The Business Matrix: Thursday 8 January 2015


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The Independent Online

US label bans office romances

The US fashion brand American Apparel has barred managers from relationships with “subordinates” after firing its founder, Dov Charney, for alleged misconduct. “No management-level employee may make sexual advances, welcome or unwelcome, toward any subordinate,” the retailer’s new its code of ethics states.

Partnership mulls dipping into debts

The troubled pensions provider Partnership Assurance is considering dipping into the debt markets after a torrid 2014 wiped about £650m off its value. The Redhill-based company, which was hit by annuity reforms in the Budget, said it had appointed bankers to work out whether it should raise money through a bond issue.

Worker sacked for ‘joke’ cyclist tweet

The stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown has sacked an employee who tweeted: “Think I just hit a cyclist. But Im [sic] late for work so had to drive off lol”. The Bristol-based firm said the comment was “unacceptable”. The former employee insisted that he had not hit a cyclist, adding that it was a “bad joke on my part”.

UBM bosses take medical leave

Media group UBM has revealed that its chairman, Dame Helen Alexander, and chief executive, Tim Cobbold, are on medical leave. Dame Helen has had an operation and Mr Cobbold, who joined last May, is about to go under the knife. Both should return by March. The chief financial officer Robert Gray will stand in for Mr Cobbold.

Persimmon builds 17% sales increase

Stamp duty reforms will “keep some momentum” going in the housing market in the lead-up to May’s election, according to the housebuilder Persimmon. Shares in the UK’s most valuable builder rose by 13p to 1,541p as it reported a 17 per cent rise in completions, to 13,509 new homes last year.

Shoppers embrace ‘click and collect’

More than one in three British shoppers had problems with ordering good online over Christmas. A survey by YouGov and the logistics firm JDA found that 39 per cent of online shoppers used “click and collect”, with one in four only picking online retailers if they offered the service.

Topps Tiles’ sales cement its growth

Topps Tiles saw like-for-like sales growth of 6 per cent in the first quarter. Boss Matthew Williams said the performance was particularly pleasing as it built on strong sales a year earlier and moved the brand closer to its aim of a one third share of the UK tile market.

Costain orders hit a record £3.5bn

Costain, the engineering and construction group, said its order book hit a record £3.5bn last year, up from £3bn in 2013. Large-scale contracts included the delivery of Network Rail’s electrification programme and Southern Water’s five-year investment scheme.

Marshalls’ future is paved with gold

The Huddersfield-based paving supplier Marshalls, which helped to build the London Olympic Park, said it achieved growth in all of its markets after sales rose by 19 per cent in the final half of last year. Sales to domestic customers were up 9 per cent.

Wednesdays are no longer Orange

EE is scrapping its “Orange Wednesdays” cinema deal next month after more than 10 years. The offer allows Orange and EE phone users to buy two cinema tickets for the price of one on Wednesdays. The company said viewing habits had “evolved”.