Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hard Time for Retailers as Season Fails to Cheer; Market Report

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hard Time for Retailers as Season Fails to Cheer; Market Report

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL CLARK

IT IS beginning to look as if there was little seasonal cheer on the High Street in the run-up to Christmas.

The latest survey from the bosses' organisation the CBI says that for the first time in three years more retailers reported a downturn in sales than an increase.

The message was not lost on the stock market, which again gave retailers a hard time. Falls were seen in Kingfisher, 3 1/4p to 219 1/4p, WH Smith, 14 1/4p to 340 1/4p, Debenhams, 6 3/4p to 271p, and Burberry, 31/4p to 221 1/4p.

Electrical retailer Dixons put on 1 1/2p at 146 1/2p as broker Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein upgraded the shares from reduce to hold with a 160p target price.

Department stores chain Allders, currently the target of a 160p-a-share offer from property company Minerva, marked time at 1661/2p. Scottish businessman Tom Hunter may have added to his 4.2% stake. Two large lines of stock went through the market, including 275,000 shares at 167p and a further 300,000 at 166 1/2p. Both lines were traded at a premium to the pound sterling132 million offer from Minerva, indicating the shares may have been bought by Hunter.

Share prices made a cautious start to 2003 as investors chose to extend the festive season. The FTSE 100 index slipped 2.5 points to 3937.9 as traders pinned their hopes on a firmer start to trading in New York this afternoon.

Among the leaders, GKN rose 8 1/2p to 209 1/4p while Safeway gave up Tuesday's gains to trade 7p down at 206 1/4p.

The task of finding a new chief executive for struggling Cable & Wireless, 1/4p better at 45p, appears to be under way. Embattled chief executive Graham Wallace has had the skids under him since November when C&W rocked the City with the news that it was liable to a pound sterling1.5 billion tax charge relating to the disposal of one of its businesses in 1999. …

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