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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 18 January 2012


Matalan benefits from ad campaign

Matalan credited its TV ads showing customers floating in a giant snowdome for helping it post its best-ever week in the run-up to Christmas. The out-of-town fashion and homeware retailer said sales in the last five weeks of 2011 surged by 9.9 per cent, up from 1.3 per cent in the months before. Its quarterly revenues hit £311m.

Ryanair to hire 1,000 more staff

Ryanair, Europe's largest low-cost airline, plans to hire 1,000 people this year, an increase in its workforce of over 10 per cent as it boosts its fleet to 305 aircraft from 270. The airline, which employed 8,063 people at the end of March last year, said it would hire pilots, cabin crew, engineers and sales and marketing professionals.

Taylor Wimpey future looks rosy

Taylor Wimpey's recovery looked on track yesterday after it reported an "encouraging" start to 2012. The builder, created through an ill-timed merger in 2007, said the property market last year "surpassed expectations" with momentum continuing early in 2012 as it witnessed a 17 per cent jump in visitors.

IG Index rises as MF Global falls

The collapse of rival MF Global and the unprecedented stock market volatility in August saw IG Index, the world's largest spread-betting firm, increase profits by 28 per cent in its first half to £103m. Its revenues rose by 28 per cent to £195m during the six months to November.

Visa spend hits £318bn in 2011

Debit spend on Visa cards topped £318bn, a rise of 27 per cent on the previous year, in the year to 30 September, Visa Europe said. E-commerce accounted for 22 per cent of all Visa spend in the UK, growing by more than 40 per cent over the year.

ScottishPower joins in price cuts

ScottishPower has become the last of the big six energy companies to announce reductions in its tariffs. The company said that around 1.4 million domestic gas customers would receive lower gas bills from next month, with prices set to fall by an average of 5 per cent. The reduction will become effective on 27 February.

DS Smith expands with buy-out

DS Smith has spent €1.6bn (£1.3bn) buying the packaging division of a Swedish tissue-maker in a deal which it claimed made it Europe's biggest recycling company. SCA, which is focused on Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the Nordics, counts Mars, Danone, Unilever, Mercedes and BMW among its customers.

Essar Energy falls 26% on tax ruling

Shares in Essar Energy plunged 26 per cent in London yesterday after India's supreme court ruled against it in a tax case. The ruling means the India-focused oil and power firm will no longer be allowed to benefit from a scheme to defer sales tax until 2021. One of its subsidiaries has benefited from £780m of such tax deferrals.

Festive boost for Pets at Home

Pets at Home said advent calendars and Christmas stockings for pets were among its best-selling items over Christmas, helping sales rise 4.9 per cent over the festive period. The pet food retailer said it sold 300,000 Christmas stockings such as its Santa Paws stocking for dogs.

Experian sees revenues growth

The consumer credit checking agency Experian saw revenues grow 12 per cent in the last quarter of 2011 as financial services companies and banks increased their marketing activity. Latin America was its strongest market, with revenues up 34 per cent.