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6007.06 ▼ 9.92 LONDON’S top-flight shares struggled to make headway yesterday as a Chinese rate hike and fresh European economic woes hit investor sentiment. World markets saw subdued trading after China moved to increase interest rates for the fourth time since October to calm inflation, while Moody’s downgraded Portugal’s debt rating. Meanwhile, on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 6.13 points, or less than 0.1 %, to 12,393.90, the S&P 500 index fell 0.24, to 1,332.63., and the Nasdaq gained 2, or 0.1%, to 2,791.19.

Matalan sales fall puts rating agencies on alert EXCLUSIVE by Alex Turner LDP BUSINESS STAFF

THE creditworthiness of loans made to Skelmersdale retailer Matalan have been downgraded as “difficult trading conditions” puts pressure on profits. Ratings agency Moody’s has downgraded Matalan’s corporate family rating, which encompasses all of the group’s financial obligations, adding that the outlook remains “negative”. Another agency, Standard & Poor’s (S&P), has placed the value retailer’s parent company, Missouri TopCo, on CreditWatch “with negative implications”. This move followed its analysis of

Matalan’s preliminary management accounts. S&P expects the retailer’s accounts for the year to February, 2011, to show a fall in like-for-like sales of 2%, with revenues remaining around £1.1bn. However, it is forecasting that EBITDA – earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, which is a measure of profitability – will show a fall of 8% to £154m. It blamed the heavy snowfall before Christmas which was a particular problem for Matalan’s stores, which are mainly situated outside town centres. It is also concerned about the effect of inflation on costs and on customers’ spending power throughout its 2012 financial year.

S&P’s credit analyst Marketa Horkova said: “The CreditWatch placements reflect our view of Matalan’s operating performance in the 2011 financial year, which was weaker than we anticipated, and, in our opinion, will lead to reduced headroom under the company’s covenants for its £300m senior secured bank facilities.” Matalan has announced plans to refinance by replacing its existing secured bank facilities with a £250m bond and a £50m revolving credit facility. This would provide greater flexibility for Matalan because the £250m secured notes would only become due in 2016. Existing unsecured notes worth £225m are due in 2017.

The refinancing gives some reassurance to the markets because they will be backed by guarantees from Missouri TopCo. Moody’s has given the proposed £250m notes a provisional rating of Ba1, two notches higher than Matalan’s corporate family rating of Ba3, because of the security offered. Matalan founder John Hargreaves started more than 40 years ago with a market stall in Liverpool, with the first Matalan store opening in Preston in 1985. It was floated in 1997 before Mr Hargreaves took the company private in 2006. The retailer now has 206 stores, including six in Merseyside.



Helping National ‘dress to impress’

inside Widnes kicks off pioneering revenue drive RUGBY league club Widnes Vikings has launched an innovative approach to attendance-based revenues. PAGE 2

Exports soar NORTH West exports rise by 6% to a record level of just under £25bn. PAGE 5

Park sales up PARK Group breaks through the £100m online trading barrier. PAGE 6

Rates blight LIVERPOOL cafe owner claims business rate valuations are blighting his area. PAGE 7

TVF Promotions director Paul Gardner oversees final preparations ahead of this week’s Grand National meeting Picture: PAUL HEAPS/ ph040411gardner-4






UNDER starter’s orders – Netherton signage and advertising specialist TVF Promotions was yesterday putting the finishing touches to its preparations for this weekend’s Grand National steeplechase meeting. Aintree-born director Paul Gardner has worked on dressing the course for sponsors each year since 1982. TVF also works on the RBS Six Nations rugby union tournament and numbers former Coca Cola Cup finals and the prestigious Euro 96 football tournament, hosted by England, among its previous successes. The firm also works at grassroots level locally, listing rugby union clubs Waterloo and Orrell, and Bootle Football Club, among its portfolio of clients.



Wednesday, April 6, 2011

LDP business






The latest from the creative and digital industries

Updates throughout the day

‘HMV predicament shows UK retailers are now facing their own double-dip recession’ businessbeat/


TOP FIVE 1 Digital exchange for Liverpool 2 South Korean party impressed 3 Firm launches Gallagher app 4 Royal Liver talks continue 5 New Mind’s Riviera site

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Digital agency’s growth plans DIGITAL marketing agency Rippleffect plans to double its turnover and create 30 jobs under a £2m investment plan. The Liverpool company is to open a Manchester office and will invest in areas including social media and search marketing. Rippleffect was founded 11 years ago by Ben Hatton, and was bought by Daily Post parent Trinity Mirror in 2008. Its clients include Arsenal FC, Revolution Bars, Ski Club Great Britain, Arena Leisure and Peel Airports. Rippleffect managing director Ben Hatton said: “Rippleffect has undergone a major transformation over the past few years, and we’re looking to build on its success by investing further in our services and team. “Over the next two years, our ambitions are to continue with a growth strategy, expand geographically, increase staff numbers to more than 85 and further establish Rippleffect as one of the best agencies in the UK for delivering digital campaigns.” Trinity Mirror’s business development director, Mark Dickinson, said: “Digital marketing services have beaten the recession and continue to be an attractive area for us to invest in. The business to consumer marketplace is changing and we are responding to that. “Rippleffect is a forward-looking business full of talented people, and Trinity Mirror likes investing in businesses like that.” Rippleffect has already made several senior appointments in 2011, including the recruitment of sales and marketing director Kirstie Buchanan.

Widnes’s new model to create Vikings Stronghold by Alex Turner


RUGBY league club Widnes Vikings has launched an innovative approach to attendance-based revenues that it believes could become the norm for sports clubs in the years ahead. The Cheshire club were last week awarded a licence for the sport’s top division Super League for 2012-14, and have set about the daunting task of trebling the size of its business inside a year. The first move by chairman Steve O’Connor was to launch Viking Stronghold, a rolling monthly membership scheme to replace season tickets. Members will be entitled to free entry to home games, along with other benefits, and supporters will be able to join – and leave – at any time. Mr O’Connor, who is the current Liverpool Daily Post business person of the year for his work as managing director of Stobart Ports, as well as his sporting investment, believes the model will enable the club to grow sustainably. The scheme will make it easier and more affordable for supporters, who usually have to pay up front for a season ticket, while also providing greater predictability for the business. The season ticket model requires sports clubs to market to its entire fan base once a year, which incurs costs and creates uncertainty around renewals. Mr O’Connor and the Widnes club also face the challenge of balancing the need to commit to player contracts and recruitment costs before season tickets would normally be bought. He now requires fans to demonstrate their commitment, and has set the ambitious target of having 7,000 members for the first season, which would enable the club to spend the full salary cap of £1.65m. Mr O’Connor said: “I made a commitment back in 2007 to develop a sustainable, robust and successful Super

Steve O’Connor – believes Widnes Vikings’ innovative approach will provide a sustainable future Picture: RICHARD WILLIAMS

League club here at Widnes. The Viking Stronghold demonstrates an innovative and creative approach aimed at engaging the whole community. “In order to commit to 2012 expenditure, it is vital for the club to understand our potential revenue.” Mr O’Connor bought Widnes Vikings in late 2007 from the administrators and has spent £2.3m to ensure the club returned to Super League. However, he does not intend to con-

tinue to be a benefactor, preferring to be the custodian of a club which is financially stable. That requires the club to more than double its current attendances, which it believes can be achieved with strong marketing and the support of the club’s fans, both current and lapsed. However, if the target membership is not achieved, Mr O’Connor will limit the club’s wage bill – which would almost certainly see the absence of any

marquee signings – rather than personally fund the difference in the hope of the club attracting more fans later. Widnes were one of the founder members of the Northern Union, when rugby split in 1895. The club’s heyday was in the 1970s and 1980s and its success culminated in winning the 1989 World Club Challenge, but financial problems plagued it for most of the following two decades.

