Retail sales volumes held broadly steady in March beating expectations of growth slowing, according to the CBI’s latest monthly Distributive Trades Survey. The survey of 125 firms consisting of 63 retailers showed that sales volumes were stable and that companies expect volumes to accelerate next month. Meanwhile, orders placed on suppliers also exceeded expectations of a fall in March and reported moderate growth over the year. Next month, orders are likely to remain steadfast and are expected to grow at the same rate.
Retail sales growth for the time of the year was considered to be at an average level and companies indicated that they expect them to pick up next month. The volume of internet sales held broadly steady in the year to March and growth is set to pick up slightly in April. Meanwhile, grocers reported growth to be stable in the year to March and the clothing sector saw sales rising strongly for a second consecutive month. Elsewhere, wholesaling reported slower sales volumes growth in the year to March, while motor trades saw sales volumes rise strongly.
Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Director of Economics said: “It’s encouraging to see that sales are holding up and expectations have picked up further. Retailers are still face challenging global conditions but will welcome the Chancellor’s Budget reforms to business rates, making it easier for them to operate on the high street. Continued low levels of inflation and more jobs will continue to boost household spending, also giving a helping hand to firms.”
Key findings: Retailers 17% of retailers said that sales volumes, whilst 16% said they were down, giving a steady balance of +1. Retailers reported a balance for the volume of sales for this month of +7, with 31% saying they were up and 24% indicating they were down. 31% of retailers expect sales volumes to be increase in the month to April, with 14% expecting them to decrease, giving a balance of +17. 31% of retailers placed more orders with suppliers than they did a year ago, and 27% placed fewer, giving a rounded balance of +5. Orders are expected to be flat next month. Most sub-sectors saw steady growth in sales volumes, strong performances were reported in clothing (+50) and recreational goods (+84). Grocers reported growth to be stable in the year to March, recording a balance of +8, up on the reported +5 in February. Volumes of internet sales in the retail sector remained steady (+27), with expectations that they will rise in the month to April (+38).
Wholesalers: 31% of wholesalers reported sales volumes to be up on last year and 23% said they were down, giving a steady balance of +8.
Motor trades: 92% of motor traders reported that sales volumes were up on a year ago, while 8% said they were down, giving a balance of +84, significantly exceeding expectations (+22).
The CMA has set out actions resulting from its review of the use of merger notice forms and initial enforcement orders (IEOs). In its 2015/2016 annual plan, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) committed to review its use of both of these instruments to identify ways in which to improve their effectiveness and see where it could lessen the requirements and restrictions on merging businesses.
The review found that both merger notices and IEOs are generally being used effectively by the CMA and often work well for companies and their advisers. It also identified further steps it can take to ensure its information requests are more targeted and proportionate and to ensure more standardised use of IEOs. The merger notice sets out the information required to notify a merger to the CMA whereas IEOs are imposed during phase 1 investigations to prevent merging companies taking steps which may prejudice subsequent actions by the CMA. Parties can ask for derogations to allow actions which would otherwise be in breach of the IEO.
As part of the review, the CMA looked in-depth at a number of merger cases and also sought views from more than 20 law firms that regularly engage with it - of which 18 responded. As a result of the review, the CMA plans to: clarify the existing guidance notes and make other changes to its merger notice so that companies understand information requests better where appropriate, hold pre-notification meetings with merging parties (and their representatives) to obtain relevant information and better understand markets earlier on in the process, which will be particularly helpful in mergers involving small and medium-sized enterprises publish additional guidance on the CMA’s approach to derogations fromIEOs so that companies have a greater understanding about when these might be used
The CMA plans to implement these recommendations by September 2016. Sheldon Mills, Senior Director of Mergers, said: “We are committed to striking the right balance between targeting those mergers which could harm competition - whilst at the same time streamlining the process and reducing the requirements on businesses where possible. The review found that our use of merger notices and enforcement orders is working well. This review has been really useful in helping us set out some practical suggestions to further improve the pre-notification process and the merger notice. Ultimately, pre-notification is most effective when the CMA works together with businesses and their advisers to ensure that the information and scoping work done in this period is efficient and effective. The recommendations, once implemented, will help that process work even better.”
