Salmon sales surge as UK food exports hit record high

salmon steaksImage copyright PA

Sales of British salmon helped the UK export a record amount of food and drink in the first half of the year, according to industry figures.

Exports of the fish jumped more than 53% by value to £408m, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said.

UK food and drink exports rose 8.5% to £10.2bn, helped by the fall in the pound after last year's Brexit vote.

Whisky remained the top export, while salmon was second and beer rose to third after it overtook chocolate.

The pound has fallen by about 20% against the dollar since the UK voted to leave the EU in June last year, giving a boost to UK exports as they have become relatively cheaper.

However, the weaker pound has also pushed up costs for British businesses that bring in food and raw materials from abroad, the FDF said.

It said the UK's food and drink trade deficit - the difference between how much the UK imports and exports - widened 16% to £12.4bn over the period.


Salmon sales 'higher than ever'

Image copyright Loch Duart Salmon Image caption Andy Bing of Loch Duart Salmon says the firm has seen record sales this year

Salmon is becoming more popular globally, according to Andy Bing, sales director of Loch Duart Salmon in North West Scotland.

"This half we've sold more than we ever have," he said, adding that the firm's main export markets were France, the US, Italy, and Switzerland.

UK salmon exports have grown after Chilean producers suffered problems in 2015 with algal blooms that killed a large amount of their fish, he said.

The firm is optimistic about the eventual post-Brexit trade deals that can be struck with EU countries.

"Europe needs lovely Scottish salmon just as we need lovely French wine and wonderful German cars," he said.

However, he added that Loch Duart was "finding it difficult to plan without better guidance" from the government about Brexit.


The FDF warned that without a favourable Brexit trade deal, UK exports could become less competitive.

Two of the biggest importers of UK food and drink are Ireland and France.

If there is no deal and World Trade Organization (WTO) tariffs with the EU are brought in, "food and drink would face significantly higher tariffs than most other products," an FDF spokesman said.

However, the free market think tank, the Institute for Economic Affairs, said it would not be a "disaster" if the UK failed to strike a deal with the EU.

Jamie Whyte, IEA research director, said:"In fact, we could unilaterally eliminate all import tariffs, which would give us most of the benefits of trade and export to the EU under the umbrella of the WTO rules."

A UK government spokesman said it wanted to reach a deal with the EU "allowing for the most frictionless trade including in food and drink as possible".

Image copyright Getty Images

UK's top 10 food and drink exports

  1. Whisky
  2. Salmon
  3. Beer
  4. Chocolate
  5. Cheese
  6. Wine
  7. Gin
  8. Beef
  9. Pork
  10. Soft drinks

Source H&M Customs and Excise


In the first half of the year, UK food and drink exports rose faster to EU countries, up 9%, than to countries outside the EU, with growth of 7.6%.

But the market which saw the most growth in the first half was South Korea, up 77%, in the main due to beer exports.

Food Minister George Eustice said:"We have ambitious plans to produce and export more of our fabulous foods around the world and more businesses are trying exporting for the first time.

"Last week we announced further market access to China for pork producers and UK beef will soon be heading to the Philippines.We will continue to work with industry to open new opportunities."...

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DIY firms Homebase and B&Q suffer sales slump

B&Q storeImage copyright PA

The UK's two biggest DIY chains, B&Q and Homebase, have both reported a slide in sales this summer.

B&Q said sales at its established stores fell 5% in the three months to July amid a drop in demand for garden furniture and other summer products.

The fall dragged shares in B&Q owner Kingfisher down 4.1%, making it the biggest faller on the FTSE 100.

Meanwhile, Homebase reported a similar drop in quarterly sales under its new Australian owner.

George Salmon, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said:"It looks like Kingfisher isn't alone in having difficulties in the UK.

"The group's flagship B&Q chain saw like-for-like sales fall 4.7%, which is similar to the 4.3% fall at Bunnings UK, the new owner of Homebase."

As well as the Bunnings DIY chain, Wesfarmers also runs the supermarket chain Coles and the Kmart and Target chains in Australia.

Image copyright Bunnings

Sales of summer products dropped nearly 11% at B&Q, partly because customers bought more of those items during the warm spring.

Kingfisher said it remained cautious about the economic outlook for the UK in the second half of the year.

However, its other DIY chain, Screwfix, continued its stellar run, with sales at existing stores rising 10% in the period.

'Long slog'

Homebase's results were partly dragged down by its transition under its Australian owner.

Bunnings UK, which bought Homebase for £340m last year, is changing the DIY retailer's discounts and rebranding more stores under the Bunnings name[1].

In the first financial year since acquiring the chain, Bunnings UK booked a £54m loss on revenue of £1.2bn.

Bunnings Group managing director Michael Schneider told analysts[2] it was braced for a "long slog" in the UK.

"The opportunity for the Homebase stores is going to be more clarity and consistency in execution," he said."There's no silver bullet."...

References

  1. ^ Bunnings name (www.bbc.co.uk)
  2. ^ told analysts (www.news.com.au)

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Roaming downtime hits customers on Three in Europe

Three logoImage copyright Three Image caption Some holidaymakers have been hit by the downtime

Roaming services have now been fixed for all customers on the Three mobile network in France, Portugal and Luxembourg, the operator has said.