Landlord support group warns over falling incomes THE leader of a support group for Merseyside landlords is warning of a drop in income in the sector after new rules came into force. On April 1, the Government introduced reductions in housing allowance rents pay-

ments for many DSS tenants and a nationwide capping of DSS rental levels. Richard Globe, of the Wirral-based Property Landlord Support Group, is warning that many landlords may be unaware of the sudden fall in

income they are about to experience. He said: “Expenditure items likely to be at risk are mortgage payments, property repairs, Energy Performance Certificates and electrical and gas safety checks.

“Landlords who are not prepared to lower their rents must approach DSS tenants as soon as possible and ask for a top-up. “If tenants are unable to pay any extra top-up rent, then regrettably landlords

will have no option but to let them go.” Mr Globe will offer advice and information to landlords about the changes. Call 0151 639 6253, 9am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, or email him at


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

LDP business




Maintaining that samba beat for90hourseverysingleweek

Jaf Siddiqi at the Viva Brazil restaurant, in Liverpool – now he aims to roll out the brand across the country

Tony McDonough meets Jaf Siddiqi, director of Viva Brazil GENIUS, said scientific pioneer Thomas Edison, is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. It’s a theory that Jaf Siddiqi seems determined to put to the test. The 29-year-old co-owner of Liverpool’s Viva Brazil restaurant puts in around 90 hours a week – more than double that of a normal full-time job. He can thank (or blame, whichever way you look at it) his father for such a ferocious work ethic. “My family owns a manufacturing business in Manchester and I suppose I could have easily gone into that, had I wanted to,” said Siddiqi. “I had the opportunity to do that but instead decided I wanted to do my own thing. “When I was growing up, I saw how hard my dad worked on his own business – he would go out early in the morning and we would not see him again until late at night. “He taught me that you can only take out of a business what you put into it.” When he was 17, while still at school, Siddiqi was managing a bar/restaurant in Manchester and carried on working in the trade while studying for his business degree at Manchester Metropolitan University. From there, he continued to work

in the hospitality business, managing restaurants and hotels and working on major projects for the De Vere group. His entrepreneurial career began about three years ago when he and business partner Andy Aldrich opened their first eaterie in the Deansgate area of central Manchester. The pair now own the three-strong Champagne Bar chain, with outlets in Manchester, Glasgow and London. But it is Viva Brazil which has become a labour of love for Siddiqi. Located in the former Bank of Scotland building, in Castle Street, the restaurant launched last October with a spectacular display of Brazilian dancing and music. Siddiqi and Aldrich have set out to create what they describe as an authentic Brazilian steakhouse. “We are a very fresh company and

q&a Age: 29 Highest educational qualification: Business degree from Manchester Metropolitan University Biggest achievement in business: By far the success of Viva Brazil in Liverpool – our flagship restaurant Biggest regret: Not doing this straight from university Main unfulfilled ambition: I love to travel and one of the few places I’ve not been to is China. I want to wait until I have the time to do it properly

we work outside of the box,” said Siddiqi, who holds the title of operations director for the business. “We wanted something very different from the traditional restaurant you find in Britain. “There’s a fixed price for lunch and dinner and the carvers, or passadors, move from table to table serving a selection of 15 meats that have been cooked on a barbecue. “We also have the traditional salad island where people can choose from a wide variety of gourmet salads, breads, cooked meats and sauces. “We do not serve chips – we won’t compromise on that. Instead, diners are offered other types of potatoes.” Siddiqi claims that, despite the tough economic conditions, the weekly trade has exceeded all forecasts. For the full offering – or Full Rodizio – diners pay £12.50 for lunch or £22.95 for dinner. Siddiqi added: “That may seem expensive, but if you look at what you would get for the same price at other restaurants – maybe a single cut of meat – then you will see what we offer is superb value.” The rise in VAT to 20% and soaring wholesale food prices have squeezed margins and restaurants across the country, and Siddiqi admits Viva Brazil has not been immune from that. And they have so far avoided the two-for-one style special offers that are now prevalent in the trade. He said: “We may have to look at pricing at some point but there are

other, cleverer ways of reducing costs rather than just putting up your prices. “Changing a meat supplier, for example, while being careful not to compromise the quality, could save us up to £2,000 a week. “We haven’t had to do any special offers. We have the volume of trade so there is no need. “If we didn’t have the volume, then maybe we would look at it.” Siddiqi said the location for Viva Brazil was chosen very carefully in order to attract what he calls a “premium” clientele. “Andy and I hand-picked the large selection of wines we offer – we had fun doing that,” he added. “Around 60% of our lunch diners during the week are business people and many are happy to share a £70 bottle of wine. “Being in Castle Street has made a massive difference to the trade we are getting. “We did look at locations in Liverpool One, where there is obviously a high footfall, but it wasn’t quite right. “Castle Street itself has a high footfall and many of them are the premium audience we are aiming for. “There is now a good cluster of good restaurants in this area.” Siddiqi and Aldrich intend to roll out the Viva Brazil concept to other UK locations over the next few years. Glasgow is next, with Sheffield and Birmingham also on the radar. “We are looking to open two or three Viva Brazils a year,” said Sid-

Picture: ANDREW TEEBAY/ at040411bbrazil-1

diqi. “We will open two this year and three in both 2012 and 2013.” Central to Viva Brazil’s authentic Brazilian experience, he added, is the staff. The Liverpool outlet, which can accommodate 160 diners, employs 42 people, most of whom are Brazilian. “Around 80% of our staff are Brazilian,” said Siddiqi. “Brazilian restaurants are very family-oriented and we have people from the same families working here. “Our meat carvers are among the most highly-rated in Europe. “Two of our chefs originally came for jobs here as cleaners, and it turned out one had worked as a housekeeper in Portugal for seven years catering for dinner parties. “Our aim when we open the new restaurants is to recruit from within – to take advantage of that traditional Brazilian friends and family network. “I do like to give responsibility to people and at the same time I am a bit of a control freak – I do want things done in the certain way. “Staff development is a very important part of our ethos. “I only want people working here who are ready to progress within six months. “I have worked for companies in the past where there was no time or resources devoted to staff training or development, and I had to do it myself. We want that to be different here. Look after your staff and they will look after you.”

TRADING Gossip: Page 16


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

LDP business Fireplace sales firm finds cold comfort A HAYDOCK business which specialises in supplying and fitting fireplaces has reported record sales for the end of 2010 which it puts down to the extreme wintry conditions. Haydock Fire Place Centre was set up in 2007 by partners Alex Ashurst and Kelly Maher. The company stocks a range of fireplaces and offers an in-house fitting service. Real Flame recently expanded with investment from Merseyside Special Investment Fund through the North West Development Agency’s Small Loans for Business product. The company received a £20,000 loan which it has used to expand its premises and invest in marketing. Mr Ashurst said: “While many businesses suffered because of the cold weather, we were busier than ever with people making heating their homes properly a priority. “Our sales increased by 75% compared with the same period the year before. “The majority of our business comes via personal recommendation. The feedback we get from our customers is that we offer a great client-experience. “We don’t use subcontractors, we do everything in-house which we believe provides that personal touch that you don’t get elsewhere.” Small Loans for Business is being managed by MSIF in Merseyside.

LDP CREATIVE FOR the latest news from the creative sector

www. ldpcreative.




Final week to enter our business awards by Alex Turner


THERE are just seven days for businesses to complete and submit their entries for the 2011 Regional Business Awards. The 20th awards, organised by the Liverpool Daily Post, will highlight and reward those companies which have prospered in the last year: SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR This award is for businesses employing up to 50 people that can demonstrate all-round business excellence. MEDIUM BUSINESS OF THE YEAR Judges will be looking for specific business achievements and a strong financial performance from businesses employing between 51 and 250 people. JAGUAR LAND ROVER CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AWARD This award will be presented to the private sector business or individual judged to have the best history of taking into account the effect of its operations on the community and economy. EXPORT BUSINESS OF THE YEAR Judges are looking for the firm that can demonstrate a substantial and sustained increase in exports relative to the size of the company. LIVERPOOL VISION INVESTMENT OF THE YEAR Can your company demonstrate how investment – whether a new business or a fresh investment – since January, 2010, has had a beneficial impact on your business and local economy? LIVERPOOL JOHN MOORES UNIVERSITY KNOWLEDGE BUSINESS OF THE YEAR This category is open to any business engaged in the commercialisation of research and development of intellectual property, including pure sciences, technology, software or professional know-how, irrespective of size or stage of development. GREEN AWARD The winner of the Green Award will be the business that can show how changes it has made to its operations have made a positive contribution to the environment O2 JUDGES’ CHOICE AWARD The winner may not be shortlisted in any of the categories, but in the eyes

The Regional Business Awards attracted 500 people in 2010 – be a part of this year’s awards Picture: GARETH JONES/ grj270510business-5

of the judges demonstrated commitment, determination and dedication to their business and entry into the awards. KPMG BUSINESS OF THE YEAR This award is for the region’s outstanding large business, employing more than 250 people. DLA PIPER BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR Do you or someone you work with truly stand out from the crowd? Do they help to grow the reputation of their organisation – and the region – showing the entrepreneurial spirit that typifies the region’s resilience?

How to enter the Awards THE awards are open to any business operating in the Daily Post circulation area of Merseyside, West Lancashire and North West Cheshire. This year, the awards ceremony is being held on

Boostforcityemployeesasmore companiesofferflexibleworking NEW research shows 84% of firms in Liverpool are now offering their staff flexible working. However, the research from workplace provider Regus highlights that trust remains a major hurdle for many companies in the city. Around 42% only offer this privilege to senior staff, compared to the UK average of 38%. Those companies embracing flexible working practices are shown to reap major benefits,

says the report. More than half acknowledge that flexible working costs less than conventional, fixed office working and 68% report that their staff achieve a better work-life balance. When it comes to productivity, though, Liverpool firms exhibit above-average scepticism. Significantly fewer managers report productivity gains from flexi-working – 32% compared to UK average of 40%.

Just over a quarter of Liverpool firms state that flexiworking is pivotal in achieving business scalability as we emerge from recession; this is significantly above the UK national average of 22%. Celia Donne, regional director at Regus, said: “That flexible work has become the norm in Liverpool is good news all round – from employer to employee, from families to wider society and the environment.”

Thursday, June 23, at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, and entries are now open for businesses. The closing date for entries is Wednesday, April 13. To enter one or more of our award categories, please get

in touch with the Daily Post’s events department for an application form by telephoning 0151 472 2570 or download an application form online at www.

PSP raises fear over rates bid A NORTH West business group said it has “serious reservations” about proposals to allow local authorities to keep the business rates they collect, rather than hand them over to central government for reallocation. Private Sector Partners (PSP) speaks for 140,000 businesses that employ 1.3m people in the North West. Its leader, Len Collinson, said he feared the plans, drawn up by Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles, could see some councils in the region short-changed. He said: “My fear is that the block grants councils get could reduce dramatically for some of them under these proposals.”


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

LDP business




City ‘retail college’ celebrates 33 successful courses MORE than 30 staff at the Liverpool One branch of Debenhams have achieved their Retail Skills Level 2 certificate. Their training was part of a pioneering deal with Academy One, a partnership between retail centre Liverpool One, the National Skills Academy for Retail, and Birkenhead training provider Scientiam. Thirty-three Debenhams staff took part in 14 weeks of training to improve their retail and customer service skills, and 25 have now signed up to study for Level 2 and 3 Apprenticeships. Debenhams store trainer Maureen Scollins said: “We wanted to open the training up to all, and were very pleased that so many staff wanted to learn and gain qualifications.” Scientiam managing director Jayne Worthington said: “The partnership with Debenhams has been a big success, and we are very pleased to see their commitment to investing time and support in their workforce.”

Chelsea Draper, from the Debenhams visual team, achieved the Retail Skills Award, through Academy One

Record figures for NW exports

We can carry out all the maintenance requirements for your prestige, luxury and supercar needs.

by Tony McDonough


MERSEY Maritime, the ports-related business group, is targeting the small firms sector with a new membership deal. Communications manager Annette Parker said the package will offer businesses an increased range of events, improved business development opportunities and a lobbying facility. She said: “We have always enjoyed strong support from Liverpool’s best known maritime companies, for example, Bibby, Peel, Cammell Laird, Maersk and Atlantic Container Line, as well as many smaller, but equally well-respected companies. We would urge any firm keen to grow in the maritime sector on Merseyside to come and join us.” ■ VISIT www.mersey

Amari Supercars, D1 Ultimate-GT and Service Amari are proud to invite you, your family and friends to our fantastic spring charity event in aid of the RSPCA. Come along and view our fantastic display of rare and exciting Supercars, meet special guests and chat to all our well informed staff about all "matters" Supercar.

HOPES for an export-led recovery in the North West are on the increase as figures show that, in the last year, from 2009 to 2010, exports rose by 6% to a record level of just under £25bn. During this period, exports to all four of the high growth BRIC markets – Brazil, Russia, India and China – grew significantly. Exports to Brazil increased by 62%, exports to India went up by 43%, exports to Russia increased by 29% and exports to China by 28%. Other significant increases include Turkey, 69%, Taiwan, 31%, and Japan, 23%. Key sectors for growth included advanced engineering, manufacturing and chemicals and food and drink. The materials sector also enjoyed a “fantastic” performance with exports jumping by almost 70%. However, the Government’s UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) arm says there are still many companies who are not exporting, and others who are exporting but not making the most of prospects overseas. Issues such as fluctuating exchange rates, perceived red tape and worries about cultural and language differences are all barriers to exporting. UKTI regional director, Clive Drinkwater, said: “The recent export statistics for the region prove that the North West is well-positioned to be at the vanguard of an export-led recovery. “A recent survey by the ONS revealed that

Maritime seeking members

£5 admittance fee that is donated to RSPCA. Please rsvp to: Tel. 01772 663 777 Time: 17th of April / 11:00 am to 4:00 pm Address: Wyder Court Millenium City Park, Preston Lancashire PR2 5BW

Clive Drinkwater, of UKTI – the region is well-positioned to lead an export-led recovery the North West is the number one region in the UK for manufacturing, is a leader in renewable energy and that businesses based here are among the highest spenders on research and development in the country. “This is all excellent news, but if local companies are to maintain resilience in difficult times, they need to take full advantage of the commercial opportunities afforded by overseas markets, and planning your business around emerging international opportunities is becoming ever more important.”

