Business News

The Gym Group looks to jump into empty space left by Toys R Us

2018-03-20 11:14:46 admin

The Gym Group is eyeing soon-to-be empty properties left from a raft of recent UK retailer collapses, the budget fitness chain’s boss said on Tuesday, as he revealed stellar sales growth.

John Treharne said there would “undoubtedly” be scope to open branches at some Toys R Us and Maplin sites which close.

He added: “As more people buy online or move away from the High Street, that creates an opportunity for us.”

His firm wants to open up to 20 sites in 2018, adding to its 128 existing gyms.

Revenues soared 24.3% to £91.4 million in 2017, helped by openings in areas such as Walthamstow and Bloomsbury, and acquisitions.

Membership numbers jumped 35.5% to 607,000 and pre-tax profits rose to £9.2 million from £6.9 million. Average memberships cost £17 a month.

Elsewhere in the fitness industry on Tuesday, Cheshire-founded sportswear retailer Realbuzz, which stocks goods by Adidas and Asics, said it plans to invest £5 million to open 10 London stores before the end of 2018.

It has just inked a deal with listed landlord Shaftesbury to open in Seven Dials in April.


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SMALL CAP SPOTLIGHT: Conviviality boss Diana Hunter steps down, plus updates on EQTEC

2018-03-20 11:14:36 admin

Welcome to Small-Cap Spotlight where the Evening Standard business team will bring investors rolling coverage and analysis on all the major small cap news this morning.

Yesterday Bargain Booze owner Conviviality chief executive stepped down as it tries to reassure investors that the business is in shape, while there is also breaking news on EQTEC.  

Plenty of other updates out there for discussion.

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GKN and Melrose throw in kitchen sink to win over City investors

2018-03-20 11:14:20 admin

THE GKN-Melrose takeover saga remained on a knife-edge today as  both sides tried to convince the City to swing behind them with a string of fresh pledges. 

Melrose confirmed a  £1 billion promise  to the GKN pension scheme to soothe pension trustee concerns.

GKN promised a secondary London listing of shares in its car shaft spin-out with rival Dana. 

The £8 billion battle is entering its final stages before a shareholder vote deadline on March 29. 

Melrose plans to double the £528 million of pension contributions promised under a rival deal struck by the current GKN management. 

It has already earmarked £150 million for the scheme but threw in an extra £300 million today. 

Top GKN shareholder Columbia Threadneedle, which owns 3.4% of the company, on Monday swung behind the current management.

Head of UK equities Richard Colwell said: “We are long-term shareholders in both GKN and Melrose. We have been frustrated by the performance of GKN in recent years and this has necessitated fundamental changes in the company. 

“After careful consideration, we believe the actions set out by the new team at GKN present the best options for shareholders.  Accordingly, we are not accepting the Melrose offer.”

Other investors like Jupiter, Pelham Capital and Sanderson have also turned down Melrose.

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Activist Ed Bramson makes shock £1.9bn share swoop on Barclays

2018-03-19 11:13:34 admin

Activist investor Edward Bramson made a shock move on Barclays on Monday as he snapped up more than 5% of the bank’s shares.

The intervention sets the scene for a dust-up between one of the UK’s most infamous corporate raiders and one of its most important City institutions. 

While the secretive Bramson is unlikely to make public his intentions, the City saw the move as a statement of confidence in the present management, led by chief executive Jes Staley, but warned he could have to take the axe to costs. Shares rose 3.8% to 217p. 

Bramson raised £700 million in summer for his latest fund Sherborne,  after previously taking stakes in  Electra Private Equity and F&C Asset Management. He has invested almost all of that in Barclays and borrowed on top of that to get a 5.16% stake valued at £1.9 billion.

Bramson is already in the money given a likely buy-in price of 180p to 190p.

According to its prospectus, Sherborne planned to invest in a “company which it considers to be undervalued as a result of operational deficiencies and which it believes can be rectified by the Investment Manager’s active involvement”.

That indicates Bramson does not intend to be passive, but it is far from clear what he will demand. Barclays has indicated it intends to ramp up the dividend next year, but may have to accelerate its move.

Sherborne becomes the fourth-biggest investor in Barclays after Capital Group, Blackrock and the Qatar Investment Authority.

Bramson has already met top Barclays executives to discuss recent results.

Miton fund manager Andy Jackson said: “It wasn’t top of my short list but I’m not 100% surprised. It fits the prototype Bramson target. 

“I’m not unhappy about it. It’s undervalued and there is potential for streamlining.” Miton backed Sherborne with £4 million and also holds shares  in Barclays.

Staley has moved to simplify Barclays, which has underperformed rivals for years. He sold the African arm and wants Barclays to focus on being a player on Wall Street, in the City and on the UK high street.

Bramson is not the first big investor to take an interest. In the summer US hedge fund Tiger Global invested  $1 billion in Barclays shares.

Bramson is sometimes dubbed a “corporate raider” given his appetite for boardroom battles.

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TECH TRACKER LIVE: Chancellor Philip Hammond is expected to launch the Govt's FinTech strategy this week

2018-03-19 11:13:26 admin

Evening Standard business team will bring investors rolling coverage and analysis on all the major tech news this morning.

So far all the gossip is about Uk Chancellor Philip Hammond who will launch the Government’s FinTech strategy this week.

There are also plenty of UK focused fund raisings and as ever news from Silicon Valley too.

Stay tuned.

Live Updates

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