Tradeteam Contract Win

Birmingham-based drinks logistics form Tradeteam has secured a three year deal with AB InBev UK.

The distribution deal will see Tradeteam responsible for delivering packaged kegs, bottles and cases of brands including Beck’s, Budweiser and Stella Artois from AB InBev UK breweries in Magor (South Wales) and Samlesbury (Lancashire) to distribution centres and customers throughout the UK.

More than sixty employees are to transfer from AB InBev UK operations in Magor and Samlesbury to Tradeteam under TUPE and a number of new positions have been created at Tradeteam’s Burton distribution centre and within DHL.

Tradeteam account director Simon Gallimore said: “We are extremely pleased to have secured this contract and are excited by the opportunity to further develop our partnership with AB InBev UK.”

Tradeteam’s managing director Gavin Murdoch added: “We are delighted to be appointed AB InBev UK’s preferred primary logistics provider.

“Our experience of AB InBev UK’s secondary distribution puts us in a strong position to ensure our service excellence extends to the successful delivery of its products to the ‘off trade’.

“Tradeteam’s 2010 strategy has been to grow its primary business and this win signifies a significant vote of confidence by a global player in our capabilities to do so.”

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Supermarket giant Tesco has unveiled a 10.1 per cent rise in annual profits to a record £3.4 billion.

The result came despite slowing UK sales growth in the year to February 27 amid tougher competition and easing food inflation.

Chief executive Sir Terry Leahy said the retailer - which plans to create 9,000 UK jobs this year - “had weathered the economic storm well”.

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Walsall-based HomeServe plc has grown its US business with a £9 million acquisition.

The company has bought National Grid Energy Services’ service contract business from National Grid Energy Services LLC will add more than 186,000 customers and 365,000 contracts to its existing 570,000 customers and 740,000 contracts.

Home Service has also entered into a 10 year marketing agreement with National Grid USA to use the National Grid Energy Services name, allowing Home Service to use the National Grid Energy Services brand to market home assistance policies to over 5m households across National Grid’s US service area. 

Richard Harpin, chief executive of HomeServe plc, said: “We are delighted to announce this acquisition and marketing agreement which represents a significant step forward in the development of our US operations and reflects our strategy of expanding our international businesses through a combination of organic growth delivered by additional affinity partnerships and selective acquisitions.  I am looking forward to working with National Grid as we continue to build a successful home assistance business in the US”.

The total consideration payable on completion is $30 million (£19 million) and at that time the business is expected to have approximately $16 million (£10 million) of net liabilities, resulting in net consideration of approximately $14 million (£9 million). 

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Mitchells & Butlers Sale

Birmingham pub group Mitchells & Butlers is believed to have turned down approaches from private equity companies for some of its high-end brands.

New chairman John Lovering – who took over at the Fleet Street company after a bitter battle between the board and shareholders earlier this year – launched a strategic review of the company last month.

This has provoked speculation that parts of the company could be put up for sale.

But an insider at the firm said it was not interested in offers for its All Bar One and Browns chains.

M&B is expected to focus on more profitable strands of the business this year, mainly the food-heavy budget chains including Harvester, and Toby Carvery.

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Land Rover

Land Rover has announced an all-time-high monthly sales record, during the car industry’s worst downturn for 40 years standing.

Figures to be released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders will show the Solihull firm sold around 11,000 vehicles in March – its best UK performance since the company was founded in 1948.

Sales for the 4x4 manufacturer have been firmly on the upturn for the last six months and in February alone, global turnover was up 62 per cent at 13,905.

But the UK sales performance for March will reaffirm Land Rover’s recovery from the automotive sector’s worst recession since the mid-60s.

Although official SMMT figures will not be released until Thursday, reports of a record month will be confirmed by the Lode Lane company.

The sales bonanza will be another major boost to owners Tata, who announced at the start of the year that JLR had returned to profitability in the final three months of 2009 for the first time in more than a year.

JLR recorded net profits of £55 million in the last quarter of last year.

Both Land Rover and Jaguar finished the year strongly with impressive increases chalked up for December.

JLR had already bounced back in the third quarter of 2009 to reveal a profit of £22 million compared to a deficit of £49 million for the three months to the end of June.

The new all-time monthly record will be a massive shot in the arm for the new management team of Mumbai-based Carl-Peter Forster, new Group Chief Executive Officer of Tata Motors, and Ralf Speth, new JLR Chief Executive, who is based at Gaydon.

Previous chief executive David Smith was replaced in a boardroom switch announced in January. But the new management regime still faces a tough job appeasing unions who remain resolutely opposed to the proposed closure of Castle Bromwich or Solihull.

The March sales record comes in one of the sector’s most critical months, with new plates launched.

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Virgin Money

Virgin Money is bringing in American money to bolster its bid to buy up to 318 branches from Royal Bank of Scotland.

The financial arm of Sir Richard Branson's trading empire confirmed today it has sold a 21 per cent stake in Virgin Money for £100 million to Wilbur Ross, the American billionaire who has a track record in investing in troubled industries.

The deal will see Mr Ross commit to further investments — reckoned to be up to £500 million — if Virgin Money can land the RBS deal. Mr Ross's lieutenant James Lockhart will join the Virgin Money board which recently lost the services of the late Sir Brian Pitman, the former Lloyds Bank veteran.

RBS has put the branches and its defunct retail trading name Williams & Glyn up for sale in an auction which could raise as much as £2 billion for the bank, which is majority-owned by the British taxpayer. Santander, the Spanish banking giant which owns Abbey and Alliance & Leicester, is believed to be frontrunner in the deal. National Australia Bank, which in the UK owns Yorkshire Bank and Clydesdale Bank is also in the running.

If Virgin, which currently has no retail banking experience or presence on the UK high street, misses out on the RBS deal, it is believed it will seek opportunities from the expected sale of branches from others, including Northern Rock.

"The investment from WL Ross [Mr Ross's investment firm] is a significant endorsement of our banking plans and will help Virgin Money to build a real banking alternative for consumers in the UK market," said Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief executive of Virgin Money.

Sir Richard said: "This is our vision for a new way of banking — our ambition is to make everyone better off through good value and transparent products."

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