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The Business Matrix: Friday 6 June 2014

UK sales continue to race ahead

The British car industry has seen its longest period of growth, with sales rising for 27 months in a row, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said. The industry – aided by economic recovery and improved financing conditions for buyers – enjoyed its best May since 2004, with sales 7.7 per cent ahead of a year earlier.

Bellway builds on rising demand

Bellway is on track to build 20 per cent more homes this year as it steps up work to meet buoyant demand. The firm said it had taken an average of 177 sales reservations a week since February, 11 per cent more than at than the same time last year. Bellway expects completed sales to rise by “about 20 per cent” in the year to 31 July.

Bolland’s salary is pegged at M&S

Marc Bolland’s salary as chief executive of Marks & Spencer has been pegged for a fourth year in a row and he received no bonus as he attempted to turn around the high-street retailer’s performance. M&S’s annual report showed he earned a basic £975,000 salary and total pay of £1.6m as the entire executive team waived their bonuses.

Revenues up 12% at Harvey Nash

Demand for full-time workers in the US, UK and Hong Kong has improved profits at Harvey Nash. The recruitment agency said its like-for-like revenues rose by 12 per cent in the three months to 4 June, while its operating profits were 12 per cent higher than in 2013. It said the US offshore market had been particularly buoyant.

AO into the red as share price falls

Shares in AO World fell further below their stock market flotation price yesterday as the online white goods retailer swung into the red. The stock fell by 4.5 per cent to 249.5p, below the 285p at which the shares were offered in February. They had risen as high as 380p but have since dropped.

Smith & Nephew is given a leg-up

Shares in Smith & Nephew surged again as the City geared up for a bidding war for the FTSE 100-listed maker of artificial knee and hips. The US medical-device specialist Medtronic is understood to be considering an approach for the British company, whose share price rose to 1,090p yesterday.

Spirits are low at Rémy Cointreau

A crackdown on corporate gift-giving by Chinese officials has hit the earnings of the cognac brand Rémy Cointreau. The French company said yesterday that operating profit had fallen by almost 40 per cent plunge as Beijing gets tough on corruption and corruption and bribery.

King’s salary cut by 10% to £4m

Sainsbury’s handed its outgoing chief executive Justin King a pay package of £3.95m, nearly 10 per cent less than last year. The details emerged a month after it disclosed that Mr King sold £1m of shares in the company less than two months before he was due to depart.

GM fires 15 staff over fatal defect

General Motors suffered from “incompetence and neglect” dealing with an ignition-switch defect linked to 13 deaths, chief executive Mary Barra said. The US car-maker said 15 employees found to have “acted inappropriately” had been fired.

Alitalia expected to back Etihad deal

Alitalia is expected to approve a tie-up with Etihad Airways in a last-ditch attempt to save the Italian carrier. Alitalia has made a profit only a few times in its 68-year history and received numerous state handouts before being privatised in 2008.

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