Scottish Business Briefing - Thursday 12 September 2013

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John Swinney delivered his budget yesterday. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

ECONOMY

Swinney puts blame on London for his ‘austerity’ budget plan

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JOHN Swinney confirmed massive cuts for councils and rises in business taxation in his budget, as he sought to dull the pain of austerity by pledging to mitigate the effect of the “bedroom tax”. In his annual statement setting out the Scottish Government’s £35 billion spending plan, the SNP finance secretary delivered a muted budget plan for 2014-15 which he claimed was “constrained by significant cuts”, imposed on him by Westminster (Scotsman.

FOOD, DRINK & AGRICULTURE

Drambuie sales get double-digit boost

SALES of Drambuie in the UK bucked the consumer downturn by growing 17 per cent, although the company’s turnover and profits fell, according to the liqueur maker’s latest accounts. The Broxburn-based firm said that its “comprehensive” marketing campaign, including a three-day “Drambuie Hogmanay” event in Edinburgh, boosted British sales in the face of “difficult” and “volatile” trading conditions (Scotsman).

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RETAIL

Britain’s grocery market to grow to £206bn by 2018

GROCERY sales in the UK are set to surge by a fifth to more than £200 billion by 2018 amid a combination of inflation, an increasing population and a steadily improving economy. Research from IGD, the consumer goods research group, predicts growth of 21 per cent to push the market to roughly £206bn in the next five years. UK food sales are currently worth almost £170bn, up 3.7 per cent on 2012 (Scotsman).

Morrisons to slow expansion as profits slide 10%

Supermarket group Morrisons is to dramatically slow its rate of growth in the coming years after posting a 10 per cent drop in first-half profits. The UK’s fourth-largest grocer said it aimed to limit its expansion to about 350,000 square feet a year from 2014-15, “slightly” less than half its average rate of growth over the last five years (Scotsman).

TRANSPORT & INDUSTRY

Royal Mail privatisation ‘in the coming weeks’

The government has given formal notice to the stock exchange that it plans to privatise the Royal Mail “in the coming weeks”. It has not decided exactly how much of the service it will sell, but has said it will be the majority. Employees will be given 10% of the shares, with the rest being offered to institutional investors and members of the public (BBC).

MEDIA, TECH & LEISURE

Lockheed Martin buys Amor Group

American aerospace giant Lockheed Martin last night swooped on one of Scotland’s fastest-growing technology companies in a deal that could be worth tens of millions of pounds. Amor Group – which provides IT systems for the energy, public service and transport sectors – recently voiced its desire to quadruple turnover to £250 million by 2016 (Scotsman).