Patisserie Valerie’s parent company has hired a former boss of a veterinary firm as its new interim chief financial officer. Nick Perrin, former finance head at veterinary group CVS, will take up the role while the board searches for a permanent replacement for predecessor Chris Marsh. Mr Marsh was arrested on suspicion of fraud following the discovery of a £40million black hole in Patisserie Valerie’s accounts in October, but was later released on bail. Chief executive Paul May resigned in November and was succeeded by Stephen Francis, who was chief executive of pork farmer Tulip. In a statement on Perrin’s appointment, Mr Francis said: ‘I am pleased to welcome Nick to Patisserie Holdings (CAKE).’He brings with him the necessary experience to help strengthen the team as the Company works tirelessly to put the events of the past months behind it and look forward to the future.’
Joules Group (JOUL) said today it is setting up a new EU distribution hub and ordering products early as part of contingency plans for a potential hard Brexit. The group – a favourite of Kate Middleton’s – also said it is ramping up its currency hedging to help protect it against volatility in the pound as Brexit day approaches. Joules unveiled its Brexit contingency plans alongside strong half-year results. Sales jumped by 17.6% to £113.1million, defying the wider gloom on the UK High Street. Given the performance, boosted by strong sales in its international markets, Joules expects annual profits to come in slightly ahead of expectations. Businesses across the country are putting plans in place to help mitigate a ‘no-deal’ Brexit scenario, which would see imports and exports delayed, ports and roads gridlocked and the pound come under extreme pressure.
Ryanair Holdings (RYA) is today facing legal action over its ‘appalling’ treatment of passengers who were refused compensation over flight disruption caused by striking staff. Ryanair claimed the industrial action falls under ‘extraordinary circumstances’ and refused to pay out to customers. But the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) disagreed and said compensation should be granted under EU law, and has now launched enforcement action. The news comes as a shot in the arm to some 100,000 beleaguered customers who were left stranded at airports over the summer after their flights were delayed or cancelled.
Rare disease focused UK-listed drug firm Shire Plc (SHP) is a step closer to being snapped up by Japanese pharmaceutical giant Takeda Pharmaceutical in a £46billion deal. At an extraordinary general meeting held in Osaka on Wednesday, over 88% of Takeda’s shareholders voted in favour of the deal. The acquisition remains subject to approval by Shire’s shareholders at meetings expected to be held later today. The takeover would make Takeda one of the world’s biggest drugmakers.
Thomas Cook boss Peter Fankhauser rules out using rights issue to pay £389m debt. Thomas Cook Group (TCG) chief executive has ruled out using a rights issue to raise money for the travel firm’s growing debt pile. Peter Fankhauser is understood to have told shareholders that a share offering will not be pursued despite growing fears over its £389million debt mountain. Fankhauser, 58, said the group will instead continue with its strategy of developing the own-brand hotels division and growing its online business. Shares fell another 3.9%, or 0.9p, to 22.72p, taking losses since last week’s profit warning to 53%
Sir Martin Sorrell’s new firm confirms £117m merger with US firm Mightyhive following weeks of speculation. First it was a mere ‘peanut’. But Sir Martin Sorrell now says his new ad agency is morphing into ‘a coconut, growing and ripening’ after another takeover. The tycoon’s company, S4 Capital (SFOR), confirmed its £117million merger with US firm Mightyhive following weeks of speculation. It is the second major deal struck by Sorrell, 73, since he walked out of WPP amid claims he had used company money to pay for a prostitute – allegations he denied. And in a wink to his former employer, Sorrell appeared to suggest his new outfit was gaining ground. He had claimed S4 was ‘a peanut in comparison’ to WPP when asked if it posed a challenge.
#MeToo movement boosts sales at mind training firm set up by friends of David Cameron. A management training firm set up by friends of David Cameron is cashing in on the wave of #MeToo protests against sexual harassment. With worried companies seeking advice on how to prevent future scandals, Lam Zyfin Global Markets UCITS ETF Lam Zyfin MSCI India Ucits ETF (MIND) said it gained 11 clients after a series of allegations emerged against high-profile figures such as Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. The flurry of new business helped drive sales up 13.5% to £19.4million in the six months to the end of September.
