There has been a run of bad news for the retail sector of late, but today’s trading update from ASOS offers some respite for the sector. Sales continue to charge higher with revenues up 27% for the six months to February when compared to the same period last year. And although international growth is significant – up 31% – expansion in the UK market continues to run at more than 20%. The company is increasing the amount it will need for capital expenditure to keep pace with expansion, but for the sector that seems to be a nice problem to have.

Tesco [LSE: TSCO]

Tesco has published its preliminary full year figures this morning and again the retail sector may find something to applaud here. Group sales rose 2.3%, whilst margins are also being expanded, which will provide some comfort for shareholders. However the more interesting detail could be in the strategy – the company has sold over 100 sites adding £290m worth of income, whilst the completion of the Booker acquisition should deliver a further £200m worth of synergies. As we’ve said before, this isn’t necessarily going to be good for society as local shops are rationalised, but shareholder acceptance of the deal suggests this isn’t a factor that matters for the majority.

Page Group [LSE: PAGE]

After Robert Walters’ results yesterday, fellow recruiter Page Group has published its Q1 trading update. The headline numbers are impressive with gross profit up 12.3% for the quarter, but the regional picture is rather different to the one we saw yesterday. Critically, UK profits for the period slumped by 7.1%, with the company citing uncertainty, the timing of the Easter break and a tough comparator from last year as clouding the picture. The geographic diversification is certainly helpful here and arguably it’s more about what this says for the UK economy rather than the company itself that should be cause for concern.

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Market Analyst, Monk Communications
11th April 2018
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