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

LDP business Tributes paid to glass MD FAMILY and colleagues of Total Glass managing director Paul Ierston are mourning his passing after a 2½-year battle with cancer. Mr Ierston, 40, joined the Knowsley firm as an office junior from school and was appointed managing director in 2008. He leaves a wife, Vicky, and two children, Alfie, 7, and four-year-old Ava. Founder Frank Deary said: “Paul was a great man and a pure gentleman, as well as a true friend. “He was one of our original employees, showing tremendous loyalty and commitment as he progressed through the ranks from office junior to MD. “It was a pleasure to have known him.”




Breakthrough for Park as online sales reach £100m by Neil Hodgson


Park managing director Chris Houghton outlined the benefits of online trading last year Picture: JAMES MALONEY

BIRKENHEAD hampers to financial services firm Park has broken through the £100m online trading barrier. It said customers of its Christmas savings division, including hampers, vouchers and gift products, displayed an increasing appetite for online transactions in the year to March 31. Full results are due on June 14. Online turnover from the Christmas-focused business was more than £100m, which compares with a total turnover last year of £263.2m. Group managing director Chris Houghton said at the time of last June’s results announcement that online trading was an area the group viewed as ripe for development. He said at the time: “A feature of recent years has been the development of the internet and the way in which management has grasped its potential to drive the growth and expansion of Park. “The impact and influence of the internet has been enormous, and has led to product innovation as well as much more efficient communication with all our stakeholders.” He added: “In the last three years, the percentage of orders booked via the web has grown from 25% to 40%. Allowing customers to self-serve not only saves time and money, but has also enabled Park to make significant cost savings on telephone and postal communication.” Yesterday’s trading update, ahead of the results announcement, said Park will report “positive” trading in line with expectations. And Christmas savings orders for the 2011 festive season are already 5% better than the same period last year after the acquisition of an Irish hampers business last October, which enabled Park to launch its voucher business in the Republic of Ireland this year. Meanwhile, Park’s corporate voucher and prepaid card sales, used by many firms for staff incentive schemes, have remained strong and added to their client portfolio. In May last year, the group launched its pre-paid Flexecash card. It said it remains a small part of the business, but said demand has been growing rapidly and its performance has exceeded the board’s expectations. Three hundred corporate clients have signed up, and 24 retailers accept the card.

Printer invests in digital press WIRRAL printer LT Print Group has invested £120,000 in a new digital press that will add extra production capacity. The business, which employs 41 staff at offices in Wallasey and Birkenhead, has bought a Xerox 7002 digital press, one of the most advanced in the UK. Managing director Bob McWilliams said the new press would lead to a “sea change” in productivity and quality available to customers. “Digital is the future and a great avenue for growth,” he said. He added the new press will streamline the business and expand its customer offer. “By upgrading, we can meet the high quality and fast turnaround demanded by consumers, while improving our services to business clients,” he said.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

LDP business




Much-respected Stobart pioneered smarter way of doing business

Matt Johnson BRAND awareness is a key part of the successful development of any business. The bigger the brand, the bigger

the effort that goes into protecting and enhancing it. In some respects, creating a brand is a slightly easier task than maintaining and developing it, but when it’s done well the benefits to a business can be hugely significant. When one major player gets it right, the impact can be felt by all competitors. That was clearly evident last week in all of the coverage that followed the death of Edward Stobart. Not so long ago, when road transport contractors were in the haulage rather than logistics business, the sector was less well-regarded than it is now. The development of the Stobart

business did much to change perceptions and reputations. In everything from insisting his drivers wear collars and ties, to regular washing and polishing of their vehicles, Stobart knew all about brand development. The dividends derived from such attention to detail remain high, and are a text-book example to other businesses. One of the most striking aspects of what this firm has achieved is the way in which its brand values have been so carefully established and, in turn, the way in

which they are nurtured and enhanced. The smartness of the trucks and drivers have taken the industry a long way from the slightly grubbier and grimier territory it once occupied. The pioneer’s influence went far further, of course. The biggest, shiniest fleet of individually named lorries in the world only makes money when it is full of goods, not when empty lorries are trundling back to warehouse and distribution centres. Stobart’s centres were strategically located close to the motor-

‘Company that prides itself on core brand values’

way network, rather than in the less accessible hauliers’ yards of yesteryear. Perhaps the most striking example of the success of how the brand was established lies in the fact that a subsidiary business manufacturing souvenirs and other green, red and gold goods grew to be worth £3.5m in its own right. That’s a lot of toy trucks. It’s also a smart way of doing business from a company that prides itself on its core brand values and plays to their enormous strength. ■ MATT JOHNSON is chairman of Mando Group

Coffee shop signs up for extra space at Princes Dock BEAN COFFEE has signed a deal to increase its trading space at Princes Dock. The independent coffee and catering business operates out of Brunswick Business Park and its mobile Bean Machine coffee shop and has been temporarily occupying an existing unit at Princes, where 2,500 people work. But it will move to bigger premises in Building 12, which includes the multi-storey car park next to the Malmaison Hotel, when they are completed next month. Princes Dock property manager Liza Marco said: “The Bean Coffee shop will provide an excellent complimentary amenity for both the existing occupiers and visitors to Princes Dock.” Jon Whyte, director of Bean, added: “We have the ideal setting for our customers to enjoy a great cup of coffee by the waterside. “This will be our new flagship shop with a spacious lounge, meeting area and bar layout.”

Expansion: Bean Coffee owners Vip Bhatt, left, and Jon Whyte, on site at their planned new Princes Dock outlet Picture: COLIN LANE/ tmcl040411bean-2

Retailer claims rate levels are blighting high street by Neil Hodgson


A LIVERPOOL cafe owner claims that unrealistic business rate valuations are blighting key retail areas. Michael Mavris, 57, who has run Mike’s Kitchen, in County Road, Walton, for eight years, said he may have to make redundancies as footfall continues to dwindle due to business closures. He claims that shops have shut rather than accept high business rate valuations, and the once prime retail area is now in decline as a result.

Mr Mavris, who has worked in catering all his life, paid £10,900 in rent last year, but said his premises were valued at £12,250. He said this valuation also affected qualification for small business rate relief, adding to his financial burden. He said an appeal against last May’s valuation is still outstanding. “This part of County Road used to be a prime site six years ago, with Ethel Austin, Kwiksave and Burtons, but they have all gone. There’s 26 empty premises. “If you stand on my front door, 500 yards in each direction you have 18

takeaways, six newsagents, four accident and claims shops and three pawnbrokers. This is what they are turning the road into. They are driving the major shops away,” said Mr Mavris. He argues that the rateable value of a premise is only what a retailer is prepared to pay. And he warned: “I employ six girls from the community. But it is hard to keep six girls in employment without having to cut one or two jobs if we are going to have to find these expenses.” He said he approached Liverpool City Council regarding his appeal. “I told them, we are going to come to

a stage and close the doors, but the council said, ‘when you do that, inform us so we will stop taking the money from your bank’,” he said. A council spokesman said: “While the city council collects business rates on behalf of the Government, the actual level is set by the Valuation Office (VOA) and we have no control over it.” A VOA spokesman added: “We have received several formal proposals to alter the rating list for shops in Liverpool’s L4 postal district, including County Road, and are dealing with them.”

