Imperial blames Irish cigarette sales slump on tax rise, not smoking ban

Cigarette sales in Ireland have fallen by 9.5 per cent since the imposition of a ban on smoking in public places, according to Imperial Tobacco.

The Week Ahead: Tesco smells more success as Imperial sniffs smoke-free air

It is a busy time for corporate announcements this week, with a range of companies and sectors updating the market. Only one giant, however, will be dominating the headlines.

Two MFI directors ousted after computer bungle

Two board directors at MFI paid for last week's disastrous profit warning with their jobs yesterday, agreeing to leave the company "by mutual consent".

Business Essentials: 'Furnace contracts have put our plans in the melting pot'

New orders are pouring in at Omega Foundry Machinery, but should it risk cranking up its resources? asks Kate Hilpern

Regent Inns ousts top two directors

Regent Inns, the struggling pubs group that has issued three profits warnings this year, yesterday sacked its chief executive and finance director, four days before its full-year results are due.

Sales leap puts iTouch back in black

Itouch, the mobile phone content company, yesterday announced half-year results showing a positive outcome on cash flow, earnings per share and profit before tax for the first time since its flotation four years ago.

Lawrence Dallaglio: The England captain who said 'enough is enough' and walked away

When Lawrence Dallaglio walked into the late-night bar of the Hilton Hotel in Brisbane a couple of hours after England's 36-point defeat at the hands of the Wallabies last June and pronounced himself "suicidal", no one among his handful of listeners felt compelled to phone the Samaritans on his behalf.

Kevin Beeston: Caught on camera - but Serco's chief isn't about to take his foot off the accelerator

It's time for the City's favourite support services group to hit the road. Clayton Hirst clocks its plans to keep the contracts coming

Cherrys bid to take Countryside private

Alan Cherry, the 71-year-old chairman and founder of Countryside Properties, has made an approach to take the developer private.

Former Kroll directors set up shop as corporate sleuths for an uncertain world

Three former directors of Kroll, the corporate investigator that Marks & Spencer tried to hire during its recent fight for independence, have jumped ship to set up their own agency and take advantage of the growing demand for corporate sleuths.

Webber halts Pilgrims' rise

Watford 3 - Plymouth Argyle 1

The Investment Column: Hammerson offers a safe haven

Chaucer tells a good tale but hold for the full story - Profitable Bodycote is looking good value

Flying Brands back on the merger trail

Flying Brands, the flowers-to-plants mail order company, signalled yesterday it was back on the acquisition trail six years after its last attempt to expand ended disastrously with multiple profit warnings and trading hiccups.

Martin Broughton, British Airways Chairman: Lover of the jumps who is taking to the skies

Martin Broughton belongs to that new breed of super-chairman exemplified by the likes of Niall FitzGerald of Reuters, Dick Olver at BAE Systems and David Varney, who has just moved on from mmO 2 - highly paid but also highly pressured. Mr Broughton's new job at British Airways, which began this week, will entail a lot more than simply chairing the monthly board meeting, holding the ring once a year at the annual meeting and then picking up his director's fee (£250,000 in this case).

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'