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The Business Matrix: Friday 14 February 2014


Hermès fashions still in vogue

Paris-based Hermès reported a 4.6 per cent rise in fourth-quarter sales to €1.09bn (£895.2m) driven by China’s insatiable desire for top-end handbags, scarves and clothes. But at constant exchange rates it saw an 11 per cent sales rise, down from 12.9 per cent for the previous quarter. The dip was driven by Japan’s yen weakness.

Hornby picks Ames as boss

Hornby, the Airfix and Scalextric toy maker, has appointed a new chief executive, nearly a year after the previous boss retired. Richard Ames will start the huge task of turning around the business, which has issued several profit warnings. His first task is severing ties with a supplier in the Far East, on which it became over-reliant.

Amec eyes bid for rival

Engineering firm Amec has revealed a $3.2bn (£1.9bn) potential offer for rival Foster Wheeler, keeping up this year’s hectic start for takeover activity. Amec’s proposed acquisition of the Reading-based but Swiss-domiciled business will create a company with annual revenues of £6bn and more than 42,000 staff.

KitKat boom lifts Nestlé

Britons’ love affair with KitKats is continuing as sales in the UK were some of the strongest in the world. Parent company Nestlé, which also owns brands including Nescafé, Häagen-Dazs and Smarties, saw sales miss long-term targets because of weak emerging markets. Net profit fell slightly to Swfr10bn (£6.7bn).

Fall in home repossessions

Britain’s rate of home repossessions hit the lowest level for six years in 2013, with 28,900 domestic properties seized against 39,000 a year earlier. That was just 0.26 per cent of outstanding home loans, the Council of Mortgage Lenders said. The number of mortgage arrears is also falling.

Deloitte to vet Bafta votes

Accountants Deloitte will be taking part in Sunday’s annual EE British Academy Film Awards where they serve as official “scrutineers”. “Our role is to make sure the voting process works smoothly,” says Andy Evans, Deloitte director, who described it as a highlight of the working year.

Imps Tobacco is still smoking

Imperial Tobacco, whose brands include West and Davidoff, said net revenues rose 1 per cent in the final quarter of last year, despite a 5 per cent fall in volumes. It reported no change in its expectations for modest earnings per share growth and a dividend rise.

BA owner gets Spanish fillip

British Airways owner International Airlines Group said Iberia was on the path to profitable growth after the Spanish airline reached agreement in principle with its pilots’ union, Sepla, over productivity changes. It said Iberia will become more competitive and cut costs.

Norcros hit by cold shower

Triton shower and Johnson Tiles firm Norcros posted a 4.2 per cent fall in UK like-for-like sales over the 18 weeks to February 2 as it said the retail sector was yet to benefit from the housing market revival and wider economic recovery.

Carney to give TV interview

Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, is set to give his major full-length TV interview this weekend as guest on Andrew Marr’s TV talk-show. Canadian-born Mr Carney is under pressure to explain when he will hike interest rates.