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Tui makes hot profit despite cool demand for hols in sun

TUI has shrugged off a blow dealt by the summer heatwave to report a 10.9 per cent increase in annual earnings.

The holiday company said impressive results in its hotel and resorts arm and cruises business had driven a rise in underlying earnings to £1.1billion.

The strong performance offset a 14.6 per cent slump in tour and flight bookings as Britons and Germans enjoyed the sunshine at home rather than jetting abroad to face even hotter weather.

The German group — a major player in the UK market — said the year had been a challenging one, with air traffic control strike action in France also playing a part in reducing its earnings from tours and flights to £405million.

Brits were also put off taking trips because the drop in the value of the pound had made it more expensive. ‘The weakness of pound sterling resulting from the Brexit vote, prolonged air traffic disruption caused by French air traffic controller strikes and a prolonged heatwave in northern and central Europe impacted the entire sector,’ Tui said.

The market will remain challenging next year but the company said it expects growth in other parts of the business to be high enough for it to increase earnings by at least another ten per cent.

Meanwhile, Tui said it continued to be concerned over flying rights in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a Brexit deal. It is in talks with ministers and regulators in the hope of securing a ‘special agreement’.

Rival Thomas Cook’s shares slumped in September after it blamed the heatwave for a drop in its profit forecast

John Lewis takes festive ad crown

I’m Still Standing: John Lewis ad tops YouTube’s rankings for a second year; below, Sir Elton in the ad PICTURES: PA

JOHN LEWIS has won the battle of the Christmas ads for the second year in a row, according to a top ten list by YouTube. The retailer’s TV campaign, which tells the story of a young Sir Elton John receiving a piano as a present, has been watched 11.7million times on the social media platform.

This places it ahead of Sainsbury’s Plug Boy commercial with 4.5million views and Argos’s Christmas Fool advert with 3.7million. Iceland’s offering — controversially banned from TV due to its political message about deforestation — came in at No.5 and Amazon made its top ten debut with its Can You Feel It ad at No.10. John Lewis’s Moz The Monster ad came first last year. The videos were ranked by organic and paid views, audience retention, and watch time, as well as total views.

Ocado delivering the goods in final quarter

ONLINE supermarket Ocado increased its revenue and order numbers in the final quarter of the year. Revenue in the 13 weeks to December 2 jumped 12 per cent to £390.7million. New facilities in Andover, Hampshire, and Erith, south-east London, meant the company could cater to more customers during the period. It handled 320,000 orders a week — a 13.1 per cent rise on the same period last year. Chief executive Tim Steiner said: ‘Although 2018 has been a transformative year, the story has only just begun.’

BUSINESS BITES

■ WOMENSWEAR chain Bonmarché says it could post a £4million annual loss amid ‘unprecedented’ conditions. Like-for-like sales are expected to fall 12 per cent in the third quarter and one per cent in the final quarter.

■ ONLINE estate agent Purplebricks expects full-year revenue for the year to April to be more than £165million. It comes after pre-tax losses widened to £27.3million in the six months to October 31.

■ SERCO is on track to hit its raised profit forecasts. The service provider expects full-year underlying profits to be more than £90million — up from an earlier prediction of £80million and a 30-40 per cent rise on 2017.

■ SPORTS DIRECT saw underlying pre-tax profits fall 26.8 per cent to £64.4million for the half-year to October 28 after buying House of Fraser out of administration. Revenue grew 4.5 per cent to £1.79billion.

■ ONE in three pints of beer is served in pubs through poor or dirty pumps, a report shows. Around £230million of drinks are discarded each year because of their poor quality, found customer service analyst Vianet.