MARKET REPORT: Major tax collectors applaud end of lockdown

Three of the market’s top tax collectors cheered the end of the lockdown as domestic tourism boomed and the return of office workers sent drinkers back to the bar.

Mitchells & Butlers, owner of the Harvester and Toby Carvery chains, said that since May 17, when pubs were allowed to serve customers indoors again, sales “overall” have increased to about 97 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

Fuller, Smith & Turner, which owns about 384 pubs and hotels, also said that since the full reopening in July, trade has “steadily increased,” with sales reaching 86 percent from 2019 levels in the past seven weeks. It expected further benefits from the increased custom in the City of London as more workers returned to their offices.

And City Pub Group, which runs about 50 pubs in several UK cities, said trade has been “on the rise” since reopening in May, with sales at more than 90 percent from two years ago.

The property performed strongly over the summer as more Brits went on holiday in the UK. It also bought The Cliftonville Hotel in Cromer, Norfolk, for £1.7 million.

Pubs were one of the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic as lockdowns and social distancing made it impossible for patrons to crowd around the bar.

Despite the business revival, there were lingering concerns about a lack of workers, with City Pub chairman Clive Watson warning of staff shortages caused by EU workers returning home, and the summer ‘pingdemic’.

Mitchells rose 1.9 percent or 5p to 267.8p, while Fullers fell 1.9 percent or 14p to 716p and City Pub Group fell 3.3 percent or 4p to 116p.

The FTSE 100 was nearly flat, falling 0.1 percent or 5.02 points to 7078.35, while the FTSE 250 rose 0.2 percent or 45.64 points to 23,830.18. Markets seemed jittery after comments from the Bank of England suggested the UK economic recovery could slow and inflation could accelerate.

However, there was also some float activity to get investors excited, with investment firm Castelnau unveiling plans to list in the LSE’s main market and raise at least £170 million. It has an interest of almost 50 percent in model train maker Hornby and 19 percent in funeral home Dignity.

Mid-cap infrastructure investor 3i was up 1 percent, or 3p, to 318p after closing a deal to sell its stake in four liquid storage terminals in the Netherlands. It expects to earn around £43 million.

Fuel cell specialist Ceres Power rose 2.4 percent, or 27p, to 1161p when it revealed chief technology officer Caroline Hargrove. She took the same role at McLaren Applied Technologies, formed to exploit F1 technologies in other markets, replacing Mark Selby, who will become Chief Innovation Officer.

Big Technologies, maker of Buddi fall alarms and electronic tracking devices, rose 3.6 percent or 12.5 pence to 360p after delivering initial results after its July listing. Over the six months to the end of June, profits rose to £8.9 million, from £5.4 million a year earlier.

Oiler Harbor Energy fell 6.4 percent, or 24.6 pence, to 358.6 pence after production fell in the first six months of 2021 due to delayed maintenance work due to the pandemic and “unplanned outages.”

British Airways scrapped plans for a budget airline to rival Easyjet and Ryanair after pilots’ union Balpa refused to support it. Shares in parent company IAG fell 1. percent, or 2.2p, to 172p.

Civitas Social Housing slumped 5 percent, or 4.8p, ​​to 90.6p as it suffered a shareholder revolt over plans to sell shares representing up to 20 percent of its share capital. It also hit back at a letter published Wednesday by short-seller Shadow Fall alleging a conflict of interest in a deal, saying it was based on “statements that are not founded on fact.”

Elsewhere, Good Energy fell 13.7 percent, or 45.5 pence, to 287 pence as investors worried about rising wholesale energy prices.

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