The Business Matrix: Wednesday 25 May 2011

Armani surges on growth in China

Giorgio Armani Group, the designer goods firm, has posted a surge in profits and sales for last year, despite “difficult trading” conditions. It grew operating profit by 48 per cent to €322m, on revenues up 5 per cent to €1.6bn. Revenues in China, which has been a key driver of sales at rival luxury goods firms such as Hermes, rose 36 per cent.

Sales ‘rise ahead of expectations’

Retailers delivered sales ahead of expectations in the first two weeks of May, but growth is expected to be “sluggish” for the foreseeable future. The CBI’s Distributive Trades survey found 41 per cent of retailers saw a rise in sales volumes, but 23 per cent reported a fall. However, 71 per cent of retailers hiked prices compared with a year ago.

Greek default poses ‘wider threat’

A Greek debt default would hurt other peripheral eurozone states and could push Portugal and Ireland into junk territory, Moody’s said yesterday, warning it would classify most forms of restructuring as a default. Markets have piled pressure on indebted eurozone countries this week as investors have worried about Greece, Spain, Italy and Belgium.

Profits boost at CWW

Cable & Wireless Worldwide reported an increase in profits yesterday but warned its traditional telephone business is declining faster than previously thought. The group, which owns a high-speed telephone network and provides telecoms services for government departments and firms such asTesco, said earnings rose 2.6 per cent to £442m.

De La Rue to cut jobs after losses

Banknote printer De La Rue has warned of job cuts after profits fell nearly 70 per cent to £33m. The firm, which prints notes for the Bank of England, added that a problem banknote contract that caused much of the profits shortfall remains on hold. But shares rose to 846p as it detailed plans to return profits to £100m a year.

South West Water rules out hose ban

Pennon, the owner of South West Water, has said it does not expect to enforce a hosepipe ban this summer after the company met its annual leakage target despite December’s freeze. Profits at Pennon rose 1.5 per cent to £188m, driven by its waste arm Viridor. South West Water profits fell 0.5 per cent to £190m.

Trader fined £1.1m for ramping

The Financial Services Authority has slapped a £1.09m fine on a repeat offender for ramping shares. The watchdog said Samuel Kahn, who was also fined for a boiler-room scam in 2007, co-ordinated a scheme to inflate the shares of Global Brands Licensing on the junior Plus market last year.

Toumazis named Mecom chief

The European newspaper group Mecom has poached Tom Toumazis, from the TV production company Endemol, to be its chief executive. Mr Toumazis joined the Big Brother TV group in 2009 after spending eight years at Walt Disney. He is expected to take up his new role at Mecom in August.

RBS ‘cuts 500 jobs at fraud office’

Royal Bank of Scotland is close its office in Telford that handles debt management and fraud, with the loss of more than 500 jobs, according to the union Unite. Another 150 jobs are to go in Plymouth and 40 in Leeds. The bank said that the losses were part of a package of 3,500 job cuts disclosed in September.

Paragon secures healthy profit rise

The specialist buy-to-let mortgage lender Paragon Group has posted a 35 per cent rise in half-year profits to £39m. The firm said new lending had progressed well as it advanced £50m in loans, while it booked a £13m charge for impairments on bad loans, nearly half the £27m it allowed for a year ago.