Despite bearish comments from Next boss Simon Wolfson, general stores outperformed the market over the week - but that was ahead of a profit warning from electricals giant Dixons.
Dixons blamed its woes on shattered consumer confidence but insisted it was in shape to get back on track. Seymour Pierce switched its recommendation on Dixons from buy to hold and said: “Management has done a great job of rebuilding its UK market leadership position and strengthening the business for the future.
“With discretionary spending expected to remain difficult in the year ahead, given lack of profit progression now expected in full-year 2012 and the highly geared nature of its business model, we are downgrading our recommendation.”
The latest Kantar data painted a picture of a flagging grocery sector as consumers watched their spending and prices rose. Broker Jefferies observed of performance in March: “In terms of the big four, Asda and Morrisons are experiencing a more resilient like-for-like performance than Tesco and Sainsbury’s, undermining the idea that a store portfolio biased to the North should result in exposure to a weaker backdrop.”
Oriel issued a buy note on Tesco assessing the likely changes under new boss Phil Clarke. The broker said: “Overseas growth is solid and returns are improving but Phil Clarke will, in our view, revitalise the core UK business, establishing retail practices he has relied upon internationally and bringing a number of his trusted generals to the UK board.”
Hold Next, Investec advised after the retailer’s results. The broker said the full-year numbers were better than expected but there was little likelihood of upgrades for 2012.
Seymour Pierce, recommending buy, said: “Next’s results have again shown that the cost and stock management flexibility of its multichannel model has meant management could respond to weak consumer demand and deliver profit growth.”
HMV confirmed it is considering “strategic options” for the Waterstone’s books chain and HMV Canada but there is no certainty that transactions will go ahead.
The retailer said no discussions were taking place about the sale of the entire group.
Menswear specialist Moss Bros posted a reduced preliminary pre-tax loss of £2.7m compared with £3.9m last year. Chief executive Brian Brick said he was pleased with progress and confident that the potential of the business could be realised.
SuperGroup’s chief operating officer Diane Savory is leaving after 20 years at the retailer. Her departure next month is for personal reasons SuperGroup said.
After a torrid few weeks, there will be more excitement next week when bellwether Marks & Spencer updates.