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Next in advanced talks to snap up vintage brand Cath Kidston | Business News

Next is in advanced talks to buy Cath Kidston in its latest swoop on a prominent but troubled retail brand.

Sky News has learnt that the FTSE-100 chain, which has a market value of close to £8.7bn, could wrap up a deal to acquire the modern vintage label as soon as Tuesday.

Banking sources said an agreement was likely but not certain.

Cath Kidston has been owned by Hilco Capital, the specialist retail investor, for less than a year.

Next’s prospective swoop on it marks a further attempt to build a portfolio of wholly owned retail labels.

Its acquisition strategy has focused on well-known names which have run into financial difficulties and which can benefit from Next’s logistics and marketing muscle.

Among the brands it has bought are Made, the online furniture retailer, and Joules, the fashion group which collapsed into administration late last year.

It also bid for TopShop, the then jewel in the crown of Sir Philip Green’s high street empire, but pulled out of an auction before the brand was sold to ASOS.

Next is due to report full-year results on Wednesday and is forecast by City analysts to unveil record pre-tax profits of more than £850m.

PricewaterhouseCoopers has been advising Hilco on a sale of Cath Kidston for several weeks, and is understood to have held talks with a number of potential bidders.

Cath Kidston has been owned by Hilco Capital for less than a year
Cath Kidston has been owned by Hilco Capital for less than a year

Cath Kidston was bought out of administration little more than two years ago by Baring Private Equity Asia (BPEA).

At one stage, it had scores of shops, but now trades from fewer than a handful of its own outlets, having collapsed into administration in 2020 with the loss of nearly 1,000 jobs.

It was established by its eponymous founder in 1993, and became a high street fixture with scores of standalone shops.

Like many retailers, however, its fortunes were hit by the pandemic, forcing it into insolvency about three years ago.

BPEA, which took full control of Cath Kidston in 2016, struck a pre-pack insolvency deal which entailed the closure of its UK high street estate.

It still has fewer than a handful of stores in Saudi Arabia.

Known for its floral and polka dot designs, Cath Kidston has been run for several years by Melinda Paraie, who joined as chief executive from luxury goods brand Coach in 2018.

It expanded from a single shop in west London selling car boot finds and vintage fabric into a business offering fashion, homewares and accessories.

The chain made a fortune for its founder when she sold a stake to private equity firm TA Associates about 12 years ago in a deal reportedly worth £100m.

Next and Hilco declined to comment.

Power grid operator fires up contingency plans as cold snap hits | Business News

Britain’s power system operator has triggered contingency plans in case supplies can’t keep up with demand in the current cold snap.

National Grid ESO issued a so-called electricity margin notice (EMN) overnight and later ordered four out of five coal-fired plants, kept in reserve, to warm up in case they were needed.

It said of the EMN: “This is a routine tool that we use most winters, and means we are asking generators to make available any additional generation capacity they may have,” the company said on Twitter.

An EMN does not mean electricity supply was at risk, it added.

Separately, start-up instructions were issued to generators – two at Drax’s site in North Yorkshire and two at West Burton in Lincolnshire.

A general view of Drax Power Station on March 02, 2020 in Selby, England
Coal-fired power is retained only to be used if other sources fail to keep up with demand

While they will not necessarily be needed, they will be available if required.

National Grid ESO said the EMN was in place for the hours between 4.30pm and 8.30pm on Tuesday.

The notice reflects efforts to ensure the lights can be kept on as the northern half of Britain, in particular, is hit by snow and ice.

Temperatures overnight are forecast to fall as low as -15C in some areas of Scotland.

UK weather – latest: Forecasts warn of -15C as snow and ice to hit roads, trains and bus services

The power grid operator has used other tools in its box during the winter to help protect supply margins, such as triggering the Demand Flexibility Service, which sees household signatories paid to turn off high-usage appliances at peak times.

The UK has five coal-fired units that are ready to be switched on if required to help guarantee energy security.

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They have become increasingly important in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine which disrupted gas supplies to Europe and when the wind hasn’t blown.

While the UK shares power through so-called interconnectors with other countries, the gas squeeze has combined with other factors to damage the ability to import electricity when needed.

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UK renewables take over in 2022

These have included a large number of nuclear plant shutdowns in France, though capacity has improved as the winter months have progressed.

