Posts By :

Stuart O'Brien


Poundland parent Steinhoff calls for €200m to stay afloat

South African retail giant Steinhoff International has started talks with potential lenders for the amount of €200m in a bid to stay afloat.

The company, who acquired Poundland in August 2016 for £610m, has been at the centre of a recent accounts scandal after it was revealed it would have to reissue its financial results as far back as 2002 following signs that “accounting regularities” were deeper than first expected.

Steinhoff has cautioned investors that “there can be no assurance that the company will be able to reach agreement with its finance providers on acceptable terms or at all,” despite South African banks pledging €60m to be paid out imminently.

The company has informed creditors that it expects to be able to meet interest payments on its €10.7bn debt pile, though not at penalty rates.

Shares in the company have fallen over 80%, wiping nearly £9bn of the its value.

The company also owns Harveys and Bensons for Beds in the UK.

A meeting with European lenders to help free up extra cash is scheduled for January 26th.


Co-Op to help victims of modern slavery

Grocery giant Co-Op has announced a scheme offering jobs to people affected by forced labour.

The retailer will offer those affected a four-week work placement within its food business.

The initiative aims to help an estimated 13,000 survivors of forced labour, domestic solitude and sexual exploitation, supported by charity City Hearts.

A ‘matching system’ will also be created that will put other companies together with local charities to provide those affected with work.

Discussing the initiative, Co-Op deputy chief executive Pippa Wicks said: “This heinous crime will only be stopped by Government, businesses and society working together.

“By creating employment opportunities we can ensure victims stay out of the evil clutches of their captors.

“Working with City Hearts we are creating a matching scheme that will put charities, in any part of the UK, in touch with employers that are willing to support victims of modern slavery find the dignity that paid, freely chosen employment provides.

“We appreciate our approach, which has been successful in our food business, is not the only way to create jobs for those rescued and I am sure with determination, joint working and innovative thinking, we can find further solutions that work across other sectors.”

The move has been supported by the head of the Government’s work and pensions select committee, Frank Field.

“Modern slavery is the biggest injustice in the world today,” commented Field.

“Now that the Modern Slavery Act is on the statute book, the Co-op has set the pace on helping victims of slavery to begin to rebuild their lives through work.

“These efforts by the Co-op must not be underestimated and hopefully will quickly become industry policy.”


RECOMMENDED: Do you provide CRM solutions to retail? We want to hear from you!

Each month on Retail Briefing we’ll be shining the spotlight on a different part of the retail and eCommerce markets, starting in February with CRM solutions.

It’s all part of our new ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help retail and eCommerce buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a supplier of CRM solutions and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Lisa Carter on

February – CRM

March – Mobile Optimisation

April – Multi-Channel Solutions

May – Conversion Rate Optimisation

June – Affiliate Marketing

July – Flooring

August – Complete Shopfitting

September – Lighting

October – Display Cases & Products

November – Retail Design

December – Window Displays

For more information on any of the above, contact Lisa Carter on



Antalis is one of Europe’s leading distributors of Visual Communication solutions and a global leader in the B2B distribution of Paper and Packaging solutions.

The company serves almost 130,000 customers from 118 distribution centres and complete more than 14,000 deliveries every day.

Its visual communications team stock more than 1,750 lines of rigid and flexible media for internal/external signage, POS, window and floor graphics, hanging signage, wall décor, textiles, banners and other retail applications, all from leading brands such as Orafol, 3A, Coala and Drytac.

The substrates you use will impact message delivery and the shoppers’ perception of your brand. It is their role to help you specify and use the best materials to enhance in-store experience.

Antalis also provide advice on sustainable solutions and printing methods to enhance your results, as well as offer training workshops, a conversion facility and next-day delivery logistics.

Just Ask Antalis.

A1 Retail

INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: A1 Retail Magazine – first place for news in your industry

Do you want to keep up-to-date with the latest industry news? Read A1 Retail Magazine!

Published 11 times a year, A1 Retail brings you up-to-the-minute industry news, inspiring projects, comments from leading voices in retail as well as extensive coverage of industry events and exhibitions.

Brought to you in the form of a hard copy magazine, digital magazine, website and free A1 Media App.

Visit our website today to find out how you can subscribe to an industry leading magazine for free!

Etailing Summit

Meet the cream of eCommerce at the eTailing Summit

Secure you place today at the eTailing Summit, which returns on July 10th 2018 at the Hilton London Canary Wharf.

The event will once again provide the leading platform for senior eCommerce professionals to meet with trusted solution providers.

As a VIP delegate, you’ll also be able to learn from the sector’s preeminent thought-leaders in educational seminars and network with peers.

The 2017 instalment of the event was the most successful yet, with attending delegates from the likes of Olivia Burton, Feelunique, Molton Brown,, Huggle, Kimberly Clark, Thomas Cook, IKEA, Belstaff, Perry Ellis, Antler, River Island, Samsung, Royal Caribbean, Dixons Carphone, Wickes, Hotel Chocolat, Drake’s, Fortnum & Mason, Signature Gifts, Charlotte Tilbury, Skinnydip and many more.

