Completely unique and ultra luxurious home interior designed by 1.61 London showcasing Roberto Cavalli Home Interiors.
The home includes the very latest stunning finishes on offer from around the world to create the ultimate London home. The finishes installed are from Lalique, Roberto Cavalli, Grohe, Hacker, Sonos, Kef, Atelier and many other top luxury brands. The home is controlled through out by speaking to Amazons Alexa.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Mon, 5 Feb 2018) London, UK —
MILAN (Reuters) – The UK’s top share index fell to its lowest level in around two months on Monday as worries over inflation and rising bond yields took their toll on global equity markets.
The FTSE .FTSE fell 1.1 percent by 0929 GMT, while the mid-cap index .FTMC declined 1.3 percent. The FTSE is down more than 4 percent year to date, partly weighed down by a continued recovery in the pound from its post-Brexit lows.
On Monday the FTSE was on track for its fifth consecutive day of losses, its longest losing streak since November, in a broad-based sell-off where only a handful of stocks were trading in positive territory.
“Equity nervousness seems to be about repricing for higher yields and tighter Fed policy and the fear that the bond market has broken out of its three-decade bull market,” said Neil Wilson, analyst at ETX Capital in London.
Asian shares fell the most in over a year on Monday as fears of resurgent inflation battered bonds toppled Wall Street from record highs and sparked speculation that central banks globally might be forced to tighten policy more aggressively.
Shares in miners Anglo American (AAL.L) and Glencore (GLEN.L) rose 1 and 0.3 percent respectively as the sector found support in a rebound in metal prices.
Randgold (RRS.L) rose in early trading after the African gold miner reported 2017 profit up 14 percent thanks to increased production and said it would double its annual dividend.
Its shares however succumbed to the broader weakness, turning 1 percent lower.
An outperformer was Kingfisher (KGF.L), which rose 1.9 percent to the top of the FTSE.
Traders said the stock was supported by hopes for an easing of competition after rival Wesfarmers (WES.AX) wrote off British hardware chain Homebase for more than its purchase price, saying it had made a series of mistakes
Tesco fell 0.6 percent, outperforming the broader market.
Britain’s biggest retailer forecast profit for the full 2017-18 year slightly ahead of analysts’ expectations and confirmed it would pay a final dividend.
Ryanair (RYA.L) fell more than 3 percent.
The airline posted a 12 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit but warned of possible further disruption by pilots and said it was not optimistic about average fares in European short-haul in the summer.
Financials and consumer staple stocks were the biggest weight to the FTSE, taking a combined of 26 points off the blue chip index.
Here’s just some of the fun we had on our stand at this year’s London Coffee Festival.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Sat, 3 Feb 2018) London, Uk – –
“An immunologist and optician walk into a coffee shop” sounds like the beginning of a naff joke, but for Steven Macatonia and Jeremy Torz,
it perfectly describes the origin of their journey to co-founding
Union Hand-Roasted Coffee.
“It all started in the late Eighties, when Steven went on what should have been a six-month sabbatical to the US,” remembers Torz, an optician who decided to join his partner on the American west coast in Palo Alto.
During their stay there, the duo noticed the emergence of a craft coffee scene, with a handful of new shops serving up a fresh take on a traditional cup of joe.
In one store, Peet’s Coffee, they found a dark roast that was sweet, heavy and rich. “We had never tasted anything like it,” says the founder. “It was a different time then; there were no chains or espresso bars like there are now, and takeaway coffee wasn’t a thing.”
The only place to order a cup back home was at a burger bar or greasy spoon, he says. But Stateside things were changing and the coffee-drinking duo were inspired.
“That six-month stay turned into four years,” jokes Torz, who
took a store job at Peet’s to learn as much as he could about the business of coffee. Macatonia continued his science work, but the pair were always on the edge of doing their own thing.
In 1994, the couple returned to the UK to create their own coffee bean company, selling all their possessions, moving in with Macatonia’s parents, and renting a small workshop that was kitted out with
a roasting machine.