A relatively mild winter on the continent has also prevented countries from burning through their gas stocks.

An ESO spokesperson added: “The ESO has issued a notification that we will warm four of our five winter contingency coal units for potential use on Tuesday 7 March.

“This notification is not confirmation that the unit will be used on Tuesday, but that it will be available to the ESO, if required.

“The ESO as a prudent system operator has developed these tools for additional contingency to operate the network as normal. This does not mean electricity supplies are at risk.”

Freezing fog to cause disruption as forecasters predict an end to the cold snap | UK News

Freezing fog across parts of Britain could cause travel disruption for commuters this morning as the cold snap continues.

Clear skies will bring another sharp frost, and some dense freezing fog will form across the East Midlands, East Anglia and the South East.

The cold temperatures are set to stick around before most areas return to normal conditions on Tuesday.

Check the weather forecast where you are

Met Office meteorologist Craig Snell said temperatures are soon expected to climb across the whole of the UK.

“We’re starting to lose the risk of fog and temperatures are generally around where they should be.

“We’ll probably lose the really hard frosts. In terms of ice and snow, it certainly looks like we’re over the worst.

“We’ve got to keep an eye on the risk of fog generally this cold spell, although the main hazards from it look like they are beginning to diminish.”

On Sunday, a yellow weather warning was put in in place with Yorkshire down to East Anglia seeing the densest fog.

Cold snap forces National Grid to put three coal power generators on standby | Climate News

Britain is firing up three coal power generators ready for use on Monday as a prolonged cold snap grips the country.

The National Grid said the three generators – two at Drax’s site in North Yorkshire and one at West Burton in Lincolnshire – will not necessarily be needed tomorrow.

But it has asked them to be warmed up and ready to run if required.

The recent cold spell that has brought sub-zero temperatures, freezing fog and snow to swathes of the country is set to continue into next week.

Check the weather forecast where you are

The plants on standby are three of the five coal power units that were set for retirement, but whose lives were extended through this winter in a bid to boost supplies amid energy security fears.

“This morning we’ve issued a notification to warm the winter contingency coal units. This measure should give the public confidence in Monday’s energy supply,” the ESO (Electricity System Operator) branch of the National Grid said.

“The ESO as a prudent system operator has these tools for additional contingency to operate the network as normal and the public should continue to use energy as normal.”

In October the ESO warned it was “likely to be a challenging winter for energy supply throughout Europe” but said it was planning for a 6.3% margin to ensure reliable electricity supply.

This is the second time this winter that coal plants have been put on standby. They were also warmed up in December when snow blanketed much of the country and energy demand climbed, but they were not eventually needed.

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Government support for business energy bills will be cut in April as the chancellor moves to reduce taxpayer exposure to the soaring cost of gas and electricity in 2023

Coal is the most polluting type of fossil fuel, and has been broadly been phased out in the UK as it seeks to cut its greenhouse gas emissions and stave off dangerous levels of climate change.

But ministers in Britain, along with those in Germany and Italy, warned they may be forced to burn more coal after Russian President Vladimir Putin squeezed Europe’s gas supplies, sending prices soaring and threatening supplies.

Germany called its decision to fire up old coal plants a “bitter but necessary” pill to swallow as it sought to replace Russian gas.

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UK weather: Final day of cold snap before big jump in temperatures – but rain and ice warnings remain | UK News

The UK is in its final day of the cold snap before a big jump in temperatures on Monday – but warnings for snow, ice and rain are still widely in force.

Sunday has seen temperatures of 3 to 7C (37 to 44F) across most of the country, before it’s forecast to get steadily warmer from early evening and through the night.

Monday is expected to bring highs of 13 to 14C (55 to 57F) in London, Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff.

That’s a significant increase on daytime temperatures that have recently struggled to get above freezing, with many places well below zero overnight.

Braemar in Scotland endured -17.3C on Tuesday.

But the swing from freezing to almost spring-like temperatures comes with a warning of treacherous road conditions.

Met Office alerts for freezing rain and ice cover much of northern England until 8pm on Sunday, with an overlapping yellow snow alert stretching to northern Scotland.

Freezing rain is rare in the UK and occurs when it hits a cold surface and freezes almost instantly, producing striking effects as the raindrop spreads out momentarily before it freezes.

