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The Business Matrix: Monday 23 May 2011

Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer’s chief executive Marc Bolland is expected to unveil an 8 per cent rise in profits to £710m when he presents the retailer’s annual results for the first time on Tuesday. The highstreet bellwether, which has 11 per cent of the clothing market, has surprised the City with its recent resilience and is expected to increase its market share.

JJB Sports

JJB Sports will report another hefty loss on Wednesday after a year in which it found itself locked in a battle for survival. JJB secured its immediate future last month due to a rental deal with landlords and more funds from investors and the support of its main lender BoS. But it is still set to post a £65m loss, down from £72m a year ago.

UU/Severn Trent

United Utilities, owner of North West Water, is expected to post a 16 per cent fall in profits to £588m at its water business on Thursday after Ofwat told it to cut bills by 4.3 per cent. Meanwhile, rival Severn Trent is expected on Friday to report a 6 per cent drop in profits to £509m at its regulated water business, according to Deutsche.

Britvic

Britvic releases its first-half results on Friday, and Citigroup expects the owner of Tango and Robinsons to have seen strong growth in its gross sales during the second-quarter. However, the broker notes its margins will be under pressure from cost inflation and that recent cost saving initiatives will provide a bigger benefit in the next six months.

Businesses hope for recovery

Business confidence is slightly up, according to the latest ICAEW/Grant Thornton UK Business Confidence Monitor. After four consecutive quarters of decline the index rose 4.1 to +13.7 this quarter as businesses feel more certain about the UK’s economic prospects. The retail and wholesale sector was the only to record a negative score.

GT’s Russian deal creates 200 jobs

GT Group has won a £50m contract with Russian automotive manufacturers GAZ. The firm will supply exhaust gas control systems for a new range of heavy duty diesel engines. The contract will help GT, which currently employs 300 in the northeast of England, to achieve its growth programme of increasing its workforce to 500.

Swedish bank’s 100th UK branch

Handelsbanken will launch its 100th British branch today. The Swedish community bank says the branch in the West Yorkshire spa town of Ilkley will open in the next few weeks, when local staff have been recruited. Last year the bank announced the opening of 27 UK branches. It already employs more than 800 staff nationwide.

American Golf drives sales

British golfers shrugged off the economic gloom to boost sales at specialist retailer American Golf by a fifth to £86.6m in the 12 months to the end of January. The chain - which has 83 stores in the north of England and Scotland - hopes to spread its network across the country by expanding in the south while increasing online sales.

Financial sector opts for Singapore

Singapore will create the most financial services jobs over the next 12 months, banking and hedge fund staff believe. Some 37 per cent chose the city, ahead of just 22 per cent favouring London, 19 per cent Shanghai and 1 per cent New York, in a survey by financial service recruiters Astbury Marsden.

Betfred confirms Tote board bid

Betfred has confirmed that it is in talks with racecourse groups to create a Tote Racing Development Board. It will be chaired by Barry Nightingale, CFO of Betfred, and comprise senior staff from the major racecourse groups, a representative for the independent courses and a new director of racing at the Tote.

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