Re­tail bosses buy up their own shares to halt the rot

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Business - By Ash­ley Armstrong

BOSSES who found them­selves on the Christ­mas re­tail losers list have spent more than a quar­ter of a mil­lion pounds of their own money try­ing to prop up share prices left rav­aged by a flurry of profit warn­ings.

The high street’s tra­di­tional names have had a tor­rid Christ­mas as in­fla­tion con­tin­ues to push up prices, prompt­ing shoppers to seek out bar­gains.

Yet sev­eral un­der-pres­sure bosses have re­sponded with big share pur­chases, spend­ing a to­tal of £274,713 hoover­ing up stock, which had be­come cheaper dur­ing the af­ter­math.

Deben­hams was one of the big losers, is­su­ing a shock profit warn­ing af­ter cus­tomers shunned its unin­spir­ing and ex­pen­sive ranges.

Shares in the de­part­ment store tum­bled by as much as 20pc, wip­ing £70m off the value of the com­pany and tak­ing it close to its all-time low of 23p dur­ing the depths of the fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

In an at­tempt to stop the rot and sig­nal their con­fi­dence in its fu­ture prospects, Deben­hams chair­man Ian Cheshire and chief ex­ec­u­tive Ser­gio Bucher spent £51,415 and £49,956 buy­ing shares at 29p as Deben­hams’ shares were sink­ing.

Mark New­ton-jones, Mother­care’s boss, bought 218,387 shares at a cost of £99,802 while fi­nance chief Glyn Hughes also bought £24,795 of shares. Mother­care also spooked in­vestors af­ter slash­ing its profit fore­casts to be­tween £1m and £5m from £10m on the back of dire trad­ing.

Card Fac­tory boss Karen Hub­bard put her hand in her wal­let af­ter the dis­count greet­ings card re­tailer’s shares fell by 20pc fol­low­ing a warn­ing that prof­its would be lower as more shoppers opted for its cheap­est ranges.

It is the sec­ond time in four months it has dis­ap­pointed the mar­ket. Ms Hub­bard, who joined two years ago, bought 20,387 shares for £48,745.

Re­sults this week from Asos, Pri­mark owner ABF, N Brown, JD Sports and Hal­fords are ex­pected to re­in­force the trend of on­line and dis­count re­tail­ers steal­ing a march on the rest of the high street.

On­line fash­ion re­tailer Asos is ex­pected to churn out another 30pc rise in sales over the fes­tive pe­riod, al­though in­vestors will be closely watch­ing whether mar­gins have come un­der pres­sure from dis­count­ing.

JD Sports and Hal­fords are ex­pected to have fared slightly bet­ter than last year.

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