Friday business round-up: Six key stories of the day

Here are six of today’s key business stories in one handy package.

The Three Still Company is to build a distillery in Hawick. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

The first distillery to be built in the Scottish Borders in nearly 200 years moved a step closer to reality after its backers unveiled £10 million in funding. The Three Stills Company, established in 2013 by Tim Carton, John Fordyce, Tony Roberts and George Tait, has bought a disused industrial site in Hawick and is to submit plans to convert the buildings into a production facility and visitor centre early next year.

Housebuilder Cala said chairman Anthony Fry was standing down following a period of illness. The Edinburgh-based group, which has set itself a target of growing sales to £1 billion within the next five years, named Manjit Wolstenholme, a former co-head of investment banking at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, as the successor to Fry, who had led the board since November 2010.

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Springfield Properties predicted a return to profit growth after reporting higher annual sales. The housebuilder, based in Elgin and Larbert, said turnover for the year to May rose 14 per cent to £84 million, although pre-tax profits dipped “temporarily” as older sites were completed and investment was made in promoting new sites.

Oil and gas explorer Parkmead posted a full-year loss of £30.8m, compared with a £1m profit a year earlier, after writing down the value of its stake in the Athena field. The Aberdeen-based firm, which has a 30 per cent stake in the field, located in the Moray Firth, took a £12.9m hit from Athena, reflecting “the collapse in global oil prices”.

Nationwide unveiled a 34 per cent jump in profits to £802m for the six months to the end of September as it benefits from the boom in mortgage lending. The UK’s largest building society was helped by a 14 per cent increase in its residential mortgage lending, taking the total amount lent to customers to a record £14.9bn.

John Lewis said sales rose 1.5 per cent last week but all three of its Scottish stores suffered lower takings. The employee-owned department store chain’s Aberdeen branch was the worst performer north of the Border, with sales in the week to 14 November tumbling 14.9 per cent compared with a year earlier.