Business news in brief: J Smart | FSA | Morris & Spottiswood | Comet

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J SMART, the Edinburgh-based construction group, continues to expect underlying profits for the current year will be less than last year.

In a trading update for the period since 1 August, the company said its workload in contracting is being “whittled away and future work prospects are thin on the ground”.

It added housing sales were “becalmed”, although occupancy levels at its established industrial and commercial developments were stable.

Farnish to chair finance trade body

Christine Farnish, who was the Financial Services Authority’s first consumer director, has been named chair of the Peer-to-Peer Finance Association (P2PFA), the trade body for alternative lenders.

The former managing director of public policy at Barclays is currently chair of Consumer Focus and replaces Zopa founder Giles Andrews at P2PFA. Peer-to-peer lenders will be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority from 2014.

Construction firm appoints director

Morris & Spottiswood, the Glasgow-based construction services firm, has appointed a director to drive its growth south of the Border.

Jon Dunwell joins from mechanical and electrical (M&E) contractor Rotary Group and will be based at the firm’s recently-opened Warrington office. He said: “We already have a well established in-house M&E division in Scotland and we intend to replicate that business model here.”

Comet sale

COMET’S administrators last night said the sale of the electricals retailer’s assets should eventually cover the £23.2 million of redundancy costs for the chain’s 7,000 former staff.

The cash to cover the payments will initially come from the UK government’s Redundancy Payments Service (RPS). But Deloitte said the cash will eventually be paid back to the RPS from the sale of Comet’s assets. The final Comet store will close today.