Flying Brands has divested Gardening Direct, its last remaining retail brand. Gardening Direct was sold to Jersey Choice Marketing, a company linked to Jersey Plants Direct, for £2.88 million. Further, Flying Brands announced today that it is in advanced discussions to lease the greenhouses and despatch centre at Retreat Farm to Jersey Choice. Should the deal be finalised, that side of the business will also be discontinued. Proceeds from the disposal will be used to repay creditors and as working capital. Flying Brands retains the freehold of Retreat Farm which was valued earlier this year at £3.3 million.
Electronics retailer Maplin has announced that it is accelerating its investment strategy under a new senior leadership team. John Cleland, who was appointed chief executive in April 2012, is joined by Mike Lucas, retail director, and Ryan Thomas, who joined the business in May 2012 as multichannel director. Alongside the investment in new stores, the strategy will focus on improving the company’s operations, marketing and customer service as well as expanding the business-to-business division. In addition, Maplin is investing in its multichannel services, including website improvements and the development of additional ecommerce platforms, comprising smartphone and social media shopping applications. As expected, the investment in the company’s new initiatives will have a short term impact on EBITDA, which was £29.9 million in 2011, down from £40.8 million in the previous year.
Lloyds Banking Group has donated an extra £8 million to the Farepak compensation fund after a high court judge questioned bank executives' morals leading up to the demise of the company. It is understood that Farepak could probably have survived had its bank HBOS lent it an extra £3 million to £5 million. A legal case against nine Farepak directors subsequently collapsed. In a statement, business secretary Vince Cable said, “The result of the legal proceedings case against the former directors was disappointing but this increased compensation will go some way in helping those who were left considerably out of pocket by Farepak’s collapse. My department and Lloyds will work to make sure this money gets to the victims as quickly as possible. I will be meeting a group of Farepak's creditors and MPs next week to discuss the case."
JJB, the sportswear retailer, posted a disappointing trading update this morning, with sales considerably short of expectations. Group like-for-like sales for the 22 weeks ended 1st July 2012 decreased by 8 percent. As at 1st July 2012, net debt was £15.4 million.
French toy retailer Groupe Ludendo is close to buying Hamleys for up to £60 million, reports the Financial Times. Also from the Financial Times, prices change as often as every 15 minutes on Amazon as some sellers use data mining tools and complex algorithms to undercut competitors.
Royal Mail has launched MarketReach, a new initiative to provide companies and their agencies with a suite of mail campaign services. Royal Mail will provide planning, data, creative and design services through to print, delivery and response evaluation. Royal Mail says it’s currently in talks with more than 50 companies about providing the new service.
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