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The Business Matrix: Tuesday 4 March 2014

Gemfields sales glitter up 198%

Jewellery brand Fabergé, owned by ethical emerald miner Gemfields, yesterday reported that January sales were ahead 198 per cent compared with the previous year. Gemfields, which is advertised by the Hollywood actress Mila Kunis (pictured), said that its half-year earnings were eight per cent weaker at $18 million (£11 million).

Jupiter boss sells £4.4m in shares

The outgoing chief executive of Jupiter Fund Management has sold £4.4 million worth of shares in the company as he prepares to stand down later this month. Edward Bonham Carter sold just over one million shares on Friday for £4.36 million but still retains a 2.62 per cent stake in the company, making him a top ten shareholder.

Floods bill will add up to £1.2bn

Ratings agency Fitch reckons the floods will cost insurers about £1.2 billion, which they should be able to take in their stride. But Fitch warned insurers will almost certainly use the floods as an excuse to raise premiums. It said: "Insurers are typically large, well-diversified players with the ability to offset losses."

Ombudsman sees swell in cases

The Financial Ombudsman took on a record 575,836 new cases in total in 2013 – an increase of 38 per cent on the previous year. Of the cases referred in the second half of the year payment protection insurance made up 76 per cent of the total. Five financial services groups accounted for nearly 68 per cent of new cases.

HMRC grants Bitcoin legitimacy

Bitcoin has taken a crucial step towards becoming a legitimate currency, as HMRC confirmed it would tax it as such. The tax authority yesterday published an official briefing on cryptocurrency, saying Bitcoin would be exempt from VAT on sale or exchange, effectively treating it as a foreign currency.

St Ives acquires Realise Holdings

Book printing and marketing firm St Ives has acquired digital agency Realise Holdings for £21.7 million. The business, which was set up in 1995 and employs 96 staff in Edinburgh and London, has a well-known client base, across a range of sectors, including entertainment and finance.

Johnson buys Bourne linen

Johnson Service Group has acquired Bourne Services, a hotel linen provider based in Lincolnshire, for £22 million. The textile service provider also reported yesterday that its dry cleaning arm helped group profits rise 25 per cent to £13.4 million last year.

Vertu sales speed past expectations

Car retailer Vertu Motors, which has 106 sales outlets in the UK, said its performance for the year to February will be ahead of current market expectations. In the five months to January, like-for-like new vehicle retail volumes grew by 21.5 per cent.

Intertek profits up after mixed year

Safety and quality control firm Intertek, which employs 36,000 people in 1,000 laboratories and offices worldwide, said profits rose 2.1 per cent to £314.9 million after a year in which growth in emerging markets was partially offset by a cyclical downturn.

Senior expects order book surge

Senior, a maker of aircraft parts and auto components, said yesterday it expects demand to increase in 2014 due to big customers. Adjusted pre-tax profit rose to £98.1 million last year from £91.1 million a year earlier. Revenue increased to £775 million.

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