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Today’s news in brief-4/1/24

UK retail footfall rose by 6.1% in December driven by a festive shopping surge. Shopping centres led with an 11.1% increase, followed by retail parks (5.9%) and high streets (3.7%). Compared to 2022, footfall edged up by 0.2%, primarily in high streets (+1.2%). However, shopping centres saw a decline of -1.9%. Despite a Boxing Day boost, footfall remained -14.9% lower than 2019 levels. A post-Christmas slump of -20% to -25% is predicted for January, with weather warnings and delayed school returns contributing to subdued foot traffic. Financial constraints from late 2023 may persist into early 2024, impacting retail destinations.

Topps Tiles reported a 7.1% drop in like-for-like sales for Q1 2024, reflecting challenges in discretionary consumer spending, especially in the repair, maintenance, and improvement sector. Group sales were 4.0% lower YoY, with online sales growth and a well-controlled cost base noted. The company expects profits in 2024 to be weighted toward the second half and remains optimistic about gaining market share with its customer service, brands, and balance sheet strength.

Mamas & Papas experienced a 17% sales rise in Q4 2023, driven by a strong Black Friday and robust performance in stores and online. The expanding UK retail estate, including partnerships with Next and Marks & Spencer, contributed to better-than-expected sales. The retailer anticipates record-breaking turnover and profits for the current fiscal year, ending March 2024, with a focus on ESG commitments and circularity initiatives.

JD Sports revised its full-year profit guidance to £915m – £935m, down from the initial £1bn target, citing lower-than-expected revenue growth during the festive period. Constant currency organic revenue grew by 6.0%, but apparel revenue was impacted by milder weather and cautious consumer spending. The gross margin rate is expected to be slightly lower than last year due to elevated promotional activity. The company remains confident in its strategy and continues to invest in supply chain, systems, and stores.

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Barbour reported a 15% decrease in operating profits to £34.3m for the year ended April 2023, despite a 20% increase in sales to £343m. The dip is attributed to intense cost pressures, with no further price rises expected. Collaborations with Ganni and Erdem contributed to the sales rise, catering to Gen Z shoppers. Barbour faces challenges from the cost of living crisis, war in Ukraine, and supply chain issues.

Next raised its full-year profit before tax guidance by £20m to £905m, up 4% from last year, following a strong nine weeks to December 30 with a 5.7% sales increase. Online sales performed exceptionally well, rising by 9.1% in Q4 and 7.7% for the half-year. The retailer expects a 5% increase in profit before tax and a 6% rise in sales for 2024/2025. Despite challenges earlier in the year, Next’s upbeat outlook reflects its strong performance during the golden quarter.

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