01 July 1998

UNVEILING THE annual accounts for Littlewoods Group, chairman James Ross made it clear that the Moores family-owned group is determined to remain just that. 'We have no intention of floating the company; we have not discussed it with shareholders; it is not even on the agenda.' The Moores clan is, however, mulling the future of Littlewoods’ pools business - the [now ailing] foundation of their fortune - and may contemplate withdrawal from the sector which has been hard-hit by the National Lottery. Said Ross: 'I would not describe it as core. Our future lies very much in retail, with the engine being home shopping.' Underlining his remarks, the group announced record profits, mainly attributable to the home shopping division which achieved a notable 41% rise at the trading level on a 12% increase in sales - a growth in margin of 5%. It now holds an estimated 18% of the UK home shopping market, narrowing the gap with rival GUS which commands 23%. Littlewoods also announced it is seeking a new marketing director.