UK manufacturers plan increase in investment

UK manufacturers intend to invest more money over the next two years.

UK manufacturers intend to invest more money over the next two yearsManufacturing represents about 10% of the UK’s economy according to a survey from manufacturers’ lobby group the EEF.

It said the move came as businesses sought to improve productivity.

The survey of 750 firms, said a third believed the UK was a more competitive place to invest than two years ago.

But the organisation warned the economic health of European partners was one of the biggest external risks to future investment.

The EEF survey said the industrial policies of the previous coalition government had helped to improve conditions in manufacturing.

It called on the recently elected Conservative government to remain supportive.

Lee Hopley, the EEF’s chief economist, said: “UK manufacturers’ ongoing commitments to invest in technology, skills and innovation provide positive signals about the sector’s future growth and productivity prospects.”

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) earlier this year showed UK labour productivity fell 0.2% in the last three months of 2014. That meant productivity last year remained “little changed” on 2013.

The ONS figures also found the productivity of the UK workforce remains slightly lower than in 2007, marking an “unprecedented” absence of growth since World War Two.

June 30, 2015  Tags: , , , , , ,   Posted in: Building Businesses, Business Sales, Business Win, Growing Businesses, Growing Economy, Uncategorized, Winning Businesses  No Comments

Nike increases it’s profits by quarter

Sportswear maker Nike reported a 24% increase in profit from selling more high end shoes and clothes.

Sportswear maker Nike reported a 24% increase in profitThe company said net income rose to £550 million in the three months to the end of May, an increase from £465 million a year earlier.

The results were better than many analyst expectations’.

Nike saw growing demand from its basketball shoes- particularly in the US, as well as running shoes, including brands such as Lunar and Free.

Its Converse brand also saw rising sales.

The company’s largest market, North America, saw sales rise by 13% in the quarter.

This helped offset the effect of the stronger dollar which dampened earnings elsewhere.

President and chief executive Mark Parker described the past year overall as “outstanding”.

The company’s shares were up 2.3% at $107.63 in after hours trading on Wall Street.

On the conference call to discuss the earnings, Mr Parker pointed to its women and youth ranges as areas for growth.

Women were keener to buy their sportswear online, with female products outstripping men’s at Nike.com.

Nike, Inc. is one of the world’s largest suppliers of athletic shoes and apparel and a major manufacturer of sports equipment. In 2014 the brand alone was valued at over £12 billion, making it the most valuable brand among sports businesses.

June 25, 2015  Tags: , , , , ,   Posted in: Business Profits, Business Sales, Business Win, Global Business, Sporting Success, Uncategorized, Winning Business  No Comments

Manchester United is most valuable football brand

Manchester United is the world’s most valuable football brand.

Manchester United is the world's most valuable football brandThe finding was according to a report from consultancy Brand Finance- with United replacing Bayern Munich as the most valuable club.

Despite winning no trophies again last season the Old Trafford club’s brand is estimated to be worth £789 millon.

Six of the top 10 most valuable club brands in the reserach were English.

Barcelona, who won the Champions League final on Saturday, slipped two places from last year to sixth most valuable club, worth £515 million.

A recent report in Spanish newspaper Sport had suggested that Man Utd’s global fan base had fallen because of its couple of barren seasons.

But the Brand Finance report said: “Even if recent reports of fan losses are to be believed, United retains legions of followers in India, South East Asia and China, contributing to a total of over half a billion individuals and the news certainly does not appear to have deterred sponsors.”

They point to the club’s lucrative shirt sponsorship deal with Chevrolet and “record breaking” kit supply deal with Adidas, which was signed in 2014 and is worth £750 million to United over 10 years.

They added that “the huge windfalls that Man Utd can expect, will see both revenues and brand value continue to increase in the coming years”.

They also say that the club’s brand value has increased by 63% since 2014.

“The most critical success factor in the Manchester United brand’s renewed financial potency has been this year’s record-breaking, £5.1 billion deal for the UK broadcast rights of the Premier League.”

