Lender Microfinance Ireland tackle low awareness to its loans

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.finance.yahoo.com via TheJournal.ie – – Thur, 20 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

Microfinance ireland (mfi) has rebranded its loan packages for small businesses to make its overall offering clearer to customers.
The government-backed lender, which specialises in loans to firms with fewer than 10 employees, has segmented its loan packages into four categories:

Set-up loans for startups, €5,000-€25,000
Cashflow support for existing businesses, €5,000-€25,000
Business development loans for existing businesses, €5,000-€25,000
Small loans for businesses with low funding requirements, €2,000-€25,000

Until now, the organisation has marketed a blanket offer of loans from €2,000 to €25,000 without explaining what exact options were available.
Chief executive Garrett Stokes said that the MFI largely relied on local enterprise offices to explain and tease out the different loan packages available.

He told Fora that he expects the rebranding exercise will “make our overall offering more user-friendly”.

“What we’ve tried to do with the packaging is be very precise so it becomes much clearer to (customers) as to what we’re offering, the terms of the offer and so that when they come online to us through their local enterprise office, they know exactly what they’re looking for.”
Awareness

In the most recent ‘bank watch survey’ by ISME, which represents small- and medium-sized businesses in Ireland, awareness of the government’s microfinance scheme was down with just over half of respondents saying they knew what it was.

Stokes said the clearer loan packages will boost awareness of the programme, which he described as a “huge advantage” to early-stage businesses.

“The majority of our customers are people who cannot, for whatever reason, get lending from traditional lenders,” he said. “(MFI) enables somebody who has a good idea and wants to set up a businesses but can’t get the money themselves or funding from a bank to have another location to get help.”

He said that MFI’s criteria is “quite different from a bank” because all of its loans are unsecured.

By Conor McMahon

HSBC : Virtual reality worlds the future of holidays

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.businessinsider.com – – Thur, 20 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

The future of transport and tourism may well involve not going anywhere.
Researchers at HSBC have seen the future and it features a lot of virtual reality.

People will be able to use the technology to visit virtual worlds as real as our own, HSBC analysts Davey Jose and Anton Tonev said in a note to clients.

And, while they'll be free to visit, they might be full of ads.
VR could “create a many new avenues for recreation and leisure, and if it follows the ad models of many of the technology giants today, these VR recreation activities could be free,” HSBC said.

“If this is the case, instead of recreation costs going up, costs could decline, even if the number of hours spent in virtual worlds for leisure increases.”

Tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Sony are pushing virtual reality headsets as the next big thing. In a demo last week Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg showed off “Social VR,” using a combination of the Oculus Rift headset and a 360-degree camera to mash together virtual reality and the real world.

The technology has endless applications and the workplace of the future may well only exist in virtual reality, eliminating the need to commute to the office, the HSBC analysts said.

Meanwhile, physical transport will become totally autonomous. With less traffic and more AI-driven vehicles, the era of car collisions and deaths on the road will end sometime around 2040, according to the HSBC report.
Key to this change is the development of “haptics” – technology that engages all the senses in the virtual world, rather than just sight and sound, to make it feel more real.

“With technology rapidly advancing and R&D efforts going into the development of better ‘haptics’, where one will be able to ‘feel’ in the virtual world, we believe that it’s likely that the next generation of ‘VR natives’ may find it preferable to utilise VR to travel virtually rather than physically,” HSBC said.

The investment bank added that this might not be such a big leap as we might think. “The shift from the physical to a digital format, in general, is not a novel concept, it has happened before,” HSBC said, pointing to the communication switch from physical letters to virtual e-mails.
“For example, physical mail in US and China declined from the early 2000s to 2014/15 by about 40%. However, in this time, average emails sent increased fifteen-fold, from 12bn to over 200bn per day,” HSBC said.

Travelling to virtual rather than real places is quicker, cheaper and safer than conventional physical transport, HSBC said.
The rise of the technology could cut commute times and make it more attractive to live out in the countryside rather than the city.
This would solve the problem of rising commuting times and growing work days, freeing up precious time to spend in virtual reality holiday worlds.

While it remains to be seen whether the experience of virtual reality will top the excitement of travelling to new places, it certainly would be more convenient.

By Ben Moshinsky

Dozens of branches of Travis Perkins to close with the loss of 600 jobs

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.finance.yahoo.com,via Skynews.com – – Wed, 19 Oct, 2016) – –

Travis Perkins is cutting 600 jobs and closing more than 30 branches as it warns of “uncertain” trading in the year ahead.
The builders' merchant, which owns the Wickes brand, said those at risk of being affected had already been informed.

