City snapshot: Record year for Cake Box despite Covid disruption
12 April 2021
Hovis launches posh Bakers Since 1886 bread range
12 April 2021

Senior staff are preparing to stage an exodus at Asda after receiving final payouts from a share scheme run by the grocer’s American owner. Industry sources and headhunters said that they had been contacted by several Asda executives looking to leave, with one saying that the level of inquiries was much higher than normal for the sector. (The Times £)

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in online grocery becoming consistently profitable for conventional UK supermarkets for the first time, according to new research. (The Financial Times £)

Despite Deliveroo’s disappointing IPO, investors are pouring money into ‘dark store’ disrupters, writes The FT. Investors have ploughed almost $14bn into on-demand grocery delivery services globally since the beginning of the pandemic, according to PitchBook Data, with more funding arriving during the first three months of 2021 than the whole of last year. (The Financial Times £)

Investors are betting that today’s high street reopening will usher in a summer spending spree that provides a desperately needed boost to retailers, pubs and restaurants after a devastating year (The Times £). Confidence among Britain’s biggest businesses has hit a record high according to new figures published as parts of the economy reopen from lockdown (Sky News).

People are returning to the high street, but the retail crash has changed it beyond recognition, writes John Harris in The Guardian. The easing of Covid restrictions in England will reveal the effects of the loss of brick and mortar shops in our towns and cities. (The Guardian)

The British Retail Consortium estimated that lockdowns across 2020 cost non-essential retail £22bn in lost sales. So with non-essential shops allowed to open again on Monday after nearly four months, retailers have concocted plans to make real-life shopping trips a pastime once again. (The Guardian)

The head of a pub chain says he fears for some in the industry despite hospitality venues being able to reopen. (The BBC)

The cold snap that Britain has been experiencing over the past week have dimmed the excitement, and commercial prospects, of many landlords for Monday’s reopening under Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s gradual easing of coronavirus restrictions (The Financial Times £).

The boss of John Lewis has insisted the department store chain will not close any more shops and defended its strategy, just two weeks after the retailer announced plans to shut eight outlets (The Times £). A fifth of John Lewis customers are not in easy driving distance of their nearest store after a third of its shops were closed (The Daily Mail)

John Lewis has launched thousands of new low-price products in a value range called Anyday as boss Dame Sharon White fights to lure the middle classes back to its stores and website (The Telegraph). John Lewis will reopen stores with an ‘affordable’ range designed to attract younger customers to the department store (The Daily Mail)

Shoppers flock to try new vegan butchers, writes The Guardian. People queue for an hour for ‘cuts’ at the latest startups – and now supermarkets are opening meat-free counters. (The Guardian)

One of the world’s leading private equity firms is backing a surprise bid to run the National Lottery. CVC Capital Partners, the owner of rugby’s Six Nations, is behind an offer put forward by Sisal, the operator of Italy’s top lottery. (The Daily Mail)

Plans to install 5,000 rapid and ultra-rapid electric vehicle chargers in Britain by 2025 have been set out by Royal Dutch Shell. (The Times £)

Yo Sushi has signed a deal with WH Smith to sell pre-packed sushi at two hospitals in Wakefield and Southampton. It also will expand into five travel hubs in London. (The Times £)

Struggling shopping centre giant Hammerson has agreed to sell its retail parks to the Canadian private equity player Brookfield as it tries to shore up its balance sheet. (The Times £)

The boss of AO World has waded into the disastrous flotation of Deliveroo by claiming that the London stock market does not like the uncertainty that comes with entrepreneurship. (The Times £)

Amazon workers have voted not to unionise at one of the company’s warehouses in Alabama in a major victory for the company (Sky News). Amazon has defeated activists hoping to establish the company’s first unionised warehouse in the US (The BBC).

This bout may have several more rounds to run, writes The FT. With the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union set to appeal against what it alleges were Amazon’s “egregious and illegal” anti-union tactics, the publicity may yet embolden other workers. (The Financial Times £)

The distillery behind Kew Gardens Gin has today launched a crowdfunding campaign to capitalise on optimism around hospitality’s reopening. (The Daily Mail)

Unilever’s ‘skin lightening’ cream tests its purpose, writes The FT. The fmcg multinational seeks to challenge ‘narrow beauty ideals’ in packaging and advertising. (The Financial Times £)

Chinese tech giant Alibaba said on Monday that it accepted a record penalty imposed by the country’s anti-monopoly regulator (The BBC). Chinese regulators have fined Alibaba a record Rmb18.2bn after finding that the ecommerce group had abused its market dominance (The Financial Times £).

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