The Business Matrix: Saturday 19 May 2012


Online gift shop gets £10m funding

Two female entrepreneurs confirmed their status heading one of Britain's fastest-growing online businesses when the gift and gadget retailer raised £10m from a Fidelity-led consortium to fund expansion. Holly Tucker and Sophie Cornish set up the business six years ago.

Graff seeks $1bn in Hong Kong IPO

Graff Diamonds, the high-end jeweller, is forging ahead with an initial public offering to raise up to $1bn (£630m), setting a price range for its Hong Kong flotation despite a sell-off in equity markets. The London-based jeweller, founded by Laurence Graff in 1960, set an indicative share-price range at HK$25-HK$37.

Stagecoach buys up rival businesses

The bus and rail firm Stagecoach has spent £85m on buying nine businesses from its struggling US rival Coach America in an opportunistic move to bolster its fast-growing North American business. The move gives it extra depots to expand its brand, as well as a platform in Texas and California.

Lingerie uplift for London

The £3.6bn UK lingerie market will be lifted this summer by brands expanding in London. The US chain Victoria's Secret has revealed the opening dates for its first two UK shops, while Agent Provocateur, owned by the private equity firm 3i, is searching for new London stores as part of a 50-store expansion.

LSE profits rise by 30% to £442m

The London Stock Exchange posted a better-than-expected 30 per cent rise in annual profits to £442m. It said it expected to make good progress despite the uncertainty over the economy and its deal with LCH. Clearnet will continue to transform the organisation.

M&B says April was a washout

Sales at Mitchells & Butlers, the owner of some of Britain's best-known pubs, fell during April as the rain poured down. M&B's first-half profits fell £1m to £42m. Bob Ivell, the chairman who has headed M&B since it ousted Adam Fowle last year, said it was making progress in its search for a new chief.

Connolly named G4S chairman

John Connolly has been drafted as chairman of G4S, the security firm that will protect visitors to this summer's Olympics. The former boss of the beancounters Deloitte is replacing Alf Duch-Pedersen, a casualty of the group's failed £5bn takeover of the Danish cleaning firm ISS, who steps down in June.

Keller hit by slump in Europe

Keller, the construction group which built the foundations for the 2012 London Olympic Stadium, has reported a disappointing start to the year in Europe. It said it would continue to shrink its business in Spain, Portugal and Eastern Europe as those countries reel from a slump in construction activity.

Tata profits drop as costs rise

Tata Steel, the Indian giant which bought up the former British Steel, has recorded a larger-than-expected drop in profits. The group said weak prices, lower volumes and high raw material costs had hit margins. The steelmaker's annual profits came in at £670m, down from £1.1bn a year ago.

Menzies makes a positive start

The newspaper and magazine distributor John Menzies said it had made a positive start to the year, trading in line with the board's expectations. Menzies, which also has an aviation services division, said like for like ground handling volumes are up 2 per cent.