London’s FTSE 100 traded 78.7 points lower at 7,155.2 on Tuesday as investors fretted over the looming UK general election, the latest US decision on interest rates and the question of whether the Trump administration will go ahead with tariff hikes on Chinese goods on 15 December as scheduled.

Embattled fashion label Ted Baker (TED) tumbled 20.4% to 318p as it warned on profits again following disappointing Black Friday sales, suspended its dividend and said chief executive officer (CEO) Lindsay Page and executive chairman David Bernstein had both stepped down with immediate effect.

Pre-tax profit expectations for the year ending 25 January have been reduced to a minimum of £5m, with a potential outcome of up to £10m depending on Christmas trading. Ted Baker has also hired independent consultants Alix Partners to conduct a wide-ranging review of its operational efficiency, costs and business model.

Chief financial officer Rachel Osborne has stepped in as acting CEO with a search for Page’s permanent to begin in January.

Elsewhere, equipment rental giant Ashtead (AHT) cheapened 6.9% to £22.04 despite reporting solid first half results with strong rental revenue growth, as investors fretted over a currency headwind and the news the UK market ‘remains challenging’.

Supermarkets trio Tesco (TSCO), Sainsbury’s (SBRY) and Morrisons (MRW) were marked lower as the latest grocery market share figures from Kantar showed year-on-year supermarket sales growth slowed again during the 12 weeks ending 1 December.

Amid the uncertainty of a General Election, a lacklustre Black Friday and a wet autumn, shoppers have been delaying their Christmas preparations and are waiting to stock up on festive supplies.

IT enterprise operator Computacenter (CCC) sparked up 7.6% to £16.49 on news full year profits and earnings per share will be ‘well ahead’ of current market expectations thanks to strong performances from established businesses as well as acquired businesses in the US.

Rolls-Royce (RR.) weakened 3.1% to 702.4p after non-executive director Bradley Singer, a partner and chief operating officer of the jet engine maker’s biggest shareholder ValueAct Capital, stepped down.

Watches of Switzerland (WOSG) ticked 5.8p higher to 329.8p on strong maiden first half results, with CEO Brian Duffy flagging a robust market for luxury watches in the US and UK as well as a good pipeline of new showrooms.

Digital printing kiosks-to-laundry units operator Photo-Me international (PHTM) rallied 2.4% to 88.9p as first half results revealed a 6.7% adjusted taxable profits gain to £28.5m and CEO Serge Crasnianski assured his charge is on track to meet full year forecasts.

Convenience retailer McColl’s (MCLS) was marked down 2.1% to 40.5p after warning annual earnings will be ‘marginally below expectations’ due to unseasonable weather and weaker consumer confidence in the second half.

Software-as-a-Service minnow Access Intelligence (ACC:AIM) slumped 13.1% to 46.5p after identifying accounting issues with ‘a small number of contracts’ at acquired business Pulsar.

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Issue Date: 10 Dec 2019