Business Briefs - April 24

Architects Jestico + Whiles have submitted a formal planning application for the construction of a signature hotel at the heart of Edinburgh’s St James Centre £850 million redevelopment.

The London based architects were appointed by TIAA Henderson Real Estate to create a ‘landmark’ build for the mall revamp last month.

North Sea oil and gas company Trap Oil Group (Trapoil) saw its shares nearly halve in value yesterday after it warned it may go bust.

In a bleak outlook with 2014 results, the firm said it was in urgent need of a “viable funding solution” – without which i t was “highly likely” that it would run out of money by July.

Trapoil is one of the onceambitious new entrants to the market which emerged in much healthier times for the industry not so long ago.

Founded in 2007, it raised £60million when it floated on London’s Alternative Investment Market in April 2011.

Nichols Dispense has landed a breakthrough contract with Coca-Cola after enlarging its premises in Stirling in preparation for the “landmark” deal.

It is to become the first company outside the soft drinks giant itself to supply the brand in draught format to outlets across the UK.

Nichols, which owns the Vimto soft drink brand, will provide equipment, installation, maintenance and technical services as part of the deal.

It already holds an exclusive deal to distribute Irn-Bru in “bag in box” format to outlets around the country.

The Scottish arm of Nichols, the largest independent supplier of soft drinks in the UK, has moved from its depot in Dunblane to a 10,000 square foot premises to allow it to meet the needs of the Coca-Cola contract.

The new site is supported by a satellite depot in Aberdeen.

Nichols, which turns over £110 million and employs 170 staff across the UK, said the move is part of its strategy to pursue growth in the “out of home” channel.

Investors in Dunfermline-based retinal imaging company Optos have given their backing to a £259 million takeover of the company Optos by Japanese firm Nikon.

Dunfermline- completed.

Shares closed up 1.62p, or 0.5 per cent, at 339.62p. The Nikon offer is worth 340p per share.

Aberdeen-based Rowan Drilling has sent letters to more than 420 employees at risk of redundancy.

A company spokesperson said the number of redundancies would depend on the firm’s ability to source further contract work for its drilling rigs.

Rowan Drilling is part of Texas-based Rowan Companies, a provider of contract drilling services in the ultra-deepwater and shallow water market.

The company operates around the world, including the United Kingdom and Norwegian sectors of the North Sea, the Middle East, the United States Gulf of Mexico, Southeast Asia and Africa.

BP has agreed to sell its share of a major North Sea gas pipeline system to a private equity firm for £324m.

BP is selling its 36.22 per cent share in the Central Area Transmission System (Cats) business to majority shareholder Antin Infrastructure Partners.

The system includes a 250-mile long pipeline between the Everest field and a gas terminal at Teesside in England.

BP is currently the operator of Cats, which transports about 8 per cent of the UK’s gas demand.

BP aims to complete the sale and transfer of operatorship before the end of this year.

About 60 BP staff are expected to transfer to the new employer.

Trainee solicitors across Scotland are set to benefit after the Law Society of Scotland agreed an increase to its recommended pay rates.

The Law Society’s Council today, Friday 24 April, has agreed to a 2% increase, from June 2015, bringing the recommended pay rate to £17,034 for first year trainees and £20,400 for second year trainees. It follows a 3% rise in 2014, before which trainee rates had remained static for two years running.

William Hill has become the second bookies this week to see its quarterly profit tumble after suffering the biggest loss-making week in the firm’s 81-year history.

The company, which runs 2,361 shops, said wins by Premier League football favourites meant it racked up a weekly loss of £14 million in the middle of January.

Operating profits for the three months to the end of March were down 19 per cent to £16 million, with the result also reflecting the £20 million impact of December’s introduction of a point of consumption tax and the five per cent increase in machine gaming duty in March.

William Hill said its mobile betting sales jumped 48 per cent during the period.

Yesterday, Ladbrokes announced a sharp fall in its quarterly profits on the back of lucky streak for punters and the introduction of new taxes.

The second biggest betting firm in the UK, which runs 2,194 shops, said earnings in the three months to March 31 fell 22.3 per cent to £14.3 million after gamblers enjoyed three winning weeks when favourites won on Premier League football and had a good Cheltenham Festival.

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