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Focus on 'big-ticket' purchases as Thomas Cook releases figures

Consumer appetite for 'big-ticket' purchases will be tested this week with figures from holidays firm Thomas Cook and B&Q owner Kingfisher.

B&Q owner Kingfisher should announce a 4% rise in annual profits on Tuesday amid signs that it is benefiting from the upturn in the UK housing market.

Analysts have pencilled in adjusted pre-tax profits of £742 million for the year to January, up from £715m a year before.

The figures come two weeks after rival Homebase said its sales at the start of 2014 had risen by 9.3%, driven by further growth in big ticket sales such as kitchens and bathrooms.

Kingfisher's last trading update, for the third quarter to the start of November, showed B&Q's like-for-like sales almost flat, nudging ahead by just 0.4%.

Sales of outdoor seasonal products dropped sharply as a knock-on effect of strong summer trading in the previous three-month period.

B&Q's third quarter performance was outshone by Kingfisher's Screwfix brand, which grew like-for-like revenues by 11.1%.

Travel operator Thomas Cook will update the City on Thursday on the latest stage of its turnaround plan under chief executive Harriet Green.

Summer bookings will be in focus at the group following a period of poor weather which will have prompted hopes of more customers deciding to make plans for a getaway.

The group said in an update last month that it was 39% sold for the season, in line with the year before.

First quarter figures for the period to December 31 saw underlying losses fall by £10m to £56m despite the impact of turmoil in Egypt on bookings. Revenues were £15m lower at £1.66m but Ms Green said there had been "further rapid progress delivering our strategy for sustainable profit growth".

The operator is battling to return to profit and under her leadership it more than halved losses to £207m in the year to September from £590m the year before.

Menswear retailer Moss Bros publishes full-year results on Wednesday after revealing a sales surge over the Christmas period meant it was due to beat profit expectations. The update last month prompted a spike in shares as shareholders were promised a bumper dividend. It revealed that like-for-like sales rose 12.9% over the five weeks to January 11.

Moss Bros said it had waited until Boxing Day before launching discounts despite early clearance sales on the high street.

Sales growth was maintained throughout the festive period but picked up significantly after Christmas while it also benefited from strong online sales after launching its new site last January. An overall sales rise of 7.2% in the six months to January was a marked improvement on the 2.7% increase.

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