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Eve Sleep has teamed up with Boots to launch a range of Christmas gifting products in an effort to continue its sales momentum.
 
The partnership comes as Eve Sleep seeks to build on the “strong improvement” in trading since April.
 
The online mattress retailer will launch its Well Slept range with Boots in October.
 
The company reported that its revenues since April have increased by a quarter compared to last year.
 
Eve Sleep, which is headquartered in London, saw revenues in Q2 rise by 25%, with customer numbers increasing by 7%.
 
The company now expects its full year revenues to reach “at least” £22m due to “strong trading momentum”, and is planning a long-term growth plan as it moves forward.
 
It credited the rise in demand with a surge in online shopping during lockdown, as well as a trend of home improvements as people spent more time inside their houses.
 
Cheryl Calverley, CEO of eve Sleep, commented: “This has been a highly unusual and complex trading period.
 
“Eve has benefited significantly from the accelerated switch to online, the temporary closure of high street retailers, and the recent increased consumer investment in the home, which, combined with the hard work on the rebuild strategy, has allowed us to see the fruits of our labour a little sooner than we anticipated.
 
“The focus now is on building towards a longer-term growth plan as we draw closer to our goal of securing a base as a sustainable, profitable business.
 
“We do not expect this to be easy, and 2021 like 2020 may well bring both challenges and opportunities as economies shift, consumers reset and competitors rebuild.
 
“However, I have confidence in our brand, our products, our customer experience and most importantly, our team that we are now well set up to capitalize upon whatever opportunities the next few years may bring.”
Müller UK & Ireland has revealed additional plans to build its share in the UK branded milk drinks sector. Müller is the UK’s most chosen dairy brand.
 
The business will consolidate FRijj within its Müller Yogurt & Desserts trading division alongside its branded portfolio which includes Müller Corner and Müllerlight, with effect from January 2021. The move enables Müller to leverage its full brand building, product development and marketing capabilities to fuel the product’s growth in the branded milk drinks category.
 
Within Müller Milk & Ingredients, FRijj is already benefiting from increased shelf life, without compromising on taste by using advanced packaging technology. The bottle and cap is now fully recyclable, with more than half of the bottle made with recycled plastic.
 
Jon Jenkins, Chief Executive of Müller Milk & Ingredients, comments: “We have significantly improved the FRijj proposition but our primary focus is on excellence in private label milk, flavoured milk, cream, butter and ingredients. As part of the MYD branded portfolio, FRijj will fully realise its potential.”
 
Bergen Merey, Chief Executive of Müller Yogurt & Desserts, says: “This move will allow FRijj to benefit from our first-class marketing and product development capabilities. Our purpose is to add taste to life for consumers, and we see a real opportunity to do exactly that. Retailers are unlocking more space in store for milk drinks, and over half of the UK population is still to access and enjoy this category. There’s an opportunity here, and we’re excited to grow our presence in the branded milk sector.”
 
FRijj will continue to focus on its most popular flavours, Strawberry, Banana, Chocolate, Fudge Brownie and Cookie Dough. During a challenging period for on-the-go products, the milk drinks sector has maintained +2.8% value growth.
 
Müller UK & Ireland is wholly owned by Unternehmensgruppe Theo Müller which employs 24,000 people throughout Europe. In the UK, Müller develops, manufactures and markets a wide range of branded and private label dairy products made with milk from 1,600 farmers in Britain.
The largest university press in the world - Oxford University Press - has announced the appointment of Lisa Attenborough as its new group communications director.
 
Attenborough takes over in September from Rachel Goode who was in the role for a decade but has moved within OUP to become director of marketing within the academic division.
 
She will report directly to CEO Nigel Portwood with responsibility for corporate reputation, brand, employee engagement and “contributing towards expanding OUP’s reach and impact worldwide”.
 
Attenborough started her career in marketing agencies before moving to the Financial Times. Since then she has worked for brands including Siemens, United Biscuits, Marks & Spencer and Premier Foods. Most recently she was the communications director at Arla Foods.
 
