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Monday paper round-up: Retail sales, Land Securities, George Osborne

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"Underwhelming" Christmas for retailers; Land Securities in talks to develop designer outlet at O2; Osborne warns more cuts needed.

Christmas failed to light up the high street, with figures today pointing to an “underwhelming” December for many retailers. Releasing its latest sales tracker, accountancy firm BDO said overall like-for-like sales among UK “mid-market” retailers were down 2.2 per cent year-on-year. Last minute present hunting saw non-fashion sales pick up in the final week of December, offsetting a weak start to the month, the report noted. – The Scotsman

Britain’s largest property company is in talks to open a designer outlet centre at the O2 Arena in Greenwich in an attempt to rival the upmarket Bicester Village in Oxfordshire. Land Securities has signed a six-month exclusivity agreement with AEG Europe, one of the world’s largest concert promoters and owner of the venue in southeast London, to negotiate options for jointly developing a luxury retail centre in an unused part of the former Millennium Dome. – The Times

George Osborne will on Monday warn that years of spending cuts lie ahead even as the Prime Minister seeks to reassure the grey vote that their pensions are safe in Conservative hands. The Chancellor will strike a sombre tone as he tries to persuade the electorate that Britain’s recent economic recovery is not enough to overcome the woes of the past five years. This will be a “year of hard truths”, the chancellor will say on a visit to the Midlands. – Financial Times

George Soros is worried about China, and we should take note. The hedge fund boss, who built his fortune betting on the world’s money markets, is concerned that 20 years of rapid growth is about to run out of steam. Soros […] will be a prominent figure at the World Economic Forum in Davos later this month, when policymakers and business people debate how to foster global growth. – The Guardian

Brussels is set to ease financial reforms so that big European banks are not forced automatically to split lending operations from risky trading. In a draft European Commission proposal, seen by the Financial Times, the separation is no longer mandatory, would be less costly and restrictive than first envisaged and national supervisors are given wide discretion in applying the reforms. – Financial Times

Britain’s manufacturers will enjoy faster growth than those in Germany or any other western European economy this year from rising demand at home and abroad, according to a report. In its annual survey of companies, manufacturers’ organisation EEF found 70% of firms forecast an improvement in the economy in 2014, while just 5% thought conditions would deteriorate. The balance of 65% compares with the sombre outlook at the same time last year when the reading was just 7%. – The Guardian

The Chairman of Albemarle & Bond, brought back full time to rescue the debt-plagued pawnbroker in April last year, has been given a £100,000 bonus, despite a failed rights issue and the departure before Christmas of a potential buyer. Greville Nicholls was made Chief Executive of Albemarle in 1995 and oversaw its admission to the Alternative Investment Market, as well as rapid expansion. – The Times

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