The job losses come across its trade brands such as Travis Perkins, Benchmarx, and plumbing and heating businesses BSS and PTS.
Travis Perkins is cutting 600 jobs and closing more than 30 branches as it warns of “uncertain” trading in the year ahead.

The builders' merchant, which owns the Wickes brand, said those at risk of being affected had already been informed.

The job losses come across its trade brands such as Travis Perkins, Benchmarx, and plumbing and heating businesses BSS and PTS.

The company said it hoped to relocate some of the staff.
Wickes – and its other consumer-facing business Toolstation – are not affected.

Ten smaller distribution centres will also close under the plans.
The company's chief executive, John Carter, said: “It is still too early to predict customer demand in 2017 with certainty and we will continue to monitor our lead indicators closely.

“Given this uncertainty we will be closing over 30 branches and making further efficiency-driven changes in the supply chain, resulting in an exceptional charge of £40-50m this year.”

While it did not mention the UK's vote to leave the EU specifically and the resulting collapse in the value of the pound, the FTSE 100 firm made it clear it was seeking to cut costs to account for any drop-off in business.
The company said that while it was currently outperforming the market, its full-year profits would likely fall slightly shy of estimates.
The warning prompted a 7% fall in its share price.

It reported total sales growth of more than 3% for its third financial quarter – with growth across the board except in its PTS heating and BSS plumbing businesses, describing trading as “not satisfactory”.
Travis Perkins has taken on 4,000 staff this year amid an expansion of its best-performing outlets – with over 50 Wickes stores given an overhaul.

Uk hit by £10 billion annual cybercrime

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.businessinsider.com – – Wed, 19 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

The UK economy lost up to £10.9 billion as a result of online fraud and cybersecurity last year, according to new research — that's around £210 for every person over the age of 16 in the country.

The figures, from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau and crime awareness group Get Safe Online (GSO), would likely be even higher if more cybercrime was reported. 39% of those who had been victims of cybercrime in a GSO survey said that they hadn't reported the incident.
The report also highlights a worrying gap in people's understanding of what constitutes an online crime.

86% said that they had not been targeted by cyber criminals in the past 12 months. 68% of respondents, however, said they had been targeted in a variety of ways — deceptive emails, fraudulent websites, and email account hacking, all of which are common methods for online theft.
Another worrying trend is the rise of ransomware, a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. 3% of victims in the survey had been victims of ransomware.

The research also highlighted a widespread belief that cybercrime is inevitable — 37% of those surveyed who have been a victim of cybercrime said that they felt there was “nothing that could be done” to prevent it.
Tony Neate, chief executive of GSO, said in an emailed statement: “The fact that over a third of people felt there was nothing that could have been done to stop them becoming a victim is alarming indeed – particularly when it’s so easy to protect yourself online.”

City of London Police’s commander Chris Greany said: “The huge financial loss to cybercrime hides the often harrowing human stories that destroy lives and blights every community in the UK.

“All of us need to ask ourselves are we doing everything we can to protect ourselves from online criminals. Unfortunately, people still click on links in unsolicited emails and fail to update their security software. Just as you wouldn’t leave your door unlocked, so you shouldn’t leave yourself unprotected online,” he added.

By Thomas Colson

Tenants to face rent increase as 440,000 landlords are hit by changes in tax

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.finance.yahoo.com – – Tue, 18 Oct, 2016) London, Uk – –

Thousands of tenants could face substantial rent rises next spring or even be forced to move out as sweeping tax changes hitting their landlords come into effect.

About 440,000 landlords are facing substantially higher tax bills which could see them passing on the costs to their tenants or selling up, a pressure group has warned.

The changes will mean landlords will no longer be able to deduct mortgage interest payments or any other finance-related costs from their turnover before declaring their taxable income.

The National Landlord Association says more than 400,000 landlords who currently pay basic-rate tax will immediately be hit by the changes although, potentially, the majority of Britain’s estimated 2m landlords could find their tax liability rise.

It says about a third of landlords in London and the east of England will be affected next April, with just over a quarter in the West Midlands.
Richard Lambert, chief executive officer of the NLA, said its research showed government claims the changes would only affect a small number of higher-rate taxpayers were “complete tosh”.

“The government must look to amend these tax changes and minimise the impact on landlords and their tenants – something that could easily be achieved by applying the rules to only new loans written after April 2017.
“Unless this happens, landlords will face an impossible decision of whether to increase rents and cause misery for their tenants, or to sell-up, and force their tenants to find a new home,” he added.