She said: “I’m excited to be joining OUP. Its history and purpose make it unique and will be a privilege to work with. I look forward to bringing my extensive experience in building brands at both a corporate and consumer level to the organisation. I can’t wait to start working with my new team and colleagues as well as broadening my perspectives and enjoying new learning opportunities."
 
Portwood added: “Lisa is a perfect fit for OUP. She has significant experience in running communications teams in large companies with strong brands and reputations. I know she will bring a wealth of knowledge to OUP and play a valuable role in helping us to achieve our long-term ambitions.”
Boost Drinks has unveiled a £1.2m campaign and brand refresh under the creative ‘Choose Now’
 
The activity aims to drive reappraisal and spans TV, digital, social media and out of home (OOH), plus a competition offering consumers the chance to win their share of £15,000.
 
Choose Now, which focuses on living in the moment, while juggling multiple jobs, hobbies and passions at once, will be rolled out across key regions in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
 
The upbeat TVC, launches on September 18th across Sky, Channel4 and ITV and has a cinematic look. The digital creative will be upweighted on YouTube, in a series of 6”, 10” and 30” videos.
 
The OOH displays will mirror the TVC creative, highlighting everyday people as hustling heroes on-the-go. Launching on September 21st, the OOH advertising will appear at 59 roadside sites in Great Britain, six sheet roadside sites, 48 digital, as well as 175 TFL bus supersides across London.
 
In addition to the TVC and OOH, the brand has tapped into the experiential space with nationwide sampling, gifting 140,000 first year students with Welcome Boxes boasting the full Energy range to drive flavour awareness. On top of this, the existing website will be relaunched, the entire Boost portfolio packaging has been refreshed, and independent retailers will be kitted out with brand new POS. Boost’s bold repositioning has been designed to further elevate the brand and drive incremental sales. 
 
The product packaging refresh gave the brand a more premium feel, with revamped logos unique to each range, as well as an updated energising visual for both the cans and bottles.
 
What’s more, the company is launching an initiative aimed at providing ‘generation hustle’ funds to give their side businesses and hobbies a boost. The Choose Now Academy is launching in September/October and will give consumers the opportunity to win their share of £15,000. Living on Boost’s social media channels, the initiative will involve hopefuls pitching their ideas to Boost’s hustle panel made up of the brand’s campaign ambassadors. There will be one overall winner who will receive £10,000 worth of funding, and five runners-up who will receive £1,000.
 
Marketing director Adrian Hipkiss said: “Our marketing campaign this year is bigger and better than ever before, and we’re absolutely thrilled to see the new TVC campaign and OOH bring this new position to life. As we approach our 20th year, it was important to us that we took the brand to the next level with our biggest investment to-date, and we could not be more excited to share this with independent retailers and wholesalers.
 
“As a business that is committed to selling exceptional value products exclusively through independent retailers, this campaign was developed with the channel in mind to ensure we’re continuing to add value. The campaign is a real step-change for us and leverages our challenger credentials as a down-to-earth brand that champions every day, local people something that we hope will resonate with our audience and drive more people into stores.”
 
The Choose Now campaign and repositioning work undertaken by Boost, comes off the back of a successful start to 2020, with Boost now being the 3rd biggest stimulation energy drink, and fastest selling sports drink within the UK’s Independent Sector [IRI Marketplace Symbols & Independents 52 weeks unit sales to 12th July 2020].
 
“Our stimulation business is in 1.6% unit growth year on year,” said Hipkiss. “Our sport business is in 43% growth year on year, and our coffee business is really establishing well.”
Rustlers is to launch a new national marketing campaign to help shift perceptions of the brand.
 
The ‘Better Than You Think’ aims to put the brand’s quality credentials at the heart of its identity and is designed to elevate quality perceptions and position Rustlers as the perfect meal solution for time pressed consumers by challenging them to ‘Surprise Yourself, it’s Better Than You Think’.
 
The initial focus of the campaign will be on landing the message that Rustlers beef burger range is made with “100% British & Irish Beef”.
 
