Today's letter from the Editor
Today's Matrices
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

The Business Matrix: Thursday 12 May 2011

FirstGroup moves ahead of schedule

FirstGroup is to give up its First Great Western rail franchise in 2013, three years ahead of schedule. The transport giant has an option to extend the franchise for three more years, but said it would rather bid for a longer-term contract under the new Greater Western franchise which will accompany investment in the region’s network. The move is expected to save the firm more than £800m in payments to the Government.

Comet to close up to 10 stores

Comet’s owner Kesa Electricals is to close up to 10 stores this year after suffering another slide in UK sales. The retailer, which has 248 outlets in the UK, will also shut one of its three warehouses and 12 of its 14 regional service centres, which are used as a base by its engineers who repair and service its products. The company said it expected to make 150 redundancies in the UK, including 40 recent job cuts at Comet’s head office.

Toyota’s earnings crash by 25% in Q1

Toyota’s quarterly profit fell by more than 75 per cent to ¥25.4bn (£189m) after the earthquake and tsunami in March wiped out parts suppliers in north-eastern Japan and severely disrupted car production. The maker of the popular Prius hybrid gave no forecast for this year, citing an uncertain outlook while production remained hampered by shortages of parts, and by the strong yen.

VW to sell electric cars in China

The German car-maker Volkswagen is to launch electric cars in China under a new Kaili brand together with FAW Group, joining other foreign players in the race to develop the fledgling sector in China. Last June, China unveiled a pilot scheme to give subsidies to buyers of fuel-efficient cars as it moves to cut emissions.

Barratt reports 4% rise in private sales

Barratt Developments, Britain’s largest housebuilder by volume, reported a return to normal sales between January and May. Private selling prices rose by 4 per cent as the company switched its focus from apartments to houses. Barratt, which announced a new £1bn debt facility until May 2015, said it expected a big increase in full-year profits, helped by higher margin sites and cost controls.

Bovis expects 15% increase in profits

Bovis Homes echoed its larger rival Barratt Developments yesterday, predicting a rise in profits after a pick-up in sales, although it also warned activity would remain limited by tight mortgage availability. Bovis said visitor numbers were up by 20 per cent and sales rates up marginally. It expects a 15 per cent rise in profits this year.

Pru customers shun equities

Prudential said more of its fund management customers were switching away from equity-based products because of their fear of a stock market correction. It said the proportion going into its M&G share-focused funds fell from 69 per cent at the end of 2010 to 46 per cent in the first quarter.

Wood warns on North Sea taxes

Shares in John Wood fell after the oil services group warned that North Sea tax rises could result in industry projects being delayed as field economics were reassessed. However, the group, which has promised to return at least $1.7bn (£1bn) to shareholders, said it should still meet City expectations.

Trade deficit falls in first quarter

Britain’s trade deficit fell to its lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2009 on a quarterly basis, suggesting net trade still made a decent contribution to first-quarter growth. Exports grew 4.2 per cent on the quarter, while imports slipped 0.6 per cent.

Mario Draghi set to head ECB

The Bank of Italy’s governor, Mario Draghi, is set to be the next president of the European Central Bank after winning the backing of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. No other candidate has been proposed to succeed Jean-Claude Trichet in November.

Latest stories from i100
Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game