The Business Matrix: Saturday 11 April 2015


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The Independent Online

Floodplain cover scheme put back

Ministerial sign-off for a long-awaited flood insurance scheme has been delayed until after the election. The insurance industry had hoped that the £180m-a-year Flood Re would be fully approved before 7 May. Flood Re will subsidise home cover for people living on floodplains, such as residents of Chertsey.

Election jitters slow hiring fees

The recruiter Hays has blamed pre-election jitters for a slowdown in its UK recruitment business. Fee growth slowed to 8 per cent in the quarter to March, from 13 per cent in the previous six months. Its finance director Paul Venables said: “If we are in a general election, our growth tends to slow in the three months [before].”

Waitrose enjoys Easter eggs treat

Heston Blumenthal’s Easter eggs, legs of lamb and hot cross buns boosted sales at Waitrose in the lead-up to Easter. The grocer saw sales rise 22 per cent to £150m in the week to 4 April, compared with last year. Sales were up 1.2 per cent on last Easter, which fell at a later date, with sales of the celebrity chef’s eggs up 150 per cent.

Bonmarché keeps costs in check

Bonmarché, the plus-sized fashion chain which targets the “silver pound”, saw underlying sales fall at the start of the year but said tight cost and stock controls meant profits would be in line with City expectations when it reports full-year results in June. For the year to the end of March, underlying sales rose 8.7 per cent.

Sale takes GE back to its roots

General Electric has agreed a $26bn (£18bn) property portfolio sale as part of a radical shake-up to focus on its manufacturing roots. The US conglomerate’s chief executive, Jeff Immelt, wants to sell the majority of GE’s finance arm GE Capital, once the largest part of the company, over the next two years.

Sale on the cards for hospital group

The private equity owners of Spain’s largest private hospital group, IDCSalud, are reviewing a possible sale that could value it at up to €5bn (£4bn). The company, majority owned by CVC Capital Partners, is sounding out investors over the idea of a flotation or an outright sale, according to Reuters.

Laura Ashley hit by weaker Japan

Laura Ashley posted a rise in sales and profit despite group revenues being hit by a weaker Japanese economy. The fashion and home furnishings group said profits rose 15 per cent to £23.5m on sales up 3.1 per cent at £304m. Franchise sales dipped 1.5 per cent.

Duddy moves to Debenhams board

Debenhams has made veteran retailer Terry Duddy a non-executive director at the department store chain. Mr Duddy stood down as chief executive of the Homebase and Argos owner Home Retail Group last month after 27 years with the business.

Grayling drags Huntsworth down

The public relations group Huntsworth saw its profits slump by a fifth to £18m in 2014 due to a slide in sales at its key agency Grayling. The group, which operates in 28 countries, named Paul Taaffe as chief executive this month.

Solomons adds M&S to his diary

Marks & Spencer has appointed InterContinental Hotels chief executive Richard Solomons as a non-executive director. Mr Solomons, who joined IHG in 1992, will take up his appointment at the retailer on 13 April.