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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 3 October 2012

Floods hit demand at William Sinclair

The wettest summer for a 100 years triggered a profit warning from the horticultural specialist William Sinclair after demand for compost plunged. Shares in the 162-year-old firm, which sells compost and seed trays, sank 7 per cent. Floods also hampered its efforts to harvest peat for its compost from its bogs in the North.

Australia interest rates at 3-year low

Australia's central bank has slashed interest rates to a three-year low amid jitters over a slowing Chinese economy. The Reserve Bank of Australia trimmed borrowing costs by a quarter-point to 3.25 per cent, warning that a worsening global background, falling export prices and a high Australian dollar had all dimmed prospects.

Temporary ban on Samsung lifted

Samsung has scored a victory in its patent dispute with Apple. A US district court in northern California has removed a temporary sales ban on Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1, which had been won by Apple. The South Korean company will be able to sell its Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the US in the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season.

Former Tesco boss to join Pick * Pay

Richard Brasher, the former UK chief executive of Tesco, is on the verge of taking a senior role at a major retailer in South Africa. The Tesco veteran, who left the grocery giant in March, is thought to be joining Pick * Pay, which is one of Africa's largest retailers in food and general merchandise with 775 stores. Pick * Pay declined to comment.

Market 'not anti-competitive'

Steve Varley, the chairman of Ernst & Young in the UK, has hit back at claims the audit market is anti-competitive, despite the accountant posting £1.6bn annual revenues in the UK as it won more clients. The UKrevenues were up 11 per cent and the highest for six years. Audit work makes up a third of the figure.

Matalan to hire 5,000 temp staff

Matalan is to more than double the number of temporary store staff it takes on this Christmas as it seeks to capitalise on increased demand. The 212-shop fashion and homewares chain is hiring 5,000 staff, compared with 2,300 last year, in an attempt to improve customer service in its out-of-town shops.

Keating and Ashok to join committee

Barclaycard boss Valerie Soranno Keating and Ashok Vaswani, Barclays' chief executive of UK banking, are to join the bank's executive committee with immediate effect. Mr Ashok's role is also being expanded to cover business and retail banking internationally.

Babcock delivers confident update

The engineering support services company Babcock International said it was confident of meeting expectations for the current financial year, helping its shares rise 4 per cent. The century-old company said its order book and bid pipeline remained steady at £13bn.

Volcker to address British panel

Paul Volcker, the former US Federal Reserve chairman, will appear before Britain's Commission of Banking Standards this month. Mr Volcker is architect of the "Volcker Rule" governing proprietary trading by US investment banks.

Profits make good reading for St Ives

Book printing firm St Ives, which is growing its presence in data and field marketing services, said its strategy had resulted in a "significantly improved" performance, with underlying profits up 15.9 per cent to £24.2m in the year to 27 July.

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