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The Business Matrix: Friday 13 May 2011

Superdry caught out by the sun

Shares in Supergroup, owner of Superdry clothing, fell 22 per cent yesterday after it reported a sharp slowdown in sales growth. Supergroup said it had opened only one UK store in the fourth quarter, compared with six last year, and admitted it was late getting in summer stock for the hot April weather. Sales grew 39 per cent to £32m to 1 May.

Takeda talks for Swiss Nycomed

Japan’s largest drugs maker, Takeda, is in talks to buy the privately-owned Nycomed of Switzerland for more than $12bn (£7bn) in an attempt to extend its reach into Europe and emerging markets. The purchase would offer the Japanese firm access to a lung disease drug, Daxas, and a portfolio of over-the-counter consumer products.

Luminar gets another lifeline

The nightclubs owner Luminar has been thrown another lifeline by banks despite announcing more huge losses and falling sales. Lloyds, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland have agreed to waive a loan covenants test due this month and to provide cash until the end of August while a recovery plan is put in place.

Repossessions up 15% at start of year

Home repossessions jumped 15 per cent in the first quarter, even before the interest rate increase that is now expected later this year. The Council of Mortgage Lenders said 7,900 properties were repossessed in the first three months of 2011, more than at the end of 2010 but 10 per cent fewer than a year earlier.

Saab in funding talks with China

Talks with Hawtai are continuing, and a rival Chinese manufacturer Great Wall Motors is also in the frame. The Russian financier Vladimir Antonov could also invest in the loss-making car maker. Saab has teetered on the brink of collapse after running out of cash. Suppliers refusing to deliver parts stopped production at its Swedish plant last month.

Clinton pins hopes on new website

Clinton Cards is to unveil a new website next week as it tries to reverse falling sales. The site will allow customers to personalise cards with their own pictures and messages, while a smart phone application is expected to follow. It hopes to have kiosks to print off the cards in store this autumn. Underlying sales in the 40 weeks to 8 May fell 3 per cent.

Lipsky to leave IMF this summer

John Lipsky, the IMF’s No 2 official, who helped steer the global lender toward a more prominent role in the wake of the financial crisis, has said he will step down when his term ends in August. A former JPMorgan banker, Mr Lipsky joined the IMF in 2006, a time when need for the fund was in question.

Lambert quits Bank’s committee

Sir Richard Lambert, the former head of the CBI, has quit the Bank of England’s new interim Financial Policy Committee, barely a month before its first meeting. Sir Richard, a one-time journalist, said serving on the committee would limit his ability to comment freely on business and economics.

Driven down at Inchcape

Inchcape posted a 0.8 per cent like-for-like decline in revenues to £1.6bn in the first quarter between 1 January and 11 May. The car dealer, which operates in 26 developed and emerging markets, said that, as expected, it saw the continuation of an uneven global recovery in the car industry.

Lookers increases market share

Lookers said its trading so far this year is ahead of budget, with both the car and parts division trading strongly. The Manchester-based car dealership, which received a bid approach last month, said it grew market share in new cars, while used car volumes rose by 6 per cent.

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