The Business Matrix: Wednesday 4 July 2012


Fortnum & Mason names new chief

Fortnum & Mason announced that Ewan Venters has been appointed chief executive to replace Beverley Aspinall, who left in May. Mr Venters will take up his position at the Piccadilly retailer, which is owned by the Weston family, in August. He arrives at the shop from Selfridges (also owned by the Westons) where he was executive director.

Wet weather hurts online sales

The wet weather has hurt sales at online and catalogue retailers like Simply Be and Fifty Plus, owner N Brown says. "Ladieswear revenues have been lower than expected, primarily due to the ongoing unsettled weather," it said. But menswear sales held up and, overall, in the 17 weeks to July, N Brown's revenues rose 2.5 per cent.

Sales increase for Persimmon

Persimmon, Britain's biggest housebuilder, today shrugged off gloomy sentiment around the property market to report a 7 per cent rise in selling prices and advance sales in the first half of this year. The builder said its forward sales of mainly family homes totted up to £774m, 7 per cent ahead of the same time last year.

Demand boosts St Modwen's profits

Demand for new homes in London and the South East have helped to boost profits at the property developer St Modwen. St Modwen's chief executive, Bill Oliver, said that foreign investment is making its way over here and the "mood is slightly more optimistic at the moment".

London stations get £16m benefit

Commuters and disabled passengers at London train stations – including Clapham Junction, Vauxhall and Wimbledon – will see nicer loos, larger subways and refurbished waiting rooms after a £16m investment before the Olympics start later this month, South West Trains, owned by Stagecoach, has said.

Bupa to open 50 dental surgeries

Private healthcare giant Bupa today said it plans to open 50 dental surgeries in the next three years, focusing on London as it tries to become a major player in the UK's £2.4bn dentistry market. Surgeries will be located near major offices and open late into the evening, the mutual said.

Anite makes smart £28m profit

Demand for new smartphones sent annual pre-tax profits at testing outfit Anite soaring 75% to £28m. The company's handset division, which sets up simulated mobile networks, which makers use to test new handsets, saw revenues leap 54% to £76.4m. The dividend is up 53% to 1.125p.

Microsoft to write down $6.2bn

Microsoft has admitted the scale of the spectacular failure of a major online acquisition, with the tech giant writing down $6.2bn (£3.9bn) against the value of the ad firm aQuantive, bought in 2007. The charge means the company will probably post a fourth-quarter loss.

Stelios' bid to oust easyJet chairman

EasyJet's founder and biggest shareholder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has filed papers to organise an extraordinary general meeting of the airline to put Sir Mike Rake's removal as chairman to the vote. Sir Mike is Barclays' deputy chairman.

Talvivaara to miss full-year guidance

Finnish miner Talvivaara said it will miss its full-year 2012 production guidance and that its second-quarter result will be hit by weak nickel price. The company said production was dented by stoppages and by rain and flooding. Talvivaara said it expected the full-year production to increase substantially compared to 2011 and it will give new guidance when publishing second-quarter results on Aug 16.