Retail news from around the globe

Suitors still vying for Caltex

Canadian convenience store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard still wants to take over refiner and marketer Caltex Australia despite global market turmoil and the collapse of the company’s shares, chief executive Brian Hannasch said.

Hannasch raised the possibility, however, that the price of its offer would drop following due diligence, given the share rout. The $35.25 a share offer is now more than 75 per cent above Caltex’s market price, the Australian Financial Review reports.

Caltex’s shares have plunged about 40 per cent since mid-February. As a big supplier of jet fuel in Australia, Caltex has been hit particularly hard by airlines grounding their fleets.

Hannasch praised the company’s “very strong team with a high level of expertise around the full value chain”.

Privately owned UK convenience store retailer EG Group has made a rival offer involving the spinning off of the refining assets. Neither Caltex nor EG would comment on the state of this offer, Reuters reports, but in February Caltex said it was still open to negotiations with EG.

Stimulus efforts fail to stop share slides

The size and scale of government stimulus programs to fight the economic fallout of the coronavirus are leaving investors confused and grappling for solid ground as shares plunge and even bonds and commodities such as gold and oil tumble.

Traders struggled to sort out various moves by governments and global central banks to shore up economies bracing for what looks likely to be a short but deep global recession from a still growing pandemic.

Estimates for the duration of the damage extend into the northern summer. Japan already is in a recession, a downturn is imminent in Europe and a US recession will start in the second quarter, Reuters reports.

In the past three weeks, the US S&P 500 has fallen almost 30 per cent and Wall Street has also been trending down, though losses have been capped at 5 per cent during that period.

European bourses tumbled, with indexes in London, Frankfurt and Paris plunged from 4 per cent to 5 per cent.

Retailers petition Trump for relief

A US retail group has petitioned the government that their industry be added to the proposed stimulus package, as it grapples with sharply reduced spending by consumers and widespread store closures.

The National Retail Federation in a letter to US President Donald Trump, among others, said that retail workers would be burdened with rents and loan payments if no sales are made for weeks, with cumulative losses that could amount to tens of billions of dollars a week, Reuters reports.

The Trump administration is already proposing US$50 billion for airlines facing bankruptcy and a possible US$1000 direct payment to individual Americans.

Amazon ships necessities, slow toys

Sometimes internet rumours get it right. Reports that Amazon was prioritising the shipping of necessary items over toys and cosmetics have turned out to be true, as Reuters fact checkers have revealed.

“We are seeing increased online shopping and as a result some products such as household staples and medical supplies are out of stock,” Amazon said in a statement.

“With this in mind, we are temporarily prioritising household staples, medical supplies and other high-demand products coming into our fulfilment centres so that we can more quickly receive, restock, and ship these products to customers.

“For products other than these, we have temporarily disabled shipment creation. We are taking a similar approach with retail vendors.”

Virus shuts overseas Lego stores

Danish toymaker Lego has closed all of its stores, except for those in China, until at least March 27 due to the spread of coronavirus.

This edict does not affect the stores in Australia which operate independently, so for the time being they remain open.

This story first ran in Inside Retail Weekly. Given the current crisis, we have decided to unlock all premium content related to COVID-19. If you would like to support Inside Retail, please consider subscribing here.

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