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Echo Business [Northern Echo (England)]
[April 04, 2014]

Echo Business [Northern Echo (England)]

(Northern Echo (England) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Mike Ashley's bid hits a wall SPORTS Direct has scrapped plans to pay founder Mike Ashley a shares windfall worth potentially more than [pounds]70m after shareholders failed to back the award. The company cancelled a general meeting after a lack of shareholder support for the scheme, which would have handed Mr Ashley eight million shares if targets were met for this year and next year. The investor rebellion marks the second time in less than two years that Sports Direct has seen a bonus scheme for the Newcastle United owner rejected by shareholders.

Another previous attempt did not make it to a vote.

TELECOMS BOOST: Telecoms firm Vodafone has revealed plans to create 1,400 jobs by opening 150 shops this year. Bosses said its investment in the UK will reach [pounds]1bn this year, which is the highest in its history.

They added that the cash would be spent on boosting indoor and outdoor coverage and taking 2G, 3G and 4G services to 98 per cent of the UK. Vodafone has a number of North-East stores, including branches in Darlington, Stockton, Middlesbrough and Bishop Auckland, County Durham.

SALES CHEER: Homewares retailer Dunelm saw like-forlike sales grow five per cent in the third quarter to March 29. Total sales were [pounds]195.4m.

The group, which has stores in Stockton, Hartlepool and Sunderland, said the improvement reflected the absence of snow and bad weather, as well as ongoing investments that have helped drive sales.

BOOKER UP: Food wholesaler Booker said like-for-like sales excluding its Makro brand rose 1.9 per cent for the 12 weeks to March 28. Total group sales were up 16.3 per cent on the same period last year, while for the year to the end of the period they were [pounds]4.7bn, an increase of 17.3 per cent.

Booker said the turnaround of Makro was progressing with plans on track to bring the brands together.

TATE FLAT: Ingredients maker Tate and Lyle expects underlying pre-tax profits for the 12 months to the end of last month to be broadly flat when it announces annual results next month. In speciality food ingredients, strong volume growth in emerging markets and Europe is expected to have been offset by the US, while operating profit growth has been held back by a more competitive market for the Sucralose brand.

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