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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 22 January 2014

SABMiller's sales come up short

East Europeans trading down beer brands and slower-than-expected African lager sales growth saw SABMiller come up short on City forecasts for its third quarter today. But overall, revenues grew by 4 per cent and the brewer said lager volumes in the UK were up 9 per cent, driven by better sales of Peroni Nastro Azzurro.

Guardian sells 'AutoTrader' stake

The owner of The Guardian has collected a £600m-plus windfall from selling its 50.1 per cent stake in car-classifieds brand Auto Trader to private equity firm Apax Partners. Guardian Media Group's sale of Auto Trader's parent company, Trader Media Group, should guarantee the loss-making paper's future.

TM Lewin falls foul of the ASA

TM Lewin has been criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority over selling "discounted" suits and shirts. The shirt retailer admitted that its items could be on sale for up to five months, while only being full price for 28 days. ASA guidelines suggest sale prices should only be used for the same length a good was sold at full price.

Page steps down as Restaurant boss

Andrew Page, chief executive of The Restaurant Group, is retiring at the end of the summer. Mr Page, 55, joined what was then City Centre Restaurants in 2002 and sold or closed chains including Caffe Uno, Est Est Est and Wok Wok. He kept Garfunkel's and added Frankie & Benny's, Coast to Coast and Chiquito.

Argos joins High Street Forum

Argos has joined the Future High Street Forum, the Government and retail industry's think-tank for rejuvenating the high street. John Walden, managing director of Argos and soon-to-be chief executive of parent company Home Retail Group, will join High Streets minister Brandon Lewis and other senior retailers.

Marston's brings Christmas cheer

Marston's, which has 1,800 pubs, said trading at its premium and destination outlets in the key three-week Christmas trading period to January 4 had been strong with growth of 3.3 per cent, on top of the 5.8 per cent rise a year earlier. It served a record 55,000 meals on Christmas Day.

Gift-giving ban hits Rémy Cointreau

The luxury drinks group Rémy Cointreau disappointed investors with a much worse-than-expected 19 per cent fall in sales in the last three months of last year. Remy said it had been hit by a Chinese government crackdown on gift-giving and slowing economic growth in China.

Compensation levy rises by 17%

Financial services firms will have to stump up an extra £28m next year to cover the cost of compensating customers of companies that go bust, as the annual levy by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme rises 17 per cent to £313m.

Fairpoint endures challenging year

Fairpoint, the provider of advice and solutions for consumers in financial difficulties, said market conditions had been challenging but it expects underlying 2013 profits to be in line with forecasts with its claims management services contributing strongly.

Promotion for Estée Lauder MD

Beauty giant Estée Lauder Companies has promoted UK and Ireland managing director Chris Good to president of the same region – its biggest market outside of the United States. Estée Lauder employs 8,500 people in the UK.

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