How the supermarket price promises match up

Tesco is relaunching its loyalty scheme in a bid to reattract customers who have taken refuge at rivals Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. Will it work?

Tesco is taking on Sainsbury’s and Asda with a Price Promise that aims to replicate its rivals’ success in attracting cash-strapped consumers through its doors.

The scheme, launched on 11 March 2013 across the UK, guarantees that Tesco will check shoppers’ baskets against prices at Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. If the comparable basket would have been cheaper shoppers will get a voucher for the difference, up to £10.

Previously, Tesco had allowed shoppers to input the details of their receipt online to check whether their shop would have been cheaper at a rival, but now it will offer instant, at-till analysis.

So how does Tesco’s service match-up to its rivals?

Tesco Price Promise

How it works Shoppers must buy at least 10 different items, including one comparable grocery product, from any Tesco Metro, superstore or Extra store (and their attached petrol stations), as well as via the Tesco website. If you could have bought the same grocery shopping cheaper at Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, Tesco will issue you with a voucher for the difference, up to a maximum value of £10.

But the offer will not apply to Tesco Express stores, often more expensive than larger Tesco supermarkets, or Tesco Homeplus purchases.

Which products are included? Tesco will compare branded groceries (Kellogg’s Cornflakes, Ariel, Coca Cola etc) as well as its own-brand products (where an equivalent is sold at Asda, Sainsbury’s or Morrisons). It will also compare price reductions and promotions such as multibuy purchases (buy one get one free etc), as well as price cuts, for example a discount from 99p to 50p.

Which are excluded? For a full list of exclusions visit the Tesco website, and there are a lot. Tesco will not compare any electrical item, home and furniture items, CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, DIY and car items, toys, baby and toddler accessories, gifts and jewellery, clothing, phones, opticians, beauty centre products, cafe items, fuel, photo-processing and associated services, newspapers, magazines, stamps, tobacco and cigarettes.

Tesco will also not include meal deals, combination offers such as buy-cheese-and-get-crackers-free, category-wide deals such as 5% off six bottles of wine, and multiple offers (when Tesco or a competitor has more than one offer on the same products running at the same time, such as buy two for £3 or buy five for £6).

How do I claim? You will be given a voucher at the till if your basket would have been cheaper elsewhere, or you’ll be sent an email if you do an online shop. Shoppers must use their vouchers within 28 days and are not allowed to spend them on fuel, lottery tickets, tobacco, infant formula, pharmacy products, gift cards, E–top–ups, stamps, opticians and travel money. Nor can you use them in the Tesco bank or cafe or on entertainment or clothing, in the phone shop or through Tesco Direct.

Sainsbury’s Brand Match

How it works Sainsbury’s shoppers have their basket of branded grocery goods compared with the cost of the same goods at Asda and Tesco (Morrisons isn’t included in the comparison). If the branded goods would have been cheaper at either store, including in-promotional deals, shoppers will immediately receive a coupon equal to the value of the difference. Shoppers can redeem this the next time they shop.

Customers must spend a minimum of £20 and their basket must include at least one item that is identical (same size/quantity, flavour etc) to one available in Asda or Tesco.

Online shops are excluded, as are certain stores across the country and some central London outlets.

Brand Match coupons will also not be issued at petrol stations, Sainsbury’s Local or convenience stores.

Which products are included? Most branded grocery products.

Which products are excluded? Supermarket’s own label products are excluded from Brand Match. Those aside, the list of exclusions mirrors Tesco’s. Online shopping is not eligible for Brand Match, and like at Tesco, Sainsbury’s also excludes one-off deals and combinations offers.

How do I claim? Any coupons must be redeemed within 14 days and the maximum you can get back is £10. You cannot buy fuel or spend your coupons on prescriptions, online, at cafes or restaurants, or on concessions.

Asda Price Guarantee

How it works Originally launched in 2010, the Asda Price Guarantee – “The price promise the others wish they could match” – says that if it isn’t 10% cheaper than rivals Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Waitrose it will give you the difference. But the comparison does not happen at the till – you must visit the Asda website and enter your receipt details.

To be eligible you need to have bought at least eight different items, of which at least one should be comparable with Asda’s main competitors. The difference is paid as a voucher, which must be used in an Asda store within 28 days.