The campaign launches on 21 September and includes in-store activation, text-to-win competitions giving away free product and shopping vouchers, a Deliveroo partnership and a high impact OOH advertising, radio and social media campaign generating over 88 million opportunities to see the Rustlers brand. Rustlers is also launching a convenience channel campaign to coincide with the ATL activity, supporting retailers to stock up to ‘Surprise Yourself with Strong Sales’. Retailers will be supported with a number of incentives including case deals on the Shopt app, free POS kits and merchandising advice designed to maximise impulse sales and boost basket spend.
 
Marketing and business development director at Kepak Adrian Lawlor said: “As the No. 1 micro snack, with sales over £110m, growing at 11%, we know we have a large loyal following who love our products and buy into the brand time and time again, but we’re going to accelerate growth by challenging and changing perceptions amongst people who have yet to try it.”
Travel Counsellors is to cut a third of its head office workforce as it looks to reduce costs.
 
The home working company has begun consultation with 100 back office staff despite 'green shoots' of recovery in the business.
 
Chief Executive Steve Byrne said the looming end of the Job Retention Scheme had forced the firm to take action.
 
"As with many other businesses we have been able to take advantage of the Job Retention Scheme to keep a number of our valued support team colleagues within the company whilst we navigated unchartered waters," he said. "And whilst we are seeing green shoots and the business is in a strong position to adapt and emerge quickly from this, the ongoing uncertainty in the industry means we have had to look carefully at our costs and identify ways in which we can streamline our structure to support our future.
 
"As we move beyond the support of the Job Retention Scheme, we have taken the extremely difficult decision to begin the consultation process with a number of our employees, placing just over 100 back office roles in our Manchester based support centre at risk."
 
Byrne said the company undersood the 'profound impact this will have on our people, which is of no fault of their own'.
 
"We are 100% dedicated to supporting them by putting every measure we can in place to help these talented people make the right transition for them, and exploring all options to keep as many within the business as possible," he said.
 
Travel Counsellors said a 'wellness' programme has been created for affected employees.
 
Staying in the business as a travel agent was among the possibilities being explored, it added.
 
Byrne stressed the cuts would not impact the service levels to consultants.
 
"We entered this situation in a really strong position with consecutive year on year growth and sales up by 15% in the four months prior to the pandemic, but of course, we are not immune to the current situation," Byrne added.
 
"We are confident these changes will support the long-term future of the company as part of a wider package of measures in place to guarantee we are well capitalised to grow."
Dr Martens’ private equity owner has reportedly hired Lazard to prepare a stock market listing of the British footwear brand and retailer.
 
According to sources speaking to Reuters, Permira is looking at a London stock exchange listing sometime early next year.
 
Permira, which acquired Dr Martens in 2014 for £350 million, may also decide to resume sale talks with Carlyle, Reuters reported.
 
US-based private equity firm Carlyle had initially expressed interest in buying Dr Martens for £300 million earlier this year before the coronavirus pandemic brought negotiations to a halt.
 
However, there is no guarantee a deal could be made.
 
Permira and Carlyle declined to comment.
 
Since taking control, Permira has increased Dr Martens’ global presence, invested in its ecommerce and reported an average 20 per cent to 30 per cent revenue growth in recent years.
 
In the year to March 31, the footwear retailer recorded a revenue rise of 48 per cent to £672.2 million, while operating profit surged by 110 per cent to £142.5 million.
 
Dr Martens said its direct-to-consumer businesses recorded a total sales rise of 51 per cent to £301.6 million.
 
Wholesale was ahead with a 45 per cent rise to £370.6 million.
 
Dr Martens said it had achieved a ”balanced global performance with all major markets reporting double-digit revenue growth”.
 
The retailer had to temporarily close its stores towards the end of its financial year due to the coronavirus lockdown, but it has since opened almost all stores.
OnTheMarket.com has signed up the UK’s second-largest house builder Taylor Wimpey to advertise its properties and developments on its website.
 
