Business briefs: Arsenal | Thorntons | Jumpstart | Ecebs

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ARSENAL has seen its profits plunge by almost two thirds after spending more than £40 million on new players.

The north London club, which was knocked out of the FA Cup by Championship side Blackburn Rovers earlier this month, posted a pre-tax profit of £17.8 million for the six months to 30 November, down from £49.5m for the same period a year earlier.

It netted £42.5m from the sale of players such as Robin van Persie but the £40.9m bill for signing the likes of Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud saw overall profits from trading players almost halve to £23.2m.

• Chocolate seller Thorntons has described a 70 per cent rise in half-year profits as an “important step” in its turnaround push.

The improvement to £5.3 million for the half-year followed a jump in supermarket sales of chocolate boxes as it looks to offset ongoing tough trading at its retail estate.

Chief executive Jonathan Hart said there was still much for the retailer to do, particularly with it facing key tests for Mother’s Day and Easter. Revenues rose 2.9 per cent to £133.7m, with an 16 per cent rise in sales from commercial channels.

• Tax credit specialist Jumpstart has signed up two key business partnerships following a year of “stellar” growth.

The Edinburgh-based firm, which specialises in presenting “detailed, accurate and compliant” research and development (R&D) tax credit submissions to HM Revenue & Customs, said it had joined up with 2020 Innovation – a global membership organisation for accountants and tax professionals. It has also become a business partner of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, where it has already briefed all 22 chamber bosses.

• Smart card technology group Ecebs has restructed its senior management team following its recent acquisition by Dutch company Bell ID.

Russell McCullagh, one of the founders of the East Kilbride business 12 years ago, has been appointed as managing director. Ian Atherfold, previously business development manager, is the new sales director.

Ecebs develops smart cards for customers in industries including transport. It is currently looking at expanding its overseas markets within locations including Canada, the Middle East and the US.