BT loses legal bid to switch to a cheaper pension rate and reduce fund’s £11bn black hole. BT Group (BT.A) has lost another legal battle to cut payouts for thousands of pensioners, dealing a blow to the company’s plans to shrink the black hole in its retirement fund. The telecoms giant wants to change the way it calculates pension rises for 83,000 current and former workers, switching the measure of inflation from the retail price index (RPI) to the consumer price index (CPI). This would lead to lower payments to those members and reduce the amount of funding required for the scheme. However, the company needs court approval for the switch, with judges asked to decide if it has the power to switch to CPI.
Wickes owner Travis Perkins to sell plumbing and heating division and make cost cuts amid continued DIY decline. Travis Perkins (TPK) is to put its plumbing and heating division up for sale and cut costs further as it looks to shifts its focus to trade customers instead of DIY. The group, which owns DIY chain Wickes, said it is targeting cost savings of between £20million and £30million, which are expected to affect the firm’s ‘above branch’ and distribution cost base. This comes with Travis Perkins already having slashed its Wickes head office workforce by a third in May, when it launched the hefty cost-cutting programme.
GTR and Southern owner Go-Ahead hit with sanctions by the Government after timetable change chaos that caused commuter misery. Go-Ahead Group (GOG) will not be stripped of its Govia Thameslink franchise, but will have to fork out £15million for service improvements and will make no profit this year after May’s disastrous timetable changes, the Government said today. The Department for Transport said it is ‘holding GTR to account’ for its role in the disruption caused by the new timetables, but was letting Go Ahead continue run the franchise as a termination would ‘cause further and undue disruption for passengers’. Train companies, including Govia Thameslink – which runs Thameslink, Southern, Great Northern and Gatwick Express services – overhauled their timetable in May. The changes caused widespread disruption and delays across the rail networks.
Online trading platform IG Group Holdings (IGG) warned of falling customer numbers and sliding sales as it grapples with European regulations on spread-betting. In an effort to protect inexperienced traders, who can suffer big potential losses, EU authorities introduced rules regarding how these services can be marketed and sold. IG Group said that in the four months since the changes came into force on August 1, revenue in the UK and EU region was 20% lower than the same period last year. This pulled the whole group’s revenue down by 10%
Construction firm Kier Group (KIE) suffered another torrid day, after announcing last week that it was raising more money from shareholders to pay down its debt pile. Analysts at Canaccord Genuity and JP Morgan slashed their ratings on the company, with Canaccord moving from a ‘buy’ to a ‘hold’ recommendation and JP Morgan more than halving its target price from 994p to 482p.
Advertising business Taptica International (DI) (TAP) has plunged after sneaking out a worrying announcement on Monday evening. It said chief executive Hagai Tal had been found guilty in a US court for fraudulently concealing weaknesses in his former business Plimus when he sold it to private-equity firm Great Hill. He has stood down from Taptica’s board, and Great Hill want Tal and the other defendants to return the £90million it paid for Plimus.
Ted Baker (TED) shares fell further as fears grow over the future of chief executive and founder Ray Kelvin. The clothing retailer slipped 8.4%, or 130p, to 1420p, meaning shares have plummeted by almost a quarter since allegations emerged over the weekend of harassment by Kelvin, 63, to staff. Anonymous testimonies include several claims that Kelvin massaged, kissed or inappropriately touched members of staff. But for some investors, the dramatic sell-off is an overreaction. One top-five shareholder said: ‘Ted Baker is a well-established global brand. The share price does not reflect the value of that, or the investment that management has put in to it. We remain supportive of the management team.’
As the FTSE reshuffle approaches, when the value of all companies on the UK stock market is reassessed to determine which should be included in its indexes, clear winners and losers are emerging. From December 24, Royal Mail (RMG) will be relegated from the list of the UK’s most valuable public companies, the FTSE 100. Its shares dipped 3%, or 9.5p, to 305.9p as fund managers who can only invest in FTSE 100 companies sold the stock off. The firm has had a dire year, suffering a major investor revolt over fat-cat pay, seeing its chairman Peter Long step down over criticism that he had too many commitments, and posting a 57 per cent fall in half-year profits. Insurer Hiscox Limited (DI) (HSX) will take its place. Its shares were up 0.3%, or 5p, to 1684p.