Wednesday Update

DB Live: Greene King cuts; Tesco sales up, bank falls


4.45pm: London treads water

Traders were looking for direction following President Trump’s comments on new stimulus measures and more virus restrictions at home.

Pub chain Greene King, which owns the Belhaven brewery and pubs, announced 800 job cuts and the permanent closure of a third of its venues following the new restrictions and the 10pm curfew rule.

It said 25 pubs will shut permanently with 54 outlets to stay closed until further notice.

Wagamama owner Restaurant Group fell 3% and J D Wetherspoon was trading 2% lower.

Away from hospitality London Stansted, Manchester and East Midlands airports are to axe almost 900 jobs.

The FTSE 100 spent the day treading water and closed just 3.69 points lower at 5,946.25.

3pm: Sturgeon announces virus clampdown

Nicola Sturgeon announced a crackdown on pubs, bars and restaurants serving alcohol, with some facing effective closure for more than two weeks.

Business reaction and details of changes here

2.30pm: Dunlop to leave Scottish Enterprise

Scottish Enterprise CEO Steve Dunlop is to step down after just two and a half years running the country’s principal economic development agency.

Full story here

1.30pm: Walkers repays furlough money

Walker’s Shortbread has become the latest company to return furlough payments received from the Treasury.

It said it has paid back £1.35m as production has steadily returned towards pre-pandemic levels and the threat to employment has been avoided.

Full story

8.15am: Omega leaps

Shares in AIM-quoted Scots medical company Omega Diagnostics leapt 17% to an all-time high of 126.95p at the open after it announced its part in a government Covid testing order. The firm’s stock was trading at just 6.5p as recently as April.

The FTSE 100 rose slightly at the open despite a sharp sell off in US stocks yesterday after President Donald Trump abruptly ended talks between Republicans and Democrats over the next round of fiscal stimulus.

London’s blue-chip index was 2 points higher at 5,952.11 in early trading. The FTSE 250 was 0.2% higher.


7am: Tesco sales up

Tesco reported a 28.7% rise in pre-tax profits to £551m for the half year to 29 August, though it took a £533m hit from coronavirus crisis costs.

Group operating profit before exceptionals slid by 15.6% to £1.04bn, but the dividend was raised 20.8% to 3.2p per share.

There was a 6.6% rise in group sales to £26.7bn, with revenues in the UK and the Republic of Ireland ahead by 8.6%, while Edinburgh-based Tesco Bank suffered a 31.4% fall in income.

A further £5bn is to be returned to shareholders as part of a special dividend related to the £8bn sale of its Asian operations earlier this year.

The figures coincide with new chief executive, Ken Murphy taking over from Dave Lewis.

Mr Murphy said: “The first half of this year has tested our business in ways we had never imagined, and our colleagues have risen brilliantly to every challenge, acting in the best interests of our customers and local communities throughout.”

Tesco Bank

Loss before tax from continuing operations is £143.5m (August 2019: profit of £16.8m).

Underlying loss before tax from continuing operations, which excludes items which are not reflective of ongoing trading performance, is £142.2m (August 2019: profit of £98.5m).

Omega test deal

Scottish diagnostics company Omega is part of a consortium awarded a UK government contract for one million COVID-19 rapid antibody tests.

Full story here

Greene leaves EasyJet

EasyJet says Moya Greene, non-executive director and chairman of the remuneration committee, will not be standing for re-election at the next AGM.


The FTSE 100 index is expected to slip back following mixed performances overnight on Wall Street and in Asia.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average went into reverse again, dropping 375 points, or 1.3%,  the broader S&P 500 index shed 1.4%, and the tech-laden Nasdaq Composite fell 1.6%.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was down 0.2% but Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.5%. 

Today’s agenda

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will outline latest coronavirus action in parliament (2.50pm)

Today’s top Daily Business headlines

Hydrogen bus for Aberdeen after PM’s green deal

Firms need help in new Covid clampdown says FSB

William Grant acquires tequila distillery in Mexico

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