Beer bringing cheer to SMEs THE “acceptable face” of business investment will come to Liverpool when a national business angel network visits the city. Beer & Partners has 1,700 registered angels, with funds to invest in promising ventures. More than 500 live in the North, and Beer regional director Steve McEwen is organising three events in Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds to introduce prospective investors to viable businesses. He said: “It’s Dragons’ Den, but without the humiliation.” Instead of intimidating figures grilling nervous entrepreneurs, as depicted in the BBC TV series, he said Beer investment evenings take place in a warm and friendly environment, so that investors “can relax, present confidently, and do themselves justice”. Each event attracts around 30 high net worth investors who see presentations from three fund-seeking companies. Mr McEwen said the events aim to give entrepreneurs the best chance of securing funding. In contrast, he believes Dragons’ Den often deliberately presents entrepreneurs who haven’t a hope of securing the investment so they can be picked apart by the dragons for the viewers’ entertainment. “In the real world, there is no audience apart from the investors, so it is in nobody’s best interest to present companies which are not up to scratch.”


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

LDP business Bill Gleeson Downgrades to credit-worthiness are no surprise IT CAN’T come as too much of a surprise to find that two credit rating agencies have downgraded Matalan’s creditworthiness. The discount segment of the retail market is bound to be struggling in the current slow economic conditions. Customers, particularly those working in the public sector, are bound to be minding the pennies more than in the past. Nor is it just Matalan that has been affected by the lean market. Even the likes of the once unstoppable Primark have found that consumers are being more tight-fisted. The concern is that price pressures mean that underlying profitability has been hit, thereby impairing the retailer’s ability to make interest payments. It’s no coincidence that Matalan is seeking to refinance its borrowings, trying in effect to spread its payments. In a way, Moody’s and S&P’s downgrading amounts to a vote in favour of the refinancing, which they deem to be on much more manageable terms than the current borrowing arrangements. Irrespective of its current financing issues, you would have to worry about Matalan’s longterm prospects. Ten years ago, it was going from strength to strength, but then it seemed to lose its way in the market. Ever since, it has struggled to make a worthwhile return on sale. Competition in the discount retail sector is very fierce, as many players seek to extract a margin from the least profitable segment of the market. WITH China raising interest rates and oil prices reaching $122 a barrel yesterday, the news from the world economy is unsettling. The sense of foreboding was further compounded by the publication of an OECD report that pares back its previous forecasts for UK economic growth. In a survey of the G7

economies, the OECD estimated that UK gross domestic product would expand at an annualised rate of 1% in the second quarter. This compared with an OECD forecast in November of 1.3%. In contrast, the US economy is expected to expand by 3.4%, France by 2.8% and Germany by 2.3%. More bad news came this week in the form of a survey from the British Chambers of Commerce suggesting economic growth would be slow. Yet I can’t help feeling that all the doom and gloom is misplaced. Economies always move in cycles and a return to strong growth both here and abroad will follow the recent tough recession like night follows day. The only question is when. Will it be in time to make a difference to the hundreds of thousands of people in Britain losing their jobs as public sector cuts start to bite? PROFESSOR Dennis Kehoe, chief executive of AIMES Grid Services, has previously aired the view that Liverpool was a “digital desert”. However, that appears to be changing now, with the news that AIMES is to be at the centre of a new digital exchange to be based at Liverpool Innovation Park. New switching equipment will be linked to fibre cable already in the ground and a transatlantic cable. It will give Liverpool businesses access to very high speed broadband services at a fraction of the cost of the currently much slower service. It will help Liverpool catch up with Manchester and London and to stride ahead of the rest of the country when it comes to attracting businesses and investment. However, it’s an advantage that will only be temporary as it is inevitable other places will make similar investments. So let’s make sure we make the most of it.

Is City embass Alistair Houghton travels to Liverpool’s embassy in London to meet its chief diplomat, Chris Heyes

THE USA has its fortified embassy on Grosvenor Square, France has its luxurious palace in Kensington, and even the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan has its own West End base. And now Liverpool, a city that sees itself as a place apart from other UK cities, has its own diplomatic mission in London. And its mission is clear – winning investment for Merseyside. That’s why Liverpool’s embassy sits not in the West End with the overseas missions, but in the City, the financial hub of Europe. Appropriately, it is just a short walk away from Liverpool Street station. To some, a Liverpool embassy sounds like a vanity project – and the project was certainly mocked in the London media when it was first announced. But, to its backers in the public and private sectors, it could be the key that unlocks investment from the capital and beyond. By bringing Liverpool to London, they say, they make it more likely that potential investors will look beyond the stereotypes associated with Liverpool to see what the city really has to offer. Chris Heyes, who heads the embassy on behalf of regeneration agency Liverpool Vision, said a “massive mix” of people had already visited the embassy. And, while he is keeping the content of some of his meetings under wraps, he is confident that some of those embassy meetings will lead to investment heading to Liverpool. “We’ve had people visit us who were born in Liverpool and who want to allow us into their contacts book,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any other city in the world whose people would do that. “We’ve had people who’ve been invited in through UK Trade and Investment. “We have developers and property agents showcasing the Liverpool offer. “We’ve had businesses looking to relocate or to set up here. “Then we’ve got what would be classed as the highlight, the actual investors. We’ve had three major ones that have come to talk about opportunities. “It’s about changing perceptions of Liverpool and talking to these people. The next stage is to get them to Liverpool to see what’s available. The final stage is brokering the deal.” LDP Business revealed last year that the city was to open an embassy in London. It followed the success of Liverpool’s pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai, which attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors. Heyes, an accountant by training who was head of finance at Business Liverpool, spent eight months working in Shanghai. But the embassy is a different beast from Liverpool’s Shanghai pavilion. While the pavilion served as a tourist attraction, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors, the embassy aims to attract small numbers of investors who could make a big difference to the city. The block that houses the embassy sits in New Broad Street, near Tower 42 – the former NatWest Tower – and the new 46-storey Heron Tower. The embassy itself

Liverpool’s London embassy, whose entrance is on the right, sits in New Broad Street, near Liverpool Street Station

is an office suite on the second floor, though the building’s spacious atrium has been used to house several events. Visitors to the second floor are signed in at the embassy’s reception, where they receive their own Liverpool in London photo ID card, before making their way to the event room or the boardroom. The event room is where visiting delegations are given the Liverpool hard sell from Heyes and the city’s business leaders. But, if they want to discover Liverpool in their own time, they can look at the touchscreen televisions. After an introduction from council leader Joe Anderson, visitors can browse through videos covering aspects of Merseyside from its culture to its chemicals industry and from its businesses to its biotechnology parks. For more private meetings, visitors can sit in the smaller boardroom next door, overlooked by a giant image of the Albert Dock. By the time LDP Business visited last week, the room had already held 52 meetings. Both rooms feature graphics created by Liverpool design agency Uniform, highlighting key facts about Merseyside. Mr Heyes said: “You cannot go to London and sell the same thing that other

‘We must sell what Liverpool is world class at’

cities are selling. We need to sell what Liverpool is world class at. “We’ve distilled that into some clear messages – for example, wealth management, legal services – maritime law was created in Liverpool – biosciences, the port. “Then we talk about the other things that bolt on to that – for example, that we’re now fifth in the country in terms of our retail offer. That’s added value, and for a city to attract investment it needs that added value. “But you can’t draw people from London to Liverpool just to see that. This is London – it’s got everything.” Heyes also says it is vital that potential investors hear not just from the public sector, but also from private investors who have put their money into Liverpool. “It’s all very well to get me standing up there saying ‘you should come to Liverpool, there are lots of opportunities for you’,” he said. “But I’m a salesperson – I sell Liverpool for a living. “So we’ve got the Duke of Westminster talking about how passionate he is about the Liverpool One project. “We want to showcase businesses that have already moved to Liverpool. Panmure Gordon, the wealth managers, opened an office there, which fits with the fact that Liverpool is the UK’s second-largest wealth management centre.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011 IN ASSOCIATION WITH

the big feature


sy a capital idea?

