Blackberry revival boosted by sales increase

Blackberry has reported revenues of £377 million for the three months to November – 12% higher than the previous quarter.

Blackberry has reported revenues of £377 million for the three months to November - 12% higher than the previous quarterIt was the struggling smartphone maker’s first quarter on quarter increase for more than two years.

The better than expected results give the Canadian company some hope that its turnaround plan is working.

Revenue was 31% lower than for the same period last year, but losses narrowed to £61 million compared with a £102 million deficit a year ago.

Chief executive John Chen said he was pleased with progress, as growth in enterprise software gained momentum and revenue rose across its “areas of focus”.

“Blackberry has a solid financial foundation, and we are executing well,” he said.

Revenue from software – a figure being closely watched by analysts – more than doubled to £111 million compared with the same quarter last year.

Total software revenue for the first three quarters reached about £249 million – within striking range of the £350 million forecast for the full financial year to February.

Last month, the company launched a new smartphone called the Priv, the first to run on the Android platform rather than its own operating system.

The majority of the world’s smartphones run on the Google developed Android.

Blackberry said the Priv combined Blackberry-level security with access to the 1.6 million apps in the Google Play app store.

Mr Chen said the device had been well received and would be available on more mobile networks globally next year.

Blackberry aims to sell five million of the handsets a year. The Priv costs about £580 without a contract, putting it in line with the iPhone and premium Android devices.

The company sold 700,000 devices in the third quarter, down 100,000 from the previous quarter, but average selling prices rose from £165 to £220.

Shares in Blackberry closed up 10.4% in New York at $8.61, but the stock is still down more than a fifth this year.

The company is valued at just £2.83 billion in comparison to Apple who is worth more than £415 billion.

January 18, 2016  Tags: , , , , ,   Posted in: Business Communications, Business Sales, Business Services, Business Survival, Business Win, Connected Business, Digital Business, Global Business, Growing Business, Growing Sales, Technological Businesses, Uncategorized, Winning Business  No Comments

UK sports attendances topped 70 million in 2015

Attendances at professional sports events in the UK topped 70 million in 2015- up 5%, according to Deloitte’s.

Attendances at professional sports events in the UK topped 70 million in 2015- up 5%, according to Deloitte'sFootball was the overall winner in the attendance stakes at 43.4 million, while three of the 10 best attended showpieces were horseracing events.

Rugby union attendances, boosted by the 2.5 million fans at the Rugby World Cup, climbed to 7.5 million.

This year’s total was less than the 75 million at UK sports events in 2012.

However, that year was boosted by 11 million visitors to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.

Excluding the Rugby World Cup, the 10 most popular individual sporting events of 2015 had a combined attendance of 2.5 million, with Wimbledon topping the list again.

The tennis tournament attracted just under half a million spectators during the fortnight.

In terms of attendees per event day, Formula 1’s British Grand Prix was the winner, averaging more than 100,000 per day.

Referring to the popularity of horseracing events, Alan Switzer, director in Deloitte’s sports business group, said: “British racecourses are on track for record attendances of 6.2 million in 2015.

“Flagship events such as Royal Ascot, the Cheltenham Festival and the Epsom Derby are firmly established in the top tier of best attended annual UK sporting events, whilst the breadth and depth of other meetings throughout the year ensure horseracing remains one of the UK’s most popular spectator sports.”

Two new individual events entered the top 10 best-attended sporting events in 2015: MotoGP’s British Grand Prix (154,000) and the Badminton Horse Trials (147,000).

These events replaced the Ryder Cup and Aintree Grand National from 2014.

Deloitte said that although overall attendances for the year fell short of the record of 75 million set in 2012, taking away the one off effects of the Olympic and Paralympic Games that year, and the Rugby World Cup in 2015, attendances rose by 6% across the period.

Major sporting events in the UK for 2016 include the UCI Track Cycling World Championships, the European Aquatics Championships and the FIH Women’s Champions Trophy in hockey.

