Business briefs: John Lewis | De La Rue | EEF | S&W | Virgin

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Record online sales boost John Lewis

Shoppers logging on for “mega Monday” helped department store group John Lewis post a record sales haul last week.

The retailer delivered its

best ever online sales of

£7.3 million on the first Monday in December as people returned to work after payday to order in time for Christmas.

Online sales for the week as a whole were £42m, helping drive overall sales at the group to £142m – up 15 per cent on the same week last year.

Banknote control may go overseas

An OVERSEAS firm could take control of the UK’s banknote production under a new £1 billion Bank of England contract, though the notes would still be printed here.

Official tender documents for the 14-year deal to print all the Bank’s notes have been sent to interested bidders, and could end UK firm De La Rue’s involvement. Australian and Canadian firms are said to be among those interested.

Manufacturers find borrowing easier

Manufacturing firms have seen an improvement in credit conditions in recent months, new research has shown.

A survey of more than 200 companies by industry body EEF showed an increase in the number reporting availability of new lines of borrowing. Fewer firms reported increased costs of new borrowing, although the study also revealed that demand for external finance is set to increase.

Three new team members for S&W

Law firm Shepherd & Wedderburn has expanded its energy and renewables practice with the appointment of two former Pinsent Masons’ colleagues.

Clare Foster joins as a partner at the firm’s Edinburgh corporate team, while Scott McCallum becomes a planning partner based in Glasgow. In addition, Julian Poullain joins from Co-operative Bank as a construction team assistant.

Branson in talks to sell his airline stake

SIR Richard Branson was yesterday said be in talks to sell part of his 51 per cent stake in airline Virgin Atlantic to Air France-KLM. A three-way deal would also see US-based carrier Delta acquire Singapore Airlines’ 49 per cent holding in the UK carrier, according to a Sunday newspaper report.

It is thought that a deal could be concluded in just a few days. Singapore paid £600 million for its stake in 1999.