The Business Matrix: Friday 29 July 2011

Hamleys posts 40% rise in profits

Hamleys, the toy retailer with seven UK outlets including its flagship store in Regent Street, London, credited Cars 2 and Harry Potter as it posted a 40 per cent rise in annual profits to £2.3m yesterday. The company, which is 65 per cent owned by the failed Icelandic bank Landsbanki, also reported a strong start to the new financial year.

Sony suffers a triple dose of woe

Sony sank to a ¥15.5bn (£121m) quarterly loss, hurt by the earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan, a massive online security breach and plunging TV prices. The Tokyo-based electronics and entertainment company yesterday lowered its profit forecast for the year to March 2012 to ¥60bn from the ¥80bn it gave in May.

Amazon buys ‘red button’ TV firm

Amazon has bought Pushbutton, the developer of interactive “red button” television that was set up by Paula Byrne, a former executive at BSkyB. The online retail giant, which did not reveal the price of the deal, said it became familiar with the service after it bought the video rental company LoveFilm earlier this year.

Yorkshire doubles lending

Yorkshire, the UK’s second largest building society with 2 million members, 178 branches and 90 agencies, more than doubled lending volumes and increased half yearly profits by almost 70 per cent to £90.2m. The group, which is merging with Norwich & Peterborough, has boosted efficiencies following last year’s tie-up with Chelsea.

National Express on road to growth

National Express laid out plans to grow its UK bus business yesterday, noting that the tough economic climate was encouraging passengers to seek cheaper transport. The group, which posted a 26 per cent rise in half-yearly profits to £96m, said it planned to add 120 buses to its West Midlands fleet this year.

Russia helps drive Inchcape profits

Inchcape has reported a 10 per cent rise in first-half profits to £127m as increased consumer demand for premium and luxury vehicles in Russia and the emerging markets helped offset tougher conditions in Europe. The group distributes cars for the likes of Toyota, Mercedes- Benz and BMW in 26 markets.

BAE confident even as sales fall

BAE Systems signalled its confidence that it will weather government spending cuts on both sides of the Atlantic yesterday as it hiked its dividend payout to investors by 7 per cent. The defence giant, which has already warned on sales, reported a 13 per cent fall in half-yearly revenues to £9.2bn.

Record order book for Rolls

Rolls-Royce reported a 6 per cent rise in its order book to an all-time high after it clocked up nearly £9bn in new business. The engine maker, which posted a 28 per cent rise in profits to £595m, had a total of £61.4bn worth of orders at the end of June, with new orders from Singapore and Emirates airlines.

Broadband boost for BT Group

Quarterly profits at BT Group rose 20 per cent as it attracted 250,000 customers to its broadband services. The telecoms group posted profits of £533m, though revenues fell 5 per cent to £4.7bn. The unit serving residential customers saw its nineth quarter of falling revenues from calls and phone line rentals.

27,000 hang up on TalkTalk in Q1

The broadband supplier TalkTalk revealed it had lost 27,000 customers during its latest quarter, and that revenues had declined from £444m a year earlier to £423m. But it also said it had vastly improved customer service, and that the number of support and service calls had fallen by 40 per cent.