BUSINESS LIVE: John Lewis narrows losses to £55m


BUSINESS LIVE: John Lewis narrows losses to £55m

The FTSE 100 is up 0.4 per cent in early trading. Among the companies with reports and trading updates today John Lewis Partnership, MJ Gleeson, THG, M&C Saatchi, Grafton Group and Trainline. Read the Thursday 14 September Business Live blog below.

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Axe the triple lock and come up with a guarantee MPs can stick to

A guarantee is only as good as the people giving it to you.

This consumer advice truism explains in part why the triple lock is in such a muddle.

‘Focus will be on the all-important festive period when John Lewis typically enjoys a seasonal boost’

Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor:

‘The cost-of-living crisis with a softer consumer backdrop means John Lewis shoppers are holding off from spending on expensive big-ticket items like white goods and technology. However, they are still spending on cheaper items like fashion and beauty.

‘In Waitrose, inflation has been responsible for the rise in sales with average prices rising by 9% whereas the volume of goods sold dropped by 5%.

‘Profits have been struggling at John Lewis for a number of years amid high costs relating to its vast store estate and the rise in cheaper e-commerce rivals like Amazon.

‘Waitrose has struggled as customers become increasingly price sensitive amid the elevated inflation, rising interest rate environment, as well as stiff competition from cheaper rivals like Aldi and Lidl.

‘Focus will be on the all-important festive period when John Lewis typically enjoys a seasonal boost. Dame Sharon White has a daunting task at hand to revive John Lewis’ fortunes at a challenging time for retail more broadly, laid bare by the recent collapse of Wilko.’

Sandal-maker Birkenstock eyes £6bn New York float after getting a Barbie boost

Footwear brand Birkenstock is following the trend for New York listings as it prepares to go public in a move that could value the firm at over £6billion.

The private equity-owned shoemaker is planning to launch an initial public offering (IPO) in the US next month.

The price is yet to be set but it is expected to give the firm a valuation of £4.8billion to £6.4billion.

Market open: FTSE 100 up 0.3%; FTSE 250 flat

The FTSE 100 is trading higher this morning after US inflation data bolstered bets that the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates steady next week, while Melrose and Unite Group have fallen in ex-dividend trading.

The European Central Bank is set to decide later today whether to raise its key interest rate to a record high in what should be its final step in the fight against inflation, or take a break as the economy deteriorates.

Shares of real estate firm Unite Group, product testing company Intertek Group and aerospace supplier Melrose have declined between 0.5 and 1.5 per cent as they traded ex-dividend.

Shares of Hipgnosis Songs Fund have soared 5.9 per cent after the music catalogues investor said it would sell 29 catalogues and a portfolio of non-core songs to Hipgnosis Songs Capital for $465 million as it looks to fund a share buyback programme.

BP battles to keep green revolution on track

BP’s new boss insisted yesterday that its strategy has not changed – after its green energy revamp was thrown into doubt by the abrupt departure of chief executive Bernard Looney.

The oil giant stunned the City late on Tuesday when it revealed that Looney had quit with immediate effect amid a probe into his past personal relationships.

FTSE 100 ticks higher following global peers

Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor:

‘UK markets mirrored the overnight trading action elsewhere, with the FTSE100 opening marginally higher.

‘With a sideways glance towards an interest rate decision later by the European Central Bank where a further rise is possible, the update will provide another reminder if it were needed that the battle against inflation remains live.

‘Unite Group, Melrose and Intertek were marked lower having gone ex-dividend today, while a tentative risk-on approach to the mining sector was in evidence, bolstered by broker upgrades to both Anglo American and Rio Tinto.

‘With the possibility of price action being driven from elsewhere over the course of the day, there is the potential for UK markets to drift, with the FTSE100 being unable to add much to its gain of 1.2% in the year so far off its own bat.’

John Lewis Partnership turnaround delayed by two years as losses narrow

The John Lewis Partnership narrowed its first half losses and forecast an improvement in its full year outcome, despite an uncertain economic outlook.

The group also admitted that it will take two years longer than planned to complete its transformation.

The retailer said higher costs due to inflation and a need for greater investment had hit its turnaround schedule.

British chip designer Arm set for £40bn Wall St debut

British chip designer Arm will begin trading on Wall Street today in what is expected to be the biggest US public listing of the year.

The semiconductor firm has secured enough backing from investors to hit the top end of its £37.60 to £40.80 per share price range, which would value Arm at more than £40billion.

Just 10 per cent of shares in the Cambridge-based company are scheduled to start trading in New York today, raising about £4billion for Japanese owner SoftBank, which will retain a 90 per cent stake.

John Lewis narrows losses to £55m

John Lewis Partnership losses narrowed in the first half from £66.6million last year to £54.5million, as the retailer forecast an improvement in its full year outcome despite an uncertain economic outlook.

Nish Kankiwala, chief executive, said:

‘Our transformation to modernise our business is well under way, and I want to thank our Partners for their efforts to give customers great service, quality and value when they shop with us in store or online.

‘There are no brands better placed than Waitrose and John Lewis to provide customers with what they need right now – to help them feel good and eat well.’