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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Sainsbury’s profits rise again

Category : Business

Sainsbury’s said it had outperformed competitors and celebrated the ‘milestone’ of non-food sales reaching £1bn for the first time

Profits at Sainsbury’s have risen again as the supermarket maintained its run of success under chief executive Justin King.

It came as the retailer also announced it was taking full control of Sainsbury’s Bank in a £248m deal to buy the 50% stake held by taxpayer-backed Lloyds Banking Group.

Full-year results to 16 March showed underlying profits up 6.2% to £756m, though the bottom-line pre-tax figure fell 1.4% to £788m when property disposals were included.

King, who took over at the supermarket amid sliding sales nearly a decade ago, remained bullish about its prospects despite the economic downturn.

He said: “Whilst we see no near-term change in the current economic situation, we remain confident that by continuing to invest in our long-standing strategy and by understanding and helping our customers, we are well positioned for future growth.”

Total sales rose by 4.6% to £25.6bn, driven by 33 consecutive quarters of like-for-like sales growth.

Sainsbury’s said it had outperformed competitors, citing figures from earlier this year which showed it had achieved 16.8% market share, its highest for a decade.

The results were boosted by what it called the “milestone” of non-food sales reaching £1bn for the first time.

Grocery online sales were nearing the £1bn mark, while Sainsbury’s convenience stores took £1.5bn, the company announced. During the year, it opened 14 new supermarkets, eight extensions and 87 convenience stores.

The supermarket, which sponsored the Paralympic Games and was also involved in the events to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, said: “It has been a year like no other.”

David Tyler, chairman of Sainsbury’s, said the decision to take full ownership of Sainsbury’s Bank would “benefit both customers and shareholders and allow its full potential to be realised”.

The bank, launched in 1997, has delivered five successive years of profit growth, the company said. Profit before tax in 2012/13 was £59m.

King said: “We see a great opportunity to increase the number of bank customers by offering accessible, high- quality financial service products which reward customers who bank and shop with us.

“We expect the bank to become an important source of profit diversification and growth, building on the strengths of our core business.”

Imperial Tobacco Group PLC (ITYBY: OTCQX International Premier) | Voting Rights and Capital

Category : Stocks

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Relegated clubs receive £60m boost

Category : World News

The new Premier League parachute payments figure is agreed for the next three years, with relegated clubs to receive over £60m.

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Five Tips to Help Busy Families Be Unstoppable

Category : Stocks

MISSION, KS–(Marketwired – Apr 11, 2013) – (Family Features) When the whole family is on the go, it’s important to try to maximize time spent together as much as possible. Olympic gold medal figure skater and mom of two Kristi Yamaguchi knows how to be unstoppable – both on and off the ice — and has developed some tips to help balance daily life and family life.

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Will Energy Prices Increase in 2013?

Category : World News

Asda Money reveals that energy prices have almost doubled over the last 7 years, rising from an average annual bill of GBP 765 to a current figure as much as GBP 1,400(1) in some cases.

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Spain falls further into recession as GDP plunges by 0.8%

Category : Business

Gloomy figures for final quarter of 2012 offset by news that deficit has fallen to 6.7%, close to EU target

Spain’s recession worsened dramatically at the end of last year as the government made a final austerity push in order to meet deficit targets imposed by Brussels.

GDP fell by 0.8% over the final quarter of 2012, as state spending was reduced and the public sector continued to shed jobs. The figure contrasted with good news on the deficit, which dropped to 6.7% of GDP from last year’s 8.9%. The deficit figure does not include the money Spain borrowed to rescue its banks and is liable to upward revision, but leaves the country just short of its 6.3% deficit target it had been set.

The government claimed the economy had touched bottom and would return to growth this year. Budget minister Cristóbal Montoro pledged that, as Spain tried to meet this year’s deficit target of 4.5% of GDP, there would be no more tax rises or spending cuts beyond those already in this year’s budget.

According to analysts, Spain’s spending plans for this year are based on optimistic growth predictions. Forecasters also believe that Spain’s 26% unemployment rate looks set to increase: earlier this week, the European commission predicted 27% unemployment for 2013.

Flooding payouts broke £1bn in 2012

Category : Business

Insurers paid out £1.19bn for flood and storm damage in the UK in 2012 – the highest annual figure for five years, an insurance trade body says.

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Negative equity plagues homeowners

Category : Business

Council of Mortgage Lenders estimates there are 719,000 households with mortgages worth more than the property

In autumn 2007, in the days just before Northern Rock began to crumble, Nick Scott and his fiancee Hayley Thomas bought a three-bed semi in Warrington, Cheshire. It cost £100,000 but needed another £8,000 for renovation. The words “credit crunch” were yet to enter common usage, and lenders were still being easy with mortgages. The couple managed to obtain a 100% interest-only mortgage on the property, which set them back £450 a month in repayments.

Nearly six years on, the property is worth substantially less than the couple paid for it. At best, Scott thinks they could get around £70,000, which would leave them £30,000 out of pocket, an amount he says there is no way they can afford.

While London and much of the south-east has seen prices largely recover to their pre-credit crunch peak, the forgotten victims of Britain’s housing market rollercoaster grow in number as you travel north.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) estimates that there remain 719,000 households in the UK with mortgages that are worth more than the property. Worst hit is Northern Ireland, which hitched a ride on the Celtic Tiger but has come down with a painful bump. It is estimated that around one in three households in the province is in negative equity.

In Glasgow, one debt adviser describes the city’s negative equity problem as an “epidemic”, though across Scotland as a whole the percentage of households with problem loans, at 11%, is smaller than the north-west, Yorkshire and Humberside, where the official figure is 15%. That compares with 5% in London.

Overall, the CML estimates that negative equity has reduced across the UK from a peak of more than 800,000 households, and says it is significantly below the levels during the early 1990s property crash, when it peaked at 1.6m homes. But despite talk of households paying down their debts and improving personal balance sheets, for those who bought at the top of the property boom and have suffered salary freezes since, debt worries have only increased.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that debt levels increased everywhere in the UK, except London, between 2006-08 and 2008-10. Total debt outside of mortgages reached £94.7bn in 2010, at the same time as the opportunity to “consolidate” debt on to a mortgage has virtually disappeared.

Lucy Haughey of PlanBPartners, a social enterprise in Glasgow specialising in financial advice for charities, retirees and what she calls “the working poor”, says negative equity is at epidemic levels. “A lot of clients are self-employed and professional and in their 40s. They did something a little naive, like remortgage upwards a few years ago. Now they’re in negative equity.”

Haughey’s firm has up to 10 clients a week registering with credit card or other personal debts. “If they had homes, I’d get them to remortgage to clear higher-interest debts, but now that’s not an option as so many are in or close to negative equity,” she says.

Land Registry figures this week revealed that although prices across England and Wales rose by 1.7% in 2012, they remain 11% below the peak level reached in November 2007.

In most of London, prices have surged ahead, but in other parts of the

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House sales rose by 5% in 2012

Category : World News

House sales in the UK rose by 5% last year to 932,000, the highest annual sales figure since 2007, HM Revenue and Customs says.

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Fitch warns on UK’s AAA rating

Category : World News

The UK continues to risk losing its top AAA credit rating if it does not reduce its debt, a senior figure at Fitch Ratings tells the BBC.

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