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The Business Matrix: Friday 19 April 2013

Cheap fares are a hit for Eurostar

Eurostar saw its busiest-ever 13-day sales period after slashing fares on 150,000 return trips from London to France and Belgium to £59. During the promotion, bookings beat a record set during the ash cloud disruption in 2010. But total passenger numbers between January and March were 2.23 million, down from 2.24 million a year earlier.

Japan's trade deficit soars

Japan's trade deficit hit a record high in the last financial year, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday. The balance of trade deficit for 2011-12 came in at ¥8.17 trillion (£54.6bn), reflecting weak global trade markets and elevated fuel import costs. However, exports for the month of March were 1.1 per cent higher than in March 2012.

GKN hits target despite profit fall

The engineering group GKN, which makes drive shafts for almost half of all new cars, said it had met expectations for the first quarter after sales rose 9 per cent to £1.89bn. Profits were 1 per cent lower at £139m as a result of a £23m charge for restructuring sales growth of 4 per cent over the quarter.

Stagecoach wakes up to sleepers

Stagecoach is to launch a network of overnight sleeper coaches from Scotland to London this summer using 10 specially-designed vehicles that cost £500,000 each. Manufactured by Van Hool in Belgium, the coaches will operate under a new megabusgold.com brand.

'Help to Buy' boost for Persimmon

A fortnight after the launch of the "Help to Buy" scheme, the housebuilder Persimmon said it was seeing more interest from aspiring homeowners. The initiative saw visitors to Persimmon's website rise 30 per cent on the same time a year earlier.

Emerging markets a drag on Diageo

Diageo, the booze giant behind Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff, saw its focus on emerging markets called into question yesterday. Performance in Latin America and the Caribbean moderated in the third quarter as consumer weakness in Brazil hit sales. Instead, it relied on its US spirits arm to claim quarterly sales growth of 4 per cent.

Legal & General chief is quids in

Tim Breeden, the former chief executive of Legal & General, saw his total pay, benefits and bonus quadruple to £9.4m last year, helped by the vesting of a deferred bonus scheme. Mr Breedon, 54, who retired from the insurer last year, was paid £4.3m including salary and bonuses. He is now a non-executive director at Barclays.

New regulations hit Jupiter's funds

Jupiter Fund Management blamed new rules governing sales of investments to retail clients for a slow start to the year. Net inflows in the first quarter amounted to only £209m, down from £490m in the previous three months but much better than the net outflow of £113m a year earlier.

Kingfisher makes splash in Romania

Kingfisher, the owner of B&Q, has acquired Bricostore's 15 home-improvement stores in Romania from Group Bresson, a French retail company, for an undisclosed sum. The deal adds 2 per cent selling space to Kingfisher's estate, giving it 1,050 stores in nine countries.

Rexam's can sales fall a little flatter

The drinks can-maker Rexam said volume growth of 3 per cent was slightly lower than expected in the first quarter of the year but this was offset by foreign exchange translation benefits and cost savings. It hopes trade will rise in the summer.

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