Business briefs: SCDI | John Lewis | Aldermore

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BILL Drummond, managing partner of law firm Brodies, has been named chairman of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry.

Brendan Dick, managing director of BT regions and director of BT Scotland, is to be his deputy.

Drummond joined the SCDI board in 2004 and has served at the top level of Scotland’s legal profession for many years.

He was named UK management partner of the year in the latest Legal Business Awards and was recently re-elected by his partners to serve a sixth consecutive three-year term as managing partner.

John Lewis spends £50m on upgrades

John Lewis is to invest more than £50 million in its stores this year as part of a commitment to “bricks-and-mortar” retailing.

The programme includes £32m to fund refurbishments of its stores in High Wycombe, Kingston, Nottingham and London’s Oxford Street.

A further £25m has been earmarked for other, smaller investments across the retailer’s 39-strong shop estate before the end of the year.

John Lewis’s online sales are up by 30 per cent but the developments are designed to complement that growth.

Aldermore poaches Co–op chief Mack

CHALLENGER bank Aldermore yesterday revealed it has lured away a key director from the Co-operative Bank to be its chief financial officer. James Mack, who played a key role at the Co-op on the potential deal to buy 632 branches from Lloyds Banking Group, takes over from John Baines, Aldermore’s chief financial officer since 2010, who is stepping down.

The move comes at a critical time for the Co-op after the Financial Services Authority identified a potential £1 billion capital hole in the Manchester bank’s bid for the Lloyds branches.

Restaurant Group serves up 35 sites

Restaurant Group is to open up to 35 sites this year after its Frankie & Benny’s chain “performed superbly” during 2012.

The firm, whose other brands include Chiquito and Garfunkel’s, said overall like-for-like sales were up 4.5 per cent last year as pre-tax profits improved 7 per cent to £64.6 million.

It created 700 jobs in the period after opening 28 sites and said it was targeting between 28 and 35 additional locations this year around the UK. Many of its sites are located next to cinemas.