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The Business Matrix: Thursday 24 May 2012

Fraser's struggle dampens sale talk

House of Fraser has blamed warm weather, the consumer downturn and costs associated with opening a new distribution centre for a sharp fall in profits last year. The weak performance at the department stores chain is likely to dampen speculation its Icelandic shareholders, the failed banks of Landsbanki and Glitnir, may soon seek an exit.

007's mission to save Pinewood

Pinewood Shepperton tumbled to a loss after a year that saw the film studios taken over, but it still has James Bond for company. The next Bond film, Skyfall, in the last stage of production at Pinewood, is due to be launched in October and is already winning rave reviews for its trailer. Pinewood has hosted 21 of the 23 Bond films.

Catalogue debt on rise, says charity

More people are showing signs of struggling with catalogue debts than they are with payday loans, mortgages or rents, the Money Advice Trust warned yesterday. Its National Debtline received more than 25,000 calls from people with debts to catalogue companies last year, the highest level in the past 25 years.

366 jobs cut in Clinton's closures

Some 366 people will lose their jobs in the next few days in the first wave of store closures at collapsed retailer Clinton Cards, administrators said yesterday. The group, the UK's biggest specialist cards retailer, collapsed into administration this month after failing to find a buyer.

FirstGroup moves off the buses

FirstGroup has put more of its bus services on the block after saying fuel costs, lower demand and reduced subsidies were hurting the division. It warned conditions for urban services in Scotland and the North of England were particularly harsh.

Serco in talks over nuclear business

Serco, the company that operates the Boris Bike cycle hire scheme in London, is talking to the engineer Amec about selling off its nuclear consultation business. The FTSE 100 firm's Technical Consulting Services business works on the UK's civil and defence nuclear markets and brings in annual revenues of £70m.

Blomseth resigns from Dixons

Dixons Retail, the owner of Currys and PC World, confirmed the managing director of its Nordics region is leaving. Ronny Blomseth has resigned after working for 23 years at Dixon's Scandanavian operation, Elkjop, to pursue other opportunities. The group's Northern Europe division delivered sales growth of 10 per cent for the 16 weeks to April 28.

Rolls-Royce wins boat contract

Rolls-Royce has secured a contract to supply water jet technology for four new wind farm support vessels to be built by South Boats for offshore company MPI. The 19-metre long catamarans will be used to transfer people and cargo to the growing number of offshore wind farms around the coast of Europe.

Ocado records sales increase

Sales at Ocado were up about 12 per cent in the latest quarter on a year ago, despite more aggressive competition from Britain's biggest supermarkets. Panmure Gordon's Philip Dorgan said the online grocer had beaten City expectations but warned it was still losing market share.

Drop in disposable incomes

Families' disposable incomes are at their lowest since 2008, although the decline in their spending power is slowing. UK households had £144 a week of discretionary income in April on average, according to the Asda Income Tracker.

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