October 7, 2020
US giant Walmart has completed the sale of supermarket chain Asda to the Issa brothers for £6.8bn. Co-founders of EG Group Mohsin and Zuber Issa and investor TDR Capital will own a majority stake in the UK grocer. EG Group currently operates over 5,200 petrol stations across the UK and Europe and they have promised to invest over £1bn in the Asda businesses over the next three years.
In a move which could save up to 100 tonnes of packaging each year, discount grocer Aldi will ban single-use plastic bags across its UK estate. The plastic bags will be removed from all stores by the end of the year and instead, customers will be encouraged to bring their own containers from home. This comes after Aldi’s announcement earlier this year that it had a target to remove 74,000 tonnes of plastic from circulation over the next five years.
Stalwart shoe retailer Clarks has launched a CVA in a move to save money and secure a much-needed funding boost from LionRock Capital, which is contingent on the retailer securing approval for a CVA. The CVA could see up to 50 of the worst performing stores shut down and the rest move to turnover based rents.
Sporting goods retailer Decathlon has announced expansion plans as sales increased both in stores and online as the appeal for outdoor activities increased throughout the pandemic. The brand plans to open a new store in Aberdeen and they have four more openings planned for 2021. UK CFO and Property Director Alberto Bottan said in a statement: “Even if 2020 remains a very complicated year due to the Covid impact on retail, we are very confident in our ongoing performances and we aim to achieve profitability by the end of the year.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that the tax-free shopping initiative for non-EU visitors will end in December this year. Tourists will no longer be able to claim back VAT on items purchased in the UK and duty-free shops in airports will no longer be able offer VAT discounts on physical goods, only food and alcohol. The move will result in the UK being the only country in Europe not to offer tax-free shopping for international visitors.
Lingerie brand Ann Summers has launched talks with the British Property Federation in advance of possibly launching a CVA after a small group of landlords were not willing to negotiate rental terms. A spokesperson for Ann Summers said: “While a CVA is not certain, it is likely we will have no option but to proceed with such a process imminently unless we see a shift in the position of our remaining landlords in the coming weeks.”
The Restaurant Group has said it has seen very encouraging sales since reopening 90% of its sites post-lockdown. Since closing around 165 underperforming Chiquito and Frankie & Benny’s venues, trading has been roughly the same as before. CEO Andy Hornby said in a statement: It has been an extraordinary and difficult period for the hospitality sector but one in which we have pulled together to achieve a great deal”.
Pubs and restaurants are close to falling off a “cliff edge” with far more jobs at risk than previously thought according to UK Hospitality boss Kate Nicholls. She said that research indicated that up to 560,000 jobs might be lost from the sector by the end of the year, but she now fears that this figure could be higher. A toxic mix of local lockdowns, the 10pm curfew and dropping consumer confidence had piled more pressure on the industry.
Cola holdings has shelved plans to sell a retail and hotel portfolio which was expected to sell at around £1bn. The portfolio comprises of a 224 bedroom hotel, the Burberry store on Bond Street and Washington House – which is occupied by private members club Conduit Club.
Openings and Closures
Wren Kitchens opened its 98th showroom at Altrincham Retail Park creating 21 jobs for the local community; street food market Dinerama in London's Shoreditch will close after this weekend; Soho’s Milk & Honey bar has shut down after the 10pm curfew came into force; Pantechnicon - a Japanese/Nordic dining and retail concept has just opened on Montcomb Street in London's Belgravia; Marco Pierre White's latest Steakhouse Bar & Grill opened in Salisbury at the Stones hotel; Rebound Social bar has opened on Leeds' Wellington Street in the venue formerly occupied by Doc Bar; Turkish restaurant Bosporus has opened at London's Leicester Square.