January 9, 2019 / 10:25 AM / 7 months ago

How Britain's retailers fared over Christmas

(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 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. 9.J Sainsbury PlcSainsbury’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. 9.Mothercare Plc’sMothercare 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 PlcFashion 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 PlcBritish 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 PlcBritain’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. 9Nichols PlcVimto soft drinks maker Nichols said that it expects to report full-year profit above last year, boosted by higher sales of its beverages in the UK and growth in the African market. Reported on Jan. 8WM Morrison Supermarket PlcMorrison, Britain’s fourth largest supermarket group, missed Christmas sales forecasts as weak consumer demand hit its retail and wholesale businesses. Reported on Jan. 8Footasylum PlcBritish 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 PlcBritish 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 PlcHomeware 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 PlcA 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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