The Business Matrix: Wednesday 12 October 2011

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The Independent Online

Heathrow enjoys a record month

Heathrow booked a record September as over 6.3 million passengers passed through its terminals last month, the airports operator BAA said. Numbers were up 1.4 per cent on a year ago and took the total since the start of 2011 to nearly 53 million. Stansted, however, saw a 4 per cent fall in passengers to 1.7 million as a result of cuts in services.

Boots under fire for pension offer

A former Boots finance chief has accused the retailer of risking the future returns of its 20,000 pensioners by offering plan members a “pension increase exchange” with a boost now in lieu of inflation-linked gains later. John Ralfe, nowa pension consultant, said the proposal meant pensioners who lived to the average age or longer would be worse off.

Volcker spells out limits on US banks

The official version of the “Volcker rule”, designed to curb the risk-taking on Wall Street that helped fuel the financial crisis, was released yesterday. The key elements include banning US banks from “proprietary trading” – trading shares on their own account – and limits on banks’ ownership or investment in hedge funds and private equity.

N Brown reports 4% rise in profits

N Brown has reported a 4 per cent rise in half-yearly profits to £364m but said its customers aged 60 or over were being hit hardest by the economic squeeze. The online and mail order catalogue group said average selling prices rose by 12 per cent, but noted that more customers had waited for promotions before ordering.

Rolls-Royce gets US Navy contract

Rolls-Royce has picked up a $99.9m (£64m) contract to provide support for the F405 engines that power the US Navy’s T-45 training aircraft. The award is part of a five-year contract worth $477m. Rolls will provide all maintenance, support, troubleshooting, logistics and parts for the engines.

Robert Walters wary on outlook

Robert Walters said it remained cautious on its near-term outlook as weaker client confidence and a turbulent banking sector hampered growth. Profits rose 13 per cent to £48m in its third quarter, down from 24 per cent on the second. Business in the UK declined by 4 per cent compared with a year ago.

Shoppers still in a hunt for bargains

Consumers are still trading down at supermarkets in a hunt for bargains, according to data from Kantar Worldpanel. While Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons grew sales by single digits in the 12 weeks to 2 October, Aldi notched up growth of 25.1 per cent. Iceland and Lidl also saw growth of more than 10 per cent.

Sainsbury’s £1m online deal

Sainsbury’s is to boost its digital operations with the £1m acquisition of Global Media Vault. The deal for the online entertainment distribution firm will bolster the supermarket’s entertaiment website. Sainsbury’s was the largest client of GMV, which has a database of more than 3 million songs, films and games.

Remortgaging up by more than 30%

The number of loans approved for remortgages in August was up more than 30 per cent in August on a year ago, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders. In what the industry body termed “welcome signs of life” loans for house purchases were also up, rising to 52,000, against 51,000 in August 2010.

House prices continue to falter

House prices fell 1.3 per cent in August compared with a year ago, according to the Department for Communities and Local Government. According to the official data, which is based on mortgage completions, the average house price was £208,476. But prices rose slightly, by 0.6 per cent, over the month.

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