Activity in the manufacturing sector fell in March, but production is expected to rebound over the next three months, according to the CBI Industrial Trends Survey. The survey of 471 manufacturers found that output volumes over the three months to March fell at the fastest pace since September 2009. In total, 8 of the 18 manufacturing sub-sectors posted a decline in output. Two-thirds of this decline (relative to February) reflected weakness in the food and drink sector, with localised flooding and mild weather potentially having hit production.
Manufacturers anticipate a particularly strong rise in output over the next quarter, placing expectations at the highest level for thirteen months, with a rebound in food and drink. Meanwhile, total order books rose slightly from the level seen since the start of the year, and export orders also remained unchanged from February. Both measures sit just above average levels. Companies still anticipate that prices will fall in the near-term, albeit to a lesser extent than they did in the previous month.
Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Director of Economics, said: “March has been a mixed month for the UK’s manufacturers. Whilst total order and export books remained steady, a drop in output reflected some volatility in the food and drink sector. Reassuringly, manufacturers expect a swift turnaround in activity. While the Budget included several policies that should drive growth, the absence of further measures to support innovation, and research and development, was a missed opportunity to boost investment. The Government’s upcoming National Innovation Plan needs to address this vital issue.”
Key findings: 20% of firms reported total order books to be above normal, and 34% said they were below normal, giving a balance of -14%. This was just above average (-15%), and similar to January (-15%) and February (-17%) 11% of businesses said their export order books were above normal, and 30% said they were below normal, giving a balance of -19%. This was unchanged on the previous month, and around average (-20%) 18% of firms said the volume of output over the past three months was up and 33% said it was down, giving a balance of -15%. This was the lowest level since September 2009 (-19%) Businesses expect output to grow significantly in the coming quarter, with 39% predicting growth, and 16% a decline, giving a balance of +23%. This was the highest level in thirteen months (+25%) Average selling prices are expected to fall marginally over the next three months (-1%) 16% of firms said their present stocks of finished goods are more than adequate, whilst 3% said they were less adequate, giving a rounded balance of +13%, near the long-run average (+14%).
This data provides information about the number and types of applications that Land Registry completed in February 2016.
In February: Land Registry completed 1,552,805 applications South East topped the table of regional applications with 360,274 Birmingham topped the table of local authority applications with 23,233
The Transaction Data shows Land Registry completed over 1,552,800 applications from its customers in February. This includes 1,522,355 applications by account customers, of which: 347,578 were applications in respect of registered land (dealings) 752,246 were applications to obtain an official copy of a register or title plan 185,139 were searches 81,508 were transactions for value
Region Applications South East 360,274 Greater London 316,448 North West 168,039 South West 150,912 West Midlands 127,456 Yorks and Humber 117,261 East Midlands 108,153 Wales 71,625 North 70,062 East Anglia 62,431 England and Wales (not assigned) 93 Isles of Scilly 51 Total 1,552,805
Top three local authorities Applications Birmingham 23,233 City of Westminster 22,382 Leeds 16,900
Top three customers Transactions for value My Home Move Limited 1,762 O’Neill Patient 869 Countrywide Property Lawyers 851
Top three customers Searches Enact 8,301 Optima Legal Services 7,064 O’Neill Patient 5,066
Optimism among firms in the financial services sector has fallen at the fastest rate since 2011, according to the latest CBI/PwC Financial Services Survey. The quarterly survey of 104 financial services firms found that respondents in banking and investment management had seen the sharpest deterioration in sentiment – while optimism among building societies and in the insurance sector was broadly flat.
Financial market instability, competition from within the sector and macroeconomic uncertainty were identified as the top three challenges facing financial services over the coming year. Nevertheless, business volumes continued to expand at a solid pace, while profitability improved, albeit at the slowest pace for almost two years. Employment in financial services increased last quarter, but is expected to remain flat in the next three months, with increases in the insurance and building society sectors offset by another sharp fall in headcount in banking.
Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Director for Economics, said: “Concerns over China and a volatile start to the year for markets, alongside uncertainty about a possible Brexit, have created a perfect storm to dampen optimism in financial services. “As we know from talking to CBI members, now that the referendum date has been set some investment decisions have been put on hold by some firms, though this is not widespread. “Investment intentions for IT remain resilient, but spending plans are being scaled back in other areas. Investments are increasingly motivated by the need to promote efficiency, while uncertainty about demand appears to be holding additional investment spending back. Increasing competition in the sector was cited as a key threat to business expansion by over two thirds of firms over the next 12 months.”
Kevin Burrowes, UK financial services leader at PwC, said: “This quarter's survey findings tell us that the cloud forming across the sector is getting darker. As previously predicted, the lack of opportunities to generate revenue has shifted the focus of financial services companies to how they make their business models more efficient or effective - no easy task in such an unpredictable climate. Firms will have to play ‘business black jack' and decide the merits of whether they ‘stick’ ‘twist’ or ‘fold’. With uncertainties over the EU Referendum and global economy, the next quarter will be a challenging one for the financial services sector. Banks in particular are highlighting what a difficult position they find themselves in. In the challenger bank sector, there is a serious concern as to whether competition with the established players can be maintained over a longer period. The market could see some consolidation as new entrants continue efforts to woo customers from the incumbent banks. Despite the pessimistic mood in the sector, it is very encouraging to see that many financial services organisations are planning to up their game around talent attraction and diversity."
Key findings: Optimism in the financial services sector fell at the fastest pace for over four years – 14% of firms were more optimistic, 35% were less optimistic, giving a balance of -21% (versus -24% in December 2011) Overall, business volumes rose at a decent pace – 44% of firms said volumes were up, 18% said they were down, giving a balance of +26%, outpacing expectations, and the outlook is for a similar expansion next quarter (+22%) Firms reported a modest rise in employment in the last quarter – 37% said headcount had risen, 22% said it had fallen, giving a balance of +15%, with robust increases across many sectors, though not in banking (-20%). Incomes, costs,
Profits: Overall, 40% of firms reported that profits had increased and 27% said they had fallen, giving a balance of +13%, suggesting that profitability grew at a slower pace than in the previous quarter (+42%) Income from fees, commissions and premiums rose for the first time in over a year (balance of +22%) with a further modest increase expected in the quarter ahead (+8%) Income from net interest, investment and trading income dipped (-19%), the sharpest fall since September 2012 (when it was -29%). Little change is expected over the next quarter (-7%) Total operating costs fell (-12%), having risen steadily over the previous four quarters. Costs are expected to edge down a little further next quarter (-4%).
Employment: Employment growth recovered last quarter (balance of +15%), following a decline in the three months to December (17%) but numbers employed are expected to remain stable next quarter (balance of 0%) The latest employment data from the ONS show that employment in financial & insurance activities (workforce survey data, employment is forecast to recover by 2k during the first half of 2016, to stand at 1.143m by the end of Q2. This would imply that employment would still be 9k lower than in mid-2015 Training expenditure grew at a slower pace (+18%) than was expected (+36%), but spending is likely to continue to rise in the next quarter (+20%).
The next 12 months: In the year ahead, financial services firms expect to scale back non-IT capital spending, while Information Technology and marketing spending is set to rise at a slower rate: IT (+42%) Marketing (+7%) Land and buildings (-20%) Vehicles, plant & machinery (-19%)
The main reasons for authorising investment are cited as: Increasing efficiency/speed (cited by 78% of respondents) Statutory legislation and regulation (51%) Reaching new customers (47%) Providing new services (46%) For replacement (41%) To expand capacity (24%)
The main factors likely to limit capital authorisations are cited as: Uncertainty about demand or business prospects (cited by 54% of respondents) Inadequate net return (53%) Shortage of labour including managerial & supervisor staff (38%) Cost of finance (19%) Shortage of finance (11%)
The main factors likely to constrain business over the next year are: Competition (cited by 67% of respondents) 98% of firms see competition coming from within their own sector of financial services – slightly up on last quarter’s survey (87%) 53% see competition coming from other sectors of financial services (up from 44% last quarter).
UK Export Finance (UKEF) has announced that it has adopted the Equator Principles, a global framework to promote sustainable environmental, social and human rights decision-making in financing projects.
