Business Diary: 11/07/2009

John Lewis lobs sun & strokes into excuse mix

There's a new excuse for corporate PRs to gloss over bad news. Had a slump in sales? Ratings down? Here's your communications solution: Blame the hot weather, right, and tennis ... as if either has ever ground the UK to a halt before.

A day after the double whammy was picked as a reason when ITV1's ratings fell to a historic low, John Lewis came out with a disappointing weekly sales update. The department store operator said the 2.3 per cent drop on last year was actually "an excellent result given the distractions of sustained sunny weather and Andy Murray's progress at Wimbledon". Net likely.

BoJo just the man to save small business

A Boris-o-gram arrives on the Diary's desk with news that London's mayor is focusing on the economy this Wednesday with a public meeting on how to build an economic recovery for small businesses. Let's see if BoJo can manage the intervening few days holding together his own operation, described last week as "shambolic". His economic advice is sure to be interesting given he has just lost the third deputy in his short tenure.

New iPhone is hot property for Apple fans

The latest version of the iPhone was released last month, above, accompanied by the usual white heat of publicity that marks any Apple product launch. Since then users have found it, quite literally, too hot to handle, with multiple reports of the device overheating and even the white cases becoming discoloured.

Silverfleet skins up for popular sausage group

The private equity megadeal was one of the first casualties of the downturn as the debt market that funded deals for companies including Alliance Boots disappeared. The buyout groups have been "spending time with their portfolio companies" – a euphemism for not splashing out on new deals – but there is a bit of activity bubbling under. The rumour is that Silverfleet Capital is in talks to buy Kalle Nalo, which makes sausage skins and has been under the ownership of two other buyout firms. No wonder it's popular with buyout firms – the recession means that most of those still in existence don't have a sausage between them.

132 Number of the day

The diminishing band of FSA regulators from the Bank of England after 393 were transferred 11 years ago.