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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 22 May 2013

Peppa to bring home more bacon

The company behind the cartoon series Peppa Pig and film franchise The Hunger Games will soon be ready to pay a maiden dividend as it gears up for a premium listing in London and possible entry to the FTSE 250. Entertainment One’s sales jumped 25 per cent to £629.1m in the year to March after buying Alliance Films.

Homeserve takes £6m regulation hit

Homeserve, the emergency repairs company at the centre of a long-running inquiry into alleged mis-selling, is bracing itself for a £6m fine by the City watchdog. The company, which insures customers against domestic mishaps, made the provision for costs relating to last year’s investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Bloomsbury gets by without Harry

Academic and business publishing will never have the magical allure of Harry Potter, but entering these markets looks to be paying off for Potter author JK Rowling’s old publisher, Bloombsury. The firm’s pre-tax profit rose by 12 per cent to £9.8m in the year to February, even though revenues were up only 1 per cent at £98.5m.

Eco City drives ahead in London

Eco City Vehicles, the supplier of the Mercedes Vito cab in London, took advantage of its rival Manganese Bronze’s collapse last year to boost its share of the market. Sales of Vitos jumped from 331 vehicles to 561 and it now claims four out of every 10 new cab sales in the capital. Its annual losses have fallen from £2.2m to £187,000.

Greencore tastes 10% rise in profits

Greencore, the maker of ready meals and convenience foods, said the UK market remained tough as it continued reeling from the horse-meat scandal. Revenues were flat at £573m for the six months to 31 March but profits rose 10 per cent to £26.5m. It expects raw materials prices to ease this summer.

Paragon’s virtue in buy-to-let

The buy-to-let mortgage group Paragon is applying for a banking licence in order to kick-start its consumer lending business. The Solihull-based company’s buy-to-let division is booming, with the mortgage pipeline up from £100m to £240m at the end of March. Profits rose by 10 per cent to £48.2m.

Vertu expands in Yorkshire move

The car retailer Vertu, which has 96 branches across the UK, is to acquire the four sites of the Yorkshire-based Land Rover dealership Albert Farnell in a £31m deal with Co-operative Group Motors. It has funded  the purchase through a £50m placing of shares.

Aldi celebrates record 3.5% share

Further evidence of the polarisation of the grocery market emerged yesterday. The analyst Kantar Worldpanel said the value chain Aldi posted an all-time record share of 3.5 per cent in the 12 weeks to 12 May, while upmarket Waitrose maintained its all-time high of 4.9 per cent.

Capita rings up  a deal with O2

The outsourcing specialist Capita has struck a 10-year deal with the mobile phone operator O2 worth about £1.2bn over its lifetime. Building on an existing long-term tie-up, Capita will run and manage its call centres.

Jobs on the line at Waterstones

Hundreds of jobs could go at Waterstones after it began a consultation with 560 managers as it seeks to slash costs and “secure the future” of Britain’s last nationwide bookshop chain, owned by the Russian investor Alexander Mamut.

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