Louis Taylor, UKEF’s Chief Executive Officer, welcomed the move, saying: “In adopting the Equator Principles, UKEF joins international financial institutions and export credit agencies including numerous partner banks with which UKEF works frequently. “This global framework will give UK exporters supported by UKEF confidence that environmental, social and human rights issues that may carry ethical or reputational risk have been given consideration as part of UKEF’s support to relevant projects. In adopting the Equator Principles, we do not anticipate any additional administrative burden to UK exporters applying for export finance support. “UKEF becoming an Equator Principles Institution is in line with the UK government’s drive to promote sustainable business practices following the agreement of the Sustainable Development Goals at the UN General Assembly last year.”
Since their introduction in 2003, the Equator Principles have enabled financial institutions to engage with stakeholders including non-governmental organisations and the private sector to converge on mutual environmental and social principles. With the Equator Principles adopted by over 80 financial institutions, they cover, according to the Equator Principles Association, 70% of project finance debt for projects in emerging markets.
Over the course of the next year, the Equator Principles will be incorporated into UKEF’s existing environmental, social and human rights due diligence processes, which also meet all the requirements of the OECD Recommendation on Common Approaches for Officially Supported Export Credits and Environmental and Social Due Diligence.
UK Export Finance is the UK’s export credit agency. It exists to ensure that no viable UK export fails due to lack of available finance or insurance. UK Export Finance has to date followed the OECD Recommendation on Common Approaches for Officially Supported Export Credits and Environmental and Social Due Diligence (OECD Common Approaches). The international benchmark environmental, social and human rights standards used by the OECD Common Approaches are those of the World Bank Group, including the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards, as is also the case with the EPs.
The Equator Principles is a risk management framework adopted by financial institutions for determining, assessing and managing environmental and social risk in projects.It is primarily intended to provide a minimum standard for due diligence to support responsible risk decision-making.
England's 24 Enterprise Zones have helped boost employment with an extra 2,000 jobs.
new figures show jobs grow by 9% in last quarter to September 2015 even higher growth in the Northern Powerhouse, with jobs up 11% number of companies locating on Enterprise Zones also grows by 11% 3 new Zones and a Zone extension announced at Budget
Nearly 2,000 jobs have been attracted to England’s 24 Enterprise Zones in the 3 months to September last year alone – boosting employment to record levels. Northern Powerhouse Minister James Wharton said that with 3 new Enterprise Zones and a Zone extension announced at the Budget, the scheme was destined to go “from strength to strength”. Created 4 years ago, Enterprise Zones offer tax incentives and business rate discounts to companies who locate on them.
Today’s figures show that in the 3 months to September last year, Enterprise Zones reported 1,918 jobs – a 9% increase on the previous quarter. It means that in 4 short years, Enterprise Zones have been responsible for attracting nearly 24,000 new jobs. Northern Powerhouse Minister James Wharton said: "Once again, we are seeing proof that Enterprise Zones are delivering real, tangible benefits, with jobs and companies showing significant growth. In just four years, nearly 24,000 new jobs have been attracted to Enterprise Zones across the country – with jobs growth in the Northern Powerhouse even higher than the national average. But we want to go even further, and the announcement of 3 new Enterprise Zones and a Zone extension in the recent Budget means this programme will go from strength to strength."
New Enterprise Zones Enterprise zones were launched in April 2012 and are central to the government’s plans to rebalance the economy, offering world-class infrastructure and top-class growth incentives. They cover a range of key sectors including aviation, manufacturing, renewable energy and life sciences. The Chancellor last week announced the further expansion of the programme with the creation of 3 new zones in Cornwall, the Black Country and Leicestershire, and an extension to the existing Sheffield zone as part of the Budget.
This will see: creation of a new marine renewable energy cluster at the MarineHub in Cornwall creation of a new science and innovation focused cluster in Loughborough and Leicester creation of a new waterfront development for business services growth in Brierley Hill in the Black Country extending the advanced manufacturing offer of the Sheffield Enterprise Zone
Enterprise Zones have now attracted £2.4 billion of private investment and more than 600 new businesses across a range of key industries including the automotive, aerospace, pharmaceutical and renewable energy industry sectors.
