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from Breakingviews:

UK retail fails to weather the patently obvious

By Robert Cole

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Talking about the weather is a British national pastime. It cannot have escaped the notice of anyone living on an island in Europe’s north west fringe that it has been unseasonably warm in the last few weeks.

Those paid to invest in or analyse UK clothes retailers should surely know that and appreciate its significance. It is retail 101 that shops stock up on hats, coats and scarves, and pullovers in August and September, and that shoppers habitually buy such winter woolies only when the temperature drops.

Next’s Sept. 30 trading update, based on a commentary on weather patterns visible to all for weeks, should have come as no surprise to the market. But the company’s value dropped by 5.6 percent, or 600 million pounds, with rivals Marks & Spencer and Debenhams suffering too. Third-quarter sales growth was running at 6 percent where it had been hoping for 10 percent, Next said. July’s profit guidance could prove overoptimistic if the weather stays warm. Well how about that? Really. If summer’s lease gets an extension, clothes retailers are bound to feel the heat.

from Hugo Dixon:

UK faces unpalatable election choice

By Hugo Dixon

Hugo Dixon is Editor-at-Large, Reuters News. The opinions expressed are his own.

The UK faces an unpalatable choice in next May’s general election. The Labour opposition, which is currently ahead in the polls, has a somewhat anti-business agenda. Meanwhile, the Conservatives want to hold a referendum on Britain’s EU membership. If the people vote to quit the EU, industry will lose full access to its biggest external market.

from Breakingviews:

Tesco chairman should step aside

By Chris Hughes

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Tesco’s chairman should step aside. Richard Broadbent will struggle to restore market confidence in the troubled UK supermarket group, and to convince investors the board is on top of matters. This week’s accounting scandal has compounded existing concerns about his period at the helm. The priority should be an orderly handover to the right successor as soon as possible.

from Breakingviews:

Tesco chairman approaches his sell-by date

By Chris Hughes

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Tesco’s latest crisis has put Richard Broadbent in the last chance saloon. The chairman of the UK retailer is ultimately accountable for any failures in the UK grocer’s governance. That includes any that lie behind the 250 million pound hole in the accounts, revealed on Monday.

from Hugo Dixon:

Now on to the Brexit referendum

By Hugo Dixon

Hugo Dixon is Editor-at-Large, Reuters News. The opinions expressed are his own.

With Scotland voting to stay part of the United Kingdom, attention will turn to the next potential British referendum: on whether the country will remain in the European Union. David Cameron has promised to hold an In/Out referendum on the EU if he is re-elected as prime minister in next year’s general election. There are comparisons and contrasts between the two votes, as well as lessons to be learned.

from Edward Hadas:

The economic lessons from Scotland

Adam Smith, one of the leading figures of the 18th century Scottish intellectual enlightenment, liked free markets and restrained governments. The 21st century campaigns for and against a Scottish political liberation show that governments have acquired an economic importance which Smith could hardly have imagined.

If the government’s economic role was as limited as Smith would have liked, the debate preceding the Sept. 18 independence referendum would mostly have been about national identity and the advantages and difficulties of becoming a small country in a big world. The economy would hardly be an issue, since only the most rabid Scottish nationalist would accuse the English of cruelty in that domain.

from Breakingviews:

Why buybacks should be banned

By Edward Hadas

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

“Charlie and I favor repurchases when… its stock is selling at a material discount to the company’s intrinsic business value.” It takes courage to contradict Warren Buffett on matters related to investing, but the Berkshire Hathaway boss is leading investors up the wrong path with share buybacks.

from Breakingviews:

SAB/Heineken could leap antitrust hurdles

By Robert Cole

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

A $130 billion Anglo-Dutch beer monster could leap antitrust hurdles. Heineken has rebuffed a takeover approach from SABMiller as “non-actionable.” As you might expect from a combination of the world’s second- and third-biggest brewers, there are major competition concerns. But these could be fixed and the result would be an emerging markets titan. The rejection suggests family control of Heineken is the real sticking point.

from Breakingviews:

Calculator: Does Scoxit = Brexit?

By Hugo Dixon

Hugo Dixon is Editor-at-Large, Reuters News. The opinions expressed are his own.

If Scotland votes for independence, there is a two-in-three chance that the remaining United Kingdom will quit the European Union, according to a new Breakingviews calculator. By contrast, there would be only a one-in-five probability of a “Brexit” (Britain leaving the EU) by the end of the decade if the Scots vote to stay in the UK on Sept. 18.

from Breakingviews:

RBS/Lloyds moving plans leave key questions opaque

By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Scotland’s largest banks have moved to head off a crisis. Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group say they will shift their Edinburgh-domiciled operations to London, should Scots vote for independence on Sept. 18. That’s a step towards financial stability – but not if you’re a Scottish consumer.

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