Business Diary: Bespoke bride firm booming

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The Independent Online

Hats off to Joseph Weiner. When the former investment banker, a New Yorker who these days lives in London, decided to start his own business he had the courage of his convictions, despite other folk's scepticism. Some 14 years later, Hand-in-Hand is thriving, Weiner tells the latest issue of Bloomberg Business Week. For those of you unfamiliar with the company, it charges men up to $2,000 (£1,300) for a "supervised courtship" – a match-making process with young women from Eastern Europe. "Every guy wants a beautiful younger woman," says Weiner.

Where to find cheaper chocolate

The rise in VAT has encouraged the accountants to get their rulebooks out in a bid to expose the vagaries of this hugely complicated tax. The contradictions in the system are numerous, but two in particular catch our eye. How come books are zero-rated for VAT purposes, but downloaded books bought fore-readers are not? And even more incongruously, did you know that VAT isn't payable on chocolate body paint, but it is on chocolate bars specially formulated for diabetics?

Are they cleaning up at Betfair?

More now on the bizarre Betfair Twitter account. As the Diary reported last week, the online bookmaker's very regular tweets appear to be utterly random and totally unconnected to its business. Previously idiosyncratic, they've now turned sleazy. Here's the latest: "Life voyagers! When working late in the office, beware of those late-night temptations. That's not what those Hoover attachments are for." Haven't the folk at Betfair got a horse race to watch or something?

Iceland misses its big chance

A happy new year message arrives from Winter Wonderland, the festive theme park that closed in London's Hyde Park last week after a successful Christmas. According to the organiser, AEG Live, two million people passed through the gates during its seven weeks of opening and the parks' ice rink alone was graced by 500,000 skaters. Just one thought: how did the discount supermarket Lidl snap up sponsorship of the rink? Surely this was a huge missed opportunity for its rival, Iceland?