Here are the business stories making the headlines in Scotland and across the UK this morning.

Body Shop to shut 75 stores and cut hundreds of jobs

The Body Shop will close 75 shops in the UK over the coming weeks and cut 489 jobs, according to the firm overseeing its restructuring.

It means that, combined with cost-cutting at the company's head office, between 750 and 800 people will be made redundant.

However, The Body Shop will keep 116 UK stores open.

The UK arm of the global beauty chain was put into administration earlier this month.

Public sector must temper pay demands or put frontline services at risk, says Treasury

Large public sector pay rises this year are unaffordable and risk damaging the delivery of frontline services, the Treasury has warned.

The Treasury said two years of “above affordability” pay awards had already started eating into departmental budgets, according to a submission to the pay review bodies (PRB) – which is responsible for recommending annual public sector increases.

It warned that spending plans at the Ministry of Defence, which is currently at the centre of a funding row, had to be cut back to afford last year’s pay rises, with further “trade-offs” likely if those demands were repeated.

Millions of public sector workers were handed a pay rise of at least 6pc last year after Rishi Sunak decided to accept PRB recommendations.

Mortgage approvals at highest since October 2022

Mortgage approvals have risen to a 15-month high as overall borrowing rose, latest figures show.

It's the most recent sign that the UK recession declared for the second half of 2023 may already be over.

Not since October 2022, before the mortgage rate spike in the wake of the Liz Truss mini-budget, have approvals been so high.

A total of 55,200 mortgages were approved in January, the Bank of England said, up from 51,500 in December.

Ocado losses narrow after performance picks up

Losses at Ocado Group have narrowed after an improved performance from its retail venture with Marks & Spencer and automated warehouse technology division.

The retailer and technology group reported a pre-tax loss of £403 million in the 53 weeks to December 3, versus a loss of £500.8 million the year before. At an underlying level the group returned to profit with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) of £54.2 million, against last year’s loss of £74.1 million.

Revenue at the FTSE 100 group, founded in 2000 by three former Goldman Sachs bankers, grew 9.9 per cent to £2.8 billion.

Revenue at the “solutions business”, the technology division that licenses warehouse and logistics technology to retailers, rose 44.3 per cent £429 million. Revenue at its logistics arm was relatively flat at £680.5 million.

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