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The Business Matrix: Monday 3 October 2011

Pay up, job security down

Companies are increasingly recruiting senior executives on a short-term basis because they are not confident enough to hire permanent staff, according to new research by Interim Partners, a recruitment consultant. Pay rates for so-called interim workers were rising while many permanent staff watched their wages stagnate.

Barclays becomes market maker

Barclays capital, the investment banking arm of Barclays Bank, is stepping up its involvement in a London Stock Exchange platform that allows private investors to trade in bonds. The bank will announce today that it is becoming a market maker for bonds listed on the LSE’s electronic Order Book for Retail Bonds, set up last year.

Baby-proof technology

Fisher-Price will this month unveil a baby-proof iPhone cover The rubberised cover, called an “Apptivity Case”, is designed to allow the baby to get to grips with the ubiquitous technology, but also to protect the gadget from damage. The case, with chunky handles and rattles attached, will be showcased at the Earls Court Baby Show.

Former UK Army chief joins oil firm

The ex-head of the British Army, Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank, has been appointed as a non-executive director of an oil firm that has extensive assets in Iraqi Kurdistan. Lord Guthrie, who was Chief of the Defence Staff between 1997 and 2001, will join Gulf Keystone, which is floated on the AIM of the London Stock Exchange.

Fewer businesses expected to fail

The number of business failures will fall over the coming three years but will remain above pre-recession levels, according to a forecast by accounting firm BDO. It estimates the number of failures will fall to 20,536 a year by 2015, down from a peak of 26,196 in 2009. The consumer goods sector, though, will suffer.

More pain in store for the City

Banks and other financial companies are planning a new round of job cuts after confidence in the sector dropped for the first time since the depths of the financial crisis, according to the CBI’s quarterly financial services survey. The expected job cuts will follow thousands already announced.

Tesco

In the City, Tesco’s £500m price-cutting campaign is seen as a signal that the supermarket retailer wants to “get its mojo back”. Interim results on Wednesday are likely to reveal that UK like-for-like sales excluding fuel and VAT fell 1.2 per cent in the second quarter as shoppers benefited from competition among supermarkets.

Ted Baker

Analysts at Numis expect half-year profits at Ted Baker to be up 8 per cent at £8.1m on Thursday as the fashion retailer bucks some of the gloom on the high street. As well as expanding its outlets, Ted Baker, which does not advertise, has branched out from selling just menswear to sell womenswear, fragrances, footwear, eyewear and watches.

Halfords

After its last profits warning in April, analysts are not expecting much good news from the bicycle retailer Halfords when it releases its trading statement for the second quarter on Thursday. Oriel’s Jonathan Pritchard is predicting a 3 per cent fall in recent sales, but is more optimistic for the rest of the year, forecasting a pick-up.

Wood Group

Half-year results from Wood on Wednesday will be the first update from the oil services group since it was relegated to the second tier FTSE 250 in last month’s index reshuffle. Analysts at Numis expect that Wood Group’s engineering unit in particular will have continued to see a recovery in revenues and margins.

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