News in brief

TWO firms have merged to create a financial services firm with a turnover in excess of £20m. Robertshaw Myers has merged with Armstrong Watson Chartered Accountants, as part of ambitious expansion plans. The group, which has 400 employees in 14 offices across the north east England and southern Scotland, will be known as Amstrong Watson. All 18 staff and five Partners from Robertshaw Myers in Skipton will be joining the established Armstrong Watson team and the office will be headed up by former Robertshaw Myers managing partner Michael Bottomley and supported by Armstrong Watson’s Skipton operational director Robert Whitehead. Services provided include business planning, accountancy, audit, business and personal tax, corporate finance, payroll, insolvency, financial planning and wealth management.

POWER PLANT: Infrastructure group Balfour Beatty said its Parsons Brinckerhoff subsidiary has secured a joint venture contract from Calpine Garrison to design and procure a combined cycle gas-fired power plant in Delaware, USA.

FLYING HIGH: Low-cost airline easyJet said it carried 4.3 million passengers in December, an increase of nearly 5 per cent on a year earlier. Its planes were also fuller, with the load factor up to 87.9 per cent from 85.6 per cent a year ago.

SALES UP: Discount fashion chain New Look said there was "continued momentum" in its performance after like-for-like sales rose 3.7 per cent in the UK in the 14 weeks to December 29. Gross margin was significantly ahead of last year as a result of better stock management and lower markdown and promotional activity.

PROFITS FIZZ: Soft drinks firm Nichols, whose brands include Vimto and Sunkist, expects full-year profits to be significantly ahead of market hopes after total sales increased by 9 per cent to £108m in 2012. Its UK performance has been ahead of the wider soft drinks market, with sales up by 10 per cent.

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