Hope for Debenhams bids to liven up Friday

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Friday may bring leaked news about bids for Debenhams to liven up a day that has little in the company diary, coming a week before Christmas and two days before the latest and surely last possible Brexit deal deadline.


Administrators of the embattled department store group have been looking for buyers for some time and when Philip Green’s Arcadia joined in the liquidation process earlier this month it just made it more difficult, as the Top Shop and Miss Selfridge chain is its largest concession holder.


Bids have been requested to be filed by the end of this week after hopes about potentially selling Debenhams to JD Sports Fashion PLC (LON:JD.) were dashed at the start of the month due to Arcadia’s collape.


Other potential buyers include billionaire Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group PLC (LON:FRAS), the owner of the Sports Direct and Flannels chains, which is also interested in buying parts of Arcadia.


Competition may come from US retail giant Authentic Brands, which in recent years has been on a buying spree, snapping up New York department store brand Barneys and brands such as Juicy Couture, Herve Leger and Brooks Brothers.


A report in the Telegraph suggested the Blackrock-backed group is eyeing a potential double swoop for both Debenhams and Arcadia.


Retail details


The retail theme will also be explored in a different way via sales data from the British Retail Consortium.


Economists are expecting a 4.1% month-to-month drop in sales volumes from the BRC survey, which is published at 7am.


This survey is skewed towards larger retailers, noted Sam Tombs at Pantheon Macroeconomics, “who probably will have coped with store closures better than smaller ones”.


He reckons sales volumes will be down 5.5% print for total sales volumes.


There is also a survey from the CBI into the manufacturing industry, due out later in the morning, a month after giving a minus-40 reading for its measure of total orders balance.


This time, the market is expecting the reading to improve to minus-38, meaning slightly more companies reporting a rise in orders.


Tombs is more optimistic about this one, expecting an improvement to “about -32” in December, after other surveys such as this month’s manufacturing PMI have shown a bit of an industrial pick-up.


City diary for Friday December 18:


Interims: Redde Northgate PLC (LON:REDD)


Economic announcements: UK GfK consumer confidence, UK retail sales

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