Recovery speeding up

The High Street recovery is gathering speed and retailers are raising their prices.

This is putting pressure on the Bank of England to increase UK interest rates to 5% before the year end to dampen inflation and house-buying mania. The Office for National Statistics reported retail sales in August were 0.3% higher than July and 4.3% up on the year. Inflation is running at a nine-year high of 2.5%.

Tesco forges even further ahead

Tesco's share of the grocery market climbed even further, to 31.4% in the 12 weeks to 10 September, from 30.1% in the same period last year, according to TNS Worldpanel. Asda remains in second place with 16.7%, with Sainsbury nipping at its heels at 15.9%. Morrisons is in fourth place with 11%.

Over in Thailand, Tesco's third largest global market generating sales of nearly £1bn yearly, the retailer has run into problems. It had planned to open 170 new stores this year but Thailand's Ministry of Commerce has barred all international retailers until it installs a legal framework to protect its small retailers.

Blueheath Holdings tumbles

Blueheath Holdings, the grocery wholesaler, saw its share price tumble after alerting the market to the possibility of lower sales. The problem lies in the closure of its Tamworth site and the ongoing transfer of business to warehouses in the North West and South East which is nearly complete. According to the company, customer service and fulfilment levels from the Thurrock site "were adversely affected during the move, leading to a negative, short term impact on current sales".

Sainsbury customer numbers hit 16,000,000

Sainsbury calculates customer numbers have risen by 10% over the year, largely in response to its marketing slogan "try something new today". It now has 16m customers today as against 14.5m a year ago - a rise of 10%. It is now looking to increase sales of its Taste The Difference range - from £800m to £1bn - by 2008. A new television campaign promoting the range is already underway.

Genus operating profits surge

Genus, the genetic bull and pig breeder, is benefiting from the increasing price of semen - with operating profits more than doubled to £22.3m. Genus owns Picston Shottle, the global champion stud bull and has added another prize bull, Bolton, to its portfolio. Genus can now provide customers with the sex of the animal to be created from a specific dose of semen. This means it can charge a far higher price - three and a half times the norm - for a high milk yielding cow. Genus bought pig breeder Sygen, for £187m which is bedding down well.

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