Game Digital shares crashed back down to earth today, after its head bean counter suddenly quit the retailer.
Chief financial officer Mark Gifford was a driving force behind the gaming group’s turnaround in recent years – including developing the events and Esports divisions and securing refinancing for the group’s Spanish operations.
The share-price dive comes less than two weeks after the firm reported bumper Christmas trading figures with sales up 5.2%, driven by games such as Middle-earth: Shadow of War and Call of Duty: WWII.
Shares were off 4.8p at 42.2p as the video games retailer announced its search to find a successor would begin immediately. Gifford joined a year after Game’s 2014 float at 196.5p.
The session saw the High Street’s chief financial officers engaging in musical chairs, with Superdry’s Nick Wharton also announcing his departure. He will be replaced by by Ed Barker, currently director of group finance, and previous interim chief financial officer at Sainsbury. Superdry shares lost 5p at 1834p. Retail analyst Nick Bubb said of the stock falls: “I guess the City always suspects that a retiring CFO knows something about the firm’s financial future that they don’t…”
Sticking with retail, Pets at Home posted revenue growth up 9.6% in its third quarter – boosted by its merchandise division. One of the most shorted stocks on the market, shares in the dog lover’s paradise shot up 10.10p at 192.1p. It meant another bad day for short sellers in the retail market following Ocado’s rise yesterday.
AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said: “Having been carried out by online grocer Ocado yesterday short sellers are being bitten by Pets at Home today, as the specialist retailer and provider of veterinary and grooming services reveals stronger-than-expected trading for the third quarter.’
Meanwhile Goldman Sachs was chucking its weight around the market. The banking giant – along with Credit Suisse – downgraded Martin Sorrell’s WPP, whose shares were off 29.2p at 1329.2p. Matthew Walker, analyst at Credit Suisse, said: “WPP’s top four clients including Ford, Unilever, P&G and Nestle are all likely to seek to drive efficiencies on agency fees. There are not enough big new economy clients in the agency space. WPP represents Google (a top 10 client) but conflicts could prevent it from being the lead agency for Facebook or Amazon as well.” But despite WPP’s losses the FTSE 100 was up 15.20 points at 7730.95 points.
Outside the top flight, social housing contractor Lakehouse cut its losses following poor results at the end of 2016. The firm – which was responsible for the fire alarms at Grenfell Tower – notched up a pre-tax loss of £3.1 million for the year, compared to a loss of £35.7 million the year before. Shares in Lakehouse gained 2.8p at 39.8p.