They grew their wholesale idea into a successful venture, piggybacking off a flourishing food and drink scene to supply beans to respected restaurants. Not long after, they merged with the Seattle Coffee Company before being bought by Starbucks in 1998.
“We stayed on and learned a lot, but the corporate life wasn’t for us,” says Torz, who left with Macatonia in 2000.
The co-founders wanted another crack at the coffee market.
“We always wanted to buy coffee directly from farms, so we went to Guatemala to see what growing looked like,” explains the entrepreneur. “We found third and fourth-generation coffee-producing families tearing up trees because they couldn’t afford to keep growing.”
They witnessed poverty, hunger and hardship – and it felt wrong. “There we all were [back home], blithely drinking amazing coffee without considering the source,” says Torz, who figured that there had to be a better way.
Their new roast and supply business, Union, would be just that: a bridge between the two ends of the supply chain. “We wanted to help the producer, while educating consumers and getting them to appreciate this commodity.”
Since day one of its launch in 2001, the Union team has made an intentional and explicit effort to work with growers.
“For a lot of families and farmers, coffee-growing is based on the
simple need to harvest as quickly as possible to make money,” says Torz. “But if you take more time and care, you produce a higher-quality bean that’s worth more per kilo, so producers earn more.”
To embed that concept among growers, the team work from the grassroots up. “We get in there to understand communities at their level,” he explains. “We make a large time commitment to be overseas.”
And by understanding each community’s individual issues and idiosyncrasies, Union can help to change things. The support that
it offers ranges from the financial (multi-year commitments to buy at a guaranteed minimum price, for example) to promotional (PR and marketing campaigns that promote regions to other roasters around the world).
“In western Ethiopia, where I’m working now, we’re running workshops on community organisation and agricultural work, such as pruning coffee trees and managing soil,” says the co-founder.
“We’re not just there as a purchaser; we’re a stakeholder.”
It’s an approach that did (and still does)
set the company apart from its competitors, thinks Torz: “We’re not just coming to a country, finding the tastiest coffee, buying from the producer and not being there for them next year.”
But not everything went as well as it could early on; looking back,
Torz thinks that he didn’t get people in early enough:
“We tried to do too much ourselves – we spread ourselves too thinly.”
It’s common, he explains, for founders to believe that they’re
the only ones capable of understanding the complexities of their business and how it must be driven and represented. “But it’s vital that you bring in outside experts,” he says. “The real skill of the entrepreneur is to give a clear brief to those people; ask appropriate questions of them; and take a considered approach to their suggestions.
“You have to invest in quality people; if we had done that earlier,
we would have grown faster and without wasting money in the early years.”
The firm is in a healthy place today, with 75 staff and an annual turnover of £12.5m. It also recently acquired the Edinburgh-based Brew Lab, a specialty coffee bar that Torz says will enable Union to get closer to the end customer.
“The biggest challenge as a wholesaler is that you’re always the best supporting actor and never the lead role. It’s difficult to bond and build a long-term relationship with the consumer.”
The shop will also be a live testing ground, he adds: “Obviously it has to be profitable, but through it we can learn about how the barista team works, what the customers say and like, and experiment with new brews.”
Torz is confident that we haven’t reached peak coffee just yet:
“It’s such a social product – just look at the modern office; workplaces now create coffee bars instead of meeting rooms.”
And the future is particularly promising for indie companies:
“You used to have to spend a fortune on securing a prime high-street spot, but now you can be off-prime, because people will seek you
out if you give them a quality product and an inviting, friendly atmosphere.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 17 Jan 2018) London, Uk – –
Proposal sees 300 metres cut from runway in effort to help reduce costs to £15bn, but opponents say move changes forecasted economic benefits
Heathrow is to unveil proposals for a shorter, cheaper third runway in a public consultation to help push its expansion plans through.
The airport will propose cutting 300 metres from the length of the northwestern runway, a scheme approved by the government following the Airports Commission process, in an attempt to cut costs.
