The founder of Dunelm, who is Marks & Spencer's biggest private investor, has backed Chief Executive Marc Bolland, the Sunday Telegraph reported. Bill Adderley said Bolland is a "hard worker" and that "too big a deal" has been made of disappointing results at M&S's non-food business. The billionaire said M&S's brand would take 100 years to build now and that the group needed to transfer the quality of its food to clothing. Bolland, who has been under pressure over the performance of women's clothing, in particular, reports interim results on November 5th.
The CBI will warn on November 4th that quitting the European Union would threaten London's position as the world's financial centre, the Sunday Times reported. Ahead of its annual conference, the CBI has raised its growth forecasts for the UK economy, Sunday Times and other papers reported. The employers' group now expects GDP to incease 1.4% this year, up from an earlier 1.2% forecast, and 2.4% in 2013, up from 2.3%.
Morrisons is planning to sell off some of its stores in sale-and-leaseback deals, the Sunday Telegraph said. The supermarket group has a £9bn property portfolio and owns 90% of its stores - far more than Tesco and Sainsbury's. The deals could raise hundreds of millions of pounds. Morrisons is scheduled to post a trading update on November 7th, where analysts at Jefferies expect a 2% fall in like-for-like sales.
The UK Chancellor, George Osborne, is completing a plan to cut household energy costs by scrapping charges to support green power and home insulation, the Sunday Times said. The changes are likely to be announced in Osborne's autumn statement on December 4th. The decision will be good news for the big energy companies who claim most of their recent price rises, which have attracted public anger, were caused by government taxes and programmes.
Royal Bank of Scotland is in talks with the UK Treasury about cancelling the government's "B" shares
to give the bank a more conventional capital structure, the Sunday Telegraph said. The special shares were created in 2009 to cover the bank's fee for using the Governments asset protection scheme.
RBS could quit Ireland if it cannot find a viable role for its Ulster Bank arm in the next six months, the Sunday Times said. The review is part of Chief Executive Ross McEwan's plan to create an internal "bad bank" for RBS's worst loans. Scrapping the bank has not been ruled out but it would be unpopular with the Treasury because Ulster Bank is the biggest bank in Northern Ireland.
Middle class households' debt problems are getting worse more quickly than those of any other group, the Mail on Sunday said. A big debt-recovery compay has reported a 25% jump in affluent people on its books. Helen Ashton, Chief Executive of Capquest, a debt collector, said the number of wealthier people in trouble was rising. The paper also cited Citizens Advice and the Financial Ombudsman Service reporting a rise in households who were previously quite comfortable having trouble with debt.
Poundland has started preparations for a stock market listing that will value the company at more than £700m, the Sunday Times said. The economy retailer has hired Rothschild to advise it on the flotation and its ambitions to double to 1,000 shops. It is getting ready for an initial public offering early in 2014.
Spirit Group, the pub company, is mulling a bid for its smaller rival Orchid, the Sunday Times said. The deadline for initial bids is in the week starting Sunday November 3rd. Orchid is owned by Deutsche Bank and could attract interest from other pub groups and buyout firms. Deutsche is said to want £250m or more but that price could be too steep, the paper said.
BP is about to fire up a dormant gas field in the North Sea that it owns with Iran, the Sunday Times said. BP shut the Rhum field in 2010 after governments imposed sanctions on Iran, which owns half the field. The Iranian revenue will now go to a separate bank account after Treasury officials negotiated a deal with the European Union and the US. But it will take many months for the field to return to full production and contractors and banks will need convincing the waiver applies to them.
G4S's Chief Executive, Ashley Almanza, will promise investors cost cuts but no break-up of the security company in his strategy presentation on November 5th, the Sunday Times said. After raising £348m in a rights issue he is likely to announce management changes and sales of weaker units but rule out dismantling the company.