Warning shot: landlords face being squeezed by the taxman come next spring

The amount by which landlords will be affected will depend on their personal circumstances, including whether or not they generate income from any other sources.
Landlords’ tax liability will increase depending on their existing annual mortgage interest payments, which are broken down by portfolio size:
Single property – £3,600
2-3 properties – £8,600
4-5 properties- £16,300
5-10 properties – £18,200
11-19 properties – £24,900
20+ properties – £38,000
It has been estimated that some 7.2 million UK households will be in rented accommodation within a decade as house price inflation continues to see increasing numbers struggle to get on the property ladder.

By Mark Dorman

 

Parliament should vote on Article 50, Constitutional lawyers tell the UK High Court

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.businessinsider.com – – Mon, 17 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

Theresa May is facing the first serious test of her authority as Prime Minister, with lawyers on Monday arguing in the High Court that she must defer to parliament on the matter of the UK leaving the European Union.

Three of the UK's most senior judges on Monday heard arguments about why members of parliament should vote on the triggering of Article 50.

Article 50 begins the official two-year process of Britain leaving the European Union and Theresa May has signalled she will trigger the article in March of next year. However, there is increasing pressure for the triggering to be put to a vote, a process that some commentators say could result in the Brexit process being watered down or even reversed.

Lawyers representing a number of claimants say it would be unlawful for May to initiate Britain's exit from the EU using “royal prerogative” — the power granted to a government to make decisions without a vote from parliament.

Speaking at the Royal Courts of Justice, Patrick Green QC, representing British expats, said it was “beyond any doubt” that existing law prevents the executive from removing treaties and domestic law without first consulting parliament. Green was referencing the European Communities Act (1972) and European Union Act (2011).

He argued that the former piece of legislation, which saw the UK concede some of its legislative power to the EU, was an example of Parliament conferring powers which “only parliament” could exercise and confer. Triggering Article 50 without first passing an Act of Parliament would require May's government to overturn a parliamentary decision without consulting parliament itself, he added.

“There can be no scope for government with a stroke of a pen claiming the power to take away treaties … remove domestic rights and reverse parliament's conferral power without parliamentary approval,” he said.

Helen Mountfield QC, representing the crowdfunded claimants group People's Challenge, told the court that triggering Article 50 without parliamentary approval would be contrary to the Scotland Act, which protects Scottish domestic law from alteration without a proper parliamentary process.

“The crown does not have the right to impose or remove rights as a matter of domestic law,” she said.

The court room was packed to watch the second day of the historic case unfold. If the judges rule in the claimants' favour, not only would it have a clear impact on how and when Britain leaves the 28-nation bloc, but would reshape the country's constitutional landscape.

The government's position was defended by Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC. Wright argued that MPs were told the government intended to use royal prerogative to trigger Article 50 after the result of a Brexit vote, and said the referendum legislation did not state that further legislation would be necessary to put the result into effect.

“As a matter of general principle, withdrawal from a treaty is a matter for the Crown … This is totally within the expectation of Parliament … Royal prerogative has not been eroded,” he said.

The attorney general accused the claimants of politicising the legal debate by wanting MPs to be “asked the same question” that was put to the public on June 23.

The case got underway on Thursday and will conclude on Tuesday, with a verdict expected in mid-November. The claimants are expected to launch an appeal to the Supreme Court if the judges rule against them.

The case is being heard against a backdrop of heated debate between Remainers who want Brexit to be subjected to tough parliamentary scrutiny, and Brexiteers who accuse Remainers of attempting to subvert the will of the British people.

Some who have attended the case have been verbally abused upon entering the court. Lord Chief Justice opened proceedings by saying this abuse was “wholly wrong” and warned those responsible would receive the “full vigour” of the law.

The case continues.

By Adam Payne

 

UK Rag Trade shows steepest sales dip in seven years

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Mon, 17 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

Britain's fashion market has suffered its steepest decline in sales since 2009 as consumers increasingly spend their money elsewhere, according to industry data published on Monday.

Retail industry executives including Next's (NXT.L) chief executive, Simon Wolfson, reckon there has been a cyclical move away from spending on clothing back into areas that suffered the most during the economic downturn, such as eating out and travel.

Researcher Kantar Worldpanel said data for the year to Sept. 25 showed that UK fashion has seen four months of consecutive sales decline, with nearly 700 million pounds lost from the value of the market from this time last year.

It said June's decline of 0.1 percent was the first monthly contraction in six years.

