Royal Mint sees surge in demand for gold bars and coins

It seems the quest for gold is not currently limited to the venues of Rio de Janeiro.

It seems the quest for gold is not currently limited to the venues of Rio de Janeiro.

The Royal Mint has said that it saw a “surge” in demand for the precious metal following the Bank of England’s cut in base rates to 0.25% on 4 August.

During that week the Mint saw a 25% increase in transactions on its bullion website. It also experienced a 50% increase in sales of gold bars and coins, compared with the previous week.

It is thought investors are turning to gold as cash and bonds offer diminishing returns, exacerbated by lower interest rates.

So far this year, the price of gold has risen by 45% in sterling terms, and 25% in dollar terms. However there is a warning that gold prices will not necessarily continue rising.

“It’s worth pointing out gold is by no means a one way bet – in 2011 it was trading at above $1800 an ounce. It’s an insurance policy for the rest of your investments and as such should make up no more than 5-10% of your portfolio.”

Gold is currently trading at $1344 an ounce.

Earlier this week, the World Gold Council reported that global investment demand for gold hit a record level in the first six months of this year. However consumer demand in countries such as India and China, traditionally among the strongest buyers of gold, was lower.

November 28, 2016   Posted in: Business Development, Business Finance, Business Growth, Business Sales, Business Services, Business Win, Finance Business, Growing Business, Growing Sales, Uncategorized  No Comments

Microsoft to buy LinkedIn for $26bn

Microsoft is buying the professional networking website LinkedIn for just over £18 billion in cash.

Microsoft is buying the professional networking website LinkedIn for just over £18 billion in cash.

The software giant will pay $196 a share – a premium of almost 50% to Friday’s closing share price.

The deal will help Microsoft boost sales of its business and email software. Microsoft said that LinkedIn would retain its “distinct brand, culture and independence”.

Ever had one of those annoying LinkedIn emails inviting you to “endorse” a contact for some skill or another? Perhaps LinkedIn chief executive Jeff Weiner and its founder Reid Hoffman deserve to be endorsed for salesmanship after today’s deal.

After a tricky period in which the shares have fallen amid widening losses, they have persuaded Microsoft to make its biggest deal. The software giant is paying a 50% premium on Friday’s closing share price to buy LinkedIn, a price which amounts to $250 (£170) for every active user. To put that into context, that’s about the market value of Sky, or eight times as much as Daily Mail owner DMGT – and they are both profitable.

But this deal is about more than money: it is meant as a powerful signal of where Satya Nadella is now taking Microsoft. He sees its future as a cloud computing business providing all sorts of professional services to clients – including a social network to connect them to each other.

“We are trying to ride the wave of the new technologies,” Mr Nadella told me from Seattle. “It’s about AI, it’s about mobile, it’s about cloud and we’re trying to bring those things together.”

However, the deal to buy Nokia’s mobile phones division had a similar logic – and the entire value of that purchase was written off just a year later. So Microsoft’s investors may look at that $26bn price tag nervously, while anyone with a few LinkedIn shares may be using the network to send a message of congratulations to their board.

Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella said he had long admired LinkedIn: “I have been thinking about this for a long time. The deal was key to our bold ambition to reinvent productivity and business processes”, he added.

The company planned a different approach to integrating LinkedIn to preserve its culture and brand, Mr Nadella said: “That’s what’s going to be very very different about this.”

Microsoft had a long record of successfully integrating acquisitions, he explained, citing Minecraft – the video game whose maker it bought in 2014 for $2.5bn – as well as its very first purchase: the presentation software PowerPoint for $14m in 1987.

LinkedIn shares soared 47%, or $61.50, to $192.60 in New York following the announcement of the deal.

Shares in the company, which floated in May 2011, have fallen by more than 40% this year.

The stock plunged by a quarter in February after the company issued a profit warning for the first quarter and reported an annual loss of $166m.

