Langton Capital – 2020-06-29 – PREMIUM – Re-opening crossroads, Intu, Casual Dining Group, RBG, Tasty etc.:
Re-opening crossroads, Intu, Casual Dining Group, RBG, Tasty etc.:
PREMIUM EMAIL – PLEASE DO NOT FORWARD:
A DAY IN THE LIFE:
The lawnmower, realistic sounding jargon alert here, threw its drive belt over the weekend meaning that I was left with a noisy static seat rather than something that would mow the grass.
Or rather, I still had something that would mow about one square metre of grass very, very efficiently but, as it wouldn’t move, that’s all it would do and, though the lawn’s not huge, the grass covers a materially larger area than the one that’s been given a Marine-no1 haircut.
And, when I rang the mower-menders, I got a lot of cheek sucking and a brief lecture about how grass grows in this sort of weather and that they were very busy. They didn’t remind me, as I remained all too well-aware of it without prompting, that when they took the machine off me last year, they kept it for six weeks, charged me over £400 for the thing’s bed-and-board and cost me about the same again having to pay other people to cut the grass.
Anyway, it is what it is. Nobody’s died and, if I twist the statistics enough, I can persuade myself that the grass has had 80% of a cut rather than admit that 80% of the grass has been 100% cut and that the remaining 20%, a big patch in the middle, is nearly a foot high and looks like some council-sanctioned sanctuary for wildlife.
Follow us on Twitter at @brumbymark and on to the news:
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MARSTON’S H1 NUMBERS – ANALYST’S CONFERENCE CALL: Following the release of its H1 numbers on Friday morning, Marston’s hosted a conference call for analysts. 29 June 2020:
Marston’s confirmed that it will reopen 85% to 90% of its pubs from next Saturday but cautioned that there is a great deal of uncertainty as to how trading will pan out. We conclude that, though forecasting is not yet possible, looking longer term, pandemics are rare, hostelries have been around since biblical times, Marston’s debt is reduced and will fall further and it has a well-financed, largely-freehold estate. The group will host a capital markets day in the autumn. See Premium Email for detail.
Impact of Covid-19:
• Marston’s, in common with the industry, was impacted when the government first advised not to visit and then shut pubs. The beer company has lost on-trade demand, but off-trade demand has risen by 55% since April.
o This 1) doesn’t offset on-trade sales and 2) the margin is lower
• 93% of employees (c99% in pubs) have been furloughed with a 20% cut in pay across most of the rest of the group. Capex was cut, the dividend has been suspended and cash has been preserved
• The group has worked to support lessees. It is working with government, suppliers & stakeholders
• The group will re-open 85% to 90% of its pubs. It would have been 25% to 30% if 2m had been retained.
• The ‘guidelines’ are just that. There is flexibility. That said, MARS will behave responsibly. There will be increased spacing, hand sanitisers will be available etc. No PPE has been mandated. Payment apps will be in place from July. Menus will be simplified & drinks ranges reduced. This should speed service.
• There is a high degree of uncertainty. Confidence is an issue. The co says ‘continued government support will be required’. The group believes VAT should be cut from 20% to 5%, the Business Rates holiday should be extended and beer duty deferred.
Balance sheet, debt & other:
• Marston’s proposed JV with Carlsberg has been approved by shareholders. The group will receive a cash equalisation payment of up to £273m. The transaction, which requires regulatory approval, should complete in Q3.
• The deal should be cash neutral. Synergy targets are there to be beaten. The group will update further at a Capital Markets Day in the autumn.
• Debt is lower (see earlier email) prior to the £295m of debt added by IFRS16. The group has liquidity and the completion of the JV will increase this further (see earlier email). The group will have around £180m of headroom on a £10m per month cash burn (if no pubs were to reopen).
Asset base & flexibility:
• Marston’s is mostly freehold, suburban & non-London. Most of its pubs have outdoor spaces. Most pubs without beer gardens were disposed of around the time of the smoking ban. Debt is manageable.
• Sector supply? This will contract. Demand is uncertain at present.
