The Business Matrix: Thursday 29 September 2011

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Sun European in bid to buy Alexon

Sun European Partners is set to acquire the troubled Alexon fashion group as early as today. The private equity firm is expected to buy the owner of Ann Harvey and Dash under an arrangement known as a pre-pack administration, which will see KPMG appointed as administrators ahead of the sale.

Retailer Hub calls in the liquidators

Hub, a retail chain launched a year ago by Dave Dodd, co-founder of the Poundland discounts stores, is calling in liquidators. “We have not accepted failure without a fight... but we have been unable to create a viable and sustainable business in the current climate” Mr Dodd said. There will be 57 jobs lost.

Low rises set to limit inflation

Almost a third of firms plan to give workers a higher pay rise next year, but with the economic outlook remaining uncertain, there will be a “tough” climate on wages, according to a report today. A survey by pay analysts IDS found over half of employers intended to make the same level of pay award in 2012 as this year.

Minimum wage rise for 900,000

Almost 900,000 workers, mainly women, will get a pay rise when the minimum wage breaks through the £6-an-hour barrier for the first time this weekend, union leaders said today. The adult rate jumps by 15p to £6.08 from Saturday, by 6p to £4.98 for 18 to 20-year-olds, and up by 4p to £3.68 for 16 and 17-year-olds.

Future expects decline in revenue

The magazine publisher Future expects revenues for the 12 months to 30 September to fall by 6 per cent on its previous year. A wider range of strategic options are now being considered for the US operation over and above the original plan to turn it into a digital business. The company is also cutting its debt to less than £14.5 million.

NBNK in bid for Lloyds branches

NBNK Investments, the investment vehicle planning to establish a new high street bank, tabled a £1.5bn offer yesterday for the branches that Lloyds Banking Group has put up for sale. Lloyds was forced to put the 632 branches on the market by the European Commission after its takeover of HBOS during the financial crisis.

IoD chief attacks red tape costs

The departing head of the Institute of Directors attacked the Government yesterday for the “burdens” it was imposing on industry, saying hardly anyone believed regulations were being reduced. Miles Templeman said the new rules on agency workers would add up to £2bn to firm’s costs, while next year’s pension rules would add £3bn.

Broadband firms get new guidance

Broadband companies will be able to advertise that they offer internet speeds of “up to” a certain level only if at least 10 per cent of users actually receive that level of speed. The new guidance for the broadband industry, to be issued today by the Committee of Advertising Practice, follows a crackdown on misleading advertising claims.

‘Sheen sightings’ near rig disaster

Coastguards are investigating oil “sheen sightings” on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, which they believe could be from the sunken Deepwater Horizon oil platform. The US Coast Guard said it suspected the oil might be coming from the debris of the rig itself, not from any leak in the plugged Macondo well.

Home Retail to keep Argos stores

Home Retail, the owner of Argos and Homebase, has vowed not to cut the catalogue specialist’s 754 UK stores and to stick to its strategy, despite tumbling sales at the chain. The pledge came after Home Retail reported that Argos’s underlying sales had tumbled by 9 per cent in the first half of its financial year.