Although the government has backed Heathrow’s expansion, it has also said it must not mean higher charges for airlines, which would probably be passed on to passengers. British Airways, which operates about half the flights at Heathrow, had complained bitterly about the expected cost of the new runway. Heathrow now believes it can deliver the runway for £14.3bn, cutting £2.5bn from the original price, and keeping charges “close to” today’s levels.
Plans for a brand new terminal could also be jettisoned in favour of expanding around its two main existing terminals, with construction phased to cut costs.
The shorter runway will still require the M25 to be moved 150 metres west, with the airport now proposing that Britain’s busiest motorway be accommodated in a shallower tunnel under a slightly ramped runway.
The options, including whether the shorter runway would be located to the western or eastern end of where the full-length 3.5km runway (2.1 miles) would lie, will be presented to the public in 40 events over a 10-week consultation.
Heathrow hopes that its consultation – independent of government consultations in the planning process – will allow it to present its best case and pre-empt some objections ahead of a crucial parliamentary vote expected this year on the national policy statement on aviation, which gives the go-ahead for another runway. The airport has pledged higher compensation to residents, a six-and-a-half-hour ban on scheduled night flights, and to stay within air quality limits.
Emma Gilthorpe, Heathrow’s executive director for expansion, said: “We need feedback to help deliver this opportunity responsibly and to create a long-term legacy both at a local and national level. Heathrow is consulting to ensure that we deliver benefits for our passengers, businesses across the country but also, importantly, for those neighbours closest to us.”
Opponents of expansion expressed incredulity that Heathrow was proposing a shorter runway than in its original plan, while a source close to other schemes considered by the government suggested any significant changes to the project could face legal challenges.
John Stewart, chair of the anti-Heathrow expansion group Hacan, said: “The Airport Commission calculations of economic benefits were on the basis of the capacity of a full-length runway. A shorter runway could open a can of worms, and invite a judicial review from Heathrow Hub or even Gatwick.”
The consultation will also discuss the redesign of air space, which will affect flight paths over London and beyond. Although the reform is being driven independently of Heathrow, the likely impact would be to further concentrate air traffic over the same routes.
Stewart said Hacan would “engage positively – especially on the principle of flight path changes, spreading the burden more fairly”.
Should parliament back expansion, Heathrow will need to consult further on the details before submitting plans, with final approval not expected before 2021. A thrid runway is not expected to be operational before 2025 at the earliest.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 21 Dec 2017) London, UK —
LONDON (Reuters) – London’s black cab-maker said its new electric taxi will be exported to Norway next year, its second foreign market as the Chinese Geely-owned firm pursues a major expansion plan.
he London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) picked Amsterdam earlier this year as its first overseas destination, where around 225 vehicles will be used as part of a service which transports the elderly and disabled.
LEVC is boosting its volumes as part of a plan which will see it sell roughly half of around 10,000 vehicles abroad by the turn of the decade, including a new van.
It opened a new factory in central England in March, as part of a turnaround for the company which was saved from bankruptcy nearly five years ago by Geely.
Norway has the world’s highest rate of battery-vehicle ownership, thanks to generous tax breaks, with taxi firms seeking to electrify their fleets.
The Oslo-based firm Autoindustri will begin receiving deliveries of the model in the first quarter of 2018, LEVC said on Thursday.
“There are huge opportunities ahead for the business in Norway and we are looking forward to working with Autoindustri to make them a reality,” said LEVC Chief Executive Chris Gubbey.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Mon, 4 Dec 2017) London, Uk – –
Facebook has opened a new office in London and pledged to hire 800 new staff in the UK over the next year.
The social media giant said the seven-storey building in central London, one of a number of offices it has opened in recent years, would make the capital its largest computer engineering base outside of the US.
In a first for the company, it is also promising to house technology start-ups in the new building, running an “incubator” designed to foster young companies.
Facebook, which has been criticised over its UK tax arrangements, has often highlighted its investment in staff. It opened its first office in London 10 years ago and will employ 2,300 in the UK by this time next year.
