Market report

Wetherspoon enjoys revival | Aston Martin hires CEO


JD Wetherspoon

Pubs chain JD Wetherspoon said sales continue to improve from the impact of the Covid pandemic, with like-for-like sales up 5.8% in the seven weeks to 17 March.

It posted an eightfold increase in first-half pre-tax profit supported by a gradual easing of costs and an increase in customers.

Earnings for the 26 weeks to 28 January rose to £36m from £4.6m a year earlier. Revenue surged 8% to £991m.

Wetherspoon’s margins came in at 6.8% for the reported period, still lagging behind the company’s pre-pandemic margins of 7.1%.

However, shares in the company fell by 50.5p, or 6.3%, to 746p after it announced that like-for-like sales growth had slowed in the second half of the year 


Long-term savings giant Phoenix Group has set new targets after beating expectations with a 13% rise in operating profit to £617m.

The company, which owns the Standard Life brand, soared to the top of the FTSE 100 list. Its shares closed up 41p, or 8.4%, at 529.25p.

Full story here

Retail sales flat

A rebound in clothing helped retail sales hold steady in February and avoid a predicted decline.

Nonetheless, the official data from the Office for National Statistics pointed to unchanged conditions overall as wet weather hit the high street.

The headline number hit zero, defying predictions of a 0.4% fall. Non-food stores, which include clothes sellers, saw their sales volumes increase by 1.7% while food sales slowed along with fuel.

On a year-on-year basis, the number slipped by 0.4%, narrower that expectations of 0.7%.

Aston Martin CEO

Aston Martin has appointed Adrian Hallmark as chief executive no later than 1 October.

Mr Hallmark, aged 61, was most recently chairman and chief executive of Bentley Motors, a role he has held since 2018.

He has spent 25 years in roles in the industry in the US, Europe, and Asia with companies such as Bentley, Porsche and Volkswagen.

Ensuring a smooth transition in leadership, Amedeo Felisa will remain as CEO until Mr Hallmark takes up the post.

Mr Felisa will continue to oversee the introduction of Aston Martin’s new products, including the launch of its third next generation sports car later this year, completing its new front-engine portfolio following the launches of DB12 and Vantage.

Index near record

The FTSE 100 rose by 48.37 points, or 0.6%, to close on Friday at 7,930.92, nearing the 8,000-points mark and not far off its record close of 8,014.31 on 20 February last year. 

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