Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Retail Giants to Unveil Figures; Forecast

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Retail Giants to Unveil Figures; Forecast

Article excerpt

Byline: holly williams & ravender semby

BRITAIN'S retail heavyweights will reveal their Christmas trading figures next week amid mixed signs on the high street.

Tesco and Marks & Spencer are among a bevy of retailers to report to the market following a strong showing from Next and a profit warning from struggling Debenhams.

The supermarket giant, which has been undergoing a turnaround under chief executive Dave Lewis, is expected to continue along the road to recovery by posting strong sales figures.

Analysts at UBS are forecasting a 2.4% increase in like-for-like sales over both the Christmas period and the third quarter as a whole.

Tesco is experiencing strong momentum relative to its peers and in October Mr Lewis hailed a 'significant milestone' after unveiling the first dividend payout for three years following a surge in half-year profits and sales.

The group posted a better-thanexpected 27% rise in group underlying earnings to PS759m for the six months to August 26 after it notched up its seventh quarter in a row of rising sales.

Sreedhar Mahamkali, analyst at Macquarie Capital, said: "We expect a decent Christmas update from the sector with Tesco continuing to report the best like for likes in the sector.

"A key feature for a considerable period of time in Tesco's recovery is the strong and consistent growth in grocery sales over the past several months."

The group was further buoyed in December when its PS3.7bn takeover of wholesale group Booker was given the final all-clear by the competition watchdog, which Mr Mahamkali also believes will boost growth.

Meanwhile, retail bellwether Marks & Spencer is expected to record another decline at its troubled womenswear division.

Broker Numis predicts that clothing and home sales at M&S fell by around 1% in the festive third quarter, which it said will 'clearly be influenced by the level of tactical promotional activity'.

M&S is coming up against a much tougher comparison from a year earlier, when clothing sales rose by an impressive 2. …

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