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Thursday update

DB Live: Markets; WH Smith book; M&S cafes; Marston’s

4.45pm: Markets

The FTSE 100 index followed other global indices into the red, as traders fear a protracted economic slowdown.

The index closed down 162.51 points, or 2.75%, at 5,741.54.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 fell 448 points to 15,430.

10am: Build to rent

A plan for 527 build-to-rent (BTR) homes in Edinburgh has been submitted. The BTR sector remains relatively new in the UK.

Full story here

8.15am: Markets

The market now seems to be growing more cautious about the pace of economic recovery, says Russ Mould of AJ Bell.

The FTSE 100 opened lower at 5,827.85 −76.20 (1.29%).

Only five stocks were in positive territory at the market open. The big fallers were travel companies, oil producers and banks.

7am: Record insurance lossses

Lloyd’s, the world’s biggest (re)insurance market, today revealed that it is facing record payouts in the range of $3bn to $4.3bn to its global customers as a result of the far-reaching impacts of COVID-19.

Full story here

7am: Marston’s raises finance

Pubs and breweries group Marston’s has agreed a £70 million package of support from its banks to help it through the coronavirus crisis.

Marston’s has an estate of around 1,350 pub nationally, including managed, franchised and leased pubs. It brews the Glasgow-owned Gen!us lager at its brewery in Bedford.

7am: WH Smith travel slumps, book sales rise

WH Smith (pic WH Smith)

In April, group revenue was down 85% on the same period last year, as expected, with travel revenue down 91% and high street revenue down 74%.

Online businesses have performed strongly, particularly in books where the company has seen a 400% increase in sales during the past month.

Carl Cowling, group chief executive, commented: “There was very little impact of Covid-19 on our first half results, however inevitably the performance in the second half will be very different.”

Trading profit in the first half was up 11%.  The high street business also performed well delivering trading profit of £44m in the period.

The company issued new equity via a placing, raising c.£162m on 6 April and has secured an additional £120m of bank funding.

“We are a resilient and versatile business and with the operational actions we have taken including managing costs and the new financing arrangements, we are in a strong position to navigate this time of uncertainty and are well positioned to benefit in due course from the normalisation and growth of our key markets,” added Mr Cowling.

7am: Persimmon opens sales offices in England

The housebuilder will reopen sales offices in England from tomorrow – and is a signatory to a letter sent to the First Minister in Scotland.

Split grows with Scotland: full story here

6.50am: M&S cafes re-open

Marks & Spencer will today reopen its cafes located next to its food halls.

The company operates 420 cafes across the UK and said it will reopen 49 to offer takeaway hot drinks.

M&S’s clothing and home retail business in stores has been closed throughout the lockdown, but its food halls have remained open.

The group has installed perspex screens at each cafe till and only one staff member will work behind the counter.

Several other UK chains are also starting to emerge from the lockdown. From Monday, Pret a Manger had more than 100 shops open for takeaway and delivery through third parties.



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