January 30, 2020 / 9:55 AM / 23 days ago

Festive cheer falls flat for some British retailers

(Reuters) - Britain’s retailers reported mixed results for the critical Christmas period, with major supermarkets suffering their slowest festive season in years, but others faring better.

FILE PHOTO: Shoppers on Oxford Street during Boxing Day sales in central London, Britain, December 26, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

British shoppers cut back on spending in late 2019, rounding off the worst year since at least the mid-1990s for retail sales as measured by an industry group amid uncertainty about Brexit and last month’s election.

That followed relatively subdued updates from the high street following “Black Friday” sales at the end of November.

Following are highlights (with most recent items first):

LIDL

The British arm of the German discount supermarket group said on Jan. 10 its total sales rose 11% in the four weeks to Dec. 29.

TESCO (TSCO.L)

Britain’s biggest retailer ground out a 0.1% rise in underlying sales in its home market on Jan. 9 during what it said was a “subdued” Christmas for spending.

SAINSBURY’S (SBRY.L)

Britain’s No. 2 supermarket group reported a slight drop in underlying sales on Jan. 8 as weak demand for general merchandise overshadowed solid food sales.

MORRISONS (MRW.L)

The country’s fourth-largest supermarket group reported another fall in underlying sales over Christmas on Jan. 7 as a tough economic backdrop and sustained consumer uncertainty deterred shoppers from splashing out.

ALDI

The British arm of the German discount supermarket said on Jan. 6 sales growth in the four weeks to Dec. 24 was driven by strong demand for beer, wine and spirits.

RETAILERS:

ASOS (ASOS.L)

The British online fashion retailer beat analysts’ expectations for sales growth in the key Christmas trading period.

WH SMITH (SMWH.L)

The British retailer’s sales in the 20-week period including Christmas rose 7%, as more customers shopped at its outlets in airports and railway stations.

BURBERRY (BRBY.L)

British luxury label Burberry edged up its forecast for full-year sales on Jan. 22 after it saw strong demand for designer Riccardo Tisci’s new collections in the 13 weeks to Dec. 28.

DIXONS CARPHONE (DC.L)

The British retailer on Jan. 21 reported flat overall underlying revenue from Christmas trading, with sales growth in electricals offset by falling mobile phone sales.

ASSOCIATED BRITISH FOODS (ABF.L)

The company kept its annual earnings outlook on Jan. 16, partly due to solid growth at its Primark fashion chain in the Christmas period.

HALFORDS (HFD.L)

The bicycles retailer said on Jan. 16 it sold a record number of children’s bikes in the week before Christmas.

MOSS BROS (MOSB.L)

The suit retailer in Jan. 16 forecast an annual pretax loss, hurt by fewer customers visiting its stores.

N BROWN BWEG.L

The plus-sized fashion retailer on Jan. 16 forecast lower-than-expected annual profit, hurt by poor performance at its financial services unit and more discounting in the market.

THEWORKS.CO.UK (WRKS.L)

The gifts and stationery retailer on Jan. 16 said it saw growth in online and store sales over Christmas helped by new products and ‘Frozen 2’ merchandise.

QUIZ (QUIZ.L)

The fast-fashion retailer on Jan. 15 said good sales over the Black Friday week had not stretched into the seven weeks covering Christmas to Jan. 4.

BOOHOO (BOOH.L)

The online fashion retailer reported robust Christmas sales on Jan. 14, outperforming rivals.

SUPERDRY (SDRY.L)

The fashion brand warned on its annual profit on Jan. 10 after sales during the Christmas period fell short of its expectations.

JOULES (JOUL.L)

The fashion retailer warned on Jan. 10 that its 2020 profit would be significantly below market expectations as online retail sales suffered during Christmas.

B&M (BMEB.L)

The company, which sells everything from furniture to food, said on Jan. 10 its sales growth slowed in the Christmas quarter due to a tough market.

CARD FACTORY (CARDC.L)

The greeting card retailer on Jan. 9 forecast lower annual earnings as the December general election and weak consumer confidence hurt its Christmas performance.

JOHN LEWIS

Britain’s best-known store chain on Jan. 9 cut its annual profit forecast after weak Christmas sales.

MARKS & SPENCER (MKS.L)

The retailer on Jan. 9 said its performance over the Christmas quarter was held back by waste in its food business and weak sales of menswear and gifts.

DUNELM (DNLM.L)

The homewares retailer forecast a near 20% jump in first-half earnings, as it avoided discounting during the holiday season.

NEXT (NXT.L)

The clothing retailer raised its full-year profit forecast on Jan. 3 after a better-than-expected Christmas performance.

PUBS, RESTAURANTS, DRINKS FIRMS:

FULLER SMITH & TURNER (FSTA.L)

The pubs and hotels operator on Jan. 30 reported higher sales during the Christmas and New Year period.

MARSTON’S PLC (MARS.L)

The two-century old brewer of Pedigree on Jan. 23 said it posted 4.5% growth in like-for-like sales during the two-week Christmas holiday period.

J D WETHERSPOON (JDW.L)

The pub operator joined peer Mitchells & Butlers in reporting a strong performance during the key holiday season.

FEVERTREE (FEVR.L)

The Premium tonic water maker said on Jan. 20, that annual revenue growth of 10% would be below its expectations, hurt by subdued Christmas trading in Britain.

WHITBREAD (WTB.L)

The Premier Inn owner on Jan. 16 reported a 1.3% drop in third-quarter UK like-for-like sales, as Britons delayed travel plans amid Brexit uncertainty.

CITY PUB GROUP (CPC.L)

The pubs operator on Jan. 13 forecast full-year core earnings slightly below consensus, as holiday period sales were hurt by uncertainty ahead of the December election and a lackluster Rugby World Cup.

MITCHELLS & BUTLERS (MAB.L)

The pub and restaurant operator reported strong sales for the festive season on Jan. 9, as more diners opted for its pricier healthy menu options.

Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar and Aniruddha Ghosh in Bengaluru; editing by Mark Potter and David Evans

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