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The Business Matrix: Saturday 27 August 2011

easyJet heeds Stelios demands

The deputy chairman of easyJet, Sir David Michels, stepped down from its board yesterday, four months ahead of schedule. The budget airline said his exit, and the appointment of other directors, meant it would avoid the “costs and distractions” of a meeting to consider calls for his removal by the airline’s founder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

Tourists help Tiffany’s sparkle

Tourists helped Tiffany’s post strong quarterly sales, prompting the jeweller to raise its full year forecasts. Sales at its flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York, where it gets about a tenth of its business, were up 41 per cent thanks to international tourists. Chinese and Russian tourists also helped sales in Europe rise by double digits.

Poundworld to create 1,800 jobs

The discount retailer Poundworld pledged to create 1,800 jobs yesterday as it unveiled a brand of stores to fill the gap left by Woolworths. The 120-store business is expanding its Discount UK brand, which sells products from 28p to £25, into a national chain by adding 15 stores to its existing 13, and another 40 shops next year.

Marshalls cash in on new products

Marshalls laid the foundations for a good year as new products helped drive a surge in sales and profits in the first six months. The landscape products company saw profits rise 50 per cent to £12m on revenues of £177m. The group said work on Olympic sites continued to grow, with the order book for the event now exceeding more than £8m.

'Instant’ Aga fires cooker sales

The firm behind the cast iron Aga cookers said a new “instant Aga” was poised to drive UK sales after a slow first half of the year. Aga Rangemaster said it had sold 300 Aga Total Control models since May. The new product heats up in 22 minutes, compared to about six hours in the original design.

Green light for Tognum deal

Rolls-Royce and Daimler have obtained the approval of regulatory authorities for the £3bn acquisition of Tognum, the German engine and drive system specialist. Rolls plans to combine Tognum with its own Bergen business, which makes engines used across the maritime and power generation sectors.

UK recovery still ‘flatlining’

The feeble pace of the recovery was confirmed yesterday in the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, which also showed that industrial output fell in the second quarter by more than feared. Growth between April and June was just 0.2 per cent, leaving the economy “flatlining” since last summer.

Tanker glut floors Frontline

Frontline, the world’s largest independent oil shipper, swung to a second-quarter loss and saw its stock fall to a nine-year low amid a global tanker glut it said could last through 2012. The Oslo-listed company said it lost $1m, down from a profit of $118m a year ago. Its shares have now shed 80 per cent this year.

London house prices buck trend

House prices fell across England and Wales over the past year, except in London where average prices rose 1.3 per cent to £346,416, according to the latest data from the Land Registry for July. But the figures showed that the number of house sales completed fell 10 per cent to 46,870 in the year to May.

Gulfsands srikes oil in Syria

Gulfsands Petroleum reported an oil discovery at one of its exploration wells in Syria yesterday, but said it had abandoned another well in the country after deciding it was not commercial. The Aim-listed explorer has recently come under fire over its links to President Bashar Assad’s family.