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The Business Matrix: Thursday 26 September 2013

Baby boom helps Cussons profits

PZ Cussons, the group behind St Tropez tanners and Imperial Leather soap, has seen a boost in business thanks to its growing baby and mother ranges. The group, which recently signed Kate Moss as a "brand ambassador", said ahead of its annual shareholders' meeting yesterday that trading since the start of June in the UK has been robust.

Winkworth sees house sales soar

Winkworth said property sales had roared past their pre-credit crunch peak to all-time highs in July and August and predicted a double-digit rise in housing transactions this year. The estate agent, which has 60 of its 95 branches in London, expects a 12 per cent rise in transactions across the country in 2013.

Alibaba open to US stock listing

The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba will pursue a flotation in the United States after talks with Hong Kong regulators broke down, a move bound to set off a dogfight between the two main US stock boards for the offering. The loss of the sale, which bankers have estimated to be worth more than $15bn, is a blow to the Hong Kong bourse.

Amazon installs 'mayday' button

Amazon's latest tablets will let users call up round-the-clock tech support via video at the press of a button. The Kindle Fire HDX's "mayday" feature will connect with one of the online retailer's staff to explain how to solve the problem, at no additional cost. Analysts said the facility would help Amazon's tablet stand out from its rivals.

Online shoppers lift UK Mail results

A 25 per cent rise in volumes at its parcel business helped UK Mail results beat City expectations in the first half as Britons continued to shop online. The results are set to be welcomed by rival Royal Mail and its advisers as the postal service prepares for its £3bn flotation in coming weeks.

Topps Tiles sales reflect confidence

Topps Tiles is on course for a modest rise in annual profits as the flooring specialist benefits from recent signs of a pick-up in consumer confidence. It said like-for-like sales in its final quarter were flat despite the impact of warm weather. Annual profits will be about £13m, compared with £12.8m a year earlier.

Super-fast Kindle challenges Apple

Amazon has unveiled its superfast new Kindle as it continues its aggressive play in the tablet market. The Kindle Fire HDX has higher screen resolution than Apple's latest iPad and features a new "Mayday Button", which brings up a video chat with its tech-support.

Shepherd Neame selling more pints

The Spitfire and Bishops Finger brewer Shepherd Neame said rising consumer confidence helped pub sales rise 10.2 per cent in recent months. The brewer and pub chain said its annual sales grew 1.4 per cent to £135m but profits fell 22 per cent to £7.1m on restructuring costs.

Bounce in German confidence

German consumer confidence rose to its highest level in six years, according to the GfK market research group, supporting expectations that strong consumer spending will help Europe's largest economy post moderate growth in 2013.

House of Fraser sees online surge

The department store chain House of Fraser said a 57 per cent surge in online sales helped sales grow 3.3 per cent in its first half. The 60-store chain, which is reportedly considering a return to the stock market, said earnings were steady at £7.5m.

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