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Daily Round Up: Minister for housing appointed Portas high street remit; Theo Paphitis considers La Senza rescue deal; disposable income falls more than £500

From around the web and the nationals

MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT, Grant Shapps, has been allocated responsibility for implementing retail consultant Mary Portas’ recommendations for reviving the UK’s high streets. Last week, Portas revealed that a minister would be allocated a ‘town centre’ remit before March, when a government response to the review is expected. Portas also unveiled her 28 recommendations to halt the decline of the UK’s high street that include removing red tape and liberalising parking restrictions.

THEO PAPHITIS,retail entrepreneur and owner of lingerie chain Boux Avenue, is reportedly considering a rescue deal for lingerie chain La Senza. According to The Telegraph, Paphitis is mulling a bid for the retailer, which he previously owned and sold in 2006 to private equity firm Lion Capital for £100m. Lion Capital appointed KPMG last week to mull a series of restructuring options for La Senza that could include administration.

DISPOSABLE INCOME has fallen £552 over the last year, according to research by the Bank of England. The survey of 2,000 households suggested household spending  will continue to be reined in over the coming year, with more people taking on second jobs. Saving, rather than spending, is also growing, with 15% of households saying they saved more this year and 24% saying they expect to save again over the coming year.

BLUEWATER in Kent has been named the best shopping centre in the UK, according to retail property expert Trevor Wood Associates. Gateshead Metro Centre came second and Westfield Stratford came third. The list of the best 500 scores each centre on attractiveness to shoppers, retailers and investors, analysing elements from tenant turnover to shop vacancies.

MERGER & ACQUISITION (M&A) ACTIVITY will rise in 2012, according to a survey by the Royal Bank of Scotland Corporate & Institutional Banking, published today. More than half (58%) of companies with revenues of over £25m are looking to acquire smaller companies next year. The Financial Times reports another third of those 201 executives surveyed said they were interested in buying or merging with similarly sized rivals, more than twice the number earlier this year. The Independent reports that the number of UK businesses looking to buy or merge with an overseas competitor has more than doubled since the start of the year.

ANN SUMMERS, the lingerie chain, is looking at international expansion, according to The Independent. The retailer’s chief executive, Jacqueline Gold, said overseas expansion in Sydney, Australia and California, the US, is being mooted.

BLACKS LEISURE, the outdoor retailer, is seeing hopes for a formal takeover bid fade, as rival retailers and buy-out firms eyeing the group look at pre-pack administration as the only viable restructuring solution. The Financial Times reports a pre-pack deal would allow potential purchasers to cherry-pick the best assets but walk away from the costly distribution warehouse and head office, plus shed unwanted shops from Blacks’ 300-store estate.

HELLY HANSEN, the outdoor and winter sports brand, has been put up for sale according to Reuters. Helly Hansen owner, private equity group Altor, is selecting an investment bank to prepare for a sale and if the market remains the same Altor will seek buyers in March. It is thought the brand could fetch £291m.


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