City&FinanceBriefing London Lite Friday, 31 July 2009 35 Inbrief River Island has reversed tide l RiveR island, the privately- owned fashion chain, made record profits in 2008 as rivals struggled through the recession. it bounced back from a fall in profits in 2007 to show a 5% rise to 160.5 million last year on the back of a similar gain in sales to 766 million. it said the success was partly due to some customers trading down from top-end fashion chains. NationalExpress bidderslineplea l THe Spanish-led consortium bidding for National express has appealed to the Government not to remove the companys remaining two railway franchises. The group led by National express largest shareholder the Cosmen family, backed by private equity group CvC said its bid is conditional on National express keeping both the C2C and east Anglia franchises. Employee crime at record high l WoRkeRS in england and Wales carried out almost 1000 crimes a day against employers last year, according to police figures. Theft from offices and other workplaces increased almost 10% in 2008. The 320,846 offences recorded were more than at any other time in the last decade, and up nearly a fifth in the last four years alone. Rentokil makes quick cut to loss l RATCATCHeR Rentokil today said its new management team has cut losses at its courier business City Link faster than expected. The firm has issued four profits warnings in the past two years and tough economic conditions have seen revenues this year in the first six months to end-June drop 2%. Pre- tax profits fell 15% to 55.1 million. Australia Dollars 1.8969 Canada Dollars 1.6972 Denmark Kroner 8.2692 Eurozone Euro 1.1142 Hong Kong Dollars 12.0900 Japan Yen 148.8000 New Zealand Dollars 2.3453 South Africa Rand 12.0100 Sweden Kronor 11.7600 Switzerland Francs 1.7005 UAE Dirham 5.6653 United States Dollars 1.5697 TouRIsT RaTEs DOWN 8.84 at 4622.77 fTsE 100 dow joNEs NIkkEI -$ UP 83.74 at 9154.46 UP 191.62 at 10,356.83 UP 0.45 at $1.6539 >>for all the latest City share prices, call 0905 817 1694* or visit * Calls cost 75p/min from a BT landline & last approx 1 min per quote. Not all stocks are available Bingo tax hits Rank dividend IAN BURKE, head of bingo, casinos and betting company Rank, told shareholders today to blame Chancellor Alistair Darling for the lack of dividend payouts. We were disappointed by the Governments decision to introduce a significant increase in bingo tax in the Budget, he told shareholders. The extra tax will cost Rank 9 million a year. We dont think its fair bingo pays 22% tax when other parts of the gambling sector pay less, he said. John Lewis soup sales surge in chilly weather SaleS of hot pies, soup, Yorkshire pudding and gravy soared up to 56% amongst shoppers at Waitrose, as the wintery weather drove demand for comfort food. The supermarket said overall food sales increased 10% on last year, hitting 83 million for the week ending 25 July, the penultimate week of its half year. It was also boosted by soaring demand for kitchenware and baking ingredients as more customers entertain at home. Figures were similarly strong at its sister retailer John lewis. The department store reported an 18% surge in sales of home office furniture as the newly unemployed turn to working from home. That helped the High Street bellwether to post a 6.3% rise in total sales for the week, which hit 48.65 million. John lewis figures were also helped by keen parents splashing out on new shoes and uniforms to send their just-released kids back to school. Nat Wakely, a director of sales at John lewis, said: We saw a strong weeks trade and with new season stock arriving thick and fast, as we look ahead to a second-half climb. all of John lewis stores apart from six of the 27- strong estate were up on last year, while the companys home shopping arm, John lewis Direct, also did well with sales up 29% on the year. Howard archer. economist at Global Insight, said the result was impressive and encouraging. Tough times: the struggling airline has also cut seven routes Ba grounds 22 jumbos after plunge into lossBRITIsh Airways has been forced to ground 22 of its biggest planes and slash seven routes as it slumped to its first peak-season loss. The airline dropped 148 million into the red during the key April to June quarter when it would normally expect to make a thumping profit. Even last year, when the economy started to fall into recession, BA was 37 mil- lion in the black in the same period. BA, which this week axed free meals for economy passengers on European flights and culled canaps in business class, said it was still being hit by very challenging trading conditions with no visible signs of improvement. Chief executive Willie Walsh said bookings are slightly higher over the summer but that tickets were being sold at lower prices, wiping out the benefit. he said: The industry continues to face very difficult trading conditions, with con- siderable uncertainty over the likely time- frame of the recovery from the global economic downturn. It will ground 22 of its long-haul aircraft -- Boeing 747s and 757s -- this winter, taking about 8000 seats out of service. Overall capac- ity is being cut by 3.5 per cent. The airline has also axed seven routes from Gatwick. 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