Which products are included? Any comparable grocery product.

Which products are excluded? Categories not currently covered include: home, electricals, furnishings, garden, entertainment, hardware, sports, toys, George, tobacco, newspapers, magazines, jewellery, pharmacy, optical, fuel, photo-processing, dry cleaning and all online-only products including financial services, flowers, mobile, travel and gifts.

Also, like its rivals, promotions that make it difficult for Asda to compare fairly are excluded from the price guarantee.

How do I claim? Claims must be made within 28 days either in-store or online.

Waitrose Brand price match

How it works Waitrose launched its Brand price match in autumn 2010. Although it does not offer any discount vouchers if it finds goods could have been bought cheaper elsewhere, the Brand price match is a long-term commitment to match Tesco prices on 1,000 everyday branded goods that customers buy most frequently.

Morrisons Easter Payday Bonus

How it works Morrisons currently operates a campaign where anyone who spends £35 or more in one transaction between 4 March and 24 March 2013 will get a coupon at the checkout. If they collect one coupon each week for three consecutive weeks they can present them all at the checkout and £10 will be automatically taken off the value of their shop – if they spend another £35 or more.

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Online grocery shopping: when will Morrisons come in from the cold?

The supermarket risks being left behind as the online market soars – and investors are getting impatient

Sir Ken Morrison, the no-nonsense Yorkshireman who built up the supermarket chain from his father’s market stalls, famously dismissed home deliveries as “something he had done on his bike as a young man”.

With Sir Ken no longer in charge, Morrisons is less sniffy about home delivery – but it remains the only big UK supermarket to shun the booming business of online groceries, which analysts expect to be worth £7.5bn this year.

Investors are getting impatient with Morrisons’ wariness. Dalton Philips, who came in as chief executive after Marc Bolland jumped to M&S, has said the online grocery business “is something that we are going to have to do in the coming months”.

He is under mounting pressure to explain his plans as he prepares to announce the company’s full-year results next Thursday. Morrisons’ internet strategy could make or break the Irish chief executive, who marks his third anniversary in the top job this month.

“They have got to come out definitively and say what they are doing,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of Conlumino retail analysts. “The market is looking for a commitment or otherwise to do online, with a time frame on that, and they are looking for some detail on how the offer will be constructed.”

Morrisons, which had the worst performance of any supermarket chain over the lucrative Christmas period, risks being left behind as the online market soars, analysts warn. When it goes online, it will have to run fast to catch up with rivals who have been selling food over the internet for more than a decade. Tesco.com went live in 2000. Ocado, the upmarket online grocer that sells Waitrose goods, dispatched its first van in 2002.

“Online groceries is about 4.5% to 5% of the market. It is growing around 15% per annum and by 2020 we think it will be worth between 10-12% of the market,” said Clive Black, head of research at Shore Capital. “[By 2020] Morrisons would effectively be competing only with 88% of the market and that is a very difficult task.”

Morrisons blamed its miserable Christmas trading partly on the absence of an online grocery business – like for like sales were down 2.5% in the last six weeks of the year.

It has been taking tentative steps in cyberspace. In 2011 it bought Kiddicare.com. Last year it launched wine website Morrisons Cellar, where a bottle starts at £3.99 and customers can do a taste test devised by posh north London wine merchant Bibendum. This spring, the retailer will launch a kitchen products website with home-shopping specialist Lakeland, bringing its tally of online businesses to three.

And in a move to become more internet savvy, in 2011 Morrisons acquired a 10% stake in Fresh Direct, an online grocer delivering farm-fresh produce to well-heeled New Yorkers.

Morrisons snapped up 56 stores from bust retailers Blockbuster Video and HMV last month, as it seeks to increase its portfolio of convenience stores – another gap in its business that gives investors a headache.

Although Philips agrees the online grocery business cannot be ignored, he strikes a wary note. The “genius of the supermarket”, he said recently, is that customers carry the costs of picking out the goods and shuttling to and from the shop. If supermarkets take this bit over, prices could rise for those shoppers who prefer the bricks-and-mortar experience.

“You can end up therefore subsidising your online shopper by charging your core customer more and that is something that philosophically I struggle with,” he told BBC You and Yours.

