The Business Matrix: Monday 12 December 2011



Christmas boost for John Lewis

Sales at the employee-owned department store group John Lewis rose by 2 per cent last week, as customers streamed in to buy Christmas gifts and winter clothes. The group, which is seen as a bell-wether for the retail sector, said department store sales rose to £123.5m in the week to 10 December, equating to a gross rise of 2 per cent.

Decision nears on Lloyds branches

Lloyds is in the final stages of reviewing offers from NBNK and the Co-op for around 630 of its branches. The bank is expected to hold a board meeting on Thursday to discuss a final decision over the sell-off. Lloyds has been forced to offload the branches by European regulators to compensate for government aid during the credit crisis.

Emerging-market boost for KPMG

The accountancy firm KPMG pulled ahead of its peers with more than 10 per cent revenue growth in the year to the end of September. It saw growth across all its business areas, and was boosted by its operations in emerging economies such as India and China. India grew at 25 per cent, while China saw 12.9 per cent revenue growth.

Italian bank body warns over EBA

The head of the Italian Banking Association (ABI) has threatened to sue the European Banking Authority (EBA) over rules obliging Italian lenders to meet a capital shortfall set at €15.37bn. "ABI will follow every path possible, including the legal one, to oppose the EBA's decision," Giuseppe Mussari told a banking conference in Rome.

Ireland may have to revisit pay deal

Ireland may have to renege on a deal not to cut public-sector wages as it faces up to slowing growth and the impact of the eurozone debt crisis, the country's Energy minister, Pat Rabbitte, warned yesterday. He said the government may have to "sit down and talk to the unions about renegotiating" the deal.

Stark warns on bigger IMF role

The outgoing chief economist of the European Central Bank, Juergen Stark, has warned in a German press interview that greater involvement by the Washington-based International Monetary Fund in the eurozone's efforts to solve its sovereign debt crisis would be an "act of desperation".


Its interim figures back in October came in ahead of the Square Mile's forecasts, so Whitbread will be hoping it can repeat the feat with its trading update tomorrow. However, Panmure Gordon's James Cooke warns the FTSE 100-listed leisure giant is likely to have seen "volatile" sales thanks to the recent unseasonably warm weather.

IG Group

The spreadbetter IG Group releases its half-year trading statement tomorrow, barely a fortnight since its last update. It pleased investors then by saying it was still enjoying a high level of client activity and announced it expected its revenues for the period to be above £193m. Since then, its share price has added more than 8 per cent.

Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook announces its delayed results on Wednesday in what is the troubled tour operator's last week on the FTSE 250 index before it becomes a small-cap stock. The figures are not likely to be cheery considering its recent admission that bookings had fallen 30 per cent since the news it needed more cash.

Wood Group

Wood Group announces a pre-close trading statement on Thursday, although – according to UBS – the energy services group will reveal few changes to trading trends since its last update in October. The broker expects "activity levels in the engineering business to remain strong" and predicts higher margins for the full year.