The 247,000 sq ft building in Rathbone Place, off Oxford Street, designed by Frank Gehry, the architect, will house developers and sales staff. Services developed in the UK include Workplace, its office communication tool, and part of Facebook’s Oculus virtual reality team.
The start-up incubator, called “LDN LAB”, will mark the first time that Facebook has housed start-ups in its offices. It will not take equity in the companies but a spokesman said it would share “expertise and mentorship” and that it would be looking for companies dedicated to Facebook’s mission of “building communities”, suggesting the lab could be a pre-cursor to acquisitions.
“Today’s announcements show that Facebook is more committed than ever to the UK and in supporting the growth of the country’s innovative start-ups,” said Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “This country has been a huge part of Facebook’s story over the past decade.”
The move is the latest commitment to the UK from a large Silicon Valley company. Google, Apple and Snap have all expanded in London since last year’s Brexit vote.
Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, said: “The UK is not only the best place to start a new business, it’s also the best place to grow one. It’s a sign of confidence in our country that innovative companies like Facebook invest here, and it’s terrific news that they will be hiring 800 more highly skilled workers next year.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 25 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –
The UK’s economy had higher than expected growth in the three months to September – increasing the chances of a rise in interest rates in November.
Gross domestic product (GDP) for the quarter rose by 0.4%, compared with 0.3% in each of 2017’s first two quarters, according to latest Office for National Statistics figures.
Economists said the figures were a green light for a rate rise next week.
If it happens, it will be the first rise since 5 July 2007.
The financial markets are now indicating an 84% probability that rates will rise from their current record low of 0.25% when the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meets on 2 November.
Governor Mark Carney indicated to the BBC last month that rates could rise in the “relatively near term”.
UK economist Ruth Gregory, of research company Capital Economics, said the figures “have probably sealed the deal on an interest rate hike next week”.
While many economists echo that view, some think the Bank of England will keep rates where they are.
“If all we can muster… is an acceleration in economic growth that’s so small you could blink and miss it, the Bank of England could still think better of a rate rise next week,” said Ross Andrews from Minerva Lending.
The slightly better growth figures will strengthen the arguments of the interest rate hawks on the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee.
Next Thursday, the Bank’s rate setting committee meets to decide whether to raise interest rates for the first time in more than a decade.
With inflation at 3%, Mark Carney, the governor, has signalled that an increase is on the cards.
And with economic growth more robust than many economists expected, those who support that direction of travel on the MPC will be emboldened.
To be clear, any rate rise will be small. And future rate rises will be gradual.
But the Bank is sending a clear message – slowly, eventually, the period of historically low interest rates is coming to an end.
The pound rose more than a cent against the dollar and nearly a cent against the euro in the first couple of hours of trading after the announcement.
Chancellor Philip Hammond said: “We have a successful and resilient economy which is supporting a record number of people in employment.
“My focus now, and going into the Budget, is on boosting productivity so that we can deliver higher-wage jobs and a better standard of living.”
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “The UK is not growing as fast as many of our trading partners in the EU or the USA.
“The Chancellor cannot keep hiding from the facts, as his approach of carrying on as usual is seriously putting working people’s living standards at risk.”
The biggest contributor to growth in the third quarter was the service sector, which expanded by 0.4%.
In particular, computer programming, motor traders and retailers were the businesses that showed the strongest performance.
Manufacturing expanded by 1% during the quarter – a return to growth after a weak second quarter.
However, construction contracted by 0.7% in the quarter, accelerating from the 0.5% decline recorded in the previous three months.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Mon, 23 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –
City investors are enjoying a bumper payday after dividends reached a record £28.5bn during the third quarter of this year.
Despite some currency gains fading in the third quarter, which boosted British blue-chips earlier this year, dividends still rose by 14.3pc in the third quarter, said Capita Asset Services.
The surge in payouts has meant that this year is comfortably on track to smash the previous annual record for dividends set in 2014.
Capita has upgraded its forecasts by £3bn and now expects dividends to reach £94bn in 2017, a 11pc rise on last year.