Bill Grimsey, former chief executive of Wickes, Iceland and Focus DIY, says Morrisons cannot afford to stay offline as consumers abandon bricks-and-mortar shops. “Do Morrisons have a choice to stay out of the online food shopping business? The answer is unequivocally no. If they don’t, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda will be taking shoppers [Morrisons] could have earned.”

Stanislav Desyatnikov, 42, a software engineer, might be just the customer Morrisons is missing out on. Popping into Morrisons in north London to pick up some juice, he said he and his wife shop online for groceries once or twice a month – at Tesco. If Morrisons offered home shopping, he could be tempted. “I work nearby, so I could have the food delivered to my office.”

When Morrisons takes the plunge, it must decide whether to ship orders out from the network of 455 supermarkets, or use “dark stores”, drab dotcom-only warehouses that are springing up on industrial estates across the country to feed the hunger for online shopping.

Analysts expect Morrisons will choose store delivery to get their fresh produce speedily to customers. “Morrisons has a great advantage in that it really is top of the pack for fresh food,” said Andrew Stevens, senior retail analyst at Verdict. A ‘fulfilment from store’ strategy would be the best way to translate these fresh-food values, he said.

“Though in London and the south-east, it will certainly resort to warehouses, because it has fewer stores.”

This combination of store delivery and warehouses in the south east is favoured by Tesco and Asda, while Sainsbury’s has traditionally preferred delivery from its shops.

But Morrisons will have to open its wallet if it wants to elbow its way into this crowded market. It could try to tempt customers away from rivals with free delivery, fistfuls of discount coupons, or the increasingly popular “click and collect” service that allows customers to pick up their online orders in-store

Speculation persists that Morrisons could make a bid for Ocado. This would give them “a leg up in the market”, said Saunders of Conlumino, “but they would have to think seriously because Ocado is not a profit-making operation at the moment”.

Not everyone is convinced internet shopping is the answer to Morrisons’ recent sales slowdown. Some analysts accuse the retailer of deserting its core customers, by moving up-market with its “Fresh Format” revamp, stores offering treats such as artisanal bread and olive counters. “Fresh Format is visually lovely,” said Clive Black at Shore Capital. “But we think they have disenfranchised some of their traditional customers and failed to attract new ones,” he said. “The fresh herbs and the cupcakes haven’t attracted the customers Morrisons seem to have been aspiring too.”

Philips has always stoutly rejected the charge of losing touch with his customers. He also insists being last to online shopping is no bad thing – because Morrisons can learn from rivals’ mistakes.

But time is running out. “There is no last-mover advantage. It is a fiction,” said Saunders. “The problem is that the grocery market is saturated.  

“Morrisons has now got to steal the show from every other player in order to win business.”

Other online refuseniks:

Aldi and Lidl: Tight times mean “hard discounters” Aldi and Lidl are booming – without a single sale online. With “a lean and efficient logistical model”  that eschews “luxuries, such as customer service and plastic bags” it is hard to see why they would go for the “frippery” of a pricey online service for groceries,  said Bryan Roberts at Kantar retail consultancy. But online shopping could make sense for their non-food products, he added.

Poundland: Everything for a pound might not sound like a promising start for a home shopping service, but Poundland could make it work.  Rival discounter Poundworld created its Discount Wholesale website, which sells everything from novelty ties to pregnancy tests. Targeted at small traders, Discount Wholesale demands a minimum spend of £500.

Primark: Booming sales show being offline isn’t hurting, but supply chain director Martin White has said it would be “dumb as a business if we weren’t looking online”. Clive Black, head of research at Shore Capital, thinks it unlikely Primark will go online soon, but it will “develop its website so it is more of a showroom”.

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High street sales forecast to shrink £13bn in next five years

Business that invested heavily in bricks and mortar may struggle as online sales predicted to more than double to £70bn by 2020

Tough times on the high street show no sign of abating, with sales from bricks-and-mortar stores expected to shrink by £13bn in the next five years, as customers continue to flock online.

Internet sales in the UK will more than double to £69.7bn by 2020, from an estimated £28bn in 2012, according to the investment firm Panmure Gordon.

“If retailers think the last 10 years have been tough for the industry, the next five years look even worse,” said Philip Dorgan, investment analyst at the company.  “There are going to be far more losers than winners.”

