The Business Matrix: Saturday 2 June 2012


Fitness First puts 67 gyms up for sale

Fitness First has put around half of its UK gyms up for sale as part of a wider restructuring plan in an attempt to avoid going into administration. Fitness First is selling 67 gyms and will renegotiate rents with its landlords on some of the 80 gyms it is keeping as current rent commitments are unsustainable.

Pressure grows as Premier boss quits

Premier Foods's chairman has quit after less than two years in the job at Britain's biggest food producer. The departure of Ronnie Bell, a former Kraft manager who joined as chairman in October 2010, piles more pressure on the debt-laden company, whose brands range from Hovis to Batchelors and Oxo.

Rothschild trust loses £55.8m

Lord Rothschild, the financier worth an estimated £465m, saw his RIT Capital investment trust lose £55.8m in the year to March. "The Western world may have finally woken up last year: it realised that the crash of 2008 was not just another market event, quickly to be recovered from," he said.

Buyers line up for Clinton's Cards

Clinton's Cards is set to be bought out of administration in the next few days as potential buyers, led by American Greetings, vie for the collapsed chain ahead of an 8 June deadline. American Greetings is the biggest creditor and has already taken on the company's £35m bank debt.

£10m hit for car crash repair firm

Car crash repair firm Nationwide Accident Repair Services expects 2012 revenues to take a £10m hit as it stops doing some work for insurance giant Aviva. The announcement follows a re-tendering process that offered work on terms it said were commercially unattractive.

Manufacturing slips to new low

Pressure on the Bank of England to pump billions more into the economy after the biggest manufacturing collapse since the fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008. The shock purchasing managers index from Cips/Markit, where a score under 50 signals contraction, slumped to 45.9 from 50.2 in April.

NBNK had losses of £23m last year

NBNK Investments, the shell company set up by Lord Levene to buy high street banks, crashed to a £23m loss last year as it ran up big costs without actually purchasing anything. The chief executive Gary Hoffman earned almost £2.8m – including a £1.9m "golden hello", after he quit his previous role at Northern Rock.

GMB challenges Icap for Plus

London's struggling stock-exchange minnow Plus Markets yesterday urged shareholders to stick with Michael Spencer's Icap bid despite Dubai's Gulf Merchant Bank making another tilt at the business. Icap bought loss-making Plus, home to a 156 companies, for a nominal £1 before GMB re-entered the fray.

Enterprise agrees new lending deal

The pub giant Enterprise Inns has agreed a £220m facility with a number of lenders including Royal Bank of Scotland, which will replace an existing arrangement due to end in December 2013. Enterprise said signing the competitively priced deal will allow it to focus on improving its performance.

IAG completes £8m BMI unit sale

British Airways' parent company IAG has completed the sale of BMI's regional division to a consortium of businessmen for £8m. The Aberdeen-based unit, which flies to 14 destinations from UK airports, was surplus to requirements following the £172m purchase of BMI from Lufthansa.