• Will any of the cost-savings stick? The model (menus etc) will be simplified. There will be some lessons to be learned.
• Are longer term goals changed? No, the group will still focus on reducing debt. Support functions will be simplified post the TSA with Carlsberg.
• Working capital unwind? VAT and Beer Duty will ultimately have to be paid.
• Will all sites (of the 85% to 90%) be opened 4 July? Yes. Exceptions will be Wales, Scotland and some larger food-led units.
• Customer demand? Unknown how the grey pound will behave. The co has little exposure to city centres, which could be tough.
• What level of sales will be needed for the company to break even? Each pub will be different. Wet led pubs break even at lower percentages. Some prices have gone up a little. Could ‘take a 50% to 70% drop in revenues. This will be cash and unit break even.
• Government guidance. Broadly sensible. Many are ‘where possible’. Bar vs table service. It’s not quite that stark. MARS believe customers can order at bar and have food delivered. Vertical drinking indoors is discouraged ‘where practicable’.
• Track & Trace has a lot of complications. The company will utilise WIFI. The group believes that the guidelines are broadly sensible & are something that the company can work with.
• As mentioned this morning, Marston’s has reassured that it has substantial headroom and, with its burn rate at manageable levels and the Carlsberg money to arrive in the autumn, it is secure.
• Trading, however, is an unknown.
• The company has made a host of sensible statements re the above but, at the end of the day, no consumer alive has had such a change in habits imposed on them and it is unclear what will stick.
• Community, suburban, beer gardens, freeholds, financial flexibility, vertically integrated etc would appear to be positive points. Marston’s is broadly in this spot.
• City centre, commuter sites, intentionally crowded, leasehold, overrented, financially stretched on the other hand could be the characteristics of the Venn Diagram of Death.
• Forecasting is not yet possible but, looking longer term, pandemics are rare, hostelries have been around since biblical times, Marston’s debt is reduced and will fall further and it has a well-financed, largely-freehold estate. The group will host a capital markets day in the autumn.
FOR NEXT TIME: 1) getting your workers back to work. Sounds easier than it might prove to be and 2) were the £10k and £25k grants meant to enable tenants to pay their rents?
PUB & RESTAURANT NEWS:
Covid-19 issues & reopening:
• Truism alert.
• The Venn Diagram of Death. Future trading is an unknown but, when obituaries are written, the words city centre, commuter sites, intentionally crowded, leasehold, overrented, financially stretched etc could feature heavily
• Estimated post-reopening trading levels.
• Fleurets has published the results of a poll of 100 industry operators ‘comprising pubs, pub/restaurants and pubs with rooms spread nationally’ saying that only a small minority of the operators, who have around 750 sites between them, believe they will trade at the same level as they had done pre-Covid.
• Fleuret says ‘the overwhelming majority see their trading performance at 50%-75% of the prior year.’ It says only 19% believe that they will see a spike in business after 4 July with 64% saying that they believe they will not.
• Fleurets has modelled the performance of a unit with pre-Covid revenues of £22k per week and says that, with no business rates for the next 9mths, they should be able to make a modest profit (of c£13k) for the next year at 75% of normal revenues but says they would make a loss of £174k if they could only reach 50% of last year’s turnover. This takes no account of debt repayments or head office costs.
• There are a number of caveats. Wet led operators could break even at lower levels of revenue and so could operators that own their properties freehold.
• Various stories in the Press of operators being flooded with bookings for the week after 4 July. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating.
• No obvious vouchers from the restaurateurs yet. Either they believe they will be as busy as they can be (with social distancing) or they may believe that whichever consumers are prepared to come out in July will not be price sensitive. The food retailers have said that they have removed offers as they do not want to encourage crowding.
• Consumer reaction.
• A YouGov poll suggests that only 6% of the British public want things to go back to how they were before the coronavirus crisis. Some 31% would like to see major changes made to how the economy is run whilst a further 28% would like to see moderate changes and only 6% of people wanted no changes to be made at all. TUC leader Frances O’Grady says ‘we need to build a better and fairer economy as we emerge from this pandemic. It is very the least working families deserve.’