Jeff Weiner will remain chief executive, reporting to Mr Nadella. He and Reid Hoffman – the chairman, co-founder and controlling shareholder of LinkedIn – both backed the deal.

“Today is a re-founding moment for LinkedIn,” said Mr Hoffman. “I see incredible opportunity for our members and customers and look forward to supporting this new and combined business.”

LinkedIn has been trying to expand by offering users more messaging options, mobile apps and a revamped “newsfeed” to help boost engagement. Last year, the site pledged to send less frequent and “more relevant” messages after numerous user complaints.

The takeover is by far the biggest acquisition made by Microsoft, which paid $8.5bn for Skype in 2011 and bought Nokia’s mobile phone business for $7.2bn in 2013.

November 23, 2016   Posted in: Building Businesses, Business Communications, Business Development, Business Growth, Business Services, Connected Business, Digital Business, Global Business, Growing Business, New Business Development, Online Business Growth, Uncategorized  No Comments

Raspberry Pi maker Premier Farnell bought by Daetwyler

The maker of the Raspberry Pi mini computer is being bought by Swiss electronics company Daetwyler Holdings for 1bn Swiss francs (£700m).

The maker of the Raspberry Pi mini computer is being bought by Swiss electronics company Daetwyler Holdings for 1bn Swiss francs (£700m).

The deal values Premier Farnell shares at 165p each. The shares soared 50% to 164p after the takeover was announced.

Daetwyler distributes more than 500,000 electronics products under brands such as Nedis.

Premier Farnell has been trying to put its business on a firmer footing in recent months. It has cut dividend payouts to shareholders, and sold its industrial products business, Akron Brass, for £186 million.

Eben Upton, the pioneer of the Raspberry Pi, was made a CBE in the Queen’s latest Birthday Honours list.

The Pi has proved hugely popular with electronics hobbyists and many children use the devices to get a taste of computer coding.

In April 2016, the Pi became the most popular British computer ever made. More than eight million have been sold since it was launched in early 2012.

The Raspberry Pi is a series of small single-board computers developed in the United Kingdom by the Raspberry Pi Foundation to promote the teaching of basic computer science in schools and in developing countries.

The original model became far more popular than anticipated, selling outside of its target market for uses such as robotics. Peripherals (including keyboards, mice and cases) are not included with the Raspberry Pi. Some accessories however have been included in several official and unofficial bundles.

November 17, 2016   Posted in: Building Businesses, Business Communications, Business Development, Business Finance, Business Growth, Business Profits, Business Sales, Business Services, Business Win, Connected Business, Growing Business, Growing Economy, Growing Jobs, New Business Development, Uncategorized  No Comments

Amazon sees profits and sales surge

Amazon has reported a profit of £351 million in its first quarter, helped by a 28% jump in sales.

Amazon has reported a profit of £351 million in its first quarter, helped by a 28% jump in sales.

Sales hit £37.8 billion for the three months to the end of March, helped by rising sales of its Kindle reading devices and Fire tablet computers.

Both sales and profits were higher than analysts had been expecting and Amazon shares jumped in after hours trading. The company reported strong growth in customers for its Prime service, which includes free delivery and TV shows.

The results were a positive sign for investors who had been rattled by disappointing earnings from Apple and Microsoft.

Amazon’s cloud services unit was an important source of sales growth.

The cloud business rents data storage space and software services to companies, and is Amazon’s fastest growing unit.

Revenue rose 64% year-over-year, reaching £3.25 billion.

Investors have been watching Amazon’s cloud operation closely, particularly after one of its biggest customers, Apple, announced it would be moving some of its business elsewhere.

Since the start of the year Amazon has added new televisions shows and films to its Prime service, which helped to attract new users.

In April, Amazon introduced options to pay monthly for the service.

The plan is part of an effort to compete with video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.

The company also attributed the increased number of Prime members to the expanded list of products eligible for free two-day shipping.
Device sales

Amazon did not detail sales of devices like the Kindle and Fire table, but did say that the division has seen growth.

