Your commercial news round-up: John Lewis, Wilko, single-use vapes, iPhone 12

updated on 14 September 2023

Reading time: three minutes

John Lewis is hit by inflation, Poundland has joined B&M in purchasing a number Wilko’s shops, ministers call for the banning of single-use vapes and electromagnetic radiation in iPhone 12’s halts sales in France. Find out more with LawCareers.Net’s commercial news round-up.

  • John Lewis’ transformation plan, which was originally scheduled to be completed in 2025/26, is now forecast to take two years longer than expected as a result of inflation and a need for greater investment. The firm’s financial struggles meant its partners didn’t receive annual bonuses last year, with the John Lewis and Waitrose partnership reporting a bottom-line loss before tax of £56.2 million – a 43% improvement on last year. The group also said that sales across the board had increased by 2%. However, Zoe Mills, lead retail analyst at GlobalData, said the company’s update was a clear setback: “John Lewis & Partners has succumbed to the pressures of the cost-of-living crisis, as the mid-market player struggled to retain appeal in a retail market plagued by consumers seeking low prices."
  • More than 100 of Wilko's 400 outlets have now been acquired by its rivals. Poundland is taking over the leases of up to 71 of Wilko’s stores and rebranding them under the Poundland name. Poundland managing director Barry Williams, said: "In the coming weeks we will work quickly with landlords so we can open these stores as Poundlands with the new ranges that have been pivotal to our recent development. And once that process is complete, we will ensure a significant number of the Wilko colleagues will join our Poundland team."

    In addition, The Range has agreed to buy the Wilko brand, meaning it will own Wilko’s website, with online operations expected to restart in early October. Jane Steer, one of the PwC administrators, said Wilko "remains a much loved and trusted brand within the UK", and that the deal with The Range means "the Wilko name lives on”. As reported last week, B&M will take over 51 of Wilko’s 400 stores but has still not announced which ones, due to a confidentiality agreement.
  • Ministers are set to ban single-use vapes due to child addiction fears. Last week, the Guardian revealed that five million single-use vapes are being thrown away in the UK every week. The lithium in the discarded products would be enough to create 5,000 electric car batteries a year. In July, the government was urged by MPs to make changes to the way disposable vapes are marketed to children. Councillors, paediatrics and public waste campaigners have all called to make disposable vapes illegal. Many other countries have already made changes. For example, Australia has banned all vaping without prescription and Germany, New Zealand and France have all introduced bans of some kind. Professor Sir Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, has said in the past: “If you smoke, vaping is much safer; if you don’t smoke, don’t vape, and marketing to children is utterly unacceptable.”
  • iPhone 12 sales have been halted in France due to them emitting too much electromagnetic radiation. France’s digital minister Jean-Noel said that the decision was due to the phone’s radiation levels being above the acceptable threshold after the ANFR found the iPhone 12’s Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) exceeded the legal limit. The iPhone 12 was released in September 2020 and is still sold worldwide. Apple told the BBC that it was contesting the ANFR’s review, having provided the regulator with lab results to show that the device follows radiation rules. The ANFR checks the against two ways the phone is used. The iPhone’s SAR exceeded the limit by 1.74 watts per kilogram for the first check, when a phone is in close contact with a person’s body, but passed the second check, which is when the phone is further away in a  bag, for example. This news comes following the tech giants unveiling of the iPhone 15.

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