Millions of pounds were wiped off the share prices of Carpetright and Mothercare amid fresh fears for their future.
Carpetright lost more than a fifth of its value following reports that it may be forced to close dozens of stores and slash jobs to stay in business.
The carpet seller, which has more than 400 stores, is reportedly considering a company voluntary arrangement that would allow it to shed loss-making outlets and renegotiate the rents on others.
Earlier this month, Carpetright issued a profit warning – its second of 2018 – in which it blamed ‘weak consumer confidence’ for falling sales. The speculation over its future had a devastating knock-on effect on struggling Mothercare, whose shares slumped 14.2 per cent, or 2.44p, to 14.68p. Carpetright’s dived 21.1 per cent, or 11.8p, to 44p.
A spokesman for Carpetright said: ‘We are examining a range of options to accelerate the turnaround of the business and strengthen its balance sheet.’
The FTSE 100 had a torrid day, falling 1.7 per cent, or 121.21 points, to 7042.93, its lowest level since December 2016.
The blue-chip index was dragged down by an enormous 46.4pc fall in the share price of tech giant Micro Focus, which issued a profit warning, and a poor day for miners, which were suffering from falling metal prices.
Anglo American’s shares closed down 4.2 per cent, or 74.4p, at 1695p while BHP Billiton’s dipped 3.8 per cent, or 54.6p, to 1388.6p. Rio Tinto was down 3.3 per cent, or 123.5p, at 3611.5p.
Toilet-roll maker Accrol wiped the smiles off investors’ faces after it issued a profit warning.
In a dire trading update, the Blackburn-based maker of Thirsty Bubbles kitchen roll said a rapid increase in costs had taken it by surprise. The firm expects to make a £5m loss in its full-year results with its debt increasing to £34m.
The warning took £22.9m off the value of its shares, which plunged 63.4 per cent, or 17.75p, to 10.25p.
AIM-listed Accrol says it is in discussions with its bank as it is ‘likely’ to breach one of its banking covenants.
The announcement comes after a tumultuous few months for Accrol following a separate profit warning in October that forced it to tap up investors for £18m.
Despite its troubles, the board says its 2019 forecast is still ‘wholly achievable’.
But Russ Mould, of broker AJ Bell, said investors will be ‘fuming at the company’s appalling trading update’, especially after bailing it out last year.
He added: ‘Accrol is another example of a business where management don’t appear to have a grip on what’s really going on.’
Amid the doom and gloom, Britain’s bookmakers breathed a sigh of relief after the gambling watchdog recommended a softer crackdown on electronic betting machines than many had expected. Campaigners had been calling for a £2 maximum stake on so-called fixed-odds betting terminals, which are referred to as the ‘crack cocaine’ of the betting world, down from £100.
However, while the Gambling Commission recommended a £2 stake limit for fruit machine-type games, for other games such as roulette it has recommended a level at or below £30.
While these are only recommendations, analysts believe it is unlikely the Government will go ahead with a blanket £2 limit.
Alistair Ross, an analyst at Investec, said the recommendations ‘would be viewed as good news’ despite the uncertainty surrounding the final outcome.
The announcement boosted William Hill’s share price by 4.2 per cent, or 13.5p, to 334p while rival Ladbrokes Coral ended the day up 2. per centc, or 4.9p, to 175.35p.