But the announcement comes just ten days after the builder was named as one of the four big construction firms to be investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) as part of the ongoing ‘leasehold property trap’ scandal.
 
The OTM announcement today makes no mention of this, instead highlighting the builder’s four-star Trust Pilot rating and commitment to build high-quality homes.
 
Taylor Wimpey joins several of its competitors on the platform several of which were also highlighted within the recent CMA investigation announcement on September 4th.
 
This is to look at practices such as soaring ground rent charges, punitive permission fees and developers selling freeholds behind homeowners’ backs, all of which have left some home owners in unsellable and mortgageable properties.
 
The other builders involved are Barratt Developments, Countrywide Properties and Persimmon.
 
Helen Whiteley (left), Commercial Director of OnTheMarket, says: “Taylor Wimpey is one of the UK’s largest house builders, is a highly successful business and has a UK wide geographic reach.
 
“I am delighted that another major player in the industry has decided to join OnTheMarket.”
 
Ceri Pearce, UK Sales & Marketing Director from Taylor Wimpey, says: “We have watched as OnTheMarket has gathered momentum to become an established portal and believe now is the right time for us to join.
 
We look forward to finding a new stream of motivated buyers as a result of this new partnership.”
Boohoo is reportedly looking to swoop in on New Look if its CVA proposal is rejected by creditors and it falls into administration instead.
 
The online retail giant would buy the New Look brand and shut down its portfolio of more than 400 stores.
 
Boohoo has already struck similar deals in the past year by acquiring Karen Millen, Oasis and Warehouse after they collapsed – while ditching their stores in the process.
 
For now, New Look’s future relies on the support of creditors supporting its CVA proposal after a sale process failed to attract bids from potential buyers.
 
The fashion retailer had canvassed interest in a sale of the business last month in conjunction with a CVA proposal in a bid to secure its future after the coronavirus pandemic led to a dramatic plunge in sales and footfall.
 
In order for the CVA to go ahead, at least 75 per cent of creditors – which includes landlords – need to approve it when they meet to vote on it on today (Tuesday).
 
The CVA proposal entails switching more than 400 of its UK stores to a turnover-based rent model and a three-year rent holiday on its 68 remaining stores. No store closures are planned.
 
However, landlords are already resisting the proposal and questions have been raised as to whether the CVA would achieve the minimum votes it needs.
 
Should it succeed, it would become New Look’s second CVA in two and a half years.
 
While the retailer has hinted it would go into administration if the CVA is rejected, a source speaking to The Sunday Times said New Look pursuing a deal with Boohoo would only be a last resort.
 
Boohoo, which also owns PrettyLittleThing, MissPap and Nasty Gal, would not comment on the speculation.
Pret a Manger announced the closure of 28 stores in July, leading to the loss of 2,890 jobs. The chain is hugely reliant on commuters and office workers, but with a large percentage of people still working from home, it is now struggling to regain sales.
 
With a total of 400 Pret a Mangers in the UK (pre-pandemic), the closure of 28 stores might not sound very drastic. However, it certainly marks a turning point for the brand, after a decade of continued (and unrivalled) success.
 
Just last year, Pret acquired rival Eat in a bid to boost its already-successful Veggie Pret chain. Turnover of its UK business increased to £710m for the year ending January 2019. Meanwhile, however, the UK casual dining sector saw closures increase by 25% in the year to June 2019, taking with it the likes of Strada and Jamie’s Italian.
 
Now, according to the FT, Pret is seeing footfall at a fifth of pre-pandemic levels. With once-packed Pret stores either closed, under limited opening hours, or without trade – the future of Pret as we know it is under threat. In response, the company is looking to adapt its business model, with the aim of evolving into a ‘multi-channel business’ in order to drive new revenue opportunities.
 
Since announcing store closures, Pret has launched a new subscription model called YourPret Barista. For £20 a month, customers can get up to five drinks per day, including items like smoothies and frappes as well as barista-made coffee, hot chocolate, and tea.
 
