The Business Matrix: Wednesday 29 June 2011

Nissan welcomes millionth Qashqai

Nissan’s Sunderland plant celebrated the manufacture of its millionth Qashqai yesterday. The vehicle, a silver 2.0-litre diesel, will now be offered as a prize. The plant, which employs 5,000 people, started making Qashqais in 2006, and now exports 80 per cent of its production. It produces 1,200 Qashqais per day – about one a minute.

Climbdown on pensioners’ bonds

The Bank of Ireland (BoI) has climbed down on plans to force investors to sell their permanent interest-bearing shares (pibs) for just 20 per cent of their face value. The bonds, which pay nearly 14 per cent interest, were issued by Bristol & West before it was bought by BoI and were popular with pensioners looking for retirement income.

Toppension pots average £2.8m

The value of final-salary pension pots for top directors now averages £2.8m. A survey by Income Data Services of 137 directors in FTSE 100 companies found that the money could buy an employee a pension worth more than £170,000 a year. IDS said cash payments in lieu of pension contributions were becoming increasingly common.

OFT calls for end to card surcharges

The Office of Fair Trading is to call on the Government to ban the use of surcharges on all debit card transactions – but said credit card surcharges should be allowed to continue as they are more costly to process. The watchdog singled out the airline sector – where UK customers spent £300m on surcharges in 2009 – for the practice. MORE

House prices fell again in May

House prices fell further during May, the Land Registry said yesterday. The average cost of a home in England and Wales dropped by 0.4 per cent in May to £161,823 – 2.2 per cent lower than a year ago. London is the one place bucking the trend, with prices rising by 2.9 per cent over the past 12 months.

Three charged over £10m ‘Ponzi scam’

Three more people have been charged in relation to an alleged £10m “Ponzi” scheme that targeted expatriates in Majorca. Daniel Hirst, Linda Christine Hirst and Zoe Waite were charged following an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office. John Hirst was charged in the same matter in March.

Thorntons wraps up scores of stores

The chocolate retailer Thorntons has dealt a further blow to the high street by announcing plans to close up to 180 stores. The group said it will exit at least 120 outlets over the next three years as their leases expire, while it will also consider the future of an additional 60 shops. MORE

Soft landing for DFS in recession

The sofa giant DFS has shrugged off “exceptionally demanding” conditions, buying eight new stores. The group said that it had gained market share, even though anxious consumers were delaying all but essential purchases. Nine months through its year, profits are up, even though sales have softened slightly.

TJ Hughes faces administration

The department store chain TJ Hughes looks set to become the latest victim of the squeeze on spending, putting some 4,000 jobs at risk. The chain, which was founded in Liverpool in 1912 and runs 57 stores, gave official notice that it intends to appoint an administrator over the next 10 days.

400 to lose jobs as Jane Norman fails

Nearly 400 staff at Jane Norman are to lose their jobs after administrators failed to find a buyer for 33 stores. But, the fashion retailer has agreed to sell 33 stores to Edinburgh Woollen Mill under a “pre-pack” deal that will see the Jane Norman name survive on the high street and will save 396 jobs. MORE