Business Diary: January 14

Juliette Healey
Juliette Healey
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Diary feared that he had been dis-invited from the Bank of England bash hosted every year by the central bank’s Yorkshire agent following the incident which gripped the foreign exchange markets last September.

Well-versed readers will recall how the Yorkshire Post’s interview with the new Governor Mark Carney triggered a spike in the rise of sterling against the dollar and led to headlines around the world.

The event was a highlight of January and provided an excellent opportunity to catch up with the great and good of the Yorkshire business world, drink wine and eat peanuts at the expense of the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street and take part in the heavily regulated quiz.

But word reaches Diary that a combination of challenges in terms of venue, cost, numbers and timing meant the Bank of England has decided to give it a miss this year.

Oh, hamper day

Upmarket retailer Fortnum & Mason reported the best ever hamper sales in its 306-year history over Christmas, boosted by a surge in demand for truffles and Turkish delights.

Hamper sales rose 15 per cent and the retailer’s like-for-like sales for the five weeks to January 5 leapt by 13.4 per cent.

Sales were driven by online shoppers with a 26.4 per cent increase in online revenues as people throughout the country decided to spoil loved ones with one of the top names in UK retailing.

Annual results to July 2013 showed sales rose 10 per cent to £65m while profit before tax of £1.8m was a fivefold improvement on 2012. No austerity at the Queen’s grocer then.

Suntory’s Beam

The maker of Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark spirits is to be acquired by Japan’s Suntory Holdings for around £8.3bn.

It is the latest example of how Japanese drinks firms are seeking to quench their thirst for overseas growth as the population in their home market shrinks.

Suntory, whose spirits portfolio includes the whiskies Yamazaki and Hakushu, already distributes Beam’s products in Japan.

“All Japanese beverage companies have been focused on getting growth outside Japan,” said Bernstein Research analyst Trevor Stirling.

Last year, privately held Suntory floated its food and non-alcoholic drink company Suntory Beverage & Food, to raise money for overseas acquisitions.

In 2011, Kirin Holdings Co bought control of Brazil’s Schincariol and in 2009, Asahi Group Holdings took a stake in Chinese brewery Tsingtao.

Beam has been viewed as an attractive takeover target since becoming a stand-alone public spirits company in October 2011.

Analysts and bankers long speculated that its range of bourbons would fit nicely into Diageo’s portfolio, which has many Scotch whiskies but only one bourbon.

Just as long as no-one comes after Timothy Taylor’s Championship Beers.

Blazing a trail

The First Women Awards are on the search to discover women who have been breaking new ground throughout the North and the UK.

The closing date for entries is April 4, with the awards ceremony taking place at the London Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square on June 12.

The awards celebrate all sectors and industries – from science and the professions to media and public service.

The First Women Awards celebrate these achievements and hold them up to inspire the next generation.

Created in 2005, last year’s awards recognised a host of women who have broken down barriers to achieve great things.

In recognition of her huge charitable contributions, founder of the Alzheimer’s Society Morella Kayman MBE was presented with the Lifetime Achievement award for her work improving the lives of those affected by the disease over the past 34 years.

Trailblazing winners from throughout the awards’ history include Laura Lee, founder of the UK’s leading network of cancer support hubs, Maggie’s Centres, and Holly Tucker and Sophie Cornish, who took the Retail and Consumer award in 2012 for changing the face of how we access independent, creative businesses after setting up Notonthehighstreet. com