The Business Matrix: Wednesday 21 May 2014


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The Independent Online

Britons spend £6.7bn on tickets

After a doubling in the price of Lotto tickets, Britons spent the second-highest sum on record, £6.7bn, on the National Lottery in the year to April. The Lottery operator Camelot, which was sold to a Canadian teachers’ pension fund for £400m in 2010, raised £1.8bn for charities.  It will soon launch a tablet app and website.

Inflation rises  on a late Easter 

Consumer prices index inflation rose to 1.8 per cent from 1.6 per cent as a later Easter pushed up air fares, while confident clothes shops pushed through price rises. But a mild spring, contrasting with bitter cold last year, meant food prices rose just 0.5 per cent, the slowest pace since April 2006. Inflation is below BoE’s 2 per cent target.

Platt on the move to Countrywide

Alison Platt, a senior director of private healthcare firm Bupa, will switch into property in September when she becomes chief executive of the UK’s biggest estate agent, Countrywide. The arrival of Ms Platt will see the current boss, Grenville Turner, become non-executive chairman having floated the business last year.

Soaring demand for private rentals

The buy-to-let lender Paragon credited new mortgage rules and a lack of spending on social housing yesterday for soaring demand for private rented accommodation. In the six months to the end of March, Paragon advanced loans of £269m, up from £102m a year earlier. Pre-tax profits rose 19 per cent to £58m.

Another G4S chief bites the dust

The struggling outsourcer G4S lurched into deeper turmoil yesterday when its third UK chief executive in under two years departed after only seven months in the job. G4S could not say whether Eddie Aston had quit or been sacked. Peter Neden, previously a regional managing director, is interim chief.

Nothing showing on Odeon move

The private equity mogul Guy Hands said yesterday that a sale or flotation of the £1bn Odeon cinema chain, bought by his Terra Firma group in 2004 for €650m, is unlikely to happen for  “at least two years”. Mr Hands appointed the former Vodafone executive Paul Donovan to run Odeon earlier this year.

Topps Tiles up on  housing recovery

Topps Tiles has posted its best half-year profits since the financial crisis as it benefits from the housing market recovery and market share gains.  The UK’s largest tile specialist said its first-half profits rose to £8m from £4.7m a year ago, its best results since 2008.

Digital boost  for Bloomsbury

The consumer and academic publisher Bloomsbury said underlying profits rose 4 per cent to £13m in the year to 28 February. Revenues lifted 11 per cent to £109.5m, with significant growth in digital revenues, which now contribute 12.1 per cent of all title sales.

Greencore profits soar by 20%

The convenience foods firm Greencore, whose customers include major retailers, petrol forecourt operators and airlines, said it outperformed a buoyant food-to- go market in the UK as half-year profits rose 20 per cent to £31m.

Bigger revenues for Big Yellow

The self-storage firm Big Yellow, which operates 77 stores including 10 branded as Armadillo, said occupancy and revenues have grown for the fifth year in a row. Pre-tax profits in the year to 31 March were 15 per cent higher at £29.2m.