Heavy rain warnings also cover most of England and Wales from 6pm Sunday until Monday morning, with flooding possible in places.

A level-three cold weather alert – issued by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) – is also in place until midnight in England, warning of increased health risks to vulnerable people.

Royal Quays Marina at North Shields, North Tyneside
Temperatures have recently struggled to get above freezing

The leap in temperatures could also cause some pipes to burst as water thaws – as seen in parts of London this week when 60 firefighters had to help people in flooded streets.

Water UK have advised people to make sure their pipes are well insulated.

Check the weather where you are

With any frozen ponds and lakes now set to thaw rapidly, fire chiefs urged people not to set foot on the ice after several calls in the same week that four children died in an accident.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) retweeted a photo of people, including children, on a frozen pond in Wimbledon.

“Sadly more examples of people walking on frozen ponds in #London. In the strongest way possible please do not do this!” it posted.

“It may look sturdy enough to stand on, but it often isn’t. If you fall into icy water, the risk of hypothermia is high and can prove fatal,” the LFB added.

Power was today restored to the remaining people in Shetland still battling outages after heavy snow downed power lines on Monday.

More than 5,000 homes lost electricity and a major incident was declared on the islands.

Mr Brown, the Scottish government’s lead minister for resilience, said the “exceptional weather conditions” had inflicted “complex damage to the power network which was very challenging to restore”.

‘Dreadful consequences’, charity warns, as UK’s cold snap worsens | UK News

People are facing “dreadful consequences”, a charity has warned, as parts of the UK face plummeting temperatures.

The Met Office has issued several yellow weather warnings for snow and ice over the next few days, and the UK Health Security Agency has also issued a level three cold weather alert covering England.

National Energy Action said more government support is needed for “those at greatest peril” in the below-freezing conditions.

Adam Scorer, the charity’s chief executive, said: “Impossibly high prices and now cold weather will leave millions struggling to stay warm and safe at home.

“Our figures show that 6.7 million UK households are fuel poor after energy prices have almost doubled in a year.

“We hear daily from people who are forced to turn their heating off when they need it the most.

“The vicious choice is either huge debt or an unheated home, with dreadful consequences either way.

“We will now start to see just how bleak this winter is going to be.”

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Get the five-day forecast where you live

The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for ice on Friday covering northern England, England’s western and eastern coasts, the Welsh coast, and the northern part of Northern Ireland.

There is a yellow warning for ice and snow in most of Scotland, which continues on Saturday and Sunday.

Met office's yellow warnings
Met Office’s warnings across the UK

Also on Saturday, there is a yellow warning for ice for the north of Northern Ireland and the western side of the UK, including the Welsh coast and Cornwall.

Temperatures were expected to fall as low as -10C overnight into Friday, and roads, cycle paths and pavements could be icy, the Met Office said.

A light dusting of snow covers the tops of the Brecon Beacons. 7 December. Pic: AP
A light dusting of snow on the Brecon Beacons on Wednesday. Pic: AP
People walk across Millennium Bridge as temperatures in London fall below zero degrees Celsius, in London, Britain, December 8, 2022. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Dressing up warm in London on Thursday

The low temperatures triggered cold winter weather payments for some postcodes in England and Wales.

This means that people on low incomes receive a £25 payment if the average temperature in their area has been (or is forecast to be) 0C or below over seven consecutive days.

Get the 5-day forecast where you live here

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Millions can’t heat their homes

The Department for Work and Pensions said these payments could be triggered through to the end of March.

A spokesman added: “We’re committed to protecting the most vulnerable in our society and this additional help comes on top of wider Government support including £1,200 in direct payments already issued to millions of low-income households this year.

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Arctic blast brings snow to Scotland

Rosslyn Chapel in Edinburgh
Rosslyn Chapel in Edinburgh on Thursday

“Alongside this, we’re providing households with £400 towards their energy bills this winter, with our energy price guarantee saving the typical household another £900 on top of this.”

Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph has reported a warning from the National Grid that electricity supplies will be tight on Friday and Sunday due to the cold weather.

The grid said it might need to use “enhanced actions”, which the Telegraph said include a new scheme where households are paid to use less electricity to ease pressure on supply.