January 31, 2023

Morrisons has just slashed prices on hundreds more items, from staples like potatoes to more luxurious sirloin steaks.

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The supermarket giant is hoping to cut costs by about 20% to win back customers poached by discounters Aldi and Lidl.

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Until last autumn, Morrisons was the fourth largest supermarket group in the UK, but it has been overtaken by Aldi. While this drastic cost cutting is good for customers, it’s not so good for retailers struggling for volume at the expense of profit margins.

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Pressure: ONS data shows that while agricultural input prices rose by an astounding 26.8% per annum through October, agricultural commodity prices rose at a much lower level of 17.7%.

Tesco’s operating margin is currently around 4%, while other retailers have even lower margins.

This is presumably why Tesco chairman John Allan declared war on food suppliers as well as his competitors in his rather unusual outburst during Sunday’s TV interview.

Allan blamed food suppliers for the continued skyrocketing prices, saying it was possible they were profiting by driving up prices more than necessary.

He says his buyers are actively negotiating with many suppliers, asking them to justify the price increase.

They fell out with many of them in the process. It’s perfectly right for Allan to outplay his suppliers, but this time he may have gone too far.

Minette Butters, head of the National Farmers Union, is outraged by his claims, suggesting that Allan lives in a parallel universe if he believes that farmers and other food vendors are profiting from inflationary pressures.

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As she notes, his comments are confusing, as farmers and suppliers have had to deal with a 650 percent increase in wholesale prices for gas and other inputs over the past three years.

Other analysts described Allan’s remarks as outrageous and simply wrong, as suppliers scrupulously justified every penny of the price increase. So who’s right?

Are stingy farmers and wholesalers the bad guys? The evidence says no. Overall NFU data shows that farmers have endured the most painful rise in energy, fertilizer and food prices, which have risen sharply since the lockdown and the war in Ukraine.

ONS data shows that while agricultural input prices rose by an astonishing 26.8% per annum through October, agricultural commodity prices rose at a still high but significantly lower level of 17.7%.

In general, despite the fact that farmers had to raise prices, they assumed most of the costs. Far from swindling customers or profiteering, many have been forced to cut production while others go out of business.

That’s why Batters is right in pushing Rishi Sunak to develop a unified national food security policy to find more ways to help increase home grown produce and make farming more efficient.

Allan must join her campaign.

funeral plans

Direct Line founder Sir Peter Wood leads the consortium that trades Dignity. Although, unfortunately, the number of deaths has increased over the past year, Dignity has fallen into murky waters.

He owes over £500m and is running out of cash.

But there is potential. Dignity operates over 700 funeral homes and Sir Peter sees a chance to improve and expand his funeral planning business.

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Investors have a choice. They can receive 550p cash (a 29% share premium since the offer was first discussed) and have shares in a private company, Valderrama, which is not listed on the stock exchange, or they can choose shares in Castelnau Group, a listed investment fund managed by Phoenix Asset Management. . in which Sir Peter has a share.

Stay with me. It’s not that hard. But the benefit of buying Castelnau shares gives investors an outlet, as well as a chance to see Sir Peter in action again.

History of success

Hats off to three British success stories.

Everyman Media has seen significant revenue growth over the past year. Several more cinemas are planned to be added to the network of 38 cinemas.

Billionaire Bill Ackman invested heavily in the latest round of funding for London-based Bremont Watches because he loved the watch.

Thirdly, sales of sparkling wines from the English producer Chapel Down rose by 53% after a record number of bottles of premium champagne were sold last year.

Even better, Chapel Down says consumer confidence has bounced back after 15 months of decline.