The Business Matrix: Saturday 19 January 2013


China's expansion slowing down

China's breakneck pace of economic expansion cooled off in 2012 after the weakest year for the Red Dragon in more than a decade. The world's second-biggest economy advanced 7.8 per cent, the worst performance since 1999. But analysts took heart from figures showing that the pace of growth picked up again after October.

Warning of house price bubble again

A new price bubble could be fuelled by government initiatives to prop up the housing market, according to the chief executive of Bovis Homes. David Ritchie's warning came as Bovis flagged up better-than-expected profits of £51m-£52m, as a result of being able to buy up land cheaply since the credit crunch.

Morrisons in deal with Lakeland

Morrisons has teamed up with the retailer Lakeland to launch kitchenware online in the spring. This will be the supermarket chain's third website, following its launch of MorrisonsCellar for wine in November and its acquisition of the baby equipment retailer Kiddicare in 2011.

Virgin Money to go it alone

Virgin Money, the financial group backed by Sir Richard Branson, is planning to launch its own credit card business next year after ending a partnership with MBNA. Virgin's credit card portfolio has been managed and serviced by MBNA since 2002 under a partnership agreement.

Delay to Glencore deal with Xstrata

The commodities giant Glencore and miner Xstrata have pushed back the deadline for completion of their £56bn mega-merger for the second time, blaming lengthy competition regulation processes in China and South Africa. The companies have agreed to postpone completion date to 15 March.

Call to simplify legal complaints

The Office of Fair Trading has called for the legal profession's complaint handling procedures to be simplified after research showed that only 13 per cent of dissatisfied customers make a formal complaint. The low level is due to uncertainty about how to complain and scepticism about whether it is worth the effort.

Oil prices forecast to rise this year

The International Energy Agency has warned oil prices could rise this year as Chinese demand increases and Saudi Arabian supply dips. The IEA increased its forecast of daily global oil consumption by 1 per cent to a record average of 90.8 million barrels.

Strong sales at John Lewis

John Lewis department stores have reported a strong end to the clearance period after sales rose 19 per cent year on year in the week to last Saturday. Electricals and home technology was the strongest department with growth of 35 per cent, followed by a rise of 12 per cent in home.

Hobbits boost Games Workshop

Games Workshop has posted an 8 per cent rise in half-yearly sales of its miniature soldiers, Hobbits and Orcs to £67.5m as fans of tabletop fantasy games helped its profits hit £11.1m. The chief executive Mark Wells also said he was moving on.

Strong pipeline for Kentz

The FTSE 250 engineer Kentz toasted a strong 2012 and yesterday said its pipeline of prospects was up 32 per cent to £8.2bn by the end of last year. The company specialises in the oil and gas, petrochemical and mining and metals sectors.