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Business briefing: Jobs threat as Boohoo buys up web arm of Karen Millen

Loss-making: High street stores at risk

BOOHOO has bought the web businesses of Karen Millen and Coast but not their physical stores — with 1,000 workers looking set to lose their jobs.

The fast-fashion specialist said it had completed an £18million deal to acquire the online operations of the brands ‘and all associated intellectual property rights’ from Icelandic bank Kaupthing.

All 125 staff in the web businesses will be kept on but 62 immediate redundancies were announced yesterday and 32 shops and 177 concessions look likely to shut down after the ‘pre-pack administration’.

Business services firm Deloitte, which handled the process, told Sky News: ‘Karen Millen and Coast will continue to trade in store for a short time whilst the administrators realise the other assets of the companies.’

Boohoo — whose brands include Nasty Gal, PrettyLittleThing and MissPap — has been an online success story, attracting teenage buyers who shop via their mobile phones. Its sales jumped 39 per cent in the three months to May 31.

Karen Millen, which has older customers, lost £5.7million last year and £11.9million in 2017. Coast has also struggled — in part due to its reliance on concessions within ailing Debenhams and House of Fraser stores — and was bought out of administration by Karen Millen last year.

Thirsty? Just press the free champers button

Express service: Free champagne delivered to customers’ seats

EUROSTAR launched a ‘free champagne button’ yesterday as part of celebrations leading up to the rail service’s 25th anniversary on November 14.

The bubbly will be brought to the seats of the first 25 passengers on selected services who use the new smartphone app feature.

Appy days: Bubbly button PICTURES: PA

Customers can press the virtual button every Friday until the end of August on three services — the 5.01pm London to Paris, the 5.13pm Paris to London and the 5.16pm London to Brussels, Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

Eurostar chief customer officer Marc Noaro said the offer will make customers’ journeys ‘even more special’.

Domino’s stocks up on sauce over Brexit fear

DOMINO’S PIZZA has splashed out £7million stockpiling tomato sauce in case a no-deal Brexit disrupts supplies.

The group — which imports the pizza base sauce from Portugal — said it could be exposed to shortages if crashing out of the EU led to border delays.

It added it is also stocking up on other imported perishables, including toppings such as tuna and pineapple.

It came as boss David Wild announced he is to step down after five years, amid rows with franchisees demanding bigger slices of profits in response to pressure to open more stores.

BUSINESS BITES

■ OFGEM has promised a ‘tough but fair’ approach to price controls on electricity networks striving to meet green targets. The regulator is seeking views on cutting emissions without customers bearing the costs.

■ ROLLS-ROYCE has reduced half-year pre-tax losses to £791million from £1.2billion a year ago. But the engine maker reported ongoing woes with its Trent 1000 turbines, used in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

■ HOTELS group InterContinental saw pre-tax profits jump 25 per cent to £308million and revenues rise 12 per cent to £821million in the first half. But the Holiday Inn owner said growth slowed in China and Hong Kong.

■ INSURANCE giant LV’s profits rose 191 per cent in the first half of the year, despite ‘tough trading conditions’ for its life and pensions business. The British firm reported like-for-like sales of £35million up to June 30.

■ FORMER Virgin Money boss Dame Jayne-Anne Gadhia has been snapped up by Salesforce. She was due to join the Bank of England’s financial policy committee but will instead lead the US software giant’s UK and Ireland arm.