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Wetherspoon profits surge | retail sales flat


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%.


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

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 fulfilled 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.

Smart Metering Systems

US private equity company Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has secured its £1.3 billion takeover of Glasgow-based Smart Metering Systems.

Full story here

Stocks rise

The FTSE 100 closed on Thursday 1.9% or 145 points higher at 7882 after the Bank of England hinted at interest rate cuts.

US markets surged into record territory after the earlier unchanged guidance by the Federal Reserve for three interest rate cuts in 2024. The S&P 500 index was 0.3% higher.

The mood brightened further after the Swiss National Bank cut rates, becoming the first major central bank to do so in the current cycle.

Overnight in Asia, the Hang Seng index was 1.9% lower and the Shanghai Composite fell by 1% amid a big drop for technology-focused stocks.

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