Bayern slipped to second in the football brand table, with Real Madrid third, and Paris St-Germain in ninth. There were no Italian clubs in the top 10.

June 12, 2015  Tags: , ,   Posted in: Business Win, Global Business, Sporting Success, Uncategorized  No Comments

Nationwide’s profits double to £1 billion

The Nationwide building society has reported a 54% rise in annual pre tax profit to £1.04 billion.

The Nationwide building society has reported a 54% rise in annual pre tax profit to £1.04 billionThe Nationawide has also regained its position as the UK’s second largest mortgage lender-  the building society reported a profits of £677 million last year.

Nationwide also announced its chief executive, Graham Beale, would retire next year after nine years at the helm.

It added it expected growth to moderate in the years ahead as the pace of house price growth eased.

Nationwide said the search for Mr Beale’s successor would now begin.

He has served on the board of the building society for 13 years, becoming chief executive of Nationwide shortly before the financial crisis in 2007.

Net interest income – the income Nationwide receives from savings deposits and its own investments – rose £458 million to £2.8 billion, as a result of what the building society called “lower retail funding costs and the growth in retail assets”.

Nationwide said saving deposits grew by £1.9 billion, despite what it called the “low interest rate environment”.

It blamed lower interest rates on its savings account on the general drift downwards across the wider market.

The building society said it took its responsibility to its savers “very seriously”, but added it was “not immune from trading conditions in the savings and mortgage markets and the impact on prevailing rates”.

Net mortgage lending – new mortgages advanced minus those repaid in full – amounted to £7.1 billion in the year to 4 April, down from £9.9 billion a year earlier, giving Nationwide a 31.2% share of the UK mortgage market.

Mr Beale said: “Nationwide is in great shape and is demonstrating how a mutual building society can make a real and refreshing difference in the financial services sector.

“Succession of leadership is best dealt with from a position of strength and hence the time has come for the society to identify and appoint its next chief executive. In the meantime, there is lots to do and there are exciting opportunities ahead, so it is very much business as usual.”

June 2, 2015  Tags: , , , , , , ,   Posted in: Business Finance, Business Sales, Business Win, Ecommerce Business, Finance Business, Uncategorized, Winning Business  No Comments

Vodafone grows 4G sales and profits

Mobile phone company Vodafone has reported a rise in quarterly sales for the first time in almost three years on increased demand for 4G services.

Mobile phone company Vodafone has reported a rise in quarterly sales for the first time in almost three years on increased demand for 4G services.Profits for 2014 also received a significant boost from the sale of Vodafone’s US Verizon business and comes as the network reported core earnings for the year to 31 March of £11.9 billion.

Vodafone said group sales rose 10.1% in the year to £42.2 billion, while service revenue rose 9.4% to £38.5 billion.

The mobile operator has spent the last 12 months investing in speeding up its network and boosting coverage.

Although small, the 0.1% rise in fourth-quarter organic service revenue followed 10 quarters of declines and means its overall earnings could also stabilise in 2016.

Vodafone said 4G service speeds were now available across 70% of its European network.

But it remained cautious in its outlook, warning that it would continue to invest in its network this year.

It added it would also continue to make improvements to customer service, in order to reduce the number of customers leaving it in its most mature market.

Vodafone forecast core earnings would be in the same region as this financial year, of between £11.5 billion and £12 billion.

Vittorio Colao, Vodafone group chief executive, said the group had seen increasing signs of stabilisation across many of its European markets, supported by very strong demand for data. He added revenue trends were improving as a result of a growing number of customers.
Quad play

The group’s acquisition of German and Spanish cable TV and broadband firms Kabel Deutschland and ONO – designed to ensure Vodafone did not get outflanked by rivals offering Television, fixed-line broadband and telephone service, alongside mobile phone packages – had also provided a strong platform for further growth in Europe, Vodafone said.

Mr Colao added: “We have significant opportunities ahead of us, with only 13% of our European mobile customers using 4G, and our market share in fixed services only a fraction of our share in mobile.

