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The Business Matrix: Friday 11 January 2013

Costly game not hitting the target

Goals Soccer Centres' attempt to capitalise on the David Beckham effect in Los Angeles has cost it £2m. The five-a-side football group said it had written down the value of its first US venture, which cost it £4.7m when it opened in 2010. Goals, which has 43 outlets in the UK, said group sales were up 6 per cent last year.

Record car sales for top marque

Sales of Rolls-Royce cars hit a new record last year, although growth slowed considerably as strong demand in the Middle East and Europe outweighed weaker momentum in the UK and China. The company sold 3,538 cars across the world in 2012, its third consecutive annual record, although sales growth was down on the previous years.

Profit warning due to weak links

JD Sports Fashion had a good Christmas, but weaknesses at its Blacks and Millets outdoor shops forced it to warn that profits will be at the lower end of expectations. Peter Cowgill, executive chairman, hailed robust sales of Nike, Converse and Adidas trainers, and Duffer and Carbrini clothing brands at its “engine room” JD stores.

Lift for Finnish phone giant

Nokia shares have risen sharply after the Finnish group said mobile phone sales in the fourth quarter exceeded its own expectations. Nokia said it sold 86.3 million devices in the last quarter, with revenues totalling 3.9bn. The firm sold 4.4 million Lumia smartphones in the fourth quarter, up from 2.9 million in the third quarter.

Blue Square for sale after losses

The casino and bingo giant Rank has put its loss-making online sports betting arm Blue Square up for sale. Blue Square, best known for its sponsorship of the Conference football leagues, was bought by Rank a decade ago for £63m, and it is likely to make a considerable loss on any sale.

Setting the Pace in North America

Set-top box maker Pace said it enjoyed a sparkling year end as demand for next-generation products surged in North America. It said results would be ahead of forecasts – up by 4 per cent to around $2.4bn (£1.49bn). Pace brought in Alan Leighton as chairman after profit warnings two years ago.

Jobs group's fees hit by slump

A slump in recruitment in the UK and a slow quarter for Australia's mining industry sent revenues at jobs group Hays down 3 per cent. In the UK and Ireland, net fees fell back 3 per cent, while in Asia-Pacific, which represent 29 per cent of group fees, they dropped 14 per cent.

Advanced Power enjoys light relief

Specialist electronic components firm Advanced Power Components, which is based in Rochester, Kent, said its subsidiary Minimise has been awarded a second order from a major UK retailer for energy efficient LED lights at up to 80 store locations.

Cost slashing a necessary evil

Building products supplier SIG revealed plans to slash costs by another £3m on top of the £7m already announced as sales in the UK fell around 1.5 per cent over 2012. The extra savings will come from efficiencies across its branch network.

Month-long sale is sweet music

HMV, which revealed a half-year pre-tax loss of £37.3m in December, has announced a month-long sales promotion which will see 25 per cent reductions. “It's what retailers do… and any other interpretation is just media speculation,” said a HMV spokesman.

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