Homeserve Profits Rise
company Homeserve has posted a 13 per cent increase in annual profits on the back of strong growth in the UK and abroad.
Walsall-based group, which insures households against broken boilers
and burst water pipes, revealed pre-tax profits rose to £100.6 million
for the year to Apro, compared to £88.7 million a year before.
Sales across the period rose by 21 per cent, to £369 million.
chief executive Richard Harpin said the new financial year has started
positively with all of its membership businesses performing in line
with company expectations.
He added: “We are pleased to announce another year of strong
growth with profit before tax increasing by 13 per cent to £100.6m and earnings per share by 14 per cent.
strong financial performance has been driven by an eight per cent
increase in customers worldwide, with high levels of retention in all
countries demonstrating the resilience of our business model.
have achieved our growth targets in the UK and internationally with our
affinity partner households in the US doubling to over 20 million and
the financial contribution from our international operations increasing
by 72 per cent.”
Homeserve told investors that the number of
policies sold rose to 10.3 million over the period, compared to 9.2
million in 2009 and the total number of customers increased to 4.7
million from 4.3 million.
Homeserve said it remains well positioned for the future and looks forward to another year of strong growth.
group, which exited from UK Emergency Services, resulting in loss of
£42.0 million in discontinued operations, posted a three per cent rise
in customer growth in the UK and a retention rate of 82.5 per cent
compared to 83 per cent in 2009.
International operating profits rose sharply to £8.7 million from £5.1 million the year earlier.
increased 31 per cent at its European business over the year while in
the US revenue increased 41 per cent and policies grew 38 per cent.
Midlands Vodka the Best
The world’s finest vodka is now made in the Midlands, according to the most esteemed spirits experts in the world. Graeme Brown spoke to the man behind the drink.
would have given him a shot, but a former crisp-maker from the Midlands
who turned his hand to producing vodka has seen his tipple named the
best in the world.
Chase Vodka, established by Herefordshire potato farmer
William Chase, was named the world’s finest at the 2010 San Francisco
World Spirits Competition.
Mr Chase, the former boss of
Tyrrells Crisps, accepted there had been a hint of discontent at a firm
from an area better known for its cider-making triumphing over Russia’s
600-year vodka-making history.
In the days since winning the
competition, Chase has seen demand rise more than 10-fold, but Mr Chase
said that it would not herald a pursuit of more and more sales – the
operation is set up to make 3,000 bottles a week and that will remain
He believes the secret to the firm’s successes has been controlling production by keeping everything in-house.
He also said that using potatoes from his fields rather than wheat – used by many rivals – has set the operation aside.
said: “Everyone else in the industry buys their potatoes in but when I
started I thought making everything ourselves would be very important.
“People are getting more discerning about what they eat and drink and want more transparency about where it comes from.
“The first thing is the spuds. We can actually tell people with each bottle which field it comes from.”
He added: “The reason other people stopped making vodka out of potatoes is because you need so many spuds.
first time we made vodka we had an artic-load of spuds and there was
only a few litres. You can get a bit more of a yield out of wheat but
with the potatoes it has a natural sweetness.”
victorious from last week’s spirit’s competition after impressing a
30-strong panel of independent judges in a tasting under blind
The decision has helped to vindicate Mr Chase’s investment of around £3 million in the vodka operation after selling Tyrrells Crisps to a private equity group in 2008.
production process takes the spuds from the farm’s own fields. It takes
around 35lbs of potatoes, which would cost about £25, to produce one
70cl bottle of vodka after being added to water, fermented, and then
distilled and bottled – all of which takes place on site at the farm.
said the secret lies in the production methods, which rely on a 70ft
tall metal column which plays an integral part in the distillation
He said: “One of the unique things about our vodka is it is made from a traditional copper pot, which gives it its character.
“We boil it up in the copper pot and it has a column and it bubbles away in there and condenses and evaporates about 50 times.
lot of people just make the vodka then filter it whereas we do all of
that in the distillation process, so there are already no impurities.”
make spirits is like a fine art. It isn’t just a process,” Mr Chase
added. “Generally you can make food as long as you have the right
ingredients, but spirits are not that simple.
“With crisps it
wasn’t too difficult – you just start off with the pubs and more and
more orders roll in – but not everyone can sell premium spirits.”
The distillation process at Chase Vodka means the final outcome has a consistency more like wine.
The company employs only 10 people, including head distiller Jamie Baxter who previously worked making crisps.
present, the team at Chase are making 1,000 bottles a week of vodka and
1,000 bottles of gin, which is made by adding junipers and citrus to
It also produces some liqueurs, including marmalade, blackcurrant and rhubarb flavours.
Chase said up until the award win the UK was the company’s largest
market, but the US seems set to overtake it. It also exports across
Europe, and even to Russia.
He said: “Since we won the award it has gone ballistic. People are buying lots of it and they love the fact it is English.
we sell something like 100 bottles a week online, but in the last few
days we have been selling 300 or 400 bottles a day.
make about 3,000 bottles a week with the kit we have got and because it
is premium we wouldn’t want to make more than that. We don’t want to be
Mitchells & Butlers Shares
Birmingham pub group Mitchells & Butlers,
which owns chains like Harvester and All Bar One, has seen profits rise
more than 50 per cent after changing direction to focus more on food.
