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Confidence low as builders crack

Shares in Taylor Wimpey plummeted 55% after its leading investors refused to
back a £500m rights issue. The biggest casualty of the controversy was FD Peter
Johnson, who has “stepped down”. He is one of 900 layoffs announced.

On the same day, Marks and Spencer executive chairman Stuart Rose, long a
City golden boy, had the job of announcing a profit warning at the start of
July. M&S blamed general price inflation and falling consumer confidence
alongside rises in utility and housing costs for the 6.2% fall in general sales
(4.5% down in food), but that didn’t stop the share price dropping 25%, wiping
more than £1bn off the company’s value. M&S also announced the resignation
of its head of food retail, Steven Esom, after only a year in the job.

Analysts challenged Rose’s assertion that M&S was “a strong company in a
weak market”, pointing to superior performance by other premium foodsellers such
as Waitrose.

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