Retailers and banks say good riddance to a brutal year

The squeeze on consumer spending coupled with a wave of hefty fines make 2012 one to forget. By Mark Leftly and James Thompson

For many UK chief executives, the opening of their advent calendar on 1 December will have been a rare bright spot in an otherwise largely gloomy year. Last year was certainly one to forget for many of the UK's biggest sectors, with banking and retail suffering particularly badly for different reasons.

A brutal squeeze on consumer spending and broken business models claimed the scalps of a depressingly long list of retailers from the sportswear retailer JJB Sports to the electricals chain Comet, which both disappeared from the high street. Others from the card specialist Clinton Cards to the outdoor retail group Blacks Leisure emerged out of administration under new ownership, having shed their liabilities and hordes of loss-making stores.

However, some of the City's biggest banks, including Barclays and UBS, only had themselves to blame after they were hit by huge fines for rigging the Libor inter-bank lending rate. Separately, UBS was fined £29.7m in November over its rogue trader, Kweku Adoboli, who cost the Swiss bank more than £1.5bn in trading losses. But UBS was far from alone as institutions including Morgan Stanley and Standard Chartered, also found themselves forking out hefty fines over various wrongdoings.

In contrast, investors in Xstrata and Glencore were more upbeat after they voted overwhelmingly in November to merge the mining and commodity giants in a deal worth £56bn. The reaction from investors was far less friendly to the $104bn (£64.3bn) flotation of Facebook in May, as shares in the social network have tumbled sharply from the $38 float price.

On this side of the pond, the "shareholder spring" saw investors vent their frustration at bosses' bulging pay packets.

In one of the biggest revolts, Martin Sorrell, the chief executive of the advertising giant WPP, suffered a major rebuke when 60 per cent of proxy investor votes were cast against his £13m package.

But in the year of the Olympics, G4S, the security group, faced arguably the biggest embarrassment when it admitted it hadn't hired enough guards for the Games.

Twelve months of turmoil

January

1. The year starts with carnage on the high street as Millets owner Blacks Leisure and lingerie chain La Senza collapse into administration

2. Political pressure results in Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Stephen Hester waiving his £1m bonus

February

3. US investment bank Jefferies snaps up struggling but venerable City broker Hoare Govett

4. Commodities giant Glencore and miner Xstrata reveal a £50bn merger that takes shareholders the rest of the year to vote through

March

5. Former Goldman Sachs employee Greg Smith sends shock waves through Wall Street as he claims the bank refers to clients as “muppets”

6. Rio Tinto turns off the power at the Lynemouth smelter in Northumberland, ending four decades of aluminium production

April

7. JP Morgan Cazenove star rainmaker Ian Hannam quits over a Financial Services Authority fine for market abuse, but vows to clear his name

8. AstraZeneca boss David Brennan steps down, after six years in charge as shareholders start flexing their muscles over executive pay and performance

May

9. The ‘shareholder spring’ in in full-flow as Sly Bailey resigns from Trinity Mirror and Andrew Moss is forced out at Aviva

10. Facebook finally lists its shares in New York, but a technical glitch sends the stock price plummeting on debut

June

11. BP reveals that it is looking to sell its stake in its troubled Russian joint venture, TNK-BP, which eventually sells for around $27bn (£17bn)

12. Sir Martin Sorrell sees the majority of WPP investors fail to back his £13m pay package, but remains in charge

July

13. Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond quits in the wake of the Libor rate-rigging scandal

14. Security group G4S admits that it can’t provide enough guards for the London Olympics

August

15. Standard Chartered settles with US regulators after being accused of helping Iran launder about $250bn (£154bn)

16. FirstGroup is awarded the West Coast Mainline rail franchise, which is later rescinded as the government admits to running a flawed bidding process

September

17. JJB Sports goes into administration, though Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct later buys out part of the remaining business

18. Airbus owner EADS and BAE Systems in talks over a £30bn megamerger that German Chancellor Angela Merkel later vetoes

October

19. Tesco’s profit falls for the first time in nearly 20 years, while rival Sainsbury’s saw sales on the up

20. UBS rogue trader Kweku Adoboli gives evidence over his $2.3bn (£1.5bn) of trading losses, but is later jailed for fraud

November

21. Hewlett-Packard writes-off $8.8bn (£5.4bn) over its 2011 purchase of Autonomy, alleging that the British software firm’s finances had been misrepresented

22. Canadian central banker Mark Carney is unveiled as Sir Mervyn King’s successor as Governor of the Bank of England

December

23. HMV issues a “going concern” warning and admits it will almost certainly breach bank covenants tests in January, following another double-digit decline in sales

24. Dogfight! Sir Richard Branson bets IAG boss Willie Walsh £1m that the Virgin Atlantic brand will still be around in five years

Suggested Topics
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicHunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original  manuscripts
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
lifeAiming to show breasts in a non-sexual way for cancer awareness
New Articles
i100... while following the referendum
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special
tvNick Frost, Natalie Gumede and Michael Troughton step up
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Beard, Ben Schnetzer, Douglas Booth and Jack Farthing in ‘The Riot Club’
filmReview: Sheer nastiness of Riot Club takes you aback
Arts and Entertainment
tvBut something’s not quite right
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week