Dr. Martens Gets a Kicking Over US Struggle: The London Rush

Dr. Martens Gets a Kicking Over US Struggle: The London Rush

Your morning roundup of key UK business news just in

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(Bloomberg) — Hi, I’m Leo from Bloomberg’s UK Breaking News team, catching you up on this morning’s business stories. 

Dr. Martens shares plunged as much as 23% after warning it will likely take longer for US results to improve.

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The bootmaker noted “some encouraging signs” over the Black Friday weekend. The company’s key problem, however, is that its US wholesale customers held back on ordering due to the broader economic uncertainty.

Across all regions, Dr. Martens also flagged a hit from warm weather. If you’re in the UK this morning — and freezing your toes off — you might reasonably think that this trend should be reversing for the trendy boot-maker.

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What’s your take? Ping me on X, LinkedIn or drop me an email at lkehnscherpe@bloomberg.net. 

Key Business News

Metro Bank said it expects to chop around 800 jobs, or 20% of the workforce, and review its policy for keeping some branches open all week as part of a more ambitious cost reduction plan. It’s the latest move by the troubled challenger bank to turn around its performance. The more extensive cost-cutting programme comes days after shareholders voted in favour of a capital raise that’s part of a £925 million rescue deal agreed in October that will see Colombian billionaire Jaime Gilinski take a controlling stake. 

Mitchells & Butlers, the owner of pub chains including All Bar One, said it sees “clear evidence” that cost headwinds are starting to abate. That’s thanks to lower energy prices and slowing food inflation, and despite the recent bump in minimum wages. The company said this trend should allow it to rebuild margins back toward pre-pandemic levels.

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Commission-free stock trading pioneer Robinhood has eventually extended its offerings across the pond. British retail investors must currently join a waiting list to get switched on for the trading app, but the service aims to be immediately available starting in 2024. Robinhood, which benefitted from the pandemic-era “meme-stock” frenzy, will be joining an increasingly crowded market, competing with locals such as Revolut and Freetrade as well as New York-based rival Public.com, which expanded to the UK in July. 

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In the US, Robinhood makes part of its revenue through payment for order flow, a controversial practice, which was banned in the UK, where market makers pay brokerages to route orders through them, rather than directly to stock exchanges. In Britain, Robinhood plans to “take advantage of all the other ways we have of generating revenue.” 

Markets Today’s Take

As November draws to a freezing cold close, the divergence in the relative performance of the UK’s two main indexes is stark.

The FTSE 100 is underperforming global stocks by the largest margin since July 2020 this month and, if you strip out that pandemic-era weakness, by the third most since the launch of MSCI’s global stock index in 1990. That’s down to its dearth of tech stocks, a consistent complaint about London and one not being solved by an IPO market that remains in the doldrums.

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The FTSE 250, meanwhile, has benefited from the peak interest rates narrative. Even if rates stay higher for longer, market bets that no more hikes are coming has given a boost to real estate and homebuilding stocks, both of which have a heavy weighting in the UK’s midcap index. Right now, the midcap index is on track for its best month in three years.

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— Sam Unsted

For more news and analysis throughout the day, follow Bloomberg UK’s Markets Today blog. 

What’s Next? 

Nationwide’s closely-watched house price index is due tomorrow morning, after the Bank of England yesterday reported a higher-than-expected pop in mortgage approvals for October. Bloomberg economists see a couple of drivers behind this little housing thaw: The relatively resilient labour market, a lack of property supply, and signs that interest rates have peaked.

Still, the BOE’s data also showed that the cost of lending is ticking higher, with the average effective interest rate on a new mortgage now at 5.25%. You don’t need to be an economist to see how this puts off possible buyers. 

—With assistance from Mark Evans.

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