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Company Update

BT; Morrisons; Stagecoach; Barratt Developments

BTBT has announced a 2% rise in annual pre-tax profit to £2.7 billion, despite price cuts at its Openreach business eroding sales by 1%..

Chief executive Philip Jansen, who took over from Gavin Patterson three months ago, said: “We have a lot of work to do to ensure we remain successful and deliver long term sustainable value to our shareholders. We need to invest to improve our customer propositions and competitiveness.

“We need to invest to stay ahead in our fixed, mobile and core networks, and we need to invest to overhaul our business to ensure that we are using the latest systems and technology to improve our efficiency and become more agile.”

Morrisons

The supermarket group said like-for-like sales, which strip out new store openings, were positive in the first quarter for the fourth consecutive year “despite political and economic uncertainty continuing to impact consumer confidence”.

Sales during Easter period were up 1.7% on last year and 3.4% on a two-year basis.

For the 13 weeks to 5 May, group like-for-like sales excluding fuel were up 2.3% and including fuel were up 2.7%.

It says it expects “the market to remain competitive and challenging” and in the second quarter will annualise last year’s favourable summer weather and the World Cup.

Barratt

Barratt Developments, Britain’s largest housebuilder, said forward sales were up 2.4%.

Chief executive David Thomas said: “Trading since the beginning of the year has been strong, the outlook for the year is modestly ahead of our previous expectations and we are encouraged by our continued progress in driving operating efficiencies through the business.

“Whilst we continue to monitor the market closely, we are confident of delivering a good financial and operational performance [in the full year 2019].”

Stagecoach

Transport group Stagecoach is taking the Department for Transport (DfT) to court after it was barred from bidding for rail franchises.

The Perth-based firm has been excluded for submitting non-compliant bids in a dispute over pensions.

In a claim issued at the High Court in London, Stagecoach alleges the DfT “breached its statutory duties”.

Stagecoach chief executive Martin Griffiths said: “We remain deeply concerned at the Department for Transport’s procurement of the three most recent rail franchise competitions and the rationale behind its decisions.

“Despite our continued requests for full transparency around these matters, many fundamental questions remain unanswered.

“As a result, regrettably we have had no option but to commence legal action against the DfT to ensure the serious issues involved and the DfT’s opaque decision-making are subject to proper public scrutiny.

“In view of the legal action we have taken today we believe it would be untenable for the DfT to proceed to sign any contract for the East Midlands franchise without a full and proper review of the procurement of that franchise to help restore public confidence in the process.”



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