MARKET REPORT: Marshalls shares floored by UK housing downturn


Marshalls sank into the red after the patios and driveways specialist suffered a bleak start to the year.

The FTSE 250 landscaping group said fewer homes are being built in the wake of the disastrous mini-Budget in September last year.

It also pointed towards increased mortgage costs as the Bank of England hikes interest rates as well as the end of the Help to Buy scheme. 

At the same time, Marshalls said households were not spending as much doing up their homes and gardens as they did during the pandemic when business boomed.

As such, sales in the first four months of 2023 were 14 per cent lower than in the same period last year.

Slowdown: FTSE 250 landscaping group Marshalls said fewer homes are being built in the wake of the disastrous mini-Budget in September last year

Slowdown: FTSE 250 landscaping group Marshalls said fewer homes are being built in the wake of the disastrous mini-Budget in September last year

And in a further blow, Marshalls warned its full-year results were likely to be lower than expected.

The Yorkshire-based firm is planning to axe 70 jobs in a bid to save money. Shares in the company, which were trading above £8 each during the pandemic, fell 8.7 per cent, or 26p, to 272p.

The FTSE 100 fell 0.2 per cent, or 14.29 points, to 7764.09 and the FTSE 250 dropped 0.9 per cent, or 175.46 points, to 19277.04.

Official data out of China was a mixed bag as the world’s second largest economy grew faster than expected in the first three months of the year. But imports fell 7.9 per cent year-on-year in April while export growth slowed.

Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the ‘numbers are yet another warning light that China is far from immune from the global slowdown’.

Investors had much to digest closer to home.

Figures from Halifax showed house prices rising at the slowest pace for more than a decade as rising interest rates take their toll.

Shares in builder Persimmon slid 2.3 per cent, or 32p, to 1335.5p, Berkeley Group shed 2.2 per cent, or 98p, to 4368p and Taylor Wimpey fell 1.6 per cent, or 1.95p, to 124.1p.

Stock Watch – Hostelworld 

Business is booming at online travel agent Hostelworld as holidaymakers take to the skies after the pandemic.

The company said bookings in many key destinations are above pre-Covid levels.

Hostelworld said it raked in record revenues in the first quarter of the year.

It expects revenues to grow by 30 per cent this year while profits should be between £14.3million and £14.8million, well ahead of City forecasts of £12.7million.

Shares gained 4.3 per cent, or 5.5p, to 135p.

Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor, said: ‘Many potential buyers are holding off amid hopes that property prices will cool and mortgage rates will ease later this year as inflation finally starts to come down.’

Direct Line warned its earnings could come under pressure this year due to the rising cost of repairing damaged cars.

Motor insurers have been hit by the rising price of second-hand cars and parts as well as higher labour costs. Shares plunged 4.6 per cent, or 7.55p, to 156.8p

The chief executive of DCC is to step down temporarily for health reasons. Donal Murphy, who has led the Irish conglomerate since July 2017, will ‘address a medical condition’ and hand over his day-to-day responsibilities for the next few weeks to the finance boss Kevin Lucey.

He hopes to return to working as normal before the annual general meeting in July, DCC added.

Shares fell 3.1 per cent, or 151p, to 4714p. Ingredients maker Treatt highlighted the reopening of China as it posted record half-year revenues. 

Sales shot up 14.6 per cent to £76million in the six months to the end of March while profit rose 15 per cent to £7.3million. 

Revenue across China – which it said remains an ‘important strategic region’ – soared by 38.6 per cent during the period as Covid measures were lifted. But shares fell 2.1 per cent, or 14p, to 650p.

TT Electronics said revenue in the first four months of 2023 was 16 per cent higher than the same period a year ago. Shares in the electronic components manufacturer inched up 1.1 per cent, or 1.8p, to 171.6p.

Victrex saw sales of polymer slide 14 per cent to 1,941 tonnes in the six months to the end of March. 

Profit fell 10 per cent to £39.1million due to weaker demand, a higher wage bill and an increase in investment. Shares fell 9.6 per cent, or 160p, to 1504p.

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