The Business Matrix: Saturday 9 July 2011

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The Independent Online

TV show boosts money website

The price comparison site hailed its sponsorship of ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent as it reported a surge in second-quarter sales. Revenues in the six months to the end of June rose by 23 per cent to £88m with underlying profits up by 26 per cent at £23m. The firm said it had raised its spending on marketing by 50 per cent.

Morrisons tries to tap local demand

Morrisons opened its first M-local convenience store, in Ilkley, Yorkshire, yesterday in its attempt to tap demand for local shopping. The supermarket chain’s rivals, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, have increased convenience outlets in recent years as rising petrol prices mean shoppers are driving less often to out-of-town supermarkets.

Bovis reports steady home sales

Bovis sold 801 homes in the first half of 2011, compared to 803 in the comparable period in 2010. Its average sale prices, however, rose, by 3 per cent year on year, and Bovis said it was confident of hitting full-year targets if “stable” market conditions continue. Rivals such as Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey have reported an increase in recent reservations.

Smiths shrugs off NOTW closure

Smiths News, the largest newspaper distributor in the UK, predicted that the closure of the News of the World would not hit its business and said it was confident of meeting market expectations on profits when it reports results for its financial year, which ends next month. Smith expects customers switching to other papers will soften the blow.

Aga cools, but exports hit a high

Revenues at cooker maker Aga Rangemaster fell in the six months to June as sales were quiet in the UK, though exports to the Continent hit record levels. Good operating profits progress was made even though housing-related consumer expenditure remained subdued, it added.

Slowdown takes the gloss off SIG

The roofing and insulation materials supplier SIG has warned of a slowdown over the rest of the year that took the gloss off a strong first half. SIG said it still expects to make progress this year, but growth will moderate in the second half as consumer spending in areas such as home improvements slows.

UK factory gate inflation surges

The cost of goods leaving factories rose at an annual rate of 5.7 per cent last month, the fastest for more than two years. Input prices, the cost of raw materials, also continued to rise rapidly, with inflation at an annual rate of 17 per cent. The data suggests consumer price inflation could continue to rise in months ahead.

British Gas hikes home bills by 24%

Millions of households will see their utility bills break the £100-a-month barrier after British Gas announced price hikes of up to 24 per cent. Some 9 million customers will be hit when the supplier raises its gas and electricity prices an average of 18 per cent and 16 per cent respectively from 18 August. MORE

Construction set to hit Q2 growth

Experts warned yesterday the construction sector performed so badly in May, that the second quarter of the year may have seen negative growth from the economy as a whole. The ONS said UK construction was just 0.4 per cent up in May, some way off forecasts This follows a 12.4 per cent slump in April.

SSE abandons doorstep sales

Up to 900 jobs will be axed at Scottish and Southern Energy after the firm announced today it was immediately suspending all its doorsteps sales. The decision to abandon old-fashioned door-to-door selling follows a breakdown in confidence in the practice among consumers, the energy giant said.