“Amazon devices are the top selling products on Amazon, and customers purchased more than twice as many Fire tablets than first quarter last year,” chief executive Jeff Bezos said.

November 8, 2016   Posted in: Business Communications, Business Development, Business Finance, Business Growth, Business Profits, Business Sales, Business Services, Business Win, Global Business, Growing Profits, Online Marketing, Professional Services, Uncategorized  No Comments

Adele has been named as Britain’s richest ever female musician

Adele named as UK’s richest female musician ever as fortune hits £85m

Adele named as UK's richest female musician ever as fortune hits £85m

A list of the top 50 music millionaires in the UK and Ireland puts the singer’s £85m fortune in 30th place – an increase of £35m compared to last year.

The only female singer with a bigger fortune on the list – which also covers Ireland – is Irishwoman Enya on £91m.

The 27-year-old’s fortune was boosted by the release of 25 – her first album in four years.

The singer made her debut on the under-30s list in 2011 in ninth place, but by 2012 she had secured the top spot, a position she has held onto ever since.

Adele is now ranked at number 30 in the overall UK and Ireland music millionaires list, above Sir Cliff Richard, Gary Barlow and Kylie Minogue, and up from 43rd place last year.

She’s one of just three solo women to make it onto the 2016 list.

Top 10 music fortunes

1. Sir Paul McCartney and Nancy Shevell £760m

2. Lord Lloyd-Webber £715m

3. U2 £500m

4. Sir Elton John £280m

5. Sir Mick Jagger £235m

=6. Olivia and Dhani Harrison (wife and son of the late George Harrison) £220m

=6. Keith Richards £220m

8. Ringo Starr £200m

9. Michael Flatley £198m

10. Sting £185m

Earlier this year Adele made history for a solo artist when she picked up four Brit awards, winning best female solo artist, Brits global success award, best single for Hello and British album of the year for 25.

Her album 25 has now sold over 15 million copies.

Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney topped the overall Sunday Times Rich List of musicians with an estimated £760m fortune.

Sir Paul is worth £30m more than last year, according to the ranking, boosted by his American heiress wife’s £150m stake in her family’s US trucking business.

It puts him well ahead of his nearest rival on the list, Andrew Lloyd Webber, who is estimated to be worth £715m.

The Rolling Stones – with combined fortunes of £630m, up £40m on 2015, were ranked the wealthiest band in Britain and Ireland, ahead of U2 with a joint fortune of £500m.

November 1, 2016   Posted in: Business Communications, Business Growth, Business Jobs, Business Profits, Business Win, Flying Businesses, Growing Business, Uncategorized  No Comments

World tourism rises faster than trade for fourth year

The UN World Tourism Organisation says tourism spending has outpaced global trade for the fourth year in a row.

The UN World Tourism Organisation says tourism spending has outpaced global trade for the fourth year in a row.

The US followed by China are the world’s most popular destinations, followed by France and Spain.

According to the UNWTO’s figures, released earlier this month, international tourism grew by 4% in 2015 generating $966 billion.

In comparison, global trade increased by just 2.8% in 2015 according to the World Trade Organisation.

“Tourism is today a major category of international trade in services,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifa.

In 2015, tourism accounted for 7% of the world’s total exports up from 6% in the previous year.

Tourism spending, which includes accommodation, food, entertainment, and services, has helped to offset drops in exports that have occurred as commodity prices have fallen.

“Tourism has shown a strong capacity to compensate for weaker export revenue in many commodity and oil exporting countries,” said Mr. Rifai. “Tourism is increasingly an essential component of export diversification for many emerging economies as well as several advanced ones.”

Falling commodity prices have lowered the overall value of imports for many countries. According to the CPB Netherlands Bureau of Economic Policy Analysis, 2015 was the worst year for world trade since 2009.

