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The Business Matrix: Thursday 3 April 2014

Prada suffers from Europe slowdown

Weak demand for Prada handbags and clothes in Europe helped the Italian fashion house miss analyst forecasts when it reported a less than 1 per cent rise in 2013 full-year profit. It revealed profit for the year to February of €627.8m, below analyst expectations of €650m. It also reported a slowdown in its fourth quarter.

Fastjet looks for more investment

Budget airline Fastjet has admitted it is still looking for more cash from its investors, including Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou. The company is hoping to be the first pan-African low-cost carrier and last year launched its first international flight, from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Johannesburg.

ASOS profits plummet 22%

The chief executive of young fashion website ASOS has defended his investment strategy after announcing a 22 per cent fall in half-year pre-tax profit. Nick Robertson had already warned profit would be below last year’s in a trading update last month, which prompted shares to then fall 22 per cent.

Aldermore sparks talk of flotation

Aldermore, one of the strongest of the new breed of banks, saw profits surge last year, prompting renewed speculation that it could float this autumn. Pre-tax profits jumped from £1.5m to £22.4m, while its balance sheet grew by 66 per cent to £4.2bn on its policy of lending to small and medium-sized businesses.

‘Work needed’ on money laundering

HSBC has made some progress in improving its anti-money laundering programme but there is “much work to be done” US authorities have said. Under the 2012 deferred prosecution agreement with the US Justice Department the bank is monitored by the former New York prosecutor Michael Cherkasky.

Antiques market recovers in US

London-based art and antiques dealer Mallett said despite the UK and European market “remaining stubbornly depressed” it noted a recovery in the US and success in emerging markets of China and Brazil as it reported a 16 per cent rise in turnover to £11.8m for 2013. It revealed a reported pre-tax profit of £0.5m.

Largest peer to peer loan agreed

The rise of peer-to-peer lending has been underlined as a firm co-founded by the descendant of the Duke of Wellington made a £8.3m loan secured on 27 properties. Wellesley & Co was founded by four former bankers including Graham Wellesley, also known as Viscount Dangan.

New Serco boss to start on 1 May

Incoming Serco boss Rupert Soames is to join the troubled outsourcing giant a month earlier than expected. Soames, who leads the temporary power provider Aggreko, will now start work on 1 May as opposed to 1 June. He faces the challenge of restoring Serco’s reputation.

Restaurant Group chooses new CEO

Garfunkel’s owner the Restaurant Group has chosen an internal candidate to replace its chief executive Andrew Page. Danny Breithaupt, currently managing director of the leisure division, will takeover from Page at the start of September.

Hamper orders up 10 per cent

Christmas hamper and gift voucher firm Park Group said early signs for this year’s festive season were “encouraging” after seeing an improvement in consumer confidence. The firm said its UK order book was 10 per cent higher year  on year.

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