As retail sales fall to record lows for the second month in a row, according to the latest sales figures from the BRC, some of the more successful retail groups are finding buying opportunities. We report today as Boohoo has bought the online business of Karen Millen and Coast, while Sports Direct said last night that it had bought Jack Wills out of administration. But the two acquisitions are likely to come with very different motivations. Boohoo has only bought Coast and Karen Millen’s online operations – as well as related IP – so Coast department store concessions and Karen Milen’s stores are now likely to close, while Sports Direct chief executive Mike Ashley is a self-declared champion of the high street and, as owner of House of Fraser stores, is likely to want to keep department store concessions flourishing, though he may cut store numbers. Tesco, meanwhile, is also cutting jobs, primarily at its Metro stores, as it moves to simplify its store operations.
Today we also report as Ocado and M&S complete their joint venture, although Ocado won’t start selling M&S food for just over a year, while Lovehoney has appointed a new chief executive as its founders step back. Today’s guest comment comes from Oliver Guy of Software AG who considers how retailers adrift in a sea of inventory can better satisfy customer expectations.