Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:
JD Sports' record results
JD Sports (JD.L) has reported record results in the 12 months to 1 February, prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The trainer and athletic wear shop said revenue rose 30% to £6.1bn ($7.6bn) and pre-tax profit rose by 3% to £348.5m.
Along with other retailers, JD Sports was forced to shut its stores as lockdowns were introduced worldwide to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The company said the “majority” of its stores were now trading but cautioned that footfall has been “weaker” in shopping centres “as consumers remain nervous about the risks associated with densely occupied enclosed spaces.”
Chief executive Peter Cowgill said: “We were encouraged by the continued positive trading in the early weeks of the year prior to the emergence of COVID-19 and we firmly believe that we are well placed to regain our previous momentum.
“Looking longer term, there is inevitably considerable uncertainty as to what the effect of COVID-19 will be on consumer behaviour and footfall with future store investments highly dependent on rental realism and lease flexibility.”
Shares in JD Sports rose 1.6%, briefly topping the FTSE 100.
Premier Inn struggles
Shares in Premier Inn-owner Whitbread (WTB.L) fell to the bottom of the FTSE 100 on Tuesday after the company admitted that sales had collapsed over the last three months.
Bookings at Premier Inn fell by 79% in the 13 weeks to 28 May. Whitbread also owns restaurants such as Beefeater and said sales were down 80.1% at its food and beverage outlets.
Whitbread has begun to reopen many of its hotels in the UK as lockdown restrictions ease. Chief executive Alison Brittain said it was “too early to draw any conclusions from our booking trajectory”.
The stock fell 4.1%.
Halfords (HFD.L) said on Tuesday that sales over the past three months fell by 6.5%, despite a huge 57% surge in its cycling business due to customers flocking to its stores for bikes during the coronavirus pandemic.
While many customers have chosen to avoid public transport during the crisis, many of those with cars have also been forced to work from home.
Halfords said that motoring revenue plummeted by more than 45% in the 13 weeks to 3 July, citing a “material drop” in car journeys across the UK.
The company’s motoring business is one of its higher-margin divisions, and Halfords said that it had seen “improving trends” in this area since coronavirus restrictions have been eased.
Shares in the company fell almost 8%.
Reach (RCH.L), the publishing company behind the Daily Mirror and Express newspapers, has announced plans to cut 550 jobs as part of a restructuring, blaming a COVID-19-driven downturn in the advertising market.
Reach said on Tuesday it would start a 45-day consultation on cutting 12% of its workforce, part of plans to save £35m ($43.7m) in annual costs.
Second quarter revenue collapsed by 27.5%, Reach said, and was still down 23.9% in June. Circulation remains “significantly below” pre-COVID-19 levels and the ad market “continues to be challenging,” the company said.
Shares in Reach fell 12.1%.
European stock markets dipped on Tuesday morning, following strong gains for equities globally in the previous trading session led by China.
Action was mixed in Asia overnight. Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) fell 0.4% and the Hong Kong Hang Seng index (^HSI) shed 0.6%. On mainland China, the Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) rose 0.6% and the Shenzen Component (399001.SZ) rallied 2%.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will on Wednesday unveil a £3bn ($3.7bn) green jobs package as part of a series of measures designed to lift the UK economy out of the coronavirus crisis.
As part of the package, the government will spend £1bn to make public buildings, such as schools and hospitals, greener.
This, the Treasury said in a statement, will help the country meet its goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Up to 5,000 new jobs will be backed through a £40m scheme called the Green Jobs Challenge Fund, which will encourage environmental charities and local authorities to plant trees, clean up rivers, and create green spaces for people and wildlife.
As part of his summer statement on Wednesday, Sunak is also expected to unveil £50m to retrofit social housing with heat pumps, insulation and double glazing.
UK house prices slid for the fourth consecutive month in June as the coronavirus pandemic dampened the housing market.
Halifax’s monthly house price index showed prices edged 0.1% lower between May and June. It marked the first four straight months of decline in a decade.
But Halifax said activity levels began to “bounce back strongly” in June, with new mortgage enquiries surging.