The increase in international tourism came even as attacks at transportation hubs and on airlines raised concerns about travellers’ safety.

The US and China, along with the UK were the leading sources for outbound travellers. The number of outbound tourist from China has risen every year since 2004 with their spending increasing by 25% last year.

Since 2010 tourism has been the fastest growing sector in the UK in employment terms. Britain is forecast to have a tourism industry worth over £257 billion by 2025.

Inbound tourism to the UK

The 36.1 million overseas visitors who came to the UK in 2015 spent £22.1 billion – both setting records. These figures represent a 5% increase in volume and 1% (nominal) increase in value compared with 2014.

In 2015 the UK ranked eighth in the UNWTO international tourist arrivals league, a position held for a number of years, behind France, USA, Spain, China, Italy, Turkey and Germany.  The UK accounted for 2.9% of global arrivals in 2015.

In 2015 the UK was in sixth place in the international tourism earnings league (down from fifth in 2014) behind the USA, China, Spain, France and Thailand according to UNWTO figures.

The UK accounted for 3.4% of international tourism receipts in 2015.

In 2015 France, the USA and Germany were the top three markets in terms of number of visits to the UK accounting for 30% of visits.  The top three markets measured in terms of visitor spend were the same markets although in a different order (USA, France and Germany) accounting for 27% of all overseas visitor spend in the UK.

London accounts for 54% of all inbound visitor spend, the rest of England 34%, Scotland 8% and Wales 2%.

October 31, 2016  Tags: , , , ,   Posted in: Business Exports, Business Jobs, Business Survival, Business Win, Exporting Businesses, Finance Business, Global Business, Uncategorized  No Comments

Ford’s profit doubles on European sales

Ford posted a record quarterly profit following strong sales in Europe and moving more pickup trucks and SUVs in North America.

Ford posted a record quarterly profit following strong sales in Europe and moving more pickup trucks and SUVs in North America.Profits for the three months to March rose to £2.6 billion, compared with £1.5 billion for the same period in 2015.

The stronger performance in Europe helped Ford to outpace Detroit rival General Motors.

Ford chief executive Mark Fields said the company had an “absolutely terrific start to the year”. Shares rose 3.2% in New York, but are still 11% lower than this time last year.

Ford’s European business made a pretax profit of £310 million in the quarter – higher than the total for all of last year – and substantially better than a £30 million loss for the same period in 2015.

By comparison GM made a £4.2 million in Europe during the first quarter of 2016, better than the £170 million loss last year.

Ford remained the region’s best selling commercial vehicle brand, reflecting the popularity of the Transit and Ranger lineups.

In North America, Ford’s F-150 trucks and SUVs were a major contributor to the company’s profit growth.

Pretax profit in the region rose to £2.21 billion, outpacing GM’s £1.54 billion and more than double the £1.07 billion for the first quarter of 2015.

Earlier this month the company said it had set up a new subsidiary, Ford Smart Mobility, in a bid to combat growing competition from the technology sector.

Ford has been investing in driverless cars and earlier this year tested a self driving vehicle in the snow.

October 19, 2016  Tags: , , , , ,   Posted in: Business Exports, Business Win, Global Businesses, Technological Businesses, Uncategorized  No Comments

Shakespeare’s economic legacy for the UK- pt 2

Following Business Win’s post yesterday Shakespeare’s economic legacy for the UK we continue our review of how the Bard is increasing the UK’s economy:

Shakespeare’s economic legacy for the UK- part 2The area known as Shakespeare’s England (which takes in the towns of Stratford, Royal Leamington Spa, Kenilworth and Warwick) received 9.94 million tourists in 2014, according to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the charity that cares for Shakespeare heritage sites.

It adds that the total value of annual tourism to the local economy is in the region of £635 million, which supports some 11,150 jobs.

Alisan Cole, from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, says: “2014, the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, was our record year with 820,000 visitors, and we’re expecting 2016 to be on a par with it, if not exceed it.”

