SALES INCREASE: High street chain Argos has seen underlying sales rise for the first time in five years.

Bosses have revealed like-for-like sales increased by 2.1 per cent for the year to March 2, with total sales up to £3.93bn.

Owner Home Retail Group said it had worked on safeguarding Argos, which included increasing online sales and driving customers to use its check and reserve service.

However, Home Retail revealed Argos' sister company, Homebase, had continued to struggle, with underlying pre-tax profits falling for a fifth consecutive year to £91.1m, down from £101.6m a year ago.

BUILDING SUCCESS: Construction firm Carillion says its order book remains healthy after revealing it has already secured projects worth more than £1.6bn this year.

The firm, appointed as a contractor for the National Grid's £3.2bn eight-year overhead cable renewal programme, has also been chosen to work on its £1.5bn sub-station construction programme during the next five years.

It said revenues in the first half of 2013 would be lower than last year, due to changes in its construction work, but bosses said its strong order book and potential further work would allow it to meet growth targets.

BANKING BONUS: Aldermore Bank has revealed its first annual profits.

The group, which has lent more than £1bn to small businesses, and the same amount to homeowners since launching in 2009, recorded profits of £759,000 in 2012, against losses of £899,000 in 2012.

It now has more than 80,000 accounts for retail and business savers and is one of 13 lenders to draw on the Government's Funding for Lending scheme, accessing £205m in cheap finance.

BUSINESS SINKS: A UK luxury boat builder, which is one of Europe's largest manufacturers, has made more than 230 workers redundant.

Administrators at Sealine, based in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, have issued job loss notices to 234 staff.

The firm has traded since 1972 and was bought by the Brunswick Corporation in 2001 before being sold to Oxford Investment Group, in 2011.

HOUSING HOPE: Cast-iron oven maker Aga Rangemaster says it is hoping the Government's Help to Buy scheme will drive increase demand from new homeowners after revealing revenues had continued to fall during the first four months of the year.

The firm's chairman, John Coleman, said it would benefit from extra confidence in the housing market.

FIZZY IMPACT: Nichols, which makes Vimto, says it has seen double-digit growth in still drink sales in 2013.

The firm said a planned move to cut exposure in the sparkling drinks sector would leave overall annual sales lower, but boost profits.

The group's long-standing chief executive, Brendan Hynes, has stood down, and will be replaced by Marnie Millard.

CHALLENGING TRADING: Engineer Renold, which makes industrial chains, gearboxes and couplings, has reported a seven per cent fall in underlying revenues for the year to March 31, blaming challenging market conditions.

The firm, based in Manchester, said action to cut costs helped offset a four per cent drop in sales over the second half, which will leave full-year earnings in line with expectations.