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The Business Matrix: Tuesday 30 April 2013

Pub grub helps Greene King

Pub chain Greene King, whose brands include Hungry Horse and Loch Fyne, said it achieved underlying sales growth in every month of its financial year except March. The retail estate’s like-for-like sales were up by 2.2 per cent in the 51 weeks to Sunday, helped by a “particularly strong” Easter after it sold 700,000 meals over four days.

Aberdeen grows on risk assets

Aberdeen Asset Management yesterday reported a strong first half of the year resulting from the fact that investors’ appetite for riskier assets had started returning. The fund management firm said that underlying profits climbed 37 per cent to £222.8m in the first six months, while assets under management were up 13 per cent to £212.3bn.

ARK charity dinner shelved

A lavish gala dinner that was a highlight of the London hedge fund industry’s social calendar and counted royalty among its guests has been quietly shelved. The ARK Gala Dinner, which started in 2002, cost as much as £10,000 a ticket, with entertainment over the years ranging from Elton John to a giant  mechanical elephant.

AXA faces strike over pension plan

Unite has expressed anger over AXA’s plans to close its defined benefit pension scheme and transfer 2,300 staff to an inferior defined contribution scheme. AXA has told staff that it will embark on a 60-day consultation period over its plans. Unite has vowed to challenge the company’s plans and has not ruled out an industrial action ballot.

Aviva claims payouts climb

Aviva reported yesterday that its protection customers and their families received more than £475m through claims on life insurance, critical illness cover and individual income protection policies in 2012. Almost 14,000 of its customers and their families benefited from payments last year.

Third woman on Dunelm board

Homewares retailer Dunelm has added another woman to its board by hiring Liz Doherty, former finance director of Reckitt Benckiser and Tesco executive. Dunelm said last February it struggled to find a suitable female candidate when it hired a male as a non-executive. But with Doherty, it will have three.

Fitness closures helps debt woes

Fitness First, which has 91 of its 342 gyms in the UK, said last year’s financial restructuring, including the closure of 62 unprofitable clubs, had left it debt-free and in a position to invest in refurbishments over the next three years. Underlying earnings were broadly flat at £106m.

BT signs new  10-year 4G deal

BT has signed a new ten-year deal with Telefonica UK to support the introduction of 4G services for millions of O2 mobile customers. BT will build a new high capacity transmission network to help O2 stay ahead of the continued explosion in mobile data traffic.

Greggs struggles as weather hits

Bakery Greggs has warned of lower-than-expected profits this year after reporting falling sales. The chain said like-for-like sales were down 4.4 per cent so far this year. It blamed the fall on bad weather and “under pressure” consumers.

Search for banks to handle Royal Mail

The Government is to start tendering in the next few days for a syndicate of banks to advise on a possible flotation of the Royal Mail. The Business minister, Michael Fallon, announced the move and said an IPO was the preferred option for a sell-off.

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