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Directors’ Deals: Meeson lands more than £40mn

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Philip Meeson, chair of Jet2, who built the company into a significant player in the low-cost air travel market, has cashed out some of his remaining investment in an airline he first bought into nearly 40 years ago.

At that time, Express Air Services was a freight business ferrying fresh flowers, mail and other cargo from the Channel Islands to a series of UK airports. Meeson, an RAF-trained pilot, went on to float the company in 1991 but it didn’t begin carrying passengers until Jet2.com was launched from Leeds Bradford International Airport in 2003.

The company has experienced some turbulence since, not least during the pandemic when it suffered a combined loss of more than £600mn over a 24-month period. 

However, it is now more bullish about its prospects, recently adding an order for 35 new aircraft from Airbus. This brings the total to 98, with an option to extend to 146.

The airline’s interim results last month were strong enough to revive the shares from the funk they’ve fallen into this year. 

After more than halving from a peak of £14.34 in February to £6.39 in mid-October, they crept back above £10 a share as the company reported a £451mn pre-tax profit on the back of an eightfold hike in revenue to £3.57bn. Meeson, and a trust associated with him, subsequently sold more than £42mn worth of shares between November 24 and December 1. 

The sales were made to “diversify his investment portfolio”, the company said in a regulatory filing. No further disposals are planned in the immediate future.

Big share sales by Meeson are not that unusual — he sold around £22.5mn worth of shares this time last year. He retains an 18.3 per cent stake.

Burberry director keeps holding in check

Burberry shares are up by a fifth over the last year, an outperformance of both the market and luxury peers such as LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Hermes.

Investor sentiment towards the company was boosted by the latest half-year results to October 1, in which the fashion house reported an 11 per cent increase in sales and a 31 per cent uplift in pre-tax profits on the back of higher prices and a strong performance in continental Europe.

Chief operating and financial officer Julie Brown, who is set to join the board of GSK in April, took advantage of the elevated share price on November 30. She sold £344,000-worth of Burberry shares at £21.50 apiece — her beneficial holding now sits at 123,389 shares.

Where the shares go from here will be impacted by how the company fares with chief executive Jonathan Akeroyd’s bullish sales targets. He is aiming for Burberry to hit medium-term annual revenues of £4bn within three to five years, a pace of growth ahead of consensus forecasts, and long-term sales of £5bn. The plan is to drive high-single-digit growth through progress with accessories, improved stores and sales densities, and more marketing.

Deutsche Bank analysts said of the targets that “the upside opportunity looks compelling” but warned that “as ever the question boils down to one of execution, and in our view it may take time for this given the current levels of macro uncertainty”.

There are also problems to deal with in the company’s domestic market. Burberry said in its results that it will “refocus on Britishness and strengthen our connection with British design craft and culture”. But signs point to the wealthy spending their money in Milan and Paris instead of London, with the government’s reversal of its announced tax-free shopping scheme for visitors having an impact. Mulberry, a UK-focused luxury business, has also flagged the chancellor’s recent decision as an issue for London sales.

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