News roundup—7th January 2009

News roundup—7th January 2009

Total sales at Marks & Spencer were down 1.2 per cent
for the 13 weeks ended 27th December, with UK sales down 3.4
per cent and like-for-like sales down 7.1 per cent. Online sales were up
29 per cent, but it wasn’t enough to stave off redundancies. The
company plans to cut about 780 store jobs as it closes 27 stores
as well as to cut its head-office staff by 15 per cent, or 450

Poor Christmas sales and a disappointing performance from its
wholesale division have led EBTM, which specializes in
music-related fashion, to “explore strategic
options”, including a sale of the entire company or
individual divisions. The company’s net sales for December were
down 33 per cent from the previous year. In October, EBTM
sold its Lowlife accessories brand.

Direct sales at chocolatier Thorntons for the 12 weeks
to 27th December grew 3.5 per cent from the previous year, to
£4.0 million. This sum includes corporate sales, which
declined, as well as web sales, which climbed 24.7 per cent. The
company’s total sales for the period, however, fell 2.3 per cent,
to £77.6 million, because of a 5.4 per cent tumble in
own-store sales.

The Bank of England is expected today to cut interest rates
by at least half a percentage point, which would bring the rates
down to 1.5 per cent or lower, reports Reuters. This would be a record low.


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