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Online growth for Domino’s Pizza

E-commerce sales accounted for 50.6 per cent of the pizza-delivery corporation's UK sales.

Domino’s Pizza UK & IRL has reported system sales of £144.2m for the first quarter ended 25 March 2012, an increase of 9 per cent compared to £132.3m for the same period last year.

Like-for-like sales increased in the UK by 3.6 per cent (2011: 5.5 per cent) and the Republic of Ireland by 1.7 per cent (2011: -10.5 per cent).

For the first quarter of 2012, e-commerce sales accounted for 50.6 per cent of UK delivered sales (2011: 39.3 per cent). Total online sales for the period were £59.3m, up 44.5 per cent on £41.3m in Q1 2011. The company has over 520,000 Facebook friends in the UK and 13,700 in the Republic of Ireland.

Like-for-like sales in 660 mature stores increased by 3.5 per cent (2011: 4.2 per cent in 607 mature stores).

As of 25 March 2012, the Domino's had 732 stores in the UK, Republic of Ireland and Germany. During the first quarter, the company opened six new stores and is planning to open 72 new outlets during 2012, of which 12 are planned in Germany.

Lance Batchelor, CEO of Domino’s Pizza UK & IRL, said: “We are pleased with the group’s performance in the first quarter and, although they are just part of the growth story, it is good to see our like-for-like sales continue to increase. It is especially pleasing to see sales in the Republic of Ireland return to positive territory.

“We may have a softer comparative for the second quarter of the year – but we will not be taking our foot off the accelerator. We have a number of marketing initiatives and other programmes aimed at ensuring our franchisees can profitably grow their businesses in the coming months. This, combined with a full pipeline of potential new sites, expansion in Germany, a strong management team in place and our ever improving operational gearing, makes me confident and optimistic about the months and years ahead.”

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.