Huntsman: The Art of Commissioning a Bespoke Suit

 

“Commissioning a bespoke suit is an act of faith,” says Huntsman chairman Pierre Lagrange. Get to the heart of the creative process with a look at the many stages that go into making garments that will last for decades – an extraordinary process that, according to Lagrange, is not dissimilar to the act of commissioning a work of art.

 

Unilever Britain’s third biggest company chooses Rotterdam for headquarters over London

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 15 Mar 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s third biggest company Unilever (ULVR.L) (UNc.AS) will scrap its London corporate headquarters and make Rotterdam its sole legal home in a blow to Prime Minister Theresa May’s government almost one year to the day before Brexit.

The maker of Dove soap and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream launched a review of its dual-headed structure in 2017 after fighting off a $143 billion (102.3 billion pounds) takeover from Kraft Heinz (KHC.O), triggering a battle between Britain and the Netherlands.

Unilever said the choice to end 88 years of operating with two parent companies was not linked to Brexit or protectionism, but would simplify its structure, improve its corporate governance and help enable takeover deals.

Forged by the 1930 merger of the Dutch margarine producer Margarine Unie and the British soap maker Lever Brothers, Unilever said its 7,300 staff in the United Kingdom would be unaffected and it will continue to be listed in London, Amsterdam and New York.

“This is not about Brexit,” Chief Executive Paul Polman said. “Unilever is in 190 countries in the world. Most of these countries are not in the European Union.”

Unilever was forced to rethink its structure after it had to fight off one of the biggest takeovers ever proposed in 2017. Unilever swiftly rejected the offer and Kraft walked away in a matter of days but the incident was enough to force the company to pledge to improve its operations.

Chief Executive Polman had used the incident to argue that British companies should have stronger tools to fight off takeovers.

Some analysts point out that Dutch takeover law is more protective and speculate that a Dutch-headquartered Unilever could more easily fend off unwelcome suitors in the future.

NOT ABOUT BREXIT

As part of the restructuring, Unilever will create three divisions with Beauty & Personal Care and the Home Care units being headquartered in London. The Foods & Refreshment division will be based in Rotterdam.

“This secures nearly 1 billion pounds per year of continued spend in the UK, including a significant commitment to R&D,” it said.

Finance Director Graeme Pitkethly told Reuters that its continued inclusion in the FTSE 100 Index was still to be determined because it had not yet engaged with the index providers.

Unilever’s shares could be hit if it was no longer in the FTSE Index because tracker funds would be forced to sell.

Unilever had held talks with the governments of both countries in the run-up to its decision and the move will be seen as a blow to Prime Minister May who is locked in talks with Brussels over the country’s departure from the EU on March 29, 2019.

In recent months, speculation had grown that Unilever would choose the Netherlands after Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, himself a Unilever veteran, proposed a tax change seen as benefiting Anglo-Dutch multinationals.

The British government said however it welcomed Unilever’s long-term commitment to Britain and the protection of jobs.

“Its decision to transfer a small number of jobs to a corporate HQ in the Netherlands is part of a long-term restructuring of the company and is not connected to the UK’s departure from the EU,” a government spokesman said.

Reporting by Kate Holton and Paul Sandle

 

 

Philip Hammond’s Spring statement 2018: what to look out for

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 13 Mar 2018) London, Uk – –

What the chancellor is likely to say about economic growth, debt, borrowing and more

Philip Hammond has promised MPs a short, snappy affair when he delivers the government’s first spring statement to the Commons at about 12.30pm on Tuesday.

Shorn of tax and spending measures, the chancellor’s 15- to 20-minute speech will play second fiddle to the budget, which has been moved to the autumn.

Attention will focus on the latest forecasts for the economy and the public finances provided by the government’s independent forecaster, the Office for Budget Responsibility, which last reported in November.