January 8, 2016  Tags: , , , , ,   Posted in: Business Growth, Business Win, Growing Businesses, Growing Economy, Sporting Success, Uncategorized, Winning Businesses  No Comments

Commonwealth dream looms in Brexit campaign

Many Brexit champions suggest a Commonwealth is perfectly possible as an EU alternative.

Many Brexit champions suggest a Commonwealth is perfectly possible as an EU alternative.Eurosceptics campaigning for the UK to leave the European Union are keen to dismiss the idea that the move would leave the country economically isolated and bereft of trade alliances.

They point out that the UK’s links with the 53 nation Commonwealth, composed mainly of territories that belonged to the former British Empire, predate its membership of the EU.

And the Commonwealth itself is eager to stress the trade advantages that its members enjoy by virtue of belonging to the association.

But even while continuing to be an EU member, the UK is already making great efforts to trade with the Commonwealth’s most dynamic economies.

With the eurozone currently beset by economic troubles, some commentators feel that the UK should turn away from its stagnating neighbours in favour of broader global trade pacts.

They are assisted in this view by statistics such as those produced by the organisation World Economics, which has a growth tracker showing that the Commonwealth has already overtaken the eurozone in its share of world economic output.

“The Commonwealth accounts for 2.6% more than the eurozone in terms of world GDP share,” states World Economics. “Economic growth in the Commonwealth has accelerated over the post-1973 period in sharp contrast to the EU.”

As the Commonwealth’s own website says, “Our countries span Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific and are diverse – they are amongst the world’s largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries.

In fact, just six Commonwealth countries account for more than four fifths of all trade conducted by the organisation’s members. Apart from the UK, they are Australia, Canada, India, Malaysia and Singapore.

Earlier this month, the UK and India signed commercial deals worth £9 billion during a visit to London by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi – a visit seen as giving an important boost to the UK’s relations with the world’s fastest growing large economy.

Other big Commonwealth economies are not badly placed either. Some Conservative MPs, including Boris Johnson, feel that the UK “betrayed” countries such as Australia when it joined the EU in 1973.

“We share an extensive economic, trade and investment relationship,” says the Australian government website’s country brief on UK relations, before going on to list the evidence.

Investment is particularly strong: the UK is “the second largest source of total and direct foreign investment in Australia”, while Australia returns the favour, with the UK also being “Australia’s second most important foreign investment destination”.

For its part, the Commonwealth stresses that countries benefit economically from belonging to the club. According to its Trade Review 2015, members’ combined exports of goods and services amounted to $3.4 trillion in 2013, “which is about 15% of the world’s total exports”.

“When both bilateral partners are Commonwealth members, they tend to trade 20% more, and generate 10% more foreign direct investment inflows than otherwise,” says the review.

“This ‘Commonwealth effect’ implies bilateral trade costs between Commonwealth partners are on average 19% lower compared with those for other country peers.”

December 22, 2015  Tags: , , , , ,   Posted in: Business Development, Business Exports, Business Growth, Business Survival, Business Win, Exporting Businesses, Global Business, Global Businesses, Growing Economy, Uncategorized, Winning Businesses  No Comments

British universities’ business incubator rated world’s best

A group of British universities has been rated the best in the world at helping scientists turn their creativity into cash.

A group of British universities has been rated the best in the world at helping scientists turn their creativity into cash.The SETsquared Partnership – a collaboration between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey – was ranked “Number One” by respected independent research group, University Business Incubators (UBI).

UBI analysed more than 1,200 incubators, based in 64 countries, measuring their performance in 60 different areas, including total investment, the number of jobs created and the number of successful firms born out of the incubator.

‘SETsquared’ came top, beating Ryerson University in Canada and the Chaoyang University of Technology, Taiwan.

Dhruv Bhatli, one of UBI’s founders, explained the centre’s success. “SETsquared is the top performing business incubator globally as it consistently outperforms on our three assessment categories; value for ecosystem, value for client and attractiveness,” he said.

That is the dry business analysis. For Bristol PhD student Tom Carter, SETsquared has turned an idea into a £10 million business in a year. Working in a university lab, Mr Carter created “feeling without touching”.

