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Today’s news in brief-21/5/24

Zuber Issa is poised to acquire the UK arm of EG Group, a move indicating the Issa brothers’ business paths are diverging. This acquisition excludes Cooplands bakery, certain Starbucks outlets, and EG’s electric vehicle charging business, Evpoint, with the deal expected to conclude by late June. Additionally, Zuber Issa is reportedly looking to sell his stake in Asda to TDR Capital. EG Group, which returned to profitability in 2023 after selling 350 petrol stations and over 1,000 food-to-go sites to Asda for £2bn, recorded a pre-tax loss of £98.3m when excluding the Asda deal.

Frasers Group, owned by Mike Ashley, is the leading contender to acquire a 50% stake in Exeter’s Princesshay Estate and shopping centre from Nuveen, an investment firm that bought its share from Landsec in 2014. This stake is valued at £40m. The estate, comprising 630,000 sq ft, includes a mix of retail spaces and two car parks, generating £9.1m in gross income annually. The Crown Estate owns the remaining shares.

Kingfisher, the parent company of B&Q, announced steady profit guidance after Q1 sales in the UK and Ireland compensated for weaker performances in France and Poland. Sales rose slightly to £3.3bn, but like-for-like sales dipped by 0.9%. UK revenues increased by 2.7%, driven by strong e commerce and trade segments, despite a decline in ‘big-ticket’ item sales. B&Q’s online sales surged 22.8% year-on-year.

Topps Tiles reported a pre-tax loss of £1.5m for the first half of 2024, attributed to a challenging tile market with decreased footfall. Revenues fell by 5.8% to £122.8m, and like-for-like sales dropped 9.2% year-on-year. Despite these setbacks, the company gained market share.

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Shoe Zone’s adjusted profit before tax remained flat at £2.5m for the six months ending 30 March 2024, impacted by increased costs from the National Living Wage, shipping delays, and its store strategy. Total revenues rose by 1.5% to £76.5m, with digital revenues jumping 19.6% while store revenues declined. The company reduced its store count by 27 compared to a year ago, now operating 309 stores. Shoe Zone plans further relocations and refits to improve its property portfolio.

The Works is anticipating a return to profitability in FY25, following a flat sales performance in FY24 and a strategic shift to AIM for greater regulatory flexibility. Revenues for FY24 rose slightly by 0.9% to £282.6m, but like-for-like sales decreased by 0.9%. The company implemented several cost-cutting measures, including moving its online fulfilment centre, ending its loyalty scheme, and negotiating better terms with suppliers. These changes, along with store portfolio optimizations, are expected to significantly reduce costs and improve margins.

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