 QVC UK is one of only 85 companies certified as a Top Employer UK by the Top Employers Institute, the global certifier of excellence in employee conditions. The certification shows that QVC “provides exceptional employee conditions, nurtures and develops talent throughout all levels of the organisation and has demonstrated its leadership status in the HR environment, always striving to optimise its employment practices and to develop its employees.”  Launching this June, the Creative Retail Awards are a new and exciting annual event designed to recognise and reward innovation and excellence in retail design. Organised by the Shop & Display Equipment Association (SDEA), the awards will span a number of disciplines, including store design, visual merchandising, lighting and POP, and will be judged by a panel of industry leaders and experts. For more information, visit www.  To celebrate the fourth year of National Children’s Gardening week and it’s ‘adoption’ by the HTA, a new look website for National Children’s Gardening Week has been unveiled, along with a suite of free resources for the garden industry to get behind the initiative. National Children’s Gardening Week takes place between May 26-June 3, taking on board two weekends. For more, visit www. childrensgardeningweek.  Wyevale Nurseries officially unveiled three new plants to consumers at the Garden Press Event in London on February 28 2018. The Hereford grower launched Daphne odora x bholua ‘Perfume Princess’, Dianella tasmanica Wyeena and Phormium ‘Blondie’.  BHETA’s February 21 networking forum featured Ocado’s senior buying manager, Martin de la Fuente, Richard Butler from the CBI, Glynn Jones from the Bank of England, and Rob Ingram from Root 7. In a positive and entertaining session, each of the four presentations outlined the opportunities that exist for all sellers, regardless of BREXIT, as well and the ‘horses to back’ for the future.


Bunnings to review planning for new purpose built Ashford store

Bunnings UK&I has opened three stores in Kent since its acquirement of Homebase in February 2016, with stores in Thanet, Sittingbourne and Folkestone.

Kent Live has since reported that developers in Ashford want to expand Drover’s Retail Park in Ashford further, bringing in Bunnings’ first purpose built UK store as well as a drive through coffee shop, a 37,000 sq ft retail terrace of four units selling furniture and homewares and another small 2,000 sq ft retail unit. The online publication also spoke with a spokesman for developers Castle City Estate, who said: “We are proposing to develop a retail scheme selling

furniture, homewares, home improvement and outside living products on the land adjacent to the John Lewis at Home by Drovers roundabout in Ashford. “The new retail scheme will complement the existing John Lewis at Home offer, and provide choice for shoppers, create jobs and deliver investment.” Planning consent for the

Ashford store was submitted before the announcement in February from Wesfarmers where managing director, Rob Scott had announced: “The Homebase acquisition has been below our expectations which is obviously disappointing. In light of this, a review of Bunnings UK and Ireland (BUKI) has commenced

to identify the actions required to improve shareholder returns.” And because of

this review, it was then reported in Wesfarmers half year report that “deployment of capital will remain disciplined and subject to ongoing review of pilot store performance.”

The first Bunnings pilot store opened in February 2017 and there are 19 pilot stores currently trading. The early results from the pilot program have been encouraging, although sales uplifts achieved moderated during the winter months. The

Carpetright issues second profit warning of the year

British floor coverings retailer, Carpetright issued its second profit warning of the year, and warned investors on March 1 that trading conditions had remained difficult since its last update on 19 January, where it reported revised full year profit guidance in the range of £2.0million to £6.0million. Carpetright said “ongoing weak consumer confidence is forcing the group to examine a variety of other options to strengthen its balance sheet”. While the trend in Carpetright’s UK like-for-like sales has improved since the January update, it remains negative, with trading across the rest of Europe also improved, led by a recovery in like-for-like sales in the Netherlands.

Although the important Easter trading period is still to come, Carpetright said that UK like-for-like sales remain below management expectations, with the group now expecting to report a “small underlying pre-tax loss” for the year ending 28 April 2018. The company had already revised its full- year profit guidance last month to between £2m and £6m, compared to market expectations of around £14m. As a result of the projected loss, Carpetright said it was “proactively engaged in constructive discussions” with its bank lenders in an effort to ensure the firm continued to comply with the terms of its prevailing bank facilities.

“The bank lenders have indicated that they currently remain fully supportive,” it said. In addition to the discussion with its lenders, Carpetright said it was examining “a range of options to accelerate the turnaround of the business and strengthen its balance sheet”. The company currently has 416 stores in the UK.

John Lewis expect trading to be “volatile” in 2018/19

John Lewis Partnership Plc has released its full year results for the 52 weeks ended January 27, 2018.

For the first five weeks of the

year, Partnership gross sales were up 0.6% on last year. Waitrose gross sales were up 2.7% (up 2.4% like-for-like, excluding fuel) and John Lewis gross sales were down 2.8% (down 3.4% like-for-like). Sales were significantly impacted, particularly in John Lewis, by the heavy snow last week. “We expect trading to be volatile in 2018/19” the company reports, with continuing economic uncertainty and no letup in competitive intensity. It is also anticipated that there will be

further pressure on profits. However, the Partnership “will see benefits this year from the many changes we implemented in 2017/18”, and the faster delivery of key innovations.

John Lewis has reported

a “strong year”, with sales outperforming the BRC market by 1.4% and market share increasing in Fashion, Home and Electricals and Home Technology (EHT). Gross sales were up 2.2% to £4.84bn, with like-for-like sales growth of 0.4%. “We continued to improve

productivity across the business and leveraged investments made in recent years in our distribution

network,” the company has said. Against a “backdrop of a challenging market”, Home sales were down 0.8%. This was reported as predominantly driven by soft demand in more considered categories such as Fitted Furniture, Fitted Flooring and Upholstery. Conversely, Outdoor Furniture performed well.

business said it will continue to use the pilots to test, learn, iterate, and improve the offer and roll-out process.

Despite uncertainty as to whether the new-build will go ahead, Bunnings has announced a new opening in Penge yesterday.

Consumer spending continues its downward spiral

February Shop price deflation deepened to 0.8% in February from 0.5% in January. Shop Prices have been reported to be deflationary for 58 months now.

Deflation in Non-Food prices deepened in February, with prices decreasing at a rate of 2.2% compared to January when prices declined by 1.9%. This was the deepest deflation since April 2017. Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, Helen Dickinson OBE said: “Shop Prices dipped deeper into deflationary territory in February. This is a further sign that we have passed the peak of the upward pressure on inflation caused by the fall in the pound in June 2016. This will ease the squeeze on consumer incomes over the coming year, but it’s likely to do little to lift the rate of growth in consumption. Earnings are still falling in real terms, despite wages increasing, and savings are unlikely to provide the same support to spending that they have over the last 18 months.”

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