The Business Matrix: Thursday 09 May 2013


Wetherspoon raises the bar

The outspoken pub boss Tim Martin yesterday showed that it is possible to keep sales rising, even in the face of a tax and regulatory burden that he regards as unfair. The chairman of JD Wetherspoon, the cheap and cheerful nationwide pub chain, saw sales rise by 6.3 per cent in the 13 weeks to 28 April.

Average house price rises 1.1%

House prices rose by 1.1 per cent in April, according to the Halifax, taking the average price of a house to £166,094. This is the highest level of the index since August 2010. However, prices are still 16.8 per cent below their peak in August 2007, when average prices were £199,612, the monthly survey revealed.

Sheilas' Wheels keep spinning

Esure, which listed on the London Stock Exchange in March, said the premiums generated by its eponymous insurance brand and Sheilas' Wheels grew 3.4 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter. Chief executive Stuart Vann insisted that the female-focused insurer Sheilas' Wheels is benefiting from new gender pricing rules.

EU plans tough new banking laws

Tough new laws forcing banks to make it easier for consumers to understand bank charges and switch accounts have been proposed by the European Commission. It wants all of the EU area to fall into line with progressive states such as the UK, by offering basic bank accounts, standardized charges and easy switching.

Coca-Cola to tackle obesity

Coca-Cola yesterday promised to put calorie counts on all of its packaging as the world's largest drinks company said it would do more to tackle obesity. In an attempt to fight criticism over its sugary drinks, the US giant also said it would emphasise its low-calorie products in emerging markets.

Nosy parkers boost Rightmove

The number of nosy parkers checking out other people's homes on the Rightmove site has risen 20 per cent since January, suggesting a jump in Britons' nosiness or green shoots in the housing market. The homes website is ranked as sixth most popular in the UK behind Google, Facebook, YouTube, eBay and Amazon.

Shopping centres feel the chill

Intu, the owner of Lakeside in Essex and Manchester's Trafford Centre, yesterday said fewer customers were coming to its shopping centres as the retail sector remains "difficult". The company said footfall was down 1 per cent in the first quarter against the same period last year.

Resolution looks to accelerate sales

Life insurer Resolution said yesterday it expects sales to accelerate at its core UK arm as more companies adopt the new auto enrolment into corporate pension schemes. A trading statement showed it booked lower sales but more profitable new business in the first three months of 2013.

Costain secures £100m in deals

The engineer Costain said that it had added £100m new deals this year so far, taking its order book to £2.5bn. The firm added that it was a preferred bidder on another £500m of projects, up from £400m in December.

Tower Bridge site for Workspace

Workspace, the property firm that acts as landlord to thousands of entrepreneurs in offices across London has secured planning permission for a new site near Tower Bridge. The redevelopment will provide 330,000 sq ft of business space.