The Year in Business: Part 1 – January-June

January: Andrew Harrison, managing director at Stansted Airport, which began the year by reporting

January: Andrew Harrison, managing director at Stansted Airport, which began the year by reporting a return to annual passenger growth for the first time since 2007. - Credit: Archant

In the first of a two-part review of the past year in business, DUNCAN BRODIE identifies some of the leading stories from January to June 2014, which included more wrongdoing within the banking sector and fresh turmoil in retailing.

February: Essex farmer Guy Smith was elected vice president of the National Farmers Union.

February: Essex farmer Guy Smith was elected vice president of the National Farmers Union. - Credit: Archant

January

: :Argos, Currys/PC World and Halfords emerged as three of the high street’s success stories following a rollercoaster 2013 festive season for the sector which saw lacklustre performances reported by many of the UK’s leading supermarkets.

: :Pubs and brewing group Greene King reported “very strong” trading over the festive period, after its pubs served up a record 62,000 meals on Christmas Day.

: :Hadleigh-based bus and coach operator Beestons expanded with the acquisition of John’s Tours following the retirement of its founder.


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: :Sainsbury’s boss Justin King announced plans to step down as chief executive in July after 10 years in charge.

March: Ipswich Waitrose and John Lewis staff celebrate the announcement of their annual bonus rate.

March: Ipswich Waitrose and John Lewis staff celebrate the announcement of their annual bonus rate.

: :Malt and malted ingredients company Muntons celebrated an “outstanding” year in which its sales topped £100million for the first time.

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: :Stansted Airport reported its busiest December for four years as it confirmed a return to annual passenger growth for the first time since 2007.

: :Hovis secured £200m of investment under a deal that handed a major slice of the operation to US private equity firm Gores Group.

: :Ferry operator Stena Line reported record annual passenger and vehicle volumes on its Harwich-Hook of Holland route.

April: DFDS announced that its Harwich-Esbjerg passenger ferry service was to end in September.

April: DFDS announced that its Harwich-Esbjerg passenger ferry service was to end in September. - Credit: Archant

: :Royal Bank of Scotland set aside more than £3billion in additional funds to cover litigation and customer compensation claims.

: :Turkey giant Bernard Matthews vowed to battle back into the black after revealing a £20.3m loss for 2013.

February

: :Royal Bank of Scotland faced anger over bonuses as it revealed a £576m handout to staff despite slumping into the red by £8.2bn and admitting losses had reached £46bn over the past six years.

: :The boss of pubs group Punch Taverns warned its lenders to accept a deal to restructure its £2.3bn debt mountain or face the prospect of default.

May: Graham Emmerson and Richard Neall with other directors of businesses making up One Group Constr

May: Graham Emmerson and Richard Neall with other directors of businesses making up One Group Construction, formerly known as SEH Group. - Credit: Archant

: :Misconduct allegations surrounding foreign exchange trading were “every bit as bad” as the Libor rate-rigging scandal, the head of the City regulator told MPs.

: :Suffolk-based hotels group TA Hotel Collection announced plans to invest £2m in a new spa which could create more than a dozen extra jobs at the Swan in Lavenham.

: :The Bank of England abandoned its flagship forward guidance policy linking interest rates to unemployment after just six months as it insisted that borrowing costs must remain low for longer to support the economy.

: :French-owned gas and electricity supplier EDF Energy posted a 1.4% increase in UK annual earnings to £1.69bn, driven by the performance of its eight nuclear power stations including Sizewell B in Suffolk.

June: Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke admitted the supermarket giant's recent trading was the w

June: Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke admitted the supermarket giant's recent trading was the worst he had seen in four decades at the company. - Credit: Archant

: :The Port of Felixstowe received permission for a new multi-million pound extension which will enable it to handle two of the next generation of mega-ships at the same time.

: :Britain’s squeezed households were offered some welcome respite after inflation fell below the Bank of England’s 2% target for the first time in more than four years.

: :BT announced plans to create more than 100 new graduate jobs and apprenticeships across East Anglia, with most of the roles to be based at its Adastral Park research headquarters near Ipswich.

: :Farmer Guy Smith, from St Osyth, near Clacton, was elected vice president of the National Farmers’ Union.

March

: :The Co-operative Group accepted Euan Sutherland’s resignation as chief executive after he took to Facebook to blame “an individual, or individuals” at the top of the group for deliberately seeking to undermine him.

: :Infection prevention and contamination control company Tristel, based near Newmarket, confirmed a return to bottom line profitablity following a major review of its products and markets.

: :The Chancellor unveiled “radical” changes to the way people will be able to access their retirement income with people no longer forced to turn their pension pot into an annuity when they retire.

: :Community media company Archant, whose titles include the EADT, announced an increase in annual operating profit to £9.4m.

: :Facilities management service provider Servest Group, based near Bury St Edmunds, won a three-year contract with the BBC to provide catering at 18 locations around the UK.

: :An agreement was announced for Suffolk Chamber of Commerce to manage the Norfolk and Suffolk Growth Hub on behalf of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

: :More than 90,000 John Lewis and Waitrose staff were awarded bonuses worth 15% of salary after the group reported a 9.6% rise in annual profits.

