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The Business Matrix: Friday 25 October 2013

Gucci's activity in China suffers

Luxury brands appear to be suffering in China as quarterly results from Gucci owner Kering show a sales slowdown in Asia. Gucci's sales were up 0.6 per cent on a comparable basis but "store traffic" in Asia was hit by its "strategy of exclusivity". The luxury giantsaid overall sales were up 3 per cent on a at €2.5bn, less than expected.

Order books at three-month low

Manufacturers' order books have slipped to their lowest level in three months according to the Confederation of British Industry. The reading from the CBI's latest monthly survey, suggests manufacturing is still not fully out of the woods. The most recent official data shows that manufacturing contracted in August.

Aberdeen eyes Scottish Widows

Aberdeen Asset Management is in talks to buy Scottish Widows Investment Partnership from Lloyds Banking Group, the part-nationalised lender. The deal – which analysts believe would cost Aberdeen about £500m – would be transformational for the fund manager while helping the bank meet tough new capital requirements.

Mike Ashley sells £106m stake

The billionaire owner of Newcastle United, Mike Ashley, has cashed in £106m-worth of shares in Sports Direct, sending shares down 4 per cent. The businessman has vowed to not sell any more shares in the company for at least six months – he made a similar promise in February when he shed another £100m of his shareholding.

Go-Ahead goes forward

Go-Ahead, the transport group behind the Southern, Southeastern and London Midland rail franchises, said its businesses delivered a "robust performance" in the last quarter, with its bus arm growing underlying revenues by an estimated 3.5 per cent on a year earlier. London Midland rose 9 per cent.

Slight wobble in Europe's recovery

Europe's recovery wobbled yesterday when a key survey showed that business activity had slowed in Germany and France. Markit's October's PMI Composite Output Index - in which any figure above 50 indicates growth - has dipped from 52.2 to 51.5, with growth at a three-month low in Germany.

Academic boost for Bloomsbury

Harry Potter book publisher Bloomsbury said its academic and professional division now accounted for 43 per cent of profits after strong growth in the six months to 31 August The company's profits rose by a third to £2.8m, with digital sales up 22 per cent to £5.8m.

Results solid at Stobart

Logistics group Stobart said its transport and distribution arm achieved a "solid result" in the six months to 31 August, with profits up slightly to £14.3m despite volatility in demand. Growth at Eddie Stobart exceeded GDP at around 6 per cent on a like for like basis.

Rolls wins £22m Korean contract

Rolls-Royce has signed a contract to supply thrusters and deck machinery for two semi-submersible drilling rigs to be built at Samsung Heavy Industries in Korea for Stena Drilling. The value of the contract is around £22m to Rolls-Royce.

Fresnillo buoyed by £102m dividend

Investors in the world's biggest producer of silver, Fresnillo, were buoyed by a £102m dividend. The shares have tumbled from 1900p to less than 1000p since the start of the year, as the Mexico-focused group suffered from volatile commodity prices.

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