“In addition, businesses around the world are increasingly looking to put mobility at the centre of their own strategies. With the assets and skills we have today, further enhanced by the completion of Project Spring, we will be strongly positioned to provide ever-improving services to customers and seize these opportunities.”

May 25, 2015  Tags: , , , , , , ,   Posted in: Business Growth, Business Profits, Business Sales, Business Win, Digital Business, Exporting Businesses, Global Business, Technological Businesses, Uncategorized, Winning Business  No Comments

Jim ONeill ex Goldman banker to join Treasury

Jim O’Neill the former Goldman Sachs economist  is to join the UK Treasury.

Jim O'Neill the former Goldman Sachs economist is to join the UK TreasuryMr O’Neill coined the term ‘BRICs’- Brazil, Russia, India and China to refer to developing economies.

Chancellor George Osborne tweeted that the retiring Goldman Sachs Asset Management chairman is to become the Commercial Secretary at the Treasury.

Mr Osborne chose Mr O’Neill to “make devolution and the Northern Powerhouse happen”.

English cities will get powers on housing, transport, planning and policing under Mr Osborne’s plans.

Greater Manchester – which will take on the powers when electing a mayor in two years – should become a blueprint for other large cities, he said.

A Cities Devolution Bill will be in the Queen’s Speech later this month.

Mr O’Neill is chairman of the RSA City Growth Commission, which claimed the economy has seen 5% less growth per year between 2000 and 2010 as a result of “chronic” underinvestment outside London.

It urged an overhaul of transport, housing and broadband provision and more house building.

Mr O’Neill also recently headed a UK government appointed review team calling for global antibiotic research and was one of the “Red Knights” hoping to restore Manchetser United Football Club to financial independence when the Glazers took the club over with borrowed money.

May 20, 2015  Tags: , , , ,   Posted in: Business Growth, Business Win, Growing Economy, New Business Development, Uncategorized, Winning Business  No Comments

2015 shortlist for the MacRobert Award engineering prize

Three firms have been shortlisted for the MacRobert Award 2015- the UK’s longest running engineering prize.

Three firms have been shortlisted for the MacRobert Award 2015- the UK's longest running engineering prizeArtemis, Endomag and Victrex have carved out strong reputations in very different types of technology: wind turbines, cancer diagnostics, and ultra-thin plastics, respectively.

Chair of the judging panel Dame Sue Ion said the variety and quality of the list was testament to the strength of engineering in the UK. The winner will be announced on 16 July.

“Each of this year’s finalists has demonstrated remarkable drive and determination, to achieve technical advances that can make a considerable difference to many aspects of our lives,” said Dame Sue.

“Innovative engineering is the key to our future growth in the UK and we will have to make increasing use of our knowledge and creative talent if we are to take advantage of this opportunity. These three companies are great examples of engineering for growth in action.”

The three firms are competing for a gold medal and a £50,000 prize. The MacRobert Award has been presented by the Royal Academy of Engineering annually since 1969 and has recognised many technologies that are now widespread – such as the first CT scanner in 1972.

Based in Edinburgh, Artemis Intelligent Power has developed a digital hydraulic power system that can replace the mechanical gearbox in conventional wind turbines.

The “Digital Displacement” system is set to power the next generation of offshore turbines, making them more efficient and reliable. One system has already been installed in a 7MW turbine – double the current average turbine power of 3.5MW – off the Scottish coast.

The same technology is used in motor vehicles and industrial applications such as injection moulding.

Cambridge company Endomag specialises in tools for diagnosing and treating cancer. It has recognised for its system that replaces the radioactive tracers used in lymph node biopsies with magnetic nanoparticles.

To establish whether a breast cancer has spread, the best method is to examine “sentinel” lymph nodes – but identifying these nodes previously relied on injecting radioisotopes, which then collect in the sentinel nodes. That makes these biopsies complex, expensive procedures and many patients instead have up to 30 lymph nodes removed, which brings other health risks.

It has already been used to treat more than 6,000 breast cancer patients in Europe and is now being trialled for approval in the US.

