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The Business Matrix: Friday 28 March 2014


Versace profits are in fashion

Italian designer Versace recorded a 27.6 per cent jump in net profit to €10.9 m (£9m) last year and sales jumped 17.2 per cent to €479.2m. The brand, which recently sold a 20 per cent stake to US private equity firm Blackstone for €210m, said that 2014 had also started well with sales up a double digit percentage so far this year.

Bosses still keen on staff bonuses

Bonuses are still popular despite the outrage about over-paid bankers. A YouGov poll for Xactly, the online firm that helps companies manage staff pay, surveyed 600 senior business decision makers and found that 73 per cent said their opinion about compensation being linked to sales was unchanged in spite of recent negative press.

Ad market delay as Easter falls late

Daily Mail & General Trust has warned a late Easter has skewed the advertising market in the last four weeks, with ad revenues at its newspaper arm falling 7 per cent against a year ago. Shares at the owner of the Daily Mail tumbled as it also said the roll-out of a new business-focused risk management service will be delayed.

Osborne faces Flowers grilling

MPs plan to grill the Chancellor George Osborne over allegations by ex-Co-op bank chairman Rev Paul Flowers that undue political pressure was used over the failed sale of 632 Lloyds branches known as Project Verde. Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Treasury Select Committee has written to Osborne.

Serco gets rail  line extension

Scandal-struck outsourcer Serco has won a 22-month extension on its operation of Northern Rail with Dutch joint venture partner Abellio.

Serco will pocket £520m in revenues from its share of running the North of England and Midlands train line for under two years.

UBS suspends staff over forex

UBS, the Swiss bank with huge trading operations in the City of London, has suspended a further six foreign exchange traders as its investigation into currency benchmarks rigging widens. The bank suspended three traders in New York,  two in Zurich and one  in Singapore.

Old Mutual sells European assets

Old Mutual has sold two European businesses to a company backed by private equity giant Cinven for €220m (£182m). Heidelberger Leben Group will buy Skandia Germany and Skandia Austria, which have combined funds under  management of €4.9 billion.

Compass looks  to new auditor

Catering group Compass has appointed KPMG as its new auditor and warned that the strong pound would impact it profits. The company, which is chaired by former Diageo  boss Paul Walsh, previously  had its accounts audited by Deloitte.

H&M misses forecasts

Swedish fashion retailer H&M missed forecasts for its first quarter as costs of growing online and in new markets hit margins. It reported pre-tax profit of 3.5bn Swedish  krona (£330m) – below  analyst forecasts

London office rents are booming

The buoyant London office market has pushed demand to pre-crash levels, according to agent Cushman & Wakefield. It said 3.6 million sq ft of office space went under offer in the last three months — double the average of the past five years.