Company News Reporter, London
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May 29, 2014

Kingfisher fails to make the most of UK sunshine

LONDON, May 29 (Reuters) – Shares in Kingfisher,
Europe’s biggest home improvements retailer, fell 6 percent on
Thursday as pressure on profit margins and a smaller than
expected sales boost from warmer weather pushed first-quarter
earnings below forecasts.

The owner of B&Q in Britain and Castorama and Brico Depot in
France said underlying operating profit for the 13 weeks to May
3 grew 20 percent to 142 million pounds ($237 million). Results
a year ago were depressed by bad weather across much of Europe.

May 22, 2014

UK’s Royal Mail rattles investors with warning of rising competition

LONDON (Reuters) – Newly privatised Royal Mail (RMG.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) pointed to tougher times ahead on Thursday as it said competition in parcels was intensifying and warned the emergence of a rival British mail delivery service threatened its growth prospects.

The blunt reference to the headwinds it is facing took the shine off a 12 percent rise in full-year profit for the company, which remains embroiled in a political storm over its privatisation, sending its shares down 6.7 percent as the day’s biggest faller in the blue chip FTSE 100 .FTSE index.

May 22, 2014

UK’s Royal Mail warns on competition as profits rise

LONDON, May 22 (Reuters) – Newly privatised Royal Mail
posted a 12 percent rise in full-year profit on Thursday
and said it was taking steps to address increasing competition
in both parcels and letters.

The UK postal firm, which had long posted financial losses
until two years ago, said operating profit before
“transformation” costs – such as IT investments – rose to 671
million pounds ($1.1 billion) in the year to March 30, in line
with a company-compiled consensus forecast.

May 21, 2014

Britvic steps up U.S. Fruit Shoot roll-out as profits rise

LONDON, May 21 (Reuters) – British soft drink maker Britvic
said its Fruit Shoot drink was now available across the
United States, a milestone in its drive to create international
brands.

The company, which also makes drinks such as Tango, as well
as PepsiCo brands Pepsi and 7UP in Britain and Ireland,
reported a 14 percent rise in first-half operating profit,
broadly in line with an average analyst forecast.

May 15, 2014

Dixons and Carphone agree 3.8 billion pound retail merger

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Carphone Warehouse and Dixons Retail have agreed a 3.8 billion pound ($6.4 billion) merger to make the most of an increasing convergence of smartphones and consumer electronics in people’s lives.

Combining Carphone, Europe’s biggest independent mobile phone retailer, and Dixons, Europe’s No. 2 electricals retailer, would create a group with turnover of about 12 billion pounds, 2,900 stores and 45,000 staff, the companies said on Thursday.

May 15, 2014

UK’s Dixons and Carphone agree $6 billion retail merger

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Carphone Warehouse (CPW.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Dixons Retail (DXNS.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) have agreed a 3.8 billion pound ($6.4 billion) merger to make the most of an increasing convergence of smartphones and consumer electronics in people’s lives.

Combining Carphone, Europe’s biggest independent mobile phone retailer, and Dixons, Europe’s No. 2 electricals retailer, would create a group with turnover of about 12 billion pounds, 2,900 stores and 45,000 staff, the companies said on Thursday.

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.

    • 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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