The Business Matrix: Wednesday 07 December 2011


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The Independent Online


New and private car sales fall

New car sales fell 4.2 per cent in November, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said yesterday. The year-on-year drop came as private sales plunged 15.7 per cent. Overall, sales are down 4.5 per cent this year. The Ford Fiesta remained the best selling model both last month and in the year so far, though the brand lost market share.

Wolseley's UK profits slide 20%

Wolseley, the plumbing and heating merchant behind Plumb Center, weathered a 20 per cent slide in UK profits yesterday after benefiting from strong trading in the US. Across the group, which is the world's largest specialist distributor of plumbing and heating products, profits were 5 per cent higher at £988m.

Christmas orders up at Park

A television advertising campaign featuring former Loose Women presenter Coleen Nolan has helped the gift-voucher firm Park Group to sell 5 per cent more Christmas savings schemes this year. The group also reported a £5m loss for the six months to 30 September, as 80 per cent of orders are actually dispatched in the second half of the year.

Toy maker calls in administrators

Tube Plastics, a supplier of trampolines and climbing frames for retailers such as Tesco, John Lewis and the Early Learning Centre, has gone into administration less than three weeks before Christmas. About 100 jobs are at risk of redundancy, though the administrator, Geoffrey Martin, hopes to sell the business as a going concern.

Big switch-off puts Armour in the red

The consumer electronics group Armour swung to a full-year loss in the year to 31 August of £3.5m, compared with a £947,000 profit in the previous year. The firm, which produces hi-fi, home cinema and home entertainment systems under a range of brands, said it had been hit by weak consumer confidence in the UK.

Stobart starts up train from Spain

Stobart, the owner of the Eddie Stobart lorry transport firm, has restarted its low-carbon rail freight service from Valencia in Spain to Essex. The seasonal rail service carries 30 chilled containers of fruit and vegetables from Spain to UK retailers. The journey takes 50 hours, saving 250 cross-continent truck trips.

New rules to unlock small pots

The Government plans to allow thousands of people aged 60 or over to cash in small pension pots. From next April, people will be able to access savings held in small personal-pension schemes of £2,000 or less, by way of lump-sum payment rather than having to buy an income with it through an annuity.

Average savings shrink 27 per cent

The average savings pot among people aged 55 and over has fallen 27 per cent to £11,153 over the past year as more households dip into funds to meet day-to-day living costs, according to Aviva. Its research also found more than a third of economically active over-55s have yet to make plans for their finances in retirement.

Tesco's Asia boss to step down

David Potts, Tesco's Asia chief executive, is to retire at the end of June after nearly 39 years at the supermarket giant. The supermarket, which has relied on strong growth in Asia in recent months to offset falling sales in the UK, said Mr Potts will be replaced by Europe boss Trevor Masters.

Turnaround expert at Mouchel

Mouchel has named David Shearer as its new chairman, to help to turn around the loss-making outsourcing firm. Mr Shearer led the restructuring of the housebuilder Crest Nicholson and helped to turn around chain maker Renold, Scottish media company STV and glass-fibre insulation firm Superglass.