Debenhams kicked off the post-Christmas retail trading updates before the new year with a grim update on 31 December. In its second profit warning in less than a year the department store chain blamed unprecedented discounts on clothing for profits well short of expectations. Rivals accused Debenhams of starting the price war.
Mothercare issued a dire trading statement on 8 January, guiding analysts to halve their forecasts for full-year profit. The mums and baby retailer said Christmas trading had been hit by heavy discounting and poor sales of toys in the UK. Weakening economies and currencies in emerging markets also took their toll.
Morrisons was the biggest casualty of a tough Christmas for Britain’s big supermarkets. It was forced to announce on 9 January that like-for-like sales fell 5.6% over Christmas and new year as shoppers turned to German value chains Aldi and Lidl and the online and convenience store operations of its rivals.
Royal Dutch Shell shook investor confidence on 17 January when it said earnings in the fourth quarter would be about 70% down on the year before. The company suffered financial writedowns from dry wells and costs linked to its trouble-prone drilling programme off the coast of Alaska.
Pearson said on 23 January that trading and profits last year were weaker than expected. The publisher said its education business was hit by less demand in the US and in the UK and that the market remained difficult this year.
Hornby issued the latest in a string of warnings on 24 January when it predicted a £1m annual loss. The model railway maker blamed recurring delays at its manufacturer in China and the falling value of foreign currency it had set aside to pay for the late trains.
BG Group stunned investors when it warned on 27 January that a production shortfall in Egypt, caused by the Egyptian target taking more gas for domestic use than agreed, would hit full-year earnings. The company also reported rising operating costs in Australia and Brazil.
Royal Bank of Scotland unveiled an extra £2.9bn of costs on 27 January to cover alleged bad conduct such as misselling of payment protection insurance and interest rate swaps. The state-controlled bank is heading for an annual loss of £8bn for 2013 as a result.
Carpetright posted its second profit warning in less than four months on 28 January. The carpet and flooring retailer said a loss of up to £2m at its ailing Netherlands business would cause annual profits to come in significantly lower than expected. It also suffered weak sales growth in the UK.
Mulberry issued its third profit warning in 18 months on 29 January. The upmarket handbag maker suffered falling UK sales over Christmas and the cancellation of a large order from Korea. The group has tried to go upmarket by raising its prices but the strategy has fallen flat.
Serco warned on 30 January that this year’s profits would be 10% to 20% lower than expected because of the continuing impact of its overcharging of the government. Revenues will be lower because of work lost and costs will be higher as the outsourcing company implements the clean-up plan demanded by the government.
Rolls-Royce: Company said on 13 February sharp cuts in defence spending in the US and Europe would mean no profit growth in 2014.
Morrisons: Shares posted the worst performance in the FTSE 100 on 13 March as a second profit warning in three months triggered a 12% slump
Majestic Wine: Retailer surprised markets with a profits warning on 20 March after a slowdown in consumer spending took the fizz out of its sales. The news sent its shares tumbling nearly 20%