ALLEGRO IPO SHOOTS SHARE PRICE UP 50%

Shares in Polish e-commerce group Allegro leapt more than 50% on their trading debut on Monday, giving the company a market value of about $17.6 billion in Europe’s biggest IPO so far this year. Allegro’s strong start mirrored the performance of some recent U.S. IPOs that have shot up on their first days of trading, demonstrating investors’ willingness to pay for growth. Allegro, founded more than 20 years ago as a home-grown rival to eBay, is central Europe’s most recognised e-commerce brand, with its website attracting 20 million visitors a month. SOURCE: Reuters

EUROPE DOWNGRADES RECOVERY HOPES

What faint hopes remained that Europe was recovering from the economic catastrophe delivered by the pandemic have disappeared as the lethal virus has resumed spreading rapidly across much of the continent. France, Europe’s second-largest economy, downgraded its forecast for the pace of expansion for the last three months of the year from an already minimal 1 percent to zero. Over all, the national statistics agency predicted the economy would contract by 9 percent this year. SOURCE: New York Times

MANY UK BUSINESSES IN DISBELIEF

Well over a third of small UK businesses are still not convinced that the UK will transition out of the EU at the end of this year, despite a government information campaign costing £70 million to let them know, MPs have been told. But the senior civil servants running the transition project told the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee that many of the 200,000 firms which export to Europe are expected to be “frustrated” by new red tape which will suddenly be required in the New Year. The UK has deferred some of the additional paperwork until July, but new EU import requirements are expected to be implemented from 1 January. SOURCE: The Independent (UK)

M&S FACES UP TO WASTE ISSUE

British retailer Marks & Spencer, seeking to avoid a repeat of last Christmas when its performance was ruined by excessive food waste, is rolling out a supply chain programme it says will crack the problem. Reporting on festive trading in January, two months before the COVID-19 pandemic brought much of Britain to a standstill, Chief Executive Steve Rowe said that while M&S had enjoyed record food sales its profit margins were dented by high levels of waste. M&S normally accounts for just over 3% of the UK grocery market but at Christmas it punches above its weight, selling, for example, one in four of all fresh turkeys consumed. SOURCE: Reuters

PHOTO: A display in a Marks & Spencer store in the north of England