Business round-up: Six key stories of the day

Ian McCafferty was again the sole MPC member to vote for higher interest rates
Ian McCafferty was again the sole MPC member to vote for higher interest rates
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Here are six of today’s key business stories in one handy package.

Policymakers at the Bank of England voted to keep borrowing costs on hold at 0.5 per cent, with some observers believing a rate hike may not happen until the end of next year. Monetary policy committee (MPC) member Ian McCafferty was again the sole voice calling for a quarter-point increase in interest rates to 0.75 per cent.

The former boss of Scottish & Newcastle joined the craft brewing revolution with the launch of an Edinburgh-based venture that already has UK-wide distribution in its sights. John Dunsmore has converted an industrial unit in the west of the city into the Edinburgh Beer Factory and plans to open it up to the public before next summer.

Scottish potato firm Produce Investments warned that it faces a hit of up to £1.5 million following a contamination scare. The Aim-quoted group’s Swancote Farms arm said in May that there was a possible issue with traces of metal being found in one of its products, sparking a recall of potato salads and ready meals.

Artificial limb maker Touch Bionics unveiled a “smarter, faster and stronger” robotic hand for people with missing fingers. The Livingston-based business said the i-digits quantum device is the first partial hand prosthesis that can change grips with a simple gesture.

Biscuit maker Walkers Shortbread revealed the supermarket price wars took their toll on its margins and profits. Sales at the Aberlour-based firm rose 2.7 per cent to £140.8m in 2014, but pre-tax profits dropped to £10.9m, from £14.5m, a year earlier, amid a squeeze on margins.

A Clydesdale Bank survey revealed small firms are determined to pursue their growth plans despite the impact of rising costs. Two-thirds of the 750 SME “decision-makers” surveyed are expecting to invest in their business in the coming year, with new equipment, premises and staff leading their priorities.