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The Business Matrix: Friday 10 February 2012

Hugo Boss sees a jump in profits

Hugo Boss, the Permira-owned fashion group known for its sharp suits, reported a 19 per cent rise in sales and a 34 per cent jump in profits for last year and said that 2012 had begun strongly, thanks to Asian demand. Its performance also helped SVG, the quoted proxy for Permira private-equity funds, post a 13 per cent rise in NAV for 2011 yesterday.

Repossessions hit a four-year low

Repossessions hit a four-year low of 36,200 last year, as record low interest rates and a lenient stance from lenders helped keep people in their homes, the Council of Mortgage Lenders said yesterday. However, the CML warned that job losses and inflation pressures are likely to see a 25 per cent rise in repossessions to 45,000 in 2012.

Catlin hit by catastrophe claims

Profits at Catlin, operator of the biggest syndicate at Lloyd's of London, slumped 80 per cent last year as it paid out more than £600m in catastrophe claims. Its profits fell from $406m in 2010 to $71m after claims from the earthquakes in Japan and New Zeal- and, hurricanes in the US, and floods in Thailand and Australia.

Atkins' businessis buoyant

The design and engineering consultancy WS Atkins said its UK business has performed well since 1 October, although a previous delay in the award of rail signalling contracts hit profit margins. Its UK staff numbers fell by 550 following the sale of its asset management business.

Pepsi renews fight with Coca-Cola

Pepsi has promised to take the fight to its arch-rival Coca-Cola, with an extra $600m (£378m) marketing and advertising blitz. Pepsi is to cut 8,700 jobs to pay for the blitz. The losses represent 3 per cent of the workforce and will be spread over 30 countries.

McBride positive despite losses

McBride, the supplier of own-label products to supermarkets, looked to put a positive spin on its outlook yesterday, even as it dived £400,000 into the red in the first half. The firm, which posted a £15.5m interim profit a year ago, held its interim dividend at 2p and forecast progress in the second half, with raw material costs showing signs of stabilising.

Rank lures in new bingo players

The bingo hall and casino operator Rank is luring in new customers thanks to spruced-up properties and an array of websites and phone apps. Its half-yearly revenues rose £9m to £296m while profits edged up to £33m. The average spend per visit has fallen slightly to £20.78 but customer numbers at Mecca Bingo rose 50,000 to 770,000.

Hargreaves see 28% leap in profits

Hargreaves Lansdown saw a 28 per cent leap in profits in the final six months of 2011 to £72m, helped by its drive to pick up more of the private client stockbroking market. The wealth manager which is already dominant in the online unit trust, ISA and SIPPs markets has simplified and cut its share dealing charges.

Sheffield mega mall up for sale

British Land is believed to have put half its 50 per cent stake in the Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield up for sale. That means a three-quarters stake in the mega-mall is now up for grabs: the other 50 per cent of Meadowhall is already being sold by London & Stamford.

Tate profits in line with expectations

Tate & Lyle said operating profits were in line with its expectations in the last three months fo 2011. Volume growth in its speciality foods division was weaker than in the previous six months but its bulk ingredients division benefited from higher sugar prices.

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