Your guide to the fashion business-related headlines from the Easter weekend newspapers…
The Sunday Express reported that high street discounting had failed to drive shoppers on the high street, with the British Retail Consortium set to report a 2% like-for-like sales drop in March, when it issues its sales monitor later this week. The newspaper said that recent figures had been bolstered by supermarkets which have increased sales in the recession and that as a result, the BRC’s figures would mask tough trading at department stores and other high street stores.
The Daily Telegraph reported that the administrator of Icelandic investor Baugur, which held stakes in UK retail chains including House of Fraser, is investigating the transfer of properties in the UK, France and Denmark to Baugur chairman Jon Asgeir Johannesson months before the company collapsed.
Two properties in London, a property in Denmark and a ski chalet in France were transfered to Johannesson’s investment company Gaumur last autumn, according to the newspaper.
Administrator Erlendur Gislason of Logos told the newspaper: “All transactions between relation parties within the sensitive and suspect period are subject to thorough review by the administrator. It’s not so much about price but the settlement of a debt by a transfer of property and it’s being investigated.”
Baugur chief executive Gunnar Sigurdsson insisted there was no suggestion of impropriety and said that Gaumur had lent money to Baugur.
An investigation into Iceland’s banking crisis could reveal illegal activity in the financial community, according to the newspaper. Icelandic business minister Gylfi Magnusson has said that there are similarities with the country’s banking system and failed US energy company Enron, according to the newspaper.
The report said that bank bosses and entrepreneurs are set to come under tough scrutiny as part of an investigation into the collapse of Iceland’s banking system which saw its three biggest banks, Glitnir, Landsbanki and Kaupthing, seized by the government.
The Observer reported that loans to billionaire investor and property tycoon Robert Tchenguiz are among those to be scrutinised by accountants and lawyers acting for collapsed bank Kaupthing. Tchenguiz has been hit hard by the collapse of the bank and is in a legal dispute with Kaupthing over how to split proceeds from the sale of some of the assets in which both had stakes.
According to The Mail on Sunday, JJB Sports is preparing to send legal notices to potential investors to discover who has recently bought a stake in the business. The retailer will issue 793 notices to potential investors, including Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley, which require them to reveal whether they own any shares in the company. A 23% stake in JJB Sports was sold by administrators of collapsed Icelandic bank Kaupthing last last month. Investment firm Monecor bought 13%, but no one has been confirmed as the buyer of the rest of the stake, although Ashley is rumoured to have bought some shares via contracts for difference.
The Sunday Timessaid that private equity firm Permira had been forced to restructure some of its biggest deals in the wake of the recession.
Permira, which is restructuring the loan that it used to buy chemicals firm Borsodchem two years ago, has seen the value of other assets plummet including the Valentino fashion group, which owns the Hugo Boss business. However, New Look is one of Permira’s investments which is performing well. Permira is expected to say that most of its portfolio is holding up in its annual report later this month.
Manchester Bomb Threats
The Daily Telegraph reported that the number of visitors to Manchester’s Arndale shopping centre held up well, despite reports that it had been the potential target of a terrorist attack before police arrested suspected suicide bombers last week.
Kangol job cuts
Headwear brand Kangol is set to cut jobs at is UK operations after a sales slump, according to The Mail on Sunday. US-based Bollman, which has the Kangol hat licence, plans to cut around 20 staff at is distribution centre in Cleator, Cumbria and move the operation to the continent. The Kangol brand is owned by International Brand Management, which is controlled by Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley.