Toyota to invest £240m in UK plant

Toyota is to invest £240m in upgrading its UK factory that makes the Auris and Avensis models.

Toyota is to invest £240m in upgrading its UK factory that makes the Auris and Avensis models.

Toyota says its plant investment is “a huge part of preparing for the long-term future”

The Japanese carmaker’s investment in the Burnaston plant near Derby will allow production of vehicles using its new global manufacturing system.

The factory employs about 2,500 people, while another 590 work at Toyota’s engine plant at Deeside, North Wales.

Burnaston made about 180,000 vehicles last year, most of which are exported to Europe and other markets.

Johan van Zyl, chief executive of Toyota Motor Europe, said the investment showed that the company was doing all it could to make Burnaston more competitive.

However, he warned: “Continued tariff-and-barrier free market access between the UK and Europe that is predictable and uncomplicated will be vital for future success.”

Industry trade body the SMMT said in January that uncertainty around Brexit and the UK’s future trading arrangements had hit investment in the car sector.

Investment commitments in the UK automotive sector last year totalled £1.66bn, down from £2.5bn in 2015.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said Toyota’s investment “underlines the company’s faith in its employees and will help ensure the plant is well positioned for future Toyota models to be made in the UK”.

The government is providing £21.3m in funding for training, research and development, and improving the Burnaston plant’s environmental performance.

Last year, rival carmaker Nissan said it would build both the new Qashqai and the X-Trail SUV at its Sunderland plant following government “support and assurances”.

The decision to upgrade the plant to take Toyota’s New Global Architecture, its new system for producing vehicles worldwide, suggests the company sees the UK as part of its long-term future.

But the UK’s automotive industry knows that Brexit is coming and with it the possibility of tariffs and complex customs arrangements.

That threatens the competitiveness of carmakers that rely upon the kind of just-in-time manufacturing which Toyota pioneered.

 

The firm lost its crown as the world’s biggest carmaker to Volkswagen last year.

Last month, Toyota said it expected to report net profits of £12.1 billion for the 2016-17 financial year.

May 6, 2017   Posted in: Business Exports, Business Sales, Business Win, Exporting Businesses, Global Business, Growing Business, Growing Sales, Technological Businesses, Winning Business  No Comments

Bitcoin value tops gold for first time

 

A unit of the digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin has exceeded the value of an ounce of gold for the first time.

A unit of the digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin has exceeded the value of an ounce of gold for the first time.

It closed at $1,268 on Thursday while a troy ounce of gold stood at $1,233.

The current high is being attributed to surging demand in China, where authorities warn it is used to channel money out of the country.

The past months’ surge is a major reversal for Bitcoin, which plummeted in value in 2014 after the largest exchange collapsed.

The value of Bitcoin has been volatile since it was first launched in 2009, and many experts have questioned whether the crypto-currency will last.

Earlier this year, Chinese authorities cracked down on Bitcoin trading in an attempt to stop money flowing out of the country illegally.

But the closer scrutiny from Beijing only briefly sent the currency lower. After it had soared to record highs in January, it has since picked its steady rise in value.

Bitcoin is attractive to some users because of its anonymity, as well as its lack of government control.

The website Silk Road was closed in 2013 following raids by the FBI and other agencies amid allegations of drug dealing. Authorities seized millions of dollars worth of Bitcoin during the raids.

Bitcoin is often referred to as a new kind of currency. Yet like all currencies its value is determined by how much people are willing to exchange it for.

To process Bitcoin transactions, a procedure called “mining” must take place, which involves a computer solving a difficult mathematical problem with a 64-digit solution.

For each problem solved, one block of Bitcoins is processed. In addition the miner is rewarded with new Bitcoins.

To compensate for the growing power of computer chips, the difficulty of the puzzles is adjusted to ensure a steady stream of new Bitcoins are produced each day.

There are currently about 15 million Bitcoins in existence.

To receive a Bitcoin, a user must have a Bitcoin address – a string of 27-34 letters and numbers – which acts as a kind of virtual post-box to and from which the Bitcoins are sent.

Since there is no register of these addresses, people can use them to protect their anonymity when making a transaction.

These addresses are in turn stored in Bitcoin wallets, which are used to manage savings.

April 3, 2017   Posted in: Business Sales, Business Win, Finance Business, Global Business, Technological Businesses, Winning Business  No Comments

Jaguar Land Rover and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars have both reported a rise in annual sales

Jaguar Land Rover and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars have both reported a rise in annual sales.

Jaguar Land Rover and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars have both reported a rise in annual sales.