• Everyone has an agenda but the above does suggest that the majority of people see Covid-19 as a crossroads of one sort or another.
• Deliveroo boss Will Shu has told that BBC that restaurants “are hurting” due to the coronavirus pandemic. He says ‘even if restrictions are lifted soon, there’s going to be a long period of socially-distanced dining.’ Mr Shu suggests that Covid-19 has accelerated pre-existing trends saying ‘since we started Deliveroo, there’s been this incredible adoption towards online and apps. But I think Covid-19 has brought forward this consumer behaviour by about one to three years.’ He says ‘on the other hand, our restaurant partners are hurting.’
• Events in China.
• CGA reports that 48% of ‘regular’ bar and restaurant visitors have been back to one or more units since lockdown was lifted. That is what it is but it does suggest that operators may find it hard to make financial ends meet. CGA believes that city centre and commuter trade may be under pressure more than that in the suburbs.
• CGA reports that, if the first two weeks of June, 30% of US consumers had been out to eat, 12% had been out for a drink and 41% had done at least one of the above. The 60% who had not yet ventured out quoted safety as their chief concern. US operators that had reopened initially saw revenues down by four fifths.
• No easy fix.
• It is now, after a couple of weeks, down by much less. People have a natural tendency to ‘see how it goes’. Cities have consistently performed less strongly than the states in which they were located. Revenues are now running at 40% to 50% of normal levels in New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
• Restaurant revenues in Texas, Kansas and Alabama are running between 80% and 100% of prior levels though, notably, Texas has seen a spike in infections and has paused some of its reopening programme. It has seen a record number of hospital admissions for 13dys in a row as at last Friday. Alabama also reported a record number of infections last week.
• Concerns re what a second wave could mean.
• Texas governor Greg Abbott last week issued an executive order forcing restaurants to cut capacity from 100% to 50%. The number of positive Covid-19 tests had been increasing in recent days. NRN in the US reports ‘Florida also closed its bars as a result of skyrocketing coronavirus case counts.’ It stopped sites that generate over 50% of their revenue from alcohol sales from allowing consumption on-premises.
• The practical problems associated with disposing of stale beer have been coming to the fore. Water companies are cutting bureaucracy and waiving fees. The BBPA’s Emma McClarkin Chief Executive says ‘the BBPA has been working closely with Government and the water industry to ensure pubs are prepared for re-opening, including destroying beer that has become unsaleable as a result of the COVID-19 shut down and disposal via the sewer where this is possible.’ She says ‘we would encourage all landlords and publicans to get any applications in to water companies as soon as they can to ensure a smooth process ahead of July 4.’
• Maybe landlords are people too.
• Intu’s administration on Friday has highlighted the fact that landlords, though often painted as the bad guys (and sometimes with reason), have their own bills to pay. London Union’s Jonathan Downey says ‘the Government can’t ignore this and they’re not going to fix it with a voluntary Code of Conduct. The loss of 50% of hospitality venues and 2 million jobs will be catastrophic for hospitality but also for real estate and the UK economy.’
• Other Covid.
• A whole host of offers of help for the industry have been forthcoming from app developers and the like offering to supply customer registration systems, at-table ordering apps and similar. Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKv Hospitality, has urged caution saying ‘there will be a lot of ambulance-chasing on apps if we’re not careful. We’ve seen a lot of tech firms coming out and saying, ‘If you pay us for a quick fix, we’ll be able to make an app for you’.’ Ms Nicholls adds ‘I’m fearful companies will be seduced into paying more for a tech solution before we know what the government is actually asking us to do.’
• Airship is launching a new Visitor Registration & Check-in solution to help operators follow government advice and to provide reassurance to customers. Airship says ‘the hospitality industry has been decimated by four months of lockdown, and now faces reopening in extremely challenging conditions. The need to collect customer details to help NHS Track & Trace is a rare silver lining in the Covid-19 cloud and all operators should be embracing it as they look to reboot their business over the coming months.’
