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The Business Matrix: Friday 16 August 2013

H&M suffers from July slowdown

Sales at H&M slipped in July.The Swedish fashion giant, whose clothes are modelled by David Beckham and Beyoncé, said that like-for-like sales had dipped by 1 per cent from the same month a year earlier, the first drop since March and below expectations of a 1 per cent rise. Its store portfolio grew from 2,603 to 2,940.

Lenovo sells more tablets than PCs

Lenovo, the Chinese firm that overtook Hewlett-Packard this year to become the world’s biggest maker of PCs, revealed yesterday that sales of its mobile devices had doubled. The company said that for the first time it had sold more smartphones and tablets combined than PCs, as it posted profits of $174m (£112m) for April to June.

Account switches to be made easier

Customers will soon be able to switch current accounts in seven working days rather than having to wait up to 30. Thirty-three bank and building society brands, accounting for almost all current accounts, have signed up to an agreement to simplify account switching and increase competition. The launch date is 16 September.

Lloyds Pharmacy owner perks up

Lloyds Pharmacy’s parent company, Celesio, recorded a 56 per cent rise in pre-tax profit in its first half, “in line with expectations”. Celesio, which also operates and supplies pharmacies throughout Europe, said it made a profit of €135.7m (£115.7m), but group revenue fell 4.6 per cent to €10.7bn in the first six months of the year.

Ophir Energy reduces losses

Africa-focused natural gas explorer Ophir Energy reduced its half-year losses by more than a fifth to $19.4m (£12.5m), but still failed to impress investors yesterday. The FTSE 250 group, whose shares fell on Thursday, also strengthened its board by appointing Vivien Gibney as a non-executive director.

Unions want talks with npower

Unions are seeking urgent talks with npower after the energy giant said it would “consolidate” 26 of its UK sites into 10 over the next five years. The firm said the programme would “significantly” reduce costs and allow it to bring teams together for “quicker and more effective decision-making”.

Profits rocket at Skyepharma

The oral drug delivery company Skyepharma said revenues rose 58 per cent to £31.3m in the six months to 30 June, mainly from the continued roll-out of its Flutiform inhaler product in Europe. Operating profits at the London-based firm were up by 24 per cent to £4.6m.

Latchways sees trading improve

Fall protection firm Latchways, which is based in Wiltshire, said its traditional markets continue to face challenging conditions but that it has made “notable progress” in developing new customers and geographies. It expects a stronger second period after first-half growth.

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