The level has been partly boosted by a £1.5bn hike in special dividends, which were two-fifths higher than the year. Catering company Compass helped lift that figure by awarding £960m to shareholders.
The sizeable special dividend came after Capita announced it would return 61p-a-share to investors in May after being unable to find large-scale deals on which to spend its excess cash. Recruitment business Hays also issued its first-ever special dividend in August on the back of strong international fees, despite a steep fall in the UK market.
Special dividends have become increasingly common as companies seek to reward investors but still want financial flexibility given the uncertain economic backdrop.
Awarding special dividends means that companies are not under pressure to continue increasing normal dividend payments should their financial performance worsen. Underlying dividends reached £17bn during the third quarter, with two-thirds of payouts coming from the mining sector, which has enjoyed a return to growth after a sustained commodity slump.
“We had high hopes for 2017, but the dividend seam is proving even richer than we expected, as the mining sector finds its footing again,” said Justin Cooper, chief executive of Capita’s shareholder solutions.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via cityam.com – – Thur, 19 Oct2017) London, Uk – –
Fintech startups in the UK are on track to attract a record amount of investment in 2017 new figures reveal, bucking concerns that Brexit could derail the star sector.
More than $1bn (£760m) has already been ploughed into technology firms hoping to disrupt finance this year by venture capital investors, more than double the amount this time last year according to fresh data from London and Partners and Pitchbook.
Read more: City calls for fintech sector deal to ensure UK remains leader after Brexit
Investment is set to smash 2015 when $1.16bn was invested in UK fintech, cementing London’s position as the fintech capital of Europe and a global hub. It hit a five quarter high in the third quarter, with 37 deals worth $358m separate figures published by CB Insights show.
The data also predicts that investment across Europe could break the $2bn barrier for the first time in 2017, having already hit a record of $1.8bn across 216 deals in the first three quarters of the year.
The already bumper year has been largely driven by the UK, accounting for around half of investment and eight of the 10 biggest deals of third quarter. They include $66m for digital challenger bank Revolut, $50m for accountancy software firm Receipt Bank and $40m for lending platform Prodigy Finance.
Along with investment in China expected to hit new highs, it puts fintech investment globally on track for a record year. So far this year, firms around the world have raised $12.2bn across 818 deals. However, analysts believe the cash going into fintech in the US will be off record highs for a second year in a row. The country’s still expected to grab the lion’s share of cash, followed by China and the UK.
Meanwhile, a separate soon-to-be published report from Investec has noted increasing interest from new investors. “Reaffirming the global appeal of London’s fintech sector, in 2017 we have seen a large number of international investors invest in London fintechs who have not invested in London previously,” said co-head of emerging companies Kevin Chong.
Read more: Open Banking comes another step closer: Fintechs can apply for FCA approval
Deputy mayor for business Rajesh Agrawal said the figures were “yet more proof that global investors believe London will remain a leading fintech hub for many years to come”.
“Clearly, Brexit poses major challenges – but London’s position as a global financial centre and world-class technology hub is built on strong foundations which cannot be replicated anywhere else: access to more software developers than Stockholm, Berlin and Dublin combined, Europe’s largest fintech accelerator Level 39, and the continent’s only truly global financial market.”
He added: “This highlights the need for a Brexit which enables London to maintain its place at the heart of the single market, as Europe’s financial capital.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 28 Sept 2017) London, UK —
LONDON (Reuters) – Lloyd’s of London SOLYD.UL expects net losses of $4.5 billion from hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which analysts said would eat into the insurer’s capital and hit its profitability.
Although losses from natural catastrophes have been low in recent years, including in the first half, that is set to change in the second half of the year, Lloyd’s chief executive Inga Beale said following Thursday’s results.
“There was limited major claim activity in the first half. There’s a very different second half emerging – it’s not only the hurricanes but we’ve got the Mexican earthquakes, floods in Asia, typhoons in Asia,” Beale told Reuters.
“The hurricane season is still in play, earthquakes can happen at any time,” Beale said as Lloyd’s reported a 16 percent profit fall in the first half of 2017.