• The conveyor belt.
• Sky reports ‘the owner of the Café Rouge and Las Iguanas restaurant chains [Casual Dining Group] has asked bidders to submit offers within days as the industry races to adjust to a new trading environment amid the coronavirus pandemic.’ Today may be the deadline.
• Langton has looked at the conveyor belt that is carrying a number of operators towards restructuring, disposal and / or administration recently. Several companies have indicated that they have appointed advisors. See Premium Email.
• Sky says it believes several parties ‘planned to make offers for Las Iguanas on a standalone basis, with a number of other investors tabling joint bids for Bella Italia and Café Rouge.’ Casual Dining Group announced in the middle of last month that it was working with Alix Partners to restructure or sell the business.
• The Sun does a piece on which company is where in terms of permanently shuttered units etc. See our earlier emails. Various estimates suggest up to 20% or so of casual dining units may not reopen.
• Revolution Bars Group on Friday updated on its reopening plans saying that it will ‘reopen six of its bars on 6 July 2020 and trade these for a minimum period of two weeks to fully test customer demand and sentiment and to refine the Group’s ‘COVID-secure’ operating standards, minimising risk to both staff and customers.’
• Revolution says ‘following this cautious recommencement of trading, the Group currently expects to be able to continue reopening in weekly tranches of up to 9 bars and hopes that by the end of August 2020, 62 out of 74 bars will have reopened.’ The company adds ‘the Group’s remaining bars may not reopen until the UK Government permits late night venues to recommence trading.’
• Revolution adds ‘the Group expects its net bank debt at 27 June 2020, the end of its current financial year, to be £22.0m. With £37.5m bank debt facilities now in place (stepping down by £7.5m on 31 March 2021) and £15.0m gross proceeds (£13.8m net of costs) from the successful Fundraising set to be received on 27 July contingent on the Group’s admission to AIM, the Group has a significant amount of cash liquidity and a strengthened balance sheet to overcome the anticipated challenging trading conditions in the foreseeable future.’
• CEO Rob Pitcher says ‘I am delighted that the Company has received overwhelming support from its shareholders for the proposed Fundraising and move to AIM’ and adds ‘I also enthusiastically welcome the UK Government’s decision to allow bars to reopen from the 4 July 2020. Given the all-day nature of our business, we will proceed cautiously, initially reopening only six of our bars to ensure that we can operate safely and viably. We hope that the learnings from this first tranche of bar reopenings will enable us to quickly progress the reopening of the remainder of our estate, which we expect to have substantially completed by the end of August.’
• Heavitree Brewery PLC on Friday said it will not pay a H1 dividend this year. The group reported revenue for the H1 to 30 April of £2.6m, down from £3.4m in the prior year. The group reported profits of £184k down from £705k in the prior year. Heavitree said ‘the request by the Prime Minister asking the public to avoid visiting pubs, and the subsequent forced closure of pubs, clubs and restaurants across the UK on March 20 has had an inevitably devastating effect on the trade as a whole and, of course, our business is not immune to the impact that has been felt by all pub companies.’
• Heavitree has cancelled rents completely for all its licensed houses from the closure up to the end of July 2020. The company says ‘much has been written about getting the pubs open to ‘save our summer’. It is important to remember that, rather ominously for the second half of our financial year, we already have two months without any trading to absorb.’
• Starbucks is to pause advertising on all social media platforms as it looks into how to avoid associating itself with hate speech.
• Tasty reported last Friday that it has re-opened seven restaurants (representing approximately 13 per cent. of the estate) for takeaway services only. It says ‘over the next few weeks, the Company intends to cautiously open further units for takeaway and/or full table service, in compliance with Government regulations, and by mid-July expects to have some 25 units open for trading.’
• Caffe Nero has today announced it will open 400 stores for eat-in from the 4th July.
• Intu filed for administration Friday afternoon.
• A HIM / MCA poll suggests that a half of operators intend to open on 4 July with the other half either saying that they will not open or that they have not yet made up their minds. In the latter case, they had better decide quickly.
