Business news in brief

Gucci Group announced record results for the year to January. Operating profit almost doubled to $239m, struck from a 76 per cent rise in turnover. Operating margins rose to 27.2 per cent from 24.2 per cent, leading to earnings per share of $2.76, up from $1.68. President and chief executive Domenico De Sole said Gucci was solidifying its position in the global luxury goods market to prepare for its next phase of growth. In 1997 it planned expansion and refurbishment projects in its directly operated stores.

Sales at John Lewis were 11.7 per cent higher in the week to 22 March than in the same week last year. Sales rose 8.8 per cent in the eight- week period to 22 March. Total sales, including revenues from Waitrose, were up 8.3 per cent for the week and 6.6 per cent for the eight-week period.

World Telecom's shares reached 170p on the first day of dealing on the Alternative Investment Market, a premium of 13 per cent to the placing price of 150p. The company raised pounds 8m from the flotation which valued it at pounds 32m.

Policy Portfolio's executive deputy chairman Isaac Rubin and deputy managing director Brian Goldstein were appointed joint managing directors of the company. Sammy Rubin relinquished his executive responsibilities and is to become a non-executive director at the end of the month. The company is considering a tentative approach for the Rubin family's controlling shareholding at 130p per share.

HSBC shares fell 7p to 1,494p as the market digested news of a $1bn Brazilian bank buy and warnings from UBS that HSBC is the most exposed of the banks to fluctuations in American interest rates and the dollar's exchange rate.

L Gardner released interim results showing operating profits up over 80 per cent at pounds 1.8m. Acquisitions contributed pounds 310,000. Earnings per share rose to 8.4p from 5.8p. Non-executive chairman Mike McDonald said he anticipated growth in the core activities in the second half, which would benefit from a full six months' contribution from Sloman Engineering and the two smaller acquisitions made recently, Kaskad Engineering and TA Components.

Enviromed made a pre-tax loss in the year to September of pounds 8.2m, higher than last year. Losses per share were 34.6p, up from 33.8p last year. Chairman Ron Zwanziger said the board intended to pursue joint ventures and strategic acquisitions within Europe and elsewhere to develop the core strengths of the company.

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