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The Business Matrix: Saturday 12 January 2013

John Lewis sees boost to sales

John Lewis achieved another storming set of figures during the first week of its clearance sales. Sales were up 25.7 per cent compared with the same period a year ago as shoppers chased bargains. All 35 John Lewis stores which had been trading for at least a year saw year-on-year sales growth. The electrical and home technology division led the way with growth of 43.5 per cent. Fashion was up 19.9 per cent.

BSA boss Coles to stand down

Adrian Coles, the director-general of the Building Societies Association, says he will stand down once a successor has been found, probably later this year. Mr Coles, 58, who joined the BSA as an economist in 1979, said: "I have held this post for 20 years and it is time for a change, both from my point of view and that of the association." The BSA represents mutual lenders and deposit-takers across the UK.

Theo Fennell loses his sparkle

The jeweller Theo Fennell issued a profits warning yesterday after another year of poor Christmas sales. Fennell, whose bling is worn by stars including Elton John and Naomi Campbell, said its full-year results would be "materially below management expectations" after "disappointing" trading over the festive period. Shares in the business tumbled 17 per cent to 9.5p yesterday.

Rail freight fees to rise by up to 5%

Rail freight charges are set to rise by between 3 and 5 per cent from 2016, the Office of the Rail Regulator said yesterday. It said rail freight users had been paying less than their fair share to maintain the rail network. The shortfall was paid by passengers and the taxpayer. The proportion of costs incurred by freight that will have to be paid back by the industry will rise from 21 per cent to about a third.

Tullow in a dive as dry holes take toll

Shares in Tullow Oil tumbled by 3 per cent after the FTSE 100 explorer announced a $670m (£417m) write-off for 2012 to cover the cost of dry wells and abandoned licences. In a trading statement ahead of its full-year results next month, Tullow said it expected a busy start to the year as its key Jubilee field in offshore Ghana, ramps up to full capacity.

FFL headache for prices website

Banks are getting cheap cash from the Bank of England's Funding For Lending (FFL) scheme, meaning they don't need to offer generous savings deals, according to MoneySupermarket. The price comparison website said it saw lower competition among banks for retail deposits in the fourth quarter, meaning fewer accounts opened via MoneySupermarket.

Digital helps publisher stay ahead

Investment in digital and events is helping the publisher of The Lawyer and Marketing Week to keep profits on track, despite weaker revenues from the financial and marketing sectors. Centaur Media's chief executive, Geoff Wilmot, said sales were up 14 per cent in the six months to December. Print revenue fell sharply from 45 per cent to 31 per cent of turnover, while digital revenue rose to 39 per cent and events climbed to 28 per cent.

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