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John Lewis profits slump 99%, Sports Direct AGM ends in chaos, and more top news

Published on September 14 2018

Keith Lesser ACA ACMA

Partner at Lesser & Co Chartered Accountants & Business Advisors

The John Lewis Partnership has blamed "challenging times in retail" for a 99% slump in profits. The owner of John Lewis and Waitrose warned earlier this year that its half-year profits would be wiped out, with similar expectations for the full year. Chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield described the profit squeeze as taking place in “the most promotional market we've seen in almost a decade". Last week, John Lewis announced it was axing 270 roles as the retailer unveiled a rebrand.
Sports Direct has denied it intends to make a takeover bid for Debenhams, following a chaotic annual meeting. The retailer was forced to issue a statement after outgoing director Simon Bentley allegedly told journalists a merger between Debenhams and newly-acquired House of Fraser had “been discussed”. Owner Mike Ashley opted not to speak at the meeting, which saw two directors announce they were stepping down less than an hour before it began.
Free-to-use ATMs are closing at a record rate, according to network operator Link. Figures show 1,300 ATMs were shut down over the five months to the end of July – a record rate of more than 250 per month. The closures follow cuts to the amount banks pay ATM operators for each withdrawal. Link's move has been criticised for harming the estimated two million people who still rely on cash for their day-to-day spending.
Pub group JD Wetherspoon is ditching several EU-made drinks, including French brandy, ahead of Brexit. From 26th September JD Wetherspoon will no longer serve German liqueur Jägermeister and French brandies Courvoisier VS and Hennessy Fine de Cognac at its pubs. Wetherspoon, one of the UK’s biggest pub chains, has already replaced French champagne for British sparkling wines and offers UK-made brews instead of German wheat beers. The brand said the decision, made “in the run-up to Brexit”, puts “emphasis and quality and value”.
Three in five UK companies have found it harder to recruit skilled workers in the last 12 months, according to research. The Open University said 53% of UK businesses expect recruitment woes to deepen in the next 12 months. Businesses said they spent £6.3bn last year to combat a shortage of required skills – including £2.2bn on higher salaries, £1.2bn in additional recruitment fees and £1.5bn on temporary staff.

Firm Number C002541956

Firm Number C002541956