16 January 2014 Last updated at 05:59

Business Live: Festive sales figures

    0600: Anthony Reuben Business reporter, BBC News

    Good morning and welcome to another day on the Business Live page. There are several companies updating the market today including Dixons, Halfords and Home Retail Group, which will let us know how Christmas trading went for them. Is there a reason why so many companies choose Thursdays to release updates? Let us know via bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or tweet @bbcbusiness.

    0600: Pia Gadkari Business reporter, BBC News

    And good morning from me. We're also also looking our for a report on global risks from the World Economic Forum and don't forget those Goldman Sachs results due out in the US. We're here till 13:00 so stay with us.

    BANKER BONUSES 0608: Radio 5 live

    Bankers' bonuses are still on the agenda this morning. On Wake up to Money, Mickey Clarke asks Chris Roebuck how bankers can justify their remuneration levels when they are relying on other people's capital. "That's how it's ever been in banking for the last 500 years," he replies.

    SELF-ASSESSMENT 0613: Radio 5 live
    Heather Self

    There's an appropriately named guest on Wake up to Money talking about the upcoming self-assessment tax return deadline - it's Heather Self, tax expert from the law firm, Pinsent Masons. Apparently she considered writing a book called "Self on Self-assessment" just for the title.


    Top story on the Financial Times at the moment discusses Japanese machinery orders, which are at a five-year high. The newspaper suggests corporate investment in new factories, distribution networks and infrastructure may be around the corner, which would be good news for the economy and for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic reform plan.

    Karl Koehler

    How much do you know about the industries that supply the suppliers? Companies that sell chemicals and steel employ half a million people in the UK and see £69bn in turnover, but they feel ignored by the government. Karl Koehler, head of Tata Steel in Europe says: "We are directly responsible for 30% of Great Britain's export. We are supplying jobs outside of the south-east, where jobs are scare, we are part of the solution."


    Karl Koehler of Tata Steel says he backs Chancellor George Osborne's call for European reform. "To ask for reforms is the right thing to do, we certainly need that," he says, adding that Britain still needs to "consider the importance and the consequences of its own decisions".

    ITALIAN REFORMS 0635: BBC World News

    In Italy, the Mayor of Florence Matteo Renzi, who is also leader of the Democratic Party, is due to set out a blueprint for reforming the labour market. The Democratic Party heads the coalition government and Mr Renzi is seen by many as a future prime minister. The BBC's Alan Johnston in Rome says, "it still very much feels like a country in an economic crisis".

    BP ENERGY OUTLOOK 0645: Radio 4

    BP's chief economist Christof Ruhl is talking to Today about the issues facing the energy industry over the next 20 years. He says there are always three big-ticket issues: 1. Availability: will there be enough fuel to satisfy the world's energy needs? 2. Security: can it be delivered to the right places without disruption? 3. Sustainability: how do you deal with carbon emissions?

    ITALIAN REFORMS 0648: BBC World News

    The BBC's Alan Johnston in Rome tells World Business Report about the Italian labour market plans being announced later: "Mr Renzi would like to drive down the costs to firms of employing people, that means reducing the taxes associated with taking on employees. He'll try to reduce the red tape and the regulations... and he'll try to drive down the cost of energy, which is such a burden to Italian firms."

    Alan Johnston in Rome on WBR
    MILIBAND SPEECH 0652: Radio 4
    Paul Kavanagh

    Looking ahead to a big speech from Ed Miliband tomorrow, Paul Kavanagh from Killik and Co says he can sympathise with the Labour leader's call for more competition in high street banking. But he says: "The crude reality of it, though, is that there's not a queue of people - or a queue of capital - looking to enter into this space."

    DUNKIN' DONUTS 0656: BBC Breakfast
    Nigel Travis with Ben Thompson

    Nigel Travis, boss of Dunkin' Donuts has been talking to Ben Thompson on Breakfast about the cafe's return to Britain after 20 years away. Apparently it's going to be different this time because they're offering breakfast sandwiches and not are concentrating on very expensive, central London locations.


    Remember the fuss we made the other day when Sports Direct bought a 4.6% stake in Debenhams? It sent the share price considerably higher. Well, this morning Sports Direct has announced that it's sold the stake.


    Primark has reported strong Christmas sales, seeing a 12% boost at constant currency, but a 14% increase when taking into account a weaker euro. The company opened 14 new shops worldwide in the 16 weeks to 4 January and said it was seeing higher sales densities in those places.

