Marks & Spencer is reviewing the future of its 20 French stores after border delays caused by post-Brexit customs arrangements hit deliveries of UK-made fresh and chilled foods such as its popular sandwiches (The Financial Times £). Marks & Spencer has said it is reviewing its French business in the light of post-Brexit trade rules which have affected product availability in its EU stores (Sky News). Marks & Spencer is drawing up plans to close some of its stores in France as Brexit red tape leaves it with empty shelves in Paris (The Telegraph). Marks & Spencer could close some of its French stores after new Brexit border controls left it struggling to keep the shelves full (The Guardian).
The activist investor pushing for a board shake-up at Rolls-Royce has amassed a £178 million stake in WH Smith as the stricken high street chain tries to clamber back to its feet after the pandemic (The Times £). The activist investor calling for a shake-up at Rolls-Royce has upped its stake in WH Smith but insisted it was supportive of management at the struggling high street chain (The Guardian). The activist investor demanding major change at Rolls-Royce has emerged as the biggest shareholder in retailer WH Smith as well (The Daily Mail).
Canadian convenience store and petrol stations giant Couche Tard is seen as the most likely buyer of EG Group after the billionaire Issa brothers hired bankers to explore a multibillion sale of their filling stations empire. Couche Tard and the Issas — who last year bought Asda — are understood to have held exploratory talks two years ago. (The Times £)
Morrisons has been accused of taking a “dangerous and retrograde step” after it cut sick pay for unvaccinated staff in an effort to encourage jab uptake. (The Telegraph)
Bidders for Morrisons have produced airy intention statements on the future of the grocery chain that can be torn up after a year. “The government has shown little interest in more formal undertakings from Morrisons’ suitors, leaving the chain’s fate entirely in the hands of private equity firms seeking juicy returns in a tight timeframe. For them, substantial asset sales could become increasingly tempting — even if they do have the best of intentions.” (The Times £)
Shoppers face permanent food shortages with the days of being able to get almost any item off the supermarket shelf over, a trade body chief has warned (Sky News). Labour shortages in the food industry means consumers may not be able to find the products they like in supermarkets, an industry boss has warned (The BBC).
A reusable nappy brand set up by a couple 24 years ago has raised £13 million from the British Growth Fund to expand as the plastic waste caused by disposable nappies comes under political scrutiny. Bambino Mio has taken on its first outside investor, selling a 38% stake to the fund. (The Times £)
Ocado has seen demand for its services soar during the coronavirus pandemic. The online supermarket, which releases its third-quarter trading update on Tuesday, saw its waiting list swell to more than 1million as families sought to get their shopping delivered during lockdown. (The Daily Mail)
Fulham Shore said sales at its restaurants had boomed in recent weeks as office workers returned to city centres but warned that London sites were still trading at half their normal levels (The Financial Times £). The restaurant group behind the Franco Manca and Real Greek brands has been forced to issue a fresh trading update only three weeks after the last one after a sharp increase in sales (The Times £). The owner of the Real Greek and Franco Manca restaurant chains has said business is picking up week by week, with trading up more than a quarter over pre-pandemic levels as tourists and office workers begin to return to city centres (The Guardian). The owner of the Franco Manca pizzeria chain said business is picking up as customers flock to its restaurants following the end of lockdown (The Daily Mail).
Pret a Manger boss Pano Christou is optimistic about trading in city centres after employees returning to offices last week drove a 15% sales uplift in just seven days. (The Daily Mail)
Waitrose is aiming to eliminate 40m single-use plastic bags a year by removing them from deliveries and in-store collections. (The Guardian)
Maritime tycoon Sir Michael Bibby’s conglomerate, the former owner of Costcutter, has paid out a £1.2million dividend after slimming down its empire. (The Daily Mail)
A BBC Panorama investigation has found evidence that suggests one of Britain’s biggest companies paid a bribe to the former Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe. The BBC said documents also reveal BAT was paying bribes in South Africa and using illegal surveillance to damage rivals. (The BBC)
New border checks on European Union goods entering the UK are on the brink of being delayed for the second time amid concerns they could fuel further disruption for supermarkets and shops in the run-up to Christmas. (The Telegraph)
Wages are rising at the second fastest rate in four years in a sign that inflationary pressures may persist as labour shortages force employers to increase pay, a reports suggests. (The Times £)
Global food prices have been climbing for a little over a year, heaping pressure on emerging markets where the poorest tend to spend a larger proportion of their income on staples. (The Financial Times £)
The Times interviews former Sainsbury’s boss Justin King – “King of the grocers aims his trolley at the Big Tech tax avoiders”. His preferred way of making Amazon et al pay their fair share is through a tax on online deliveries. He contends it would revitalise the high street by encouraging consumers to click and collect orders from their local shops. (The Times £)