The Business Matrix: Monday 28 November 2011


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Thomas Cook to cut 1,000 jobs

Thomas Cook, the troubled holiday firm, is to poised to start the axing of at least 1,000 jobs and shake up its boardroom, following a rescue injection of £200m at the weekend. The tour operator is expected to exit 200 of its 1,100 high-street shops. Thomas Cook needs to slash its debt of £900m after trading worsened following three profit warnings.

Lloyds may offer £6m 'golden hello'

Lloyds Banking Group is considering handing a possible "golden hello" of £6m to George Culmer to release its incoming finance director early from his 12-month notice period at the insurer RSA. Sir Win Bischoff, the chairman of Lloyds, has started discussions with his opposite number at RSA, John Napier, about Mr Culmer.

Sales fall again at John Lewis chain

John Lewis sent a chill down the high street yesterday, posting another decline in sales for last week, as the unseasonably warm weather continues to hit pre-Christmas trading. The department store chain said its total sales fell by 1.2 per cent to £98.7m for the week ending on Saturday, after a 3.3 per cent fall the previous week. But its latest online sales rose 18 per cent.

Chancellor urged to act on tax cuts

British companies will today call on the Chancellor to use the autumn statement to focus on slashing taxes to boost growth. More than half of the tax professionals surveyed by accountants PwC say the tax regime needs to be made more attractive, but many admitted the biggest barrier to growth was the turmoil in the global economy.

Goldman talks to Peacocks on debt

The investment bank Goldman Sachs is in talks to become the biggest shareholder in Peacocks, the debt-laden fashion chain. Peacocks is labouring under debts of £240m and falling sales, as consumers cut back. Goldman Sachs has significant exposure to Peacocks' debt and is a small shareholder. The bank plans to write off some of the retailer's debt in return for a bigger stake.

Unemployment set to jump in 2012

The number of unemployed people in the UK could reach almost three million in 2012, as the downturn affects private firms' ability to create jobs. The Office for Budget Responsibility is expected on Tuesday to increase its forecast unemployment rate for next year to a peak of between 8.5 and nine per cent.


A third-quarter trading update from B&Q owner Kingfisher on Friday will underline the struggle faced by retailers as it is expected to report a 1.5 per cent decline in UK sales. The firm has seen them come under pressure as the economic outlook deteriorates but managed to keep its head above water through boosting profit margins.

Topps Tiles

Topps Tiles is set to report another fall in annual profits on Tuesday as it struggles against a decline in consumer spending. The City expects profits at the UK's largest tile and wood flooring specialist to fall 19 per cent to £13m. The homewares market has been particularly badly hit by the squeeze on domestic budgets.


Sage will reveal whether the recent slowdown in global growth has derailed its recovery when it provides full-year results on Wednesday. The company, which sells software to small and medium-sized businesses, reported a 4 per cent rise in half-year revenues earlier in the year as its customers grew in confidence.


Housebuilder Berkeley's focus on more affluent locations in London and the South-East will help it buck the gloom surrounding the property market when it reports half-year results on Friday. The group is expected to benefit from a strong pipeline of building projects after snapping up land at bargain basement prices following the recession.