Global warming blamed by Blacks

THE struggling outdoor clothing and equipment group, Blacks Leisure, will close around 45 loss-making stores, the majority of which operate under the Millets name.

Blaming global warming for its woes, the company has issued three profit warnings in less than eight months. Over the crucial Christmas period, Blacks, in particular its Millets chain, was hit by the mild weather as parkas and fleeces stayed on the shelves.

Blacks reiterated that it would broadly break even in the year to 28 February.

The closures will set the company back by 14m.

Brace joins up

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Edinburgh-based digital CCTV company IndigoVision has appointed Joanna Brace to the new role of chief marketing officer.

Brace will have full responsibility for all aspects of marketing, and the development of the sales channel. The company reports its interim results next week.

On the road

Transport group National Express was set for further growth as it outlined plans to seek more acquisition opportunities. The strategy was unveiled after the completion of a review by new chief executive Richard Bowker, the former head of the Strategic Rail Authority.

US internet ban hurts PartyGaming

PARTYGAMING, the online gaming group, reported a 57 per cent drop in annual profits as a result of a US ban on internet gambling last October. The shares dropped more than 6 per cent to 34.25 per cent. They floated at 116p in June 2005 but plummeted after the US crackdown which lost the group its place in the FTSE 100. The owner of the PartyPoker and PartyCasino websites said profits before tax plunged to $138.9 million (70.77m) last year from $324.9m.

Three-quarters of its business were wiped out overnight when the US tightened gambling laws.

Spanish debut for DA's Big Frank

GLASGOW-BASED DA Group has had its digital character contract with Ladbrokes extended, and will now provide punditry services for the bookmaker in Spain.

Last year the company launched "Big Frank", a digital sporting expert to provide online football betting updates to fans.

DA Group said Big Frank will now appear on Ladbrokes' Spanish website providing betting updates for major domestic and Champion's League matches. No financial details were disclosed.

DA Group shares were unchanged on 33p yesterday.

Glasgow lift

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Ceridian, the human resource services firm, is expanding its 80-strong operations in Glasgow and expects to create 250 new jobs over the next three years. Doug Sawers, managing director in the UK, said: "Our Glasgow facility should be most effective centre for human resources support in the UK."

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