Business Briefs - 13 April



Edinburgh insurance giant Standard Life has reported receiving an unprecedented level of inquiries from customers since the dramatic shake-up of pensions rules took effect last Monday.

The Edinburgh-based giant has received more than 3,000 phone calls from people who want to understand how the reforms could affect their retirement options.

A further 1,000 have accessed their pension pots online.

Standard Life said some customers have decided to take advantage of their newfound ability to take money out of their pension savings to cover expenses ranging from buying a speedboat to paying for weddings.

Others have chosen to cash in their savings in full or partially to either pay off debt or to invest in property.

 

Travelodge, the UK budget hotel chain which was taken over by Goldman Sachs, Avenue Capital and GoldenTree Asset Management in 2012 when it faced collapse with debts of £500m, has reported a surge in profits of more than 60 per cent, three years after its near-collapse.

It comes as Travelodge’s owners are thought to be preparing to sell it for a potential £1bn.

Travelodge said underlying earnings for the year to 31 December 2014 were up 63.5 per cent to £66.2m.

Revenue last year rose 14.9 per cent to £497.2m, while the key measure of revenue per room rose 16.8 per cent to £34.24.

 

UK construction output is forecast to increase 5.5 per cent in 2015, according to the latest forecasts from the Construction Products Association.

However, growth is expected to slow in the following two years due to the impacts of election uncertainty.

Key highlights from the forecasts include:

  • Private house building forecast to rise 10.0 per cent in 2015, 5.0 per cent in 2016 and 3.0 per cent in 2017
  • Commercial construction expected to increase 6.4 per cent in 2015, 5.2 per cent in 2016 and 4.4 per cent in 2017
  • Infrastructure activity forecast to rise 7.6 per cent in 2015, 9.2 per cent in 2016 and 10.6 per cent in 2017

 

Glasgow and Edinburgh-based Clark Contracts has recorded its most successful month for new business in its 37-year history after picking up £11 million worth of orders in March.

The construction, maintenance and refurbishment business said contracts ranged in value from £120,000 to £4.7m, with the largest being an agreement to start the first phase of the Denny town centre regeneration plan for Falkirk Council.

 

Scottish fit-out specialist Thomas Johnstone has won a £1.5 million contract to transform a building owned by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

The Renfrew-based company, which has previously handled work for Gleneagles and the Sheraton hotel group, has been charged with turning a former language school into a three-storey events space.

Scheduled to open in May, it will host business conferences, weddings and other functions.

Thomas Johnstone can trace its roots back to 1868 and employs 170 staff.