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No French Connection offer; Taylor Woodrow; Weir; Omega

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12.30pm: No French Connection bid

French Connection said that further to the recent announcements made in relation to a possible offer for French Connection Group by Gordon Brothers and Spotlight Brands, GB and SB each confirms that they do not intend to make an offer.

French Connection

11am: Storage deal

Bullet Express, the Glasgow-based international logistics, transport and storage company, has acquired a 30,000 sq ft  pallet storage facility.

Details here

9am: Pollock acquired

Haulier Pollock, one of Scotland’s best known logistics brands, has been acquired by a west country firm.

Full story here 

8.30am: Gilson Gray acquisition

Law firm Gilson Gray has acquired East Lothian practice, Practical Legal Solutions for an undisclosed sum to bolster its real estate business.

As part of the deal, Gill Maclean, the former owner of Practical Legal Solutions, will join Gilson Gray as a Consultant in its flourishing real estate practice.

8.15am: London edges higher

The FTSE 100 was trading marginally higher at the open, up 11.3 points at 6,599.82.

7am: Taylor Wimpey restores dividend

Taylor Wimpey

Construction firm Taylor Wimpey said operating profit fell to £300.3 million (2019: £850.5m), reflecting reduced volumes, but there had been a good recovery in the second half of the year as build capacity returned to near normal levels.

The company has reinstated its dividend with a proposed 2020 final dividend of c.£151 million (4.14p per share).

It has also announced £125 million to support fire safety improvement works to bring Taylor Wimpey apartment buildings constructed in the last 20 years up to the recently updated current RICS EWS1 guidance.

“We have taken this decision in order to provide certainty for customers and leaseholders and to avoid them bearing the cost of investment to ensure their buildings are safe.”

Weir repositions for growth

Weir Group, which has re-focused itself as a mining technology business, said it is now positioned to benefit from “powerful long-term structural growth themes for many years to come”.

The Glasgow-based company, whose operations are almost wholly overseas, said: “We’ve had a good start to 2021 and we expect to deliver growth in full year constant currency profits subject to any further disruption from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. 

“More broadly, underlying conditions are favourable and with the strong platform we’ve created we’re confident of outperforming our markets over the next three years and delivering sustainable long-term profitable growth.”

Adjusted profit before tax on continuing operations was down 5% to £255 million. The board has decided not to recommend payment of a final dividend.

Hotel Chocolat on track

Hotel Chocolat CEO Angus Thirlwell said the direct-to-consumer company’s growth plans were on track as it saw strong multichannel growth in the UK, US and Japan.

In the six months to 27 December, pre-tax profit edged up 3% to £15.5 million (H1 FY20: £15m) on an 11% rise in revenue to £101.9m (H1 FY20: £91.7m)

UK sales climbed by 12% in the period as online growth more than offset reduced store sales due to the pandemic restrictions. The company increased its number of UK active customers  by 38%.

Omega first contract

Omega, the Scotland-based medical diagnostics company, has signed a three-year contract with Screen4 to provide a Covid testing service.

Screen4 is a provider of COVID-19 testing services and diagnostic testing services to the aviation, petrochemical, occupational health and consumer markets in the UK and across the Middle east and Far East regions.

Colin King, CEO of Omega, said Screen4 will be its first customer.

David Grouse, managing director of Screen4, commented: “Omega are at the forefront in the development of vital testing technologies to help fight the Covid-19 virus.

“We will be supporting them through the distribution of their latest product.”

He said it is “a major step forward in helping people understand their current status with regards to the virus.”

Devro profits rise

Meat casings producer Devro saw profit before tax rise to £35.4m in the year to the end of December from £33.1m in the previous year.

The board of the Moodiesburn company recommends a maintained dividend of 9p per share.

Rutger Helbing, chief executive, said: “The year has started positively, although caution remains as many of the COVID-19 related challenges experienced in 2020 are still evident. Despite this we expect to make further progress in 2021 driven by our sales pipeline actions, solid underlying demand and the ongoing benefits of operational improvements. Devro is well positioned for the future.”

Markets

Wall Street stocks closed sharply higher as Treasury yields retreated from last week’s highs and some positive vaccine news helped boost sentiment among investors.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 1.95% or 603.14 point, reversing Friday’s 470 points drop, while the S&P 500 was 2.38% firmer and the Nasdaq Composite saw out the session 3.01% stronger.

European markets began the new trading week on the front foot with the FTSE 100 closing up 105.1 points (1.62%) at 6,588.53.

In Paris the CAC 40 and Frankfurt’s DAX 30 both ended 1.6% higher.



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