Rolls-Royce delivered 4,011 cars to customers in 2016, a 6% increase on the previous year and its second highest sales record in its 113-year history.

Jaguar Land-Rover (JLR) sold a record 583,312 cars last year, a 20% increase on last year.

There was particularly strong demand for its new high-end luxury Jaguar model, the F-PACE.

Sales of luxury Jaguar models rose 77% to 148,730 units in 2016. JLR, Britain’s biggest car maker, is owned by India’s Tata.

Chief executive Dr Ralf Speth said last year that the company wanted to double production from 500,000 to one million cars a year, but that it would depend on government support.
Image copyright Getty Images

Rolls-Royce – which is owned by BMW – has seen record sales in the US, Japan, the UK and Germany.

The only market where conditions were difficult was the Middle East, “where consumer demand for all luxury goods was dampened by economic and political uncertainty”.

Its chief executive Torsten Mueller-Otvos told the BBC that its sales growth reflected a worldwide improvement in the luxury goods market generally.

“We have seen quite some confidence coming back into the luxury market worldwide and that is part of that success story.”

Mr Mueller-Otvos had argued for the UK not to leave the EU, as 90% of the company’s output is exported, and during the referendum campaign he sent a letter to staff urging them to vote Remain.

“Brexit hasn’t happened yet,” he said, adding that he was “fully convinced” that the UK should remain part of the customs union.

Rolls also confirmed plans to extend its Technology and Logistics Centre in Bognor Regis – close to its manufacturing hub in Goodwood, West Sussex – in 2017 by nearly 10,000 square metres “to meet growing demand and in readiness for future models”.

March 10, 2017   Posted in: Business Growth, Business Sales, Business Win, Exporting Businesses, Global Businesses, Growing Businesses, Growing Jobs, Growing Profits, Growing Sales, Technological Businesses  No Comments

UK superyacht industry sales rise to highest since 2008

Sales in the UK’s superyacht industry have reached their highest level since the 2008 financial crisis.

Sales in the UK's superyacht industry have reached their highest level since the 2008 financial crisis.

A report from British Marine, which represents the leisure, superyacht and small commercial marine industry, said superyacht revenues for the year to April 2016 had reached £605 million.

Revenues for the whole sector rose 1.6% to £3.01 billion, the first time the £3 billion mark has been breached since 2008-2009.

However, the report predicted growth would slow during 2017. It said uncertainty over Brexit negotiations was likely to curb demand.

Total revenue fell in the wake of financial crisis, reaching its lowest point in the financial year 2011-2012 of £2.85 billion and has been gradually picking up since then.

Increased revenue from engine and equipment manufacturing, as well as a jump in sales of hire and charter boats, are believed to have driven the sales increase.

Exports for the year were down 0.7% to £882 million but British Marine said that in the last few months the industry had benefited from the fall in the pound against the dollar and the euro since the referendum, as it has boosted buying power from overseas customers.

However, marine businesses surveyed for the report expected that the support from the strong pound would be a short-term benefit.

Howard Pridding, chief executive of British Marine, said: “The industry remains robust – revenue is growing and we are taking on more employees.

“Despite the post-referendum volatility impacting on business and consumer confidence, the industry remains bullish.”

The report said industry growth was expected to slow in 2017 “as economic volatility increases closer to and during negotiations over the UK’s exit from the European Union.”

Sunseeker and Princess are the UK’s biggest superyacht companies. Globally, the industry is the fourth largest in terms of turnover.

February 15, 2017   Posted in: Business Sales, Business Win, Exporting Businesses, Global Businesses, Growing Businesses, Technological Businesses  No Comments

Aldi reports record Christmas sales

Discount supermarket Aldi has reported record Christmas trading after a 15% rise in December sales.

Discount supermarket Aldi has reported record Christmas trading after a 15% rise in December sales.

The firm said there was strong demand for its premium product range, launched to compete with higher-end retailers such as Waitrose and Marks and Spencer

Aldi does not publish like-for-like figures, which exclude sales from new stores, but last year it opened 70 new outlets, an 11% increase.

Aldi plans to open another 70 stores across the UK this year, with its 700th due to open in February.

The supermarket added that it predicted sales from its “Specially Selected” lines would exceed £750m in 2017.

Early indications are that the value players were Christmas 2016’s big winners, with shoppers already bracing themselves for the challenging economic conditions ahead.

With a continued focus on price and improving value perceptions, Aldi is well placed to maintain its momentum into 2017 given that planned store refurbishments would help create “a stronger first impression for new customers”.

 

Analysts think that Marks and Spencer, which publishes its trading update on Thursday, can hardly fail to improve on 2015’s Christmas trading, when sales at its non-food business fell almost 6%.

M&S performed so poorly in clothing and homewares through the third quarter last year, we see a good possibility that the division reports a small positive like for like outcome this time.

Morrisons releases its figures for the Christmas period on Tuesday, followed by Tesco on Thursday.

Analysts are expecting both of those supermarkets to report growth in like-for-like sales of about 1% for the Christmas trading period.

Earlier, a report from payment card company Visa suggested that the final three months of last year saw the strongest quarterly growth in consumer spending in two years.

Its research, which reflects cash and card spending, showed expenditure rising at an annual rate of 2.8% in the fourth quarter, the quickest quarterly growth rate since the end of 2014.

For December, Visa’s report showed overall spending increasing at an annual rate of 2.6%, with shops recording a modest 0.7% growth rate, but online spending growth rising by 5.5%.

Of all the categories measured, hotels, restaurants and bars saw the strongest expenditure growth, up 7.3%.

January 15, 2017   Posted in: Business Growth, Business Sales, Business Win, Growing Business, Winning Business  No Comments

Everything is cheaper- Burberry UK sees tourist boom

The Burberry British fashion house said tourists’ higher spending power due to the drop in sterling drove the rise.

The Burberry British fashion house said tourists' higher spending power due to the drop in sterling drove the rise.

Comparable European sales, which exclude new store openings, were higher in the first half of the year, marking the first rise for over a year.
The firm, which makes just 15% of its sales in the UK, said the pound’s fall would increase full year profit.
The pound has fallen almost 20% since the Brexit vote on 23 June, and around 16% against the euro. The drop has helped to drive overall tourist spending higher.

Louis Vuitton handbags are cheaper in London than anywhere else.

According to FTSE 100-listed payments processor Worldpay, foreign card spending growth was up 3.4% in August compared with the previous year, and online sales growth rose by 5.3%. High Street sales were up 3.0%.
The most recent official statistics also show signs of a tentative rise in tourism, with overseas residents making a whopping 3.8 million visits to the UK in July, up 2% on the same month last year. In total, they spent some £2.5bn.
However, the boom in UK tourism hasn’t been enough to offset Burberry’s other woes.
Total sales at the designer fell, with Burberry blaming the 4% drop to £1.16bn in the six months to the end of September on a fall in wholesale and licensing revenues, which dragged down its overall performance.
Nonetheless, Burberry, which has been overhauling the business including redesigning its website and offering customers the opportunity to personalise products, sai

December 18, 2016   Posted in: Building Businesses, Business Development, Business Finance, Business Growth, Business Jobs, Business Profits, Business Sales, Business Services, Business Survival, Business Win, Finance Business, Growing Businesses, Growing Economy, Growing Sales, Uncategorized  No Comments

Netflix shares soar as video service posts jump in subscribers

Netflix has shaken off growth worries with new subscriber numbers that beat estimates and sent its shares soaring.

Netflix has shaken off growth worries with new subscriber numbers that beat estimates and sent its shares soaring.

The video streaming company added 3.2 million international customers in the last three months, far more than the 2 million analysts had predicted.
In the US numbers rose by 370,000, as hit shows such as Stranger Things and Narcos won over more subscribers.
It helped quarterly revenues rise 31% to £1.88 billion, sparking a 20% jump in Netflix’s share price.
In the three months to the end of September Netflix had about 83.3 million subscribers.
The company said that it plans to license content to existing online service providers in China rather than operate its own service in China in the near term.
Netflix has been expanding in international markets to counter slowing growth in the US. The service has a strong presence in more than 130 markets worldwide, except China.
Concern that Netflix’s growth was slowing had overshadowed the company. Its shares had fallen about 13% this year.
But in after-hours trading on Wall Street the shares jumped 20% to about $119.
Analysts said that the figures should dispel fears that Netflix was running out of momentum, at least in the short term.
Neil Saunders, chief executive of retail consultants Conlumino, said: “We maintain our view that over the next few years international expansion will pay dividends, but for the current cycle Netflix will be very reliant on domestic performance to ensure it ends the fiscal year on a high note.”

December 17, 2016   Posted in: Building Businesses, Business Development, Business Finance, Business Growth, Business Profits, Business Sales, Business Services, Business Survival, Business Win, Digital Business, Finance Business, Global Businesses, Growing Businesses, Growing Jobs, Growing Profits, Uncategorized  No Comments

Tech Talent: Map of the UK’s digital clusters

There are more than 1.5 million “digital tech” jobs in the UK, and the sector is said to be growing faster in terms of turnover and productivity than the wider economy.

There are more than 1.5 million "digital tech" jobs in the UK, and the sector is said to be growing faster in terms of turnover and productivity than the wider economy.

Those assertions were outlined in a report from the Tech City UK quango and innovation charity Nesta a little while back, which highlighted how many of the innovation-focused enterprises had benefited from clustering together.
What’s striking is that at first glance, the numbers seem to confirm that London’s cluster is well ahead of any other – and indeed the capital hosts several of tech’s better-known names.

But once you combine the data with official population statistics, another picture emerges.

Based on a calculation of how many tech jobs there are per head of the local population, Cambridge, Reading and Bracknell, and Oxford and Abingdon take the lead. It’s no coincidence that all three have universities with strong reputations for science, engineering and computing.
Southampton and Manchester also do well. And Ipswich is another standout, thanks to the fact that many firms there have congregated around the headquarters of BT Research – the telecoms firm’s R&D division.
The figures should still be treated with caution: Tech City UK may have been generous in the way it defined some of the jobs as being tech-related.
And it’s also notable how few of the firms in the list below are the kind of household names you would associate with Silicon Valley.

London Based Tech Jobs

Digital tech jobs: 328,000
Tech jobs per 100 residents: four
Specialisms: Financial tech, social networks, digital media
Foreign-owned firms: Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft
Locally headquartered: Shazam, Transferwise, Deliveroo, Citymapper

Manchester Based Tech Jobs

Digital tech jobs: 52,000
Tech jobs per 100 residents: 10
Specialisms: App development, digital marketing, digital entertainment
Foreign-owned firms: Google, Priceline
Locally headquartered: Apadmi, The Lad Bible, PushDoctor, UKFast

Reading & Bracknell Forest Based Tech Jobs

Digital tech jobs: 40,000
Tech jobs per 100 residents: 14
Specialisms: Cybersecurity, business software, data analytics
Foreign-owned firms: Nvidia, Microsoft, Symantec, Wipro
Locally headquartered: Altitude Angel, Cloud Direct, Fantoo

Bristol & Bath Based Tech Jobs

Digital tech jobs: 37,000
Tech jobs per 100 residents: six
Specialisms: Education tech, semiconductors, video games
Foreign-owned firms: Amazon, HP, Oracle, Unity
Locally headquartered: Opposable Games, Tribal Group, Xmos

Birmingham Based Tech Jobs

Digital tech jobs: 36,000
Tech jobs per 100 residents: three
Specialisms: Business software, Online gambling
Foreign-owned firms: N/A
Locally headquartered: Majestic, Yumzee, Intouch Games

Glasgow Based Tech Jobs

Digital tech jobs: 26,000
Tech jobs per 100 residents: four
Specialisms: Cloud computing, e-commerce, financial tech
Foreign-owned firms: Cloudwick Technology, FanDuel
Locally headquartered: Iomart, M Squared Lasers, SwarmOnline

Oxford & Abingdon Based Tech Jobs

Digital tech jobs: 25,000
Tech jobs per 100 residents: 13
Specialisms: Cybersecurity, cloud computing, video games, health tech
Foreign-owned firms: Proofpoint, Tripadvisor, Zynga
Locally headquartered: Rebellion, Sophos, Oxford Instruments

Southampton Based Tech Jobs

Digital tech jobs: 25,000
Tech jobs per 100 residents: 10
Specialisms: Hardware, e-commerce, data analytics
Foreign-owned firms: Artificial Solutions, Pivotal Software
Locally headquartered: Symetrica, nquiringminds, SPI Lasers

Leeds Based Tech Jobs

Digital tech jobs: 24,000
Tech jobs per 100 residents: three
Specialisms: App development, e-commerce, video games
Foreign-owned firms: Rockstar Games
Locally headquartered: Double Eleven, Sky Bet, Instantcart

Newcastle & County Durham Based Tech Jobs

Digital tech jobs: 22,000
Tech jobs per 100 residents: three
Specialisms: Financial tech, analytics, video games
Foreign-owned firms: Ubisoft, Epic Games, CCP Games
Locally headquartered: Sage, Orchard Systems, Eutechnyx

December 9, 2016   Posted in: Building Businesses, Business Communications, Business Development, Business Finance, Business Growth, Business Jobs, Business Profits, Growing Business, Growing Jobs, Growing Profits, Uncategorized  No Comments

Micro Focus – from takeover target to FTSE 100 newcomer

Almost exactly five years ago the UK software group Micro Focus was on the verge of being taken over.

Almost exactly five years ago the UK software group Micro Focus was on the verge of being taken over.