Businesses that are heavily invested in property are tipped to struggle, such as Argos-owner Home Retail. Ocado, the grocery delivery service, is also predicted to fare poorly, as it continues to underperform the fast-growing online food market.

Online shopping is expected to peak at 30% of all sales.

“Having stores in every high street will no longer be an advantage,” said Dorgan. The most successful retailers would be the ones who use data about their customers to best advantage, he said, an area where the likes of Amazon has a head start.

One of the biggest winners could be online fashion retailer ASOS, which recently enjoyed a 41% rise in Christmas sales.

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John Lewis staff celebrate bonus of nine weeks’ pay

Retailer says staff will all receive bonus worth 17% of salary, higher than last year

The John Lewis retail chain has handed its 84,700 staff an annual bonus worth 17% of their salary – the equivalent of nine weeks’ pay – as the employee-owned company continues to outperform its rivals.

Staff at John Lewis’s Oxford Street store whooped and clapped as the better-than-expected bonus – which is handed to all employees, from cashiers to chairman Charlie Mayfield – was revealed on Thursday against a gloomy backdrop for some other retailers. The bonus for an employee on average salary would be £4,000.

But the John Lewis Partnership warned it was reviewing its pension, one of the few non-contributory final-salary schemes left in the country. It said: “During the next year the partnership will be undertaking a review of the pension scheme to ensure that it can remain fair to partners and sustainable from a business perspective.”

The £210.8m bonus payout, up from £165.2m last year, followed a 9.1% rise in sales to £8.47bn. Profits for the group, which owns the Waitrose supermarket chain as well as 39 department stores, were up 15.8% on last year to £409.6m, before accounting for tax and the bonus.

The latest burst of growth brings the partnership within a whisker of Marks & Spencer’s UK sales of £8.9bn for the year to March 2012. A big part of that growth came online, with sales up 40.8% at Johnlewis.com. Waitrose’s online business rose 49%, compared with 19% for the grocery market as a whole. Both the group’s chains have gained market share over the year.

Natalie Jempeji, section manager in lingerie at John Lewis Oxford Street, said: “It’s a bit more than I was expecting so I’m happy with that. I’m going to spend the money on a holiday to Turkey for my birthday later in the year.”

George Young, section manager of furnishing fabrics, who has been in the partnership for 45 years and helped open the outsized envelope containing the bonus figure, said: “This is the last bonus before I retire. I’m going to take my wife to Cornwall to enjoy a nice holiday that will set me up for retirement.”

The company said it had reaped the benefit from its investment in technology and lower prices, as well as shoppers’ trust in its brands during the horsemeat scandal and tough times on the high street that have seen the demise of rivals.

Mayfield, whose most recently disclosed salary was £825,000, said: “These results have been achieved against a market that remains subdued, but we believe the market is stabilising and there are some opportunities out there.”

The chairman added that the outlook for the economy was becoming clearer as fears about the collapse of the eurozone subsided.

This year, John Lewis will be investing over £200m, more than ever before, in store refurbishments, a new warehouse and future stores, although no new outlets will open this year.

Waitrose, meanwhile, is planning to open 20 stores this year and a new distribution centre in Lancashire to support growth in the north of England and Scotland.

The two sides of the partnership will also be looking at more ways to work closer together after launching a service that allows shoppers to pick up goods ordered at Johnlewis.com at Waitrose stores.

Andrew Murphy, director of retail operations, said the group would be opening another Waitrose inside a John Lewis, as it has done in Oxford Street and Bluewater, and was looking for at least two more sites where John Lewis and Waitrose could open neighbouring stores.

In Ipswich, where such co-location is already operating, sales are running 30% above expectations four months after the stores opened.

Neil Saunders, managing director of retail analyst Conlumino, said: “One of the most impressive features of John Lewis over the past year has been its ability to keep many plates spinning simultaneously. The pace and quality of innovation and initiatives has been extremely strong and is one of the central reasons for its outperformance.”

A 29% surge in sales of electrical goods such as iPads and TVs boosted sales at John Lewis last year as major high street rival Comet collapsed. Waitrose saw its market share rise from 4.7% to 4.9% after it opened 19 new stores and promised to match Tesco’s prices on branded goods and expanded its Essential range of low-price basic foods.