“Fashion retailers are still following the same patterns of over-buying and deep discounting and consumers are increasingly reluctant to pay full price,” said Glen Tooke, consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel.

“Most recently the decline has been driven by falling frequencies of buying, giving retailers fewer opportunities to encourage shoppers to part with their cash.”

Earlier this month a survey from BDO, the accountancy and business advisory firm, said Britain's fashion retailers suffered a slump in sales in September as unseasonably warm weather deterred sales of autumn and winter collections.

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

Caffeine the most you should have in one day

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.businessinsider.com – – Sat, 15 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

 

 

It turns out Coca-Cola and Red Bull have less caffeine than you may think. We looked at the maximum amount of caffeine you should have each day, according to the Mayo Clinic and found out which drinks have the most caffeine and how many of each you should have in a single day.

Saudi Arabia and Japan’s SoftBank Group, to create technology investment fund of $100 billion

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Sat, 15 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

Saudi Arabia and Japan's SoftBank Group (9984.T) will create a technology investment fund that could grow as large as $100 billion, making it one of the world's largest private equity investors and a potential kingpin in the industry.

The move is part of a series of dramatic business initiatives launched by Riyadh this year as Saudi Arabia, its economy hurt by low oil prices, deploys huge financial reserves in an effort to move into non-oil industries.

Earlier this year, it invested $3.5 billion in U.S. ride-hailing firm Uber, surprising many.

SoftBank, a $68 billion telecommunications and tech investment behemoth, has also been stepping up investment in new areas. It agreed to buy U.K. chip design firm Arm Holdings in July in Japan's largest ever outbound deal.

Saudi Arabia's top sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), will be the lead investment partner and may invest up to $45 billion over the next five years while SoftBank expects to invest at least $25 billion.

Several other large, unnamed investors are in active talks on their participation and could bring the total size of the new fund up to $100 billion, SoftBank said.

“Over the next decade, the SoftBank Vision Fund will be the biggest investor in the technology sector,” SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son said in a statement.

At an annual rate of $20 billion, the new London-based fund could at current levels account for roughly a fifth of global venture capital investment.

In the year to September, venture capital-backed companies globally raised $79 billion, according to data from KPMG and CB Insights, with tech start-ups attracting the lion's share of that cash.

“Son is very good at looking for companies with big growth prospects, and that will create fierce competition,” said Hiroyuki Kuroda, secretary general of the Venture Enterprise Center in Japan.

The project will be led for SoftBank by Rajeev Misra, the group's head of strategic finance and who joined the Japanese firm in 2014 from Fortress Investment Group, a private equity and hedge fund group. PIF will engage its own team.

INVESTMENT POWER

Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, leading an economic reform drive in the kingdom, has revealed a string of high-profile investment plans this year.

He aims to expand the PIF, founded in 1971 to finance development projects in the kingdom, from $160 billion to about $2 trillion, making it the world's largest sovereign fund.

In June, the PIF departed from Saudi Arabia's traditional strategy of low-risk investments and took a step into the tech world with the Uber investment.

That deal which illustrated how Riyadh now hopes to use its investments to develop the economy: Uber is a popular form of transport for Saudi women, who are banned from driving, and is creating badly needed non-oil jobs for Saudi citizens.

SoftBank, a diverse company with stakes from U.S. carrier Sprint (S.N) to e-commerce giant Alibaba (BABA.N), is also changing, shifting towards cutting edge tech investments after Son scrapped retirement plans in July and announced plans to reinforce “SoftBank 2.0”. It is still wrestling with a $112 billion debt pile and the turnaround of Sprint.

“SoftBank has been looking to invest aggressively in the internet of things, and this fund is part of that wider move,” said Naoki Yokota, analyst at SMBC Friend Research Center Ltd.

(Reporting by Andrew Torchia and Tom Wilson; Additional reporting by Sami Aboudi in Jerusalem, Ali Abdelatti in Cairo, William Maclean in Dubai and Eric Auchard in Frankfurt; Writing by Clara Ferreira-Marques; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

Nissan CEO Ghosn meets May, after Brexit ultimatum

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Fri, 14 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

Two weeks after warning that Nissan (7201.T) could halt new investment in Britain's biggest car plant due to uncertainty over Brexit, Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn met Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday.

Ghosn told reporters at the Paris motor show late last month that future spending on the north of England facility in Sunderland would depend on a guarantee of compensation if Britain's eventual deal with Europe led to tariffs on car exports.

Businesses have been concerned that Britain is headed towards a “hard Brexit”, which would leave it outside the European single market and facing tariffs of up to 10 percent on car exports.

