The Business Matrix: Wednesday 5 October 2011

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On a roll: Walker Greenbank up 14%

Walker Greenbank, which makes Sanderson and Morris & Co wallpapers and furnishings, has seen its half-yearly profits increase by 14 per cent to £2.35m. Sales were up 11 per cent, with the 150th anniversary of Morris lifting the range’s sales by 30 per cent. The group also increased export sales to markets such as Russia and China.

Plastic card fraud hits 11-year low

Plastic card fraud in the UK fell 9 per cent in the first six months of the year, suggesting the finance industry is winning the battle using chip and pin technology. The £170m taken by crooks was the lowest for 11 years. But fraud using lost or stolen cards was up 20 per cent to £26m, while the number of phishing websites is also rising.

Wolseley back in the black

Wolseley posted a 15 per cent fall in sales and admitted Bathstore, the retail chain it has been trying to sell, had weighed on its UK profits. The world’s largest specialist distributor of plumbing still posted its first profit – of £391m – since 2008, after a turnaround process saw tens of thousands of job cuts and a swath of businesses closed or sold.

DP sets date for London Gateway

Dubai’s DP World has finally set the date for its new London Gateway deep-sea container port, announcing that it would be operational by the fourth quarter of 2013. The port, 25 miles east of London on the north bank of the Thames, will have an initial container capacity of 1.6 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent) container units.

PwC banking on Sentance

Andrew Sentance, a former member of the Bank of England’s interest-rate setting committee, has been appointed as PwC’s senior economic adviser, starting from next month. He will advise the accounting giant’s clients on how they should adapt their strategies and operations in the current environment.

Clarity rejects Moulton bid

Jon Moulton, the veteran private equity investor, has had his bid for Clarity Commerce unanimously rejected by the company’s board. Clarity, which sells software to the retail and leisure industries, said yesterday that Mr Moulton’s £9.5 million cash offer was “highly opportunistic” and undervalued the company.

Discounts keep inflation stable

Consumers were given a fillip yesterday when shop price inflation came in flat in September. Retail prices last month were 2.7 per cent up on a year ago, unchanged from August, with heavy discounting by clothing and electricals retailers helping to keep inflation stable, according to the BRC.

Waitrose depot to create 600 jobs

Waitrose will create around 600 jobs with its plans to build a new distribution centre. The upmarket grocery chain, part of the John Lewis Partnership, said the depot in Chorley, Lancs – able to deliver to 80 outlets – would support its plans to spend around £1bn in the next three years opening 100 stores.

Fed: US economy ‘close to faltering’

The Federal Reserve is ready to take further steps to support the American economy as the recovery is “close to faltering”, its chairman Ben Bernanke said yesterday. The comments come less than a month after the Fed announced a $400bn (£260bn) move to cut long-term interest rates and boost the economy.

Spanish jobless total hits 4.3m

The number of jobless in Spain jumped 2.32 per cent to 4.3 million in September, marking the end of a busy tourist season and dampening hopes of a third quarter fall in the unemployment rate from nearly 21 per cent. In recent weeks, up to 10,000 people a day have been registering as unemployed.

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