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What to watch: Mulberry sales dive, Cineworld stock halves, and Wizz Air traffic slips

Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·4 min read
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 29: Carolina Ogliaro is seen wearing blue coat and belt Balenciaga, Mulberry bag during Paris Fashion Week - Womenswear Fall/Winter 2020/2021 : Day Six on February 29, 2020 in Paris, France. (Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images)
A Mulberry bag pictured during Paris Fashion Week on 29 February, in Paris, France. Photo: Christian Vierig/Getty Images

Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:

Mulberry sales dive

Luxury handbag maker Mulberry (MUL.L) has reported slipping sales, blaming the COVID-19 pandemic for poor performance.

Mulberry said on Monday that revenue fell 10% to £149.3m ($193m) in the 12 months to 28 March. The period covered just the start of the pandemic, but Mulberry said sales were down just 6% prior to its onset.

Falling sales pushed the business to an underlying loss of £14.2m for the year, compared to a profit of £1m in 2019. On a reported basis, Mulberry lost £47.9m in the 12 months to 28 March.

The sales slump has continued, with revenue down 29% between March and September. However, the company said sales have “improved” since stores reopened and it expects to reduce losses.

Chief executive Thierry Andretta called it “the most challenging market conditions in the history of the brand.”

“Prior to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic we were performing well and on-track to record a pre-tax profit in the second half of the year,” he said.

“British luxury and UK cities face a very uncertain future, hampered by necessary but dramatic social distancing measures and alarmingly low levels of footfall, as well as the pressures of high rents and business rates and the upcoming changes to tax free shopping.

“We cannot control external events, but we have a clear strategy and remain confident in the strength of the Mulberry brand.”

Mulberry shares fell 3%.

Cineworld stock halves

The value of cinema chain Cineworld halved in a matter of minutes on Monday, after it confirmed plans to close all its UK and US branches.

Cineworld Group (CINE.L) shares tanked 56% in early trade in London as investors digested news that the chain would temporarily suspend operations at all its outlets in the UK and US, putting 45,000 out of work, including about 5,500 jobs in the UK and Ireland.

536 Regal theatres in the US and its 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse theatres in the UK will close their doors from Thursday 8 October.

On Friday, MGM and Britain’s Eon Productions announced that “No Time To Die,” which was first scheduled for release in April 2020, would be pushed back for the second time.

Film industry bosses hoped the James Bond movie, which was due to hit UK cinemas on 12 November would boost cinema-goers and revive the sector.

Other blockbusters such as Marvel’s “Black Widow” and “West Side Story” have also been delayed until 2021.

Wizz Air traffic slips

Budget airline Wizz Air (WIZZ.L) has reported another month of depressed traffic, with passenger numbers down almost 60% in September.

Wizz Air flew 1.6m passengers last month, compared to almost 4m in September 2019.

On a rolling 12-month basis, passenger numbers were down 35.6%. Capacity reduced by 40% in September.

Despite falling passenger numbers, Wizz Air said it was continuing to expand its network with a new base in Italy and routes across Europe.

Shares were unmoved.

Stocks rise as Trump’s health remains in focus

Stocks rose on Monday, with investor attention still focused on the health of US president Donald Trump.

European markets opened in the green at the start of the week and US futures were heading higher. It came after somewhat mixed reports about the health of Trump over the weekend. He was admitted to hospital for treatment of COVID-19 after markets closed on Friday and he received steroid treatment for low oxygen levels over the weekend.

However, Trump released videos and pictures over the weekend showing he was up and working. His team of doctors said on Sunday the President could be discharged later today.

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) opened up 1.2% in London, while the DAX (^GDAXI) was 1% higher in Frankfurt and the CAC 40 (^FCHI) gained 1% in Paris.

S&P 500 futures (ES=F) were up 0.6%, Dow futures (YM=F) were up 0.7%, and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) climbed 0.8%.

Stocks had also rallied in Asia overnight. Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) rose 1.2%, the Hong Kong Hang Seng (^HSI) gained 1.5%, Australia’s ASX 200 (^AXJO) rose 2.6%, and the South Korean KOSPI (^KOSPI) rallied 1.3%.

Additional reporting by Lucy Harley-McKeown

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