News roundup—8th May 2008

News roundup—8th May 2008

As expected, Next reported a decline in first-quarter sales.
Combined catalogue and retail sales for the 13 weeks ended 26th
April were £738.9 million, down 3.9 per cent from the first
quarter of fiscal 2007. Direct sales fell 1 per cent, to
£220.8 million, while retail sales dropped 5.0 per cent,
with like-for-like store sales down 8.9 per cent. But “we
continue to believe that sales in the second quarter will
improve significantly as a consequence of last year’s unusual
weather patterns and we have budgeted on this basis,”
the company added in its statement.. “Even within the
last 11 days, Next Retail sales have picked up markedly with
the arrival of warmer weather…”

Multibrand mailer N Brown is expanding its menwear
offerings. Chief exec Alan White told Drapers. that he wants menswear to account
for 20 per cent of the sales this year, up from 8 per cent in
2007. N Brown’s catalogues include speciality-size menswear
book Jacada and womenswear titles Simply Be and
Gray & Osbourne.

Littlewoods Shop Direct is dropping the
“Littlewoods” from its corporate moniker, according
to the Liverpool Daily Post, in conjunction with a
rebranding. But the name of its flagship catalogue brand will
remain Littlewoods Direct.

”Shopping at work” distributor Premier Direct
Group could be the next direct marketer to fail. Thomson Financial reports that the company
has been suspended from trading on the Alternative Investment
Market “pending clarification of its financial
position”. Premier, whose brands include cosmetics
merchant Oriflame, is in “urgent talks” with
lenders in hopes of obtaining the funds it needs to continue.

James Whale, who was fired from TalkSport radio for urging
listeners to vote for Boris Johnson in the recent London mayoral
election, will begin presenting a programme on Bid TV
later this month, reports the Winsford Guardian. Said Whale, “It
won’t be long before I know more about diamond jewellery,
toasters and kettles than anyone could ever imagine.”


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