Europe biz: H&M up but Ted Baker plunges
Gary Parkinson
H&M: on the rise (Credit: AP/Mark Lennihan)

H&M: on the rise (Credit: AP/Mark Lennihan)

H&M posts quarterly profit rise 

The world's second-biggest fashion retailer has posted its first quarterly rise in pretax profits for two years. Swedish group H&M has been spending heavily this year, but the rise was better than predicted: profits from June to August 2019 grew to $505m from $405m a year earlier - higher than the analysts' average prediction of $498m.

H&M's first profit rise since the second quarter of 2017 was propelled by accelerating sales growth through strong demand for summer clothing. CEO Karl-Johan Persson cited "The continued development of more full-price sales and reduced markdowns".


Ted Baker shares plunge 38%

While H&M thrives, Ted Baker dives: on Thursday morning, the fashion retailer's shares dropped by more than a third on the London Stock Exchange. Having started at 925.5p, the stocks dropped to 579.5p within half an hour of the exchange opening in reaction to the company posting a loss for the six months to August.

Furthermore, chairman David Bernstein noted that due to unseasonably warm weather the second half had also started badly: Ted Baker's third profits warning of the year. In the six months to August, sales fell 2.5 percent to $373.4m, with the $28m loss comparing to a £30.1m profit last time. The company's former chief executive Ray Kelvin stepped down in March after staff allegations he presided over a culture of "forced hugs". 


Imperial Brands CEO stands down

Alison Cooper is to step down as the chief executive of Imperial Brands after nine years at the helm. Cooper, who has been at the tobacco giant for two decades, will stand aside once a successor is chosen. 

Imperial Brands, which had recently issued a profit warning after vaping was targeted by US governmental agencies, has lost more than half of its market capitalization since 2016, from $46.7bn to $22.1bn. Cooper's exit will further reduce the number of female CEOs in the FTSE 100; Alison Rose will become the sixth when she takes over at the Royal Bank of Scotland next month. 


Germany's private sector shrinks

For the first time in six years, Germany's private sector is in decline. In the latest batch of monthly Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) surveys around Europe, which assess optimism in each country's manufacturing and service sectors, Germany's composite PMI dropped into negative territory for the first time since April 2013.

Other European sectors showed mixed news. For a fourth successive month, Italy's manufacturing and service sectors grew - as did Spain's, but at a slower rate than previously. France's service sector expanded, again at a slower rate, but manufacturing is in decline. Analysts fear the slowdowns and downturns reflect a lack of manufacturing confidence knocking on into the services sector.


Red letter day for Netflix (AP/Christophe Ena)

Red letter day for Netflix (AP/Christophe Ena)

Netflix given $62,000 tax rebate by UK Government in 2018

Netflix, which made an estimated $860m from British subscribers last year, also received a $62,000 tax rebate from the UK Government. The media giant's UK filing reports revenues of $52.5m and pre-tax profits of $2.5m, as it channels UK subscription revenue through its European HQ in the Netherlands. In 2017, it received a tax rebate of $218,000.

The filed UK results also confirm that Netflix will spend hundreds of millions of pounds renting studio space during the next decade. A headline deal will see Netflix take over the famous old Shepperton Studios just outside London.