The Week Ahead: City to get update on health of the high street


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The biggest names in retail have finished topping up their tans and are back in the City this week to provide an update on the health of the high street.

Given the data deluge  that’s coming on Thursday, when six retailers update the market, analysts could be forgiven for thinking the companies want safety in numbers for the inevitable revelations that a washout August hit them hard.

But first, today brings an update from Primark owner Associated British Foods, where investors will get an initial idea of the impact of the weather. Primark has been racing away, so any pain there is likely to be shared by the rest.

Tomorrow it’s the turn of the housebuilder Barratt Homes, which should report strong full-year results thanks in part to a Tory election victory that saw off a mansion tax. Shares in the company have risen 38 per cent this year and investors have high hopes.

On Wednesday the City takes a trip north to Sports Direct’s head office for the company’s annual general meeting. There could be a bloody nose for its chairman, the former police chief Keith Hellawell, who is up for re-election for the first time since he was grilled by MPs about the USC administration. An update is also due, but given Mike Ashley’s reticence, the City will not be expecting much detail.

Thursday brings the spectacle of Dunelm, Morrisons, Next, Dixons Carphone, Home Retail Group and the John Lewis Partnership all updating the City.

In essence, Morrisons will say it is not doing as badly as everyone thinks; Next will continue its record growth at the expense of Marks & Spencer; Dixons Carphone will have to answer tough questions about a recent computer hack; Home Retail Group will give an update on its Homebase store closure plan; Dunelm will unveil its new boss John Browett; and John Lewis will have to explain why profits continue to suffer. Oh, and the Bank of England will tell us interest rates will stay at 0.5 per cent.

On Friday, those still standing can raise a pint to JD Wetherspoon and its full-year results, which will probably be accompanied by  bombastic founder Tim Martin railing against the higher minimum wage.