• Constellation Brands has agreed to sell its brandy label Paul Masson to Sazerac for US$255 million. It has also reiterated it wish to sell New Zealand wine brand Nobilo to E&J Gallo for $130m.
• The Guardian reports that the Wellington Pub Company, owned by the billionaire Reuben brothers, ‘has been accused of pushing its tenants towards bankruptcy by refusing to cut rents due on premises closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.’ Many publicans will have had access to government grants of either £10,000 or £25,000, which were meant to help with rental payments.
• BigDish has this morning updated on its business saying that ‘as previously announced on 26 March 2020, the Company had engaged a boutique corporate advisory firm outside the UK with a successful track record in funding early stage consumer restaurant technology businesses. This was done with the intent of funding growth without the need for an equity placing.’ It says it ‘has continued to pursue this over the past few months but acknowledges that a successful outcome may only be possible at such time when management can travel internationally.’
• Therefore, the group to issue a number of shares relating to deferred consideration and to a service provider in lieu of fees. The company says ‘application has been made for the Deferred Consideration Shares Balance, the Pouncer Shares and the Fee Shares, representing a total of 15,220,440 ordinary shares of no par value to be admitted to trading which is expected to occur on or around 3 July 2020.’
HOLIDAYS & LEISURE TRAVEL:
• Quarantine. Horse, too late, bolted etc. What was all that about?
• The UK is to ease restrictions on non-essential overseas travel from 6 July. Holidaymakers will thereafter be able to travel to a number of countries including Spain, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Belgium, Turkey, Germany and Norway (but not Portugal or Sweden) and not have to self-isolate for 14dys on their return.
• British Airways’ Willie Walsh has said ‘the worst is yet to come’. He says ‘next year is going to be really tough, because some airlines are surviving on the back of support they’re getting and they’re not recognising the scale of the change.’
• Former Monarch Airlines owner Greybull Capital is tipped as a backer for a rescue package for Virgin Atlantic. Sky reports that ‘a multitude of advisers, including Houlihan Lokey, Alvarez & Marsal, Deloitte, Morgan Stanley and EY are working for various stakeholders on the Virgin Atlantic rescue deal.’
• The US Travel Association has criticised the EU for excluding the US from the list of countries to which it will allow reciprocal and quarantine-free travel.
• TUI has reported a 50% week-on-week increase in bookings, albeit from a low base.
• Management consultants McKinsey report that the recovery in travel in China has been ‘slower than expected’. Some 53% of Chinese consumers were optimistic about their country’s economic recovery though only 4% said they were likely to travel more post Covid-19 than they had done before.
• TUI has cancelled all Florida holidays from the UK until 30 November.
• UK operator Parkdean Resorts has said that its sites saw a 144% rise in bookings in the 24hrs after PM Boris Johnson announced the relaxing of domestic holiday restrictions from July 4. Bookings for the day were up 200% on the same day a year ago.
• Center Parcs has announced that its UK sites will open from 13 July though its water parks will open a fortnight later on 27 July.
• EasyJet has raised over £200m via the sale and leaseback of six aircraft.
• STR reports that demand across the US hotel industry may take four years to recover. STR estimates a 37.1% drop in occupancy this year. It says ‘with lower occupancy levels, and the influence of discounting as hoteliers compete for market share, ADR could show a slower recovery timeline even with more normalization each quarter—we improved our 2021 ADR projection from +1.7% to +5.2%.’
• Airbnb says that domestic bookings in the UK doubled from Monday to Tuesday this week on the back of an easing in travel restrictions.
• Ten Entertainment Friday announced that CEO Duncan Garrood has notified the company of his decision to resign to join Empiric Student Property plc. Mr Garrood will ‘remain with the business until the end of the year to deliver the reopening programme after its enforced closure due to Covid-19 and its return to more normalised trading.’ The company says ‘a search for a high-quality successor will now begin with immediate effect.’
• YouTube is to create a product to challenge TikTok when it tests a new feature on mobile that will allow users to record 15-second long multi-segment videos.
