The Business Matrix: Wednesday 13 July 2011

Starbucks seeks overseas growth

The coffee shop giant Starbucks is looking to get half its revenues from abroad one day. The firm, which currently operates two divisions, US and International, is restructuring itself into three divisions: China and Asia Pacific; the Americas; and Europe, the Middle East, Russia and Africa. Overseas revenues account for 20 per cent of its total at present.

Ryanair increases Manchester flights

Ryanair is set to launch 20 new routes from Manchester airport by next summer, in addition to the six it already operates there. The expansion comes less than 18 months after the airline pulled out of many routes from Manchester, in a dispute over costs. But the Irish no-frills carrier has now struck a multimillion-pound deal with the airport.

Wolseley sells electrical unit

The plumbing supplies giant Wolseley has agreed to sell its UK electrical wholesale business Electric Center to rival Edmundson Electrical. The price for the operation, which has 85 branches and 575 employees, is slightly more than book value of £29m. The business had sales of £130m and profits of £1.5m in the year to 31 July 2010.

Amazon appeals against tax law

Amazon is appealing directly to the residents of California to overturn a new law that requires it to pay sales tax on online purchases made in the state. The internet retailer is calling for a referendum in the state on the new law and is in the process of collecting the 500,000 signatures needed for the question to appear on the ballot.

New role for China at IMF

China has secured its first top-level management post in the International Monetary Fund, in a move that recognizes Beijing’s growing clout in the global economy. The Chinese economist Min Zhu, a former deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China will take up the newly created post of deputy managing director.

Most of US maize used for biofuels

Producers of ethanol biofuels are consuming more of the US maize crop than livestock for the first time ever, according to government figures. While maize prices have fallen off recent highs as crops have increased, critics still blame generous US tax breaks on biofuels for helping to inflate food prices.

Sainsbury’s staff in pay protest

Workers from Sainsbury’s stores will hold a protest outside the company’s annual general meeting today in a dispute over pay. Unite said thousands of its members at the supermarket giant were being offered a below-inflation rise this year despite the “massive profits” the company makes.

‘Excessive’ M&S pay in spotlight

Marks & Spencer will be put on the spot by shareholders today after an advisory group flagged up “excessive” pay and bonuses at the high-street retailer. The group is also expected to report a positive trading update for the first quarter of its financial year ahead of its annual meeting, being held in London.

Surprise rise in UK’s trade deficit

Britain’s trade deficit unexpectedly grew in May, raising the prospect of the Bank of England pumping more cash into the economy to jump-start the recovery. The goods trade deficit – the gap between goods exported and imported – shot up to £8.5bn from £7.6bn in April, against forecasts of a fall to £7.2bn.

1 in 10 small firms face bankruptcy

Almost one in 10 smaller companies could go out of business if trading conditions do not improve in the coming months, according to research for the insurer Aviva. A survey of 500 small to medium-sized enterprises indicated that a third had found trading conditions tougher than expected so far this year.