Chris Heyes, head of Liverpool’s London embassy

Creative showcase shows off embassy’s strengths “That is the kind of fact that makes people think ‘I didn’t know that about Liverpool’. “Maersk is a massive shipping line, which fits perfectly with what we’re trying to do around the superport and logistics. “It’s not us saying ‘you should come’. It’s businesses that have moved here telling you about their experience.” That private sector involvement is key to the embassy’s success. All those involved agree that, if the embassy is seen as a public sector vanity project, it will fail. So Liverpool Vision has recruited many sponsors, including Grosvenor, Sony and developers Flanagan Group and Downing. The embassy was only due to remain open for three months from January. But last month Liverpool Vision announced that, after recruiting more sponsors, including Ernst & Young and maintenance company Enterprise, it would now stay open until at least July. “The public sector has underwritten the project,” said Heyes. “Joe has committed to that. But it’s our aim to drive as much sponsorship as possible to make sure that it’s at little or no cost to the city.” Asked whether the embassy will stay

open for longer, he said: “That’s driven by our private sector sponsors. “If they turn round at the end of July and say ‘we think you’re doing a fantastic job and we’d like you to continue’, then we will. “The private sector will tell us whether it will continue in some form. It’s very much their project. We just facilitate it on their behalf.” For now, Heyes is happy challenging people’s perceptions of Liverpool. “It surprises people that Liverpool is just a couple of hours away,” he said. “They say ‘but it’s six hours away, isn’t it?’” He also points proudly to the graphic on the boardroom wall showing that Liverpool is one of the UK’s least expensive cities in terms of office space. “When you show people in London what you can get for £20 per sq ft, they’re amazed,” he said. When asked for his job title, Heyes, one of three Vision staff working in London, calls himself head of the embassy. But there’s one word, dripping with connotations of a Ferrero Rocher ad, that he will not use. “I never call myself an ambassador,” he smiled. “I’m a doer – I don’t do job titles.”

‘Private sector will tell us if we will continue’

■ ALISTAIR travelled to London with Virgin Trains (

LIVERPOOL’S London embassy aims to promote Merseyside’s success stories – and last week it was the turn of representatives from the region’s creative and digital sectors to descend on the capital. Dozens of people from companies including Hurricane Films, web agency Rippleffect and design company Uniform gathered in the atrium of New Broad Street House for speeches and a performance from rising Mersey music star Delta Maid. They were joined by representatives from London companies such as Channel 4, Domino Records and music publisher WarnerChappell. Delegates mingled and networked among works of art selected by Liverpool and London design agency Mercy. Sculptures by Liverpool artist Nicki McCubbing, including one of a Brownie with an owl’s head, proved particularly popular. Speakers included Sean Marley, managing director of Hollyoaks producer Lime Pictures, who regularly visits the

capital to talk to television executives and who welcomed the opening of the embassy. ACME director Kevin McManus said: “This gave us the chance to showcase some of Liverpool’s best creative businesses and give them a chance to meet London businesses. “Liverpool has always been known for its creativity and innovation. “I’ve just come back from South by Southwest and the Liverpool brand is still incredibly strong. It’s fitting that we should be doing something like this embassy.” For Chris Heyes, head of the embassy, the creative event was a great example of the embassy’s role promoting Liverpool and its businesses. Last month, Grosvenor held an event at the embassy to showcase Liverpool One. Other events have focused on investment banking and potential opportunities in Korea. And last month the embassy hosted an event for London-based alumni of Liverpool John Moores University.

private business

Cause for optimism at cargo handlers

A POSITIVE start to its financial year has given a boost to cargo handlers NW Trading, which has faced a tough recession. The sector has been badly hit, with global shipping levels much reduced, and its effect is clear to see in NW Trading’s accounts for the year to June, 2010, recently filed at Companies House. On an annualised basis (its 2009 accounting period was just six months long), turnover fell 32% to £21.6m – its lowest level for four years and more than £15m below the peak achieved in 2008. However, exceptional income of £1.18m, which related to the Government’s decision to abandon the backdating of port rates, as well as tight cost controls, resulted in a pre-tax profit of £1.77m. That compared with a break-even performance in the six months to June, 2009. NW Trading is based at Birkenhead’s Cavendish Wharf and also operates in the Humber estuary, at Hull and Goole. Writing in the accounts, the directors forecast “strong growth” for the current financial year after a much-improved start to the year. That saw the company handle about 350,000 tonnes of cargo during the first quarter, twice the level of a year earlier. The directors added: “The company during the last six months has significantly increased activity with its existing customers, but more importantly has won substantial business from new customers. “The new business has helped smooth the annual throughput activity, making it more evenly spread throughout the year. “It has also reduced vulnerability to individual customer business.” Dividends of £187,000 were paid, in line with 2009. Shareholders’ funds for the group stood at £1.42m at the year-end. ALEX TURNER


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

LDP business briefing Tanfield gets closer to breaking even AERIAL platform maker Tanfield said it would move closer to break-even this year thanks to increasing demand, as it reported pre-tax losses of £16.7m in 2010, slightly improved on the £16.9m losses seen in 2009. The Tyne and Wear-based group said turnover edged 1% higher to £43.5m.

Assura ahead of forecasts HEALTHCARE property and pharmacy group Assura said underlying results for the year to March 31 were likely to be ahead of its expectations. The group pushed through a 5.6% rent increase from last April, and said revenues in its pharmacy business were expected to be more than £33m, although margins are being hit by NHS price cuts.

Profits rising ENVIRONMENTAL technology firm Porvair said it had seen a “good start” to the new financial year, with profits ahead of expectations and up year-on-year in the four months to March 31. The group saw revenues rise around 8% in the period.

BTG revenues SPECIALIST healthcare firm BTG confirmed it expects to report revenues for the year to March 31 in the range £108m to £114m. The group, which develops products targeting critical care, cancer and other disorders, said the integration of its recently acquired biocompatibles business was “proceeding well”.




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Building companies poised to emerge from recession by Tony McDonough


FEW business sectors will have been hit harder than the construction sector during the recession. However, the latest data from the Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) survey for the UK construction sector indicates the sector put in a good performance in March. The latest Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) survey for the construction sector – where a reading above 50 indicates growth – fell to 56.4 in March, slightly down on the eight-month high of 56.5 in the previous month. Economists had forecast that the rate would fall to 54.8, but each of the three sub-sectors of the industry – civil, residential and commercial – recorded continued growth in March. Peter Linford, director of north Liverpool-based Nobles Construction, insists his business is weathering the storm but admits others have not been so fortunate. At present the company, which employs 58 people, has 19 live building jobs, ranging in value from £200,000 to £6m. Current projects include the £750,000 refurbishment of Liverpool’s Neptune Theatre, work on the Slavery Museum at the Albert Dock and some work for Liverpool Football Club. Nobles is also on site at Aintree Hospital, Christie’s Hospital in Manchester and Arrowe Park Hospital, in Wirral, as well as numerous school projects including St Margaret Church of England, in Warrington, where they are carrying out £2.1m-worth of work. “At the moment, the market is extremely tight and extremely competitive,” said Mr Linford. “We have seen a number of local contractors go under in the past couple of years and that is not good.” Along with the rest of the UK, Merseyside has seen private sector property development virtually grind to a halt post credit-crunch. Bank lending remains tight and even if they do start to slowly loosen the purse strings, many are unlikely to touch property projects with a bargepole. Consequently, Nobles has had to rely much more heavily on public sector contracts than the firm would like. Despite the cutback on large capital projects, Mr Linford, who owns the business with two other directors, says the lower level refurbishment and building work has continued. He added: “In an ideal world, the split between public and private sector jobs would be fifty-fifty. “But, at the moment, the majority of our work is public sector because the private sector isn’t building and the banks aren’t lending. “The public sector procurement process is becoming increasingly difficult. Both price and quality are important and it is getting more difficult to get even onto the pre-qualification lists. “You now have to be really innovative and show what you can do. Added to that, because of the cutbacks on the bigger projects, we are now finding ourselves competing against the bigger contractors who are