This is what to look out for in the chancellor’s statement:

Economic growth

Hammond is likely to say that the outlook for growth is marginally better than it was three months ago. In November, the OBR said it was expecting the economy to expand by 1.5% in 2017 and by 1.4% in 2018. The latest official figures from the Office for National Statistics show that growth was actually 1.7% in 2017 and the consensus among City, business and academic economists is that something similar is likely in 2018.

In the past, chancellors have used their statements to boast about the UK outperforming other economies, but that won’t happen on this occasion given that Britain grew more slowly all the other G7 countries in 2017 bar Italy.

Productivity

The statement is expected to provide positive news about productivity – the weak spot in the economy since the financial crisis a decade ago. In its November 2017 report, the OBR gave up waiting for the improvement in productivity – economic output per hour worked – that it had been predicting since it was created in 2010. So it slashed its productivity forecast by 0.7 percentage points a year for each of the next five years. However, as the OBR was downgrading its forecasts, the picture for productivity improved, with growth of 0.8% recorded by the ONS in the fourth quarter of 2017, following 0.9% growth in the third quarter. At this stage, however, the OBR will want more good news before it thinks about revising its five-year forecasts upwards.

Government borrowing

Hammond is expected to say the government will not need to borrow to cover its day-to-day spending this year – the first time this has happened since the financial crisis. That is because the borrowing needed to cover the gap between the amount the government spends and the revenue it raises through tax is on course to be about £40bn in the the 2017-18 financial year, rather than the £50bn predicted by the OBR three months ago. Government spending comes in two forms: current spending, which includes items such as teacher salaries and the NHS drugs bill; and capital spending, which includes investment in roads and railways. A deficit of £40bn would mean that the borrowing this year would solely be for investment and allow Hammond to say that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

However, Hammond is expected to use the high level of national debt to say that Britain is still in the tunnel. The national debt is the sum of all the annual budget deficits and surpluses the government has been running down the years and it has risen sharply as a result of the big annual deficits that have been run in the past decade.

This year, the debt will hit £1.8tn but a better measure is the ratio of the debt to the annual output of the economy (gross domestic product). The national debt was below 40% of GDP when the financial crisis began in 2007 and is expected to peak in this financial year at just over 85% of GDP. Hammond will say a reduction in the national debt would put the UK in a stronger position to weather another recession.

Consultations

Although the chancellor has said specific tax changes must wait for the autumn budget, he is likely to announce a series of consultations in areas where future action is possible. These could include the VAT threshold for small businesses, the tax paid by multinationals, curbs on the use of plastic in packaging via a so-called “litter levy” and the impact of artificial intelligence on the economy.

 

 

BoE Governor Mark Carney: Cryptocurrencies are failing as money

James Stringer/Flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Fri, 2 Mar 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Cryptocurrencies are failing as a form of money and have shown classic signs of being a financial bubble, requiring regulators to protect consumers and stop their use for illegal activities, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said on Friday.

Carney did not call for a ban on cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin but said they needed to be regulated in a similar way to other parts of the financial system, and stressed they could not effectively replace traditional currencies.

“Cryptocurrencies act as money, at best, only for some people and to a limited extent, and even then only in parallel with the traditional currencies of the users. The short answer is they are failing,” Carney said in a speech.

Carney, who heads the Financial Stability Board, a global financial rule-making body, expressed doubts about cryptocurrencies earlier this year and his speech for a Scottish student economics conference expanded on these.

“At present, crypto-assets raise a host of issues around consumer and investor protection, market integrity, money laundering, terrorism financing, tax evasion, and the circumvention of capital controls and international sanctions,” he said.

For now, they posed little financial stability risk to Britain as whole, due mostly to major banks’ limited involvement with them. But for individual investors, they were a major risk.

“Many cryptocurrencies have exhibited the classic hallmarks of bubbles including new paradigm justifications, broadening retail enthusiasm and extrapolative price expectations reliant in part on finding the greater fool,” he said.

Bitcoin prices have fallen sharply since December 2017.

