The Business Matrix: Friday 4 January 2013


IAG could avert strike at Iberia

International Airlines Group, the owner of Iberia and British Airways, could escape the impact of industrial action after the pilots union agreed to talks on restructuring the Spanish carrier by cutting staff numbers and salaries. In November IAG announced plans to cut more than 4,000 jobs, sell aircraft and cut routes at Iberia.

Unemployment rises in Germany

German unemployment rose to 2.94 million in December as the eurozone's powerhouse slowed. Analysts expect German GDP to have contracted in the fourth quarter of 2012, dragged down by the weakness of its European trading partners. But the 3,000 rise in the monthly jobless figures was less than the 10,000 that economists had forecast.

Waitrose toasts a record Christmas

Waitrose's aisles were busier this Christmas than at any time in the supermarket's history, helping sales hit £300m for the first time as takings rose 8.8 per cent in the last 12 days of 2012. The grocer said: "The 12 trading days leading up to New Year's Eve were exceptional". It enjoyed strong demand for chef Heston Blumenthal's lines.

Menzies closes its cargo operation

The Edinburgh-based newspaper distribution and aviation company John Menzies is shutting its loss-making cargo business at Chicago Airport at a cost of £7m. The decision comes after the group said it had "exhausted all alternative options over the last two years". The move is also part of a wider restructuring across the group.

William Sinclair suffers rain loss

The horticultural supplier William Sinclair said last summer's dire wet weather sent it into the red with a pre-tax loss of £400,000 in the year to 30 September against a profit of £3.2m the previous year. The Lincoln-based group said the industry was unlikely to recover until 2014, citing rising input costs.

Galliford boosted by new contracts

The housebuilder Galliford Try says it has won four new contracts worth a combined £55m. It has secured work including at St Hugh's College, Oxford, to build the £16.7m China Centre; a £16.3m contract to build the five-star Gainsborough Hotel in Bath; and a £20m contract for a care facility in Stafford.

Foyles recovers after Christmas

The book retailer Foyles said sales remained flat last month after a buoyant start to the clearance period helped offset a 3.7 per cent fall across its stores between 1 December and 24 December, excluding website trade. Sales between Christmas and New Year were up on last year.

Balfour Beatty buys in Texas

The infrastructure group Balfour Beatty has bought a US energy storage business. Subsurface Group, which is headquartered in Houston, Texas, is described as a consulting and engineering firm providing services including underground storage and wells.

Barnes & Noble hit by Nook weakness

Barnes & Noble's Nook e-reader division suffered a weak festive period after it sold fewer e-readers and tablets at its own stores and its e-books sales growth slowed. The US bookseller launched the Nook in 2009 to compete with Amazon's Kindle.

Delcam hails strong December

The IT specialist Delcam reported a record 10 per cent rise in orders for software licences and maintenance contracts in December. The Birmingham-based company's sales growth came from the automotive and aerospace industries.