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The Business Matrix: Friday 27 January 2012

Coryton refinery back on track

The refinery at Coryton on the Thames Estuary has resumed deliveries of petrol, diesel and jet fuel after administrators redrew contracts with its biggest customers, BP and Texaco, allowing payment to go directly to the refinery. It is scrambling for cash to pay for new crude oil to refine, with at least one tanker sitting at anchor waiting for a resolution.

Paragon looks to buy after profit lift

The buy-to-let mortgages specialist Paragon is still looking for new acquisition opportunities as it reported a rise in profits. Paragon said operating profit for the quarter from October to December had risen by 12 per cent from a year ago to £20.3m. The company added that its loan portfolio was performing in line with expectations.

Starbucks to open franchise stores

The coffee giant Starbucks has revealed that it will open its first franchise stores in the UK later this year, following one of its best December trading periods. Starbucks UK also disclosed that it would invest £8m in refurbishing an additional 70 London stores ahead of this summer's Olympic Games.

Haynes drops gear as US sales slump

The car manual publisher Haynes said half-year profits fell to £1.8m from £2.7m a year earlier after sales in the US dropped by 44 per cent in July. In the UK, sales of core manuals were down 3 per cent, but sales of non-motor titles and DIY titles rose 10 per cent.

Subway to open 600 new stores

The Subway franchise of sandwich restaurants is targeting 600 new stores in the UK and Ireland by 2015, seeking to capitalise on Britons' growing appetite for food on the go. The firm said the planned expansion would create about 6,000 jobs.

Self-assessment deadline extended

The tax return deadline for self-assessment taxpayers has been put back two days because of civil service strikes. More than 2.7 million people still have to file self-assessment tax returns online by the usual 31 January deadline, but some HM Revenue staff are striking that day. That could leave insufficient people to answer last-minute queries.

Kiddicare snaps up Best Buy stores

Kiddicare, the online baby-products retailer acquired by Morrisons last year for £70m, has bought the 10 shops exited by the electricals retailer Best Buy UK this month. The Carphone Warehouse, which has discontinued the joint venture with Best Buy's UK stores, has paid Morrisons £40m to take over the leases on the shops.

Nokia's Q4 sales plunge by 21%

The mobile phone maker Nokia has posted a fourth-quarter loss of £900m after sales dropped 21 per cent. Its once-dominant market position has been lost as Android mobiles and iPhones have surged in popularity, but the Finnish company is attempting a comeback with devices using Microsoft's Windows.

H&M says sales remain subdued

The world's second biggest fashion retailer, Hennes & Mauritz, said a gloomy economic outlook would keep demand subdued this year and discounting to shift unsold stock, had continued into January. The Swedish group said recent warm weather was partly responsible for a stock build up.

Vodafone heads for Indian IPO

Vodafone's chief executive, Vittorio Colao, said yesterday the company's victory in a long-running $2.2bn legal battle against tax authorities in India would help pave the way for a listing of shares in its business in the country.

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