Wednesday 20 November 2019

In brief: Fewer firms expanding in the North

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More businesses are expanding in the Republic than in Northern Ireland, new research has found.

Enterprise agency InterTradeIreland, which works in both the North and Republic, found that 47pc of firms in Ireland are expanding compared to 34pc in Northern Ireland. It surveyed 750 businesses of all sizes for the study. Almost nine in 10 firms said they were either growing or stable.

Germans may withhold third aid package

German politicians kept up the pressure on Greece over the weekend to implement reforms, with economy minister Sigmar Gabriel warning Athens in an interview that a third aid package would not be on the cards unless the Greeks made some changes.

Greece is fast running out of cash and talks with its lenders have been deadlocked over their demands for Greece to implement reforms, including pension cuts and labour market liberalisation. "A third aid package for Athens is only possible if the reforms are implemented. We can't simply send money there," said Gabriel. Athens has said it had no plans for a referendum at the moment.

M&S to reveal first profit growth in 4 years

Marks and Spencer is expected to unveil its first increase in annual profit in four years this week. The chain will probably report a 4pc increase in underlying annual pre-tax profits to £648m (€890m) on Wednesday, said City forecast. Although the figure is way below the record £1bn that M&S racked up in 1997 and 2008, the jump is the first sign that chief executive Mark Bollard's big-budget modernisation of the retailer is finally starting to pay off.

The 181-year-old company has endured a mixed five years since Mr Bollard took over, with like-for-like sales of general merchandise, which includes clothing and homeware, falling for 14 consecutive quarters.

Irish Independent

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