The Business Matrix: Saturday 04 February 2012


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The Independent Online

Festive sales rise for Hamleys

Hamleys, the toys specialist, posted robust festive sales in the UK, although its international business was the group's star performer. It delivered revenues up by 3.6 per cent in the UK and Ireland over the four weeks to 25 December, while like-for-like sales rose by 3.2 per cent. Profits were £660,000 for the year.

More companies go bust as cuts bite

Insolvency practitioners warned of even worse to come today as official figures revealed a 7 per cent rise in the number of firms going bust in the past year. The latest Insolvency Service statistics showed 4,260 company insolvencies in England and Wales during the final three months of 2011, just up on the quarter.

Game shares leap on finance hopes

Shares in Game Group surged by more than a third at one stage yesterday after it said that its six banks had agreed to relax their covenant tests. The beleaguered computer games retailer now believes it will meet the tests due to take place on February 27, although it expects to post annual losses of £18m.

Fullers buys 15 pubs for £23m

The pub group Fuller, Smith & Turner is to buy 15 freehold pubs from debt-laden Enterprise Inns for £22.9m. London-centric Fuller's said the 15 pubs will take its brand into areas of the west and South-east of England, where it has been under-represented, as well as extending its presence in Hampshire.

Only a takeover kept Investec up

Investec saw its assets under management rise slightly in the last nine months of 2011, but only due to its £230m acquisition of Evolution Securities in September. The bank and asset manager admitted it suffered from "volatile markets and low levels of activity".

US jobs boost for FTSE and Wall St

The FTSE 100 hit its highest level since July 2011 yesterday, finishing at 5901.07, after the announcement that some 243,000 non-farm jobs were created across America in January – considerably more than the 150,000 analysts expected. US and European stock markets were also given a fillip.

BT telegraphs early profit boost

BT boosted quarterly profits despite another dip in revenues and renewed concern over its pension liabilities. Pre-tax profits leapt 48 per cent to £652m in the three months to December on sales of £4.77bn, down 5 per cent. Improved margins mean it will hit 2013 profit targets a year earlier than expected.

Components firm feels chill wind

Electrocomponents, which supplies batteries, cables and power tools to engineers around the world, saw a sharp decline in sales growth in January. While its revenues rose 4 per cent in the four months to February, mainly thanks to US and Asian demand, January's sales growth slowed to 1 per cent.

OFT probes deal by Travis Perkins

Builder's merchant Travis Perkins' £42m takeover of hardware supplier Toolstation has interested the Office of Fair Trading. Last month's deal saw the Wickes owner pay £24m for the 70 per cent of Toolstation it did not already own. It vowed to co-operate with any review.

Taxman gets £4bn more from firms

The taxman clawed back a record £4.06 billion from Britain's biggest companies last year, as HM Revenue & Customs ramped up investigations into the country's biggest corporate accounts. Lobbying groups such as UK Uncut have put the spotlight on tax avoidance.