Business week in review
Sunday 11 November 2012
Very mixed news from high street fashion last week (see below), although the boss of Associated British Foods, which confusingly owns Primark, was all smiles.
George Weston declared Primark benefited from "the summer of the Union Jack", regaling journalists with the fascinating tale of a belt he bought with a flag on it. The group posted its first annual profit of more than £1bn and Primark itself had a 15 per cent profit rise to £356m, while sales doubled to £3.5bn.
The staid world of accountancy was shaken on Wednesday when BDO, the country's sixth biggest accountant, announced plans to merge with rival PKF. BDO managing partner Simon Michaels showed he's mastered PR-speak when he claimed the pair held "a closely-aligned vision to lead in the mid-market". Churchillian stuff, but surely the real aim is to break the dominance of the Big Four.
Drinkers' thirst for JD Wetherspoon shows no sign of being slaked, as boss John Hutson revealed a sales rise on Thursday.
...at a loss
So, now the bad news on the high street. Aside from the ongoing Comet debacle, Marks & Sparks boss Marc Bolland warned of "volatile" trading ahead of the crucial Christmas period and posted a 10 per cent fall in half-year profit.
Bolland said the chain needed time to turn around its womenswear business, as improvements won't be apparent until the July launch of the autumn collection. Analysts talk of a threat to Bolland's job, which he has held since May 2010, if profit doesn't start rising soon.
Another boss under pressure is Nick Buckles, after G4S failed on Thursday to make the shortlist to run two northern prisons. G4S's recent problems include the failed, eye-watering £5.2bn bid for Danish cleaner ISS and, of course, its failure to provide enough Olympic staff.
Finally, Ronald McDonald had a stinker of a week, after his fast-food chain revealed its first drop in monthly sales for nine years. Shares fell 1.7 per cent on Thursday's news.
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