FINANCE & ECONOMICS:
• PM Boris Johnson is to make a major speech on the economy tomorrow. The Mail on Sunday says he will pledge that we will “not go back to the austerity of 10 years ago.”
• The number of cars made in the UK fell by 95.4% last month to record the worst May number since 1946 reports the SMMT. Some 5,314 vehicles were manufactured, compared with 116,035 units in May last year.
• Sterling down at $1.2366 and €1.10. Oil lower at $40.25. UK 10yr gilt yield up 1bp at 0.17%. World markets lower on Friday with Far East down today and London set to open down around 40pts at 7am.
START THE DAY WITH A SONG:
The song has been furloughed. See you on the other side.
RETAIL WITH NICK BUBB:
• Saturday’s Press and News (1): The headlines on the front pages of the Saturday papers were all about the planned creation of “air bridges” on July 6th to allow Overseas flights/summer holidays, eg “Fly out for Sun, Sea and 70% off!” in the Daily Mail. In terms of Business stories, there were 3 main Retailing stories on a busy day in the sector, which got lots of coverage in all the papers: the collapse of the shopping centre landlord Intu Properties, the overwhelming vote against the Director’s remuneration report at the Tesco AGM on Friday and the controversial new £150m Director share incentive plan at Boohoo.
• Saturday’s Press and News (2): In terms of the collapse of the shopping centre landlord Intu Properties into administration, the FT highlighted the pivotal role of the huge Canadian pension fund CPPIB in refusing to play ball with the Intu creditor standstill plan, because of its debt holding in the flagship Trafford Centre in Manchester. As the inquest started on what went wrong, the Business editorial of the Telegraph lambasted the management of the heavily indebted Intu (“Another fine mess that it has got Intu”), thundering that “this is a crisis entirely of its own making, created by a Board with a loose grip on reality”. The veteran City Editor of the Daily Mail also said that Intu has been “serially mismanaged” and doesn’t deserve any sympathy, but also said that retailers like Primark, JD Sports and Boots have “behaved disgracefully” in not paying rents and that “pension savers
• Saturday’s Press and News (3): In terms of the massive 67% protest vote by shareholders against Director’s remuneration at the Tesco AGM on Friday, the FT flagged that the vote was non-binding and was based on the principle of the way in which the Board had changed the scheme rather than the size of the pay award to CEO Dave Lewis. The Business editorial of the Telegraph said the protest vote was “humiliating” for the Board of Tesco and that it ought to climb down, rather than shrug it off…The City Editor of the Daily Mail chose to highlight instead the way in which Tesco Bank will drag the group back this year, and, on a happier note, the Business editorial in the Times noted that Tesco created 47,000 temporary jobs in Q1. The Times also had an article about the news that Tesco gained many shoppers from Aldi in Q1 (according to the Kantar switching data featured in Tesco’s highly
• Saturday’s Press and News (4): In terms of the controversial new Director share incentive plan at Boohoo the Business editorial in the Times noted that the 2 co-founders of the company already own shares in the business worth £752m…whilst the FT highlighted that a shareholder vote is not required as Boohoo is listed on AIM and Lex column in the FT noted that “this is another sign that Boohoo has outgrown London’s junior market”, thundering that “Strict governance codes might be irksome to Boohoo’s entrepreneurial leadership, but the scale of the company calls for a more rigorous approach”.
• Saturday’s Press and News (5): In other news, the Times, the Telegraph and the Guardian all noted that M&S is battling with Next to win the UK franchise of the bankrupt Victoria’s Secret lingerie chain in the UK. The Daily Mail also had an Investment column looking at M&S (“Is the future Rosie at M&S?”), concluding that “a revival is not assured and may take years”. The Daily Mail featured Sainsbury’s in its “Popular Shares” column ahead of next week’s Q1/AGM, whilst the Times noted that Card Factory has sacked its CEO Karen Hubbard. The Guardian highlighted that bike sales jumped by 60% in April, but that the outlook for bike sales in the rest of the year is less certain. Finally, the FT flagged both the weak start to the IPO of the Albertsons supermarket chain in the US on Friday and the poor H&M Q1 results.
