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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 03 July 2013


Lavazza cuts back UK expansion

Coffee-maker Lavazza has dramatically scaled back its expansion plans in the UK amid problems with its business partner. Italy's biggest coffee company planned to open up to 400 Lavazza Espression coffee shops in the UK across the next decade but the total has now been revised to just 50 stores in five years.

Revenues slip at Topps Tiles

Sales slip 1.5 per cent and the chief executive rates the performance "encouraging" – that's how it is at flooring specialist Topps Tiles. That fall in sales in the 13 weeks to July contrasts a 2.1 per cent rise over the same period of 2012. But boss Matthew Williams said: "The last five weeks has been more encouraging. Sales are returning to... growth."

John Lewis loses Ruis to Jigsaw

Peter Ruis, the man who moved John Lewis's clothing away from Are You Being Served? to become a draw for fashionistas, yesterday quit as buying and brand director of the partnership. Ruis is to take on the top job at Jigsaw as chief executive after nine years at John Lewis and an earlier spell at Marks & Spencer.

Premier Inn to launch Hub hotels

No-frills hotel group Premier Inn is to launch a compact "city centre" spin-off chain, with bedrooms that have an area of just 11.4 square metres each. Premier Inn, which features Lenny Henry in its television ads, says its Hub hotels will be aimed at "customers who value price, location and design over space".

Models boost sales at N Brown

Novak Djokovic's girlfriend Jelena Ristic modelling a swimming costume and Freddie Flintoff posing in a hoodie helped sales at N Brown, the mostly online and catalogue retailer, surge 8 per cent over the last 17 weeks. The group has seen sales accelerate since March, when revenues were up 6 per cent on the previous year.

Restaurateur and developer clash

The restaurateur behind the Paramount bar at the top of London's Centre Point has clashed with Mike Hussey, the developer planning to turn it into luxury flats. Pierre Condou said an offer for his lease was "derisory". Hussey's Almacantar is planning to turn the Grade II-listed building into 82 luxury flats.

Greece urged to deliver reforms

The eurozone is again ratcheting up pressure on Greece to deliver economic reforms. Brussels officials have told the Athens government it must give assurances by Monday that it can meet its commitments to get its next £6.9bn tranche of bailout funds.

Thorntons' profits beat expectations

Thorntons, in the middle of a turnaround plan, said sales growth and cost management had raised profits above City expectations of £4.6m for this year. It shut 36 stores last year, and another 12 in the first half of 2013, down to about 300 shops, but is growing its online business.

Hopes high over Nine Elms plan

The clamour over London's new property hot-spot, Nine Elms, is raising developer St Modwen's hopes over its planned £2bn overhaul of New Covent Garden Market. The company is working up a planning application to be submitted this year.

Zynga CEO steps down as value falls

Mark Pincus, the founder of Zynga, the US gaming company behind Farmville, has stepped down as chief executive after seeing Zynga's value plummet since its 2011 float. Microsoft Xbox boss Don Mattrick has been named as his successor.