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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)

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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