High Street overhaul as ‘perfect storm’ hits: M&S, Tesco and B&Q mull shake-up as they battle to survive
Some of Britain’s biggest store chains are plotting major overhauls as they battle to survive the crisis on the High Street.
Marks & Spencer, Tesco and B&Q owner Kingfisher are among those mulling a shake-up amid a ‘perfect storm’ that is battering the sector.
M&S is looking to halt years of declining sales by introducing food deliveries with Ocado in a deal that could see Waitrose get pushed out of the picture.
Crisis call: Marks & Spencer, Tesco and B&Q owner Kingfisher are among those mulling a shake-up amid a ‘perfect storm’ that is battering the sector
M&S chairman Archie Norman and chief executive Steve Rowe, who are in the process of closing at least 100 stores, are understood to be in talks with the delivery firm and its chairman Stuart Rose, who ran M&S from 2004 to 2010.
Meanwhile, Big Four supermarket Tesco is considering axing up to 15,000 jobs in the latest round of cost cutting that would see it overhaul the delis and bakeries at its 732 larger stores.
The pressure is also ramping up on the chief executive of Kingfisher, Veronique Laury, to deliver on her cost-cutting plan for the B&Q owner amid reports that the board of directors has lost faith and is considering sacking her.
Clare Bailey, founder of The Retail Champion, said: ‘In the past 12 to 18 months there has been an almost perfect storm for retail – increasing costs, rising business rates, upward annual rent review and increases to the living and minimum wage.
‘There has also been the Brexit effect, with the reduced value of the pound meaning retailers are finding their pound doesn’t go as far – but they can’t necessarily pass these costs on to consumers.’
The latest flurry of retail shake-ups adds to existing turmoil that is already pummelling Britain’s High Street stalwarts.
Debenhams is fighting for survival after a string of profit warnings and the knock-on effect of other retail closures, with the collapse of Patisserie Valerie delivering a fresh blow last week as the department chain hosted 17 of its concessions.
John Lewis said last week it would shutter its branch in Southsea, Hampshire, in July – its first store closure since 2006.
And HMV, which collapsed into administration shortly after Christmas, is now thought to be in the line of sight of Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley.
A Tesco spokesman said: ‘Whenever we make changes, colleagues are always the first to know.’
A Kingfisher spokesman said: ‘We do not comment on speculation. We have a clear strategy to transform the business, have consistently hit the strategic milestones of our plan and laid foundations for further improvements that will become visible to customers this year.
‘At a time when retailing is undergoing unprecedented change, Kingfisher remains a highly profitable business with a strong balance sheet. The focus of the board, the executive team and everyone in the business remains on the transformation.’
M&S, Waitrose and Ocado declined to comment.
Then there were five? B&Q boss Veronique Laury faces axe
Under fire: Kingfisher chief exec Veronique Laury
Veronique Laury’s position as chief executive of B&Q and Screwfix owner Kingfisher is believed to be on the line as she tries to deliver a turnaround plan for the DIY group.
The dismissal of the 53-year-old, who took over in 2014, would leave just five women at the helm of FTSE 100 companies.
They are Alison Cooper, 52, who became chief executive of tobacco group Imperial Brands in 2010, Liv Garfield, 43, who took over at Severn Trent in 2014, Alison Brittain, 53, who became chief executive of Premier Inn owner Whitbread in 2016, Emma Walmsley, 49, who rose to the top of drug maker Glaxosmithkline in 2017, and Dame Carolyn McCall, 57, who was made chief executive of ITV at the start of last year.