Peter Linford, left, at the Neptune Theatre with Liverpool City Council leader, Joe Anderson

Run Services worked on the Lime Street Gateway project stepping down into our market. A lot of the public sector work we do is at the sub-£2m level and generally that work still has to be done, despite the cutbacks in public sector spending.” Despite the increased competition, Nobles’ reputation means it is continuing to win work and remains on an upward growth curve. Latest turnover has come in at £15m and the firm is aiming to grow that to around £25m over the next two to three years. Mr Linford said: “That would take us to a manageable level and once we reach there then we may want to go a bit higher. “We have been going now for 16 years and we have had people who

have worked for us since those days – there is a lot of loyalty there and we want to make sure we keep people in a job. “We always endeavour to keep things as local as possible. “As well as employing local people, we try as much as possible to always use Liverpool sub-contractors. We are a Liverpool firm and we want to keep the money in Liverpool.” Finding a niche is clearly a good strategy for surviving and thriving, and that is the approach adopted by Run Services. With two Liverpool offices, as well as one in Manchester, the firm specialises in community and regeneration projects and has worked on

projects both in Liverpool and Manchester. It usually works as a sub-contractor for bigger construction firms on large- scale regeneration schemes. Run has worked on some of Liverpool’s best-known schemes from the regeneration of Liverpool Gateway at Lime Street Station, to work at Aintree University Hospital’s Bluebell House. Design director Nigel Ward said: “Our main focus has always been on regeneration. “We work within existing communities and bring them back to life. “It is still very challenging out there at the moment, and we have to go out and fight for our fair share. “Luckily, our main contractors have carried us along with them.” Run Services’ managing director, Anthony Woods, says the firm now has ambitions to grow further beyond the North West. He said: “The company aims to be the leading regeneration company in the UK.” “Much of our operations will now be directed from our Speke office, with the Rodney Street office giving us a further city centre presence. “We are pursuing a number of projects in Liverpool and see the city as one of the most promising locations for our kind of community regeneration work.” “Our name reflects our roots – RUN stands for Regenerating the Urban North.”


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

LDP business




Food pricesfall– butretailers warn of freshrises tocome CASH-STRAPPED consumers benefited from the biggest fall in food prices for nearly two years last month, but retailers warned the relief will be short-lived, with more price hikes on the way. Food prices fell 0.5% between February and March, in their biggest monthly fall since August, 2009, as retailers sold an unprecedented 40% of

items on special offer, said the British Retail Consortium. A 0.2% fall in the price of non-food items, with health and beauty products showing the biggest reductions, meant that overall shop prices were 0.3% lower month-on-month, after their first drop since June, 2010. Retailers, who have suffered from weak demand in 2011,

discounted their prices despite the continuing rise in oil and other commodity costs, but will inevitably push them back up again in coming months, the BRC warned. The continued rise in oil prices, which have soared above $120 a barrel for the first time since the financial crisis, will put upward pressure on inflation over the

coming months as the increase in costs works its way through the supply chain, it added. The price of crops may rise in coming months as supplies fall to critically low levels before the harvest in the northern hemisphere, it said. The monthly drop in prices in March will have been a slight relief to consumers

whose spending power is being squeezed as wages fail to keep up with inflation. Fresh food prices fell 0.5% month-on-month as an increase in the cost of meat and oils was more than offset by falls in fish and fruit. A fall in the cost of bread and cereal helped ambient food prices drop 0.6% month-on-month.

Banks give HMV more time in fight for survival by Jamie Grierson


EMBATTLED retailer HMV Group said that it had secured more time in its battle for survival, despite issuing a third profits warning this year. The company, which owns 731 HMV, Waterstone’s and Fopp stores, said its banks had agreed to put back financial tests from the end of April to the beginning of July. The agreement was negotiated after HMV presented its plans to secure the future of the business, which are understood to include the potential sale of book chain Waterstone’s. However, the company said negotiations were still ongoing. The extension came as HMV warned for the third time this year it would miss profit expectations as trading continued to suffer last month. The company said pre-tax profits would now be around £30m – down from a previous estimate of £38m at the beginning of last month. HMV Group, which is closing 60 stores over the next 12 months and shedding jobs, aims to cut costs by another £10m a year. It saw sales plunge 13.6% in the UK and Ireland over Christmas, and has since been hit by supplier troubles as firms struggle to gain credit insurance

due to fears over HMV’s trading. The group said trading conditions had remained difficult since its last trading update at the beginning of March. But its banking facilities “remain fully available” and lenders continue to be supportive, the group said. The company is likely to see the time extension as a vote of confidence in the proposals it has presented to the banks. HMV recently confirmed it was “exploring strategic options” for both Waterstone’s and HMV Canada, but said no discussions were taking place about an offer for the whole group. It is understood HMV needs to raise £75m in return for a relaxation of its lending covenants. Potential buyers for Waterstone’s are rumoured to include founder Tim Waterstone and Russian billionaire investor Alexander Mamut. Other potential bidders reportedly hovering around HMV Group include retail restructuring specialist Hilco, which has owned Allied Carpets, Habitat and MK One. HMV has faced increasing competition from online retailers and supermarkets in its core CD and DVD markets in recent years. The group has been broadening its product mix as part of a fightback, branching into new areas such as tech-

HMV is under increasing pressure from online rivals Picture: TIM IRELAND

nology and entertainment-related product sales. Nomura, which is advising HMV Group, has offered Mr Mamut and Mr Waterstone 15 days to come up with an offer to buy the book chain, it was later reported. Matt Walton, retail analyst at Verdict Research, said HMV’s hard and

Libyan crisis sends oil price soaring OIL prices have hit an all-time high in sterling terms, following a cocktail of supply pressures across Africa and the Middle East. The impact of the weaker pound, which declined 17% in value in the past two years, means the sterling value of Brent crude oil has risen to a record high of

£74.60 per barrel. But, at $121 a barrel, Brent crude is still below the $147 a barrel record set in the summer of 2008. The surge in oil prices, triggered by unrest in Libya, a lack of supply co-operation in Iran and strikes in west Africa, is likely to be passed on at UK petrol pumps and add fur-

ther pressure to already-squeezed disposable incomes. The surge will provide another headache for policymakers at the Bank of England, who are battling with rising inflation, which hit 4.4% in February, and sluggish growth. The increasing price of oil will pile pressure

on the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee to lift interest rates to curb the soaring cost of living. However, following the shock decline in GDP in the final quarter of 2010, rate-setters are likely to hold fire for the time being as they wait to see how the economy has fared.

fast fall in profitability was extremely disappointing. Mr Walton said the retailer was hit by customers increasingly turning online to buy music, to sites including Amazon, iTunes and He said: “Customers are enjoying the convenience of being able to buy at a time which suits them.”