    DIXONS SALES 0712:

    Dixons, the high street electronics chain, says it has also seen robust sales between 1 November and 4 January. Like-for-like sales were up 5% and their "multichannel" offering, which includes online sales, grew 23%.

    Branch of Debenhams

    Sports Direct hasn't just sold its 4.6% stake in Debenhams. It's also bought an option to buy 6.6% of Debenhams shares if they drop below a certain share price. Strangely, despite selling the shares and betting on Debenhams share price falling further, Sports Direct says it still wants to be a supportive shareholder and work together with Debenhams management.

    DIXONS SALES Via Twitter Douglas Fraser Business and economy editor, Scotland

    tweets: "Dixon's electrical retail: UK sales since Nov up 4%. Uneven trading pre-Christmas, then 'from Boxing Day, sales took off like a rocket'"

    Workers before Christmas at the Argos distribution centre

    The Home Retail Group, which owns Homebase and Argos, has also put out some numbers this morning. Argos like-for-like sales were up 3.8%, seeing growth in electronics and gaming offset a decline in homeware and jewellery. Meanwhile Homebase managed a 4.7% boost in like-for-like sales for the 18 weeks to 4 January.


    Two other lines from Home Retail Group, which owns Argos and Homebase. The group has appointed a new chief executive: John Walden will take over in the top job on 14 March. It's also said that it now expects profits for the full year to be at the top end of market expectations.

    HALFORDS 0729:

    Like-for-like sales, which strip out the effect of new shop openings, were also up at Halfords - by 5.2%. The group said sales of cycles were up a handy 19.5% while "car enhancement" was 4% down, driven by slowing sales of sat navs.

    OCADO GROUP 0730:

    We've had a Christmas trading statement from the grocery delivery business Ocado. It said it had successfully launched Morrisons' online offering, with the first deliveries on 10 January. It said gross sales for the 16 weeks to 1 December 2013 were up 20% to £271m.


    Taking a closer look at Sports Direct's buying and selling of Debenhams - it bought 4.6% of the company on 8 and 9 January when the share price was about 76p. Assuming it's sold them in the past couple of days at between 84 and 85 pence per share, that looks like a profit of just under £5m. Not bad for a few days work, but perhaps undermines Mike Ashley's image as a supportive shareholder.

    BOVIS HOMES 0752:

    Bovis Homes has issued a statement ahead of its full year results. "The Group expects to announce a significant increase in profit before tax for 2013, in line with market expectations," it says. Its average sale price was up 14% to £195,100, because it had built more homes in the south of England and more larger properties.

    Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer

    Yahoo's second-in-command has made a surprise departure from the company overnight with no reason given. Henrique de Castro was one of the first people recruited by chief executive Marissa Mayer when she took over the company more than a year ago. But there have been reports of tension, and advertising sales - for which Mr de Castro was responsible - have not seen the desired turnaround.

    DIXONS SALES 0804: BBC Breakfast
    Sebastian James talks to Ben Thompson

    Sebastian James, chief executive of Dixons Retail, has been talking to Ben Thompson on Breakfast. He says that despite growing online sales and the use of out-of-town superstores by his Currys and PCWorld stores, he is "incredibly optimistic about the High Street". He predicts high street rents will fall and we'll get "much more fun, boutique, vintage-type shops".

    HS2 DEBATE Via Twitter Richard Westcott BBC transport correspondent

    tweets: "First Commons debate on HS2 bill set to be delayed http://bbc.in/1eTiet0"

    HOUSE PRICES Via Twitter Kevin Peachey Personal finance reporter, BBC News

    tweets: "Surveyors say they are selling more homes - but there are not enough new houses around to sell = rising prices http://ow.ly/sDvoT"


    Let's take a look at how the European markets are starting the day following last night's record close in New York. The FTSE 100 in London is barely changed in early trading, as is the Dax in Frankfurt. The Cac 40 in Paris is down 0.2%.

    Volkswagen dealership in Berlin

    Although Britain recently announced stellar car sales figures, the picture in Europe is less rosy. Spain saw a bit of growth, but last year sales were down in Germany, France and Italy. Despite four months of gains in the market, car sales were at their lowest since 1995 and have shrunk 26% since 2006, the European carmakers' association says.