Nissan, which built nearly one third of Britain's 1.6 million cars last year, faces a decision in early 2017 on where to build its next Qashqai sport utility vehicle, prompting Friday's visit.

“The purpose of this meeting… is to ensure both Nissan and the UK government have an aligned way forward that meets the needs of both the company and the country,” a Nissan spokesman said.

“We do not expect any specific agreement to be communicated following this initial introductory meeting of the CEO and the Prime Minister,” he added.

A spokesman for the prime minister said he would not comment on the private meeting.

Ghosn's concerns led other carmakers to warn about the consequences of a hard Brexit, favoured by some Conservatives who wish to impose limits on immigration, a key concern of many voters who backed Brexit.

The chief executive of Britain's biggest automaker Jaguar Land Rover (TAMO.NS) told Reuters that any Brexit deal would have to guarantee a “level playing field”, opening up the possibility that others too would seek financial guarantees.

In September, when asked for a response to Ghosn's comments, a spokeswoman said the government would not give a running commentary of different opinions about Brexit.

But in a speech to the Conservative Party this month, May said the government would do everything it could to encourage, develop and support strategic sectors of the economy such as car manufacturing, financial services and aerospace.

Britain's car industry was a strong supporter of continued membership of the European Union ahead of the June 23 vote, benefiting from unfettered access to the world's biggest trading bloc and its standardised regulations.

The British government has said it will listen to business concerns and protect the economy as its begins formal divorce talks from the European Union by the end of March.

(Additional reporting by Kylie Maclellan; editing by Stephen Addison)

 

Claim against Asda given go-ahead to proceed with equal pay case

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Fri, 14 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

Britain's no.3 supermarket chain Asda could be forced to pay out millions of pounds to workers after a group of employees were given the go-ahead to proceed with a claim against the chain, which is owned by Walmart (WMT.N).

An employment judge ruled on Friday that over 7,000 mostly female Asda store workers can compare themselves to higher-paid mostly male colleagues who work in distribution centres, allowing their equal pay claim to proceed through legal channels.

Asda said it maintained its position that the jobs were not comparable, and that it was considering appealing against the ruling.
“We continue to strongly dispute the claims being made against us,” it said in a statement. “We believe that the demands of the jobs are very different and are considering our options for appeal.”

The equal pay case comes as a blow to Asda as it seeks to reverse a dramatic slump in sales, having lagged its peers for two years and lost market share.

Law firm Leigh Day, representing the claimants, said in a statement that Asda could owe workers over 100 million pounds in wages going back to 2002 should the case be found in the claimants' favour.

It added that the ruling was encouraging for other claims it is bringing on behalf of a group of 400 workers from another British supermarket, Sainsbury's (SBRY.L).

(Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Stephen Addison)

Tesco and Unilever price standoff leaves online shoppers with out Marmite

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bloomberg.com – – Thur, 13 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

The true cost of Brexit hit home for U.K. shoppers as Unilever’s iconic Marmite spread and a host of other products remained absent from Tesco Plc’s online store Thursday because of a standoff over price increases triggered by the Brexit vote.

Britain’s biggest supermarket chain said Wednesday that it’s “currently experiencing availability issues on a number of Unilever products,” and aims to have the issue resolved soon. Unilever, which reported a decline in third-quarter sales volumes Thursday, told analysts that it was “confident” the issue would be resolved quickly, noting that the U.K. accounts for just 5 percent of its business.
The dispute lays bare the close ties between Tesco and its third-largest supplier, which produces household brands like Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and was Tesco Chief Executive Officer Dave Lewis’s longtime employer. Unilever, along with other consumer-product makers like Nestle SA, is facing heightened sourcing costs from a plunge in the pound since the June vote to leave the European Union, yet passing those expenses along to retailers will be difficult with U.K. grocers already locked in fierce competition.
“Tough price negotiations are a constant factor of the relationship between food manufacturers and retailers, and are going to be very tough in the U.K. following the Brexit vote,” Andrew Wood, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, said in a note. “But they rarely break out in public or lead to de-stocking of manufacturer products.”
Top Customers
Tesco is Unilever’s third-biggest customer after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kroger Co., accounting for 2.3 percent of its revenue, according to Bloomberg data.
The Guardian newspaper has reported that Unilever wants to raise prices by about 10 percent because of the fall in sterling. Among Unilever’s brands to exit the Tesco web store were Persil detergent, Flora margarine and more than 100 products in the Dove range of body care. A check of Tesco.com Thursday morning showed the products were still unavailable.
For a Bloomberg Intelligence analysis of the price dispute, click here
“Retailers’ margins are already squeezed,” Justin King, former CEO of J Sainsbury Plc, said at an event hosted by Bloomberg in London on Wednesday. “So there is no room to absorb input price pressures and costs will need to be passed on.”
The Brexit vote has already affected pricing of products ranging from floor coverings to toilet paper. Unilever was among companies that lobbied voters to remain in the European Union, while supermarkets including Tesco took a more neutral stance ahead of the vote in a bid not to alienate either faction of consumers. Sainsbury and Wm. Morrison Supermarkets Plc declined to comment on their relationships with Unilever. Wal-Mart’s Asda unit did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The question is whether Sainsbury, Asda, Waitrose and others are taking it on the chin or if they will play hardball too,” Alan Clarke, an economist at Scotiabank in London, said in a note. “What about other suppliers — Unilever is probably not a one-off trying to pass on higher input costs.”
Chocolate, Cheese
Food companies such as KitKat maker Nestle and Swiss dairy concern Emmi AG have both said they will look to raise prices in the U.K. to respond to the plunge in sterling. Nestle is due to report third-quarter sales Oct. 20.
“The margin in the U.K. will be lower next year than this year or last year, that’s for sure,” Emmi Chief Executive Officer Urs Riedener said on Oct. 6. “We’re obliged to push price increases in most of the segments.”

