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The Business Matrix: Tuesday 15 October 2013

Christmas to be a cracker for shops 

Retailers can expect a very merry Christmas according to research outfit Verdict which predicts spending will rise to levels not seen since before the recession. Consumers will increase the amount they spend to £88bn – up by £2bn on last year. A baby boom in the austerity years will add extra demand for kids’ presents, Verdict said.

Argos touches on tablet market

Argos has launched its first own-brand tablet, the MyTablet at £99 in the hope of competing with rival Tesco which released its own tablet, the Hudl, earlier this month at £119.99. The retailer said that 75 per cent of the population still do not have a tablet and believe its 7-inch device will be a best seller  this Christmas.

Helical on track with rail base buy

Network Rail’s Art Deco headquarters in Paddington, Enterprise House, has been snapped up for £31m by developer Helical Bar. The rail network  operator– which pays £1.8m in rent – is leasing the building back from Helical Bar for 20 years. The deal takes Helical’s spending on properties to £155m since June.

Production rise points to recovery

Eurozone industrial production rose 1 per cent month-on-month in August, countering the 1 per cent fall in July and adding to hopes that the 17-nation economic area is in recovery mode. On an annual basis industrial production was still down 2.4 per cent on a year earlier. Economists believe Q3 GDP will beat Q2’s 0.3 per cent rise.

McBride revenues fail to sparkle

Household goods maker  McBride saw its revenues slide 3 per cent in the three months to mid-October after scaling back its contract cleaning operations. The company, which makes dishwasher tablets, washing up liquid and cleaning products for supermarkets, said trading in the UK was “challenging”.

Balfour Beatty on road to US success

Balfour Beatty said its US infrastructure business has been awarded a £77m contract to construct around 1.5 miles of a four-lane bypass road in North Carolina, including a bridge over Cape Fear River. The four-and-a-half year project will start later this month and had been in the pipeline for nearly 20 years.

Drugsmaker is to create 500 jobs

Swiss drugmaker Roche is to invest $880m in its manufacturing arm over the next five years, creating 500 jobs, as it prepares for growing demand for its biologic medicines. The world’s largest maker of cancer drugs will increase production in Germany, Switzerland and the US.

Alrosa dulls down own valuation

Russian state-owned diamond miner Alrosa, which started a road-show for a share sale yesterday, is valuing itself at up to $8.8bn – well below a previous forecast of up to $15bn. The company is the world’s top diamond producer by output  in carats.

Ethical issues lead to investment ban

Norway’s government has barred its $790bn oil fund from investing in five companies due to ethical and environmental issues. The government asked the fund to include oil spills and environmental conditions in the Niger Delta as a consideration.

Lastminute.com marks 15 years

Lastminute.com, the ticketing and events website was celebrating its 15th birthday today. The founders Brent Hoberman and Martha Lane Fox became millionaires from a successful floation in 2000 and subequent private sale in 2005 for £577m.

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