The Business Matrix: Wednesday 25 July 2012

 

Profits lose shine at PZ Cussons

The growing appetite of British shoppers for fake tan and glossy hair could not offset economic chaos in Nigeria and falling sales in Australia for the soap group PZ Cussons. The maker of Imperial Leather blamed high raw materials costs and difficult trading conditions in Australia and Nigerian for a 15 per cent fall in pre-tax profits to £92.3m.

Imperial Tobacco cigar sales rise

Surging demand for Cuban cigars in China and other emerging markets helped Imperial Tobacco to grow its sales by 3 per cent in nine months. It said its Cohiba and Montecristo brands, costing about £30 each, helped it to raise sales volumes of premium cigars by 10 per cent. But global cigarette sales were down 3 per cent.

Wet weather lifts Carpetright sales

Carpetright is one of the few high-street retailers to praise the recent wet weather, saying yesterday that the rain brought in customers looking for warm flooring and new beds. In the 12 weeks to 21 July, Carpetright's underlying sales were up 1.7 per cent, although total sales dipped because of store closures.

Cowell hits out at search engines

Simon Cowell, Pete Townshend, Brian May and Sir Elton John have criticised internet search engines for not doing enough to combat music piracy. They and other musicians have written to David Cameron to highlight how search engines help Britons to find and copy illegal music files.

Third arrest in Irish fraud probe

Sean Fitzpatrick, the former chief executive of Anglo Irish Bank, was arrested in Dublin yesterday as part of an insider trading investigation involving the nationalised lender. Two former executives at Anglo Irish Bank were charged on Monday.

China's factory contraction slows

China's economic data has improved, forcing up oil prices. Manufacturing activity slowed less quickly in July than in June, a survey by HSBC showed. The bank's Flash China purchasing manager's index reached a five-month high of 49.5 in July from 48.2 in June, rising close to the 50 level that divides expansion from contraction.

Swatch shrugs off China slowdown

Sales at the watchmaker and luxury brand Swatch are defying the global economic turmoil. Watches and jewellery sales rose by 16.7 per cent to Swfr3.4bn (£2.2bn) in the first half-year as operating profit rose 19 per cent to Swfr903m. However, it warned of "a certain weakening" in sales of luxury goods in parts of China.

Sorrell Jnr slashes Man Group costs

Sir Martin Sorrell's famous ruthlessness on costs seems to run in the family. Man Group's finance director is Sir Martin's son Jonathan, 34, who joined the stricken hedge fund manager a year ago. He announced yesterday that it was on track to hit its target of making $95m of cuts by March next year.

Virgin gets set for start of Olympics

Virgin Media said it had "stress-tested" its internet networks in readiness for a surge in demand during the Olympic Games and was confident there would be few breaks in service. The TV, internet and mobile phone provider has installed Wi-Fi at 180 London Tube stations. 

Crossrail boosts Great Portland

Great Portland Estates' bet on a Crossrail boom in London paid yet more dividends as it clocked up further gains on its property assets in the capital. Rising valuations for new developments lifted the value of its London portfolio by 3.1 per cent.

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