Media Bites 7 November: Waitrose, food prices, Iceland, avian flu

Media Bites 7 November: Waitrose, food prices, Iceland, avian flu

Updated: 2 months, 29 days, 12 hours, 54 minutes, 44 seconds ago

Empty shelves, customers quitting for M&S, The Sunday Times (£) asks: “what’s going wrong at Waitrose?” “A bungled introduction of a new stock-control computer system has led to bare shelves and disgruntled shoppers at the upmarket chain, leaving it lagging rivals in the vital run-up to Christmas,” the paper writes.

Waitrose has insisted its supermarkets are better-stocked than some of its rivals despite claims that a bungled IT project has left many of its stores with empty shelves (The Telegraph). The supermarket, which is owned by the John Lewis Partnership, said independent data showed product availability at its branches was higher than at competitors.

Prices of some of the most popular high street meals, snacks and drinks have risen by as much as 26% since 2020 as food outlets face the highest inflation since the 1980s (The Guardian). Restaurant bosses warn of widespread closures as businesses struggle with the costs of heating their premises, staff shortages and rising ingredient prices.

The price of food dipped to its lowest level since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, easing pressure on the world’s poorest nations, United Nations data shows (The Times £). The UN global food price index, which compiles prices for cereal, meat, dairy, sugar and vegetable oil, fell by another 0.1% in October to reach its lowest level since January.

Iceland Foods expects its profitability to recover before a key refinancing due in 2025, after high energy prices wiped out the supermarket’s operating profit and free cash flow in the first six months of the year (The Financial Times £).

Retailers face a tough Christmas ahead after the number of shoppers visiting stores and items sold slowed down sharply last month, just as energy bill rises kicked in (The Mail). October started strongly, but sales quickly tailed off and dropped in the last week of the month, according to the latest high street sales tracker by advisory firm BDO.

Shoppers will be stung by higher delivery costs this Christmas, after analysis by The Telegraph found high street stores were in some cases charging double last year’s rates for online orders.

Jeremy Hunt will set out tax rises and spending cuts totalling £60bn at the autumn statement under current plans, including at least £35bn in cuts, the Guardian understands.

Traumatised poultry farmers are warning of shortages of free-range turkeys and geese at Christmas for the next two years as they struggle to come to terms with the “armageddon” caused by bird flu in their flocks (The Times £).

Elliott Management, the biggest shareholder in Swedish Match, has decided to back Philip Morris’s $15.7bn offer for the smokeless tobacco specialist, putting completion of the deal within reach, according to several people familiar with the matter (The Financial Times £).

Berry Bros & Rudd published accounts for the year to the end of March showing a bounce-back from Covid-19, with turnover up 7.2% to £220.2m — a 3.7% increase excluding an adjustment for en primeur (wine that is being stored and has yet to be invoiced to customers) (The Times £).

Wine traders and critics including Jane MacQuitty of The Times and Jancis Robinson of The Sunday Times are calling for the government to offer tax breaks to wine sold in boxes, cans and cartons because of pollution caused by glass (The Times £).

The Times (£) features a profile on super-premium peanut butter brand Manilife, examining how a kitchen mistake cooked up 23% growth for the business.

British companies are guilty of an “appalling” shortfall of women in executive roles, according to a FTSE board report from Cranfield University and EY (The Financial Times £).

Mamas & Papas has bucked a high street trend by posting a bumper set of results (The Mail on Sunday). Sales at the nursery store chain – which designs and sells prams, pushchairs and baby clothing – jumped by more than a third to £126m in the year to March 2022.

Flipkart’s chief executive says the Walmart-owned ecommerce group will cut back on dealmaking and hiring in order to curb costs, as its losses balloon in the face of fierce competition from Amazon and Reliance (The Financial Times £).

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