The Business Matrix: Friday 25 February 2011

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The Independent Online

Inditexmanager Heere to join M&S

Marks & Spencer has poached a senior manager from Zara’s owner Inditex to head its drive to double overseas sales to £1bn in the next three years. Jan Heere, the general manager for Russia at the Spanish retail giant, will sit on M&S’s management committee.

STV tunes in to higher profits

STV Group, the Scottish operator of the ITV franchise, revealed that profits more than doubled after an increase in advertising revenues and a decline in interest costs. Profits at the group, whose production arm makes dramas such as Rebus, increased by 127 per cent to £12.5m in 2010, while revenues increased 16 per cent to £105m.

National Express signals turn around

National Express said it was back on track after a recovery plan led by new chief executive Dean Finch sparked a 38 per cent jump in annual profits to £160.5m. The bus, coach and rail operator also restored the dividend it axed in 2009, when it was forced to relinquish its loss-making East Coast rail franchise.

Average Wall Street bonus falls by 9%

The average Wall Street banker was handed a cash bonus of $128,530 (£79,340) for 2010, about 9 per cent less than a year ago. The latest official reckoning of the bonus season just ended, by the State Comptroller in New York, revealed that US bankers are now getting more of their annual pay deferred or handed to them in the form of shares. But overall bonus values rose sharply again – up 6 per cent on the previous year.

Unpaid overtime costs staff £5,500

A record 5.26 million people worked unpaid overtime last year, on average clocking up more than seven hours a week without pay, a study by the Trades Union Congress has found. One in five employees regularly put in extra hours for no extra pay, with public-sector workers most likely to work unpaid overtime, the TUC said. Workers were missing out on almost £5,500 a year by doing so much unpaid overtime, it added.

Quarter of directors ‘should be women’

Companies should aim to appoint women to at least one in four of the places on their boards of directors, a Government commission has concluded. Such “radical” changes would help to increase the number ofwomen in senior business roles, said its report. The commission, led by Lord Davies of Abersoch, stopped short of calling for quotas but encouraged companies to set targets for 2013 and 2015. MORE

Call for EU to adopt bigger carbon cuts

Britain and Denmark have called on fellow European Union members to adopt a more ambitious target for cutting carbon emissions. The British and Danish governments want to move to a 30 per cent cut from 20 per cent by 2020. Denmark, the world leader in wind power, also rolled out a plan to wean itself off fossil fuels by 2050 by boosting energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy.

Mouchel confirms takeover talks

Mouchel has admitted it is in advanced takeover talks with an unnamed preferred bidder after both parties signed a letter of cooperation. Costain – one of a number of firms to make an approach in recent weeks – said it was not the preferred bidder, but it is still interested in making an offer for the outsoured services provider.

Developers set to increase building

House building levels are showing signs of improving with an 18 per cent jump last month in private homes developers plan to build. New home registrations rose 5 per cent to 7,788, according to the National House-Building Council. In 2010, the number completed fell to its lowest peacetime level since 1923.

Cornish to leave Yorkshire BS

Iain Cornish, the chief executive of Yorkshire Building Society, is stepping down as soon as a replacement can be found. Mr Cornish oversaw Yorkshire’s recent buy of Chelsea, which helped the mutual return to the black in 2010 with profits of £115m.

Sportingbet grows in emerging markets

Sportingbet said strong growth in Australia, Turkey and emerging markets more than offset weakness in some of its larger European markets in its second quarter. Amounts wagered in the three months to 31 January rose 11 per cent to £555m.

Premium brands boost BAT profits

British American Tobacco, which owns the Dunhill, Lucky Strike and Pall Mall brands, revealed a rise in sales of premium brands helped revenues rise 3 per cent to £14.9bn, while profits increased 12 per cent to £5bn.

Capita thrives on austerity cuts

Capita posted a 10 per cent rise in profits and a record pipeline of work as the outsourcing giant predicted austerity cuts will boost demand for its services. Capita, which manages TV licensing for the BBC and a criminal records service for the Home Office, said its profit margins had increased as it moved more of its work to India.

Barratt reports pick-up in trading

Barratt Developments revealed a significant pick-up in trading, as it yesterday reported its half-year losses had narrowed from £178m to £4.6m in the last six months of 2010. The builder’s focus on family houses rather than flats also helped Barratt achieve an average price of £175,000, up nearly 6 per cent on a year ago.