Mark Price, managing director of Waitrose, said the chain’s prices were now on average 1% cheaper than Sainsbury’s. He said the Little Waitrose convenience store chain made a profit for the first time in 2012, its third year in existence, and he plans to open at least 10 more of the small shops this year.

Both Waitrose and John Lewis experienced a gradual rise in the pace of growth over the year and that momentum has continued in 2013.

Gross sales rose 10.5% in the first five weeks of the year, with like-for likes sales up 13.7% at the department stores and 6.4% at the supermarket compared with the same period in 2012.

Overseas plans

John Lewis is seeking partnerships with overseas department stores after a successful trial in South Korea.

Andy Street, its managing director, said the company wanted relationships with “other prestigious department stores around the world on a wholesale or licence model”.

He said John Lewis had no intention of opening its own stores abroad but is planning dedicated websites in France and Germany this year. It launched a version of its English site in 33 countries in 2011.

The Waitrose chain is also expanding abroad. It now has seven licensed shops in the Middle East and plans four more this year. The supermarket’s exports rose 20% in 2012 as it expanded into South Korea, Taiwan, Gibraltar and Trinidad, making a total of 30 countries. This year, Waitrose has started delivering to Ibiza and several Caribbean islands.

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Kingfisher chief warns of store closure over online firms’ tax advantage

Business rates are one of the biggest charges the Kingfisher faces, with as much as £120m going on the charge each year

The government stands to lose out on one of its biggest sources of revenue by failing to reform the tax system to take account of online selling, the chief of one of the UK’s biggest retailers has warned.

Ian Cheshire, chief executive of Kingfisher, said he would close a quarter of his company’s stores were it not for long-term leases and other arrangements that would make the closures expensive. Business rates are one of the biggest charges the retailer faces, with as much as £120m going on the tax each year.

“We do pay our taxes [for the] public good,” said Cheshire. “But online retailers are not facing the same tax take. For the Treasury, there is a danger that their tax base is going to disappear.”

If the company were to reduce the number of its stores, the government’s tax take would fall accordingly. “So 25% fewer stores would be 25% less tax,” warned Cheshire, who said the company’s sales and profits would be unaffected by any such move.

Online retailers take advantage of their lower costs to undercut offline competitors, who face not only business rates but rent, higher energy and staffing costs.

“The challenge for the government is that they have to raise tax from somewhere,” said Cheshire. He advises differential tax rates to stimulate business. “The tax base is based on historic models. We need a different model.”

Cheshire is also chairman of the British Retail Consortium, which is campaigning for lower rates for businesses. The BRC notes that business rates are set to rise by 2.6% in April, after a 5% raise last year. Instead, the trade body would like a single year freeze in rates from April, which it says would help halt the slide in the sector. Retailers – with the demise of long-established names such as HMV, Jessops and Comet – have been among the worst hit businesses in the grip of double dip recession.

Cheshire met Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury last week to press his views. The hits to the high street come as some large online companies are under scrutiny for their tax affairs. Amazon was revealed to be using its Luxembourg subsidiary to avoid paying corporation tax in the UK and Google’s £2.5bn in UK sales resulted in tax bill of only £3.4m in 2011, as it channels profits via Ireland and Bermuda.

But Cheshire said that the revelations of alleged tax avoidance by large companies could backfire on them, with people preferring brands that pay fair tax.

Kingfisher is Europe’s largest home improvement retailer with more than 1,000 stores in eight countries, under brands including B&Q, BricoDepot and Castorama. The company employs about 80,000 people and sales in 2011-12 reached £10.8bn, of which more than half came from outside the UK, chalking up pre-tax profits of £807m.

While Kingfisher also runs Screwfix, which has a major online presence in trade tools and hardware, and sells thousands of lines through its web sites, some of the company’s other popular product lines – such as new kitchens, paints and other decorations, and gardening products – are still more likely to attract customers to physical stores.

Nevertheless, “if I were starting today, I’d start Screwfix not B&Q,” said Cheshire.

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Tourists splurge £4.5bn in UK shops

Average foreign visitor on shopping trip spends £680 – with Britain ranked above France and Italy as a retail destination

The high street may be shrouded in recession-related gloom, yet Britain remains one of the world’s most sought-after destinations for overseas shoppers seeking to splash their cash.

