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The Business Matrix: Saturday 11 June 2011

Toyota predicts 35% fall in profits

Toyota has forecast a larger-than-expected 35 per cent fall in annual profits and warned that the strong yen is making it hard to justify keeping production in Japan. The group, which has struggled to restore output after the earthquake in March, is expected to lose its crown as the world’s largest car maker to General Motors this year.

1,000 jobs threat at fashion chain

A fashion chain formed following last year’s collapse of Ethel Austin has gone into administration, casting uncertainty over more than 1,000 jobs. Life & Style Retail, which runs 91 stores, has appointed RSM Tenon as administrator. There have been reports that a private equity firm could rescue the group, saving at least some of the jobs.

Fuller’s sees its glass as half-full

Fuller, Smith & Turner, the independent brewer behind London Pride bitter, said it was confident it could continue to enjoy a frothy performance despite the consumer squeeze. The group, which posted a 10 per cent rise in annual profits to £29m, warned of a tough year ahead, but hoped the Olympics would boost business next summer.

Samsonite raises £1.25bn in HK IPO

Samsonite, the world’s biggest luggage maker, has raised $1.25bn after pricing its stock market flotation in Hong Kong at the bottom of a revised price range as weak global markets sapped investor demand. The Luxembourg-based Samsonite is backed by the private equity firm CVC Capital, which stands to earn about $521m from the IPO.

DMGT to sell its US trade show unit

Daily Mail & General Trust has put its US retail trade show management business George Little Management up for sale as it focuses on fewer events with stronger prospects. The Daily Mail publisher said it was reviewing the strategic alternatives for GLM, which runs the New York International Gift Fair.

Saudi Arabia turns on the taps

Oil prices fell by more than a dollar a barrel yesterday after Saudi Arabia began offering more oil to Asian refiners, easing worries about supply following an inconclusive Opec meeting. In London benchmark Brent fell $1.30 to $188.27 a barrel by late afternoon trade, while in New York crude was off $2.53 at $99.40.

Healthy spring sales for Bellway

Bellway brought some welcome cheer to the housing market as it reported a healthy spring selling season. The Newcastle-based housebuilder said a more normal reservation pattern returned since the autumn. Recent sales are up at 111 units a week, and the average selling price has risen 4 per cent to £182,000.

London property ‘exports’ soar

Britain’s rich are selling up in the smartest neighbourhoods of London to a wave of super-rich migrants, according to Savills. Foreign buyers inject more than £3bn into London each year, the bulk in billionaire enclaves such as Chelsea and Mayfair, making property “one of the country’s biggest exports”, Savills added.

UK growth bounces back

The economy staged a remarkable bounce back in May, according to the latest estimates produced by the National Institute for Economic and Social Research which put growth at almost 1 per cent. This seems to have been a reaction to the loss of production in April, due in part to the bank holidays.

Pressure for rate rise eases

Pressure to raise interest rates eased slightly after factory gate inflation rose less than expected last month. Manufacturers raised prices by 0.2 per cent month on month in May, down from 1 per cent in April, the ONS said, leaving them up 5.3 per cent on a year ago. The drop came as oil prices dipped 0.7 per cent.

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