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Online wine retailer Naked Wines has warned sales for the year will be lower than forecast as consumers returned to bars and restaurants and drank less at home.

However, the group said it was well stocked and prepared for an expected Christmas bonanza despite the supply chain challenges the industry is facing.

Total sales at the business increased 1% to £159.3m in the six months ended 27 September as growth slowed compared to the heightened demand throughout the pandemic - although its topline was 82% higher than the same period two years ago.

Naked flagged that there had been a decline in new customers sales in the period, but subscriber numbers now stood at 947,000, a 25% on a year ago.

It also moved reversed the losses of a year ago, with pre-tax profits of £1.3m in the half, versus a loss of £8.9m last year.

The business said its inventory balance at the end of the half sat at £127m - well up on the £85m of stock it had at the same time in 2020 - as it anticipated its largest ever Christmas. Naked added it intended to run the business with higher inventory balances over the medium-term to preserve availability for customers and manage the supply chain disruption.

Despite the expected record festive season, Naked revised down its sales forecasts to a range of £340m to £355m, compared with £355m to £375m previously, with investment in new customers to drop to between £35m and £45m rather than £40m to £50m.

CEO Nick Devlin said: “I’m delighted by the progress we have made so far this year in further strengthening our winemaker lineup and customer proposition. We are now serving a global community of 947,000 members - an increase of 25% over the last year - reflecting sustained consumer desire for an alternative to traditional wine distribution.

“I’d like to thank all our teams for their hard work in a challenging supply environment for ensuring we are well stocked and prepared for what we anticipate to be a record holiday season. We are focused on delivering an incredible experience for our members and on continuing to invest to grow Naked Wines and connect more wine drinkers to the world’s best independent winemakers.”

Shares in the company sank 11.1% to 600p as markets opened this morning on the back of the sales warning.

Morning update

Finsbury Food Group has reported a “resilient performance” so far in the current financial year with sales up 8.3% to £106.2m in the first four months.

It said ahead of an AGM later today that the increase was driven by stable trading in supermarkets, continued robust recovery of foodservice and “a very strong” overseas performance.

Non-executive chairman Peter Baker will tell shareholders later: “Like many others in the manufacturing, distribution and retail sectors, we continue to manage challenges around inflation, skilled labour, driver shortages and other supply chain disruptions.

“We have responded quickly to mitigate much of the impact of these challenges through commercial negotiation and other initiatives. Whilst there is uncertainty around how long they will persist, Finsbury has a track record of successfully navigating challenging market conditions, as proven throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Through disciplined implementation of its business’ operating principles, Finsbury continues to make excellent progress in becoming a more efficient group with increasing synergies and scale benefits. We will continue to manage industry headwinds while driving the business forward and look forward to updating the market again in January.”

Shares in the group jumped 2% to 100p this morning.

Grocery tech firm Eagle Eye has reported a positive start to its new financial year, with year-on-year revenue growth of 35% in the first quarter - a rise of 27% on Q4.

The business raised its profit expectation as a result to be “comfortably ahead” of previous forecasts.

“This strong start to the financial year will allow the business to increase its investment in people to support future growth and capitalise on the global shift towards personalised digital marketing by retailers,” Eagle Eye said.

The performance was driven by the new customer wins with the likes of Woolworths, Staples US and Virgin Red moving into the transactional phase.

It also deepened existing relationships with Pret a Manger, helping it expand the coffee subscription service into France and the US, and also with Asda as it trials a new loyalty programme.

 Eagle Eye’s share price shot up 7% to 610p on the profits upgrade.

The gloomy mood among investors in London continued this morning as the FTSE 100 edged down another 0.3% to 7,267.74pts.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 faltered as inflation in the UK a ten-year high in October. London’s blue-chip index fell 0.5% yesterday to 7,291.20pts.

Shares in McColl’s Retail Group slumped 16.6% to 15p after it issued a profits warning and said its revenues would be significantly lower than expected as it struggled to get hold of stock in the final quarter. The convenience retailer had plunged by almost 30% first thing to new all-time lows of 13.5p before making a partial recovery.

Other fallers yesterday included Naked Wines, which was down 4.85 to 675p ahead of this morning’s results, and WH Smith, down 4.6% to 1,550p.

Vimto maker Nichols, Hellofresh and Virgin Wines UK were among the winners, climbing 6.7% to 1,350p, 4.2% to €90.4 and 2.7% to 187.5p respectively.