The Business Matrix: Tuesday 15 January 2013


Heathrow figures reach a new high

The number of passengers passing through Heathrow hit a new high of 5.6 million in December as demand for flights to and from Europe, the Middle East and east Asia soared. The number of people using the UK's busiest airport rose to nearly 70 million in 2012. The 2 per cent growth in December echoed the global economy.

Greene King prays for good weather

Greene King said it had a great Christmas but its boss, Rooney Anand, admitted that, for success to continue, the group needed decent weather in a "clean" summer. With no Olympics, Jubilee or major football tournament, pubs could be empty, especially if it rains. "People still go out if it is cold," he said. "If it's wet, they don't.

Sackings reach a five-year high

Dismissals and suspensions from financial companies hit a five-year high in 2012, the Financial Services Authority said. Some 1,373 workers were sacked for disciplinary reasons, up 76 per cent from 2011. Total job losses in the sector – including redundancies, resignations and retirements – also reached a five-year high, of 177,697.

Select enjoys a good Christmas

The young fashion chain Select said trading over Christmas had been impressive and vowed to open up to 40 new branches this year. Cafer Mahiroglu, the chief executive, said Select's 135 shops had "emerged as an ongoing success story in the battered high street". Like-for-like sales jumped by 13 per cent in the last four weeks of 2012, he added.

Sainsbury's chief joins Hammerson

David Tyler, the chairman of Sainsbury's, is moving into property and will succeed John Nelson at the helm of Hammerson in May. Mr Nelson, who has been at the property group for nine years, also chairs the Lloyd's of London market and has previously held board roles at Kngfisher, BT, and the Woolwich.

Baidu of China signs Africa deal

Baidu, the biggest internet search provider in China, has signed a deal with France's Orange Telecom to appear on the home screen of the mobile phone operator's handsets across Africa. It is believed to be the biggest foray into mobile by a Chinese web company outside its home country.

Barr tie-up with Britvic on hold

AG Barr's £1.5bn tie-up with Britvic has been put on hold after regulators demanded more time to scrutinise the deal. The Office of Fair Trading said it had not yet completed its review of the merger, so it would not be completed by the end of the month as expected.

EDF's nuclear output increases

EDF Energy said its eight UK nuclear power stations hit their highest output for seven years in 2012. The 60 terawatt hours of electricity was nearly 50 per cent higher than the last year before the stations were bought by EDF in 2009, and is enough to power half of the UK's homes.

Promising start for Big Yellow

The self-storage company Big Yellow said the new year started positively with a return to more normal trading and an encouraging book of reservations. That followed on from the seasonally quieter December quarter and a strong summer.

Eckoh extends Ideal contract

The speech recognition software specialist Eckoh extended its contract with home shopping group Ideal Shopping Direct for product ordering and customer service. Ideal is one of Eckoh's largest clients generating over 15 million minutes of call traffic.