In terms of attracting hungry and thirsty tourists, Hathaway Cafe is perfectly positioned in the centre of Stratford, and is just a short walk from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

Manager and owner Rick Allen, 51, says that during the summer the  Tudor era teashop is packed with Asian customers, typically from China and Taiwan, playing £13 a head for afternoon tea (or £18 with a glass of prosecco).

“Off peak we get around 1,000 customers per week, but it’s well over 2,000 per week during the peak season of July and August,” he says.

Mr Allen adds that Birmingham Airport’s new runway extension, which caters for the growing number of flights from East Asia, has been a fillip for the business.

“We’re literally getting calls from people saying ‘we’ve got a booking for 24 and we’re on our way’. In August it’s mayhem – good fun, but mayhem.”

Down in London former actor Declan McHugh, 55, has been taking people on Shakespeare themed guided walks since 1999.

He says his business – Shakespeare in the City Walk – has grown thanks to positive word of mouth, and good reviews on websites such as TripAdvisor.

Mr McHugh adds that London is a rich seam for Shakespeare fans since the playwright spent most of his working life moving through the then murky and bohemian world of the Elizabethan city’s playhouses.
Declan McHugh’s tour takes in sites including The Seven Ages of Man sculpture inspired by Shakespeare’s As You Like It

Charging £10 per adult, he says the Shakespeare anniversary year is shaping up as a record one for his business.

“I’ve been doing this for 17 years and I’m starting to reap the rewards,” he says.

While he says it’s hard to give exact numbers, he normally gets between five and 10 people meeting him outside Blackfriars underground station every Friday at 11am. But that’s just for the public walks.

“Then I also do regular walks privately for colleges and universities from across the globe, plus there’s UK institutions and businesses. I have the Girl Guides coming next Monday, for example.  Private walks usually are for 15 20 people but I have done the tour for 60 people before,” he says.

Mr McHugh says his fascination for Shakespeare began at 11 years old, and now he regards the Bard as pretty much “his guardian angel”.

September 21, 2016  Tags: , , , ,   Posted in: Business Communications, Business Exports, Business Growth, Business Win, Global Business, Growing Business, Growing Sales, Uncategorized, Winning Business  No Comments

Shakespeare’s economic legacy for the UK

In the age of Brexit we often underestimate the UK’s economic advantage given to the current economy by our cultural heritage.

In the age of Brexit we often underestimate the UK's economic advantage given to the current economy by our cultural heritage.Below and over the next blog post Business Win reviews the extra business that William Shakespeare generates to the UK’s ecomony.

William Shakespeare may be widely regarded as finest playwright in the English language, but when he put his quill down he was also a savvy businessman.

In Elizabethan London, the original Globe Theatre could accommodate 3,000 people. Commoners or “groundlings” paid a penny to stand in the open air, while the gentry parted with as many as six pennies to sit on cushions in the covered galleries.

Notwithstanding the fact that the Globe burned down in 1613, Shakespeare’s share in the playhouse made him a tidy fortune.

He also part owned another London theatre and a production company. And back in his hometown of Stratford upon Avon in Warwickshire, he invested widely in land and property, and reportedly bought and sold grain.

By the time Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616 – 400 years ago – he was a very wealthy man. In today’s money he would have comfortably been a millionaire.

Fast forward four centuries, and Shakespeare would likely be rather pleased that his work and legacy continues to support a large and lucrative industry, which is far from being limited to the sale of theatre tickets and employment of actors.

Instead, Shakespeare supports a substantially wider business community – from hotels and restaurants in Stratford, to walking tours in London, bars near a balcony in the Italian city of Verona, sales of books and memorabilia, and even leadership classes for businessmen and women.

Piers Ibbotson says there are so many lessons from Shakespeare about the perils and pitfalls of power that it has provided him with an inexhaustible fund of material for his management and leadership workshops over the past two decades.

