PRESS DIGEST – British business – Aug 22

The Mail on Sunday

BOSSES BULLISH AT BEAR SNACKS

Dried fruit business Bear has drafted in former Innocent
director Giles Brook to spur the next phase of growth at the
company, after reporting sales nearing 1.2 million pounds ($1.87
million) within a year. The Bear range was launched last
September and is sold in Asda, Boots, Whole Foods Market and
other outlets. Co-founder Hayley Gait-Goulding said the company
was “turning a corner from being seen as a health food to a
mainstream alternative to sweets”.

BOLLAND IN BID TO BOOST OVERSEAS AND ONLINE SALES

Retailer Marks and Spencer (MKS.L: ) has told headhunters to
start looking for two new directors to focus on its online and
international business. The changes form part of new chief
executive Marc Bolland’s board restructuring. Bolland intends to
close the gap between the retailer’s dominance of the high
street clothing market and its share in the Internet clothing
market, which stands at 5.6 percent. The changes follow the
departure of former finance director Ian Dyson. Bolland is not
expected to elaborate on details of how he sees the company’s
future until after the announcement of M&S’s first-half profits
in November.

BELLINSKI AIMS TO MAKE A SPLASH WITH NEW RANGE

Bellinski, the upmarket swimwear brand whose customers
include Harrods, is looking for new funds as it prepares to
accelerate growth plans. Bellinski wants to create a more
exclusive label, which will carry the name of the brand’s
founder and designer, Annabel Hume. Hume plans to raise 150,000
to 250,000 pounds to support the creation of the new label. Hume
said Bellinski had doubled the size of its range for spring 2011
to 35 items and intended to maintain that pace of growth over
the next few years.

MIDAS

Hays (HAYS.L: ) (buy)

Nestor Healthcare (NSR.L: ) (Shareholders who bought last
month should sell a third of their shares. Potential investors
should hold fire and buy if Acromas Holdings walks away from bid
approach)

The Sunday Times

EASYJET HAUNTED BY GHOST FLIGHTS ROW

Easyjet (EZJ.L: ), the budget airline, has been running
“ghost” flights across London to cover operational problems at
Gatwick. An empty 265-seat Titan Airways plane made three
flights between Stansted and Gatwick. Industry experts said such
flights were used to reposition aircraft, but Easyjet was
operating more than normal. The airline has suffered punctuality
problems at Gatwick with only 50 percent of June’s departing
flights leaving on time. Easyjet said the empty flights were
made to avoid inconveniencing passengers. Sir Stelios
Haji-Ioannou, the airline’s founder, said using aircraft without
the Easyjet name and livery was a breach of a brand agreement.

FUND BOSS OFFERS TALKS TO REBELS

Alain Grisay, the chief executive of F&C Asset Management
(FCAM.L: ), has offered to meet a rebel shareholder to discuss
concerns about the business or its strategy. Sherborne Investors
(SIAGS.L: ), run by Ed Bramson, has a 10.2 percent stake in the
firm. Mr Bramson has a history of forcing management change at
struggling companies and has led shake-ups at SMG, Spirent
(SPT.L: ) and 4Imprint (FOUR.L: ). F&C’s shares have come under
pressure amid concerns it will lose vital fund management
mandates up for renewal in 2014. Sherborne is backed by Aviva
(AV.L: ), the insurance group, with a 20 percent stake in its
latest fund.

INDIANS JET IN TO QUIZ DE LA RUE

Government officials from India will meet with the chairman
of De La Rue (DLAR.L: ), the banknote printer, to investigate
production errors. Lapses in quality control resulted in the
company’s share price plummeting and the resignation of James
Hussey, the chief executive, after 27 years at the company. De
La Rue’s contract to supply watermarked banknote paper to the
Reserve Bank of India is the company’s largest and in some years
has accounted for 25 percent of group’s profits. The talks will
include the matter of compensation, but the Indian government is
not expected to cancel the contract.

HSBC STALKS TROPHY ASSET IN SOUTH AFRICA

HSBC (HSBA.L: ) is on the verge of taking a 52 percent
controlling stake in one of South Africa’s biggest financial
groups, according to market sources. Old Mutual (OM.L: ) is
selling its stake in Nedbank, estimated at 4.5 billion pounds,
as it continues to shed assets in the wake of the recession.
HSBC is eager to gain access to Nedbank’s links with Africa and
its growth in trade between Asia and Latin America. Although the
South African authorities are understood to be hesitant to
relinquish control to foreign owners, HSBC is likely to be
viewed as a survivor of the global financial crisis and a
reliable custodian.

The Sunday Telegraph

TESCO LAUNCHES UK’S FIRST ‘DRIVE THRU’ SUPERMARKET

Retailer Tesco (TSCO.L: ) is launching a trial scheme, at a
store in Hertfordshire, offering shoppers the choice of a “drive
thru” supermarket shopping experience. The scheme is expected to
appeal to busy mothers and will enable customers to submit an
order online and have the shopping loaded into their cars at a
convenient time. If successful, the trial could be rolled out
across the UK branches of the chain. The chief executive of
Tesco.com and Tesco Direct, Laura Wade-Gery, said a “drive-thru”
service “offers a solution to parents who want to avoid the
challenge of shopping in a busy store with children in tow”.

NETWORK RAIL’S 95 MILLION POUND SHOPPING TRIP

Rail infrastructure operator Network Rail has agreed to
purchase Victoria Place shopping centre for 95 million pounds as
part of a strategy to redevelop a busy transport centre and ease
overcrowding. The rail owner and operator, which is also
involved in numerous redevelopment projects around the UK, is
planning to scale back retail space on the station level to
allow passengers more space. Tenants of the shopping centre,
which was placed on the market earlier in 2010 by William Ewart
Properties, include retailers Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L: ) and Next
(NXT.L: ). In addition to selling Victoria Place, William Ewart
Properties is selling its shopping centres neighbouring
transport links at Hammersmith Broadway and Fulham Broadway,
which includes retailer HMV (HMV.L: ) as a tenant.

PRESS DIGEST – British business – Aug 22