Sports Direct, Airbnb, Just Eat: Everything that matters this morning

Patisserie Valerie

Mike Ashley pulls out of Patisserie Valerie bid

Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has pulled out of its bid for Patisserie Valerie just two days after entering the ring to buy the cafe chain.

Ashley is said to have walked away from negotiations on Sunday after making a late bid for the business reportedly worth more than £15m, the Guardian reports.

Sports Direct described itself as being “at a serious disadvantage as a bidder”, after claiming it has been shut out of the bidding process by not being allowed access to a “data room, any financial information or meetings with management”, according to the Financial Times. The sportswear group said it would therefore have to rely on financial information in the public arena, which it was “at best unreliable”.

However, it is understood that Sports Direct was given access to the data room after tabling its first offer.

Ashley made his play for the cake chain on Friday, after the deadline for the first round of bids closed on 1 February. However, the Guardian reports that his bid of £15m was considered too low. The offer was for Patisserie Holdings, Patisserie Valerie’s parent company, which also includes Druckers Vienna Patisserie, Philpotts, Baker & Spice and Flour Power City.

Patisserie Valerie fell into administration last month after a £40m gap was uncovered in its finances. To date administrator KPMG has closed 71 of its 200 cafes and concessions, causing 900 jobs to be lost with a further 2,800 at risk if the chain cannot secure a buyer.

READ MORE: Mike Ashley withdraws his surprise bid for Patisserie Valerie

Paris to sue Airbnb for £10m over ‘illegal listings’

The city of Paris is bringing a £10.8m lawsuit against Airbnb over the alleged listing of 1,000 illegal rentals.

Speaking on Sunday the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, explained that while the city did not mind citizens renting their home for “a few days a year”, it does have a problem with residents treating it like a business.

French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche quotes Hidalgo as saying that the issue is with “multi-owners who rent all year-round apartments to tourists without declaring them, and the platforms, accomplices, who welcome them.”

Under French law homeowners cannot rent their properties out for more than 120 days a year in certain cities such as Paris. The law came into force after criticism that sites like Airbnb were pushing up house prices or leading to a shortage of homes in some areas.

Owners using Airbnb are required to register their properties with local authorities and display the registration number in their listing on the site. Residents not adhering to the law could each be fined €12,500 (£10,921).

READ MORE: Paris is suing AirBnB over 1,000 illegal rental listings

Just Eat told to merge with ‘well-run industry peer’

Just Eat

A shareholder in Just East has told the takeaway ordering site that it should consider a merger rather than relying on a new CEO to turn the business around.

Reuters reports that Cat Rock Capital Management LP, which owns 1.7% of Just Eat shares, believes the business should merge with a “well-run industry peer”, citing a poor record of CEO selection in the past.

Just Eat CEO Peter Plumb stepped down with immediate effect on 21 January after 16 months in the role. Joining from, Plumb coordinated the upgrade of Just Eat’s technology and oversaw the investment in its own delivery service as pressure intensified from rivals Deliveroo and Uber Eats.

However, at the time of his resignation the Guardian reported that Plumb had caused disquiet from “multiple top shareholders” after he did not foresee “increased profit margins from the business in the coming year and failed to make a persuasive case for investment”. Just East chief customer officer, Peter Duffy, is currently serving as interim chief executive.

READ MORE: Just Eat shareholder calls for merger talks

Mastercard debuts sonic brand identity

Mastercard has unveiled a new sonic brand identity that will sit across the physical, digital and voice elements of the brand.

According to Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard chief marketing and communications officer, the sound adds a “powerful new dimension” to the brand identity, which is “adaptable globally and across genres”.

Using a variety of instruments and tempos the Mastercard melody, designed in collaboration with Mike Shinoda of rock band Linkin Park, comes in a number of styles such as operatic, cinematic and playful, as well as several regional interpretations. According to Mastercard the sonic identity is locally relevant, while maintaining a consistent global brand voice.

The melody will extend to musical scores, sound logos, ringtones, hold music and point-of-sale acceptance sounds. The sound identity is also being used in a new multichannel marketing campaign featuring singer Camila Cabello, which launched to coincide with last night’s Grammy Awards, of which Mastercard is a sponsor.

The launch of the sonic brand identity comes a month after Mastercard announced it was removing its name from its logo to become a “symbol brand”.

Retail footfall slumps for 14th consecutive month

Footfall fell by 0.7% in the four weeks to 26 January, which despite being up on the 1.6% dip recorded during the same period last year, still represents the 14th month of consecutive decline.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) figures suggest that the slight boost is down to the school holidays extending further into January and retailers focusing on discounting in their physical stores.

During the period high street footfall fell by 0.7%, marking six consecutive months of decline. This was, however, up on the previous year when footfall fell by 1.9%.

The BRC figures show that footfall to retail parks was down 0.3% in the four weeks to 26 January, while shopping centre footfall fell by 0.9%.

The national town centre vacancy rate was 9.9% in January 2019, up from 8.9% in January 2018. Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive, noted that the increased vacancy rate would be a cause for concern for many shopping destinations.

“The data reflects the underlying pressures which continue to challenge shops up and down the country. Retail is undergoing a seismic shift, with technology changing the way we shop,” she noted.

“Consumers are making fewer visits to physical stores, choosing to research and pay for a greater proportion of their purchases online. This requires a reinvention of retail, with outlets investing in their physical space to encourage a more experience-led approach to shopping – something which is being held back by sky high business rates.”

The post Sports Direct, Airbnb, Just Eat: Everything that matters this morning appeared first on Marketing Week.

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