The Business Matrix: Friday 27 July 2012


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Bunting boost for Hobbycraft chain

Hobbycraft, the arts and craft retailer, has revealed it enjoyed a major boost to its revenues from consumers making their own cakes and bunting for the Queen's Jubilee. This followed the retailer – owned by the private equity firm Bridgepoint – delivering a 9 per cent rise in underlying profits to £15.6m for the year to 19 February.

ECB chief seeks to reassure on euro

The pressure on Spain and Italy eased dramatically yesterday as European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi pledged that policymakers would do "whatever it takes" to save the euro. His comments in London fuelled speculation that the ECB was ready to restart the emergency bond buying programme launched a year ago.

Frappuccinos star at Starbucks in UK

Starbucks UK had frappuccinos and its new stronger lattes to thank for its 12th consecutive quarter of underlying sales growth. Its extra-shot latte sales jumped 7 per cent over the quarter to 30 June, while it sold a record one million-plus iced-frappuccinos in May after a "Happy Hour" promotion for 10 days.

SSE boosted by damp weather

SSE, the listed-utilities company, enjoyed uplift in energy c during the recent wet weather and an increase in electricity and gas customers from a recent acquisition. The average usage of electricity by its household customers rose by nearly 6 per cent, while the average consumption of gas soared by 42 per cent.

NatExp chairman to disembark

The top of transport giant National Express is due a change as chairman John Devaney said yesterday he will retire next year. Devaney wants to spend more time on his chairmanships at Cobham and air traffic control organisation Nats. National Express's first-half pre-tax profit fell 14 per cent to £82m.

Emerging markets tonic for Unilever

The consumer goods giant Unilever avoided the profit warnings which befell its rivals as underlying, second-quarter sales rose 5.8 per cent, beating City forecasts. Emerging markets, including India, China, Indonesia and Brazil, make up 56 per cent of its business, and grew 11 per cent in the quarter. 

BAA off to 'good start' for Olympics

The head of BAA, the owner of Heathrow, said "so far, so good" about the airport's Olympic performance. But Colin Matthews admitted: "There are weeks still stretching ahead and it'll be a challenge." Long queues at immigration had dogged the airport before the Games.

BG Group hit by slower North Sea

North Sea production problems and scaled-back activity in the US shale gas market saw pre-tax profits at BG Group, the exploration arm of the former British Gas, fall 4 per cent to $1.07bn (£690 million) in the second quarter. It was also hit by lower prices.

Property battle in Croydon heats up

The latest round in the battle to build a new shopping centre in Croydon begins yesterday when Hammerson revealed its plans for a 1.6m square feet shopping mecca. The property firm follows rival Westfield, which posted its plans this month.

Nomura chief and deputy quit

Nomura's chief executive Kenichi Watanabe and deputy Takumi Shibata have quit after its third insider-trading scandal. Mr Watanabe got the top job in 2008 and Mr Shibata led its takeover of Lehman Brothers' Asian and European assets.