What to watch: Queen's carpet maker posts record results, Hammerson shares fall, FTSE slumps as shops reopen in England

Kate Middleton is escorted by her father Michael (R) and sister Pippa (L) at Westminster Abbey for her wedding to Prince William in London April 29, 2011. REUTERS/Tom Pilston/POOL  (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT PROFILE)

Victoria plc has supplied the British royal family for years, including providing the red carpet for the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. Photo: REUTERS/Tom Pilston/POOL

Here are some of the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and around the world.

Queen’s carpet maker posts record results

Flooring manufacturer Victoria (VCP.L) announced on Monday that it had achieved record results in the year ending 3 April despite ongoing COVID-19 related challenges in its markets.

The AIM-listed group, which was established in 1895 and awarded the Queen’s Royal Warrant in 2013, said it expects full-year revenues to be in excess of £640m ($ 879m) compared to £621.5m the previous year. 

This is despite the impact of the April-May 2020 lockdowns, which saw more than £50m of revenue reduction in those two months compared to 2019.

It has also forecasted underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to be in excess of £120m, a slight improvement on the previous year’s figure of £118.1m.

Looking forward, Victoria stated the trading outlook for the current 2022 financial year was “very encouraging” in terms of both revenue and margins, with the firm continuing to experience “strong, ongoing consumer demand” across its key markets.

The company has supplied the British royal family for years, including providing the red carpet for the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

Shares climbed around 3% higher on the back of the news.

Victoria shares jumped on Monday on the back of the positive trading update. Chart: Yahoo Finance

Victoria shares jumped on Monday on the back of the positive trading update. Chart: Yahoo Finance

Shares in shopping centre giant Hammerson (HMSO.L) fell as much as 4% in London following confirmation that it is in talks to sell some of its prime real estate portfolio.

Responding to media reports over the weekend, the owner of the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham and Brent Cross in London confirmed that it is in discussions on terms of a possible disposal of its retail parks portfolio to private equity firm Brookfield.

Hammerson said that it “continues to make asset disposals in liquid markets to further strengthen the balance sheet, with gross proceeds of £73m achieved to date in 2021.

“There can be no certainty that a transaction will take place or the terms on which any transaction may occur. The company will provide a further update in due course, if appropriate.”

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The news comes following reports over the weekend that seven sites are on the block for around £350m ($ 480m).

The seven sites include retail parks in Falkirk, Didcot, Middlesbrough, St Helens, Telford, Merthyr Tydfil and Rugby.

It comes after Hammerson reported it suffered significant losses in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, and is attempting to sell of some of its malls to survive the crisis.

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) dropped 0.45% by mid-morning in London as retail shops, pubs, hairdressers and gyms opened their doors for the first time in months on Monday. 

Non-essential stores have been shut since 5 January when prime minister Boris Johnson announced a third lockdown in England, with similar measures taken across the devolved nations.

Outside, six people or two households can now meet and weddings and funerals can have up to 15 and 30 people, respectively. Children are be able to attend any indoor children’s activity and care home visitors have increased to two per resident.

The PM reminded people to “behave responsibly,” while warnings from scientists over the weekend urged caution amid evidence of virus hotspots in many parts of the country.

READ MORE: Scientists warn reopening UK too fast could spur third COVID wave

The easing comes as temperatures have dropped across the country, with some areas seeing sleet and snow.

“The presence of snow in parts of the country was a nasty surprise as retailers and leisure operators opened their doors for the first time in months. They will be hoping the white stuff doesn’t settle and that sunshine quickly brightens the public’s mood,” Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said.

“While it is possible that we’ll see plenty of people venturing into the shops today, particularly as it provides an excuse to finally get out of the house, retailers need strong footfall to be sustained for more than just a few days otherwise they face more difficult times ahead. It seems inevitable that we haven’t seen the last of the retail sector casualties.”

WATCH: Pubs and non-essential shops reopen in England; plus temperatures plummet in UK