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The Business Matrix: Monday 11 July 2011

Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer is expected to reveal a 1.5 per cent rise in underlying quarterly sales on Wednesday as it shrugs off the tough conditions on the high street. M&S, which has 703 UK stores and 361 overseas, is expected to have reversed a decline in sales of general merchandise, which includes clothes and homewares. But food sales are believed to have slowed to 3 per cent.

SuperGroup

Analysts expect SuperGroup, which also owns Cult stores, to post an 87 per cent rise in underlying profits to £49.6m when it unveils annual results on Wednesday. Its SuperDry brand, worn by celebrities such as David Beckham, has pressed ahead with ambitious expansion plans at home and overseas and is believed to be resilient to the spending squeeze.

Sports Direct

Analysts expect full-year results on Thursday to cap a good 12 months for Sports Direct, which is best known for its Sports Direct.com fascia, which it runs alongside other outlets such as SportsWorld and Lillywhites. The full-year figures could also trigger a bumper payout for 2,000 Sports Direct staff, who are set to pick up an estimated £10.8m from an employee bonus scheme.

Mothercare

Mothercare’s first-quarter update on Thursday will be scrutinised for any signs that it has managed to bring an end to the recent run of poor trading. Mothercare recently announced plans to close 110 high street stores after falls in UK sales. The group has struggled against fierce competition from the supermarkets and now plans to focus more on larger out-of-town Parenting Centres.

Firmdale books rising revenues

Firmdale Holdings, the boutique hotel group behind the Knightsbridge Hotel, recorded revenues of £69.4m for last year. Accounts due to be filed later this month will show that its turnover rose by 28.5 per cent in the year to the end of January, leaving it with a net gain of £20.8m, up from an £8.2m loss the previous year.

Downbeat mood across UK factories

Britain’s manufacturers are increasingly downbeat about the economy, with confidence in the sector plummeting to a two-year low, according to the accountancy firm BDO. Its business confidence index for the sector fell to 90.1 in June, equating to a 26-point fall over four months, with the index standing at 116.4 in February.

Shell closes in on $12bn Iraq gas deal

Iraq is expected to sign a final contract with Royal Dutch Shell this week for a $12bn project to capture flared gas at its southern oil fields. Iraq’s oil ministry, Shell and its Japanese partner Mitsubishi have solved differences that had delayed the joint venture with Iraq’s South Gas Co since a draft agreement was struck in 2008.

Sharp jump in company fraud

The level of fraud faced by British companies jumped to £1.1bn between January and June, according to KPMG, up from £609m in the same period last year. The private sector was burdened with almost half of the total volume, with the average case value of private sector fraud jumping from £2.5m to £4.2m this year.

Companies eye £75bn investment

Small companies across the UK are planning to invest nearly £75bn in their businesses over the coming 12 months, according to a survey of small and medium-sized businesses. The GE Capital poll shows that the vast majority – 92 per cent – planned to plough funds into new computers, vehicles and other equipment.

Samsonite IPO rises to $1.3bn

Samsonite has increased the size of its Hong Kong IPO by $46m after underwriters exercised an option to sell additional shares amid strong demand. The luggage group said CVC Capital Partners and Royal Bank of Scotland had sold an additional 24.66 million shares, increasing the size of its offering to nearly $1.3bn.

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