The boss of Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) struggling clothing business, Jill McDonald, has been ousted less than two years after joining the retailer. Chief executive Steve Rowe, who is trying to revive the fortunes of M&S along with chairman Archie Norman, will take control of the clothing and home business, the company said on Thursday. This week he admitted to shareholders that mistakes had been made over the past year in clothing, such as its popular jeans promotion in February that the retailer without stock. Mr Rowe said: “Jill was brought in to establish a strong platform for the transformation of the business. She has achieved that; she leaves with my thanks and good wishes for the future. “The business now needs to move on at pace to address long-standing issues in our clothing and home supply chain around availability and flow of product. Given the importance of this task to M&S I will be overseeing this programme directly.”
BAE Systems (BA.) is positioning to sell its Type 26 frigate to New Zealand, making it the third export customer for the advanced warship. The defence business has agreed a £3.7bn contract to produce three of the advanced ships for the Royal Navy, and the British government has said it wants eight of the ships in total, with the first batch already under construction in Glasgow. Last summer Australia signed up for eight of the ships based on the design which will built by BAE in Adelaide. The deal is estimated to be worth £20bn to BAE over its lifetime. Earlier this year Canada confirmed it had licensed the Type 26 design which will be used as the basis for 15 new ships which will be built by Irving in Halifax. The licence agreement is thought to be worth several hundred million and is set to rise as work progresses on how BAE will support Canadian prime contractor Irving with construction work.
Housebuilders propped up the leaderboard after the sector was lifted by a report that showed the number of new buyers increased in June for the first time since November 2016. Barratt Developments (BDEV) led the charge, rising 30.2p to 614.4p after survey data from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors showed “a modest rise in the appetite from potential purchasers to acquire property at the national level”. Newly agreed sales also crept into positive territory for the first time in 28 months and prices rose across the country, except in London and the south east of England where they continued to fall. The survey showed “reassuringly stable demand trend” and should be supportive for housebuilders both in terms of demand and pricing, analysts at Citi said. Barratt had already said on Wednesday it expected full year pre-tax profits to beat existing forecasts as sales continued to boom and cost-cutting boosted its bottom line. Fellow housebuilder Taylor Wimpey (TW.) ended 2.5p higher at 161p, while Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) added 53p to £37.92.
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) will pay $1.4bn to US authorities to end an investigation into its involvement in alleged fraudulent marketing and sales of an anti-addiction drug, marking the largest penalty relating to the opioid crisis in America. The payment will come as welcome relief to RB and its shareholders, as it removes a major element of uncertainty at a time when the company is embarking on a new strategy with a new chief executive. While RB is now a consumer products business that makes household brands such as Dettol, Durex condoms and Nurofen, it once had a small pharmaceuticals business called RB Pharma that was spun off in 2014 and renamed Indivior. Indivior (INDV) derives most of its revenues from one drug: Suboxone Film, which helps opioid addicts kick the habit. US authorities claim Suboxone was marketed and sold in a fraudulent way to boost sales and to prevent cheaper generic versions from flooding the market. The Department of Justice has pursued both RB and Indivior in two separate investigations. RB’s settlement comes just three months after the DoJ indicted Indivior.
Travel agent and airline Jet2 is bucking a malaise in the industry as profits soared more than a third to £178m. Owner Dart Group (DTG) said sales had broken through the £3bn barrier in the year to March but cautioned about the impact of “less confident consumers” going forward. The travel sector has been buffeted by cost headwinds, uncertainty over Brexit and record summer temperatures. Some of the biggest operators have been hit hard. Tui has warned profit growth will evaporate while Thomas Cook is battling to sell its airline in a bid to raise fresh funding to repair its balance sheet. Dart’s financial performance had been driven by the “growing success” of its leisure travel products. Flight-only passenger numbers rose by a fifth to 6.5m, while package holiday numbers were 27% higher at 3.2m.