A bespoke itinerary of meetings with solution providers is created for each delegate, based on their selections, so there’s no time wasted. In addition, delegates have access to insightful and inspirational seminars, plus full hospitality is provided throughout the day.

It’s a great opportunity to benchmark and gather information on new services and solutions within eCommerce, all in one place.

Of course, for 2018 the event will remain completely FREE to attend for eCommerce professionals – to register for your VIP delegate place click here, or contact Katie Bullot on 01992 374049 or email

Alternatively, if you’re an eCommerce solutions provider and would like to showcase your products and services at the eTailing Summit, contact Craig Ross on 01992 666726 or email

Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit

Extra places released for Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit

We have released a handful of additional delegate places for next month’s Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit.

It’s entirely free for you to attend, but these places will go very quickly. So act now! Register your place HERE.

  • Source innovative and budget-saving suppliers
  • Attend educational & inspirational seminar sessions
  • Network with like-minded peers
  • Enjoy full hospitality, including overnight accommodation, lunch, refreshments and an invitation to our gala dinner with entertainment
  • Prepare your business for 2018 and beyond in a non-pressured environment

Find out more by contact Emily Gallagher on 01992 374085 or email


Alternatively, if you’re a supplier to the retail sector, contact Courtney Saggers on 01992 374088 or to find out about a range of event partner packages.


New figures reveal 2017 retail footfall ends on a slump

New figures compiled by analytics firm Springboard have revealed that retail footfall across the UK decreased by 3.5% year-on-year in December, the steepest decline since March 2013 when footfall declined by 5.2%.

The drop, the steepest decline in almost five years, has been put down to a number of factors, including stagnant wages and a jump in inflation.

“The drop in footfall of -3.3% in the weeks leading up to Christmas provided a heads-up for December, with the final outcome of -3.5% of little surprise,” commented Diane Wehrle, director of marketing and insights at Springboard.

“This is a significant weakening in performance from December 2016 when footfall in retail destinations dropped by just 0.2 per cent.”

Responding to the figures, Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive, British Retail Consortium, said:

“The sharp drop in footfall this December, while sales grew overall, underlines how shopping is being transformed by the shift to online.

“In the past, shoppers would have exclusively visited physical stores to ensure stockings were filled for Christmas. Improved delivery options by both purely digital retailers and those with stores and an online offer mean many purchases of last minute gifts are moving online.

“The squeeze on discretionary spending also contributed to the decline in footfall. Households had to use their money more carefully, researching products online, rather than heading out to stores to browse.

“Retail parks fared slightly better than high streets by providing Christmas shoppers with the draw and convenience of parking, easy click-and-collect, and leisure facilities.”


Gear4Music bangs the drum in third fiscal quarter

UK Music superstore Gear4Music has struck a chord with retailers over the Christmas period, with total sales up 42% to £36 million in the four months to December 31st, compared to £24.4 million over the same Christmas period in 2016.

The company said that strong international demand has driven sales, with sales across mainland Europe up to £15.8 million compacted to £9.4 million during the same final quarter.

“We are very pleased with our trading performance over the last four months, with sales growth of 42 per cent building on the 44 per cent achieved in the first half, and trading for the year to date is in line with the board’s expectation,” commented Andrew Wass, chief executive, Gear4Music.

“This has been achieved as we continue to invest in our customer proposition, marketing, people and websites, all with a view to enhancing our long-term growth prospects.

“We are confident that the group will continue to grow rapidly over the medium and longer term, as we continue our mission to become the best musical instrument and equipment retailer in Europe.”


Poundstretcher fined for H&S breaches

Discount retailer Poundstretcher has been handed down fines of £1million after breaches in health and safety regulations were found at three of its stores in Swindon, Newhaven and Newbury following a complaint from a worker in the warehouse in the Swindon facility.

Inspectors and environmental officers examined all three stores, finding emergency exits blocked, and stock stored dangerously, along with alleged non-compliance of safety procedures and guidance.

In its defence, Poundstretcher said that the issues were due to local management.

Poundstretcher pleaded guilty to 24 counts of breaching Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

During sentencing at Portsmouth Crown Court, Judge Hetherington said that blaming local management was “deeply unattractive, coming from a major employer employing some 6,000 people, but, in my judgement, on the evidence I heard, quite fair.”

Judge Hetherington added: “And it is, in any event, a circular argument – it is part of higher management’s function to see to it that local management is in place and performing to a proper standard.

“This complacent attitude was highlighted by the way in which senior management, often at director or company secretary level, dealt with requests for interview by enforcing authorities.

“Whilst, as a matter of strict law, the company may have been entitled not to co-operate, their consistent failure properly to engage with and answer questions spoke volumes as to the company’s attitude towards the role of the enforcing authorities.”

Joint Public Protection Committee chairman Norman Jorgensen added: “This conviction and penalty highlights the importance of taking steps to protect the health and safety of employees and members of the public as well as emphasising the importance that employee training plays in this process.”