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Business Analysis & Features

Business week in review

In profit...

Perhaps all the tales of woe from the high street are reflected in Tuesday's good news from online grocer Ocado. Despite never making a pre-tax profit in its 10-year history, and a poorly received flotation in 2010, sales grew 14.2 per cent to nearly £92m in the six weeks to 6 January.

Finance director Duncan Tatton-Brown said that Ocado wasn't threatened by Waitrose's soaring online sales – though the fact that so many of the grocers are doing well over the internet suggests that other types of retailers failed to get to grips with cyberspace as effectively.

While the high street seems in turmoil, there was some cheer from the housebuilding sector, which had also struggled in a financial crisis that has now lasted almost as long as the Second World War. Barratt boss Mark Clare expects annual pre-tax profit to more than double to £45m.

And Bovis Homes's head David Ritchie said on Friday that its pre-tax profit would be ahead of the City's £50m expectations.

...at a loss

Is Tesco head Philip Clarke considering an expansion into Kazakhstan? We ask because the land of Sacha Baron-Cohen's Borat Sagdiyev considers horsemeat quite the culinary delicacy: Kazakhs would no doubt be delighted that their beef burgers were in fact a touch equine.

In the UK, the reaction proved to be quite different. On Tuesday, Tesco was one of several supermarkets found to have horsemeat in some of their burgers. This prompted Tesco to issue a full-page apology in a number of newspapers, just a week after the group had announced a return to form in its UK Christmas sales.

It's hard to argue that a $10.5bn (£6.6bn) bonus represents a bit of a down day, but JP Morgan boss Jamie Dimon was awarded $21m in 2011. On Wednesday, the bank confirmed his bonus was slashed due to the "London Whale" $6.2bn trading scandal.

On Thursday, Rio Tinto boss Tom Albanese stepped down following $14bn of writedowns at the FTSE 100 mining giant.