Never mind Brexit – What about the footie?

If England won the World Cup….

Go to the profile of James Illsley
Jul 10, 2018

‘It would be an unalloyed, unadulterated, absolute good. Everything would be good.’ Mark Carney, 5 July 2018, speaking at a Northern Powerhouse business summit.

No pressure there then, Gareth!

England’s progress in the World Cup is not only providing a boost to the nation’s morale and a welcome distraction from Brexit, it is also giving a timely fillip to the beleaguered leisure sector, which has been suffering from falling sales, overcapacity and high-profile closures for many restaurant operators.

City analysts trying to model the effects of the World Cup will likely have based their forecasts on England getting out of their group but then exiting at the last 16 (after all,  we hadn’t won a knock-out game in a major tournament since we faced Ecuador in 2006). With the team surpassing those expectations to reach the semi-finals, it is fair to say that pubs are seeing a boom in their takings, with another bumper evening in prospect on Wednesday.

And it’s not only lager sales that are going large; betting companies will also be seeing a boost. Research from Berenberg showed that the 2014 World Cup in Brazil generated between around 2% (Ladbrokes Coral) and over 4% (William Hill) of the total amount wagered on sports in that year on digital platforms. For William Hill, that 4.2% share of the digital sportsbetting turnover translated into an impressive 9.8% of net revenues due to the number of games generating better-than-average margins1.

Of course, the difficulties on the High Street will not be solved by a football tournament. Indeed, as long as punters are in the boozer watching the footie and placing bets on the number of goals from set-pieces that England can score, they are not on the High Street shopping. But England’s success has borne unexpected fruits for some retailers, with Southgate’s sartorial elegance reportedly boosting sales of waistcoats2 by over 30%!

  • Marks & Spencer is reported to have seen a 35% rise in waistcoat sales, and made Saturday (when England played Sweden) National Waistcoat Day2.
  • T.M. Lewin tweeted that sales of the garment ‘were going through the stadium roof3.’
  • Global fashion search site Lyst told Harpers Bazaar that waistcoat searches3 were up 41%.

"Every goal scored by an England footballer - right the way to the final - would be worth £165.3m to England's retailers and an extra £33.2m to pubs, hotels and restaurants." Centre for Retail Research, BBC News, 4 July 2018. 

It now seems that even some of our politicians have been infected by the positive vibe sweeping the nation, with Theresa May now looking to have come down firmly on the side of a soft Brexit, although she has had to shuffle the midfield and call a couple of youth team players off the bench to get a full team out. For the longer term outlook of the economy this is probably the biggest game in town – if not the most fun. For the sake of all our nerves let’s hope Brexit negotiations don’t go to extra time and be decided by penalties!

James Illsley is the Portfolio Manager on JPM UK Equity Core. Read more about the fund

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1Source: Berenberg as at 13 June 2018.

2Source: Mirror as at 6 July 2018.

3Source: as at 7 July 2018.

Go to the profile of James Illsley

James Illsley

Fund Manager, JPM UK Equity Core Fund and JPM UK Equity Plus Fund, J.P. Morgan Asset Management

James Illsley is a portfolio manager of the JPM UK Equity Core Fund and the JPM UK Equity Plus Fund within J.P. Morgan Asset Management's UK Equity team.


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John 7 months ago