Private equity giant Apollo has been running the rule over Marks & Spencer in recent months in a sign that the wave of deal-making rocking the retail industry is set to continue (The Times £). New York-based Apollo Global Management reportedly considers it a bargain and that the market has undervalued its online delivery venture with grocery giant Ocado, in which it bought a 50% stake in 2019 for £750m (The Daily Mail).
Ocado rounded off the week with its best session in more than a year amid speculation that Marks & Spencer is saving its pennies to buy out the pair’s joint venture (The Times £). Ocado shot to the top of the FTSE 100 on Friday on speculation that Marks & Spencer is mulling a buyout of Ocado’s grocery website (The Telegraph).
Marks & Spencer is gearing up for Steve Rowe to step down as chief executive within the next 18 months. There have been no formal conversations with the M&S board about his departure date, but senior figures at the retailer are aware that Rowe believes that chief executives typically have a tenure of between five and eight years. (The Times £)
Two of the three final bidders for Unilever’s tea division balked at taking on the company’s plantations because of concerns about working conditions. The tea division was sold last week to CVC Capital Partners for €4.5bn, but the Luxembourg-based buyout group was left as the only bidder willing to buy the whole division after Carlyle and Advent International decided they could not take on tea plantations in east Africa, which face difficult questions over human rights and fair pay. (The Financial Times £)
The sale of two British tea brands to a Luxembourg private equity outfit faced a backlash as fears were raised over jobs. Unite union General secretary Sharon Graham said private equity buyouts in the UK have a pattern of asset stripping, job cuts and loading companies with debts to turn a huge short-term profit. (The Daily Mail)
It looks like time could be up for the traditional British cup of tea, with thirsty consumers increasingly opting for coffee, fancy herbal infusions and even kombucha as a pick-me-up. The latest blow to the national drink is Unilever’s decision this week to sell its famous black tea brands, which include Brooke Bond, PG Tips and Lipton, to a private equity firm. (The Guardian)
Amazon is reluctant to pursue deals in Britain because of concerns that the competition watchdog is taking an interventionist approach. City analysts previously have touted Amazon as a potential bidder for supermarkets as it looks to expand its grocery business. (The Times £)
The Black Friday discount day is back with a bang this year with shoppers expected to spend almost £9.2bn next weekend – 15% more than in 2020 when much of the UK’s high street was in lockdown. (The Guardian)
Black Friday is about to test retailers to the limit – the annual discount shopping frenzy has put supply chains under greater pressure (The Times £).
This Friday, independent retailers across the country will shut down their websites, donate their profits to charity and plant trees as part of a renewed drive against the rabid consumerism encouraged by large online sellers offering deals for Black Friday. (The Guardian)
Investment giant SoftBank is ‘unlikely’ to trigger its option to buy a big stake in The Hut Group’s technology division after a slump in the share price, a major City bank has said. (The Daily Mail)
THG has been scouring the City for new spinners to help promote the business and in particular its tech arm, Ingenuity, which has left investors unimpressed. At least a couple of big-hitters have been sounded out — although THG denies this. (The Times £)
The owner of John Lewis and Waitrose will on Monday launch a £1m fund that will channel cash into projects with the potential to end the high street’s “throwaway” culture. (The Guardian)
Britain’s cost of living squeeze is set to worsen with the highest global food prices in half a century lasting until 2023 as the gas crisis sends fertiliser costs soaring, experts predict. (The Telegraph)
You’ll pay more for New Year drinks, warns pub boss: Greene King chief Nick Mackenzie says firms cannot swallow soaring costs much longer. (The Daily Mail)
The boss of one of the UK’s largest logistics companies has warned of a “scrap” to secure lorry drivers for the peak retail season and predicted that labour shortages will last well into next year. (The Financial Times £)
Boiling lobsters alive could be banned if ministers act on a government-commissioned report that has found crustaceans have feelings. (The Guardian)
A financial technology business has been forced into a U-turn after Boots, Homebase and Ocado denied its claim that they were joining its cryptocurrency cashback scheme. (The Times £)