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The Business Matrix: Monday 20 June 2011

Dixons Retail

Dixons Retail, the parent of PC World and Currys, has issued two warnings this year and is now expected to post annual profits between £80m and £86m on Thursday, down from £90.5m the previous year. Dixons, which has 1,200 stores in 28 countries, has opened new format stores and ramped up cost-cutting by another £50m for the next three years, but has said there are no more store closures planned in the UK, where it employs about 20,000.

Berkeley

A focus on upmarket property developments in London and the Home Counties has enabled Berkeley to sail through the worst of the housing crisis. Analysts raised profits forecasts in April, when the housebuilder reported a 25 per cent jump in sales reservations, but they will be watching Berkeley’s comments closely for any change in its view on the London property market at its full-year results on Friday.

Kesa Electricals

Kesa Electricals is expected to disclose a drop in full-year profits on Wednesday to £79m, from £82m the year before, after the contribution from its better performing continental operations was offset by weakness in the UK, where its Comet business has swung into the red. There is speculation that Kesa could offload Comet, with Best Buy seen a possible bidder as it looks to roll out its electronics megastores format from the current estate of 10.

Whitbread

Whitbread is expected to post an upbeat first-quarter trading update on Tuesday even though sales growth is likely to have slipped from last year’s 4 per cent to 2 per cent. The City will be looking for news on its expansion plans, under which Whitbread wants to increase the number of rooms at its budget hotel chain Premier Inn by 50 per cent over five years, and double its Costa Coffee outlets to 3,500.

BlackBerry-maker faces Dolby suit

More bad news for Research in Motion (RIM) after it emerged that the group faces a lawsuit from Dolby, just days after its numbers disappointed the market. Dolby alleges that the devices made by RIM, including BlackBerry smartphones, use audio compression technology without the proper licences.

Bosses more likely to rip off their firm

Bosses are the biggest corporate crooks, according to a new report from KPMG. The research reveals that half of all UK corporate fraud is perpetrated by senior management or board members. The most likely member of staff to become a white-collar criminal is aged between 36 and 45 and works in accounts.

JC Flowers backs UK venture

JC Flowers, the private equity group that specialises in the financial sector, yesterday confirmed it is to back a venture focusing on the UK housing market. The US group, which is considering a bid for Northern Rock’s 70 branches, revealed it is behind the launch of Castle Trust, which is currently seeking FSA approval.

Retail investors back equities

Confidence in the equity market saw the shares held by retail investors reach a more than three-year high in May of £237bn, according to new research. Capita Registrars in its latest analysis of UK share registers found that private shareholders had added £798m of equity investment in the past three months.

EEF urges BofE to hold rates steady

Britain’s manufacturers will urge the Bank of England today not to be swayed by calls for interest rate rises to head off inflation. Manufacturing organisation EEF will today publish data showing that the Bank’s failure to bring price rises under control has had little effect on sector wage increases.

Optimistic sellers lift asking prices

Optimistic home-sellers are continuing to “romp away from reality”, with a further 0.6 per cent increase in asking prices, said Rightmove.com. The group said that despite recording the sixth consecutive month of rises, the trend was unlikely to last and the rest of the year would see a steady decline.

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