J Sainsbury made an informal offer for Home Retail Group (HRG) last November, it emerged this week. Shares in HRG, which consists of high-street catalogue retailer Argos and DIY chain Homebase, jumped when the news was disclosed, valuing the group at around £1bn. HRG rejected the approach from the supermarket, which has until early February to make a formal offer. Sainsbury's is primarily interested in Argos, which it already allows to operate in some of its bigger stores. It is expected to sell off Homebase if a deal goes ahead.
What the commentators said
All the effort required to pep it up and integrate the two groups could distract Sainsbury's from its key battle fending off the discounters. It has been doing better than its rivals Tesco and Morrison's in this, so "why risk the good work" by paying two years' profits for a chain that analysts call "structurally challenged"? "You don't need a GCSE in history to understand the folly of fighting a war on two fronts," agreed James Moore in The Independent. A better option, given that the group has been holding its own against discount retailers Aldi and Lidl, would be to "push out of the slow lane [its] venture into the discount sector with Netto". But apparently that's "not on the table".
Andrew is the editor of MoneyWeek magazine. He grew up in Vienna and studied at the University of St Andrews, where he gained a first-class MA in geography & international relations.
After graduating he began to contribute to the foreign page of The Week and soon afterwards joined MoneyWeek at its inception in October 2000. He helped Merryn Somerset Webb establish it as Britain’s best-selling financial magazine, contributing to every section of the publication and specialising in macroeconomics and stockmarkets, before going part-time.
His freelance projects have included a 2009 relaunch of The Pharma Letter, where he covered corporate news and political developments in the German pharmaceuticals market for two years, and a multiyear stint as deputy editor of the Barclays account at Redwood, a marketing agency.
Andrew has been editing MoneyWeek since 2018, and continues to specialise in investment and news in German-speaking countries owing to his fluent command of the language.
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