He demonstrated how to control a computer game simply by moving a hand in mid-air, the gestures controlling what happened on screen.

Mr Carter calls his device “Ultrahaptics”, a fusion of haptics – the science of touch – and ultrasound technology. An array of small ultrasound emitters are responsible for creating the feeling in the user’s fingers, linked by software to a camera which sees how the hand is moving.

The device has caught the world’s attention. Car manufacturers are developing controls that would adjust the volume of a car stereo, or the temperature of the heating, all by mid-air gestures.

Kitchen appliance firms are creating a hob with no buttons, the heat turned up simply by a wave of your hand.

But when he made his discoveries, Mr Carter was doing his PhD at Bristol University, and knew nothing about building a business.

SETsquared introduced him to lawyers, to protect and patent his invention; to accountants and HR experts to create a company; and most importantly of all, to a man who has become his business partner.

Now, Ultrahaptics chief executive, Mr Cliffe said: “The response from customers is amazing; we have a piece of technology they want. This is going to be huge.”

Interest is so strong that Ultrahaptics has recently received £10 million of investment from City backers. There are serious applications for touchless controls.

Mr Cliffe added: “The dirtiest place in a hospital are the buttons on the lift. Lift manufacturers are very interested.

“We can allow people to choose the floor they want to go to, simply by waving their hand. That way, we cut down germs and infection.”

In all, SETsquared firms have attracted £26 million of investment in the past year, creating 100 jobs. Since the centres were set up, it is estimated they have contributed £3.8 billion to the UK economy. But the impact is wider than that.

Simon Bond, SETsquared’s director of innovation, put it like this: “Bristol and Bath is a leading tech hub outside of London.

“The region has produced an incredible wealth of technology companies and products, and SETsquared is very proud to have played our part in putting it on the map as one of the most innovative areas in the UK.”

December 11, 2015  Tags: , , , , , , , , ,   Posted in: Building Businesses, Business Growth, Business Win, Digital Business, Global Businesses, Growing Businesses, Growing Jobs, Growing Profits, Growing Sales, Technological Businesses, Uncategorized, Winning Businesses  No Comments

Five winning tips from tech ceos

What does it take to be a winning internet entrepreneur?

What does it take to be a winning internet entrepreneur?
The counter intuitive advice to fail – “fail fast”, “fail often”, “fail better” – is often heard from the lips of internet entrepreneurs.

Jimmy Wales, cofounder of online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, really believes it. “The first version of Wikipedia was called Nupedia,” recalls Mr Wales. “It was very top-down, very structured,” he admits.

“I beat my head against the wall for two years, I knew the system was too complicated, but I didn’t want to fail.”

Don’t invest all your money in one thing, he now advises. “Give yourself a chance to reboot.” In fact Jimmy Wales was involved in several unsuccessful internet ventures before Wikipedia took off.

If Jimmy Wales wishes he’d listened to feedback earlier on, another chief executive encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to defy the critics.

“You’ll find lots of investors telling you, ‘you need to think of the market’,” says Nicolas Brusson of BlaBlaCar, one of France’s most successful web companies.

“But if you do something truly new, your market does not exist, you are going to create your own market.”

BlaBlaCar allows users to pay to take up unused seats on private car journeys. It defied its early critics by creating a new market for digital hitch-hiking, in the emerging sharing economy.

“Creativity and integrity are everything,” advises Yancey Strickler, chief execuive and cofounder of the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, an online platform which allows anyone to give financial backing to novel business ideas.

“Pursue a solution that you feel proud of, that you know feels right and morally correct.”

“It’s a passion thing,” he explains. “You’re standing up and saying I can do this better, it needs a level of passion you don’t have in normal business.”

But Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger cautions against obsessing about work to the detriment of your health.

“We came close to burning ourselves out in the early days,” he recalls. “Your incremental extra two hours between the 12th and 14th hour of work, you are getting diminishing returns,” he now realises.

“Take time for yourself, for exercise, it sounds trivial but actually can make a big difference.” He also recommends the camaraderie of well-chosen cofounders.

