset by business rates relief and increased food sales. The business has, for instance, taken on 7,000 new workers since the start of the outbreak.
  • Amazon has donated £250,000 to The Book Trade Charity fund, set up to help its physical bookshop rivals.
  • Marks & Spencers is looking to support its clothing suppliers. It is paying for all made garments yet to be shipped by 24 March – the date it asked suppliers to stop production. The retailer has also committed to covering purchases already made by suppliers of “large” fabric volumes, and offering vendor finance and letters of credit.
     

Thursday 23 April

  • After a successful trial of social distancing measures at 14 stores over the weekend, B&Q reopened 61 outlets yesterday and a further 80 today bringing the total number opened to 155.
  • Morrisons is offering its suppliers a 5% discount on groceries until at least mid-July as a gesture for helping to feed the nation.
  • DFS raised £64m in an equity fundraising round and received credit approval for a new 12-month bank facility of £70m from its existing lending banks. The retailer said this gives it enough “liquidity headroom through a pessimistic scenario of a lockdown to December 2020, followed by a historically weak sofa market”.
  • eBay is working with teams across the NHS supply chain, the Department of Health & Social Care and the Army to build a dedicated portal on its website, from which UK healthcare workers across the UK can order personal protective equipment.
  • Kering group, which owns Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta, recorded 16.4% drop in revenue in Q1 2020, with Gucci particularly hit by the coronavirus.
  • Online fashion business Studio Retail Group reported it withdrew a revolving credit facility of £85m and a securitisation facility supporting credit receivables of up to £200m on 27 March.
  • Fashion retailer Animal will cease trading by next year, closing all of its stores, website and concessions, “as a result of the extremely challenging retail market, which has now further worsened due to Covid-19”.
  • LK Bennett administrators EY have extended the company’s administration process to 7 March 2021.

 

Wednesday 22 April

  • Boots has hired 500 additional delivery drivers across the UK and has introduced prescription delivery to another 40 of its stores to help cope with greater demand since Covid-19.
  • Primark has announced its support for the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) call for “urgent collaboration” across the fashion industry, to support garment workers faced with the prospect of unsafe working environments or losing their jobs as a result of Covid-19.
  • Restructuring firm Gordon Brothers has bought the Laura Ashley brand and its intellectual property from administrators PwC, and is set to maintain “a streamlined portfolio” of stores in the UK but primarily focus on online and wholesale.
  • In its full year update, Boohoo said its trading has been “mixed” since the coronavirus outbreak in the UK, with “a marked decrease” in sales in mid-March. However, it said its “performance has improved in more recent weeks and we are now seeing improved year-on-year growth of group sales during April”, but could not provide guidance for 2020/21.
  • Brigadier Acquisition Company is hoping to retract the £22.6m offer it made to acquire Moss Bros in mid-March. It is hoping to lapse its offer because of coronavirus disruption, which saw Moss Bros close all retail operations including online on 26 March.

 

Tuesday 21 April

  • CK Acquisitions has bought the Cath Kidston brand, ecommerce platform and wholesale business from administrators. The retailer’s UK shops are under management of administrator Alvarez & Marsal and are likely to be closed with the loss of 740 jobs.
  • Primark parent ABF reported that the retailer has been able to mitigate about half of the financial impact during lockdown through lease negotiations and cost cutting, with a monthly cash outflow of about £100m while shops shut. 
  • ABF Chief executive George Weston warned: “Much as I would love to be allowed to reopen Primark stores, because lockdown has so harmed our business and our supply chains, I know that we must not do so until we have suppressed this disease”
  • Joules reported it has agreed a £15m increase in borrowing facilities. Alongside an equity raise earlier in the month, the retailer said it has “sufficient liquidity headroom to manage a Covid-19-related downside scenario and the resources to emerge relatively stronger from this unprecedented situation” as online sales outperform expectations.
  • John Lewis Partnership cautioned that its full-year sales could fall 35% at John Lewis and a “more modest decline of less than 5%” at Waitrose – anticipating a “significant” sales decline between April and June, and weak sales thereafter.
  • The department store reported sales across John Lewis are down 17% overall since mid-March, despite online sale surging 84% year-on-year in the period, with store closures prompting John Lewis to furlough 14,000 staff at the beginning of April.
  • Waitrose sales are up 8% year-on-year since 26 January, driven by cupboard essentials such as rice, pasta, home baking, frozen food and cleaning products.
  • By the end of the year, Amazon is planning to launch a rapid grocery delivery service called Ultra Fast Fresh, covering some 40% of UK households.
  • Ikea has acquired augmented reality start-up Geomagical Labs to allow shoppers to virtually visualise big ticket items in their home without a store visit. Geomagical Labs’ key product enables users to scan a room using a smartphone to create a 3D render and allow existing furniture to be virtually removed and new items added in.

 

Monday 20 April

  • Following the closure of all of its stores, essential retailer B&Q has reopened 14 stores, trialling social distancing measures including two-metre floor-markers and perspex screens at checkouts.
  • DFS is in “advanced stages” with lenders to extend its existing £250m debt facility by an additional £60m to £70m. It is also mulling an equity issue of up to 19.9% of its existing capital to provide “resilience for a continued disrupted trading environment” and has reduced its cash outflow.
  • In a trading update, DFS said online gross sales increased by 20.2% between 25 March and 17 April.
  • Ted Baker announced that it is launching a virtual pop-up store dubbed Ted’s Bazaar, selling A4 prints, T-shirt. Beanies, tea-towels and mugs, with profits going to local community charities that support Covid-19. The virtual store will be hosted on the retailer’s existing website with its first collection released on 1 May.
  • Asda has reportedly cancelled clothing orders and offered suppliers 30% of an order’s value as a “gesture of goodwill”, rising to 50% for already completed orders.
  • Primark has extended its support for suppliers, paying £370m of additional orders for product on top of the £1.5bn of stock in stores, depots and in transit – despite its shops being shut and its inability to trade online.
  • Pret a Manger is aiming to launch a range of whole and ground coffee beans in supermarkets at the end of the month, as it tries to adapt to new trading realities.

 

Saturday 18 April

  • It has been reported that Arcadia has given notice on at least 100 store leases, which could lead to renegotiations or closures by the end of the summer.

 

Friday 17 April

  • Gousto has secured £33m in a funding round, as the coronavirus lockdown has supported a 70% year-on-year increase during Q1 for the meal-kit retailer.
  • Waitrose’s same day delivery slots are set to increase from 2,000 to 7,000 per week, while its click-and-collect slots are increasing by 10,000 per week to over 30,000 slots a week.
  • Primark is giving care packs containing 74,000 products to London’s NHS Nightingale Hospital, including underwear, leggings, T-shirts, footwear and towels for staff and patients.

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