The Business Matrix: Friday 25 March 2011

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Invensys boss in shock departure

Invensys has announced the surprise departure of its chief executive, Ulf Henriksson. News of the shake-up sent the engineer’s shares down by more than 8 per cent at one point. He will be replaced by the finance director, Wayne Edmunds.

Bernanke to cast off his reserve

Ben Bernanke the chairman of the Federal Reserve, is to start holding press conferences four times a year, as part of a move by the US central bank to provide additional context for policy decisions. The briefings will be held after rates decisions.

Charney accused of harassment again

Dov Charney, left, the flamboyant founder of American Apparel, is facing his second lawsuit for sexual harassment this month. A former sales employee claims shewas assaulted at his home at what she thought was a hiring interview for a modelling job. Mr Charney’s lawyer said the allegations were false.

GKN boss to step downinDecember

Kevin Smith, the chief executive of GKN, is to retire at the end of 2011. He will be replaced at the car and aerospace parts maker by Nigel Stein, who has headed the blue chip firm’s automotive division for four years. Stein has been on the board since 2001 and has also served as finance director.

BAA attacked over winter snow

BAA failed to respond fully to weather forecasts in December, the airport operator’s response to the snowfall was ineffective, and “confused and conflicting” messages botched communication with airlines and passengers, an inquiry has ruled. The company pledged to invest £50m to prevent future crises.

Profits nosedive at Evolution

Evolution said underlying profits fell 75 per cent to £5.2m in 2010 after a slump in financial markets hit its core investment banking business. The investment banking arm suffered losses of £3m against profits of £18m in 2009.

Vauxhall van to be built inLuton

The next generation of Vauxhall’s Vivaro van is to be built at its Luton factory, safeguarding the plant and 1,500 jobs. There had been fears the site could close if the contract between Vauxhall and Renault was not renewed after it runs out in 2013. The union Unite said it was “fantastic news”, while Vauxhall said the Luton plant will continue to play an “important role” in the firm’s manufacturing network.

National Express loses rail franchise

National Express has learned it will have to give up another of its rail franchises from next year. The group had bid to carry on running its East Anglia franchise, having had to relinquish its East Coast franchise in 2009 to the Department for Transport. But the shortlist of bidders for the new franchise, which will run for 17 months from next year, only includes Nederlandse Spoorwegen, Go-Ahead and Stagecoach.

HR Owen drives back into profit

The luxury motor retailer HR Owen said it clawed its way out of the red in 2010, with underlying profits of £1.5m against losses of £1.3m in 2009, after outperforming a resurgent new car market. It also announced a tie-up to open a Ferrari boutique at Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge, London, allowing customers to custom design their new Ferrari under the guidance of a specialist.

Sportech’s pre-tax profits decrease

Football pools and betting group Sportech reported underlying pre-tax profits of £1.9m for 2010, down from £14.7m in 2009, but said a major transformation in recent years left it set for growth in 2011. Recent takeovers, including Scientific Games Racing, now named Sportech Racing, has given the Liverpool firm customers in more than 30 countries and annual bets of more than £8.5bn.

Overseas success boosts Resolution

Strong overseas growth helped Resolution, the owner of life and pensions firm Friends Provident, to offset difficult conditions in the UK last year. The buyout firm, which bought AXA’s UK life and pensions arm last autumn and Bupa Health Assurance in January, said it had seen the life and pensions market begin to revive.

Abbey Protection profits up by 9%

Legal and professional fees insurance specialist Abbey Protection, which targets the small business market, saw profits rise by 9 per cent to £9.6m in 2010 after revenues increased by 6 per cent. Founded in 1992, the group operates from offices in London, Rugby, Croydon and Milton Keynes and has more than 230 employees.

Ted Baker posts 24%rise in profits

Ted Baker has shrugged off the consumer spending squeeze to post a surge in annual profits and sales. The fashion retailer said it was well positioned to meet challenges because of the strength of its brand. The outlook came as the company posted a 24 per cent rise in annual profits to £24m as sales rose 14 per cent to £188m.

Further sales fall on the cards at Clinton

Clinton Cards has warned it expects a further fall in sales after posting a 70 per cent plunge in half-year profits yesterday. The greetings card and gift retailer said the tough retail environment would continue to hit trade in 2011 and that it expected a “low single digit percentage decline” in sales in the second half.