“If there’s somebody you can turn to who is your cofounder,” says Mr Krieger, “who you’ll look at and say ‘alright, we’ve got this’, it really, really helps.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Tinder founder Sean Rad didn’t dwell on the importance of cofounders, since the dating app’s early history is mired in personal animosity.

“Work can sometimes get overwhelming,” he admits. So he has developed a numerical coping strategy.

“It’s very important to identify the three most important things you need to accomplish, to get 80% of the results.”

Are these pioneers of the internet goldrush really a different breed of entrepreneur?

Shellye Archambeau, of MetricStream, a software company based in Silicon Valley, told us there is one important factor to consider.

“As soon as you start your company now, you can be global,” she says.

Not only does the reach of the internet allow you to think on a vast scale from the outset, but it also affects how you find your customers.

“In the old days if a customer found a great product, they might tell five people,” says Jimmy Wales. “But these days someone might tell 300 people on Facebook. So telling the story is key.”

The chief executive of a modern internet company needs to be an adept storyteller, it would seem, as well as a passionate leader. Someone who can engage social media users around the world.

December 7, 2015  Tags: , , , , , , ,   Posted in: Building Businesses, Business Survival, Business Win, Digital Business, Ecommerce Business, New Business Development, Online Business Growth, Technological Businesses, Uncategorized, Winning Businesses, Winning Websites  No Comments

British academic awarded Nobel economics prize

British academic Angus Deaton has been awarded the Nobel economics prize for 2015 for his analysis of consumption, poverty, and welfare.

British academic Angus Deaton has been awarded the Nobel economics prize for 2015 for his analysis of consumption, poverty, and welfareThe 69 year old professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University was previously at Cambridge and Bristol universities.

His research focuses on health, wellbeing, and economic development.

Professor Deaton had been in the running for the prize several times in past years.

The Nobel economic sciences committee said that individuals’ consumption choices must be understood before economic policy promoting welfare and reducing poverty could be formulated.

“More than anyone else, Angus Deaton has enhanced this understanding. By linking detailed individual choices and aggregate outcomes, his research has helped transform the fields of microeconomics, macroeconomics, and development economics,” the committee members said.

The work for which Edinburgh-born Professor Deaton has been honoured revolves around three questions:

  • How do consumers distribute their spending among different goods?
  • How much of society’s income is spent and how much is saved?
  • How do we best measure and analyse welfare and poverty?

“His research has uncovered important pitfalls when comparing the extent of poverty across time and place,” the committee said.

The award includes prize money of 8m Swedish kroner (£637,000).

The economics award was not created by Alfred Nobel in 1895, but was added by Sweden’s central bank in 1968 as a memorial to the Swedish industrialist.

The Nobel prizes will be given to winners on 10 December at ceremonies in Stockholm and Oslo.

November 22, 2015  Tags: , ,   Posted in: Business Finance, Business Win, Finance Business, Uncategorized  No Comments

Bridgend wins for £181m new Ford engine project

Ford’s Bridgend plant will build the company’s new generation of petrol engines in a deal worth £181 million.

Ford's Bridgend plant will build the company's new generation of petrol engines in a deal worth £181 million.The investment is backed by nearly £15 million from the Welsh government with production due to start in late 2018.

Economy Minister Edwina Hart said the deal would “safeguard more than 750 skilled Welsh jobs for many years”.

“In a climate of stiff global competitiveness, we have been actively seeking to win a share of this investment for Wales,” she said.

“Ford’s decision to manufacture its new innovative engine here in Wales is a tribute to the reputation of the local management team and the quality and loyalty of the Welsh workforce,” she added.

The Ford Bridgend plant opened in 1980 and has fought fierce competition to win successive investments in the past worth more than £2.8bn.

The company has said its presence supports around 10,000 jobs in south Wales, with 1,860 employed at the plant itself.

Ford said technicians based in Essex and Germany had worked together on the design and development of a new fuel-efficient range of engines.

A letter from Ford to workers in June said that to win the investment there would need to be a change to working conditions at Bridgend to make the plant more competitive.

