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What the weekend newspapers said... (March 21-22)

The best of the fashion business related headlines from the weekend newspapers…

The Sunday Times said that John Hargreaves, who founded Matalan in 1985 and took in private in 2007, has awarded himself and his family a £25m dividend after sales at the value chain improved significantly. The £25m dividend compares to a £5m dividend in the previous year, and had to be approved by Matalan’s banks.Matalan has also paid back nearly £44m of debt, up from the £25m it originally planned to pay back. This has reduced its debt level to around £250m. Matalan recorded a pre-tax profit of £53m on sales of £1 billion for the year ended March 2008.

The Sunday Telegraph said that Next would report a drop in full year profits of around 14% this week after a fall in sales. Analysts expect Next to reveal that pre-tax profit from its retail stores for the year to January was £428 million, down from £498.1m the previous year.

The Mail on Sunday said that Littlewoods owner Shop DirectGroup was planning to set up its first operations on the continent. France, Germany, Spain and Portugal are the first target destinations. The newspaper also carried an interview with Shop Direct chief executive Mark Newton-Jones. It said that Shop Direct Group’s trading profit before exceptional items was expected to be £120 million for the year to the end of March.

The Daily Mail on Saturday reported that John Lewis would launch a range designed by Ghost founder Tanya Sarne this summer. The new range, called John Lewis by Tanya Sarne will feature lightweight viscose mix dresses, jackets and tops.

The Times on Saturday said that visitor numbers to the Westfield London shopping centre in White City were 40% lower than in October when the centre opened. It reported that at least eight retail and food units at the centre had already shut.

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