Lloyd’s 80-plus syndicates have already paid out more than $160 million in claims from Harvey and more than $240 million from Irma, Beale said. The $4.5 billion net loss estimate was based on modeling of “known exposures”, she added.
“Given that the Lloyd’s of London market typically produces earnings of 2.1-3.5 billion pounds, it is highly likely that the market faces a capital loss,” Jefferies analysts said in a note.
Modeling firm RMS estimates total insured losses from Harvey and Irma of up to $80 billion.
Meanwhile, Beale said it was too early to assess losses from Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico last week and which some analysts have predicted will lead to greater insurance losses than Harvey and Irma.
Lloyd’s made 1.22 billion pounds ($1.63 billion) in profit before tax in the six months to the end of June, down from 1.46 billion pounds a year earlier, although Beale said part of the drop in profit was related to currency fluctuations.
Insurance rates have been falling for the world’s largest specialist insurance market and other insurers for several years due to strong competition.
Lloyd’s return on capital worsened to 8.9 pct from 11.7 pct, due to pressure on returns from low interest rates.
Gross premiums rose to 18.9 billion pounds from 16.3 billion pounds last year, and its combined ratio improved to 96.9 pct from 98 pct in 2016. A combined ratio is a measure of underwriting profitability, with a level below 100 percent indicating a profit.
Jefferies said recent natural catastrophes meant that a combined ratio for the year of 112.5 percent for Lloyd’s “is now a possibility”, indicating higher underwriting losses than 2011, which it said was “the last major catastrophe year”.
Lloyd’s was on track to open its planned EU subsidiary in Brussels by the middle of next year, Beale said, adding the new hub would employ “tens” of people and the firm would be submitting its formal license application “very shortly”.
More than 20 insurers have announced plans for EU hubs in the event that Britain loses access to the single market as a result of its departure from the European Union.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 8 Sept 2017) London, Uk – –
About 143 million US customers of credit report giant Equifax may have had information compromised in a cyber security breach, the company has disclosed.
Equifax said cyber-criminals accessed data such as Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses during the incident.
Some UK and Canadian customers were also affected.
The firm’s core consumer and commercial credit databases were not accessed.
Equifax said hackers accessed the information between mid-May and the end of July, when the company discovered the breach.
Malicious hackers won access to its systems by exploiting a “website application vulnerability”, it said but provided no further details.
The hackers accessed credit card numbers for about 209,000 consumers, among other information.
Equifax chief executive Richard Smith said the incident was “disappointing” and “one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do”.
“I apologise to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes,” said Richard Smith, Equifax chairman and chief executive.
“We pride ourselves on being a leader in managing and protecting data, and we are conducting a thorough review of our overall security operations.”
It said it was working with law enforcement agencies to investigate and had hired a cyber-security firm to analyse what happened. The FBI is also believed to be monitoring the situation.
The company said it would work with regulators in the US, UK and Canada on next steps. It is also offering free credit monitoring and identity theft protection for a year.
Equifax said it had set up a website – www.equifaxsecurity2017.com – through which consumers can check if their data has been caught up in the breach. Many people trying to visit the site reported via social media that they had problems reaching it and that security software flagged it as potentially dangerous.
The UK’s Information Commissioner (ICO) said reports about the data breach and the potential involvement of UK citizens gave it “cause for concern”.
It said it was in contact with Equifax to find out how many British people were affected and the kinds of data that had been compromised.
“We will be advising Equifax to alert affected UK customers at the earliest opportunity,” said the ICO in a statement.
The breach is one of the largest ever reported in the US and, said experts, could have a significant impact on any Americans affected by it.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, this is a 10,” said Avivah Litan, a Gartner analyst who monitors ID theft and fraud. “It affects the whole credit reporting system in the United States because nobody can recover it, everyone uses the same data.”
Security expert Brian Krebs said Equifax was just one of several credit agencies that had been hit by hackers in recent years.
