The Business Matrix: Saturday 31 May 2014


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The Independent Online

PM backs lifting Japan casino ban

Shinzo Abe, the Japanese premier, yesterday came out in favour of his country legalising casinos. Mr Abe toured Singapore’s two biggest casinos – the Marina Bay Sands and the Resorts World Sentosa. Moves towards liberalisation have been building with operators eyeing a potential £30bn market in the world’s third biggest economy.

JD Sports boss Bown quits top job

JD Sports Fashion’s chief  executive Barry Bown stepped down from the board yesterday after 30 years with the high street retailer. He will not  be immediately replaced and will continue to work as a consultant at JD Sports Fashion, which has long been led by the group’s executive chairman Peter Cowgill.

Watchdog fines SSE £750,000

SSE has been fined £750,000  by Ofgem for failing to connect 200 customers in time. The watchdog imposed the penalty after finding the energy firm failed to meet three-month connection deadlines for about 200 customers between 2010 and 2013. The money will go to the Scottish Hydro Electric  Community Trust.

Four-year high for house-price rises

House prices jumped by  6.7 per cent in the 12 months to April in the fastest pace of growth seen for four years, according to the Land Registry. All regions have seen prices jump over the last year, from a 17 per cent rise in London – which took average prices to £435,034 – to a 2.9 per cent in the North-east, to £99,001.

Fenner profits are not such a belter 

The conveyor-belt maker Fenner has warned it could miss City expectations for full-year profits due to the weak US coal industry, as well as its failure to seal an Australian iron ore deal. The company said profits would be 10 to 15 per cent lower than expectations of £77.6m, sending its shares down 10 per cent.

India grows by just 4.7 per cent 

India’s economy grew by 4.7 per cent in 2013/14, its the second straight year of sub-5 per cent growth and the worst slowdown in more than a quarter of a  century. Economists are hopeful, however, that the recent election of the pro-business Narendra Modi will help the economy turnaround.

Unexpected fall in German retail

Growth fears in Europe’s largest economy were raised after  Germany announced an unexpected 0.9 per cent fall in retail sales in April. In Spain deflation fears are growing after data showed inflation in May of just 0.2 per cent, down from 0.4 per cent in April.

L&G sells Amber Taverns for £80m

Legal & General has sold Amber Taverns – a chain of 95 pubs in the North of England, the Midlands and Wales – to private equity firm MxP Partners for approximately £80m. Amber Taverns, which turns around failing freehold pubs, plans to expand to 100 outlets.

Shortfall of up to £5m at Hargreaves

Energy firm Hargreaves Services said its production division, which delivers coke and coal, will suffer a shortfall of between £3m and £5m for the year to 31 May. The firm blames price pressures and delays due to wet weather at the start of the year.

Record profit for outdoors retailer

Mountain Warehouse has posted record annual profits after Britain’s inclement weather helped it sell more than one million waterproof jackets. Profits rose 44 per cent to £8.2m, on sales up 20 per cent to £91.7m, as it opened 23 stores.