However, the distributed-ledger technology underlying cryptocurrencies did have potential for improving cash settlement in the banking system and other asset transactions, he added.

By David Milliken

 

 

 

London’s first capsule hostel opens in Borough

When was the last time you stayed in a youth hostel? It probably didn’t look like this one – London’s first ‘capsule hostel’. It’s a dormitory with just enough room for a bed and everything you need inside a self-contained pod. They’ve been popular in Japan for years – reporter Thomas Magill goes to Borough to see if they’ll take off here.

 

London Park Lane & Oxford Street completely ultra luxurious home

 

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.

 

FTSE fell to its lowest in two months over inflation and rising bond worries

(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.

By  Danilo Masoni

 

The Union Hand-Roasted Coffee co-founder Jeremy Torz talks combining ethics with profits

 

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.”

By 

 

The London restaurant transformed into a cherry blossom landscape

A restaurant in London has been transformed with a cherry blossom installation to honour the annual Japanese tradition.

The Shochu bar also introduced bespoke cocktails for the occasion.

Watch the video above to see the intricate design which hangs from the ceiling and is only in place for a limited time only.

Filming for this shoot took place at the cherry blossom installation at Shochu, the basement bar below ROKA Charlotte Street.

 

 

Heathrow in bid to cut costs plan to unveil a shorter cheaper third runway

Wikimedia

(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.

By Gwyn Topham

 

New electric London taxi to be exported to Norway

London Electric Taxi/Flickr

(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.

By Costas Pitas

 

Facebook pledged to hire 800 new staff in the UK over the next year

(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.”

By 

UK’s growth figures increase likelihood of rate rise

(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.

Will interest rates rise next week? Analysis by economics editor Kamal Ahmed

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.

City investors overjoyed after dividends reached a record £28.5bn in the first quarter

(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.

By 

UK Fintech firms set for a record breaking year of investments

(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.”

By Lynsey Barber

The interactive ping pong table with a digital twist to traditional table tennis

 

Wonderball is an interactive ping pong table which adds a digital twist to traditional table tennis.

The hi-tech table uses digital projectors and sensors which track the movements of the ball, allowing many different games to be played on it.

Wonderball can be played by up to 20 people at a time, allowing friends and spectators to join in and play together.

You can find the table in London bar Bounce Ping Pong.

Robinsons squash maker Britvic announced plans close factory after more than 90 years

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com- – Tue, 3 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Production is to be moved away from the Norwich site where the squash has been produced since 1925.

Robinsons squash maker Britvic has announced plans to close the factory where the drink has been produced for more than 90 years, putting 242 jobs at risk.

Britvic said it planned to transfer production of Robinsons and another drink, Fruit Shoot, away from Norwich to sites in east London, Leeds and Rugby.

Robinsons squash moved to its factory in the city in 1925. The popular brand is well known to tennis fans through its sponsorship of the Wimbledon Championships.

Chief executive Simon Litherland said: “Britvic is proud to be a British manufacturer and Norwich has been an important site for our business for many years.

“This is not a proposal that we make lightly and we know this is upsetting news for our colleagues.”

Britvic said the aim was to improve efficiency and productivity and the plans would see the site close towards the end of 2019.

Mr Litherland also said there would be environmental benefits and that it was part of wider changes to ensure the company had the “flexibility and capability” to respond to changing consumer trends.

The company said affected employees would be offered support including redeployment at other sites and services to find alternative employment.

Costs related to the closure will be detailed in Britvic’s annual results in November.

The group said it remained committed to a three-year £240m investment in its British manufacturing operations, announced in 2015.

By John-Paul Ford Rojas

 

Lloyd’s of London to expect net losses of $4.5 billion from hurricanes Harvey and Irma

Phil Holker/flickr

(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.

By Emma Rumney and  Carolyn Cohn

Equifax data breach hits 143 million

(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.

Security checks

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.