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An online pet food retailer has hit out at one brand’s “excessive” price increases, and instead offered customers 10% off its competitors.

Customers have been reporting steep price increases across a number of items from Royal Canin – with one saying her food had increased by £15 for a 10kg bag in less than a year.

Zooplus, an online pet food seller that stocks Royal Canin – among other brands – said it did not want to pass these price increases on to its customers, branding them “excessive”, and saying “value for money is important to us”.

The German retailer explained that people may find it difficult to buy Royal Canin products from its site and it has limited the number of items each household can purchase.

The full notice on the Zooplus website
Image:
The full notice on the Zooplus website

A notice now appears above all Royal Canin items on the site saying: “Dear customers, the manufacturer Royal Canin has communicated a price increase for its brands, which in our opinion is excessive.

“We do not want to pass on this price increase to you and your pet. Because of this we will have difficulty sourcing their full portfolio and likely start experiencing higher out of stock on Royal Canin products.

“Therefore, we can only offer Royal Canin products in our shop on a limited basis until further notice. In order to give as many customers as possible the chance to order the available Royal Canin products from our inventory, we have temporarily reduced the normal household quantity per purchase for Royal Canin products.”

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It then offers customers 10% off a number of Royal Canin’s competitors, saying they are “comparable alternatives up to 20% less expensive”.

Pet food industry ‘hit by inflationary pressures’

Royal Canin, a subsidiary of Mars and a French manufacturer of pet food, said it has been hit by “inflationary pressures” like “many other industries”.

It told Sky News: “Our priority remains serving the cats and dogs we love with the highest quality, precise diets.

“The pet food industry, like many other industries is working in an ever changing environment impacted by wide-ranging inflationary pressures. Royal Canin continues to absorb these rising costs as much as possible.

Pet food, animal feed in a branch of Fressnapf. Cat food on the shelf, Royal Canin. | usage worldwide Photo by: FrankHoemann/SVEN SIMON/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
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Pic: AP

“Manufacturing our formulas requires raw materials that have been increasingly affected by rising costs. The same goes for packaging, transport, and energy.

“We will never compromise on the quality of our nutritional solutions. Whilst in-store prices continue to be at the sole discretion of retailers, we continue to work hard on behalf of our customers to mitigate increases.

“We remain determined to invest in our partners, their customers and the pets we are proud to serve.”

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JD Sports cyber attack may have exposed millions of names, numbers and addresses

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JD Sports cyber attack may have exposed millions of names, numbers and addresses

JD Sports is contacting customers who have been affected by a cyber attack that may have exposed their personal details.

The incident impacted 10 million people who placed orders between November 2018 and October 2020.

Customer names, delivery, billing, email addresses, phone numbers, and the last four digits of bank cards were potentially exposed.

It includes people who shopped at JD as well as the group’s Size, Millets, Blacks, Scotts, and MilletSport brands.

The sportswear company does not believe account passwords were accessed, and has assured people affected that their full payment card details were not held.

However, they are being warned to watch out for scam emails, calls, and texts.

In an email to customers, JD Sports said: “We take the protection of customer data extremely seriously and we are sorry this has happened.”

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JD ‘working with cyber experts’

The company has said it is engaging with the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office about the attack.

“We have taken the necessary immediate steps to investigate and respond to the incident, including working with leading cyber security experts,” the firm added.

Neil Greenhalgh, chief financial officer of JD, said: “We are continuing with a full review of our cyber security in partnership with external specialists following this incident.

“Protecting the data of our customers is an absolute priority for JD.”

What should customers be aware of?

Scam emails, calls, and texts will come from fraudsters purporting to represent JD Sports or its other brands.

Matt Hull, global head of threat intelligence at cyber security company NCC Group, told Sky News such communications are “generally not well put together”.

He advised that people should watch out for “things being misspelled, poor grammar, and odd formatting” as telltale signs that emails and texts might not be genuine.

“Quite often they will try to induce the individual to follow a link, go to a website, download a document, or provide more information that they would not expect,” he added.

Read more:
UK’s most popular passwords revealed

For JD, the priority will be working out how the attackers got in and ensure they are not still in its network.

Companies worried about cyber attacks must make sure they have strong password policies in place, allow their customers to use multifactor authentication, and ensure their security systems are up-to-date.

Information of this type is also liable to ending up on criminal forums and marketplaces, Mr Hull warned.

“This type of data is really valuable,” he said.

“It can be sold, it can be reused for further criminal activity.”

The attack at JD comes just a few weeks after Royal Mail was targeted by a ransomware gang linked to Russia.

It left more than half a million parcels and letters stuck in limbo.

Last year, the National Cyber Security Centre warned cyber attacks were a “major challenge to businesses and public services in the UK”.

