boohoo dips as MPs call for garment trade watchdog to police labour abuse

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boohoo Group PLC (LON:BOO) shed 3% to 318.4p before close as MPs called for a watchdog to police labour abuse in the domestic and international supply chains working for UK fashion retailers.

In a letter to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Environmental Audit Committee said the government should explore the introduction of a Garment Trade Adjudicator.

The online fast-fashion retailer has been under fire since poor labour practices were uncovered at a Leicester supplier last summer and was recently pressured by the Committee to link bonuses for senior executives to ESG goals.

2.45pm: Royal Mail inches up on the back of plans to trial Sunday deliveries

Royal Mail PLC (LON:RMG) inched up 1% to 501.45p after announcing plans to trial Sunday deliveries.

The parcels and letters deliverer said a number of retailers are participating in the trial, carried out at a time of changing shopping habits.

Several other couriers already make Sunday deliveries, while it would not be the first time Royal Mail has tested the water on Sunday deliveries; it gave the idea a whirl back in 2014 within the M25 orbital motorway area but elected not to switch to a seven days a week operation.

1.45pm: Premier African Minerals shines after confirming exclusive prospecting order from Zimbabwean government

Premier African Minerals Ltd (LON:PREM) surged 17% to 0.29p in the afternoon after receiving formal grant of an exclusive prospecting order (EPO) covering its Zulu Lithium and Tantalum claims.

The miner said that Zulu, located in Zimbabwe, remains a significant deposit.

“Premier expects to provide details in regard to further developments associated with Zulu and full details of the terms and conditions associated with the grant of the EPO in the near future,” said George Roach, chief executive, in a release.

12.55pm: Burberry in fashion after upgrading full-year expectations

Burberry Group PLC (LON:BRBY) was the top riser in the FTSE 100, jumping 7% to 2,122p in the early afternoon after posting an unscheduled trading update.

The luxury fashion powerhouse said revenue and adjusted operating profit for the year to March 27 are expected to be ahead of consensus as trading rebounds.

Full-year group revenue is now forecast to decline between 10% and 11%, with adjusted operating margin to be in the range of 15.5% to 16.5%.

11.55am: Playtech drops after expressing caution about recovery

Playtech PLC (LON:PTEC) shed 5% to 469.6p at midday after expressing caution about retail recovery as its major markets will remain in lockdown into the second quarter.

The gambling software developer said 2021 had a good start considering the ongoing restrictions.

In the year to December 31, revenue tumbled 25% to €1bn, while adjusted underlying earnings (EBITDA) was down 32% to €253mln.

10.45am: Hammerson moves higher after promise of strategic review 

Hammerson PLC (LON:HMSO) added 4% to 33.83p in the late morning after chief executive Rita-Rose Gagné announced a strategic review.

The property owner, which posted a full-year loss of £1.73bn due to write-downs of £1.44bn, plans further disposals to strengthen the balance sheet, managing refinancing and sharpening its operations to maximise income.

“We will then focus on realising the quality of our destinations to drive the business forward. We are currently working on a thorough strategic and organisational review that will map out a route to future growth to transform the business in the context of what will remain a tough economic and structural backdrop,” Gagné revealed.

9.45am: Hollywood Bowl a touch lower after proposing placing to raise £30mln

Hollywood Bowl Group PLC (LON:BOWL) shed 4% to 239p in mid-morning after proposing a placing to raise £30mln.

The ten-pin bowling operator is launching the cash call to invest in new centres, resume its planned capital expenditure programme in existing venues and to strengthen the balance sheet.

The placing price will be decided after completing the bookbuild process.

Meanwhile, Berkeley Group Holdings PLC (LON:BKG) was down 6% to 4,301.9p after forecasting flat profits in the financial year to February 2022.

The housebuilder said current trading is volatile, as new developments and phases have been juggled until the economy opens up post-lockdown, so the value of reservations for the current financial year will be around 20% lower than last year.

Sales reservations have been robust where it has had stock, it added.

8.45am: Avingtrans rises early after offloading Peter Brotherhood arm for £35mln

Avingtrans PLC (LON:AVG) advanced 9% to 329p at the opening bell after completing the sale of Peter Brotherhood to Howden, a provider of mission critical air and gas handling products.

The arm, which specialises in the design, manufacture and servicing of performance-critical steam turbines, turbo gen-sets, compressors, gear boxes and combined heat and power systems, was sold for £35mln.

Avingtrans said it acquired Peter Brotherhood when it was in difficulty so it implemented a strategy reset, however the subsidiary now requires a multi-year programme of investment to step up performance.

Elsewhere, Sensyne Health PLC (LON:SENS) rose 4% to 175.25p on the back of a £470,000 agreement with the UK government’s Department of Health & Social Care.

The AI specialist will provide its MagnifEye software to transform smartphones into COVID-19 test readers as part of a pilot study.

The agreement follows on from Sensyne’s exclusive licence and development agreement with Excalibur Healthcare Services, announced last month, for the use of MagnifEye with Excalibur’s proprietary lateral flow rapid COVID-19 diagnostic tests.

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