Jaguar Land Rover and Ford to axe thousands of jobs. JLR to cut 4,500 jobs globally with UK management roles most affected. Jaguar Land Rover and Ford are to cut thousands of jobs, including at least 2,000 in the UK. JLR, Britain’s biggest carmaker, said it will lose 4,500 jobs from its global workforce, the majority of them management roles in the UK at sites including Coventry and Gaydon. The company will start a voluntary redundancy programme. On Thursday, JLR, which has been facing weakening Chinese demand and fewer people wanting to buy diesel vehicles, and has already launched a £2.5bn cost-saving programme, also announced investments worth hundreds of millions of pounds to produce electric drive units at Wolverhampton, and a new battery plant at Hams Hall in Birmingham that will be operational by 2020.
John Lewis may suspend staff bonus as retail slump bites. Weak consumer demand prompts department store chain to consider scrapping bonus for first time since 1953. John Lewis may suspend its staff bonus for the first time in 66 years in the wake of the worst Christmas for retailers since the depths of the financial crisis. The employee-owned department store group, which also owns Waitrose, said it would “need to consider carefully … whether payment of a bonus is prudent in the light of business and economic prospects at that time”. Patrick Lewis, the finance director, said the partnership could afford to pay a bonus but highlighted the “unusual economic circumstances” and a “higher level of volatility” because of Brexit. The board will make a decision on the employee payout in March, the month it usually does its final bonus calculations. The retailer’s chairman, Sir Charlie Mayfield, warned that partnership profits would be substantially lower this year despite higher sales at Christmas, amid heavy discounting by rivals and weak consumer demand
Ted Baker beats festive sales slump despite ‘forced hugs’ claims. Fashion brand’s sales rise 12.2% over festive period despite controversy surrounding its founder. Ted Baker (TED) has shrugged off concerns about a culture of “forced hugs” under its founder, Ray Kelvin, delivering strong sales growth over Christmas despite the revelations. Retail sales increased 12.2% in the five weeks to 5 January, after a 5% increase in retail space, as the fashion brand clocked up strong growth online. Lindsay Page, acting chief executive, said men’s and women’s coats, jackets and knitwear had all sold well as the weather became chillier after a tricky autumn season marked by unseasonably warm weather. “The Ted Baker brand has delivered a good performance across both our stores and e-commerce business, despite the continuing challenging external trading conditions across our markets,” he said. “This result again reflects the strength of the brand and the quality of our collections.” Page added that the company had also invested heavily in logistics and infrastructure, which played an important role as shoppers demanded more home deliveries.
Tesco beats Christmas retail blues with strong sales rise. Supermarket records best festive sales performance in nearly a decade. Tesco (TSCO) has emerged as one of the winners of the Christmas period, reporting its best growth in nearly a decade, while other major retailers such as John Lewis and Marks & Spencer suffered. Britain’s biggest retailer posted 2.2% growth in UK like-for-like sales in the six weeks to 5 January, its strongest Christmas performance since December 2009. Sales rose 0.7% in the 13 weeks to 24 November. Tesco’s chief executive, Dave Lewis, hailed a “very strong Christmas performance which was ahead of the market”. Lewis said there had been a “flight to value” at Tesco, with shoppers seeking out its cheapest range, Exclusively at Tesco, while the retailer’s more upmarket Finest range also fared well. The supermarket’s Free from range of gluten-free and wheat-free products – the biggest in the UK – posted an 11% rise in sales. Lewis said Tesco had also benefited from its decision to run fewer Black Friday promotions than in previous years. Tesco’s upbeat trading update came alongside a flurry of figures from other retailers, which fared poorly. John Lewis warned it may not pay a staff bonus this year, and Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) reported a slump in food and clothing sales. It has been the worst Christmas for retailers since the financial crisis, according to an industry survey, with all areas of the high street experiencing declines except food. Among the supermarkets, Tesco’s performance contrasts with that of Sainsbury’s, which posted a 1.1% drop in sales at established stores. It blamed consumer caution and fewer Black Friday discounts on toys and electrical goods at its Argos chain.
Halfords blames mild weather and weak demand for profit slip. Car accessories and bike retailer’s sales fall as shares slump to six-year low. Halfords Group (HFD) has been forced to issue its second profits warning in a year, blaming the mild weather and lower consumer confidence for a fall in sales at its stores. The shares slumped by 15%, to a six-year low of 235p, as the bikes to car maintenance firm said it expected to make underlying pretax profit of between £58m and £62m this year, up to 17% less than the £70m analysts had expected. Halfords said it did not expect to increase profits next year as it predicted consumer confidence would remain weak
Brighton Pier owner issues profit warning. Group says profits will be fifth lower than expected, in fresh blow to chair Luke Johnson. Brighton Pier Group (The) (PIER), the leisure company that owns the 119-year-old Grade II*-listed pier alongside a string of bars and mini golf courses across the country, has warned that its profits will be a fifth lower than expected. The profit warning, which caused the shares to fall by 42% before recovering to 24% down, is the latest blow for the serial entrepreneur Luke Johnson, whose investment fund bought the pier for £16m in 2016 and who chairs the company. Johnson owns 27% of Brighton Pier Group, according to its website. The shares have lost more than half their value since September. Johnson was last year forced to inject millions of pounds into his cake business Patisserie Valerie to avoid its collapse into administration after an accounting scandal.