Company News Reporter, London
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Mar 31, 2015

Thomas Cook on track as Europe shows signs of improvement

LONDON, March 31 (Reuters) – British holiday company Thomas
Cook is confident of meeting its full-year expectations,
buoyed by higher winter bookings and improved trading across
Europe ahead of its key summer season, it said on Tuesday.

For the summer, when holiday companies make the bulk of
their profits, Thomas Cook said it had sold 54 percent of its
holidays, 2 percent higher than this time a year ago, with tour
operator bookings and average prices down 1 percent.

Mar 25, 2015

Sports Direct admits some 15,000 employed on zero hour contracts

LONDON, March 25 (Reuters) – Britain’s biggest sporting
goods retailer Sports Direct employs around 75 percent
of its 19,000 UK workers on much criticised zero-hour contracts,
its chairman said on Wednesday.

Answering questions from a British parliamentary committee
over its employment practices and the administration of part of
one of its fashion businesses, Sports Direct Chairman Keith
Hellawell admitted some 15,000 UK staff were on zero hour deals,
which do not specify set working hours or guaranteed income.

Mar 24, 2015

888 hands out special dividend, eyes acquisitions

LONDON (Reuters) – Online gambling firm 888 Holdings (888.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), which ended talks on a takeover by larger rival William Hill (WMH.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) last month, said it was looking at acquisitions of its own to bolster growth.

888, which offers casino, poker and bingo games and is expanding its sports betting business, has enjoyed strong growth as gamblers increasingly move online. However, it and rivals expects to see profits clipped by higher taxes in some markets.

Mar 22, 2015

Big hotel chains aim small in Europe to net millennial generation

BERLIN/LONDON, March 22 (Reuters) – Driven by the demands of
a new plugged-in generation seeking “authentic” travel
experiences with a local feel, the world’s biggest hoteliers are
moving into a new sector in Europe – the “lifestyle” boutique

After many years focused on baby boomers and business
travellers, brands such as Marriott, Hilton,
Starwood and InterContinental Hotels Group are
paying more attention to the so-called millennials, expected to
be the biggest group of hotel customers by 2020 according to
industry executives.

Mar 20, 2015

Bookmaker Ladbrokes names digital boss Mullen as new CEO

LONDON, March 20 (Reuters) – British bookmaker Ladbrokes
promoted the head of its digital business Jim Mullen to
the chief executive’s job on Friday, reflecting the need to
compete harder in the growing online market.

The firm, Britain’s second-biggest bookmaker, has struggled
to keep pace with market leader William Hill and take
advantage of an increasingly popular online betting sector, with
investment in marketing and products lagging others.

Mar 18, 2015

Bookmakers face new British horse racing charge

LONDON, March 18 (Reuters) – Britain will impose a new charge on bookmakers to broaden the funding for horse racing to include more online gambling firms, finance minister George Osborne said on Wednesday.

Bookmakers support the sport through a levy on income on bets placed on races that has been imposed since the 1960s. It was worth around 82 million pounds ($120 million) in 2014 but many online betting companies do not have to contribute.

Mar 13, 2015

Wetherspoon targets sales boost with cheap breakfast and coffee

LONDON, March 13 (Reuters) – British pub chain JD
Wetherspoon aims to triple sales of breakfasts and
coffee over the next 18 months by slashing prices to grab more
of the thriving cafe trade and reduce its reliance on alcohol

Many British pubs are investing heavily to extend opening
hours, revamp menus and sell more tea, coffee and breakfasts to
tap growing demand for casual dining, as supermarkets steal more
of the alcohol market by cutting prices.

Mar 12, 2015

Shares in Serco slump as it raises cash for recovery

LONDON (Reuters) – British outsourcing firm Serco (SRP.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) on Thursday launched a 555 million pounds ($831 million) rights issue after a spectacular profit collapse and said it was unlikely to return to sales growth for another three years.

Serco’s shares fell as much as 16 percent as analysts’ hopes for a smaller cash call were dashed and the company’s more cautious outlook beyond 2015 rattled investors. Its shares are down 61 percent on a year ago.

Mar 10, 2015

Ted Baker turns its hand to interior design

LONDON, March 10 (Reuters) – Not content with producing
quirky jackets or floral cut dresses, British clothing brand Ted
Baker has made a move into interior design with ‘Ted
styled’ apartments.

The firm said on Tuesday it had signed a deal with property
group THAT BCL, majority owned by Ted Baker’s founder and CEO
Ray Kelvin, to provide a trade mark licence and design services
for the development of apartments in Bournemouth, southwest
England, in return for a 250,000 pound ($377,000) fee.

Mar 10, 2015

G4S sees profits rise but UK contract problems remain

LONDON (Reuters) – G4S (GFS.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), the world’s biggest security group, said it would increase provisions for under-performing UK government contracts by 45 million pounds ($68 million), overshadowing a better than expected rise in 2014 profit.

The British firm, undergoing a restructuring after a run of major contract problems hit its profits and reputation, said on Tuesday 2014 underlying operating profit rose 7.9 percent to 424 million pounds, ahead of a consensus forecast of 414 million.

    • 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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