• Sunday’s Press and News (1): There were some mixed headlines on the front pages of the Sunday papers: the Sunday Telegraph flagged, worryingly, that “PM to oust top mandarin in Whitehall revolution”, whilst the Sunday Times focused on the way in which the corrupt Housing Minister, Robert Jenrick ignored Civil Service advice to block the controversial Richard Desmond property deal (“Kill donor’s £1bn deal, officials begged Minister”). The Mail on Sunday went with “Billions to get Britain booming” (complete with a ludicrous photo of the PM doing press-ups to prove that he’s “as fit as a butcher’s dog”), whilst the Observer ran with “Jobless total to hit 1980’s levels without fresh state support”.
• Sunday’s Press and News (2): In terms of Retail news, the collapse of the shopping centre landlord Intu Properties generated more coverage, with the Sunday Times following up on the way in which the huge Canadian pension fund CPPIB spiked the planned standstill agreement, noting that property tycoon John Whittaker is expected to try to wrestle control of the Trafford shopping centre back from lenders. The Sunday Telegraph highlighted that the wealthy Church Commissioner’s fund is involved with Intu, as it owns 10% of the giant Metrocentre mall in Gateshead, whilst the Mail on Sunday flagged that the well-known hedge fund manager Crispin Odey is thought to have made over £75m through shorting Intu’s shares. The “Inside the City” investment column in the Sunday Times looked at the impact of Intu’s collapse on its rival Hammerson (“Intu’s flop casts pall over rival’s top shops”) and said
• Sunday’s Press and News (3): In other news, the Sunday Times flagged that JD Sports’ tough attitude to landlords has caused controversy (“Unsporting? JD accused of trampling landlords with Go Outdoors’s collapse”). The Sunday Times also flagged that the TM Lewin and Feather & Black brands are set to disappear from the High Street. The Sunday Telegraph noted that Amazon is set to appoint an internal candidate to succeed Doug Gurr as CEO of the UK business. The main Business story in the Mail on Sunday was that the Russian tycoon Sergey Petrov is on the lookout for UK car dealers to buy. The Mail on Sunday also highlighted that Next is expected to bring forward its Summer Sale by a couple of days to Thursday to ease crowding in the stores and that Topps Tiles is expected to announce a pick-up in trading with its update on Wednesday.
• Sunday’s Press and News (4): In terms of all the comment columns in the Sunday papers, we would, as usual, highlight the thoughtful column by the Sunday Times Economics correspondent David Smith (“After the bailout, Bailey plots the Bank’s way back”), in which he argued that unwinding QE should come before interest rate rises (when the Bank of England looks at a return to normality). As well as the column by the Business Editor of the Sunday Times, Oliver Shah (“We need to tame this anarchy sweeping our High Streets and shopping centres”), in which he argued that banks and pension funds will suffer from the collapse of the relationship between retailers and landlords. We also give a shout out to the columns by the veteran City commentator Jeremy Warner in the Sunday Telegraph (“Please, no bailouts, as a tsunami of bad debt sweeps in from lockdown”), in which he argued that it was right
• Today’s News: Mighty Boohoo has announced that the controversial new Management Incentive Plan that was unveiled on Friday has already been implemented, as the independent non-exec Directors judge the terms to be “fair and reasonable” and there is no need, under AIM listing rules, for independent shareholders to vote on the matter. And the embattled Motor dealer Lookers has announced that the investigation by Grant Thornton into potential fraud is still going on, albeit only about half of the estimated £19m of non-cash adjustments likely to be required relate to 2019 and the Board believes that 2019 should still have been profitable at an underlying PBT level (note that the Lookers AGM today will actually be held before the final results are announced, because of the fraud investigation…).
• News Flow This Week: The highlight of this week is the Sainsbury Q1 update on Wednesday. Wednesday also brings the Topps Tiles Q3, whilst the ABF (Primark) update and the Sainsbury AGM are on Thursday and the M&S AGM is on Friday.