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The Business Matrix: Monday 14 November 2011
TV ad boosts sales at John Lewis
Sales at the retailer John Lewis climbed 6 per cent week-on-week to £76.3m as its Christmas television campaign launched last week. The advert, starring seven-year-old Lewis McGowan gained 400,000 views on YouTube in just two days after being launched on Friday. Its first broadcast was during The X Factor on Saturday night.
Insolvencies rise with council cuts
The number of care home businesses going bust has more than doubled over the past year, as they are hit by local council cutbacks and rising debt worries. The accountant Wilkins Kennedy said 73 care home companies went into administration in the 12 months to the end of September, up from 35 in the previous 12 months.
Contractors see fall in demand
Demand for contractors has fallen 13 per cent year-on-year across the UK as fears of a double-dip recession intensify, according to the Association of Professional Staffing Companies. Its research shows that 57,191 contractor vacancies were advertised on job boards in September, compared to 66,340 in the same month last year.
Companies face corruption risks
Following the introduction of the UK Bribery Act, businesses must do more to ensure they have adequate procedures to prevent corruption among external business partners, Ernst & Young warned. Companies must now demonstrate they have "adequate procedures" in place to address third-party risks – including outsourced business.
Business activity slows across UK
Growth in economic activity slowed across most regions in October, according to the Lloyds TSB regional Purchasing Managers' Index. The month-on-month slowdown was particularly marked in London and the South-East, with the latter recording the first fall in business activity since June 2009.
Pressure grows on commercial rents
More than half of commercial tenants have attempted to renegotiate the terms of their original leases in the last 12 months, according to Creditsafe. It said landlords are consequently being forced to downgrade forecasted revenues, with retail outlets most likely to ask to review their lease arrangements.
Burberry is expected to report a leap in profits on Tuesday but analysts will be watching for signs that its stellar growth is starting to slow. The fashion house, famous for its red, black and camel check, is expected to post a 25 per cent rise in six-month profits to £161m, boosted by bumper sales in China and decent demand in the UK and US.
TalkTalk is set to reveal on Tuesday that it lost more broadband users in recent months, despite efforts it has made to sort out customer service problems since it bought Tiscali. City analysts predict that half-year profits will rise by 30 per cent to £91m, despite a 4 per cent fall in revenues to £848m over the six months.
Budget airline easyJet is seen cheering the market with a surge in profits on Tuesday as its strategy of boosting its appeal to business and short-break passengers starts to pay off. The airline expects full-year profits of up to £250m, versus £188m last year. The airline launched a new flexible fare in the period targeted at business travellers.
Mothercare's future in the UK will be at the heart of its half-year results on Thursday, when it is expected to unveil a slide in profits. The retailer, which has 353 UK stores and 969 overseas outlets, recently warned that underlying UK sales fell nearly 10 per cent. Its international arm, which is being expanded, has been keeping the firm afloat.
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