The Business Matrix: Tuesday 21 January 2014


Saxo moves into F1 sponsorship

Denmark’s Saxo Bank will be one of the Lotus Formula One team’s sponsors this season, moving into motor racing after being involved in cycling since 2008. Although limited in scope, the one-year deal is a boost for the Lotus team, which had financial problems last season, despite finishing fourth in the constructors’ standings.

Electra kicks off with shoes deal

The private equity firm Electra has bought the footwear company Hotter Shoes in a deal thought to be worth £200m. Hotter Shoes, founded in 1959 as Beaconsfield Footwear, is Electra’s first acquisition of the year. The buyout firm spent a record amount on deals during 2013 and cashed in a record amount from its investments.

Luxury tastes put HR Owen ahead

HR Owen enjoyed a bumper end to last year as customers bought Bentleys and Rolls-Royces. The luxury car dealership, 71 per cent owned by Cardiff City’s owner Vincent Tan, said annual results should beat expectations after a “robust” second half. It is set to remain listed in London despite last year’s takeover.

Christmas cheer for Conviviality

Conviviality, the owner of Bargain Booze, enjoyed a stellar Christmas, with underlying sales up 2.8 per cent in the two weeks ending 5 January. But the group slipped to a £1.1m pre-tax loss in the six months ending 27 October after £3.3m of one-off costs. It listed on London’s Aim and bought Wine Rack last summer.

Superdrug sees big online gains

Superdrug, which has 850 stores in the UK and Ireland, said underlying sales were  1.5 per cent higher for the nine weeks to 28 December, with online revenues up 58 per cent. Part of the Hong Kong-based AS Watson business, the retailer sold 1.7 million bottles of fragrances over the period.

Shell’s Brown on extended leave

Andy Brown, Shell’s head of upstream activities, is to take extended medical leave as he recuperates from a recent medical procedure. Shell, which issued a profits warning last week, also said yesterday that it had raised $1.1bn (£609m) by selling two stakes in an Australian gas project.

Labour urges action over pubs

The Government will come under pressure from Labour today to speed up moves aimed at protecting pub landlords to make sure they are not exploited by large companies. Ministers are still considering responses to their plans to bring in a statutory code.

Metro eyes flotation in 2016

Metro Bank said it is on track to make a profit next year and could float in 2016. The bank, which became the first new high street lender in the UK for more than a century when it launched in 2010, also raised £388m to fund its expansion plans from investors over the weekend.

HSBC to sell off Jordan arm

HSBC is to sell its banking  business in Jordan to Arab Jordan Investment Bank.  The sale, which comprises  four branches with assets of around $1.2bn (£730m), is expected to complete in the first half of this year.

Platinum miners to stage strike 

Miners are to strike at the South African platinum miner Lonmin over demands for higher wages on Thursday. Miners have also voted for stoppages at Impala Platinum and Anglo-American Platinum (Amplats) on the same day.