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Thu 8th Jan 2015 - Red’s True makes key hires, Tesco and M&S results
Red’s True makes key hires: Red’s True Barbecue has appointed Matt Snell as operations director and Craig Bell as finance director. Snell, 36, joins from Fuller’s where he is currently head of operations for the quality division, overseeing 98 of the company’s unbranded premium food-led pubs. Whilst at Fuller’s, Snell, worked closely with managing director Jonathan Swaine, to roll out the company’s Every Customer Leaves Happy strategy and will bring his experience in customer excellence to the new role. Snell, who is relocating back to the north, said: “I’ve been a fan of Red’s since it opened in 2012; both the food and its strong brand. Getting back into the casual dining industry and into a young entrepreneurial company, which has a clear roll out plan, is incredibly exciting for me.” Bell, 43, is appointed to the board as FD. He joins from the Lardhar Group, the 50-site bar and restaurant group, which include the Hop & Cleaver and national chain, For Your Eyes Only. Prior to this, Bell was FD at Premium Bars and Restaurant Group where he was responsible for the acquisition of Living Room and Bell & The Dragon. His significant experience in debt and equity finance will help enable Red’s to ‘meet its ambitious growth targets, and keep the company on track to become the de facto national barbecue brand in the UK’. He said: “Opportunities to work for a company with drive and ambition, a single-minded strategy, and a brand with such admiration, don’t come along very often in the north; I’m delighted to have joined the business.” The appointments come just weeks before Red’s opens its fourth smokehouse, sited in Queen Street, Nottingham. The £1.1m, 150-cover restaurant will kick-start a year of national expansion. Scott Munro, co-founder, said: “Both Craig and Matt bring a huge amount of expertise and value to the business. We have a big focus on quality and service, underpinned by aggressive growth. With these two appointments we are building a market-leading team, and are now aligned to take Red’s rapidly forward and bring true barbecue to the masses. Alongside their obvious skillsets, both bring a little glamour to the business, which made the decision easier. Matt was a former world junior fresh water angling champion, whose claim to fame is that he caught the biggest Chub since records began. Furthermore Craig, in his formative years, had a brush with TV stardom. He filmed the first ever pilot of Biker Grove with Ant and Dec. Originally plugged as a trio ‘Ant, Dec and Clive’ Craig narrowly missed out on the lucrative part because of on set rivalry, and a dispute over who had the best Geordie accent.”

Tesco reports 0.3% LfL decline over six-week Xmas period: Tesco has reported a recovering like-for-like sale performance in the UK, with sales over the six-week Christmas period only marginally down in like-for-like terms. All UK formats and categories improved like-for-like performance, led by its Express format up 4.9% and grocery home shopping up 12.9%. Chief executive Dave Lewis said: “We are seeing the benefits of listening to our customers. The investments we are making in service, availability and selectively in price are already resulting in a better shopping experience. A broad-based improvement has built gradually through the third quarter, leading to a strong Christmas trading performance. I would like to thank all of my colleagues in Tesco. The unique combination of retail expertise and real passion for the customer has been an inspiration to be a part of. In difficult circumstances the team has begun the challenging task of reinvigorating our business. There is more to do but we have taken the first important steps in the right direction. We have some very difficult changes to make. I am very conscious that the consequences of these changes are significant for all stakeholders in our business but we are facing the reality of the situation. Our recent performance gives us confidence that when we pull together and put the customer first we can deliver the right results.” The company stated: “We delivered a marked improvement in our performance across the period. Total UK sales including VAT and fuel for the full 19 weeks to 3 January declined by 0.7% compared to a decline of 3.2% in the second quarter, and decreased by 1.3% excluding fuel. Like-for-like sales (excluding fuel) decreased by 2.9% for the 19-week period, compared to a decline of 5.4% in the second quarter. This included a gradual improvement through the third quarter and resulted in a like-for-like sales performance of 0.3% down for the six-week Christmas trading period. The encouraging response from customers follows the investments we have made across the store offer. We have seen strong improvements in satisfaction with prices, availability, queues and store standards following the introduction of more than 6,000 new colleagues in customer-facing roles in store. Our new commercial approach includes a comprehensive review of product ranges to simplify them, reset prices and improve availability. We are increasing shelf capacity for our 1,000 bestselling lines resulting in significant improvements in product availability, particularly in the evenings. Like-for-like volume growth in fresh food was positive over the Christmas period, for the first time in five years. Within this, performance was particularly pleasing in produce where we have already made significant progress in the quality, freshness and competitiveness of our offer. Our market-leading ‘Festive Five’ deal where five key produce items were reduced to 49p, helped millions of customers enjoy feeding their families and friends for less. Our overall general merchandise performance stepped up to positive like-for-like sales growth over Christmas helped by the success of our seasonal and gifting ranges. Black Friday promotions resulted in the highest week of sales on record for Tesco Direct, contributing to 22.2% like-for-like sales growth in online merchandise for the Christmas period. Customers also benefited from a strong offer in our convenience and online grocery businesses over the seasonal period, resulting in like-for-like sales growth of 4.9% and 12.9% respectively. Our share of the online grocery market improved as customer numbers rose strongly including a significant increase in the proportion of customers taking advantage of our Click & Collect locations.” 

Marks and Spencer reports very good Christmas in food, difficult quarter in general merchandise: Marks & Spencer has reported food sales up 0.1% in like-for-like terms in the 13 weeks to 27 December – Christmas week saw record sales, up 17%. General merchandise, however, saw a like-for-like drop of 5.8% – the company blamed unseasonal conditions in October and November and disruption at its Castle Donington distribution centre. Chief executive Marc Bolland said: “M&S had a very good Christmas in Food. We delivered record Christmas sales, strongly outperforming the market. We had a difficult quarter in General Merchandise, dominated by unseasonal conditions and an unsatisfactory performance in our e-commerce distribution centre. We maintained our focus on General Merchandise gross margin, with guidance unchanged.” The company stated: “Our Food business delivered another excellent quarter, significantly outperforming the market by c.3% pts. We saw record sales over the festive period, up 17% in the key Christmas week. Customers once again turned to us for our highly differentiated food offer, combining the best of quality, seasonal speciality and convenience, all at competitive prices. We launched nearly 750 new products giving customers more choice than ever, with record results in turkeys, party food, desserts and deli. Our new website performed well operationally, even through periods of peak demand. Customer metrics including customer satisfaction and conversion continued to improve, resulting in positive sales growth through October and November. However, disruption at our distribution centre in Castle Donington strongly impacted our (digital business) and in turn, general merchandise performance in December. We have already made progress in addressing this and have now returned to normal delivery proposition. In general merchandise, we received positive customer feedback on our Autumn/Winter Womenswear ranges. However, trading in October and November was affected by unseasonal conditions which impacted sales across the clothing sector and resulted in a highly promotional market. We deliberately held back the level of discounting especially in December. While this had an adverse impact on sales we delivered a good performance on gross margin. Overall International business was heavily impacted by the worsening currency and macro-economic issues across our Middle East and Russia franchise region. However, our owned business performed well with strong performance in key markets such as India.”

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