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The Business Matrix: Friday 30 November 2012

CBI says retail sales are up

Retail sales rose this month at the fastest pace since June, according to the CBI. The reported sales balance in the monthly survey rose to positive 33 per cent in November from 30 per cent in October, beating forecasts for a reading of 18 per cent. But retailers considered the volume of sales to be below normal for this time of year.

Marston says thank the five-F

Brewer Marston's innovative five-F plan, focusing on food, families, females and forty/fiftysomethings, is paying off with another strong rise in annual profits, it said yesterday. With revenues climbing 5.5 per cent to £720m, the company's underlying profits fizzed up 9 per cent to £87.8m in the year to September.

Westminster falls after missing sales

Shares in Westminster Group slumped yesterday after the security firm admitted missed sales in its technology division would hit profits. The firm makes emergency lighting systems, CCTV, scanners and alarms for British Gas, BP, the RAF and US Air Force.

Olympic boost for West End goes on

The West End is booming on the back of "unusually high" demand in the wake of the Olympics and Paralympic Games, landlord Shaftesbury said. The company welcomed its latest high-profile tenant to Carnaby Street last week as footwear brand Dr Martens opened a flagship store.

Hogg Robinson rues cost-cutters

Cost-cutting bosses are imposing tougher travel restrictions on staff, Hogg Robinson said. The corporate travel organiser revealed that half-year, pre-tax profits fell 7 per cent to £17.3m, and added: "We saw further evidence of clients choosing cheaper travel and accommodation options."

EasyJet signs up Scottish workers

Public-sector workers in Scotland will be flying easyJet after the budget airline signed a travel deal in the country. The contract comes two months after easyJet signed a deal which sees Westminster MPs and Lords using the airline for both constituency and Parliamentary business travel.

Monetise seeks fresh cash

Mobile payments company Monitise plans to tap the London stock market for up to £100m in fresh funds in what will be its seventh fund raising. AIM-listed Monitise wants the cash to take advantage of "significant opportunities", as the global banking industry embraces mobile technology.

Direct Line, Aviva set to shed jobs

Direct Line has warned it could shed a further 236 senior staff as it chases cost savings of £100m by the end of 2014. Last month the insurer announced plans to cut 70 senior posts, having previously slashed 900 jobs. Meanwhile, fellow insurer Aviva said 120 jobs at its repair service Asprea are at risk.

Recycling gloom for Viridor

Water utility Pennon reported a drop in profits at its recession-hit waste management unit Viridor and said it did not see a recovery in prices for recycled materials in the near future. Viridor's performance was offset by a 10 per cent rise in pre-tax profit at its South West Water business.

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