The Business: Friday August 22 2014

Company news, markets and financial talking points, available from 8am Monday to Friday

ENERGY BOSS BLAMES MILIBAND ON PRICES

The boss of a leading UK energy company has blamed Ed Miliband for high fuel prices, reports The Times. In a letter to the energy regulator, Paul Massara, chief executive of npower, said that cutting bills would be dangerous because the supplier would be unable to raise them again in response to rising costs if Labour won the general election and ushered in its promised 20-month price freeze.

UK SET TO MISS BORROWING TARGET

The UK is still set to miss its borrowing target this year, despite stronger income from tax and VAT receipts last month, reports the Daily Telegraph. July, a significant month in HMRC’s calendar, saw income tax receipts rise by 5.1% to £17.4bn compared with the same month last year. But receipts for the first four months of the financial year fell by 1.1% to £49.4bn, according to the Office for National Statistics.

VACUUM PANIC AS EU BAN LOOMS

British stores may witness panic buying of vacuum cleaners as an EU ban on powerful units looms. From September 1, companies will be banned from manufacturing or importing vacuums above 1,600 watts under climate change rules. "If you’re in the market for a powerful vacuum, you should act quickly, before all of the models currently available sell out", said a spokesman for Which?

GAP TO ROLL OUT IN INDIA

Gap is to open 40 stores in India as the country’s market for Western-style clothing continues to soar, reports the Financial Times. The San Francisco-based chain said it has teamed up with a franchise partner, Arvind Lifestyle Brand Limited, to open outlets next spring, starting in Mumbai and New Delhi. Last year it launched stores in Brazil, Hungary, Paraguay, Peru and Costa Rica

QUOTE OF THE DAY… C4 BOSS TURNS ON MURDOCH

“Our independent sector, built up and nurtured over decades, is being snapped up almost wholesale and acquired by global networks and sold by private equity investors at a faster rate than tickets to a public flogging of Jeremy Clarkson.” Channel 4 boss David Abraham launches an attack on Rupert Murdoch’s moves.

PRICE WAR SPARKS FOOD SALE DROP

Supermarket price wars have prompted the first annual fall in food stores' sales, reports The Guardian. British consumers spent 1.3% less on food in July compared with a year earlier, marking the first annual drop since records began in 1989. The chief economist at PwC says there is evidence that UK recovery could be “running out of steam”, though he added that “retail sales can be erratic”.