January 6, 2021
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced new funding which is being made available to support non-essential retail businesses after Boris Johnson announced that England would be placed back into lockdown for the third time on Monday. Sunak has pledged £4.9bn to the fund, which will see businesses receive up to £9k per store that has been forced to close due to the new restrictions which have been put in place to stem the spread of the new, more infectious variant of Coronavirus.
Discounter Aldi has announced plans to spend £3.5bn on British products over the next five years. It currently prides itself on UK-made products including meat, eggs, milk, butter and cream and hopes to extend this to provide opportunities for hundreds of F&B businesses across the country. UK boss Giles Hurley said in a statement: “We are expecting significant sales growth in 2021 as we open new stores and bring Aldi to more locations across the UK. With the vast majority of our grocery products now coming from British suppliers, our growth will lead to additional jobs and investment in our UK supply chain.”
The Centre for Retail Research has released a report which shows that 177k jobs were lost in the retail sector in 2020 - equating to 3,400 jobs each week. The grim news forecasts another 200k to be lost in the coming year as the impact of the pandemic continues to be felt.
Stationery retailer Paperchase is reported to be close to falling into administration after it suffered huge losses over the Christmas period due to the November lockdown. During the festive period the retailer normally takes 40% of its annual sales. The collapse of the chain would see 145 stores at risk of closure.
Sales across supermarkets surged during the festive season, as non-essential retailers were forced to close stores and consumers headed into supermarkets instead. £11.7bn was spent on food and drink in December according to Kantar – the highest ever figure recorded.
Morrisons has announced that it will be using three of its car parks as drive-thru vaccination hubs in a bid to do its bit to support the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. Boss David Potts said: “We’ll have three stores operating from Monday January 11 and we have offered up another 47 subject to requirements of the country and the availability of the vaccine.” Alongside this, Tesco and Boots have also confirmed they will support the vaccine rollout, Boots offering up vaccine sites and Tesco the use of its distribution arm Best Food Logistics.
Craft brewer BrewDog is in talks with the government about providing space for vaccination centres across its closed estate of bars and pubs. It has gone further saying that anyone vaccinated in one of its bars would get a special ‘commemorative’ can of beer to take home. Co-founder James Watt tweeted the health secretary and Scottish First Minister to say “We have waiting areas, huge refrigerators, separate rooms for vaccinations and an ace team who can help organise. We want to help.”
Competitive darts venue Flight Club has announced that it will open another venue next year in Bristol to join 4 in London and one in Birmingham and Manchester. The brand also had plans to open a venue in Leeds last year, which was paused due to the pandemic which is expected to take place this year also.
Malmaison will open a new 150 room hotel in York in the spring which will feature a SkyBar alongside a Chez Mal Brasserie & Bar. The hotel will also include an event space and Work+Play meetings rooms, a Starbucks and a gym/spa.
London’s Pidgin restaurant has raised over £60,000 via a crowdfunding campaign led by founders James Ramsden and Sam Herlihy which will help it to survive into 2021 after an incredibly challenging period for the hospitality sector. The independently run restaurant in Hackney which serves a weekly changing menu has been closed since 16th December and missed a critically important festive trading period.
The British Property Federation has called for urgent government action to stop what they call the ‘abuse’ of the CVA process. Chief Executive Melanie Leech claims the process is “cynically used as an excuse by wealthy individuals and private equity backers to shift onto property owners the cost of years of failings and underinvestment”. The BFP has urged the government to put guidelines in place to ensure fairer voting procedures.
Clearbell Property Partners has sold three retail warehouses for £19.4m, located in Christchurch, Bolton and Ellesmere. The warehouses have been sold to M7 Real Estate.
Openings and closures
Health, beauty and lifestyle concept store Linnaean has opened in Battersea to promote health and happiness; Coffee retailer Nespresso is expanding on its boutique concept with a new store at London Bridge station; Fujifilm has launched the House of Photography in Covent Garden, which is designed to be a celebration of picture taking.