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Hogg Robinson is delaying its IPO just three weeks after announcing its intention to press ahead. It blames market conditions, which is odd as, since the business travel firm announced its IPO on September 4, the FTSE All-share index is virtually unchanged. For sure, there is a very full pipeline of companies planning to list in London and elsewhere in Europe in the next few weeks, but Hogg Robinson would have been near the front of the queue. There is clearly more to this announcement.
We’re learning some interesting things about our changing eating and drinking patterns today. Mitchells & Butler, which owns the All Bar One chain, says its drink sales in Scotland were hit by the smoking ban which came into effect there in March but food sales were up sharply there. Enterprise Inns, Britain’s second biggest pubs group, has seen something similar but praised new laws in England and Wales which allow more flexible drinking hours for cutting alcohol-related disorder. Regent Inns, which published full-year figures today, says its security costs have risen and fewer young people are visiting centres in the middle of the week.
The food industry is busy today as well. Dairy Crest said it planned to sell some of its cheese operations to First Milk, the farmer-owned commercial milk supplier. RHM, the maker of Hovis bread, Bisto gravy and Mr Kipling cakes, said sales were up in the first four months of the financial year but warned that higher wheat prices and marketing costs would hold back profit in the first half.
We’re also keeping up with developments affecting western oil companies in Russia, although, to be honest, it’s as clear as crude. There might be more later.