Marks & Spencer MKS CEO Steve Rowe comes out of his corner fighting with claims that in the half year to the end of September, good progress has been made on the immediate burning issues which he faced a year ago, and that Marks is now a robust and profitable business. Only in Food are there still problems which he will be addressing later in the year. The company, he crows, is ready to accelerate the transformations which have taken place and he produces figures which he appears to hope, will lead people to believe him. International profits have trebled to £60.3m., full price Clothing & Home sales have risen by 5.3% and food revenue is up by 4.4% but all of that rise he admits is due to the opening of new space.
Now it would perhaps be unfair to say that is a load of porkies but the figures which really matter in the view of many, like for like revenue on a constant currency basis, show a somewhat different story which hardly yet justify that fighting stance. The truth is that on a like for like, constant currency basis, decline still prevails and does so in all sectors. Food is down 0.1%, Clothing and Home is down 0.7%, total UK revenue is down by 0.3% and even the much vaunted International business turns out to have declined by 3.1%. To add insult to injury the same table of statistics is used to show that all these falls add up to a rise of 2% in total group revenue. This mathematical sleight of hand is made possible by failing to specify whether that total revenue figure is like for like revenue, on a constant currency basis or what.
Persimmon PSN has enjoyed strong customer activity in the quarter to the 7th November and has now fully sold up for the current year, whilst forward sales reserved beyond 2017 now amount to nearly £1 bn. Not surprisingly in these circumstances pricing has also remained strong.
JD Wetherspoon JDW updates that the new financial year has started positively with sales at a slightly higher level than anticipated. Costs however have been significantly higher than expected. Chairman, Tim Martin, saves most of his update to lambast the media, senior company directors et all for providing completely false information about Brexit and the devastating effect it will have on companies and on the British economy, as a whole. He refers to quotes and articles by Sainsbury and Whitbreads and exposes their arguments as being deliberately misleading and makes the point that they and other majors, already have plans in place in readiness for brexit, deal or no deal and many of them are positively looking for ward to it.