Victrex is a polymer technology company headquartered near Blackpool, which produces the world’s top performing ultra-thin plastics – up to 20 times thinner than a human hair.

One of its products, a film called APTIV, is found in more than one billion electronic devices. It is strong and durable, tolerates high temperatures and has tunable electrical properties which make it very valuable in tough, small scale applications like earphones, or the speakers and microphones of smartphones.

The polymer responsible is polyetheretherketone or PEEK, originally invented by chemicals giant ICI, from which Victrex split in 1993. It is much lighter than metal, which also makes it an attractive option for aircraft components.

Victrex is now worth around £2 billion and is investigating other uses for PEEK, including as a high-grade 3D printing material.

As mobile technology continues to improve, it demands increasingly tough and versatile materials and plastics made by Victrex are also found inside anti-lock braking systems and even spinal disc implants.

May 15, 2015  Tags: , , , , , , ,   Posted in: Business Exports, Business Sales, Business Win, Global Businesses, Growing Businesses, New Business Development, Technological Businesses, Uncategorized  No Comments

Personal insolvencies at lowest level since 2005

The number of people becoming insolvent in England and Wales has fallen to its lowest level in nearly a decade.

Personal insolvencies at lowest level since 2005According to the Insolvency Service, 20,826 individuals became insolvent in the first three months of 2015.

That is the lowest figure since the autumn of 2005, and a fall of 18.6% on the number a year ago – one of the steepest declines on record.

Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs), the most used form of insolvency arrangement, fell by 23.5%.

One reason for the fall in insolvencies now is the big decline in borrowing in 2008, during the financial crisis. As a result, fewer people are in financial difficulty seven years later.

The number of companies becoming insolvent also fell.

In the first three months of 2015, 4,052 companies went bust, a drop of 11.3% on the same quarter last year and the lowest figure since the autumn of 2007.

Debt charity StepChange welcomed the news that personal insolvencies had fallen, but warned that dangers still remained.

“With levels of personal borrowing growing rapidly once again, the next government and lenders must ensure that the mistakes of the pre-crisis credit boom are not repeated,” said Peter Tutton, head of policy at StepChange.

“Our concern is that growing levels of consumer credit will be followed by growing numbers of people falling into problem debt.”

Bankruptcy methods and their alternatives

Bankruptcy: The traditional way of escaping overwhelming debt. Ends after one year, but you are likely to lose all your assets, including your house, to pay something to the creditors

Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA): A deal between you and your creditors, overseen by an insolvency practitioner. Less stigma, less chance of losing your home, but involves paying some of your debts in one go

Debt Relief Orders: Introduced in April 2009, these allow people with debts of less than £15,000 (£20,000 from October 2015) and minimal assets to write off debts without a full blown bankruptcy.

April 29, 2015  Tags: , , ,   Posted in: Business Survival, Business Win, Finance Business, Uncategorized  No Comments

Solar farm mutual shines on community

A new solar farm is part of the Big60Million community energy project which is part owned by local villagers.

Solar farm mutual shines on communityThe group has a three further farms in Kent, Warwickshire and Stratford-upon-Avon, with planning permission secured for a fourth in Swindon is spread out over 23 acres.

Big60 boss Toddington Harper was passionate about the benefits of solar power and felt the Willersey farm, with its poor soil unsuitable for growing crops, was the perfect site.

A very small but vocal group of locals, he says, had other ideas. Soon the Daily Mail was running a story headlined “Hands off our views”, talking about German invasions thanks to Big60’s solar partner Belectric, headquartered in Bavaria.

“We just thought ‘this is not right, what we are trying to do is a good thing’,” says Mr Harper. When he finally spoke with the main opponent of the farm, everything became clear. “‘What’s in it for me?’ was her simple message, so we took that on board and thought, ‘let’s make everything in it for her’.”

So the company devised its five-year solar bond, each costing £60 and paying a fixed annual rate of 7%. The electricity from the 4MW farm – producing enough power in one year to meet the demands of 1,100 homes – is sold into the National Grid to generate 40% of the return, with the remaining 60% coming from government subsidies, which are guaranteed for 20 years.

