Company News Reporter, London
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Sep 29, 2014

Construction losses force Balfour to warn on profit again

LONDON, Sept 29 (Reuters) – Shares in Balfour Beatty
plunged on Monday after the British construction firm
cut its profit forecast for the third time in less than five
months, blaming increased losses on the mismanagement of a
number of UK contracts.

Balfour, which rejected the merger advances of UK rival
Carillion for the third time last month, said profits
at its UK Construction Services unit would be 75 million pounds
($122 million) less than expected due to writedowns on
engineering contracts in London and costly setbacks on a number
of building projects.

Sep 25, 2014

UK’s Mitchells & Butlers blames rainy August for scant sales growth

LONDON, Sept 25 (Reuters) – British pubs and restaurants
group Mitchells & Butlers blamed a relatively rainy
August and persistently weak consumer sentiment for meagre sales
growth in its final quarter, sending its shares down more than 5

The group said on Thursday underlying sales in the nine
weeks to Sept. 20 grew just 0.1 percent, compared with the 0.7
percent growth recorded in the 42 weeks to July 19, resulting in
annual underlying growth of 0.6 percent.

Sep 23, 2014

UK pub firm Greene King eyes Spirit takeover

LONDON (Reuters) – British pub and breweries group Greene King (GNK.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) has approached the board of rival Spirit Pub Co (SPRTC.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) over a potential takeover, reported to be worth more than 700 million pounds ($1.2 billion).

Greene King, whose 1,900-strong estate includes Hungry Horse, Old English Inns and Loch Fyne Restaurants, confirmed the approach on Tuesday without giving any further details.

Sep 23, 2014

Mothercare calls for cash to help fund UK turnaround

LONDON, Sept 23 (Reuters) – Baby goods retailer Mothercare
said on Tuesday it would tap shareholders for 100
million pounds ($164 million) to help fund another raft of store
closures and revamps, as it steps up efforts to stem losses at
its core British business by 2017.

While Mothercare’s overseas business is profitable, fierce
competition from supermarkets like Tesco and internet
retailers like Amazon has hit it hard at home, leaving
it with too many stores and not enough customers, and exposing a
need to grow online and improve its product ranges and brands.

Sep 10, 2014

Margin dip takes shine off Sports Direct sales rise

LONDON, Sept 10 (Reuters) – Britain’s biggest sporting goods
retailer Sports Direct posted a 12 percent rise in
quarterly sales, with growing demand at its sports stores
tempered by a drop in its profitability and falling sales at its
fashion and brands businesses.

Mark-downs to clear stock in Austria following the
acquisition of Eybl in May 2013, and in the UK, after England’s
poor showing at the soccer World Cup in Brazil, helped take 10
basis points of the group’s gross margin in its first quarter.

Sep 9, 2014

Whitbread sales boosted by buoyant hotel market

LONDON, Sept 9 (Reuters) – Britain’s Whitbread said
buoyant demand at its Premier Inn hotels and stronger growth at
its Costa Coffee arm helped send second-quarter underlying group
sales up 6.8 percent.

Total sales including new sites for the 11 weeks to Aug 14
rose 12.8 percent, Britain’s biggest hotel and coffee chain
operator said on Tuesday, with business at its Premier Inn arm
benefiting from an improving economy and extra trade from the
Farnborough Airshow and Scotland’s Commonwealth Games.

Sep 3, 2014

Interserve says work prospects good but M&A still on the menu

LONDON, Sept 3 (Reuters) – Support services and construction
firm Interserve has a list of work prospects to support
future growth but does not rule out opening its cheque book to
add to recent acquisitions, its chief executive told Reuters.

The British firm, whose work ranges from building airports
and schools to cleaning London’s underground and placing people
in jobs, has spent around 400 million pounds ($659 million) on
buying businesses in the past three years, boosting earnings.

Aug 29, 2014

Tesco slashes profit forecast and dividend as trading slumps

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s biggest retailer Tesco (TSCO.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) slashed its interim dividend by 75 percent as tough trading conditions forced it to cut its profit forecast for the second time in two months.

Tesco, which warned on profits in July as it ousted chief executive Phil Clarke, also said his replacement Dave Lewis would start on Monday, one month earlier than expected, and with a remit for a major review of the company.

Aug 27, 2014

ASOS shares jump on report of U.S. bid interest

LONDON (Reuters) – Shares in British online fashion retailer ASOS (ASOS.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), which have fallen sharply in recent months after profit warnings and a warehouse fire, jumped on Wednesday on an unconfirmed report of a U.S. bid for a stake in the business.

ASOS shares, a previous market darling that have fallen by almost two thirds this year, surged 13.5 percent to 26.65 pounds, pulling up other online fashion stocks in their wake, including Boohoo (BOOH.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Italy’s Yoox (YOOX.MI: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz). ASOS shares had already risen 7.6 percent on Tuesday on the speculation.

Aug 22, 2014

British pub firm Marston’s plans chain of hotels

LONDON, Aug 22 (Reuters) – British pubs and brewing company
Marston’s plans to open a chain of hotels alongside its
growing pub-restaurant sites.

Marston’s, which runs Pitcher and Piano pubs and brews ales
such as Pedigree and Hobgoblin, said as many as five of its 25
to 30 annual new pub openings could include a Marston’s lodge.

    • 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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