Company News Reporter, London
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Feb 25, 2015

Premier Inn owner Whitbread upbeat on profit as sales climb

LONDON, Feb 25 (Reuters) – Britain’s Whitbread
expects to post full-year profit towards the top of market
forecasts after strong demand at its Premier Inn hotels and
Costa Coffee chain helped to deliver a 5.8 percent rise in
like-for-like fourth-quarter sales.

The group, which also runs pubs such as Brewers Fayre, said
on Wednesday that strong demand throughout the country had
pushed like-for-like sales up 8.6 percent at Premier Inn, with
group revenue per available room — a key industry measure — up
8.9 percent and occupancy for the year at a record high.

Feb 19, 2015

Sports Direct’s margin growth helps offset Austrian problems

LONDON, Feb 19 (Reuters) – Retailer Sports Direct
reported a rise in its third-quarter gross profits on Thursday,
as stronger profit margins helped offset weaker than expected
sales growth caused by a poor winter season for its Austrian

Britain’s biggest seller of sporting goods, controlled by
founder and Newcastle United soccer club owner Mike Ashley, said
gross profit for the 13 weeks to Jan. 25 increased 7.6 percent
to 346.9 million pounds ($536 million).

Feb 16, 2015

888 Holdings says talks end on bid from William Hill

LONDON, Feb 16 (Reuters) – Online gambling company 888
Holdings said discussions concerning a 720 million pound
($1.1 billion) takeover by Britain’s biggest bookmaker William
Hill had ended after talks broke down over price with a
key stakeholder.

Shares in 888, which previously in 2011 saw a planned
takeover by Britain’s Ladbrokes collapse over pricing,
fell 15 percent to 145 pence in early trading on Monday. William
Hill shares were up 1.6 percent at 388p.

Feb 12, 2015

Man Utd retain appeal for sponsors despite European absence

LONDON, Feb 12 (Reuters) – New sponsorship deals helped to soften the blow of missing out on Champions League revenues for English Premier League soccer club Manchester United, who remain on track to meet their financial goals for the year.

The 20-times English champions, third in the Premier League, said total revenue fell 14 percent to 106 million pounds ($162 million) in the three months to the end of December.

Feb 10, 2015

William Hill approach lifts shares in online gambling company 888

LONDON, Feb 10 (Reuters) – Online gambling company 888
Holdings has received a takeover approach from Britain’s
biggest bookmaker William Hill, it said on Tuesday,,
lifting its share price by more than 20 percent.

The statement from 888 came shortly after The Times
newspaper reported that William Hill had held advanced talks
over a 750 million pound ($1.14 billion) offer as it looks to
accelerate expansion of its online gaming operations.

Feb 9, 2015

Tesco eyes majority stake sale of data unit Dunnhumby – source

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s biggest retailer Tesco Plc (TSCO.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) is pursuing the sale of a majority stake in its data-gathering arm Dunnhumby, rather than an outright exit or flotation, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters on Monday.

Tesco said in January it would slash costs and sell assets to fund lower prices and mend its finances, as new boss Dave Lewis plots the supermarket’s fight back from years of market share losses, an accounting scandal and debt-ratings downgrades.

Feb 5, 2015

The burger-loving Brit: McDonald’s new CEO takes on sales slump

LONDON, Feb 5 (Reuters) – A decade ago McDonald’s UK
business needed better menus and a fresh image to catch up with
consumer tastes. Now the U.S. firm, facing the same problems but
on a much bigger scale, has turned to the man who fixed it for
them last time.

Briton Steve Easterbrook, a 47-year-old company veteran, was
appointed boss of the world’s biggest burger chain last week,
only the second non-American to take the job. His challenge is
to halt a slide in sales around the world, caused by unpopular
menus with too many options and accusations of poor quality.

Jan 27, 2015

Rangers FC seal funding lifeline with Ashley’s Sports Direct

LONDON, Jan 27 (Reuters) – Scottish soccer club Rangers said on Tuesday it had struck a deal with Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct for a 10 million pound ($15 million) credit facility, giving the stricken former champions time to find permanent investment.

Rangers, which needed funding to survive beyond the end of January, said the 10 million pounds would be used in part to pay off a previous loan from Ashley, the founder of Sports Direct and owner of English Premier League club Newcastle United.

Jan 23, 2015

Mr Kipling maker Premier Foods sees positives in supermarket wars

LONDON, Jan 23 (Reuters) – The owner of Mr Kipling cakes and
Bisto gravy, Premier Foods, could gain shelf space in
the intensifying battle for shoppers among Britain’s ‘big four’
supermarkets, its chief executive said.

Big supermarkets including market leader Tesco have
lost market share to discount chains Aldi and Lidl. But now they
are fighting back with price cuts, improved customer service and
simpler ranges to woo shoppers.

Jan 22, 2015

Royal Mail shares lifted by parcels progress

LONDON, Jan 22 (Reuters) – Britain’s Royal Mail
announced an improved performance at its key parcels business
over a busy Christmas period, helped by price promotions, the
Black Friday retail rush and its own longer business hours in an
increasingly competitive market.

The company’s shares have dropped by about 28 percent from
their post-privatisation peak on concern over a squeeze on
parcel prices caused by rising competition, the emergence of a
rival letter-delivery service and regulatory disputes, but
Thursday’s update suggests that restructuring and improvements
to its parcels service are improving its fortunes.

    • About Neil

      "I'm a company news reporter covering the retail and leisure sectors. Based in London I write on everything from the big retailers to fashion chains, hotels, drinks firms, pubs and coffee shops. I've previously covered the outsourcing sector and before that worked on Reuters sport for three years. You can follow me on Twitter @ReutersMaidment"
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