The Business Matrix: Wednesday 11 January 2012

 

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The Independent Online

We're still scoring at fives, says Goals

Goals Soccer Centres has insisted the five-a-side football boom is not over, despite postponing new pitch openings. It admitted there had been a slowdown in corporate bookings and children's birthday parties, but said annual sales were up 9 per cent to £30m. The number of its centres rose to 42 last year, including new sites in Liverpool, Hull and Los Angeles.

Smiths says book sales hit by tablets

Print book sales were lower than expected at Christmas and the soaring popularity of tablet devices could be to blame, distributor Smiths News warned yesterday. Chief executive Mark Cashmore said the pre-Christmas period was "not as strong as we anticipated". "Is it that we've seen a significant rise in tablet sales?" he asked.

Tesco shelves stores in the US

Fresh & Easy, Tesco's US operation, is to temporarily mothball 12 underperforming stores, raising fresh concerns about whether it can break even by 2013. The US chain said there was "simply not enough growth in sales and customers at these stores to keep them open," but added it will re-open them when economic conditions improve.

BoE intervention hits pension funds

Pension liabilities among British businesses swelled to a record £255bn in December. The Pension Protection Fund, which steps in when employers go bust, reported a £33bn rise in deficits among the 6,533 schemes it covers, mainly because of falling yields on bonds amid the Bank of England's attempts to boost the economy with quantitative easing.

Signet sees rising same-store sales

The H Samuel and Ernest Jones owner Signet Jewelers said its UK division's same-store sales were up by 1.8 per cent in the nine weeks leading up to 31 December. The Bermuda-domiciled firm also announced that the figure for the same period at its combined UK and US stores was up by 7.8 per cent.

Christmas cheers Restaurant Group

The Restaurant Group is celebrating what chief executive Andrew Page called "a corking Christmas". Across 2011, the company behind Frankie & Benny's and Garfunkel's saw like-for-like sales rise 3.25 per cent with overall revenues up 7.25 per cent. "We've got to be happy with that," said Mr Page.

Cairn investors set for a payout

Shareholders in Cairn Energy are in line for a payout of £1.60 a share after the oil and gas company fleshed out plans to return $3.5bn (£2.3bn) to its investors following the sale of a stake in its Indian unit. Cairn said investors would receive the cash by way of a B-share scheme.

Unions angry over Airbus work move

Airbus is outsourcing to Korean Aerospace Industries some work from its wing-assembly plant in Broughton, north Wales, drawing fire from unions who said the move gave a competitive advantage to foreign rivals. Airbus said the 200 staff affected would be redeployed at the site.

Philips warns on profits again

The Dutch electronics group Philips has warned of soft fourth-quarter profits due to a weakness in European consumer markets that is leading to charges for inventory it cannot shift. The firm also warned on profits last June.

Atkins wins £70m Qatar contract

Atkins has been awarded a three-year contract worth more than £70m by Qatar, including elements associated with the Fifa 2022 World Cup. The multi-billion dollar transport and infrastructure deal will see Atkins establish an office in Doha.

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