Debenhams, Holland & Barrett, Tesco: Everything that matters this morning


tesco clubcard

Tesco plots Amazon Prime-style Clubcard reboot

Tesco is planning an Amazon Prime-style reboot to its Clubcard loyalty scheme, which would offer greater incentives to sign up to its bank and mobile phone services.

The Sunday Times reports that the scheme could be linked to Tesco Bank’s Tesco Pay+ app, which allows customers to collect Clubcard points while making payments. To put the scale of a potentially rebooted Tesco loyalty scheme into perspective, the supermarket serves 80 million shoppers a week versus the estimated 15 million Amazon Prime members in the UK.

Tesco will release its full year results on Wednesday, when analysts expect profits will rise 28% to £2.1bn thanks in large part to the growth of the wholesaler Booker, acquired by the supermarket giant in 2018 for £4bn.

Ahead of any proposed merger between rivals Sainsbury’s and Asda, Tesco is said to have been renegotiating deals with suppliers by leveraging its buying alliance with French supermarket Carrefour, which it is thought could deliver hefty cost reductions.

READ MORE: Tesco eyes revival of Clubcard along lines of Amazon Prime

Websites face fines for failing to tackle ‘online harms’

The government plans to fine or block websites failing to tackle “online harms” such as terrorist propaganda and harassment.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has proposed an independent watchdog and a code of practice that tech companies would have to follow covering a range issues including terrorist content, child sex abuse, revenge pornography, hate crimes, harassment and “fake news”.

According to the BBC, the rules would apply to Facebook, Twitter and Google, as well as messaging services like Snapchat and cloud storage services.

The proposed new regulator would have the power to fine companies and individual company executives, as well as name and shame those who break the rules.

The government is also considering making search engines remove links to offending websites and has suggested blocking harmful websites completely. Furthermore, there might be a possible levy on the industry to fund the regulator.

Unveiling the proposals, digital, culture, media and sport secretary Jeremy Wright claims “the era of self-regulation for online companies is over.”

He adds: “Voluntary actions from industry to tackle online harms have not been applied consistently or gone far enough.”

While children’s charity the NSPCC welcomed the news, head of research at free market think tank the Adam Smith Institute, Matthew Lesh, said the government should be “ashamed” for taking a lead on “internet censorship”. Lesh described the proposals as a “historic attack on freedom of speech”.

READ MORE: Websites to be fined over ‘online harms’ under new proposals

Specsavers goes live with first global campaign

Specsavers has unveiled its first global campaign, which is a collaborative project by all the countries within the group.

Aired on Sunday evening (7 April) across ITV and social media, the Paws advert features Snowdrop, a performing Persian cat from Prague, struggling to get through a cat flap fitted upside down by a shortsighted handyman.

Devised by the in-house creative team, the TV advert will be supported by activity across Specsavers’ social channels including YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

According to CMO Katherine Whitton, the “fame and fondness” of the ‘Should’ve gone to Specsavers’ tagline has global relevance.

“It was time that we made an ad designed to work in every market we operate in,” she adds. “The beauty of the campaign idea and insight is how universal it is with no barriers to it being enjoyed be all, whatever your age and wherever you live.”

Mike Ashley calls for Debenhams execs to ‘take lie detector tests’

Mike Ashley has accused executives at Debenhams of engaging in “a sustained programme of falsehoods and denials” over his continued bid to take control of the struggling department store chain.

The Sports Direct owner suggests that the top team should take lie detector tests after he claimed they were misrepresenting what had happened in a meeting between the two firms following his offer of a £150m cash injection.

In a statement, released on Sunday, Sports Direct claimed that “misrepresentations were made to induce Sports Direct into signing a non-disclosure agreement, locking them out of any ability to trade in the bonds or equity of Debenhams for a period of time”.

It appears Ashley and two colleagues have already taken lie detector tests, the results of which Sports Direct claim “showed without any doubt” they had given an accurate report of the meeting.

However this morning, in light of the “press speculation”, Sports Direct has issued a new statement reiterating its offer to invest £150m in Debenhams in exchange for Ashley being appointed chief executive and £148m of debt being written off by lenders.

The company also stated it was still considering a £61m takeover bid and has until 5pm on 22 April to announce either a firm intention to make an offer for Debenhams or walk away.

In this morning’s statement Sports Direct also added that it wanted to “seek to constructively engage with the Debenhams board”. This is despite the fact that Ashley, who currently owns a 29.7% stake in the department store business, had yesterday called for an investigation and for the firm’s shares to be suspended.

According to BBC reports, Debenhams’ financiers are considering the offer. If Ashley’s bid is turned down, it is thought the company is likely to go into administration this week.

READ MORE: Mike Ashley launches new broadside against Debenhams

Holland & Barrett slammed for ‘shabby’ treatment of suppliers

Holland & Barrett has been accused by senior MPs of treating its suppliers “shabbily” amid accusations of poor payment practices.

According to small business commissioner Paul Uppal, the health food chain has “a purposeful culture of poor payment practices”, which includes taking an average of 68 days to pay invoices and is evidenced by the claim 60% of its invoices were not paid within agreed terms.

The Guardian reports that the commissioner received a complaint from a technology company over an unpaid £15,000 invoice, which Holland & Barrett only paid in full 28 days after the complaint was submitted to the commission.

“Holland & Barrett’s refusal to cooperate with my investigation, as well as their published poor payment practices, says to me that this is a company that doesn’t care about its suppliers or take prompt payment seriously,” Uppal states.

Chair of the business, energy and industrial strategy select committee, Rachel Reeves, described it as “outrageous” for a company to take an average of 68 days to pay its invoices, adding: “Consumers would be appalled to hear that a big name on the high street such as Holland & Barrett is treating their suppliers so shabbily.”

READ MORE: Holland & Barrett accused of treating suppliers ‘shabbily’

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