Debenhams to post results after brushing off City fears

RETAIL heavyweights Debenhams and JD Sports will take centre stage in what is expected to be another quiet week for corporate reporting.

Interim results from department store chain Debenhams, due tomorrow, come weeks after the group dismissed City concerns about the impact of winter weather on trading.

The business maintained sales and profit growth through the cold snap and a “challenging” high street climate, with like-for-like sales up 0.3 per cent in the 26 weeks to 27 February. This was an increase on the marginal 0.1 per cent advance seen after 18 weeks, despite some disruption from the snow.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Analysts are forecasting interim profits of between 114 million and 116m, improving on the 104.2m posted a year ago.

Oil giant BP’s executive pay plans will be back in the firing line at its annual general meeting in London on Thursday – a year after it faced a shareholder showdown over remuneration.

Lobby groups Pirc, the pension fund consultant, and the Association of British Insurers have both raised concerns over BP’s pay policy.

The moves follow last year’s fiery investor meeting, when BP saw around 38 per cent of shareholder votes made against its remuneration report.

BP largely kept salaries on hold in 2009, but the firm’s recent annual report revealed that chief executive Tony Hayward still landed a 41 per cent hike in his total pay package.

Hayward took home 4m in salary, cash bonus and share awards last year, up from 2.85m in 2008.

BP said Hayward’s variable performance-related pay increased from 1.5m to 2.1m last year, reflecting “the impressive achievements of the year and the turnaround of performance over the past three years”.

However, the firm reported a steep fall in profits in 2009, down 45 per cent to $13.96 billion (about 9.2bn).

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Retailer JD Sports Fashion is expected to confirm a decent rise in annual profits on Wednesday after shrugging off recession pressures.

While many high street rivals have suffered, JD Sports has been one of the strongest performers in the sector, saying in January that it expected to “significantly exceed” market hopes for full-year profits.

The group, which had 343 sportswear stores and 95 fashion outlets as of last August, has weathered the downturn in better shape than its rivals due to its fashion focus rather than depending on replica football kit sales.

Analysts are optimistic over its annual results, pencilling in a rise in underlying pre-tax profits to 63.3m.

Chilled foods firm Uniq’s results on Thursday follow a year of transformation which has seen the group focused on the UK market after a string of sell-offs.

The firm has sold businesses in France, Holland, Germany and Poland, as well as its UK chilled fish business to concentrate on desserts and “foods to go” such as sandwiches and wraps.

Uniq unveiled the strategy a year ago as market conditions worsened and the company looked to reduce management “stretch” by cutting the size of the group.

This began to reap rewards as its UK arm moved back into profit in the second half of last year, with a return to sales growth in the final quarter helped by new business wins.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Investec analyst Nicola Mallard expects underlying losses to narrow from 3.7m to 2.5m for the year but will be looking for an update on how the firm will tackle its estimated 250m pension deficit.

A solid set of interim numbers are expected from Carr’s Milling Industries, which is based in Carlisle but has a number of operations north of the Border.

Analysts note that farmers have been queuing up to buy fertiliser ahead of expected price increases and believe that, at the full-year stage, profits could rise about 15 per cent to above 8m.