“The credit bureaus have for the most part shown themselves to be terrible stewards of very sensitive data,” wrote Mr Krebs. “and are long overdue for more oversight from regulators and lawmakers.”
Credit rating firm Equifax holds data on more than 820 million consumers as well as information on 91 million businesses.
Selfridges department store in London is selling a luxury ice cream for £99 which contains 24-carat gold leaf. The ice cream is called “Billionaire’s Soft Serve” and it weighs 350 grams. Here’s a run down of what you get for your money: Salted caramel gelato, a handmade cone dipped in rare criollo Madagascan dark chocolate, gelato spheres of mango, ginger, and passion fruit, a Belgian white chocolate truffle filled with salted caramel sauce, a raspberry sorbet macaroon decorated with white chocolate glaze and edible diamonds, a healthy sprinkling of 24-carat gold leaf, a golden flake, and a spoon.
“If you’re launching an online-only food business, you’re competing with hundreds of thousands of stores; if you want to create a high street chain, you’re up against Pret and McDonald’s,” says Steven Novick, founder of health food business Farmstand. Faced with this conundrum, Novick has eschewed more traditional business models.
After launching a restaurant in Covent Garden, London, Novick took a nimble approach to growth. Over the past 18 months, he’s opened 17 pop-ups across the capital in office canteens, a stand in Planet Organic and corporate catering and delivery services.
Due to London’s high commercial rents, and the doubling of business rates in some areas, it’s not economical for a small firm to rent lots of property, so Farmstand has streamlined operations. All of its food is prepared in a 2,000 sq ft kitchen in south London, from where it is delivered to pop-ups and business customers (around 30 subscribe to a daily delivery) across the city. Its deliveries are outsourced to an experienced courier.
Headcount is also kept to the minimum: 16 full-time staff, with 11 working in the central kitchen and five serving in the Covent Garden restaurant. Farmstand’s in-office pop-ups are staffed by the customer. With this approach, Farmstand’s revenue has grown by an average of 26% month-on-month since opening in February 2016.
Another business with a canny growth strategy is Chester-based, AM Custom Clothing, which provides personalised, printed garments (from T-shirts to lanyards) to universities and businesses. Co-founder Alex Franklin says: “A lot of fashion companies will have have warehouses filled with stock, but we have a unique relationship with our suppliers.” Franklin doesn’t store stock. Instead he calls on his network of 15-20 suppliers of plain clothing when an order comes in. Altogether, Franklin’s suppliers have around 12m items in stock.
This means the business can forgo the cost of renting or buying a warehouse while still coping with large orders and quick delivery times.
However, getting to this point has not come without difficulty. In the past, the business has experienced much greater demand than anticipated, which put pressure on its supply chain. “Since then we have adapted our business model, to make it as scalable as possible, most of this was achieved through automation,” Franklin says. While stock shortages can still occur, the amount of stock at hand now allows the business to find alternatives when needed.
Automating orders and deliveries, and using a computer bot to follow-up on customer enquires, has also smoothed operations. But, Franklin adds, all clients have a dedicated account manager to ensure strong customer service.
While some businesses can handle most operations online, others do require a physical space. So how can entrepreneurs in this situation cut costs? Market stalls and pop-ups, which have been made more accessible thanks to apps such as Appear Here, are one way to trial locations without committing to long-term leases. Meanwhile, some small food businesses might opt for a service such as Deliveroo’s purpose-built kitchens, called Deliveroo Editions. Initially designed as overflow kitchens for established companies, now smaller firms are using these spaces to reach customers outside of their delivery area.
“They are very cheap to set up, so we decided to use them to bring new types of cuisines to areas where we found a gap,” says Rohan Pradhan, vice president of Deliveroo. Deliveroo sometimes takes a higher commission from the sale of small firms using its kitchens. This, Pradhan says, is in order to buffer the risk of the businesses not working out.
