The Business Matrix: Thursday 12 June 2014


Strong euro eats into Inditex profit

The strong euro has helped to slice more than 7 per cent off profits at the fashion group behind the Zara label. The Spanish clothing giant Inditex reported a 7.3 per cent fall in net profit to €406m (£327m) for the first quarter, better than forecasts , as sales climbed by 4 per cent to €3.7bn compared with a year ago.

Cost-cutting puts Flybe in the black

Flybe has posted its first  annual profit after four years in the red. Severe cost-cutting helped the budget airline report an annual pre-tax profit of £8.1m – up from a £41.1m loss the previous year. The group is adding new routes including more options out of Birmingham and a return to London City airport in October.

Formal complaint for Baker Tilly

Three and a half years after it launched an inquiry into the auditing of electric vehicles firm Tanfield, the Financial Reporting Council has issued a formal complaint again Baker Tilly and two of its partners, over its “audit of significant balance sheet items in the 2007 financial statements”. In 2008 Tanfield posted losses of £88m.

Diageo secures its brands’ heritage

The drinks giant Diageo has opened the doors to a new £1.5m museum for more than half a million items of drinks heritage from brands such as Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff. The collection, in the village of Menstrie, near Alloa, is curated by a team of professional archivists and includes items dating back over four centuries.

Betfair talks up World Cup hopes

Betfair has predicted that  “literally billions” will be staked on the World Cup on the betting exchange, which allows punters to bet against each other while it takes a commission. The  group, which made £10m on the last World Cup, also said its underlying annual profits rose by 24 per cent to £91m.

Crossrail adviser Hyder takes hit

Annual profits at Hyder Consulting, the engineer advising on the £16bn London Crossrail project, slumped to £5.4m, down from nearly £17m a year ago. Revenues at the company, which warned earlier this year about a hit from delayed projects in Australia, fell by £1.3m to £297m.

Cost savings help at flat WH Smith

WH Smith has said it  continues to trade in line with expectations, with total sales in the first 14 weeks of the second half flat on a year earlier.  Like-for-like sales were down  2 per cent, although cost  savings have been delivered  in line with plan.

Rivals blamed for Lufthansa drop

Lufthansa drastically cut  back its profit targets for the next two years, citing competition from Middle East and  low-cost rivals. Its shares fell  14 per cent after Europe’s biggest-selling airline lowered its earnings forecast to €1bn (£800m) from €1.3bn-€1.5bn.

Essar’s Stanlow refinery for sale

Essar is planning to sell the Stanlow refinery in Ellesmere Port, according to Reuters  last night. The Indian industrial and energy group, which is delisting from the London Stock Exchange, paid Shell $350m for the refinery in 2011.

McCarthy gets more approvals

The retirement housing builder McCarthy & Stone has received 31 planning consents in the past five months, delivering 1,102 units with a forward sales value of £250m. The latest consents include sites in Chichester, Kidlington and Drayton.