The Business Matrix: Monday 19 September 2011

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House finances rise this month

Household finances have picked up from the record low recorded last month but prospects for public sector workers look gloomier than ever, figures reveal. The Markit Household Finance Index for September shows a small climb to 35.1 from August’s record low of 33.2. But the figure remains close to the lows of summer 2009.

Property prices on the up

The average property asking price climbed £1,596 in the past month to £233,139, but is still 3 per cent lower than the start of the summer. The Rightmove House Price Index shows asking prices have climbed 2.5 per cent in the three years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers. In the previous three years, however, prices climbed 16.4 per cent.

F1 to hit target as Bahrain pays fee

Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has revealed the Bahrain government paid the hosting fee for its grand prix this year despite the race being cancelled due to unrest in the country. The fee is estimated at £25m and Mr Ecclestone said he expected that F1’s revenue and profit would not reverse this year now that the money had been paid.

Jaguar set for new plant in Midlands

Jaguar Land Rover is to build a major new engine plant in the Midlands, backed by Government support. The luxury car group’s owner, Tata, is set to announce the £400m plant in Wolverhampton as early as this week.The move is expected to create up to 2,000 jobs in the area. The development could take two years.

Market Force buys Retail Eyes

UK mystery shopping group Retail Eyes will today announce it has been bought by Market Force Information, which its head calls a “springboard” for growth. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Retail Eyes was set up in 2003, and last year posted turnover of £9.6m, up 46 per cent on the previous year.

Bad websites cost retailers £500m

Poorly designed websites cost retailers hundreds of millions of pounds a year in missed sales, according to research. The study suggests they have lost a combined total of £500m over a three-year period as frustrated consumers log off. The findings were pulled together by digital agency Head London.


Debenhams will be the latest big high street retailer to update the market on Tuesday following resilient updates from Next and B&Q’s owner. More directly comparable is John Lewis, which unveiled a mixed first half that saw sales up but profits under pressure. The pre-close statement will also be the first from new CEO Michael Sharp.

TUI Travel

While its rival Thomas Cook has issued three profit warnings this year, Tui has been boosted by sales of shorter holidays and all inclusive deals. The owner of First Choice is expected to post an 8 per cent rise in profits to £469m on Thursday despite having warned that summer bookings from the UK will be 2 per cent down on a year ago.

Ocado is bumping along the bottom

Online retailer Ocado’s bumpy ride since its stock market listing is unlikely to get any easier when it posts a trading update on Monday. It is expected to show a further slowdown in sales growth. The business, which delivers Waitrose products, is building a new distribution centre, but this will not open until 2012.

JD Sports Fashion

Half-year results on Wednesday will reveal how well JD Sports Fashion is coping with the impact of a resurgent Sports Direct and with rising youth unemployment. Analysts fear JD, which owns fashion chains Bank and Scotts, is particularly exposed because its core shoppers are bearing the brunt of the latest economic squeeze.