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The Business Matrix: Thursday 6 September 2012

Hargreaves posts record figures

The financial advisory group Hargreaves Lansdown has posted record results, with annual revenues up 15 per cent at £239m and profits up more than a fifth at £153m. Its co-founder Peter Hargreaves, whose 34 per cent stake is set to net him a £34m dividend payout, said: "We have done incredibly well in the face of such malign markets."

Ashley jackpot as JJB flourishes

Sports Direct has shown its troubled arch-rival JJB Sports a clean pair of heels , posting a 25 per cent rise in sales in recent months to £519m, with profits up 20 per cent to £211m. This leaves its founder and owner Mike Ashley in line to pocket 8 million shares under his bonus deal, worth £256m at yesterday's share price.

Richemont luxury sales soar 12%

Chinese consumers have been flying to Europe to take advantage of the falling euro to buy Cartier watches, Mont Blanc pens and Chloe handbags, according to the Swiss luxury group Richemont, which has reported jewellery sales up 12 per cent and forecasts a 20 to 40 per cent jump in first-half profits.

Fennell in talks with EME Capital

Theo Fennell, the king-of-bling jeweller beloved by Victoria Beckham and Sir Elton John, is in talks to be taken over by a private-equity house. The company confirmed it is in "very preliminary talks" with the private-equity firm EME Capital, perhaps best-known as bankers to the night club firm Soho House.

Fees soar by 70% in four years

Mortgage fees have reached new high levels, according to analysts at Moneyfacts. Four years ago the average fee was £889. Since then it's climbed 70 per cent to £1,514. Sylvia Waycot of Moneyfacts said: "There is no logical reason why fees have increased so much. In August and September alone, they have increased by an average of £42."

UK rises in global competition table

The UK has climbed from 10th to eighth place in the World Economic Forum's annual league table of global competitiveness. The table is once again topped by Switzerland. The WEF said the UK benefited from an "efficient labour market" and was praised for having "sophisticated and innovative businesses".

Blessing wants pay linked to economy

Bankers' pay must be geared more towards pay in the real economy, Martin Blessing, the chief executive of Commerzbank, said yesterday. His salary has been limited to below £400,000 after the German bank needed a state bailout.

Direct Line to axe jobs and call centre

Direct Line Insurance plans to cut 891 jobs to make it more profitable as it heads towards a £3bn stock market listing. Britain's largest motor insurer, part of Royal Bank of Scotland, is looking to close its call centre in Teesside and cut costs at its head office in Bromley.

Casino and bingo games boost 32Red

The online gaming firm 32Red has posted a 50 per cent rise in half-yearly revenues to a record £16.5m, boosted by casino and bingo games. It said the buoyant performance has continued despite the "distraction" of the Olympics.

Prezzo profits are on the rise

Prezzo has posted a 14 per cent rise in half-yearly revenues to £68m as it opened 12 new restaurants. The group, which runs 194 Italian restaurants, reported a 4 per cent rise in underlying profits to £7.6m. Prezzo opened seven new restaurants in its first half last year.

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