The ‘will-they-won’t-they’ discussion over whether June 21 ‘freedom day’ will actually happen was back on earlier, but did little to dampen the spirits of investors in pubs.
The City looks to have got so used to speculation that the current timetable might not be met, that a Times report saying that plans to ease lockdown further could be delayed by a fortnight failed to knock appetite for hospitality stocks.
Data from the Office for National Statistics today showed around a third of pubs said they were still suffering “significant profit losses” last month, however this represented an improvement after heightened restrictions around Christmas resulted in “huge losses in trade” at the end of last year. The report also pointed to improved confidence.
Shares in Mitchells & Butlers gained 1.8p to 315.8p and Marston’s increased 1.8p to 95p. Fuller’s leaped 26p, or 3% to 882p.
Sentiment may have also been boosted by an update from AIM-listed bars chain Nightcap, which said the strong sales performance since re-opening is “significantly” ahead of the board’s expectations.
Shares in Nightcap, founded by former Dragons’ Den investor Sarah Willingham, were up 2.23p, or 9.67%, to 25.22p.
Elsewhere on the junior market, property website OnTheMarket edged up 0.28p to 105.28p after reporting its first annual profit since launching in 2015.
Over on the blue chip index, and the biggest riser was asset manager Intermediate Capital Group.
It cheered annual profit growth, and the shares rose 100.98p to 2256.98p.
Footsie heavyweights BP and Royal Dutch Shell were less in favour, with the shares off 1.2p to 318p and 17.6p to 1375p respectively, as Brent crude decreased 0.8% to $70.95 per barrel.
Overall the FTSE 100 rose 7.01 points to 7084.21 and the FTSE 250 was down 16.31 points to 22,891.44.
SMALL CAP SPOTLIGHT
Shares in Filta Group, which cleans and manages kitchen fryers found at restaurants, stadiums and hotels, improved today on a upbeat update.
The firm said it is seeing an increasing level of demand for its services, “with a clear link to the success of the vaccine rollouts and exiting of lockdown phases”. Boss Jason Sayers added that further revenue growth is expected in the second half of the year.
The shares rose more than 5%, or 8.34p, to 162.84p.