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Business Analysis & Features

Business week in review

In profit...

It's been a tough few years for the world's biggest mining groups, so this positive bit of our weekly review is dedicated to how several of them basked in joyous production figures.

On Tuesday, Rio Tinto announced that iron ore output was up 6 per cent in the six months to June, smashing the company's first-half record. Chief executive Sam Walsh hailed "an impressive performance" that was down to "productivity improvements".

A day later and BHP Billiton's new boss, Andrew Mackenzie also unveiled a record-breaking iron ore season, this time up 7 per cent for the whole year.

Also on Wednesday, Fresnillo head Octavio Alvidrez revealed a rise in second-quarter silver production.

... at a loss

Asos spent more than a year courting Kate Bostock to spruce up its product range with the temptation of a £400,000 salary, but then only employed the 56-year-old for seven months.

The online retailer revealed the embarrassment of splitting with the former M&S clothing guru on Tuesday, when Bostock "sadly" concluded that Asos "wasn't the right fit for me". Asos readily agreed, but did admit to being "disappointed".

Also on Tuesday, Steve Ingham, boss of PageGroup, warned of "difficult conditions" as the recruiter's first-half profit fell by 4.3 per cent.

On Wednesday, Severn Trent, which is run by Tony Wray, admitted that the utility had spent £19m on rebuffing takeover approaches.