Research released by the national tourism agency, VisitBritain, shows that 18 million foreign visitors spent a till-busting £4.5bn in Britain’s shops in 2011 – of a total spend of £17.9bn. That means they shelled out, on average, a quarter of their total spending on high streets, department stores and shopping centres across the UK.

Over half of the shopping splurge was on clothes, with an estimated £2.3bn generated by fashion-conscious foreign tourists. Many visitors also snapped up souvenirs, gifts and household goods, on which they spent £1.6bn.

Further analysis of the research found that a ‘shopping’ tourist spends more – an average of £680 per trip – than an ‘ordinary’ overseas tourist who typically spends £580. And shopping in Britain was rated above France and the same as Italy in terms of value for money.

The findings, based on data from the Office for National Statistics’ International Passenger Survey, show that London’s world-class shops, stores and markets are a major attraction for foreign visitors. Around 81% of holiday visitors to London hit the shops. The regional benefits are also clear, with between two-thirds and three-quarters of holiday visitors shopping outside the capital.

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Pippa Middleton and Waitrose – a recipe for success?

The sister of the Duchess of Cambridge is to write a column for the retailer’s magazine offering ‘casual ideas and recipes’

In the past, Waitrose has used the faces of acclaimed cooks such as Heston Blumenthal and Delia Smith to help it sell its wares; now a press release arrives from the retailer saying it is “delighted to announce that Pippa Middleton has been signed as a new columnist” for its monthly magazine.

Middleton, the sister of the Duchess of Cambridge, will write the column, Pippa’s Friday night feasts, for the retailer’s magazine, Waitrose Kitchen, starting in April, offering “casual dining ideas and recipes”.

The magazine’s editor, William Sitwell, adds that Middleton “will be an excellent contributor to the magazine, bringing with her a wealth of experience of entertaining, gained in part from working at her family’s party business.”

For her part, Middleton says Waitrose Kitchen has “always been a source of inspiration to me, for its extensive spectrum of food and beautiful style.”

But what does a celebrity partnership such as this say about a retailer and its customers?

Mark Lowe, founder of Third City, a PR and communications agency, says Waitrose has come late to using celebrities to help sell its products.

“Celebrity tie-ins do work for retailers, but as with any brand celebrity endorsement there are risks involved, such as what happened with Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong from the sports world. This is one of the reasons that Waitrose, a fairly conservative brand with a hypersensitive target audience, came into this late in 2010, long after Sainsbury’s/Tesco had gone down this route,” he says.

He thinks Middleton’s appointment is further evidence of the retailer subtly recalibrating to target a younger generation, in the wake of it ditching Smith. “Although still largely female, this group has more male decision-makers – Blumenthal and Middleton both appeal to men – and views cookery as a lifestyle choice, as much as a means of survival,” he says.

If you shop in Waitrose, does Pippa Middleton speak to you? Or for you?

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John Lewis to extend online offer

Department store set to join Collect+ scheme, which allows shoppers to pick up and return goods at independent retailers

John Lewis is to extend the reach of its online empire via a network of thousands of corner shops.

The department store is joining the Collect+ scheme, which allows shoppers to pick up and return items bought on the internet at up to 5,000 independent retailers. John Lewis customers will be able to collect items at about 1,000 of those outlets in Scotland, Northern Ireland and south-west England from this autumn for a charge of £3. They can return goods via the entire network of Collect+ stores for free from this month, in a move that will give John Lewis its first physical presence in Northern Ireland.

The deal comes ahead of the arrival of Mark Lewis, the former boss of Collect+, as head of online for John Lewis next month. He helped build up the business, which is co-owned by in-store bill payment service PayPoint and distribution company Yodel, winning deals with the likes of Amazon and fashion e-tailer Asos, as well as John Lewis’s rival House of Fraser.

Andrew Layton, manager of omni-channel development at John Lewis, said its tie-up with Collect+ was intended to make shopping online easier because shoppers would not have to wait at home for goods to be delivered. “We know from research that if it’s not convenient, shoppers will look elsewhere,” he said.

So-called “click and collect” orders have doubled at John Lewis in the past year, accounting for 35% of online sales, after the department store allowed shoppers to pick up goods from its sister supermarket chain Waitrose last summer. Layton said he expected growth to continue strongly as click and collect encouraged existing customers to shop more frequently and attracted new customers.

