Tuesday Update

DB Live: Quiz ‘flexible’; HSBC flips plan; BP; Whitbread


6pm: Mercedes in Aston Martin deal

Mercedes has raised it stake in struggling Aston Martin Lagonda.

Full story here

4.30pm: London takes a dive

London shares fell sharply in afternoon trade, taking a lead from the US. The FTSE100 closed at 5,728.99, down 63.02 points (1.09%).

3.30pm: McKee unveils inward investment plan

A new plan was unveiled today to ensure Scotland retains its position as the UK’s top destination for inward investment outside London.

Full story here

3pm: Government deliver verdict on Royal High hotel plan

Government reporters have made their recommendation on plans to convert one of Scotland’s most treasured but empty listed buildings into a luxury hotel.

Full story here

2.30pm: ASI acquires energy business in Finland

Aberdeen Standard Investments is acquiring a controlling interest in a regional energy business in Finland.

Full story here

8.15am: London slips back

UK stocks fell back despite expectations it would follow Asia’s brake on current volatility (see below).

Investors overlooked HSBC’s relatively strong results (see below) to focus on the coronavirus restrictions.

The FTSE 100 was off its low in early trading, down 8.36 points at 5,783.65.

Gabby Allen (Quiz)

7am: Quiz ‘more flexible’

Store restructuring at Quiz Clothing has left the group with a more flexible and economically viable store portfolio, said the Glasgow-based retailer in statement with annual results showing an underlying loss before tax of £3.7 million against a profit before tax of £0.6m last time.

Group revenue for the year to the end of March came in 10% lower at £118m.

The company said the group’s total sales in the six months to 30 September 2020 amounted to 17.2m, a 73% decline on the 63.3m revenues generated in the previous year.

Chairman Peter Cowgill said: “In recent weeks the tightening of Government restrictions on social activities has again impacted demand for QUIZ clothes and there remains limited visibility as to when these restrictions will be relaxed. We continue to extend our casual product ranges to meet changing consumer behaviour but increased sales in this area do not compensate for the decline in occasion wear revenues.

“We continue to believe that the QUIZ brand has strong customer appeal and that the Group’s omni-channel business model remains relevant and key to our long-term success. Our ranges have traditionally been based upon providing options for socialising from going to lunch with friends to attending weddings.

“Whilst there is uncertainty with regards to when these activities will revert to their previous level, we remain confident that our proposition remains attractive to customers in the long term.”


5am: HSBC’s Q3 profits slide

HSBC said it will be seeking to switch its main source of income from interest rates to fee-based businesses.

Third quarter pre-tax profit slid 35% to $3.1 billion (£2.3bn) from the same period last year. Revenue fell 11% at $11.9bn as it continued to suffer from the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing China-US tensions.

However, the profit falls were not as bad as some analysts had predicted and HSBC said it expected bad loans to be at the lower end of a previously announced $8bn to $13bn range.

The Asia-focused bank is part-through a worldwide overhaul, aiming to slash some 35,000 jobs by 2022, primarily in its less profitable European and American divisions.

“We are accelerating the transformation of the Group, moving our focus from interest-rate sensitive business lines towards fee-generating businesses, and further reducing our operating costs,” chief executive Noel Quinn said in a statement accompanying the results.

Mr Quinn described the latest figures as “promising results against a backdrop of the continuing impacts of Covid-19 on the global economy” as well as low interest rates. 

The bank said its board would consider whether to pay “a conservative dividend” for 2020 based on final end of year results and how the global economy looks in early 2021.

Premier Inn

Whitbread slumps to loss

Premier Inn owner Whitbread said a significant decline in revenue resulted in an adjusted loss before tax of £367.4m for the half year.

The statutory loss before tax of £724.7m includes a non-cash impairment charge of £339.9m relating to goodwill in Germany, property, plant and equipment and right-of-use assets, as a result of impairment reviews triggered by the COVID-19 situation.

Chief executive Alison Brittain, said: “Our performance following the reopening of our hotels and restaurants in the summer was encouraging and we continue to trade ahead of the market. Taking market share in the UK demonstrates the strength of our trusted Premier Inn brand and the benefits of our unique operating model.”

BP in profit

BP swung to a small profit in the third quarter, beating forecasts, helped by stronger oil prices while a slow recovery in fuel demand weighed heavily on refining profits.

The $100 million (£76m) profit in the three months to 30 September beat analysts’ expectation of a loss of $120m. It followed a record $6.7 billion loss in the previous quarter.

Oil workforce shrinks

The number of offshore oil and gas workers fell by around 4,000 to around 7,000, with drilling and engineering construction trades hardest hit as the UK went into lockdown in March, according to official figures published today by industry body OGUK.

Full story here


CMC Markets expects the FTSE 100 to open around 9 points higher at 5,807 after it fell below the 5,800 threshold to close 68.27 points (1.16%) down at 5,792.01. The FTSE 250 dropped 254 points (1.4%) to 17,855.5.

After dropping as much as 1.1% in early trade, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was nearly flat amid volatility on global markets.  Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index down 0.8%.

Wall Street followed European indexes into the red as fears rose that spiking infection rates will lead to tougher restrictions, piling more pressure onto damaged economies and killing off more businesses. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 2.3%, while the S&P 500 was down 1.9%, and tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped by 1.6%. 

Today’s agenda

Trade minister Ivan McKee sets out a strategic plan plan on inward investment

Today’s top Daily Business headlines

Staycation hope as city hotels slash prices

Celtic count the cost of Covid with £13m revenue drop

Pub groups list demands ahead of Holyrood debate

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