Market Report: Mild weather gives clothes shops cold shoulder

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Clothing retailers remained out of fashion with investors as some of the High Street’s best-known names confirmed the going was tough over Christmas.

Associated British Foods fell 30p, or 1%, to 3011p as it warned that the mild weather over the festive season knocked sales at Primark, its flagship business.

The company’s shares have fallen by 16% since the retail rout began in December as a cold snap failed to materialise.

SuperGroup dropped 36p to 1543p as it revealed same-store sales were up 1.2% despite the mild weather. 

However, that compares with a 12.4% surge in underlying sales last year, underlining how difficult a Christmas it was for the High Street.


Star power: SuperGroup has recruited Idris Elba to design a clothing line (Picture: Dave Benett)

Even online sellers succumbed, as ASOS slipped 76p to 3103p following the first trading update under its new chief executive, Nick Beighton, who took over back in September when founder Nick Robertson decided to take a backseat role at the company as a non-executive director

Sales in the UK were up by 25% to £206.2 million, while international sales growth recovered to 20%.

The company’s stock-market value has more than halved since 2014 — its annus horribilis — when ASOS issued no less than three profit warnings and suffered a warehouse fire.

Mothercare joined the losers, down 2.25p at 220.75p, as it revealed total UK sales edged down 0.1% even as like-for-like sales improved 4.2%.

The FTSE 100 was back in the red, falling 94.82 points, or 1.6%, to 5866.15 after two days of gains.

“Investors have once again realised that nothing has changed and a bounce wasn’t really warranted,” said Accendo Markets analyst Mike van Dulken, who cited the oil-price slump and China jitters for the failed rally.

Merlin Entertainments saw JPMorgan Cazenove slash its rating to underweight, causing the Alton Towers operator its worst-ever trading day as it plunged 23.47p, or 5%, to 406.33p.

Analysts at Berenberg upgraded Standard Chartered to buy, and suggested “spicing up your life” by snapping up shares in the struggling, Asia-focused bank. After falling almost 50% since July, they certainly would spice up any investment portfolio.

However, they retreated 16.2p to 500.1p as Investec dropped its target price to 550p.

Goals Soccer Centres, which issued a profit warning in November, reeled 3.5p to 140p when it warned annual sales would be lower than the previous year and said boss Keith Rogers is to run its single-site US arm.

On AIM, online ad firm Blinkx surged 4.49p, or 29%, to 19.99p after third-quarter earnings were ahead of expectations and it managed to break even.

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January 15, 2016 |
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