Domino's shares slide on decline in orders

Domino's has seen a 7.8pc decline in orders while rivals such as Just Eat Takeaway reported a 43pc surge

Shares in Domino's Pizza fell sharply on Thursday despite the delivery firm reporting a sales surge as Britons staycationed over the summer.

UK  like-for-like sales rose 18.3pc for the 13 weeks to September 27 as franchisees boosted sales by passing on the Government's VAT cut on hot takeaway food from 20pc to 5pc in July.

Domino's said demand for pizzas jumped as the pandemic forced people to holiday in the UK this year, helped also by the return of live sports on TV.

However, it said there was pressure on sales in September as more rivals reopened after lockdown and some students delayed returning to university.

The company revealed that the VAT sales boost had "limited direct benefit to our profitability", while overall orders were hit as takeaway collections remain under pressure.

Shares fell 12pc to 326.8p - about the same level at the start of the year.

Dominic Paul, chief executive of Domino's, said: "We welcome the UK Government's reduction to VAT in mid-July which helped franchisees mitigate costs and gave them the opportunity to pass savings on to customers."

He said the group expected annual underlying profit to meet expectations at between £93m and £98m, but analysts questioned that guidance as orders continue to flag.

Domino's said order numbers fell 7.8pc as collections were still 42.9pc lower in the third quarter, having only reopened for this service from early July.

Wayne Brown, an analyst at Liberum, said: "What remains concerning is another 7.8pc decline in order count in a period when Just Eat reported third-quarter orders up 43pc. This is clearly unsustainable."

Domino's also remains in talks with franchisees to resolve a long-running dispute after they protested against a falling share of the profits they make for Domino's.

Mr Paul added: "At the heart of our future plans is realignment with our franchisee partners and we are having detailed discussions to agree a sustainable way forward, although we continue to expect that these discussions will take some time."