EDITORIAL Asda’s new owners to maintain omnichannel focus, plus practical steps for retailers ahead of Brexit transition end

Image: Fotolia

Image: Fotolia

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter, we’re reporting as Asda is set to change hands in a £6.8bn deal. New owners the Issa brothers and TDR Capital say they’ll continue to invest and accelerate Asda’s omnichannel strategy. Asda’s online sales have already doubled in recent months thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, now that’s set to be taken still further under its new, British ownership – although its previous parent company, US-based Walmart, will still retain a stake.

For all that Brexit trade talks are still continuing with no news yet on a final announcement, an unchanging deadline remains in place. As of January 1 2021 the UK will – barring entirely unforeseen events – no longer be a part of the European Union’s single market or customs area. The transition period, which followed the UK’s department from the EU will mean that UK multichannel and ecommerce retailers are operating under new rules. 

Today it is exactly three months until the first business of the new arrangements. Some details are already known, others will not be known for some time. Nonetheless, retailers can take steps to prepare now, independent of the final deal, and many have already. Today we outline in two Brexit-focused stories how Top500 retailers are preparing ahead of the end of the transition period, and look at the first of the key issues that retailers of all sizes need to consider, starting today with VAT. We’ve talked to the BRC’s policy advisor William Bain, consulted the UK government’s transition website and retailers’ financial reports in our research.

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we also report on how H&M is now planning omnichannel investment alongside the closure of 250 shops from its global estate of around 5,000. The move comes despite a post-lockdown return to profit – and comes as the retailer looks to reflect the changing way its customers now want to buy. 

Meanwhile, Halfords now expects to double its first-half profits, compared to the same time last year, as its shoppers have developed strong appetites for shopping online, for cycling equipment and for motoring services. Again, this is a change in shopping behaviour brought on by the way the pandemic safety encourages shopping at a distance. 

In today’s well-timed guest comment Nikki Baird of Aptos argues that digital transformation has never been more important in retail.

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