January 10, 2019 / 9:54 AM / 12 days ago

How Britain's retailers fared over Christmas

FILE PHOTO: Shoppers during the Boxing Day sales on Oxford Street in central London, Britain December 26 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

(Reuters) - British retailers are giving updates on Christmas trading, by far their busiest and most important period of the year, stretching from “Black Friday” on Nov. 23 to early January clearance sales.

Investors had been braced for bad news after a major profit warning from the one-time online darling ASOS Plc (ASOS.L) last month capped a torrid year for the sector marred by shop closures and bankruptcies.

On the high street the run up to Christmas was marked by discounting while the number of shoppers hitting the shops after Dec. 25 fell on previous years.

Following are the highlights: Reported on Jan. 10Tesco Plc (TSCO.L)Tesco, Britain’s biggest retailer, beat forecasts with a 2.2 percent rise in like-for-like sales in Britain over Christmas, saying it outperformed the market in food, clothing and general merchandise. Reported on Jan. 10Halfords Group Plc (HFD.L)British bicycles-to-car parts retailer Halfords Group Plc warned on Thursday that consumer confidence could remain weak into next year, hitting its operating profit. Reported on Jan. 10B&M European Value Retail SA (BMEB.L)B&M European Value Retail SA reported a 1.2 percent rise in B&M UK comparable sales as the discounter said it remains on track for higher sales and earnings this financial year and the next. Reported on Jan. 10John Lewis PartnershipJohn Lewis Partnership, Britain’s biggest department store operator, said its sales rose 1.4 percent to 2.2 billion pounds ($2.8 billion) in the seven weeks to Jan. 5, but said it still expected full-year profits to fall substantially. Reported on Jan. 10Marks & Spencer Group Plc (MKS.L)Britain’s Marks & Spencer suffered another quarter of falling underlying sales in both clothing and food. Reported on Jan. 10Debenhams Plc (DEB.L)British department store group Debenhams is in talks with lenders and looking to bring in new sources of funding as it battles for survival following another plunge in sales. Reported on Jan. 9J Sainsbury Plc (SBRY.L)Sainsbury’s reported a worse-than-expected fall in Christmas sales, confirming that Britain’s second-largest supermarket group has fallen behind competitors as it battles to acquire smaller rival Asda. Reported on Jan. 9Mothercare Plc’s (MTC.L)Mothercare Plc’s third-quarter group sales slipped 18 percent on lower online sales of baby products and fewer discounts, which led to a double digit dip in UK like-for-like revenue. Reported on Jan. 9Ted Baker Plc (TED.L)Fashion retailer Ted Baker reported higher sales in the holiday period, boosted by a surge in online demand and said it was “business as usual” at the brand as an investigation into reports related to the conduct of its founder continue. Reported on Jan. 9Majestic Wine Plc (WINEW.L)British wine retailer Majestic Wine said sales during the Christmas season grew 6.8 percent, boosted by strength in its Naked Wines business. Reported on Jan. 9Topps Tiles Plc (TPT.L)Britain’s biggest tile retailer Topps Tiles said comparable revenues for the first 13 weeks of the financial year fell 1.4 percent. Reported on Jan. 8WM Morrison Supermarket Plc (MRW.L)Morrison, Britain’s fourth largest supermarket group, missed Christmas sales forecasts as weak consumer demand hit its retail and wholesale businesses. Reported on Jan. 8Footasylum Plc (FOOT.L)British fashion retailer Footasylum Plc warned that its full-year core earnings would come in at the lower end of analysts’ estimates, hit by lower margins and likely charges from a future cost savings initiative. Reported on Jan. 8Joules Group Plc (JOUL.L)British lifestyle brand, Joules Group reported a 11.7 percent rise in retail sales for the seven-week period to Jan. 6, boosted by higher online sales. Reported on Jan. 7Aldi UK [ALDIEI.UL]Aldi UK, the British arm of the German discount supermarket, said its sales increased around 10 percent to almost 1 billion pounds ($1.28 billion) in December, driven by increased demand for its premium ranges. Reported on Jan. 7Dunelm Group Plc (DNLM.L)Homeware retailer Dunelm Group said it expects higher pretax profit for the first half of the year and forecast full-year pretax profit above the top range of analysts’ estimates if the industry continues to grow at its current pace. Reported on Jan. 3Next Plc (NXT.L)A late surge in online demand helped British clothing retailer Next to increase sales in the Christmas period, confounding fears of tough festive trading and lifting shares across the battered sector. Reported on Jan. 2John Lewis [JLPLC.UL]John Lewis said sales in its department stores rose 4.5 percent in the week ending Dec. 29, boosted by strong demand on Christmas Eve and “a confident start to post-Christmas clearance both online and in shops”. Reported on Dec. 29HMVMusic retailer HMV called in the administrators for the second time in five years after it said demand for CDs and DVDs was disappearing. One of the best known names on the high street, it plans to keep the business running while it tries to find a buyer.

Reporting by Kate Holton, Noor Zainab Hussain and Samantha Machado; Editing by Keith Weir, Bernard Orr and Shounak Dasgupta

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