Kipper Williams on M&S losing its lingerie boss
March fashion sales down 3.4% on same month last year, as some stores ask for deliveries of summer stock to be delayed
Retail grandee Sir Stuart Rose famously said “weather is for wimps”, but even the most hardened shopkeeper would have struggled to sell the current crop of springwear, which has sat motionless on clothes rails across the country as Britain endured a chilly early 2013.
High street fashion retailers have resorted to one-off sales and suppliers say some stores have asked for deliveries of new summer stock to be delayed while so many spring dresses, skirts and tops remain unsold.
In March fashion sales slumped 3.4% compared with the same month last year, according to accountancy firm BDO’s monthly high street sales tracker. Analysts believe Marks & Spencer, Rose’s former company, has suffered a larger drop. Visa’s UK expenditure survey suggests the clothing and footwear sector saw a 2.6% year on year fall in March.
Don Williams, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said: “The weather can have a significant impact on fashion retail, and has undoubtedly had an impact on sales in the last month.”
Williams said the cold weather has had its perks – it helped retailers to shift any remaining winter stock, helping to offset poor demand for spring clothing.
On Thursday, Marks & Spencer will be the first of a handful of retailers updating the City in the next few weeks. Marc Bolland, Rose’s successor, is expected to say clothes sales were down by up to 5% in the past three months.
However, some analysts have suggested the poor weather could help Bolland, already under pressure to improve M&S’s fortunes, because the freezing temperatures have also affected rivals.
The company is already processing its summer offerings, with lead times of around six weeks, meaning current stocks need to be sold to make room. M&S has held flash sales online in an attempt to boost demand. The danger is that consumers could skip spring, and wait to update their wardrobe with summer clothing.
Williams explained: “Retailers fear shoppers will now hold out for summer lines, forcing them to clear spring stock by discounting, hitting even those stores that have continued to maintain tight stock levels and introduce greater flexibility into the supply chain.”
It appears suppliers are starting to suffer, with anecdotal evidence that some retailers are asking them to hold off on deliveries. John Miln, chief executive of the UK Fashion & Textile Association, which represents about 2,000 suppliers, said some of his members had been approached, but there was only so much space to store unsold clothes.
He warned: “The danger is all this extra stock could clog the system and the retailers are clearly planning for that blockage to not be terminal, because if there’s too much stock then it simply becomes worthless, and that’s no good to anyone in the chain.”
However, while the high street has suffered, the internet appears to have captured shoppers who would have been outdoors but for the weather.
The website BrandAlley, which sells discount designer label clothes, has snapped up last season’s leftover winter stock at a discount. Chief executive Rob Feldmann said: “As an online business we are able to move fast to react to the changing, and unpredictable weather conditions. This time last year we had very strong sales across swimwear and sandals.
“By contrast the last two weeks have seen sales of outerwear soar. We are up 63% on sales of coats and jackets in the last two weeks alone. Sales of sweatshirts and hooded tops have soared over 300%.”
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Continue reading here: Knoxville Bariatric Surgeons on How to Alleviate Anxiety About Weight Loss Surgery
Court of appeal to decide if seven-year term handed to serial confidence trickster Achilleas Kallakis was not long enough
The attorney general is appeal against the seven-year jail sentence handed down to Achilleas Kallakis, 44, a serial confidence trickster, claiming it was unduly lenient.
The court of appeal will hear the matter next month alongside a plea from jailed City trader Nick “Beano” Levene, 48, who will argue that the 13-year sentence he received last November was too severe. The two sentences were handed down in the space of two months at Southwark crown court, where judges are used to dealing with complex fraud prosecutions.
Offences committed by Levene and Kallakis were different, but the two appeals raise questions about consistency of sentencing by judges in Serious Fraud Office cases.
Kallakis, a former Croydon travel agent, duped banks out of more than £750m, posing as a Mayfair property tycoon.
Together with an old university friend, Alex Williams, Kallakis was found guilty in January of two counts of conspiracy to defraud. Williams, an expert forger, was given a five-year jail term.
The verdict came at the end of a second four-month trial brought by the Serious Fraud Office.
An earlier trial had been marred by a suspected attempt to nobble the jury and was eventually abandoned when Williams attempted to commit suicide. The attorney general is seeking a longer sentence in relation to Williams also.
In his sentencing remarks in January, Judge Andrew Goymer suggested that lenders defrauded by Kallakis – Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Scotland – “do bear some degree of responsibility” for Britain’s largest mortgage fraud. He described them as having “undoubtedly acted carelessly and imprudently”.
Among the many warning signs the banks failed to spot was that, under previous names, Kallakis and Williams had past convictions for a forgery scam involving the sale of bogus manorial titles to Americans.
The appeal is set for 12 April.
Victims of Levene’s £32m Ponzi fraud included Richard Caring, owner of upmarket restaurants The Ivy and Le Caprice and Sir Brian Souter and his sister Ann Gloag, founders of Stagecoach.
Levene had pleaded guilty to 12 counts of fraud, one count of false accounting and one count of obtaining a money transfer by deception.
Music label BMG has bought the rights to some of the best-selling pop music of recent years, including Take That’s Patience and Robbie Williams’ Angels.
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Bookmaker says sudden run of bets on Justin Welby, the bishop of Durham, suggested he would succeed Rowan Williams
Leading bookmaker Ladbrokes has suspended betting on the next archbishop of Canterbury, saying that a “very significant move” in favour of the bishop of Durham, Justin Welby, suggested Rowan Williams could be succeeded by the former oil executive and Old Etonian.
After weeks of uncertainty surrounding the appointment, which has resulted in the Church of England being criticised for persisting with a highly secretive method of choosing its next head, a spokesman for Ladbrokes said it had stopped taking bets on Tuesday after a sudden run of bets on Welby – two of them from new accounts – had raised speculation that he had been chosen.
Messages posted on Twitter by the bookmakers’ account read: “Very significant move for Justin Welby to be next Archbishop of Canterbury… #holygamble…Money suggests that @Bishopofdurham has got the job.”
The Crown Nominations Commission (CNC), the body responsible for choosing Williams’s successor, has been unable to overcome internal wranglings in its attempts to settle on two names – a preferred option and a back-up.
The commission of lay people and clergy had been expected to make an announcement in early October. Observers say that, in order to avoid embarrassment at Lambeth Palace, a successor will have to be unveiled before the General Synod meets for its most important session in years in less than two weeks’ time.
When Ladbrokes closed its betting, the odds on Welby, 56, were 1-2. Close behind him was the bishop of Norwich, Graham James, and others including James Jones, the bishop of Liverpool, and John Inge, the bishop of Worcester.
A spokesman for the diocese of Durham said Welby had been at a bishops’ staff meeting and was unavailable for comment.