Fleet Street firm announced pre-tax profits of £73 million in the 22
weeks to 10 April. This was compared to £47 million in the same period
M&B went through a massive boardroom shakeup at
the end of last year after board members and major shareholders
disagreed about the composition of the board.
Lewis, the largest investor in the firm, eventually prevailed in
getting a number of new people appointed to the company, but the firm said it would keep on with plans to focus on food-led outlets and move away from drinking pubs.
Recently the company announced plans to sell about 300 pubs that were not profitable enough.
In the last 22 weeks, sales at the company were at £1.4 billion, about 1 per cent up on the year before.
Chief executive Adam Fowle said: "The business
continues to trade well and we are pleased with the progress made in
the first half with improved sales and margins leading to an increase
in operating profits and profit before tax of 12.2 per cent and 55.3
per cent respectively. These results underpin our confidence in our
strategy of increasing shareholder value by reshaping Mitchells &
Butlers around its key food led brands."
As you know, to identify exactly what your competitors are doing online you need live accounts. We have live accounts with your competitors.
A company that allows social care service users to choose, pay and
manage their needs online has appointed its first managing director.
Barnes will be responsible for driving growth and spearheading the
newly-appointed telesales team at Halesowen-based bemycarebroker.com.
Barnes previously spent four years at Ikon/Ricoh International,
including two years as a global accounts manager, as well as two years
at Centrica/Onetel as UK sales and retention manager.
“There is a real passion behind BeMyCareBroker.com– that is giving
people who need care and support the most choice, control and
independence possible, and I am thoroughly looking forward to helping
it achieve this aim.
“I am relishing the challenge of making this pioneering new company a successful and effective business.”
founder Karen Garner said: “We are delighted to welcome Jonathan into
the role, and are sure that his experience and enthusiasm will prove
invaluable in growing and developing BeMyCareBroker.com into one of the
UK’s leading care brokerage services.”
Kraft Move Jobs
in Birmingham today welcomed the news that Kraft Foods intends to
create a new global centre of excellence for chocolate research and
development at Bournville.
New Cadbury owner Kraft revealed it
planned to close its Cheltenham office and have its UK operation
headquartered in Birmingham after it agreed a £11.5 billion takeover
deal earlier this year.
Jerry Blackett, chief executive of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the move vindicated the chamber’s backing of the deal.
said: “The plans are excellent news for Birmingham and an endorsement
of the Chamber’s support for rolling out a welcome for Kraft.
“It is an important and iconic brand for Birmingham and we are delighted that this association will be retained.
is also goods news on the jobs front with the announcement that Kraft’s
combined office network team will be co-located in Bournville and
Uxbridge, the site of the previous Cadbury head office.”
Land Rover - New Jobs
Land Rover is creating 275 new jobs at its plant in Solihull
following a surge in demand which saw the firm record the highest ever
sales figures in its 62-year history in March.
of the extra agency positions confirms the turnaround for Land Rover
over the past year, with the automotive company registering seven
consecutive months of improved sales.
It will also strengthen
the case to keep both Jaguar Land Rover West Midland production sites
open, adding to speculation last month that the carmaker’s owners were
planning to backtrack on proposals to close either the Castle Bromwich
or Lode Lane plant.
Phil Popham, Land Rover managing director said: “These additional positions are excellent news for the manufacturing industry in the Midlands.
comes as a result of a phenomenal response received from customers and
the media to the award winning 2010 model year range, giving Land Rover
an incredible start to the year.”
More than 5,000 people work at the Solihull plant.
extra 275 agency positions will start immediately to boost the build
rate in light of the increased demand for the new vehicle 2010 model
In March 2010, Land Rover sales in the UK were up 67 per cent on the same month last year, selling over 11,300 vehicles.
As well as the Defender model, the Solihull plant is responsible for manufacturing
The new boss of transport group National Express has reported an
encouraging start to the year with cost saving programmes and stronger
operational focus driving improved margins.
The Birmingham-based group endured a torrid 2009, as huge debts and problems with the East Coast Main Line hit income.
new chief executive Dean Finch said, in a statement to the London Stock
Exchange, the group is on track to meet expectations for margin and
profit in the full year and continues to build its financial strength.
company said that despite conditions remaining relatively difficult,
the first quarter saw a stabilising in revenue trends and operating
margins have improved across the business.
UK performance improved in the first quarter, benefitting from a return
to profitability in rail and delivery of actions to increase margin.
Finch said: “We have made an encouraging start to 2010 as we roll out
our plans for operational improvement. We are already seeing signs of
progress in North America, have clear plans for our UK Bus business and
continue to build on our strengths in Spain and UK Coach.
“Whilst we have much to do, National Express has a strong portfolio of first class transport businesses and the ability to deliver to its full potential over the longer term.”
Finch joined the group as chief executive on February 15. He has
completed a review of the business, which has highlighted the
“underperforming” UK bus division as an issue, and revealed a
transformation programme of its US business was not working.