Welsh Conservative shadow economy minister William Graham said Friday’s announcement was a sign of “confidence in the UK government’s efforts to rebuild the economy”.

This is good news for workers at Bridgend as the new production will begin in 2018, just as the manufacturing of Jaguar Land Rover engines at the site will be coming to an end.

It secured hundreds of jobs that may otherwise have been in jeopardy. Two hundred fixed contract workers were let go at Ford Bridgend this year when it stopped manufacturing engines for Volvo.

There are concerns, though, that the new investment will mean that Bridgend can only manufacture a third of the number of engines it does at the moment.

Some question why the Welsh government should be contributing £15m to the investment of a multinational company in a plant it owns.

Bridgend was in competition with three other European Ford plants for this work, all with governments offering financial support as standard.

The automotive industry is so competitive internationally that without government backing, companies are likely to go elsewhere.

November 11, 2015  Tags: , , , , , , , ,   Posted in: Business Exports, Business Growth, Business Jobs, Business Sales, Business Win, Exporting Businesses, Global Businesses, Growing Business, Growing Jobs, Growing Sales, Technological Businesses, Uncategorized  No Comments

Banksy’s Dismaland gave Weston-super-Mare a £20 million boost

Over the past five weeks, more than 150,000 people have visited the Dismaland theme park in a derelict Weston-super-Mare seafront lido, which had been shut since 2000 and reopened in a blaze of publicity on 20 August.

Banksy's Dismaland gave Weston-super-Mare a £20 million boost
The temporary art show in Weston-super-Mare has sold 4,000 tickets a day online, plus 500 more to people willing to queue for hours, often in pouring rain.

Dismaland describes itself as offering “entry-level anarchism”, and satirises the tourism and theme-park industries.

But, it is the town’s tourist businesses that have reaped the benefit – to the tune of £20 million, says Visit Somerset, more than three times what the trade body initially suggested.

“The show has gone way beyond our hopes”, says John Turner, of Visit Somerset. “This has been a global phenomenon of major importance for the region and underlines how important tourism can be in the local economy.”

The biggest boost has been to hotels and B&Bs. September is usually quiet, with most only half-full. But throughout the Dismaland show, almost every bed in Weston has been sold each night.

Hotelier Keith Fearn, who also runs the town’s Hoteliers Association, said his two establishments have “been full every night”.

“Hotels have been much busier than normal, and foreign visitors are from everywhere which is fantastic,” he said. “Mexico, Thailand, China, America – everywhere.”

Mr Fearn calculates that compared with the same period last year, an additional 50,000 nights have been sold in the town’s hotels, with each guest spending an average of of £150 a night, allowing for dinner and drinks – ultimately generating about £7.5m.

Restaurants have been busy too. In her contemporary Italian eatery on the seafront, Victoria Upward showed me her reservations diary.

Every night has been full, even midweek, which is normally unheard of at this time of year – and attracting a much wider range of customers.

“Traditionally, we would have small families or coach trips,” she said. “But we’ve had Americans, Germans, hipsters, new age travellers, you name it.”

Anyone with a small plot of land on the seafront has opened temporary car parks, often charging £5, which is more than the £3 admission to Dismaland itself.

Thousands have come by train. Great Western Railways report a doubling of numbers on the Paddington to Weston line, equating to about £4.5m extra revenue.

Everyone has noted the irony of the anti-capitalist art show boosting business.

But, Banksy said he chose Weston because “I went there every summer until I was 17”, so perhaps he would feel a little less animosity to small local traders than multi-nationals.

For Mr Turner, the event shows Weston can laugh at itself. “It’s just like the British, really,” he said. “We never take ourselves too seriously. Banksy has ripped the Michael out of us, but it’s brought a great deal back into the local economy.”

October 22, 2015  Tags: , , , , , ,   Posted in: Business Sales, Business Services, Business Win, Growing Jobs, Growing Sales, New Business Development, Uncategorized, Winning Business  No Comments

Lidl to pay recommended living wage

Lidl has said it will become the first UK supermarket to implement the minimum wage as recommended by the Living Wage Foundation.

