The Business Matrix: Friday 10 April 2015


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The Independent Online

Mulberry’s higher profits in the bag

The luxury bag maker Mulberry said yesterday that improved sales of its spring/summer collection and tight cost controls would propel its annual profits slightly ahead of forecasts. Thierry Andretta, a veteran of Gucci, took over as chief executive this week, while its new creative director, Johnny Coca, joins in July.

HSBC: French tax probe ‘excessive’

HSBC criticised the actions of French regulators as “excessive” after France became the first country to place the wider HSBC group under formal criminal investigation over its Swiss private bank. HSBC has been told to post bail of €1bn (£720m) as magistrates investigate alleged tax-related offences.

Interest rate sets 73-month record

David Cameron is the first Prime Minister since Clement Attlee in 1950 to complete a term of office without a single change in interest rates.

The Bank of England’s decision yesterday not to alter the  cost of borrowing means that  it has remained at its historic low of 0.5 per cent for a record 73 months.

Cussons scrubs up well in Nigeria

PZ Cussons, which makes Imperial Leather soaps, said trading from 28 January to 8 April was in line with expectations despite it losing sales after the election in Nigeria, its largest market. The company, which also makes St Tropez tanning creams, said the Nigerian currency was stable after its recent devaluation.

Uniqlo rents sets Oxford St record

Uniqlo has agreed the highest-ever rent for a shop in Oxford Street, central London. The Japanese clothing chain will pay £1,000 per square foot for its 40,000 sq ft flagship store, smashing the record set last year when Toy Store agreed to pay £925 per sq ft at nearby West One shopping mall.

Trade gap reaches a high of £10.3bn

Britain’s trade gap with the rest of the world hit a seven-month high of £10.3bn in February as exports sank to a four-year low, the Office for National Statistics reported. The fall in the value of goods exports to £23.2bn reflected weaker sales to the US. January’s trade figures were also revised lower.

Hastings ‘is not battling for float’

Gary Hoffman, the chief executive of Hastings Direct, said yesterday that the insurer had “no imminent plans” for a £1bn flotation as it reported a  29 per cent rise in annual pre-tax profits to £69.3m last year. The company has appointed banks to look at its options.

Camden Town toasts investors

North London’s Camden Town Brewery saw its valuation fall from £75m to £50m as it raised £10m from a group of new investors who bought a 20 per cent stake. The brewer of Hells Lager has been tapping investors via the crowdfunding site Crowdcube since February.

Balfour recruits a Doughty director

Balfour Beatty has hired a construction industry veteran, Stuart Doughty, to be a non-executive director as the struggling builder looks to strengthen its board. Mr Doughty has worked for Costain and John Laing, among others.

House values rose by 0.4% in March

Low inflation, record low mortgage rates and the falling costs of stamp duty helped to prop up house prices last month, according to the Halifax. The 0.4 per cent rise in March took the average UK property price to £192,970.