FTSE 100 Live: Energy price cap extended ahead of Budget, stocks calmer


Revenue tops $1 billion at 4imprint

4imprint, the Holborn-based company that sells a range of branded corporate goods from pens to hoodies reported revenue of over $1 billion (£0.8 billion) today, helped by a strong showing in its North American business.

Sales rose 45% to $1.14 billion, with operating profit more than doubling to $103.7 million, both landmark figures in the company’s history.

The FTSE 250 company started in 1987 and uses direct marketing of its products to businesses, at first via free samples, a catalogue and a freephone number rather than the visit of a salesman. It now has an extensive website and a major US business based in Wisconsin and operations in Canada and Ireland.


Prudential backing for London

PRUDENTIAL, the mighty insurer founded in 1848, today insisted it would keep its stock market listing in London, in a boost to the City.

With businesses large and small complaining that other stock markets, notably New York, offer higher valuations and more fluid access to capital, the Pru said it has “no plans” to leave London.

That’s of particular interest since nearly all of the Pru’s business is now in Asia.

New CEO Anial Wadhwani said: “We are a UK domiciled company. We don’t have any plans as of now to change our UK domicile. There is no plan to change that.”

Lately Arm Holdings and CRH opted for a New York listing. WANdisco said the same before accounting irregularities were exposed.

There were fears that the City was being undermined and needed a radical shake-up of its listing rules.

The Pru today reported sales up 9% to $4.4 billion for 2022.

CFO James Turner said the insurer had only a tiny exposure to SVB, the Silicon Valley Bank that failed last week. He put it at $1 million out of a $23 billion Pru book of debt. “It really is tiny. We are very conservative in the positioning of our balance sheet.”


Stock markets recover after SVB turmoil

Stock market conditions look to have stabilised after three sessions of turbulence caused by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB).

Wall Street shares rebounded last night, with the 1.65% improvement for the S&P 500 index and 2.1% jump for the tech-focused Nasdaq aided by a further slowdown in the annual rate of US inflation to 6%.

Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid said: “Obviously we’re still a long way from the pre-SVB state of affairs that prevailed last Wednesday, but with worries about bank contagion starting to subside, we’re finally seeing some optimism return to financial markets again.”

Reid said the back stopping of bank depositors in the United States had starved the immediate crisis of oxygen, although he added the episode showed that higher interest rates were now having an impact with the usual lag.

The FTSE 100 index rallied 1.2% yesterday and IG Index expects London’s top flight to hold those gains when trading resumes this morning.


Science and fantasy combine to deliver profits at Bloomsbury Publishing

Bloomsbury Publishing said “disparate” ends of its publishing strategy – fantasy novels and academic publishing – combined to deliver a strong end to 2022-23, helping it report profit of £30 million.

The publisher reported revenue of £260  million for the year ended 28 February, with Samantha Shannon’s A Day of Fallen Night, Johan Hari’s Stolen Focus and BAKE by Paul Hollywood among its best sellers.

“Two of our strongest performances in the year have come from very disparate ends of our publishing strategy – fantasy novels on the one hand and academic digital resources on the other – showing how well our balanced consumer and academic portfolio is working in practice,” CEO Nigel Newton said.

“Throughout a year which has been characterised by rising inflation and cost of living pressure, it is notable that reading remains hugely popular throughout the world with books regarded by many readers as an affordable pastime.”


Sales up at H&M

Foreign exchange changes helped make up for the impact of the war in Ukraine for H&M in the  three months to 28 February.

Foreign exchange changes helped make up for the impact of the war in Ukraine for H&M

/ PA Archive

Sales were SEK 54.9 million in the first quarter of the fashion brand’s financial year, up by 12%. 

On a constant currency basis, the rise was only 3%, though this would increase to 7% if sales from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus in the prior year are excluded.


Burberry poaches finance chief from car maker McLaren

Burberry has named Kate Ferry as the British fashion firm’s next finance boss, who joins from luxury car maker McLaren Group.

Ferry, who will report to Burberry’s chief executive Jonathan Akeroyd, will join the FTSE 100 company by early September at the latest.

She is currently chief financial officer at McLaren and a non-executive director at bakery chain Greggs.

Akeroyds said: “Kate has extensive experience of public markets, business transformation and development and an excellent understanding of the luxury industry. She is a strong addition to our leadership team and I am excited about her joining to support this next phase of Burberry’s development.”

The appointment comes after Burberry announced last year that finance chief Julie Brown would be stepping down from the role at the close of the group’s financial year on April 1.


Energy Support Guarantee extended ahead of full Budget announcement

It’s been confirmed that millions of household are to be spared a £160 rise in their gas and electric bills.

The Treasury said that the government’s Energy Price Guarantee will be extended at its current level for an extra three months.

It will now keep the average household energy bill at £2,500 until the end of June, than rather than putting it up on April 1.

The Treasury said:

“The Chancellor’s three-month extension of the Energy Price Guarantee at £2,500 means households won’t feel the full force of Ofgem’s Price Cap between April and June – which stands at £3,280 – helping to bridge consumers into the summer.”

City experts had widely expected such a move, after a fall in wholesale gas prices followed improvements to storage capacity across Europe and a mild winter

Laura Suter, head of personal finance at AJ Bell, had called an extentsion a “no-brainer” for Chancellor Jeremy Hunt. “It is expected to cost the government around £3 billion but … the Energy Price Guarantee hasn’t cost the government as much as expected, providing it with some wiggle room,” she said.Millions of households were on Wednesday spared a £160 rise in their gas and electric bills.

Read more here


Zara parent Inditex’s sales reach €32.6 billion

Inditex, the retail giant behind the Zara and Massimo Dutti fashion chains, today revealed sales last year leapt 17.5%.

The Madrid-listed company said sales reached €32.6 billion (£28.8 billion), while pre-tax profit rose 28% to €5.4 billion.

Growth was led by shop performances. Inditex, which is also behind brands such Pull & Bear and Bershka said footfall and store sales “increased markedly” during the period, and continue to do so. Bricks and mortar retailers were helped last year by no new lockdown rules.

Online sales increased 4% over the 2021 record figure to reach €7.8 billion.

The company was founded by Amancio Ortega, and the billionaire today owns a 59% stake in Inditex.

Chief executive Oscar García Maceiras called the results “excellent”.


Providence Equity Partners to buy event organiser Hyve

Private equity group Providence Equity Partners is set to buy exhibitions business Hyve in a £481 million deal.

In a bid recommended by Hyve’s board, Providence will pay 108p per share of the event organiser. Hyve shares were trading at 100p per share at the close of play today, having risen by  more  than 20p  when the business announced it was looking to be sold.

“Providence believes that Hyve has established a strong platform for future organic and inorganic growth underpinned by Hyve’s portfolio of high-quality global brands and market-leading events focused on developed markets and in growing sectors,” the private equity group said.