The Week Ahead: Primark expected to beat growth forecasts

TODAY: Britain's battered high streets will be in focus at the beginning of a busy week when Associated British Foods provides a trading update.

All eyes will be on the company's Primark chain of stores, which have been putting in a robust performance and reported healthy growth when the company updated the market in July. The fashion chain contributes 40 per cent of the company's profit, and has benefited from the strength of the value clothing niche in the recession – Matalan has also been performing strongly, as have the supermarkets' discount ranges. Analysts confidently expect the chain to beat the company's 5 per cent growth forecast.

All of this will rather overshadow the group's food operations, which include British Sugar. It should benefit from the commodity's firming price.

Whitbread is also due to update the market after creating ripples at the end of last week by closing its final salary pension scheme. Revenues slumped by 7.9 per cent in the 13 weeks ending 28 May, and were down by 9.6 per cent on an available room basis.

Results/updates: Lupus, Healthcare Locums, Kofax, Associated British Foods, Whitbread.



TOMORROW: Britain's largest plant hire group, Ashtead, issues first-quarter results which are expected to show a pre-tax profit of £8m, down from £35.9m in the first quarter of 2009. RBS says that while the US and UK recessions continue to hit group profitability, recent results from Aggreko suggest that conditions in the parts of the latter's markets where it comes across Ashtead have not worsened markedly during the quarter.

UBS says that "Ashtead should benefit from growth in rental penetration, which should be accelerated by the recession."

Results/updates: Staffline, Mattioli Woods, Stadium Group, Interior Services Group, Abcam, Advanced Medical Solutions, Ashtead Group.



WEDNESDAY: If only its finances were as sweet as its chocolate. The recession has, however, left a bitter taste in the mouths of Thorntons' investors. The downturn, together with the collapse of the Birthdays chain, which was a reliable outlet for the company's product, have analysts predicting a sharp fall in annual profits for the chocolate maker, with the consensus suggesting they could be as much as 40 per cent lower.

The operation enjoyed the benefits of an extra three weeks to sell chocolate in the run-up to a much later Easter than last year – while the troubles of rivals such as Woolworths didn't hurt. However, this is likely to have been offset by a weaker performance during the early summer's warm weather.

Results/updates: Thorntons, Sports Direct, Prezzo.



THURSDAY: Retail is back in focus on Thursday with the supermarket operator WM Morrison expected to report solid first-half sales and a good underlying performance.

Charles Stanley forecasts that sales could be up 8 per cent, although the figure has been boosted by food price inflation. Recent restructuring of the company's distribution network as well as in store layout and product line changes have helped to increase efficiency across the operation, and the measures are expected to be reflected in the interim results.

Sam Hart of Charles Stanley points to the creation of two distribution centres in the south of England, which will "take the pressure off their North of England operation". He went on to say that their results should show "industry leading sales growth" and that "significant potential exists to further expand operating profit margins". The consensus forecast is for a 21 per cent rise in underlying pre-tax profits of £354m, up from £295m a year earlier.

Results/updates: WM Morrison, Hilton Food, Carpetright, Genus, Home Retail.

FRIDAY: J D Wetherspoon is expected to release a robust set of results. The stock has been upgraded three times in six months by Investec Securities, highlighting increasing confidence in hospitality stocks. Investors expect to see a 7 per cent increase in pre-tax profits which have been bolstered by a debt reduction programme.

Investec analysts say that "recent updates from pub sector peers have been inconsistent and impacted by the variable summer weather". However, JDW is not as exposed to weather conditions as some of its peers.

The chain has been cashing in on the downturn, acquiring 37 new pubs, many because of freehold closures and bankruptcies.

Results/updates: JD Wetherspoon, SThree.

Suggested Topics
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voices

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'
art
News
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee
people

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £Competitive: SThree: SThree Group and have be...

Helpdesk Analyst

£23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London