With new subsidies falling, the solar bonds launched for the latest farms offer 6% interest, with the split closer to 50/50. But Mr Harper says longer term, thanks in large part to the falling cost of solar panels, the business model will not rely on government support.

The Willersey bond offer raised £4 million in two months from hundreds of individual investors, with 20% being bought by local residents. The rest came on the back of adverts in the national press.

Many were not interested in the environmental benefits of the farm, but simply wanted a good cash return from the solar farm.

But Big60Million is about much more than money. Only 5% of Willersey solar farm’s ground is covered by the infrastructure needed to support the solar panels, which means the vast majority of the land is given over to encourage biodiversity.

Beehives have been brought in as part of wider push to encourage biodiversity on the farm

Local beekeepers built hives to boost dwindling bee populations, while various bird and bat boxes, as well as habitats for insects and reptiles, have been placed across the farm to give wildlife the chance to flourish. Local schools also visit the farm so children can learn about the benefits of clean energy.

In the meantime, the company has big plans to build more solar farms. “Our vision is that each town and village in the country should have something similar to Willersey,” Mr Harper says.

In fact, Big60Million is at the forefront of a fundamental shift in the way that energy is generated and distributed in the UK. Indeed the government estimates there are already 5,000 community energy projects in the country, which could generate up to 15% of the country’s total renewable electricity generation by 2020. The potential is huge – in Germany, community energy already makes up more than 40% of renewable output.

What was meant to be nothing more than a good investment opportunity has turned into so much more.

April 27, 2015  Tags: , , , , ,   Posted in: Building Businesses, Business Survival, Business Win, Gloucestershire Businesses, Growing Business, Growing Economy, Technological Businesses, Uncategorized  No Comments

Website Design Cheltenham helps Floortex win Queens Award for Innovation

Website Design Cheltenham is delighted to have helped one of our clients- Floortex to win a Queens Award for Innovation.

Website Design Cheltenham helps Floortex win Queens Award for InnovationOn the Queen’s birthday- Tuesday 21st April Floortex were named as winners of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise – the UK’s highest accolade for business success.

Floortex received their Award for International Trade as a result of outstanding overseas sales growth over the last three years equating to an increase in sales of 53%.

Floortex export to over 30 other countries worldwide including Canada, Australia, Russia, Japan and throughout the Middle East.

A bespoke logistics operations in both Europe and North America, exceptional customer services and a dedicated sales and marketing team, has given Floortex a totally unique market position.

Which is where Website Design Cheltenham comes in to the ecommerce equation.

We have been helping Floortex with a number of websites for nearly ten years- from the design, creation, implimentation, search engine optimisation, ongoing marketing and ecommerce processes.

As a result Flooretex have been selling $200,000 dollars worth of floor protection products online every month just in the USA alone.

Steve Bull, CEO and owner of Floortex stated “As a UK Company being selected for The Queens Award for Enterprise is one of the greatest honours achievable. We are all so proud and excited to gain this recognition and it’s testament to the huge effort put in by the whole team since we started in 2002. An award of this stature will only spur us on even more to further consolidate our position as the Global Leader in Chair mat and surface protection innovation and continue to develop our Global Presence.”

Naturally, we will be using the Queens Award logo on future marketing and promotional materials and believe this will further fuel our continued sales growth and market share for many years to come!

Only 140 Queens Awards have been announced this year for outstanding business achievement in the fields of International Trade, Innovation and Sustainable Development so this is a fantastic example of a local and British success story.

April 24, 2015  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   Posted in: Business Exports, Business Growth, Business Sales, Business Win, Ecommerce Business, Exporting Businesses, Global Business, Growing Business, Growing Sales, Online Business Growth, Online Marketing, Online Profits Growth, Online Sales Growth, Search Engine Optimisation, Technological Businesses, Uncategorized, Winning Business, Winning Websites  No Comments