The Business Matrix: Wednesday 27 November 2013


Sparkling figures from Tiffany & Co

The US jewellery group Tiffany & Co produced a surprise set of sparkling third-quarter figures with profit surging 50 per cent to $95m. Sales jumped 7 per cent to $911m for the three months to November. Chairman and chief executive Michael Kowalski said its "ongoing well-controlled expenses" helped it improve margins.

Severn Trent raises its dividend

The water giant Severn Trent raised its dividend 6 per cent yesterday while boasting its customers pay the lowest water and sewerage bills in England and Wales. The Midlands-focused utility, which has hired BT's Liv Garfield as new chief executive, saw underlying pre-tax profit fall 5.8 per cent to £141.3m for the six months to October.

Slowdown hits luxury brands

The French cognac maker Rémy Cointreau and German tailor Hugo Boss both warned yesterday that a slowdown in China would hit their profits. Boss said it would miss its €750m (£630m) operating profit target for 2015 but sales were still on course to hit €3bn. Meanwhile Rémy's half year profits fell 7 per cent to €133m.

Ex-RBS executive hires another

John Hourican, the former head of investment banking at Royal Bank of Scotland, has hired another former top executive from RBS to help him restructure the crisis-hit Bank of Cyprus. Mr Hourican, who became chief executive of the Cypriot bank last month, has brought in Euan Hamilton as a consultant at the bank.

Tough trading times for Topps

Topps Tiles said trading in the tile and flooring market remained "tough", with profits for the year to 28 September at £10.6m, down from £12.5m in 2012. The company, which increased its market share from 27 per cent to 28.5 per cent in the period, said like-for-like sales since October are up 7.4 per cent. 2012.

Business booming for Paragon

Paragon, the buy-to-let and specialist lender that was one of the few to survive the financial crisis plans to launch its own bank early next year. Meanwhile the original buy-to-let business is booming with loans advanced in the year to September up by 90 per cent at £360m. Annual profits rose 10 per cent to £105m.

Dods and Gornall part ways

Dods, the Parliamentary publisher backed by Lord Ashcroft, has parted ways with its executive chairman Alastair Gornall. Dods said that because of "unfo reseen personal circumstances" Mr Gornall had decided he was "not the appropriate person" to shake up the loss-making group.

First half of note for De La Rue

The bank note printer De La Rue said it performed well in the first half with operating profits up 18 per cent at £39m, despite continued overcapacity in the banknote paper market putting pressure on prices. It still expects profits for the year to be 40 per cent higher at near £90m.

Greencore sees profits rise by 12%

Despite rising food inflation, weak demand and the lingering effects of the horsemeat scandal, convenience food maker Greencore lifted profits by 12 per cent in the past year to £14.5m. Greencore saw revenues rise by 3 per cent to £1.2bn.

Lights, camera... and lots of action

Pinewood Shepperton said demand for its UK film facilities continues to remain high, with recent productions including Disney's Cinderella. Interim profits came in at £3.4m, against £2m a year earlier. It has 34 stages and five digital TV studios.