The Business Matrix: Wednesday 20 July 2011

Hermes raises revenue forecasts

Hermes has raised forecasts for revenues amid growing demand for its scarves, accessories and leather bags, in a reminder of the luxury goods company’s attraction for its French rival LVMH, whose advances the family-controlled group is trying to fend off. Hermes credited a better than expected second quarter for the revision.

US housing starts at six-month high

The US housing market showed signs of life in June, with a higher-than-expected increase in the number of residential construction projects kicking off last month, according to figures from the Commerce Department. The number of housing starts increased by nearly 15 per cent to an annual rate of 629,999 units, the highest since January.

Cisco to cut 11,500 staff worldwide

Cisco Systems is to cut 11,500 jobs, or 15 per cent of its worldwide staff, and sell a set-top-box factory as part of a plan to cut annual expenses by $1bn (£620m) as the network equipment maker tries to revive its fortunes. The cuts come after Cisco’s chief executive, John Chambers, said in April that the company had “lost its way”.

Key RBS executive moves to Lloyds

A key player in Royal Bank of Scotland’s restructuring effort has been snapped up by rival Lloyds. Nathan Bostock was named head of restructuring and risk at RBS in one of chief executive Stephen Hester’s first appointments. The former finance director at Abbey National and Alliance & Leicester will stay at RBS until February.

Amazon set to hire Asda’s Gurr

A former executive at the grocer Asda is set to join the online retail giant Amazon in the UK to help drive its growth plans. Amazon is close to hiring Doug Gurr – who left his role as Asda’s executive development director in January – in a senior role thought to be that of UK strategy director.

Johnson Matthey profits up 19%

Johnson Matthey, the world’s largest supplier of catalytic converters, said it made good progress in the first quarter of its financial year, with sales excluding precious metals up 12 per cent to £617m. Underlying profits increased by 19 per cent to £98m, benefiting principally from higher demand.

Musgrave moves for Superquinn

The company behind Londis and Budgens is to buy the troubled Irish grocer Superquinn out of receivership for an undisclosed sum, catapulting it above Tesco to become the biggest player in the Irish market. The purchase by Musgrave will secure the long-term future of Superquinn and 2,800 jobs at the 24-store chain.

Supermarket prices on the rise

Prices at UK supermarkets are rising faster than expected and will continue to put pressure on households in the coming months. Kantar Worldpanel said grocery prices rose by 4.8 per cent in the 12 weeks to 11 July compared with a year ago, up from 4.6 per cent in the middle of May.

Goldman Sachs to cut 1,000 jobs

Goldman Sachs will lay off 1,000 staff before the end of the year, amid sharp falls in trading activity. The US investment banking giant posted quarterly profits of $1.05bn, missing forecasts and raising the possibility that it is losing market share in bond trading, a business that has been a major engine of its growth.

Credit unions sue RBS for $1bn

Royal Bank of Scotland faces lawsuits for more than $1bn (£620m) accusing the bank of misleading US credit unions over bonds backed by so-called liars’ loans. A lawsuit this week is seeking more $629m over the sale of mortgage bonds to West Corp credit union; last month a similar suit claimed $565m.