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Business news: TUI, Royal London, GlaxoSmithKline, Booker Group

Business news: TUI, Royal London, GlaxoSmithKline, Booker Group

TOUR operator TUI put rival Thomas Cook in the shade as bumper bookings for cruises and long haul destinations, such as Mexico, helped off-set "subdued" demand for Turkish trips.

FTSE 100 group TUI, whose brands include First Choice and Thomson, said bookings for the summer were up 2 per cent on last year. Thomas Cook has seen a 5 per cent drop as holidaymakers delay decisions due to security concerns.

UK sun-seekers are turning increasingly to Spain and the Canaries, as well as further afield. The July launch of TUI's new ship, the Mein Schiff 5 has also boosted cruise bookings. TUI expects underlying annual pre-tax earnings to grow by at least 10 per cent this year.

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Business news: TUI, Royal London, GlaxoSmithKline, Booker Group

Record trading on the back of pension reforms boosted Royal London's annual operating profit by 11 per cent to & pound; 244million. The UK's biggest mutual insurer posted a 40 per cent jump in new life and pensions business to & pound; 677billion, with group funds under management increasing by 3 per cent to & pound; 84.5billion.

New business profits were up 61 per cent to & pound; 137million, with strong sales in individual pensions and income drawdown products, as well as group pensions after the start of auto-enrolment into workplace schemes. Chief executive Phil Loney hailed a "record-breaking trading performance" as pension sales reached new highs in the fourth quarter.

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Business news: TUI, Royal London, GlaxoSmithKline, Booker Group

GlaxoSmithKline has pledged to make it easier for generic companies in the world's poorest countries to make cheap copies of its drugs. It said it would not file patents for new treatments in low income states, enabling more affordable products to reach the market without the threat of legal action.

Glaxo will offer licences for 10 years in return for a small royalty. The measures cover about 85 countries. Glaxo chief Sir Andrew Witty said: "The changes aim to make it as simple as possible for generic manufacturers to make and supply versions of Glaxo medicines."

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Cash and carry firm Booker Group rang up a 5 per cent increase in annual sales to & pound; 5billion, helped by its & pound; 40million acquisition of the Londis and Budgens convenience store chains. Without their contribution, Booker's like-for-like turnover in the year to March 25 was down 1.9 per cent.

This included a 5.2 per cent drop in tobacco sales after a ban on small stores displaying such products. Non-tobacco sales fell 0.3 per cent due to food price deflation.

Chief executive Charles Wilson said: "Sales and profits were the best we have ever achieved." Shares rose 3 & frac12; p to 172 & frac14; p.

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01 April 2016, 12:00