    PRICE WAR 0851:

    This morning's Times reckons there's a price war coming for stockbrokers, after Britain's biggest broker Hargreaves Lansdown announced cuts in charges for its 520,000 retail clients. Charges will also be reduced for most of the users of its Vantage trading platform. The question is whether rival Fidelity will follow suit next week.


    It appears it's not just in London that investors are snapping up property, but across the continent too, the Financial Times reports. But experts warn the surge in prices does not necessarily reflect sound fundamentals and that prime property is now overpriced because of the high demand.

    BANKER BONUSES Via Twitter Paul Lewis Presenter, Money Box

    tweets: "On a lighter note... the incomparable Matt's cartoon today on bankers' bonuses goo.gl/6UqHsH"

    BISCUIT SALE 0909:
    McVities production line in Stockport

    The dunker's favourite biscuit brand, McVitie's digestives, could end up in Chinese hands, according to the Telegraph. It reports that a Chinese private equity group, Hony Capital, has expressed an interest in buying United Biscuits from its current owners, Blackstone and PAI Partners.

    £50 NOTES 0911:
    £50 note

    The Bank of England has announced that the old-style £50 note featuring Sir John Houblon, the first governor of the Bank of England, will stop being legal tender on 30 April. If you've got them under your mattress you need to go out and spend them before then or pop to the bank and swap them for the new £50 notes featuring Matthew Boulton and James Watt.

    TAX RETURNS 0916:

    Ruth Owen, director general of personal tax at HMRC, tells Radio 5 live that there are still 3.5 million tax returns that need to be submitted by the end of the month. But she adds that that's about the same as at this stage last year. "We're optimistic…" she says.

    DEBENHAMS SHARES 0919: Via Email

    George in Jersey e-mails about the Live Page's back-of-an-envelope calculation of how much Sports Direct will have profited from its Debenhams share transactions: "Mr Ashley would likely have sold them for less than 84-85 as you usually have to sell them at a decent discount to the market price to get this volume of shares away in a struggling company like Debenhams."

    ABERDEEN ASSET MGMT Via Twitter Victoria Fritz Business reporter, BBC News

    tweets: "Asia & emerging markets no longer the golden boys of investment. Aberdeen Asset Management (well known for Asia funds) suffers big outflows"

    Mike Ashley

    In case you're feeling a bit baffled by Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley's manoeuvres on Debenhams shares, here's a link to a story we posted back in September taking a look at this ballsy businessman's unorthodox style.

    INCOME GAP 0939:

    Ahead of its annual meeting in Davos next week, the World Economic Forum has said: "The chronic gap between the incomes of the richest and poorest citizens is seen as the risk that is most likely to cause serious damage globally in the coming decade." We'll have full coverage from Davos next week, including extending the hours for the Business Live page.


    Let's see how the European markets are faring in early trade. The FTSE 100 is just over 0.1% up, but Associated British Foods, the company that owns Primark, is among the biggest losers. In Frankfurt, the Dax is pretty flat, while the Paris Cac 40 is in the red, just over 0.1% down.

    BREAKING UP BANKS 0959: Via Blog Robert Peston Business editor

    blogs: "There is one important issue about the structure of banks which is both fundamentally important and has been largely ignored in recent years - which is whether the biggest barrier to proper competition in banking is the big banks' ownership of the payments system."


    In Europe, 11.8 million cars were sold last year. That's 200,000 less than 2012, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association said. In Italy, new car sales fell 7.1%, while French sales were down 5.7%.

    Workers in a crowd in New York

    With all the controversy over how much bankers should be paid in bonuses, the BBC's Sarah Treanor has canvassed a range of industry experts to find out whether they think huge payouts can be justified.

    SWITCHING BANKS Via Twitter Simon Gompertz Personal finance correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: "Christmas switching fever - 54% more people dumped their banks in December compared with last year, though fewer than November"


    As several investment banks review the long hours their junior employees are required to work, the New York Times spots something of a generation gap between veteran bankers and their new recruits - who expect to work fewer hours, think they're less likely to have children, and also don't believe they'll rise as far up the corporate ladder.

    BUSINESS DAILY 1050: World Service

    Today's Business Daily podcast looks at happiness in France. France is rich, but also unhappy, according to surveys. We ask French economist Daniel Cohen why that is. Also in the programme we hear from Rahul Tandon in Calcutta about the dying Indian profession of street typists. And James Srodes tells us about a new company that hopes to use online techniques to catch cheats in online exams.