Any dispute between Tesco and Unilever would be particularly touchy for Lewis, the Unilever veteran. Tesco has sought to improve relations with its vendors in the wake of an accounting scandal and criticism from a grocery industry regulator. The tussle also risks damaging Unilever’s reputation as a good corporate citizen, an image that Chief Executive Officer Paul Polman has sought to enhance in recent years.
“This sort of standoff benefits no one,” said Bryan Roberts, an analyst at researcher TCC Global. “Unilever will lose market share by not being in Tesco, and shoppers will feel a huge degree of frustration. A speedy resolution would be in everyone’s best interests.”

Matthew Boyle /Paul Jarvis

Confidence returns to British housing market as prices are set to soar

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.businessinsider.com – – Thur, 13 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

Britain's house prices are set to soar as there are more people rushing into the housing market, but not enough people are selling their homes.

According to new data from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), there has been a “significant turnaround in new buyer enquiries compared to June”when the EU referendum took place, but there is a slump in people actually putting houses on the market.

This only means one thing — there are too many people looking to buy a home and not enough to go around. Considering this is a key problem for Britain's housing market anyway, because there is a dearth in supply and homes are not being built fast enough, this will elevate prices for some time to come.

“The market does now appear to be settling down following the significant headwinds encountered through the spring and summer. Buyers do appear to be returning, albeit relatively slowly, but the big issue that continues to be highlighted by respondents is the lack of fresh stock on the market,” said Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at RICS.

“Although this is not a new story, it is a significant one having ramifications for both prices and the level of turnover. Central London remains something of an outlier with contributors telling us this is the one part of the market where there may be further give on prices in the near term. Elsewhere the price trend still seems on the up.”

RICS points out that the number of new instructions being received by estate agents has hit historic lows.

“This drop in new properties coming to the market continues a pattern that extends back to the middle of 2014 with a brief exception around the turn of the year when some vendors saw opportunity linked to the April hike in stamp duty for investors,” said RICS.

And the impact on prices is over the next three months is that, nationally, they will rise. According to RICS' UK Residential Market Survey, 14% more respondents expect to see an increase. RICS says “this is the strongest reading since March and compares with +9% in August.”

By Lianna Brinded

 

UK economy set for £66 billion annual loss without Single Market access

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.finance.yahoo.com via uk.businessinsider.com – – Wed, 12 Oct, 2016) London, Uk – –

Britain's government predicts that a “Hard Brexit” — Britain leaving the European Union without access to the Single Market — will cost the UK £66 billion ($81.2 billion) a year in lost tax revenues.

According to “leaked government papers” seen by The Times newspaper, the UK Treasury is warning cabinet ministers that the country's GDP could fall as much as 9.5% because it would have to rely on the World Trade Organisation rules for trading and therefore it would miss out on more favourable trading tariffs that come with being a member of the 28-nation bloc.

The Treasury expects both trade and foreign investment in Britain to be around a fifth lower than it otherwise would have been if the UK relies on WTO rules for trade. This would also have a knock-on negative effect for productivity, hence the huge drop in tax receipts.

The leaked document is apparently a “draft cabinet committee paper, ” which is intended to inform those in charge of negotiating Britain's exit from the EU.

