2012: The Year in Business – Part 4

A FOUR-part review in which the EADT business team summarises the key business stories of 2012. Part One covers January, February and March

JANUARY 2012

: : The plight of Britain’s high street was in sharp focus after mixed updates on festive trading and the collapse of some well known retail names. Tesco saw billions wiped from its value after it admitted it has got its pricing strategy wrong in a “disappointing” Christmas, while Peacocks, La Senza and Suffolk-based Hawkins’s Bazaar were among the retailers to fall into administration.

: : Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Stephen Hester bowed to intense political and media pressure by waiving his annual bonus worth almost �1million.

: : Ex-banker Fred Goodwin’s disgrace was completed as he was stripped of his knighthood, after a key committee found he had brought the honours system into “disrepute”.


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: : Roadside restaurant chain Little Chef said it would close 67 of its 161 sites in a move expected to lead to the loss of 500 to 600 jobs. The sites earmarked for closure had been trading unprofitably for a number of years, the company said.

: : Sportswear retailer JD Sports Fashion bought all of Blacks Leisure’s 302 stores out of administration in a deal valued at �20million.

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: : Hovis bread and Mr Kipling cakes group Premier Foods warned that it planned to cut around 600 jobs in a bid to double its programme of savings to �40million.

: : The Coryton oil refinery in south Essex was placed in administration, putting around 1,000 jobs at risk and raising fears of possible fuel shortages.

: : The East of England Co-operative Society reported its biggest ever trading week, with sales hitting �7.5million in the week leading up to Christmas.

: : The world-leading Centre for Integrated Photonics (CIP) at Adastral Park near Ipswich was acquired by the Chinese technology group Huawei.

: : Budget airline Ryanair raised its profit forecast again after December’s benign weather helped it deliver a 13% rise in quarterly revenues.

: : Tributes were paid to former National Farmers’ Union president Sir Richard Butler, who died at the age of 83.

FEBRUARY 2012

: : The pharmaceuticals industry was dealt a fresh blow after AstraZeneca announced a further 7,300 job cuts amid warnings of a fall in annual profits.

: : A rescue deal with Edinburgh Woollen Mill helped save 388 Peacocks shops and more than 6,000 jobs, but administrators from KPMG were forced to close 224 stores with immediate effect, leading to 3,100 redundancies.

: : James Murdoch relinquished control of his family’s UK newspaper empire by stepping down as executive chairman of News International. Its parent company News Corporation said it would allow him to focus on expanding the company’s international TV businesses.

: : Airports group BAA said it was considering its next move after losing the latest round in its battle to avoid being forced to sell Stansted Airport.

: : Ferry operator Stena Line bucked industry trends by reporting a 4.4% increase in cars on its Harwich-Hook of Holland route last year.

: : The new owner of fashion retailer Bonmarch�, sold by the administrators of Peacocks, confirmed that the chain’s stores in Sudbury and Harwich were among around 160 branches facing closure.

: : Struggling tour operator Thomas Cook reported increased losses, but offered a ray of hope in the form of robust bookings for the coming summer.

: : Britain and France signed a landmark agreement to co-operate over nuclear energy, bringing the prospect of a Sizewell C plant in Suffolk another step closer.

: : New Dutch owners of Ipswich-based luxury yacht firm Oyster Marine said they viewed their acquisition as a long term investment.

: : Competition chiefs signalled concerns over plans to merge the UK operations of cement and aggregates groups Tarmac and Lafarge.

: : Associated British Foods said that a strong performance from its British Sugar business had helped keep it on track to deliver half-year profits in line with expectations.

: : Ipswich Building Society defied the gloom elsewhere in the financial services sector and the wider economy to report a strong set of results for 2011.

MARCH 2012

: : Japanese car giant Nissan announced plans to build a new model in the UK at Sunderland under a �125million investment creating 2,000 jobs.

: : Chancellor George Osborne faced a backlash over Budget proposals including plans for a so-called “pasty tax” on hot food.

: : Iceland retail boss Malcolm Walker led a �1.45billion deal to buy back the frozen food chain he founded more than 40 years ago from creditors to Icelandic bank Landsbanki.

: : John Lewis and Waitrose staff saw their bonuses cut to seven weeks of salary after the retail chain was dragged into a fierce price war.

: : Almost half the stores run by retailer Game were closed, triggering 2,104 job losses, following the appointment of administrators.

: : Airport operator BAA mounted another legal challenge to try to avoid having to sell Stansted Airport.

: : Essex-based Hedingham Omnibuses was acquired for an undisclosed sum by national train and bus operator Go-Ahead.

: : Ten Little Chef roadside restaurants in the East of England were named among those to be axed under a programme of closures announced by the company earlier this year.

: : Work began on a �40million project to build a third rail terminal at the Port of Felixstowe, and take 750,000 more lorries off the A14 every year.

: : Premier Foods slumped to an annual loss following a price war which sliced its Hovis bread division’s profits to just �3.4million.

: : Pubs and brewing group Greene King welcomed Government plans to introduce minimum pricing rules on the sale of alcohol.

: : Brewing and leisure retail company Adnams hailed a “good year” as it posted increased underlying profits for 2011 despite a challenging economic climate.

: : Nearly 1,000 jobs were put at risk with the appointment of administrators at national catering supplier DBC Foodservice, including has branches in Suffolk and Essex.

: : Suffolk-based animal feed manufacturer BOCM Pauls agreed to be acquired by the Dutch group ForFarmers in a deal valued at more than �70million.

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