Further information: Businesses basing themselves on Enterprise Zones can access a number of benefits: business rate discount worth up to £275,000 per business over a 5-year period generous enhanced capital allowances (tax relief) worth millions to businesses making large investments in plant and machinery 100% retention of business rate growth for the Local Enterprise Partnership, to enable them to fund development on the Enterprise Zone
UK Export Finance (UKEF) and the China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation (SINOSURE) have committed to a framework for strengthened co-operation, paving the way for increased UK and Chinese exports. The agreement, signed recently in London, creates a framework for UKEF and SINOSURE to co-operate in supporting contracts in third countries involving both UK and Chinese exports. The move is designed to enhance the two export credit agencies’ (ECA) ability to support exports by increasing their risk capacity for projects sourcing goods and services from the UK and China. The agreement will also facilitate co-operation between Chinese and UK firms as they compete for business in other countries. UKEF and SINOSURE will work together to identify opportunities for trade in capital goods, equipment and services involving co-operation between the two countries.
Louis Taylor, UKEF Chief Executive Officer, welcomed the agreement, saying: “This agreement creates huge opportunities for British exporters. UK companies can now work with Chinese firms to make their joint offering ever more competitive. “And by helping to share market expertise and increasing risk capacity,UKEF is supporting UK exporters to win contracts, not just fulfil those they have already won.”
Mr Wang Yi, Chairman of SINOSURE, said: “SINOSURE welcomes this partnership. Closer co-operation will help SINOSURE and UKEF to support Chinese and UK exporters as they look to trade internationally.”
UK Export Finance is the UK’s export credit agency. It supports long term economic growth and competitiveness by complementing the private market with insurance for exporters, loan guarantees to banks, and support for and provision of loans to overseas buyers of UK goods and services.
Sectors in which UKEF has supported exports include: aerospace, construction, oil and gas, mining and metals, petrochemicals, telecommunications, and transport.
UKEF has a regional network of 24 export finance advisers supporting export businesses. UKEF supports exporters with a range of products that include: Bond insurance policy Bond support scheme Buyer & supplier credit financing facility Direct lending facility Export insurance policy Export refinancing facility Export working capital scheme Letter of credit guarantee scheme
Three new members have been appointed to the Industrial Development Advisory Board (IDAB), which advises government on large investment projects. Paul Mullins, Chair of the Board, has also been reappointed.
The Industrial Development Advisory Board gives advice to government on projects that have applied for financial support in England’s Assisted Areas. These are less economically-advantaged areas that are recognised as places where government support could provide a boost to the local economy. The board can also advise ministers on other projects which are relevant to its expertise.
Details of the appointments:
Mark Bryant is a senior member of the Business Growth Fund and also brings 30 years of experience in manufacturing and industry roles as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Pressurements Ltd, Druck Holdings plc, M and H Plastics Ltd and Commercial Director at General Electric. Mark has also sold a number of companies that he has successfully led as well as integrated bolt-on acquisitions.
Kevin Taylor is Managing Director of BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, the cyber division of BAE Systems plc. He has previously been the Group Strategy Director as well as the Managing Director of the Military Air Business, and of the Submarines Business. He is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, having graduated from Oxford with a physics degree.
John Drake is Chief Commercial Counsel for Bird and Bird LLP, where he is in charge of several change programmes, having been Chief Operating Officer for 7 years until 2015. A qualified barrister, most of John’s career was in industry both in Asia and the UK mostly as CEO in operational engineering and service provision businesses undertaking major change in telecoms, electronics and transportation sectors.
Paul Mullins has been a mergers and acquisitions adviser for 30 years. He has also been a member of the Independent Advisory Panel of the Regional Growth Fund and served as a Commissioner on the Ownership Commission. He is chair of The Unilink Group and The Education and Training Foundation and an adviser to Bregal Freshstream. He has been a member of IDAB since 2008 and its chair since 2012.
The appointments are part-time and unpaid and for the 3 new members will run initially for 3 years from 31 January 2016. The re-appointment of the chair will run for a year from 1 December 2015.