About a quarter of John Lewis’s sales were taken online over Christmas, when online sales rose 44%.

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HMV administrators axe another 464 staff and 37 stores

Latest closures – including all four Heathrow airport sites and the final Glasgow store – take total number of job losses to 1,500

Full list of 103 HMV stores set to close

HMV is to axe a further 464 staff and 37 stores, bringing the jobs toll since the retailer lapsed into administration to nearly half the workforce.

The latest closures at the failed music and DVD chain will bring the total number of unemployed staff close to 1,500, with a total of 103 stores earmarked for closure including the sites added in the latest cull.

Among the stores set to close in the wake of Wednesday’s announcement are all four Heathrow airport sites, along with a fourth Glasgow store, in addition to the three other stores already closing in the Scottish city. However, the flagship store in London’s Oxford Street will remain open for the time being.

Nick Edwards, a joint administrator at Deloitte, said: “As part of our ongoing review of HMV’s financial position, we have undertaken a further review of the store portfolio and have identified an additional 37 stores for closure. This step has been taken in order to enhance the prospects of the restructured business continuing as a going concern.

“Together with the previously identified 66 closures, this restructuring will result in a residual portfolio of some 116 stores.

“We are extremely grateful to the staff for their continued strong support and commitment during an understandably difficult period. All other key stakeholders including suppliers and landlords remain supportive and we appreciate their ongoing assistance.”

The company, which has debts of £170m, called in administrators last month after poor Christmas sales.

There was some hope for the company’s future after a temporary deal was struck with film studios and music labels to ensure new releases, such as the James Bond film Skyfall and Madagascar 3, continued to flow to its stores.

Negotiations with specialist investor Hilco continue after it acquired the secured debts from Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group. The company had already bought HMV Canada in 2011 and has built relationships with several distributors.

Earlier this month, administrators said they would shut 66 shops across the country, with the loss of 1,000 jobs. About 1,500 jobs remain.

When the chain collapsed, its gift cards, worth about £7m, were suspended, but these were later reinstated after a customer backlash.

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Garden centres weed out insecticides to help save bees

Notcutts, Hillier, Squires, Blue Diamond and SCATS become the latest retailers to ban chemicals linked to bee decline

A campaign to banish pesticides linked to the fall in bee populations appears to be gathering pace after at least five garden centre chains agreed to remove products blamed for the decline.

Hardware retailers B&Q, Wickes and Homebase created a buzz last month when they confirmed they would stop stocking products that contained three neonicotinoid insecticides that have been identified as posing a risk to bee populations.

The European Union also this month proposed a ban on using the insecticides on flowering crops. If imposed, the three neonicotinoids would be forbidden from use on corn, oil seed rape, sunflowers and other crops across the continent for two years.

However, environment secretary Owen Paterson has confirmed the UK government is opposed to a ban, arguing there is not enough scientific evidence to show that the three pesticides are linked to bee population decline.

Now five more retailers – Notcutts, Hillier, Squires, Blue Diamond and SCATS Countrystores, which between them operate 78 garden centres across the UK – have also agreed to remove products containing neonicotinoid pesticides from their shelves.

SCATS, which was the latest retailer to remove the products, told Friends of the Earth it had been stocking products containing the three pesticides and has now taken the decision to de-list them and stop ordering them with immediate effect.

According to Horticulture Week, Scotsdales Garden Centre has also bowed to pressure from its Facebook followers to take the products off the shop floor.

Friends of the Earth has been urging people to contact their local garden centres to ask them to remove products containing neonicotinoid pesticides.

Andrew Pendleton, head of campaigns for Friends of the Earth, welcomed the move and called on the government to follow suit and take action to curb the use of the chemicals.

“It’s great to see garden centres across the UK heeding the warning from European safety experts and pulling pesticide products linked to bee decline from their shelves,” he said.

“The approach of leading retailers stands in stark contrast to the government’s reluctance to back European efforts to safeguard bees from pesticides. With bee numbers plummeting, Owen Paterson must take urgent action to safeguard these crucial pollinators by backing a ban and introducing a bee action plan to tackle all the threats they face.”

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