Pradhan cites Crust Bros pizza company as a successful example of this relationship. Crust Bros’ founder, Joseph Moore, started his business in 2014 as a stall on Southbank market, originally named Dough Bros. Using Deliveroo’s kitchen service, he has doubled sales. Moore says: “It’s been a good testbed for opening our first restaurant this summer, there were some teething issues at the start [such as pizzas not arriving with customers piping hot]. But now we’ve got the process down.”
Rapid expansion can also occur when entrepreneurs add a subscription element to their businesses – and it can be overwhelming. Vanessa McDermott, founder of creative startup Vee McDee, which delivers craft sets to customers, discovered this while crowdfunding on Kickstarter.
McDermott was raising money to launch a creative studio in Bolton. Through Kickstarter’s crowdfunding model, backers of her idea were offered craft sets as a reward. The sets proved a hit, word spread and people were soon asking where they could buy the packs. Then orders mushroomed. “I [quickly] went from selling 30 packs a month to 700,” says McDermott. “It was hard because keeping the quality up is so important to me, I didn’t want to lose that [as custom grew].”
To avoid this, McDermott outsourced the delivery of the kits to a subscription service that works with startups. “My advice would be to anyone in this position to partner with people who have the infrastructure in place to help with the technical and logistical side [of a subscription service],” she says.
Expanding a business while keeping outgoings lean can be a challenge, but these approaches offer food for thought. Some might still argue that a physical space is key to building a business. However, a more flexible approach has its benefits, says Ian Roberts, an SME adviser with Business Doctors consultancy. “To me, high levels of service and product quality are still a better way to build a strong and positive brand identity, than physical presence.”
Peter Kelly, a senior finance partner with PwC’s small business service MyFinance, agrees. He says that one of the hardest things when expanding is finding the right people to work with and identifying gaps in your expertise. He adds: “It’s hard because [your business] is your baby, but to expand efficiently while keeping up quality you should outsource if you can […] Use spare to money to invest in the areas that will help make [your business] profitable.”
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(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.finance.yahoo.com — Mon, 3 July 2017) London, Uk —
The hospitality industry’s stellar growth since the financial crisis could be halted and start to fall by 2021 if the Government continues to overlook it, a new report has suggested.
Research by Ignite Economics, carried out for the British Hospitality Association, has predicted the sector’s workforce could begin to drop by 2021 with the contribution it makes to the economy also falling as cost pressures from wages and business rates bite alongside a potential labour squeeze once the UK leaves the EU.
The report’s least optimistic ‘bear case’ scenario suggests a 1pc fall in the number of people directly employed in the sector compared to 2016 to 3.17m, with the economic contribution the sector makes also starting to fall from its current level of £73bn.
While the estimated drop is small, any weakness in the industry would be a concern given it employs almost 10pc of the entire UK workforce and has grown its contribution to the economy faster than any other sector since the economic crisis.
“The hospitality sector has been largely overlooked by successive Governments, and was notable in its absence in party manifestos ahead of the General Election, as well as its absence from the Government’s Industrial Strategy,” the report said.
Ufi Ibrahim, the chief executive of the BHA, said hospitality’s growth outlook was “highly uncertain”.
“We need the Government to step up and support our industry by reducing tourism VAT, working with us to reduce the dependence on EU workers and increase the number of UK workers joining the hospitality industry, allowing the Low Pay Commission to set the National Living Wage and to bring forward a fundamental review of Business Rates,” Ms Ibrahim said.
The bear case in the report assumes the 65,000 jobs per annum that come from EU workers are no longer able to be filled and that labour productivity ceases to improve and stays at 2016 levels.
A far rosier scenario is also offered by the report, suggesting employment could grow by 15pc to 3.69m and that the sector’s economic contribution could rise 30pc compared to 2016 to £95bn. A base case predicts a 7pc growth in employment to hit 3.43m and a 22pc rise in the sector’s economic contribution compared to 2016 to £89bn.
Ed Birkin, founder of Ignite Economics, said it was “more important than ever” to promote industries with strong economic fundamentals such as the hospitality sector.
“However, there are a number of potential headwinds facing the sector, and the extent of these will determine whether the industry can continue to be a key driver of growth for the UK economy.”