: :An era came to an end in Chelmsford with the closure of the Britvic soft drinks factory in Widford.

: :Morrisons chief executive Dalton Philips pledged to slash prices to take on its discount rivals as the grocer tumbled to a £176m annual pre-tax loss.

: :Budget airline Ryanair unveiled an expanded winter schedule for Stansted, involving an increase in capacity equivalent to around 2million passengers a year.

: :The taxpayer’s stake in Lloyds Banking Group was cut to 25% after the Government raised £4.2bn from the sale of more shares.

: :More than 130 jobs were saved with the sale of five hotels owned by Barinbrook Ltd, which went into administration in February, including Quality Hotel-branded properties in Bury St Edmunds and Colchester.

: :Southwold-based Adnams reported a strong second-half recovery as it posted an operating profit of £3.3m for 2013, a fall of 2% on the previous year but a significant rebound from a 22% decrease in the first six months of the year.

April

: :The boss of the Co-op Group issued a stark warning about the mutual’s future after revealing annual losses of £2.5bn, the worst in its 150-year history.

: :Ipswich-based recycling and waste management business Sackers Recycling accelerated plans to export recycled metals to new markets in the Far East after securing a £2.5m funding package.

: :Royal Bank of Scotland said a review by law firm Clifford Chance had found no evidence to support complaints that it set out to defraud small business customers.

: :Sports Direct scrapped plans to pay founder Mike Ashley a shares windfall worth potentially more than £70m after shareholders failed to back the award, the second time they had done so in less than two years.

: :The Jockey Club, which runs 15 leading UK racecourses including Newmarket, Epsom Downs, Aintree and Cheltenham, reported an 11% increase on annual operating profit to £22m.

: :DFDS announced that its Harwich-Esbjerg passenger ferry service was to end in September, after nearly 140 years, blaming a combination of dwindling demand and high costs.

: :Needham Market-based civil engineering firm Breheny completed a “significant” investment in new plant, machinery and IT infrastructure after securing a £4m funding package from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking to help accelerate its growth strategy.

May

: :Greene King announced a £75.6m deal to sell 275 of its tenanted and leased pubs to Hawthorn Leisure, a new operator backed by Avenue Capital Group and May Capital LLP.

: :Colchester firm MAN Diesel & Turbo UK won a £39m contract to supply 60 diesel engines for patrol vessels used by the Taiwanese coastguard service.

: :US drugs giant Pfizer withdrew an attempt to take over AstraZeneca after the UK-based group repeatedly spurned its advances.

: :Bosses and staff at Marks & Spencer were told they would receive no bonus after a third consecutive decline in annual profits, with the figure for the year to the end of March falling 3.9% to £623m, the lowest level since 2009.

: :Currys and PC World owner Dixons Retail announced plans to merge with Carphone Warehouse in a £3.7bn deal designed to plug in to the way technology is transforming modern households.

: :The East of England Co-op reported a 17% increase in annual pre-tax profits, from £2.2m to £2.8m, with turnover rising 2% from £335m to £342m.

: :Bury St Edmunds flavour and fragrance ingredients group Treatt reported a near-40% increase in first half profits as its strategy to focus on long-term customer partnerships continued to bear fruit.

: :Facilities management provider Servest, based near Bury, completed a £90m round of funding to help it achieve its goal of becoming one of the top five independent support services companies in the UK.

: :The Co-operative Group secured “resounding endorsement” for reform after delegates at a meeting in Manchester unanimously backed a motion calling for elected board directors and greater powers for individual members.

: :MTV owner Viacom agreed to buy Channel Five for £450m from Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell, representing a significant profit on the £103.5m Mr Desmond paid for the broadcaster in 2010.

: :Suffolk-based construction group SEH announced a change of ownership and a change of name, with founder Graham Emmerson taking a back seat after 43 years at the helm. SEH said it had been acquired by a new company, One Group Construction, led by group chief executive Richard Neall.

June

: :Payday lender Wonga was told to pay £2.6m in compensation after chasing struggling customers with fake legal letters in order to pressurise them into paying up.

: :Colchester-based care firm Care UK announced plans to create 1,350 new jobs nationwide as part of a £170m growth plan.

: :Sterling climbed to a near six-year high against the US dollar as it looked increasingly likely that the UK would take the lead on raising interest rates.

: :Eurozone interest rates meanwhile were slashed from 0.25% to 0.15% as policy makers battled to revive the continent’s moribund economy and stave off the threat of deflation.

: : Businesses including Anglian Water, Ipswich Building Society and the East of England Co-op were among those honoured by the Business in the Community (BITC) charity at its 2014 Responsible Business Awards for the East of England.

: :Tesco bosses pleaded for more time for their turnaround after coming under fire from unhappy shareholders at the supermarket’s annual meeting. It faced a deepening sales decline that chief executive Philip Clarke admitted was the worst he had seen in four decades at the supermarket.

: :Shares in TSB rose by as much as 15% on the day the lender returned to the stock market after nearly two decades. The surge added £200m to the group’s initial value of £1.3bn as state-backed Lloyds Banking Group floated a larger-than-expected 35% chunk of the business.

: :Bury St Edmunds-based computer recycling firm, Network 2 Supplies, announced two major new contract wins which could together generate an additional £1m a year.

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