The idea behind YourPret Barista is that it will give customers a reason to visit, which before the pandemic might have been convenience (i.e. a grab and go office lunch) or habit (such as picking up a coffee on the way to work). It’s also a bid to instill loyalty in customers, ensuring that people who are transitioning back to the office slowly – perhaps for just one or two days a week – also return to Pret.
YourPret Barista is the first of its kind in the UK, but the service is based on a similar example from US chain Panera Bread, which gives customers unlimited coffee for $8.99 a month. Despite launching at the onset of the Covid pandemic in late February, Panera has seen huge success from its subscription service.
 
According to Forbes, more than 835,000 customers have signed up to the program, of whom more than 700,000 signed up in July following a refer-a-friend initiative. Forbes suggests that the program’s success lies in the fact that customers are still seeking out coffee, albeit later on in the day rather than during their commute. Fortunately for Panera, this behaviour coincides with lunch, meaning that customers are adding on their coffee to a food order.
 
Pret is surely hoping the same will happen in the UK. However, with most stores located in city centres and travel hubs, the chain is also offering additional services to align with new customer behaviour (and enable greater accessibility). One of these is click-and-collect, which is set to trial in five London locations, and will allow customers to pick up their food without entering the store. QR codes on fridges are reportedly in the works, too, so that customers do not have to queue up in order to pay.
Lastly, Pret has launched its first ‘dark kitchen’ to allow companies Deliveroo, Uber Eats, and Just Eat to deliver. It is also developing a hot dinner menu, to encourage home-based customers to order outside of breakfast and lunch hours.
 
Pret’s coffee subscription is most likely to appeal to people living in London. Indeed, a recent YouGov poll found that 13% of Londoners would consider purchasing one, compared to just 9% in the North and South respectively.
 
This is not necessarily to do with Londoners buying more coffee. Rather, this statistic highlights the London-centric nature of the brand (with 300 out of the aforementioned 400 stores located in the capital). In the past few months, however, Pret has begun to consider revenue streams that sit outside of its city centre stores.
 
Retail is one such opportunity, with Pret a Manger particularly keen to capitalise on the growing shift to online shopping. In May, the chain announced that it would be selling its coffee beans on Amazon. While this was a move in response to the coronavirus pandemic – enabling consumers to get their Pret coffee fix while at home – it was the first real example of the chain’s investment in retail.
 
More recently, Pret has announced that it will also sell coffee beans in Waitrose starting in October, and plans to sell other pre-packaged items in supermarkets in the new year. This shift into retail is all part of Pret’s new strategy to ‘follow the customer’, which replaces its old mantra, ‘follow the skyscraper’.
 
Pret is clearly hoping it will find similar success to its rival Leon, which has been selling grocery products in supermarkets since 2019, as well as a popular cookware range since 2016.
 
In isolation, Pret’s new initiatives might not necessarily catch on, but one thing working in its favour is an established reputation as a customer-focused brand. From the constant evolution of its menu to suit the changing tastes of customers to social good initiatives (such as the Pret Foundation), Pret has proved itself to be an agile and innovative company.
 
Pret is not without its controversy (or its critics), naturally, but in a time of intense upheaval, its ability to adapt could be the factor that draws people back in.
 
After all, brands that adapted to Covid-19 are now seeing the most success, with examples like Gymshark, Boohoo, and Microsoft all generating positive sentiment – either through pivoting to digital services or providing regular pay to employees on furlough. Tim Knight from KPMG suggests brands must adapt to the new expectations of customers in order to stay relevant. “The new customer wants brands to put purpose before profit, as we are arguably entering an ‘integrity economy’, he says. “They also want businesses to innovate, accelerate their move to digital, and demonstrate their values.”
 
Pret is certainly not resting on its laurels in any of these areas. Instead of waiting for customers to return to its London stores, the chain is adapting its business model to meet customers where they are – whether that’s online, at home, in supermarkets, or with the desire for a safer store experience.
 
Pret might be guilty of perpetuating the London commuter cliché, but there’s a reason it has come to dominate the casual dining market so strongly.

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