Company News Reporter, London
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Apr 30, 2014

Argos owner sees profits rise as turnaround push shows promise

LONDON, April 30 (Reuters) – Home Retail Group Plc,
Britain’s biggest household goods retailer, posted a 27 percent
rise in full-year profit as a digital push at its Argos chain
and a revamp at Homebase start to bear fruit.

After tough trading during the economic downturn, in which
underlying pretax profit shrank to 91 million pounds in fiscal
2013 from 433 million five years before, the group began
implementing a turnaround plan last year aimed at pushing Argos
sales up 15 percent to 4.5 billion pounds by 2018.

Apr 29, 2014

Serco’s woes deepen ahead of new chief’s arrival

LONDON, April 29 (Reuters) – Shares in Serco slumped
22 percent on Tuesday after it issued a fresh profit warning and
said it needed to raise emergency cash, showing the challenge
awaiting new boss Rupert Soames in turning round the British
outsourcing firm.

Serco was rocked by a scandal last year in which it was
found to have overcharged the British government on a contract
to tag criminals, sparking a ban on new government work, the
exit of its long-serving boss Chris Hyman, a steep drop in its
shares and a big hit to profits.

Apr 29, 2014

Whitbread eyes Costa expansion in France as profit jumps

LONDON, April 29 (Reuters) – Britain’s Whitbread
beat forecasts with a 16.5 percent jump in full-year profit and
said it would expand its Costa Coffee chain in France after a
trial showed strong demand.

Britain’s biggest hotel and coffee shop operator has grown
rapidly due to demand from cost-conscious customers for
affordable hotels and an increasing trend for takeaway coffee,
and has set its sights on further expansion at home and abroad,
with a particular focus on China, and now France.

Apr 28, 2014

Serco flags profit downgrade, may sell new shares

LONDON, April 28 (Reuters) – British outsourcing firm Serco
warned it could downgrade its profit expectations and
was considering issuing new shares to shore up its finances
after its performance this year had been worse than expected.

Serco warned in January that profit this year would be lower
than last due to underperforming contracts and the cost of
issues relating to it overcharging the UK government on a
contract to tag criminals.

Apr 28, 2014

UK regulator says will not investigate Royal Mail sell-off

LONDON, April 28 (Reuters) – Britain’s financial regulator
will not investigate the government’s sale of Royal Mail
, it said on Monday, rejecting calls from lawmakers who
said a sharp rise in the firm’s share price should have set
alarm bells ringing.

Last October, Britain sold 60 percent of the postal firm at
330 pence per share, ending 500 years of state control and
raising 2 billion pounds ($3.36 billion) for the public purse.

Apr 25, 2014

UK government, bankers back in spotlight over Royal Mail sale

LONDON, April 25 (Reuters) – British government ministers
and bankers responsible for the sale of Royal Mail will face
another round of questioning by lawmakers next week over whether
the state postal operator was sold off too cheaply.

Last October, the government sold 60 percent of Royal Mail
at 330 pence per share, ending 500 years of state
control and raising 2 billion pounds ($3.36 billion) for the
public purse.

Apr 17, 2014

Mulberry sees rocky road ahead as it reverts to lower-priced handbags

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Mulberry (MUL.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) could take up to two years to return to profit growth after deciding to scrap an unpopular push into higher-priced handbags and return to more affordable luxury, its acting head said on Thursday.

Mulberry’s push to swap its “affordable luxury” tag for a more exclusive position was led by Bruno Guillon, ousted as chief executive in March after the strategy was undone by its core shoppers turning to cheaper affordable luxury rivals such as Michael Kors (KORS.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

Apr 16, 2014

Tesco sees no respite as annual profit slumps

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s biggest retailer Tesco (TSCO.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) said it saw no let up in sight as it posted a 6 percent fall in annual profit, its second straight year of decline, piling pressure on Chief Executive Phil Clarke.

The group, the world’s No.3 retailer, showed trading had deteriorated throughout the 12 months, with the key figure of sales at its British stores open over a year, excluding fuel and VAT sales tax, down 3 percent in the fourth quarter, its worst drop in Clarke’s three-year tenure.

Apr 15, 2014

Debenhams to cut back promotions after profit drop

LONDON, April 15 (Reuters) – Britain’s No.2 department store
operator, Debenhams, said it would cut back on
criticised promotions, improve its online business and boost
ranges with retailer tie-ups to try to reverse a slide in
profits.

The firm has endured a tough 12 months, issuing its second
profit warning in less than a year in December and losing its
finance chief after a long-held strategy of slashing prices
failed to boost its crucial Christmas sales.

Apr 10, 2014

Struggling Mothercare shares boosted by better Q4 trade

LONDON (Reuters) – British baby products retailer Mothercare (MTC.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) said on Thursday better fourth-quarter trading at home and overseas had put on track to hit annual profit forecasts, boosting its shares.

In Britain, which accounts for about 70 percent of its sales, Mothercare has pushed to close underperforming stores, revamp others and expand online amid fierce competition from Internet rivals and supermarkets.

    • 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"
      Joined Reuters:
      2008
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