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The Business Matrix: Friday 28 June 2013


Convivial time at Greene King

The brewer Greene King has posted a 6.6 per cent rise in annual profits to £152m and said sales in the past eight weeks were up a healthy 3.3 per cent. The Hungry Horse to Loch Fyne group said cash-strapped consumers are rewarding themselves more often with small treats like eating out at pubs.

Alex Snow heads for Lansdowne

The veteran investment banker Alex Snow is to be the new chief executive of hedge fund Lansdowne Partners. Mr Snow recently quit Investec 18 months after it took over Evolution, the broking firm he founded, for £230m. The former Harlequins and England rugby player will replace Sir Paul Ruddock who is retiring.

Betfair defends falling profits

Betfair, whose betting exchange works by matching punters and allowing them to bet against each other, said a 27 per cent drop in profits to £38m for the year to 30 April was a solid result in a year of transition. It is overhauling its business after being hit by changes in regulation in Greece, Germany and Cyprus.

Stobart plans to keep on truckin'

Grocery and other consumer goods customers faced lower demand, so needed less room in Stobart lorries in the first quarter. But the haulage giant today said it hoped "reasonable weather over summer" would reverse that trend. Stobart Group added its search for a new chairman was "progressing well".

Rolls missed engine fault

Rolls-Royce repeatedly failed to spot the defect that caused one of its engines to explode mid-air in a Qantas A380 over Indonesia, according to Australia's safety regulator. The regulator's report found the engine blowout in 2010 was the result of a fatigue crack in an oil-feed pipe that "did not comply with the design specifications".

Watchdog anger over mobile cover

Mobile phone insurance firms have been criticised by the City watchdog after it found evidence of poor product design, unclear terms and inadequate claims and complaints handling.The Financial Conduct Authority said it will impose a significant fine on one firm for poor handling of complaints.

Costaine has firm foundations

The engineering and infrastructure firm Costain said it has been awarded new contracts and extensions worth more than £900m in the first half of the year, keeping it on course to meet expectations for the full year. Its forward order book has increased to £2.9bn.

Latham carving a solid future

The specialist panel and timber firm James Latham has reported solid annual results, with revenues and profits down slightly at £143m and £6.9m respectively due to difficult trading in the March quarter. The firm said volumes have since improved in April and May.

UKAR to run Help to Buy

The Treasury has appointed UK Asset Resolution (UKAR) – in charge of the bad banking assets of Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley – to run its Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme, which launches next January.

Improved picture at Photo-Me

The photo vending firm Photo-Me International said annual profits improved 21 per cent to £24.3m, despite a 6 per cent fall in revenues to £195.6m due to a small drop in its number of vending units. It is optimistic that it will reverse the trend.