The FTSE 100 discount store chain B&M European Value Retail has upgraded its profit forecast after a strong third quarter and will pay a £200m special dividend next month (The Times £). Variety discounter B&M European Value has upgraded its full-year profit forecast after a strong third quarter and will pay a £200m special dividend next month (The Financial Times £). B&M European Value Retail has lifted its annual profit forecast and announced a special dividend following a robust Christmas trading season (The Daily Mail).

The high street bakery chain Greggs reported a rise in sales during the Christmas trading period despite the impact of adverse weather and strikes at the end of 2022 (The Times £). Greggs saw total annual sales surpass £1.5bn last year as strong festive trade offset concerns about the potential impact of rail strikes and poor winter weather (The Daily Mail).

Greggs has handed a 10% pay increase to workers as it warned of “material cost inflation” that prompted a third rise in the price of its sausage rolls in a year (The Guardian).

Boots has hailed a “very strong” Christmas trading season after sales at the chain grew by 15% in December (The Times £). Boots hailed a strong festive period after enjoying record Black Friday sales (The Daily Mail).

Big brands including Next, B&M and Greggs have reported a sales boost over Christmas despite rising prices, rail strikes and severe weather. (The BBC)

Encouraging high street numbers should be kept in perspective, writes Sky News’ Ian King. There are suggestions that commentators overdid the pessimism in the run-up to Christmas, though the outlook is bleak. While households are far from done with running down the savings enforced on them during the Covid lockdowns, consumer sentiment will continue to be depressed and, in many cases, disposable household incomes will fall. (Sky News)

It is becoming clear that Christmas 2022 was the festive season where we all paid more but got less. Perhaps that’s obvious in a time of double-digit inflation. But the UK consumer, collectively, was prepared to stump up to achieve not quite the same present haul or festive spread. That bodes well for retailers’ trading updates next week. But it is a state of affairs unlikely to persist into 2023. (The Financial Times £)

Footfall in December reached its highest level since the pandemic as shoppers headed to stores in search of Christmas gifts. (The Times £)

Thai police have been accused of conducting a “sham” investigation into potential forced labour at a garment factory formerly used by Tesco, after officials took one day to conclude no laws were broken. (The Guardian)

Hauliers exporting goods to the European Union have faced fresh disruption since the turn of the year as a glitch in the UK’s digital customs system and new demands from French authorities threaten delays. (Sky News)

Though some investors laud dull, cash-generating businesses, container board makers such as Smurfit Kappa, DS Smith and Mondi have done little to earn any applause of late. Despite near record profit levels and margins, their price to forward earnings multiples deflated sharply last year. Tougher times may lie ahead. But the sector’s improving value and defensive qualities deserve some attention. (The Financial Times £)