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Paperchase on brink of collapse as hopes of solvent rescue fade

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Paperchase on brink of collapse as hopes of solvent rescue fade

Paperchase, the high street stationery retailer, is close to collapsing into administration as hopes of a solvent rescue deal fade.

Sky News understands the chain’s parent company could appoint insolvency practitioners from Begbies Traynor as soon as Tuesday.

Paperchase’s shareholders remain in discussions with more than one potential buyer, although insiders said that a sale of the business was now focused on a pre-pack deal, which involves a company’s assets being sold immediately after it has fallen into administration.

It is unclear how many jobs or stores would be put at risk by an insolvency.

The latest development follows weeks of talks with prospective buyers, after PricewaterhouseCoopers was appointed to find new backers.

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Matchesfashion owner pumps in £60m to keep online retailer in shape
JD Sports cyber attack may have exposed millions of names, numbers and addresses

Sky News recently revealed that Paperchase had been put up for sale just four months after its most recent change of ownership.

The chain was taken over in August by Steve Curtis, an experienced retail investor who has been involved with Tie Rack and Jigsaw.

Retail Realisation, an industry advisory firm with which Mr Curtis and turnaround firm Rcapital are affiliated, was also involved in last summer’s deal.

Paperchase had previously been one of many retail casualties of COVID-19, having undergone a pre-pack administration in January 2021.

Other notable high street chains to collapse during the pandemic included Debenhams and the Dorothy Perkins-to-TopShop empire, Arcadia Group.

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It trades from about 100 stores, and Mr Curtis was said at the time of the most recent takeover to be backing an existing management plan to grow that number to approximately 150 in the coming years.

Permira Credit, the previous owner, had invested in Paperchase’s digital offering as well as new shop openings and executive recruitment since its last brush with insolvency.

At that time, Paperchase employed nearly 1,300 people, and traded from more than 125 sites across the UK.

Its outlets included concessions at House of Fraser, Selfridges and a number of Next stores.

It was unclear on Monday how many stores and jobs might be put at risk by another administration process.

A Paperchase spokesman declined to comment.

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Matchesfashion owner pumps in £60m to keep online retailer in shape

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Matchesfashion owner pumps in £60m to keep online retailer in shape

The private equity backer of Matchesfashion, the online upmarket fashion retailer, is pumping tens of millions of pounds of new funding into the business as it seeks a revival under its new management team.

Sky News has learnt that Apax Partners, the London-based buyout firm, has agreed to inject £60m into Matchesfashion, which sells brands including Gucci, Prada and Valentino.

The new capital will be split between £40m in equity and £20m in debt, with the latter element expected to be finalised in the short term.

In tandem with the extra funds, Matchesfashion is said to have secured covenant waivers and extensions with all of its lenders.

The additional financing underlines both the challenges that Apax has faced since acquiring Matchesfashion in 2017 and its confidence in new chief executive Nick Beighton’s turnaround plan.

Mr Beighton, the former ASOS boss, was appointed last summer, the latest in a string of CEOs to be hired by Apax during more than five years of ownership.

In a statement on Monday responding to an enquiry from Sky News, a spokeswoman for the company said: “Matchesfashion offers luxury brands an exclusive audience and our customers love the service we provide.

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“Our trading performance has been very strong in recent months and we are well-positioned as a business, having significantly strengthened our top team.

“Now, with additional financial support from Apax Funds, we are well-placed to continue to drive our turnaround plan and deliver long-term commercial success.”

The business is already said to have seen positive results under Mr Beighton, with one source saying that order demand was up 15% year-on-year during the key pre-Christmas trading period.

This period also included Matchesfashion’s biggest-ever trading day, which was up 35% on the prior year, the source added.

Its performance is understood to have been especially robust in the Middle East.

Apax bought a controlling stake in Matchesfashion in a deal valued at about $1bn, but the investment has been beset by operational problems.

Mr Beighton was drafted in to replace Paolo De Cesare, who joined the company as chief executive just ten months earlier.

The former ASOS chief’s arrival made him the fourth boss of Matches in less than three years.

In November 2021, its accounts flagged “material uncertainty” over its future without an improvement in its trading performance.

Its fortunes resembled those of many online fashion retailers, which saw a COVID-inspired sales bounce evaporate.

Last week, Sky News revealed that ASOS had appointed Scott Millar, a senior financial restructuring executive, to join its finance team.

Mr Beighton spent more than a decade at ASOS, initially as chief financial officer before becoming CEO in 2015.

He helped grow the company from £178m in revenue and 150 people when he joined, to sales of £3.9bn and a workforce of 15,000, including warehouse staff, when he left.

Matches was founded at a single store in London in 1987, and now boasts 50 million visitors annually to its site.

Its closest rivals include Farfetch and Net-a-Porter.

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