The Business Matrix: Tuesday 16 December 2014


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H&M shrugs off warm weather

The Swedish fashion giant H&M defied the unseasonably mild weather last month to notch up a 10 per cent rise in sales. The retailer outgunned forecasts to increase its fourth-quarter sales total to £4.2bn. Its UK high street rivals, including Superdry owner SuperGroup and Marks & Spencer, have been hit by warm weather woes.

Wood reaches  top of Ten Alps

Ten Alps, the troubled broadcasting and media production group backed by Band Aid rock star Sir Bob Geldof, named former ITN and Future publishing boss Mark Wood as its chief executive. Mr Wood, a Ten Alps non-executive director since July, has plenty to do to turn around the business, which lost £2.6m last year.

Johnson Matthey in gold sell-out

Johnson Matthey is to sell its gold and silver refining business to Japan’s Asahi Holdings for £118m. The 160-year-old operation, which employs 340 people, serves customers from refineries in Salt Lake City and Brampton in Canada. Asahi Holdings specalises in refining and recycling  precious metals from waste materials.

Hands set to start Infinis wind-down

The private-equity mogul Guy Hands is set to start selling down his stake in wind-power company Infinis. His buyout firm, Terra Firma, said it is considering offloading either some, or all, of the 68.6 per cent holding just over a year after it floated it in London at 260p in November 2013. Its shares closed at 222p yesterday.

Bain Capital buys Ibstock Brick

One of Britain’s biggest brick makers has been sold to the US private equity giant Bain Capital in a deal worth £414m including debt. The FTSE 100 building products company CRH sold the 115-year-old Ibstock Brick business and three other divisions. Bain is paying about £295m in cash.

Rouble hits record low against dollar

Traders believe Russia’s central bank intervened to support the rouble yesterday after it dived 8 per cent to a record low of 63 to the dollar. The Russian currency has fallen nearly 50 per cent since the start of the year – a fall almost matched by oil prices on which the country’s economy depends.

‘Healthy’ rise in profits for Greggs

Greggs has raised its profit forecasts for the year after the onset of winter drove demand for the bakery chain’s hot drinks and food. The group, which recorded a 5.2 per cent jump in underlying half-yearly sales, said its new “healthy” sandwiches were also boosting demand.

Scholium invests in ‘higher quality’

The rare books retailer Scholium posted a half-year loss of £235,000 as it invested funds from its recent City flotation in “higher-quality” books. Group sales rose 2.2 per cent to £2.8m in the six months to September. Scholium said investment would improve profit margins.

Price of petrol keeps on falling

The average price of unleaded petrol has fallen to 116.9p a litre, according to analysts at Experian Catalist. Petrol prices have fallen to four -year lows recently, down by about 10 per cent since the summer, as crude oil prices tumbled 40 per cent.

Segro sells off six industrial  estates

Segro has sold a portfolio of six UK industrial estates to Orchard Street Investment Management for £113.8m. The sites are located around the M25 and M3 motorways  and have a combined floor-space of 94,493 sq metres.