The Business Matrix: Thursday 7 July 2011

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The Independent Online

Inquiry starts into Heathrow charges

The Civil Aviation Authority is to investigate whether rises in passenger charges at Heathrow had unfairly impacted on some airlines, after bmi complained. The airport raised charges for domestic passengers in April from £13 to more than £20 per person, in line with European routes, even though there is no need for immigration or customs.

Homeform folds with 550 job losses

More than 550 staff have been made redundant after Homeform, the owner of Moben kitchens and Dolphin Bathrooms, went into administration. But Sun Capital, Homeform’s former private-equity owner, bought back profitable parts of the group, including Sharps Bedrooms. Customers of Moben and Dolphin stand to lose £1.5m.

Costa opens 100th store in China

Costa Coffee has opened its 100th store in China four years after the Whitbread-owned chain entered the Chinese market. The latest outlet is in Beijing International Airport and the UK firm claims it is now one of the fastest-growing Western brands in China. Whitbread is looking to expand its Costa chain to 3,500 stores by 2016.

Moulton buys Spicers’ UK unit

Jon Moulton is buying the UK and Irish operations of the European office products giant Spicers. The whole Spicers business is being sold off by the paper and packaging firm DS Smith in a £200m deal to Spain’s Unipapel, which is selling on the non-continental parts to the venture capitalist’s Better Capital for £40m.

Virgin deal brings Spotify onto TVs

Virgin Media has unveiled a deal with the music-streaming website Spotify that will allow its customers to listen to music via their phone, computer or television. The deal is the first time Spotify will be available on television sets in the UK through a special application on Virgin’s TiVo service.

Bookerposts 10% rise in sales

Booker, the cash-and-carry wholesaler that supplies thousands of convenience stores as well as prisons, caterers and even M&S, has defied the retail sector’s gloom to report a near 10 per cent rise in sales in the past three months, boosted by record-breaking weather and extra bank holidays.

Terfel invests in classical agency

The Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel is investing in Harlequin, the Cardiff-based classical music agency, alongside the AIM-listed media group Boomerang. Harlequin, whose clients include Gwyn Hughes Jones and Shan Cothi as well as Bryn Terfel, was established in 1986 to nurture young talent in Wales.

EU plans to open up mobile market

Retailers such as Tesco may soon find it easier to compete with dedicated mobile operators under new EU plans to open up Europe’s mobile market. As well as caps on roaming fees between operators, Brussels also wants to make it easier for consumers to buy roaming deals from rival operators when travelling.

Pearce to head Inmarsat

The satellite communications firm Inmarsat has named Rupert Pearce, president of Inmarsat Enterprises, to succeed Andrew Sukawaty as chief executive from the start of next year. Mr Sukawaty, who is currently chairman and chief executive, will become executive chairman.

Ofcom maps out UK connections

A map showing stark differences in the take-up of fixed-line broadband services across the UK has been published online by the telecoms watchdog Ofcom. The interactive map shows 68 per cent of UK homes and businesses have a fixed broadband connection, with the average maximum speed of 7.5 Mbit/s.