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Sparkling Christmas for top UK retailers

Thursday, January 12, 2017 - 01:48

There was no sign of Brexit blues for Britain's biggest retailers this Christmas. Tesco has reported a 0.7 percent rise in underlying Christmas sales in its home market, capping a year of recovery, and Marks & Spencer soundly beat forecasts, delivering a boost to new boss Steve Rowe. David Pollard reports.

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The Christmas lights have mostly gone out by now. But some of the sparkle remains - the latest UK sales numbers certainly catching the eye. SOUNDBITE (English) BRYAN ROBERTS, RETAIL ANALYST, TCC GLOBAL, SAYING: "It seems the only negative stories so far this year have been Next's quite dismal report last week and also what we can infer from Asda's performance from the market share data that came out yesterday. So overall it seems to be quite a robust Christmas for everyone." Christmas may have come twice for Marks & Spencers' new boss, Steve Rowe. Sales unexpectedly strong in both food - and clothing ... Shoppers apparently responding to his bid to replace tired old lines with simpler and new. Britain's biggest retailer Tesco enjoyed its best quarter of UK sales growth for five years. It's now confident of a jump in operating profits for this year as a whole. Internally it's been battling with a turnaround - externally against low-cost rivals. SOUNDBITE (English) OANDA SENIOR MARKET ANALYST, CRAIG ERLAM, SAYING: "The Aldis and Lidls of this world are continuing to improve their market share. They are continuing to compete and that is going to be a big concern for Tesco." That leaves the consumer caught in a blizzard of friendly fire from competing retailers. If later it could turn more hostile. Inflation spurred by a Brexit-damaged pound likely to hurt shoppers too. SOUNDBITE (English) SIR CHARLIE MAYFIELD CHAIRMAN, JOHN LEWIS PARTNERSHIP, SAYING: "There are pressures on costs, there's pressures on prices and those things are happening and you've got the consumer who, you know, who knows what happens next year but the predictions are that we're going to see a slowdown in the growth in consumer income." But John Lewis did also report sales growth - with online trading up 12 per cent to 40 per cent of revenues. Amid a gloomy outlook, one sign of where hard pressed retailers must look for the dazzling performances of the future.

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Sparkling Christmas for top UK retailers

Thursday, January 12, 2017 - 01:48