The Week Ahead: Supermarkets shape up, but Britain can't get enough cider

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The Independent Online

The high street is coming to the Square Mile this week, with an array of retailers set to let their finances out of the bag. Investors will get a snapshot of how much consumers are spending on everything from books to upmarket fashion labels.

Hot on the heels of Tesco's £1.2bn first-half result comes a second-quarter update from rival supermarket group J Sainsbury. Analysts are expecting solid sales growth following the chain's move to slash prices.

Also expected to report strong figures is the French supermarket and hypermarket group Carrefour, chaired by Luc Vande- velde, ex of Marks & Spencer. Citigroup analysts James Anstead and Esmail Afash expect the world's second-largest retailer to report sales growth of 7.2 per cent in the third quarter.

Big fashion names will offer guidance on whether the upcoming seasons are likely to impress. Barclays analyst William Hobbs said Burberry investors would look to the retailer's trading update for information on initial orders for its 2007 spring/ summer collection. "This will provide the first opportunity for a fair analysis of the strategy of new chief executive Angela Ahrendts," he said.

Management will also be measured up at suits and menswear retailer Moss Bros following last week's news that David Pidgeon, put in charge of boosting the fortunes of its Moss Bros and Moss Hire stores, had quit six months into his contract. Moss Bros, which also operates the Hugo Boss chain, said he would leave immediately.

Also in the spotlight will be Matalan founder and chairman John Hargreaves, who has until Wednesday to get a proposed bid for the discount retailer over the line. The Takeover Panel set the deadline back in August after he indicated that he could make an offer of 200p a share, valuing the retailer at £817m.

Investors will also be looking for a takeover update from printing group St Ives. The printer of the Harry Potter novels reports its annual results after receiving an approach from an unnamed suitor last month. Its headline figures will also be scrutinised after it warned in August that its profit was likely to miss forecasts because of "serious" accounting errors, which cost a financial controller his job.

Britain's insatiable appetite for Magners cider is expected to generate a bumper result for its maker, Ireland's C&C Group. The company, which also makes Irish cider brand Bulmers, said last month that it expected turnover to increase by 25 per cent in the six months to 31 August, largely on the back of excellent sales of Magners in Britain. But investors will also be keen to hear what C&C is doing to address capacity constraints, which are holding back the group from meeting market demand for Magners.

Also in the drinks sector, brewing giant SABMiller will provide the market with a trading update.

Consumer demand for DVDs and books will come under the microscope when WH Smith hands down its first set of results minus its distribution arm, Smith News. Investors will be hoping that WH Smith, which demerged its retail and distribution businesses last month, delivers a different story to rival HMV, which is experiencing difficulties on the high street despite slashing the cost of its books and DVDs.

Another demerger is set to take place, with Argos owner GUS splitting its credit-rating and retail arms. The Argos and Homebase businesses will come under the banner of Home Retail Group, while its credit-rating arm, Experian, is cut free. GUS is poised to raise £800m floating Experian; it has set an initial price range of 475p to 610p, valuing the business at £4.1bn to £5.3bn.

Mail order will stay in the City's eye with N Brown, the owner of the Fashion World, Ambrose Wilson and House of Stirling direct-shopping catalogues, reporting half-year results.

Investors will turn to a trading update from mobile phone retailer Carphone Warehouse to gain an insight into its surprise move into the US. The retailer revealed last month that it would take its first step into the American market through a partnership with US electrical retailer BestBuy.

Staying in the US and Yum! Brands, which owns the Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell franchises, is expecting strong sales in China to boost its third-quarter sales results. The group should provide an update on its recent $184m (£98.4m) acquisition from Whitbread of the remaining 50 per cent interest in its 541 UK Pizza Hut stores.

From Pizza Hut to the maker of Goodfellas frozen pizzas, and Northern Foods is expected to provide details on its strategic review of the business in a trading update. The company is due to close a Manchester bakery in December in a bid to cut costs.

CALENDAR

Tomorrow 9

UK RESULTS: (final) YouGov.

Tuesday 10

UK RESULTS: (F) St Ives Group; (interim) Rugby Estates.

Wednesday 11

UK RESULTS: (I) N Brown Group; (second quarter) J Sainsbury.

Thursday 12

UK RESULTS: (F) WH Smith; (I) Moss Bros.

Friday 13

UK RESULTS: none scheduled.

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