The Times says the drop in tax revenue is the equivalent of 65% of the annual budget for Britain's National Health Service, showing just how huge a loss it would be to the UK.

Britain voted to leave the EU on June 23. Since then, prime minister Theresa May has repeatedly said that “Brexit means Brexit” and pledged to pull the UK out of the 28-nation bloc with the best deal possible. However it is looking like Britain is going to have a “Hard Brexit” no matter what, judging by May and her cabinet's stance on immigration.

Simon Wells and his team of economists at HSBC said in their client note earlier this month that “immigration control appears a higher priority than full Single Market access,” following the PM's speech at the Conservative party conference.

Britain has pretty much been given a choice by EU officials between controlling immigration and access to the Single Market. While no official negotiations can actually start until May triggers Article 50, which officially gives the UK two years to negotiate its exit with EU officials, the UK government's repetition on focusing on immigration instead of access to the Single Market all points to a “Hard Brexit.”

Britain cannot have best of both worlds. Taking greater control of immigration by opting out the Freedom of Movement Act, which allows any EU citizen to enter the country, means that the country will have to relinquish its single market membership — like Turkey.

If the UK wants single market access, it will have to adhere to EU immigration rules — like Norway.

By Lianna Brinded

London 8,400 finance jobs openings chased by 15,000 in September

Qlm referencing: (qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.finance.yahoo.com – – Wed, 12 Oct, 2016) London, Uk – –

The number of new available jobs in the the UK's financial centre fell 5% in September year-on-year to 8,400, according to a survey by Morgan McKinley, while the number of people seeking jobs increased by 15%.
Month-on-month the number of fresh open positions increased by 1% in September, stabilising from a post-Brexit collapse in Luly.
Those who did find new jobs in September got an average of a 18% pay rise.
In July, the survey reported that the number of new City jobs plunged 27% while the number of people seeking them dropped 13%.
“Clearly there’s an ongoing appetite to recruit,” said Hakan Enver, operations director at Morgan McKinley Financial Services, adding: “Given the volatility that we have been facing, two months of positive growth is welcome news.”

Brexit, and the future status of London as the European Union's financial centre, has been the main focus for those entering the City's job market.
Prime minister Theresa May's government has raised the possibility of a so-called “Hard Brexit,” which prioritises control over immigration, as opposed to maintaining some economic links in return for concessions on Freedom of Movement.
Such a move would also lead to the automatic loss of the City of London's EU financial passport. The loss of passporting rights would be devastating to the City of London. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said earlier this year that 5,500 UK companies rely on passporting rights, with a combined turnover of £9 billion.
“Given the number of businesses affected in Britain and across the EU, and the massive contributions made by City workers to the British economy, it’s frankly shocking to see the government take such a dismissive attitude towards passporting,” said Enver.
“Stability is the foundation of business growth, so hopefully the government will right this course. If we are not careful, London will have a massive talent drain to countries such as France, Germany, USA, Japan and Ireland who have already turned on a charm offensive to woo our professional workforce,” he said.

By Ben Moshinsky

UK over 55s sitting on property valued greater than GDP of Italy

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.finance.yahoo.com – – Tue, 11 Oct, 2016) London, Uk – –

English people aged over 55 currently hold more housing wealth in their homes than the annual GDP of Italy.

Research by Age Partnership, a retirement income adviser, found that £1.5 trillion of equity is locked up in these homes, compared to Italy’s £1.4 trillion of GDP.

This number is made up of the 39pc of that age group who have no outstanding mortgage, but many more will have significant wealth in their properties meaning this is a conservative estimate.

The over-55 population is due to grow by a third in the next 20 years, meaning that by 2036, not taking into account house price inflation, that number will be £1.9 trillion.

This comes as McCarthy and Stone , the retirement home builder, found that 36pc of people aged over 65 in the UK are looking to downsize into a smaller home, which equates to 4.3m people.

The survey of 3,000 over-65s carried out by YouGov (LSE: YOU.L – news) found that 15.7pc of those looking to move live in the south-east of England, the greatest proportion in the country. This represents £122.6bn of property wealth.

Those in the south-west and north-west of England also have high proportion of over-65s who are considering downsizing, at 10.4pc and 12.1pc respectively.

Many of these people want to move but cannot, as there is a shortage of such homes for older people to downsize into. Due to the scarcity, bungalows command a 16pc premium over houses of the same size with stairs.

The UK’s current market for retirement homes is much smaller than that of other developed countries: only 1pc of the people aged over 60 live in retirement communities, compared with 17pc in the USA, and 13pc in Australia and New Zealand.