Lidl has said it will become the first UK supermarket to implement the minimum wage as recommended by the Living Wage Foundation
Lidl UK employees will earn a minimum of £8.20 an hour across England, Scotland and Wales, and £9.35 an hour in London, the supermarket said.

The Foundation will announce a change in its recommended rates in November. The rate is different from the National Living Wage as set out in the Budget.

Lidl said that if the Living Wage Foundation raised its recommended rate in its annual announcement in November, Lidl would adjust its minimum wage accordingly.

Currently, Lidl pays its staff a minimum of £7.30 an hour and £8.03 an hour inside London.

The Living Wage Foundation’s current recommended minimal hourly rate is £7.85, and £9.15 inside London.

The National Living Wage as required by the UK government, which was set out in George Osborne’s July Budget, is set to be £7.20 an hour from April 2016 for people aged over 25.

Lidl said its new pay rate would amount to an average wage increase of £1,200 a year, “with 53% of Lidl UK’s 17,000 workforce and all age brackets benefiting from the rise”.

The chief executive of Lidl UK, Ronny Gottschlich, said: “Lidl employees will be amongst the best paid in the supermarket sector.”

“Recently we announced we could easily imagine another 280 stores in London alone and between 1,200 and 1,500 stores in our store portfolio. “

“There aren’t any patches where we can say we don’t want to expand anymore. There is potential in almost every single town.” Mr Gottschlich added.

The director of the Living Wage Foundation, Rhys Moore, told the BBC: “We are thrilled. We’ve been working with and trying to persuade the retail sector to commit to pay the living wage rates rather than National Minimum Wage now called the National Living Wage.

“None of the big four supermarkets currently pay the living wage rates, and the BRC [British Retail Consortium] are very behind the curve on this.”

The Living Wage Foundation’s rate is an informal benchmark, not a legally enforceable minimum level of pay.

It is calculated by academics as the level of pay that will give workers enough for a basic standard of living.

October 7, 2015  Tags: , , , ,   Posted in: Business Growth, Business Jobs, Business Sales, Business Win, Growing Business, Growing Jobs, Uncategorized  No Comments

Kingfisher to build 200 more Screwfix stores

DIY retailer Kingfisher- which owns Screwfix, says it would build another 200 stores in the UK.

DIY retailer Kingfisher- which owns Screwfix, says it would build another 200 stores in the UKKingfisher currently has 412 Screwfix UK stores, which supply tools, plumbing and electrical equipment.

As part of previously announced restructuring plans, the company said it was on track to close about 60 B&Q stores by the end of its 2016-17 financial year.

Statutory pre-tax profits dipped 1.8% to £386 million in the half year to 1 August. Total sales fell by 4.8% to £5.49 billion. Kingfisher shares dropped around 2% in early trading.

“I am pleased that we have delivered a solid first half of the year,” said chief executive Veronique Laury. “There remains a lot to be done, however.”

Earlier this year Kingfisher announced a change in strategy that involved scaling back its B&Q stores while opening up new Screwfix outlets.

Other plans include cutting back on some of the 393,000 products sold across the company. Only 7,000 items – amounting to 7% of sales – are sold in at least two of Kingfisher’s operating companies.

The beefed-up Screwfix “continues to deliver strong growth” in the UK, Kingfisher said.

In the first half like for like sales at the chain rose 16.5% to £494 million. It said 60 Screwfix stores would be opened by the end of 2015-16.

Sales were driven by strong growth from trade desks for plumbers and electricians, digital and mobile growth, new and extended ranges, and new outlets, it said.

It added that a trial of Screwfix in Germany “has been well received”, with signs of repeat custom in store and online.

Like-for-like sales at B&Q rose 0.7%. The majority of the 30 B&Q closures planned for this year will fall in the second half, the firm said. Over two years, the restructuring is expected to cost it about £350 million.

The firm also runs the Castorama and Brico Depot chains in France and other countries. It announced two store closures in France, and one in Russia.

September 27, 2015  Tags: , , , ,   Posted in: Building Businesses, Business Growth, Business Win, Growing Business, Uncategorized  No Comments