The Business Matrix: Wednesday 12 November 2014


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Lloyd’s of London honours war dead

Two minutes’ silence was observed at the Lloyd’s of London insurance market yesterday. For this First World War centenary year, 5,000 poppies were dropped, the Lutine Bell tolled, and wreaths were laid before the Book of Remembrance in honour of those who had lost their  lives in war. 

Friends Life see premiums rise 3%

FTSE 100 savings group Friends Life was cautiously upbeat about its business despite the radical changes to annuities. The company said its “annual premium equivalent” – the industry performance benchmark – was up 3 per cent at £690m in the third quarter of the year, although retirement sales fell 12 per cent.

Mercedes C-Class in steering recall

Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz unit is recalling more than 10,000 C-Class compacts from model year 2015 in the United States because some of the cars can lose steering function at low speed. Mercedes said it had received reports of two incidents from outside the US alleging loss of steering. No injuries were reported.

Sports Direct to launch £5 gyms

Sports Direct is getting into the fitness clubs business with a budget chain it claims will “revolutionise” the market. The retailer, founded by Newcastle United FC owner Mike Ashley, plans to open 200 gyms with membership from £5 a month and a £10 joining fee. Sports Direct bought 30 gyms from LA Fitness.

Groupon predicts profits growth

Daily deals company Groupon said it would see profit and revenue growth for the next three years as it shifts from an e-mail bulletin model to a full-blown e-commerce site. Groupon said it expects revenue growth of more than 15 per cent next year, according to an  investor presentation.

Taylor Wimpey orders up £200m

Taylor Wimpey saw a second-half slowdown but said the pace of growth “has moderated to a more healthy and sustainable level” as the steroids of the Government’s Help to Buy scheme fade away. The UK’s second largest builder said its order book stands at £1.7bn – up £200m on last year.

Diageo joins the exodus to PwC

Diageo became the latest FTSE 100 company to switch auditors, moving from KPMG to PwC. KPMG has managed the firm’s accounts since 1997 and last year made £9m from the business, of which £7.3m was in audit fees. PwC will present the accounts for the year to June 2016.

Selfridges moves for Chanel’s May

Selfridges has tapped French fashion house Chanel for a director to take charge of the famous London department store’s multi-million pound redevelopment plans. Chanel’s Chris May is to join the firm as it embarks on a £300m makeover of its Oxford Street flagship.

Microsoft unveils first Lumia phone

Microsoft has launched its first smartphone since acquiring Nokia’s manufacturing unit for £4.5bn earlier this year, but the new Lumia 535, the first in the range to launch since the deal, will carry the branding of Microsoft rather than Nokia.

300,000 tune in to TalkTalk

TalkTalk added 300,000 TV customers in the first half – more than Sky, BT and Virgin combined – and 25,000 in broadband, but warned that the cost of acquiring new customers would hit its  profits margins.