BUSINESS LIVE: Inchscape sells UK retail unit; PageGroup profits slump; Kingfisher chair exits

The FTSE 100 is down 0.4 per cent in early trading. Among the companies with reports and trading updates today are Inchscape, PageGroup, Kingfisher and Audioboom. Read the Monday 15 April Business Live blog below.

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M&S chairman Archie Norman latest boss to sound alarm over Labour’s plans to reform workers’ rights

Marks and Spencer chairman Archie Norman has become the latest boss to sound the alarm over Labour’s plans to reform workers’ rights.

Policies fronted by the party’s deputy leader Angela Rayner would see staff given rights from day one in new jobs as well as a crackdown on zero-hours contracts.

PageGroup profits slump

PageGroup profits fell by nearly 13 per cent in the first three months of the year, due to slow hiring across its markets, and said job flows deteriorated toward the end of the quarter.

Global recruiters have flagged persistent challenges in the hiring market due to low confidence among employees and employers accompanied with a slowdown in the technology sector and slower recovery in China.

‘Conversion of final interviews to accepted offers is still the most significant challenge, as candidate and client sentiment remains subdued reflecting the general macro-economic uncertainty in most of our markets,’ CEO Nicholas Kirk said.

Inchscape sells UK retail unit

London-listed car dealer Inchscape has agreed to sell its UK retail business to Group 1 Automotive UK in an all-cash deal worth £346million, following a strategic review launched in January.

Inchscape group CEO Duncan Tait:

‘As we continue to deliver on our strategic ambition of becoming the leading global distribution partner to our OEM partners worldwide, this transaction represents a significant step along that journey.

‘Our UK Retail business is a high-quality business, with an experienced and high-performing management team, and has been an important part of the Group’s growth.

‘With our active international expansion into higher value distribution activities, the strategic importance of the UK retail operations has become limited. The Board has therefore concluded it is the right time for a new owner to take this business forward.

‘This transaction aligns with our strategic priorities, simplifies our business and represents a compelling opportunity to deliver meaningful returns to our shareholders. We believe it will enhance the Group’s overall value proposition and enables us to drive growth and long-term value creation for all stakeholders as we further develop our differentiated distribution platform.’

REVEALED: The UK’s fastest selling used cars

Auto Trader has unveiled which used cars are currently flying out of second-hand dealers fastest – and which are sat gathering dust on forecourts.

The data suggests Britons are turning to cost-effective used hybrids, with the top 10 dominated by the green fuel type.

Nationwide’s bid for Virgin wins support of lobby group Mutuo

Nationwide’s £2.9billion attempt to take over Virgin Money has won the backing in principle of the most influential lobby group for mutuals.

Peter Hunt, founder of Mutuo, the UK’s leading advocate for building societies and co-ops, said a successful deal would be a watershed moment.