Scottish Business Briefing - Wednesday 02 December, 2009

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WELCOME to's Scottish Business Briefing. Every morning we bring you a comprehensive round-up of all news affecting business in Scotland today.


Manufacturers disappoint as rate of growth shows slump

BRITAIN'S manufacturing sector suffered an unexpected blow yesterday as figures for November showed a significant slump in the rate of growth (Scotsman). The latest purchasing managers' index (PMI) fell back sharply, suggesting that the recovery in manufacturing may already have run out of steam.The index, published by research group Markit and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, regressed to 51.8 from 53.4 in October. City economists had forecast further progress to 54.0.

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Mining investor ups value of stake in Scottish Coal parent by 10%

Palmaris, the Lanarkshire mining investor, has increased the valuation of its sole investment in Scottish Resources Group (SRG) by 10%, to 14m, to reflect an improvement in trading by the opencast mine operator (Herald). AIM-listed Palmaris said SRG, the former Mining Scotland which operates Scottish Coal, was in line for a big increase in profitability after agreeing new sales contracts under which the business would get more for its coal in the year to March 2010.

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Belhaven best for Greene King as it snaps up seven more Scottish pubs

GREENE King will continue to seek pub acquisitions north of the Border after swallowing seven more outlets and raising a glass to double-digit sales growth at its Belhaven brewing arm (Scotsman). Unveiling a 12.7 million deal to take on pubs in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Stirling and St Andrews from rival Mitchells & Butlers, group chief executive Rooney Anand said the firm was "absolutely committed" to growing its Scottish presence.

AG Barr savours sales fizz following acquisition

Cumbernauld-based soft drinks maker AG Barr yesterday told investors that revenue for its third quarter was 21.4% up on last year (Herald). The maker of Irn-Bru is continuing to reap the benefits of its takeover of exotic drinks company Groupe Rubicon. It said yesterday: "Further growth in the Rubicon brand has ensured we have continued to see good overall year on year performance." AG Barr bought Rubicon for 60m a year ago. Its products range from coconut water to pomegranate juice and cater to a largely ethnic minority market focused on London and south east England.

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Travel operators collide in row over whether holidays will take off in 2010

EUROPE'S biggest tour operator, TUI Travel, expects trading conditions to improve in 2010, contrasting with the view of its main rival Thomas Cook (Scotsman). TUI chief executive Peter Long made his optimistic prediction yesterday when the group announced that pre-tax profit for the year to the end of September increased 15 per cent to 366 million. It is paying a final dividend of 7.7 pence per share, making a total of 10.7p, up 10 per cent. The business was formed in 2007 through a tie-up between TUI's travel division and Britain's First Choice.

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Building societies in merger talks

YORKSHIRE and Chelsea building societies are in advanced talks over a deal to create a new mutual worth over 37 billion and with nearly three million customers (Scotsman). The Yorkshire, which has 143 branches in the UK, including 14 in Scotland, is the second-largest building society in the country after Nationwide, with two million members. The Chelsea is the fourth-biggest, with 700,000 members. Under the proposed deal, the Yorkshire, with assets of 23bn, would take over the Chelsea's 14bn of assets and 35 branches.

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