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The impression of a serious consumer slowdown given by yesterday’s bad news from Signet and Pendragon was confirmed today by DSG International, owner of Currys and PC World. The retailer reported a 25 per cent drop in underlying interim pre-tax profits and was very cautious about the prospects for Christmas and next year. The stock also looks perilously close to dropping out of the FTSE 100.
Further evidence of the real world suffering from the credit squeeze: Wolseley warned on profits and said it would cut 3,000 US jobs by the end of January, on top of the 6,000 it cut last year.
Lest you think the skies have darkened completely, we do have strong full-year figures from Richard Cousins at Compass and from Sage, which has done well despite its US problems. Strong demand for bomb-disposal equipment has boosted first half profits at Qinetiq.
We will of course be doing more today on Northern Rock and British banks more broadly (read Martin Wolf’s quite aggressive column this morning if you haven’t already). How and whether JC Flowers and Olivant make a move is the key question.
Finally, Martin Bettington is stepping down as chief executive of Biffa days after the waste management group confirmed it had received and rejected a bid approach in September. He said his decision had been made before that news, and comes after 17 years running the company which demerged from Severn Trent a year ago.