Tuesday, 8 November: Marks & Spencer today announced they are set to close down 30 stores over the next five years as once again the British retailer reported falling sales and profits in the most recent 6 month period. A further 30 stores are set to be turned into food stores, meaning there will be 60 fewer clothing and home stores in towns and cities across the UK. Internationally, M&S will close 53 stores in 10 markets. First half clothing and home sales fell 5.3% while the food division (which makes up about 58% of overall revenue) fell 0.9% on a like-for-like basis. The shares began the day fairly subdued, falling c.1% mid morning, accelerating the declines to c.6% before ending the day 5.16%.
In October Toblerone announced on their Facebook page that they “had to reduce the weight of (just) two of our bars in the UK”, blaming higher costs for numerous ingredients. US based Mondelez International, who make Toblerone, have said they had to make a decision on whether to change the look of the bars, or increase the prices. So, rather than shorten the length of the bars, Toblerone bars will now have a much larger gap between the triangles, ultimately bringing the weight of the 400g bars down to 360g (170g bars are to be reduced to 150g). However, don’t be quick to judge because it seems Brexit isn’t to blame this time but Mondelez cannot confirm if the shape change will be effective across Europe as well.
When we wake up tomorrow we should know the result of the US Presidential Election. Hillary Clinton has had the edge in the lead up to the polling stations opening, but as we saw back in June, the polls can be wrong. Markets on both sides of the Atlantic played it cool and the pound remained relatively flat against the dollar. The biggest winner in the UK was Associated British Foods, the parent owner of Primark, as sugar profits helped their agriculture margins. The group also plan to expand the Primark presence in the US going forward. AB Foods stood at the top of the FTSE 100 during trading, closing the day higher by 5.79%. The CAC 40 in France and DAX in Germany closed the day +0.31% and +0.24% respectively. At the time of writing the Dow Jones is +0.41% while the S&P 500 is +0.34%. The FTSE 100 closed higher by 0.53%.