Business news in brief: HMV | Pets at Home | Cala Homes | Daimler

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Britain’s beleaguered retail sector, already reeling from the collapse of chains including Comet, HMV and Jessops, faces seeing more high-profile casualties this year, risk management firm Company Watch has warned.

The group estimates 17,000 jobs have been lost or put at risk because of recent failures.

Retail analyst Nick Hood said: “I am deeply concerned that the online shopping revolution has finally accelerated to a tipping point where whole high streets could feature rows of boarded up shops interrupted only by branded coffee shops, charity shops and bookies.”

Canine coats warm Pets at Home sales

Pets at Home yesterday reported soaring sales of dog coats, scarves and booties as owners try to protect their furry friends from the snow.

The petcare retailer, which operates more than 300 stores across the UK, said “pet fashion” sales had leapt by 131 per cent week-on-week, with coats said to have been driving trade.

Peter Pritchard, commercial director at Pets at Home, said: “We’ve seen an unprecedented demand for products designed to keep pets warm in this sudden freezing weather. Old, small or short-haired dogs can feel the cold more than others.”

Patron homes in on bid for builder Cala

Patron Capital, the private equity firm that owns Paisley-based five-a-side football pitch operator Powerleague, is reported to have tabled a bid for housebuilder Cala Homes.

Cala, which builds upmarket properties across Scotland, Yorkshire and south-east England, is 32 per cent owned by Lloyds Banking Group, with management and staff owning the remainder.

The Edinburgh-based firm is understood to be sounding out private equity buyers about a possible £250 million deal.

A spokeswoman for Patron declined to comment yesterday.

Daimler boss likely to remain in post

Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche expects his contract to be renewed after his current term as head of the car and truck maker expires at the end of this year.

Investors grew increasingly worried last year about Daimler’s inability to close the performance gap with rivals Audi and BMW, prompting media speculation about Zetsche’s future.

“At the moment there are good indications that I will continue as the head of Daimler,” Zetsche told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag in an interview.