The Business Matrix: Monday 05 December 2011


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The Independent Online


London company confidence hit

Business leaders in London have suffered a dramatic loss of confidence during the second half of the year, despite their growing excitement about the capital hosting the Olympic Games next summer. The finding comes from the Confederation of British Industry/KPMG London Business Survey, a biannual audit of business confidence.

Weekly sales rise 10% at John Lewis

Sales at John Lewis last week were up almost 10 per cent year-on-year at £113.6m. The employee-owned retailer admitted the figures were "flattering" because trade during the same period last year was disrupted by heavy snowfall. However, John Lewis said it believed its latest figures pointed to a "robust underlying trading performance".

Shell seals $6.4bn Qatar plant deal

Royal Dutch Shell yesterday sealed a deal with the Qatar government to build a petrochemicals plant in Ras Laffan. Qatari energy minister Mohammed al-Sada said: "We estimate the cost to be $6.4 billion but at this stage one should be cautious." The country has signed a similar deal with Exxon Mobil and plans other petrochemical plants.

Blacks in talks over rescue funds

Blacks Leisure, the beleaguered outdoor clothing and equipment retailer, is understood to have begun talks with lenders to inject a fresh round of capital and shore up its balance sheet. The company needs to refinance £40m of loans with Lloyds Banking Group by February and analysts are forecasting that it must raise £20m.

Olympus panel 'to report' tomorrow

The independent panel set up by scandal-hit precision equipment maker Olympus could report its findings as early as tomorrow, according to reports in Japan. This comes as the group battles to file its second quarter results. Failure to do so by December 14 would see the company de-list from the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Iran warns oil will hit $250 on ban

Iran has warned the West that if it blocks the country's oil exports the crude price will more than double. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast, said in the wake of increased tension: "As soon as such an issue is raised seriously the oil price would soar to above $250 a barrel."

Tesco reveals Big Price Drop update

The UK's biggest supermarket, Tesco, will reveal the impact of its £500m Big Price Drop campaign, which saw the cost of 3,000 items slashed, in a trading update on Thursday. Tesco, which has more than 2,700 stores in the UK, fired the first shots of a price war in September.

Tui Travel

Britain's biggest holiday firm Tui Travel will hope a robust performance will remove it from the shadow cast by its struggling second-place rival Thomas Cook. On Monday, the Thomson Holidays and First Choice owner is expected to report a 5 per cent rise in annual earnings to £468m as higher prices compensate for lower bookings.


The owner of Comet will shed more light on its decision to sell the electricals chain for a token £2 in its half-year results on Wednesday. Kesa Electricals is expected to reveal Comet, which will be taken over by retail turnaround firm OpCapita, made a loss of £22m in the six months. Numis analysts expect Kesa to post a group loss of about £27m.


Stagecoach, the transport group behind South West Trains and East Midlands, is set to post a loss in its UK rail division for the first time in 10 years at its first-half results on Wednesday. But it expects to return to profit this half as, under "revenue support", the Government will help make up lower than expected earnings from passengers.