Around 80 British specialist mother and baby goods companies met with 14 Chinese Cross-border platform businesses recently at Bank of China UK’s London office. More than 120 business meetings took place during the match-making event.
China is a potentially lucrative market for UK businesses catering to mothers and children due to: growing affluent middle class the ending of its one child policy strong demand for safe, high-quality baby supplies
The UK-China retail and e-commerce seminar and match-making event followed the launch of the Bank of China and UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) White Paper on Cross-border E-commerce Service. Benefits of businesses trading via the cross-border e-commerce platform are: significant drop in final sales price reduction in branding and promotion costs increased market penetration
White Paper on Cross-border E-commerce Service: The White Paper on Cross-border E-commerce Service was jointly prepared by the Bank of China and UKTI. It outlines the benefits that can be gained by adopting a structured approach to e-commerce market entry. The White Paper aims to provide an informative background to assist British enterprises who intend to cooperate in cross-border ecommerce ventures with China.
This includes: an overview of Chinese national policies and guidelines information on relevant Bank of China products and services an explanation of the importance of Chinese pilot cities project in cross border e-commerce
The White Paper was launched in the presence of:
Baroness Anelay of St Johns DBE, Interim Minister of State for Trade and Investment Mr. Xu Luode, Executive Vice President of Bank of China Group Weimin Guo, General Manager of E-finance of Bank of China Mr. Yu Sun, CEO of Bank of China (UK) Ltd Minister Jian Ni, Minister-Counsellor, Chinese Embassy to the UK
Background The Bank of China partnered UKTI in hosting the first ever China-UK cross-border e-commerce cooperation roundtable in Shanghai in September 2015. This was followed by an inaugural cross-border e-commerce exchange event in New Zealand during November 2015.
Bank of China and UKTI successfully held the first China-UK Small and Medium Enteroruse (SME) match making event in Manchester during President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the UK in October 2015.
A new campaign, aimed at bringing workers to the forefront of the decision-making process when selecting personal protective equipment (PPE), has been launched by 3M. Alan McArthur, technical supervisor at the science-based technology company, explains why this is so important for a safer workplace. "Deciding on the best PPE for your workforce is not an easy challenge, especially with so many different options available. However, if the product is going to adequately protect your employees it must be suited to the user, the task at hand and the environment in which it will be used."
While the level of protection is a top priority, comfort should also play a very important role in the selection process. Workers who find their PPE comfortable are more likely to accept it, while those who don’t may be inclined to wear it incorrectly or remove it entirely – which reduces or eliminates the level of protection and puts them at risk. But with comfort being so personal to the user, it is hard to know how to find the balance.
This is why 3M has launched its Workers’ Choice campaign. At 3M, we are passionate about providing comfortable and well-designed equipment, which has been built around the wearers’ needs. As part of our campaign, we want to emphasise the importance of involving workers in the PPE selection process and offer advice on how best to engage with them on the topic – and there are many benefits of doing this.
Interacting with the workforce about PPE will reinforce the importance of using the protection. As safety managers are taking the time to listen to their views, it will reassure them that their opinions matter, while also encouraging open discussions about workplace health and safety.
For already time-strapped safety managers, it may seem like another job added to the never-ending list. But we are confident that if you involve workers at the start of the selection process, this could save time in the long run as there is likely to be fewer problems as the PPE is rolled out. Here are a few top tips for involving workers effectively;
Firstly, you need to identify the type and level of protection required for the specific task. Once this has been confirmed, then you can begin looking at the different types of PPE available and it is at this point when you should start thinking about involving your workforce To find out if the protection is comfortable and suitable for the task, the best people to ask are those who will be using it. Focus groups and roundtable discussions are a great way to find out directly from the workers what does and does not work for them and narrow down some options for further investigation. With so much to choose from, it’s hard to imagine what will work best for your team just by looking at a catalogue. We understand this at 3M, which is why we offer extensive free product trials. This provides a great opportunity for staff members to try a solution and see if it works for them. To help you get the right feedback, we also provide questionnaires, which will help you make a decision on the most suitable PPE for your team
To see photographs of the awards gala dinner click into http://weldingworld.zenfolio.com/f583111787
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