Planet business



In numbers: space hopping


The number of people who put their names down for a trip on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, which expects to boldly go on sub-orbital flights from 2014. This will double the amount of humans who have ever travelled to space.


The cost of the (return) trip, which will last for about two hours before returning to New Mexico. The journey carries a high risk . . . that you will be seated next to a member of the Branson family.

$10 million

The cost to launch a satellite via Virgin’s Launcher One aircraft. Four companies have put down deposits to use it, according to Richard Branson (above, at the Farnborough International Airshow on Wednesday), including an asteroid mining venture backed by film director James Cameron and Google’s Eric Schmidt.

Getting to know: Belinda Earl

Belinda Earl, who has been appointed the new style director at Marks & Spencer, is a former chief executive of Debenhams.

When she won that job in 2000 aged just 38, she was the only woman to lead a major high street retail group. She later hit the headlines by daring to go on maternity leave – she was the first chief executive of a leading public company to do so.

She left Debenhams in 2003 after some corporate buyout shenanigans – she backed the wrong private equity buyout horse – before going on to become chief executive of luxury brand Jaeger until stepping down earlier this year due to ill health.

But it is her record of innovative tricks with the clothing stock at Debenhams – such as the addition of Designers at Debenhams – that the sales-challenged M&S is now desperately hoping she will be able to repeat for them.

The lexicon: Magicap

Britvic chief executive Paul Moody must wish he had never heard of the “spill-proof Magicap” invented by his own product people for its Robinsons Fruit Shoot and Fruit Shoot Hydro drinks.

Designed to prevent the kind of leaky stains displayed by horrified mothers in television detergent ads, the caps had an unfortunate habit of detaching if chewed or pulled by kids, with one child found with a loose cap in their mouth.

The inevitable recall across Europe is now expected to put a £15-£25 million dent in Britvic’s pre-tax profits over the current and 2013 financial year, with juice volumes suffering as the drinks group resorts to the more familiar sports cap.

Image of the week

There was always going to be a mix of private security staff and military personnel at London 2012, but this still wasn’t quite the image that organisers were hoping to see too much of during the games.

However, just a fortnight before the opening ceremony, the British home office was forced to admit yesterday that it would have to put 3,500 extra troops on standby for Olympic security because private contractor G4S was unable to meet commitments it had made as part of lucrative £283 million contract it had won from the organisers.

G4S chief executive Nick Buckles and chairman Alf Duch-Pedersen have been summoned to a parliamentary committee to explain why they were unable to provide enough staff. Photograph: Luke MacGregor/Reuters

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