Clive Fenton, the chief executive of McCarthy and Stone, said that the Government’s focus on first-time buyers with policies such as Starter Homes “overlooks the chronic under-supply of suitable retirement housing essential to the needs of the UK’s rapidly ageing population.”
He added: “Unfortunately, the UK’s housing stock is woefully unprepared for this demographic shift to the ‘extended middle age’, and this has created a new ‘Generation Stuck’ dilemma.”

McCarthy and Stone said last month that the number of reservations for their homes has fallen since the EU referendum. This is because the second-hand market, on which the buyers rely to sell their homes to downsize, has showed signs of slowing down.

By Isabelle Fraser

Samsung halts production of Note 7 due to continuing woes

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Mon, 10 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

By Se Young Lee | SEOUL

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has suspended production of its flagship Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, a source said on Monday, after reports of fires in replacement devices added to the tech giant's worst ever recall crisis.

Top U.S. and Australian carriers also suspended sales or exchanges of Note 7s, while major airlines reiterated bans on passengers using the phones, after smoke from a replacement device forced the evacuation of a passenger plane in the United States last week.

Fires in phones that were meant to replace devices that had been recalled because of their propensity to explode would be a disaster for the world's largest smartphone maker, suggesting it had failed to fix a problem that has already hurt its brand and threatens to derail a recovery in its mobile business.

“If the Note 7 is allowed to continue it could lead to the single greatest act of brand self-destruction in the history of modern technology,” said Eric Schiffer, brand strategy expert and chairman of Reputation Management Consultants.

 

 

 

“Samsung needs to take a giant write-down and cast the Note 7 to the engineering hall of shame next to the Ford Pinto.”

In a regulatory filing, Samsung said it was “adjusting” shipments of Note 7s to allow for inspections and stronger quality control due to some devices catching fire.

It did not comment on the production halt or the cause of the fires, while the source – who declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak to the media – did not explain whether specific problems had been identified or when production was halted.

A Samsung official told Reuters earlier on Monday it was investigating reports of “heat damage issues” and would take immediate action to fix any problems in line with measures approved by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

On Sept. 2, Samsung announced a global recall of 2.5 million Note 7s due to faulty batteries which caused some of the phones to catch fire.

It ordered new batteries from another supplier and started shipping replacements to customers just two weeks later. But similar problems arose with a replacement Note 7 on Oct. 5, which began smoking inside a Southwest Airline flight in the United States.

Samsung shares, which have rebounded after an initial sell-off on the recall, closed down 1.5 percent, compared with a 0.2 percent rise for the broader market.

“I think the cleanest thing to do is to give up on the Note 7,” said HDC Asset Management fund manager Park Jung-hoon, whose fund owns Samsung shares.

“What's scary is that this is causing people to repeatedly doubt Samsung's fundamental capabilities, so it's important for Samsung to get past this issue quickly.”

Samsung's recall crisis has coincided with pressure from one of the world's most aggressive hedge funds, Elliott Management, to split the company and pay out $27 billion in a special dividend.

AIRPLANE BAN

Major airlines, air regulators and airport authorities reiterated bans on passengers using the phones, saying Note 7s should not be powered up or charged on board.

A South Korean government agency said it was monitoring reports of the fires and warned that the recalled Note 7 devices should not be used or charged inside airplanes.

RELATED COVERAGE

Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Note 7 recall crisis
Mobile carriers also took action.

Verizon Communications Inc , the No.1 U.S. wireless carrier, said on Monday it would suspend the exchange of replacement Note 7s, and would allow customers to exchange the replacement for another smartphone.

AT&T Inc, the No.2 U.S. wireless carrier, said earlier that it would stop issuing replacement Note 7s and would let customers with a recalled Note 7 exchange that device for another Samsung smartphone or other smartphone of their choice.

No.3 wireless carrier T-Mobile US Inc also said it was temporarily halting sales of new Note 7s as well as exchanges while Samsung investigated “multiple reports of issues” with its flagship device.

T-Mobile offered customers who brought in their Note 7s a $25 credit on their phone bill.

Australia's largest carrier, Telstra Corp, said Samsung had paused supply of new Note 7s, while fellow Australian carriers Optus and Vodafone said they had stopped issuing new Note 7s.

South Korea's two largest mobile carriers, SK Telecom and KT Corp, said they were monitoring the situation.

(Additional reporting by Parikshit Mishra in Bengaluru and Nataly Pak in Seoul; Writing by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Miyoung Kim, Stephen Coates and Ted Kerr)