Updates from Utility Warehouse and Michael Page

Sports Direct heads for Oz


Another modest boost for the FTSE 100 on Monday, climbing 55.9 points to 6,746.1. Sports Direct International shares saw the biggest forward spurt, up 3.58% to 723p, helped by news it was expanding Down Under. Petrofac and Johnson Matthey saw 3.19% and 2.83% gains respectively though easyJet was buffeted 1.74% down, to 1244p.

In the US, the Dow Jones picked up 111.6 points, vaulting back across the 17,000 threshold to 17,055.4 thanks in part to better earnings from Citigroup.

Let's commence with a quarterly update from Telecom Plus, otherwise known as Utility Warehouse, up to 14 July. Customer numbers climbed 16,739 during the quarter to 547,378 (30 June 2013: 474,404).

Underlying cash flow remains strong claims the company with net debt expected to increase £10m over the course of the year as its pays down capital costs for refurbishing its new HQ.

"As the UK's leading independent supplier," says Telecom Plus, "it is logical to expect that we will be a net beneficiary of any action taken by the Competition and Markets Authority to encourage a more competitive energy market."

Next, a second quarter update from recruiter Michael Page. Q2 Group gross profit growth climbs 8.9% to £137.2m while all four regions delivered year-on-year growth. There's also strong country performances from major economies: UK, US and China.

However currency headwinds will impact on gross profit of £10m in Q2 (£19m total in H1). The UK grew at over 11% for the quarter reflecting better momentum, especially in technical disciplines and in Finance & Accounting.

"We are seeing more instances of candidate shortages in a number of markets and disciplines," says Page. "This gives us confidence to continue our investment programme, both in infrastructure and, selectively, additional fee earners."

Finally, owner of Costa Coffee, Whitbread plc, announces the appointment of Richard Baker as Chairman with effect from 1 September. Baker succeeds Anthony Habgood; the new chairman has been an independent non-executive director on the Whitbread Board since 2009.

Baker is currently Chairman of Virgin Active Group, a role held since 2008 and Chairman of DFS Furniture Holdings where he has been since 2010. Richard was previously Chief Executive of Boots Group Plc from 2003 to 2007; prior to that he was Chief Operating Officer at Asda.

"I have admired the strength of the company's businesses and brands," says Baker. "I strongly endorse the common values shared throughout the group and its consistent focus on putting the customer first."

Utility Warehouse
Michael Page