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John Lewis repays £300m; markets slip on lockdowns


4.30pm: London closes lower

The FTSE 100 closed 20.35 points lower at at 6,695.07.

3pm: Wall Street jitters

Wall Street opened lower as the prospect of extended coronavirus lockdowns left traders feeling wary of its effect on the global economy.

In early trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.56%, while the S&P 500 dropped 0.47% and the Nasdaq fell 0.45% to 13,469.

Reports that China and Hong Kong have reintroduced lockdown measures and news that the UK government is considering closing its borders to prevent the importation of new cases will likely have dampened sentiment.

8.30am: Sepa ransomware update

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency said the criminals behind the ransomware cyber-attack on Christmas Eve had published some of the data online.

Full update here

8.15am: TV commission

Two Rivers Media, based in Glasgow, and Chateau TV have secured a two-year programming deal from Channel 4 that will include new productions of hit show Escape to the Chateau.

Full story

8am: London lower

The FTSE 100 slipped 25.56 points at the opening to 6,689.86.

7.30am: School for sale

Edinburgh’s abandoned Royal High School, one of the country’s architectural treasures, is being offered for sale after councillors rejected a new approach by a luxury hotel developer.

Full story here

John Lewis

7am: John Lewis repayment

John Lewis Partnership offered some brighter news about its trading and prospects for retail by announcing early repayment of £300m received from the Treasury and Bank of England through the Covid Corporate Financing Facility. It was due on 15 March.

In a statement the company said that despite the headwinds of the last year when John Lewis stores were closed for several months, and future trading volatility, the partnership believes it has sufficient liquidity going forward.

Trading during peak, which includes Black Friday and the Christmas period, held up better than anticipated.

“As a result, we expect our full-year profits to be ahead of the profit guidance provided at our half-year results last September, where we said the most likely outcome would be a small loss or a small profit for 2020/21.”

Full-year results are due on 11 March. 

Retail sales fall

Retail sales suffered their largest annual fall last year as the impact of the pandemic took its toll.

Sales fell by 1.9%, the largest year-on-year fall since records began in 1997, official figures show.

Clothes shops were hit hard, with a record annual fall of more than 25%.

Even total online sales fell, by 6.2% when compared with November 2020. Household goods stores recorded the largest monthly fall of 27.9% but there were declines across all online sectors

Food stores were the only sector to report a monthly increase in online sales in December at 2.6% with retailers citing an uptake in click and collect over the festive period.


The Dow Jones industrial average drifted 12 points lower, while the S&P 500 edged a point higher and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 74 points.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index was 392 points weaker, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 was 82 points lower.

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