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Which UK companies could have enjoyed an Easter sales boost?

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: April 24, 2014

DenisOppong

Denis Oppong, at Redmayne-Bentley in Exeter

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Redmayne-Bentley’s Exeter investment manager Denis Oppong-Gyapong takes a look at some of the UK-based companies which will have been hoping to profit from the Easter holidays

IT feels appropriate to start with Derbyshire-based chocolatier, Thorntons.

Over the last 12 months the company has enjoyed an impressive performance with its shares rallying to almost 150p, up around 107 per cent.

In a recent market update, the chocolate retailer reported a significant rise in first-half pre-tax profit and that the current outlook for the financial year remains in line with market expectations. Pre-tax profit for the 28 weeks ended 11th January 2014 was up to £6.2m, compared with £4.2m a year ago and net profit was up to £5.2m from £3m over the same period.

At the time of writing, Thorntons share price was trading at 146.5p, giving the company a valuation of £100.53m.

Whitbread will have been hoping to see an increase in trade over the Easter period, given it is the owner of Costa Coffee, the UK’s favourite coffee chain. The group also boasts brands such as Premier Inn, Beefeater Grill and Brewers Fayre, all of which could have seen higher levels of sales over the bank holiday.

Shares have demonstrated impressive momentum over a five-year period, although we have seen a slight decline of late as a result over concerns over the business’s growth in the emerging markets.

Despite this, results have been positive, with Whitbread posting sales growth of 6.8 per cent in the final quarter of the year, adding that full-year figures will be at the top end of guidance. The recent drop in the share price could offer investors an interesting opportunity.

Diageo could also benefit from an increase in sales as punters headed out to enjoy the extended bank holiday weekend. The drinks group owns world leading brands such as Baileys, Guinness, Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker, among others. Similarly to Whitbread, shares have pulled back somewhat of late, after boasting a very strong run over the last five years, again this was mainly on the back of concerns over sales in the emerging markets.

The group received a boost recently when it was announced that David Beckham had teamed up with Diageo to launch Haig Club, a newly created Scotch whisky. The group seems on track in its effort to expand its customer base.

For those not wanting to venture out for food and drink, the retail sector could be where they chose to spend their bank holiday. Should this be the case, Sports Direct would be one of our favoured picks within the sector. Shares took a tumble last week after it was revealed that founder Mike Ashley had sold 24 million shares at 850p, however this could be treated as a buying opportunity given the now cheaper level of the shares which have previously seemed almost unstoppable.

The group has been boosted by its online presence, and earlier this year posted an 11.2 per cent increase in sales, impressive given some of its competitors have been forced to close due to sluggish sales.

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