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Headlines
• Debenhams closes with 12,000 jobs at risk
• Arcadia enters administration
• UK house prices rose 0.9% MoM in November
• UK government to provide £40m to wet-led pubs in tiers 2 & 3

Company news

Leisure

Lastminute.com – Has agreed to pay £7m in refunds to more than 9,000 customers whose holidays were cancelled because of coronavirus, after an investigation by the CMA.



Media

Hyve – “With the increasing expectation of a successful immunisation programme commencing early in 2021, we look forward, with some optimism, to an improving economy. We expect to see a steady increase in the number of in-person events being held, particularly in the second half of 2021. The size of the events will initially be smaller and more domestic when compared to the same events held prior to the pandemic.



We have created two trading scenarios for FY21. The first, our ‘Recovery’ scenario, assumes that events in China, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey are able to go ahead. However, they will be smaller than in previous years, driven by a largely domestic customer base. This scenario assumes that events in Western markets will take place during the second half of the financial year.

The second, our ‘East-West’ scenario, assumes that no Western events take place throughout the financial year. These scenarios enable us to allocate resources and manage costs according to anticipated trading conditions.

Under our two trading scenarios, we expect FY21 year-end headroom to exceed the liquidity covenant by between £80m and £100m, implying net debt in the range of £100m to £120m.”

Retail

Arcadia – Has entered administration. The company owns the Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins brands and has 13,000 employees across 444 UK store and 22 international. 9,294 employees are currently on furlough.

Debenhams – “Debenhams confirms that its administrators, FRP Advisory, have concluded the initial sale process that was part of their assessment of options for the UK business in administration. Those options included a sale of all or part of the UK business; a further restructure of Debenhams’ operations to go forward on a standalone basis; or the orderly wind-down of the Debenhams business. The sale process has not resulted in a deliverable proposal. Given the current trading environment and the likely prolonged effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the outlook for a restructured operation is highly uncertain. The administrators have therefore regretfully concluded that they should commence a wind-down of Debenhams UK, whilst continuing to seek offers for all or parts of the business. Debenhams will continue to trade through its 124 UK stores and online to clear its current and contracted stocks. On conclusion of this process, if no alternative offers have been received, the UK operations will close. This does not impact Magasin du Nord in Denmark, which continues to operate independently.”



Topps Tiles# – “In the first eight weeks of the new financial period, retail like-for-like revenues increased by 19.6% (2019: decrease of 7.2%); retail business benefitting from the current increase in home improvement activity; commercial market remains subdued but activity levels starting to improve.”

Technology

iomart# – “iomart's high levels of recurring revenue remain a considerable strength in these continued uncertain times, providing high visibility for the remainder of the year. We believe the diversity and limited concentration of our customer base, along with the critical web centric services we provide, will continue to shelter us from any unexpected further worsening of the economic environment in the near future.



We saw signs of improved confidence within new and existing customers as we completed our first half, with a stronger second quarter in terms of orders from existing customers, which we anticipate will have a positive impact on revenues in the second half of the year. We have also seen signs in recent months that business confidence may now be returning, resulting in a growing number of new business discussions, the benefit of which, if secured, would flow through to revenue growth in future years.”



Other

• UK house prices rose 0.9% MoM to November, with the average property valued at £229,721, a study by Nationwide has shown. UK house prices are 6.5% higher than a year ago.

• The UN has said the health and economic crises caused by the coronavirus pandemic has led to a 40% spike in the number of people needing humanitarian assistance worldwide. The UN has launched its largest ever appeal for humanitarian aid, asking for £26bn.

• Pfizer and BioNTech are seeking regulatory approval in the EU for their coronavirus vaccine. Clinical studies show the jab is 95% effective.

• The UK government is to provide around £40m of additional support for pubs in tiers two and three in England.

• A new “pandemic hospital” with more than 1,000 beds opens in Madrid. Construction of the Isabel Zendal hospital only began in July.

• Non-essential shops have been reopening in Belgium.

• Mass testing across Austria will start later this week with the aim of reaching as many people as possible by Christmas.

• Mass testing of all children and teachers will take place in the central German town of Hildburghausen.

• All retail outlets, hairdressers, museums and libraries will reopen in the Republic of Ireland today, after a lockdown of nearly six weeks.

• Canada’s federal government will spend C$100bn to kick-start the country's post-pandemic economy. The spending will bring the deficit to a historic C$381.6bn by March 2021. The wide-ranging plan includes targeted relief for hard-hit business sectors, investments in long-term care homes and distribution of a Covid-19 vaccine.





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