    UK AIRPORTS Via Twitter Richard Westcott BBC transport correspondent

    tweets: Airport Commission has refused to meet Mayor's people since interim report, Daniel Moylan tells me.."which is mildly bizarre"

    Liz DiMarco Weinmann

    The BBC's Jane O'Brien in Washington has been looking into the rise of older women as "encore entrepreneurs". She meets women who have started their own businesses over the age of 50. You can read her report here.


    The Competition Commission has released its report on the provision of private healthcare. It's decided to take the step of ordering two companies to sell a total of nine hospitals. "Neither patients nor GPs have enough information, either on price or quality, to make informed decisions, and high costs and demand stagnation mean that new competing facilities are not going to spring up easily," the report said.

    MINIMUM WAGE Via Twitter Simon Gompertz Personal finance correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: "At least 105,000 are being cheated out of minimum wage according to Low Pay Commission figures, others put it at over 300,000. Most at risk of being cheated out of min wage are home carers, hairdressing apprentices, interns, migrant workers, bar/waiting staff."

    Christmas shoppers

    If you're struggling to keep up with all the Christmas trading statements we've had this morning from the likes of Halford, Ocado, Thorntons and Home Retail Group, here's a handy round-up.


    In the Guardian, Roy Greenslade says The Independent is up for sale. "The paper's founder, and current chairman of its publishing company, Andreas Whittam Smith, has been authorised to seek out a buyer," he says. It is currently owned by Alexander Lebedev and his son, Evgeny.

    HOUSE PRICES Via Twitter Linda Yueh Chief business correspondent

    tweets: "My report (video) What makes a global property hot spot? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25747587"

    LISTEN AGAIN 1156: Radio 4

    How important are so-called foundation industries - that supply chemicals and steel to manufacturers? What's the big picture for energy over the next decade and beyond? And, how can we make ratings agencies more independent and accountable? Have a listen to Simon Jack's business segment on this morning's Today programme.


    This morning's Telegraph got full value from Bank of England governor Mark Carney's session yesterday with the Commons Treasury Committee. On the front page it runs with "Carney suggests Miliband's banking curbs do not add up", which it covers in greater depth on the front page of the business section. That page also features a story about 30-year fixed rate mortgages inspired by the same session.

    MINIMUM WAGE Via Twitter Simon Gompertz Personal finance correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: "UK minimum wage is less than Luxembourg, Belgium, Ireland, Netherlands, France, but more than Spain, Portugal, United States"


    The annual inflation rate in the eurozone slowed to 0.8% in December, from 0.9% in November, according to the European statistics agency Eurostat. But it isn't seen as a major worry. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said it was due to a technical adjustment in Germany, which will not affect next month's figures.

    AIRPORT CAPACITY 1226: Richard Westcott BBC transport correspondent
    A380 superjumbo taking off

    writes that the controversy about building an additional runway has been likened to a "sort of Bafta awards", in a speech approved by the London mayor. The mayor's aviation adviser, Daniel Moylan, also said it had "a touch of the Simon Cowell about it". Mr Moylan told the BBC he was frustrated that the Airports Commission had refused to meet the mayor's team since its interim report came out in December.

    TEDDY CASE 1231:
    A Steiff bear

    An EU court has rejected a trademark application from one of Europe's most famous makers of teddy bears. Steiff wanted to protect its characteristic button in the ear of its toys. But the General Court in Luxembourg ruled it was not distinctive enough to protect. Steiff may now appeal to the EU's highest court.


    The US investment bank Goldman Sachs has reported a 21% fall in quarterly profits, as revenue from fixed-income trading was down. Net income applicable to common shareholders fell to $2.25bn (£1.34bn), or $4.60 per share, in the fourth quarter, down from $2.83bn, or $5.60 per share in 2012. But that still beat analyst expectations.


    Goldman Sachs said its revenue in the fourth quarter was $8.78bn (£5.37bn).


    Goldman Sachs' net profits were down 19% in the fourth quarter, and net earnings fell to $2.33bn in the fourth quarter, down from $2.89bn in 2012.


    That's all from the Business Live page for today. We'll be back at 06:00 tomorrow morning, when we'll be looking forward to the UK retail sales figures for December. You can keep up with all the business news at http://www.bbc.co.uk/business. See you tomorrow.


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