Valued at just over £500m the company was being wooed by a clutch of private equity firms.
But “market volatility” killed the talks. Since then Micro Focus’s fortunes have changed dramatically.
This year it joined the FTSE 100 and has bought the software arm of Hewlett Packard Enterprise to become one of the UK’s largest tech firms.
To complete the irony, the collapse of the Micro Focus talks in 2011 coincided, almost to the day, with Hewlett-Packard’s disastrous $11 billion takeover of rival software group Autonomy.
The remains of Autonomy, massively written down, are among the assets that Micro Focus is now buying for £6.6 billion from Hewlett Packard Enterprise – a spin-off from HP’s computer and printer business.
It is the latest and biggest purchase on Micro Focus’s shopping list, drawn up by executive chairman Kevin Loosemore.
As part of the shopping spree, the Berkshire-based company has bought two other US software companies – Attachmate for $1.2bn in 2014 and Serena Software this year for $540m.
Mr Loosemore, who took the helm in 2011, said: “I contacted HPE in about February this year. We are in regular contact with most players in the mature software space, it’s what we do, and HPE had just separated from HPI (Hewlett Packard Inc) at the back end of last year and I was personally intrigued as to what their new strategy was going to be.”
The core of Micro Focus’s business is this “mature software space”, specifically linking old software technology to new.
So for instance, it can make old cash machines talk to the latest banking software, or connect a supermarket’s old inventory control system to the latest generation of mainframes.
These businesses can be made to generate huge amounts of cash. Since 2011 Micro Focus has delivered annual compound shareholder returns of 39%. And its stated strategy is to deliver 15-20% returns to shareholders each year.

That explains why Micro Focus has little problem funding its acquisitions.

But its rise from mid-cap company to FTSE entrant and the near-doubling of its share price in the last year has taken many by surprise, so much so that many of the top technology analysts in London simply did not cover the stock.
One analyst said: “I think many have steered clear of it because it is a complex company, a kind of portfolio business and until recently was not considered big enough. But that will all change now.”
Software companies that were developed in the nineties have been “maturing” over the last five years and have fueled Micro Focus’s dramatic acquisition programme and rapid expansion.
“Micro Focus has realised that as technologies mature and go into decline they, as a management team, can make them more profitable by supporting them and making them work in the new environment. You could call them asset managers of software products.
“For instance, Autonomy, which made up about 6% of HP’s business will now make up over half of Micro Focus’s business. But it is hoping it can take its profit margins from the 20-30% range up to 40% which is the average for Micro Focus’s businesses.”
Asked whether Micro Focus had the skill to hold together such a rapidly expanding group of companies, Mr Amin said: “It’s exactly what they are good at, taking in declining companies, turning them round and supporting them.”

December 8, 2016   Posted in: Building Businesses, Business Communications, Business Development, Business Exports, Business Finance, Business Growth, Business Jobs, Business Profits, Business Sales, Business Services, Business Survival, Business Win, Connected Business, Flying Businesses, Growing Business, Growing Economy, Growing Jobs, Growing Profits, Growing Sales, Uncategorized  No Comments

UK sees record number of foreign investment projects

A record number of investments were made by foreign firms in the UK in the year.

A record number of investments were made by foreign firms in the UK in the year.

The Department for International Trade recorded 2,213 inward investment projects, up 11% on the previous year.
The data shows the UK is the most popular destination in the European Union for overseas firms.
However, there is concern over how the UK’s vote to leave the EU may affect future investment decisions.
Commenting on the figures, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said: “These impressive results show the UK continues to be the place to do business. We’ve broadened our reach with emerging markets across the world to cement our position as the number one destination in Europe for investment.”
The report suggested that 116,000 jobs were created or safeguarded by overseas investment last year.
The US remains the biggest source of inward investment, accounting for 570 projects, followed by China with 156 and India with 140.
Simon French, chief economist for Panmure Gordon said attractive tax rates, the use of English, a reliable legal system, and Britain’s membership of the European Union were factors that have made the UK an attractive location for foreign investors.
“What will be far more important than Brexit will be whether the political forces that shaped the vote to leave also put pressure on the UK to be a more closed/protectionist nation. This would have much larger (negative) ramifications for future inward investment flows,” he said.
The current financial year has already seen one high profile foreign deal, with the purchase of UK computer chip designer ARM Holdings by Japan’s Softbank for £24bn.

December 3, 2016   Posted in: Building Businesses, Business Communications, Business Development, Business Finance, Business Growth, Business Jobs, Business Profits, Business Sales, Business Win, Digital Business, Growing Business, Growing Economy, Growing Jobs, Growing Profits, Growing Sales, Online Business Growth, Online Marketing, Professional Services, Search Engines, Uncategorized  No Comments


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