Thorntons posted a 9.2% rise in pre-tax profit to £10.3m on sales up 3% to £102m for the six months to January 12. The company said it would drive sales through more listings in other retail outlets and even pub chains. Procter & Gamble is reportedly considering outsourcing operations such as human resources, accounting and IT at a global level in a bid to cut costs. Nestlé has been given regulatory clearance for its acquisition of German ice cream business Schoeller. London's mayor Ken Livingstone has given the green light for a £5 a day congestion charge on vehicles entering the city's central district between 7.00am and 6.30pm Monday to Friday from February 17 next year. Safeway has signed an exclusive deal with Fyffes to import Fairtrade organic bananas from Ecuador for Fairtrade fortnight, starting March 4. Tesco has teamed up with Altura International to build an online shopping precinct called The site can be accessed via and offers products from a range of non food companies. Sainsbury came third in this year's Index of Corporate Environmental Engagement, which ranks companies according to their green credentials. Seventy eight FTSE firms took part. Nestlé is planning to float a small stake in its eyecare subsidiary Alcon to raise cash to fund development of its core food and drink business. Cadbury Schweppes has agreed to buy Mexican soft drinks brand Squirt in a deal that will catapult it to third place in Mexican fizzy drinks. Hamish Stewart, Scottish Grocers' Federation executive member and R&J Brownlie retailer, was made senior vice president at the federation's annual conference. Sainsbury is still evaluating its trial six-store Local forecourt partnership with Shell, six months after it was due to make a decision on the future of the format. Associated British Foods said performance remains in line with expectations as it prepares to go into its closed period before delivering interim results on April. Little red tractor farm assured products will have to meet stricter environmental criteria from August when findings of a review are published. The South of England Agricultural Society is asking local food producers to contribute to a series of picnics from May to August in honour of the Golden Jubilee. Interbrew has entered the Spanish beer market with the purchase of a 12.6% stake in Damm, Spain's third largest brewer. A deal to buy Italian tissue maker Cartolnvest has made SCA the top supplier of absorbent hygiene products in Europe. {{NEWS }}