Three apologised for the issue, which had lasted since yesterday.

On Twitter, several customers complained about problems they had experienced.

"The issue with our roaming partners which was affecting roaming service in France, Portugal and Luxembourg has now been fixed," said Three in a statement.

"We apologise for any inconvenience."

One customer wrote online[1]:"I'm travelling alone and can't make any calls or send any texts."

Another said:"I'm driving to Paris tomorrow, and I've got to follow road signs because I have no connection for my Google Maps."

BBC journalist Dougal Shaw - on holiday in France - also said on Twitter[2] that he had been affected.

"I got lost in a market," he wrote....

References

  1. ^ customer wrote online (twitter.com)
  2. ^ said on Twitter (twitter.com)

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Topshop bosses out of fashion in Arcadia shake-up

People walk past Topshop, Oxford StreetImage copyright Getty Images

Topshop is the jewel in the crown of billionaire Sir Philip Green's retail empire.

But with the chain losing its sheen amid tough competition there are fresh attempts to keep it ahead of the game.

In the latest shake-up at Sir Philip's parent company Arcadia, Topshop's creative boss Kate Phelan is leaving, as is Topman's Gordon Richardson.

Arcadia has announced that they will be replaced in a combined role by former Vogue art director David Hagglund.

In addition to this latest creative appointment, a new chief executive starts next month - Paul Price.

It signals a new era for Topshop, once the go-to destination for young shoppers keen to snap up the very latest fashion trends on the High Street.

Profits at Arcadia, which also includes Miss Selfridge, Burton, and Dorothy Perkins, plunged by 79% last year.

Tough competition in the clothing market - and the failure of the now-defunct BHS chain - contributed to the poor performance.

Ms Phelan moved to Topshop from fashion magazine Vogue in 2011, and Mr Richardson has been at Topman for 17 years.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Sir Philip Green's retail empire includes Topshop and Topman

In Arcadia's statement, Sir Philip said:"The appointment of David Hagglund, in the newly combined role, continues to mark the start of a new era for Topshop Topman in moving both brands forward in their ongoing global expansion.

"I am delighted to welcome David who will be joining Paul Price, our new chief executive, on the same day and I look forward to working with them both to drive the business forward."

Top of their agenda will be Topshop's future.Nimbler online rivals such as Boohoo and Misguided are eroding Topshop's market share.They're cheaper, too.

Online retailer Boohoo saw profits double in April[1] thanks to new overseas markets.

And online fashion retailer Asos has also been eating Topshop's cake, with sales jumping in its latest results[2].

We will have to wait and see whether Topshop seeks to move upmarket, or tries to up its game in the fiercely competitive online world....

References

  1. ^ saw profits double in April (www.bbc.co.uk)
  2. ^ latest results (www.asosplc.com)

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Asda sales grow again after three-year slump

Asda logoImage copyright Getty Images

Supermarket chain Asda has reported its first quarterly like-for-like sales growth for three years.

Sales rose 1.8% in the second quarter after a bumper Easter, helped by price cuts and more customers shopping at its stores.

Removing the benefit of Easter from the results, Asda's like-for-like sales were 0.7% higher.

Asda, owned by US giant Walmart, has been hurt by the rise of German discounters Aldi and Lidl.

Last year Asda reported its worst quarterly performance on record, with sales tumbling by 7.5%.

Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon said the world's biggest retailer was "encouraged" by the performance of its UK operation.

"In June, I visited Asda to see the progress being made.Customers are responding to investments in price and store experience by visiting the stores more often and increasing their basket sizes," he said.

"There's still much more to be done, but we're clearly headed in the right direction."


Analysis:Emma Simpson, BBC business correspondent

Is Asda finally on the road to recovery?It's been a painful few years.

They're not popping the champagne corks in Leeds just yet.

If you strip out the Easter effect, Asda's growth was 0.7% on a comparable basis to last year.

And it highlighted this figure in its financial update for good reason.Bosses want to dampen down expectations for the quarters to follow.

So how much of this figure is driven by inflation, which is giving a lift to all the supermarkets right now?

Well I'm told that 0.7% would still be positive even if you strip out the effects of inflation at Asda.

In other words there's finally some growth in shopper numbers and volumes coming through.

But Asda's growth is still way behind the other main players.This is a business that's still got a huge amount to do.


Asda is the third-largest UK supermarket chain behind Tesco and Sainsbury's, according to Kantar Worldpanel[1].

The supermarket's chief executive Sean Clarke took over from Andy Clarke (no relation) last summer.

The new chief's strategy to halt falling sales has been to focus on lowering prices.

Asda said that its second quarter had seen "one of its most successful Easter trading periods on record", with total sales up 16%.

Mr Clarke said 275,000 new customers shopped at Asda in the second quarter, but added:"We know we need to continue to up our game to be in the best shape possible."

In the first quarter, the chain suffered a 2.8% sales decline - its eleventh consecutive quarterly drop.

Meanwhile, Walmart reported lower quarterly margins after it cut prices and invested in expanding online sales.The retailer's shares opened down 2%, the biggest faller on the Dow Jones index....

References

  1. ^ according to Kantar Worldpanel (www.kantarworldpanel.com)

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