Business Diary: Price war or marketing hype from the grocers?

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The Independent Online

Asda and Tesco are keen to talk up the price war story. But many in the industry doubt there is ever any new money involved in these affairs. Malcolm Walker, chief executive of Iceland and one of the country's most successful retailers, told Retail Week in 2007: "Everyone knows price wars are bullshit – you put some prices up and some down."

Sales lifts is no racing certainty for Hornby

Disappointing trading figures from Hornby yesterday, but all is not lost. It reckons sales of its Scalectrix sets will get a boost from Jenson Button's world championship success. Didn't seem to work after Lewis Hamilton's win last year, but fingers crossed.

Madoff souvenirs up for auction

Another load of Bernie Madoff goods go under the hammer today to raise money for the victims of his mega-fraud. There's some top-end stuff on offer, but who on earth is going to buy his blue satin Mets baseball jacket, which is emblazoned with the name Madoff on the back?

Legal eagles swear off Facebook and MySpace

The Law Society is anxious about the trend for employers to check out job applicants on social networking sites such as Facebook. You're open to claims of prejudice, apparently, because people might think they've been turned down because of their sexual orientation or religious views – or just because they've detailed one too many drunken exploit.

Battle against history

Best of luck to the 1808 Coalition's campaign for the abolition of stamp duty. The group is named after the year in which stamp duty was first charged on property sales – why these estate agents think they'll be able to turn the clock back 200 years in the middle of a public finance crisis is anyone's guess, but you can't fault their optimism.

Number of the day: 67%

The decline in the number of first-time property buyers this year compared to 1999, according to official data.