he steady week for the London market has continued as stronger mining and oil stocks keep the FTSE 100 index in positive territory.
September’s US inflation figures and Federal Reserve minutes showing that policymakers are ready to taper vast economic support before the end of the year failed to unsettle Wall Street overnight. There’s no let up in the current inflation pressures, however, with Brent crude oil and natural gas prices both creeping up.
In corporate news, Dunelm said recent sales growth had been encouraging as it stuck by the City’s recent increase to profit forecasts, but shares in defence firm Qinetiq slumped 9% after US sales were hit by the transition to the Biden presidency and the end of counter-insurgency missions in Afghanistan.
CarNext snapped up as used vehicle market remains strong
The owner of Cinch, a competitor to Cazoo, has bought a business that it said will make it become Europe’s largest online used car marketplace.
Constellation Automotive Group, also behind WeBuyAnyCar has acquired Amsterdam-headquartered CarNext, which is forecast to sell around 250,000 vehicles via its websites in 2021.
Boots marches on
Boots has hailed a “transformational year” as the pharmacy highlighted a sales rebound after the further relaxation in lockdown measures.
Owner Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) said it exceeded expectations over the final quarter of its financial year to August 31 as a result.
The global pharmacy giant said like-for-like sales increased by 12.8% to 34.3 billion US dollars (£25 billion) for the period.
WBA highlighted that it benefited from a strong operational performance from Boots, with growth for both its retail and pharmacy arms.
Boots’ managing director Sebastian James said sales through its online business had doubled against pre-pandemic levels, with the firm maintaining this growth despite returning high street footfall.
He added that growth in both healthcare and beauty meant the retailer was “now ideally placed to seize new opportunities” in the new financial year.
Boots saw like-for-like retail sales rise 15% in the latest quarter against the same period in 2020.
Meanwhile, its like-for-like pharmacy sales increased by 11.4% against a year earlier.
Domino’s hiring spree
Dominic Paul, the chief executive of Domino’s, said the pizza chain is looking to hire 8,000 more people across the UK and Ireland, adding to its existing 35,000-strong total workforce in those areas.
The new roles are largely delivery driver jobs, and most are permanent. The hiring spree comes amid high demand for deliveries and was announced as the company reported that sales from franchisees and stores it directly operates, increased 9.8% to £375.8 million in the 13 weeks to September 26.
Paul said: “Our supply chain continues to deliver outstanding results, despite the well-publicised inflationary pressures and challenging labour market… While we see these pressures continuing into 2022, our success in managing them to date provides us with confidence that our growth momentum will be sustained.”
Casino reopening boosts Grosvenor-owner Rank
The reopening of casinos and bingo halls has been a boon for Grosvenor-owner Rank Group.
Rank said today that revenue at its Grosvenor venues was up 209% to £79 million in the three months to the end of September. The rebound helped drive a 69% jump in revenues across the group to £163 million. Rank also owns Mecca Bingo halls and operates online gambling websites.
“We have seen an excellent response from our customers as they return to our venues, with our colleagues doing a great job in ensuring they are being properly entertained within a safe environment,” said chief executive John O’Reilly.
While income is rebounding, revenues still remain below pre-pandemic levels. Grosvenor’s income was 20% less than in the same period in 2019.
“London continues to feel the impact of reduced tourism,” the company said.
O’Reilly said: “Whilst forecasting remains difficult as we emerge from the pandemic we are confident that trading will continue to improve across each of our businesses.”
New finance chief at Purplebricks
The AIM-listed firm did not give a reason for the departure of Andy Botha, who joined the company in May 2020, but thanked him for his “valuable contributions” in a brief statement to investors.
He will be succeeded by Steve Long, 36, in the first quarter of 2022. Long is currently finance director, strategy and transformation, at insurance firm esure Group, where he has held a number of senior financial positions since 2012.
Commodities surge boosts FTSE 100
A familiar story of a surging copper price and multi-year high for oil ensured heavyweight commodity stocks kept the recent recovery for the FTSE 100 index ticking over today.
Markets have shaken off their jitters thanks to a week without major economic shocks, with US and China inflation figures and guidance from the Federal Reserve about the potential November start for tapering containing few surprises.
The FTSE 100 index rose 53.89 points to 7195.73, driven by miners as a weaker US dollar and economic resilience pushed up metal prices. Gains for copper and iron ore over the past week now stand at 7%, while Brent crude added 1% overnight at above $84 a barrel.
The gains reverse recent fears over the faltering pace of…
Read More: FTSE 100 Live 14 October: QinetiQ crashes, Domino’s Pizza earnings, Dunelm upbeat,