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The Business Matrix: Saturday 1 September 2012


Hermès boosted by China sales

Chinese consumers' switch from buying logo-covered luxury goods to more understated designer brands has helped the luxury French group Hermès report double-digit increases in sales and profits across most markets in the first six months of the year. First-half sales hit £1.3bn, up 22 per cent. Chinese sales were up 25 per cent.

Lego cashes in on girls' market

Lego's new line of toys designed specifically for girls helped drive half-yearly profits up 36 per cent to £213m. The Danish toy maker said it sold twice as many of its Lego Friends as expected. The line was launched in January but was criticised by some consumer groups for reinforcing gender stereotypes.

Bwin.party aware of the competition

Bwin.party Digital Entertainment, the world's largest online gaming group, has admitted it needs to work harder to fend off competition from resurgent rival PokerStarts. Economic woes in southern Europe had also had an impact. First-half earnings rose 13 per cent to £73m.

Job losses loom as Nomura cuts costs

Further City job cuts are looming after the investment banking giant Nomura said it was looking for an extra $1bn of cost cuts. Those come on top of a $1.2bn restructuring at Japan's top brokerage ho

House prices soar in August

The surprise strength of the UK jobs market could be behind the biggest monthly jump in house prices for two and a half years during August, Nationwide said yesterday. Average house prices soared 1.3 per cent over the month to reach £164,729, reversing declines recorded the previous two months. use last year. It employs 4,000 across Europe.

Xstrata board faces shake-up

Knight Vinke, the activist investor, has become the first shareholder in Xstrata to declare it will push for a shake-up of the miner's board if its £30bn takeover by the commodities giant Glencore collapses next week.Investors are expected to block the proposed takeover at a vote next Friday on the grounds that the price is too low.

Banks target problem lenders

The European Commission intends to propose the creation of an agency to wind down problem lenders as it gives the European Central Bank sweeping powers to monitor all eurozone banks. It is unlikely that the agency would be able to close banks outside the eurozone.

Strike grounds Lufthansa flights

A strike by Lufthansa cabin crew stranded thousands of passengers yesterday. Germany's biggest airline said it cancelled most of the 360 scheduled arrivals and departures at its Frankfurt hub during the eight-hour strike.

Cost of computer glitch still rising

Royal Bank of Scotland's Irish unit expects its costs from a chaotic computer failure to grow by tens of millions of euros beyond the €35m (£28m) already set aside. Ulster Bank has promised to reimburse out-of-pocket expenses and pay €25 for the inconvenience that customers experienced.