“The plays of Shakespeare are case studies for central human dilemmas,” says the 61-year-old, who is part of Warwick Business School’s Create unit.

“The plays are so rich, and so complex, that there are actual situations to examine. Acting things out is very powerful, people can physically get inside situations.”

Create uses Shakespeare’s plays to guide students, and business clients, through numerous difficult business situations.

Macbeth, for example, is viewed as a study into the limits of ambition, while The Tempest is seen as a metaphor for a perfect storm of workplace rivalry.

Meanwhile, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is used to explore business transformation, and the Merchant of Venice teaches contract enforcement.

Mr Ibbotson says: “Shakespeare is such a wonderful asset and of course you’re always using such powerful language – it allows people to articulate much more subtle and complex ideas than thin business language.”

Richard Olivier, 54, is another person who uses Shakespeare’s plays to teach good leadership and business practice. The son of Sir Laurence Olivier, the UK’s most famous 20th Century Shakespearian actor, Mr Olivier says: “Shakespeare is an amazing ethical teacher. Apart from the history plays, there is no play where the bad guy ends up in charge at the end.”

Clients of Mr Olivier’s company Olivier Mythodrama have included NHS management, the Metropolitan Police and Daimler-Benz. His charges range from £5,000 for a half-day session to as much as £40,000 for a six-day intensive course.

Mr Olivier adds: “There’s huge drama in leadership, and Shakespeare was probably the first playwright to portray the human drama of leadership in three dimensional form.”

September 20, 2016  Tags: , , ,   Posted in: Business Communications, Business Development, Business Win, Global Business, Uncategorized, Winning Business  No Comments

Sales of vinyl records lifted by music streaming

Music streaming sites are helping to drive sales of vinyl records- new research suggests.

Music streaming sites are helping to drive sales of vinyl records- new research suggests.
Half of consumers say they listened to an album online before buying a vinyl copy, according to an ICM poll.

The behaviour is more common for people who use ad funded services such as SoundCloud or YouTube, suggesting free music can drive real-world sales.

However, 48% of people who bought vinyl last month admit they have yet to play it. Seven per cent of those surveyed say they do not even own a turntable.

Younger fans increasingly discover on digital but collect on vinyl.  Others say they buy records to support their favourite artists, while 50% of consumers identify themselves as “collectors”.

The resurgence in vinyl during a period of declining sales has been one of the music industry’s more surprising success stories.

In 2014, 2.1 million LPs were purchased by music fans as demand increased for an eighth successive year – climbing 64% to a 21 year high.

Official Charts Company figures suggest the rise has continued in 2016, with 637,056 records sold in the first three months of the year, accounting for almost 3% of the UK music market.

The vinyl revival has been spurred by Record Store Day – which started nine years ago as a means of supporting independent music retailers.

There were vinyl releases from artists including Justin Bieber, Abba, David Bowie, Alan Partridge, Foals, Chase & Status and the Dead Kennedys.

But the ICM Unlimited research shows that the majority of music (73%) is now bought online, with Amazon emerging as the top retailer, accounting for 27% of all sales.

Apple’s iTunes store is next, with an 18% market share, followed by supermarkets (10%) and high street record stores (7%).

Men are more likely to visit a bricks-and-mortar record shop than women, the figures suggest, but there has been an increase in the number of women buying vinyl.

“About 8% of men have bought vinyl in the last month, and that’s been fairly constant over the last three of four years,” says Andrew Wiseman, head of ICM Unlimited.

“Back in 2013, only 3% of women bought vinyl and that’s risen to 5% in the last year – so we’re starting to see that gap close.” However, he added: “It is still the case that less than 1 in 10 people are buying vinyl, and we shouldn’t forget that it’s still a relatively small part of the market.”

August 21, 2016  Tags: , , , ,   Posted in: Business Win, Digital Business, Global Businesses, Growing Businesses, Growing Sales, Online Sales Growth, Technological Businesses, Uncategorized  No Comments