Lenders’ pledge to small firms SMALL businesses will be given greater powers to challenge their bank if loan requests are rejected, Britain’s biggest lenders said. Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays, HSBC and Santander have unveiled a scheme to ensure any decision to turn down loan applications from small firms will be reviewed by another person within the lender. Banks will also have to provide businesses with the result of a loan appeal within 30 days and information on alternative sources of finance if the appeal is rejected as part of the pledge. The Better Business Finance campaign, backed by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), was unveiled in Edinburgh as part of an initiative to help make lending to small businesses more transparent. Russel Griggs, the former chairman of the CBI’s small business council, has been appointed to act as external reviewer of the lending appeals process, alongside consultancy firm Promontory. He will report back each year on the campaign’s effectiveness. Angela Knight, chief executive of the BBA, said: “The Better Business Finance campaign represents the banking industry’s continued commitment to providing small and mediumsized businesses with the information and support that they need.”


Rail protest PASSENGERS have strongly objected to a rail firm’s plans to cut ticket office opening hours, signing thousands of letters of protest. Passenger Focus said it had received 18,000 letters, cards and petitions opposing the move by London Midland to reduce hours at 87 stations. The consumer group said the scale of the response reinforced its research which showed that station staff were important to passengers.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

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Liverpool Property Club aims to generate business for region’s firms

view point

by Alan Robson, managing director, Innov8 Safety Solutions THE Liverpool Property Club held its second event last month at the Noble House restaurant and is proving to be very popular.

Focus on property STEVE GRANT has been appointed as the property relationship director for Barclays Business in the North West. Barclays Business is the business banking arm of Barclays. Based in Manchester, Mr Grant will be responsible for developing the Barclays Business property proposition across the North West, typically focussing on property deals looking to borrow between £500,000 to £3m. He has spent more than 30 years at HSBC.

It was launched by Innov8 Safety Solutions, in partnership with construction consultancy firm Sutcliffe, Todd & Ledson quantity surveyors, and Nobles Construction. There are a lot of networking and business facilitating events in Liverpool and Merseyside, but I and others felt that we wanted to put the focus directly on the property sector. The aim was to create an informal and relaxed event that was specific for businesses and individuals in the property and construction industry. The Liverpool Property Club launched in November with more than 100 professionals and decision makers attending, all from recog-

nised businesses and consultancy firms. It is the aim of the club to develop and facilitate more business leads and deals in the region that will help boost the Merseyside economy. Local firms are overlooked too often when contracts are being handed out for big development projects in the region. We hope to create awareness that whatever job needs doing, there is the talent and ability available within Merseyside – companies do not have to bring in outside contractors and

consultants. With an expanding pool of driven property and construction professionals in Merseyside, this club has the potential to be massive in generating more business, and we have been very pleased with the response so far. Although the Liverpool Property Club is not a strict invitation-only affair, we do try and ensure that those who come along have a specific interest in construction and property. There are already a variety of organisations in Merseyside that offer good general business network-

‘Aim is to

create a formal and relaxed event’

Bulldozers move in at The Heath for demolition job by Tony McDonough



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ing opportunities, and we do not wish to become another of these. To keep the interest of the professionals in our sector, it is important that we distinguish ourselves and do not dilute what we are doing. We are also aiming to hold the event each quarter to keep it fresh and innovative. We are all members of various business organisations, and I hope that the Liverpool Property Club can establish itself and at the same time work in harmony alongside these organisations. ■ EMAIL me for more information: alan@innov8safety

Helen Schoelzel overseeing the demolition work of Block 7 at The Heath, in Runcorn

DEMOLITION work has started on a 50-year-old science block at Runcorn’s Heath Business and Technical Park. The three-storey Block 7 at the park is being demolished to make way for the development of up to 180,000 sq ft of additional office and laboratory space. As many as 25 workers have been on site each day since last July, stripping out more than 50,000 sq ft of accommodation in the old building. The redevelopment will see the workforce at The Heath increase from 2,000 to 3,000 over the next few years. Work on the demolition is expected to last for a further six weeks. Helen Schoelzel, SOG’s safety, health and environment manager, said: “Having started to clear the building last July, it’s great to now move on to the main demolition phase. “We’ve had to contend with some terrible weather during the process but with everything on schedule we would expect the site to be cleared, levelled and ready for turfing next month.” Ms Schoelzel is SOG’s project manager and has overseen and co-ordinated the demolition process. As part of the demolition, the team has also had to deal with routine removal of chemical and asbestos hazards – posing no risk to the public. The Heath served as a headquarters for chemicals giant ICI until its rebirth as a business and technical park. Ms Schoelzel has personally provided specialist chemical hazard training to around 40 men from asbestos removal contractor EDS, whose personnel have played a key part in the process. Adrian Kelly, managing director of Windmill Group (UK), which has provided personnel for the project, said: “The operation has been high risk and proved to be a challenge, but good communication, programming and team management have been the key to the success we have achieved.” In recent years, Block 7 has served as part of The Heath’s research and technology department, acting as home to as many as 10 of the 175 diverse companies and organisations now based on site. The Block’s residents were relocated elsewhere on The Heath ahead of the demolition process.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

LDP business




Atlantic Park office building offering 35,000 sq ft ATLANTIC Park’s Caspian House is available to let, bringing 35,000 sq ft of refurbished office space to the Merseyside market. Caspian House offers one of the largest floor plates in the North West office market, and is available as a whole or can be sub-divided into two self-contained buildings. The building has undergone a £2.2m refurbishment and remodelling works, and is the second speculative phase of office development at Bootle’s Atlantic Park, which has received £3.1m funding from the European Regional Development Fund and a further £1.6m from the Northwest Development Agency. Ian Steele, from GVA, the letting agent for the scheme, said: “Caspian House is the only office scheme to have been speculatively developed in the decentralised Merseyside office market during the last 18 months. “Although this is a remodelled building, Caspian House competes directly with new build space and offers occupiers the unique opportunity of acquiring 35,000 sq ft on a single floor plate.”

The interior of the refurbished Caspian House office building, located in Atlantic Park, in Bootle

Another site for Secured POSTAL operator Secured Mail has opened a depot in Warrington. The 25,000 sq ft site will allow the company, which is one of the largest postal operators in the UK, to grow the business and deliver more than the current 400m items per year. The Warrington hub, based at Winwick Quay, is the third Secured Mail base, alongside its Aintree site in Liverpool and southern hub in Dartford, and paves the way for further depots to be opened in the South West and Scotland during the course of 2011. Mark Bigley, managing director of Secured Mail, which was founded in Liverpool, said: “This new site is a central part of our growth strategy, and will allow us to build on our success.”

Veteran property firm in merger by Tony McDonough


ONE of Liverpool’s oldest commercial property practices has merged with a national operator. Edmund Kirby has joined forces with Matthews & Goodman to form a new practice known as Matthews & Goodman, incorporating Edmund Kirby. The combined firm will operate from offices in Liverpool, Manchester and London. Edmund Kirby was founded in Liverpool in 1864 and is based in Edmund Street, in the city centre, close to Old Hall Street. Matthews & Goodman operates from an office in India Building, in Water Street. The combined team will continue to work from both sites. Although Matthews & Goodman is by far the bigger of the two firms, its Liverpool operation is significantly smaller than Edmund Kirby’s. Both firms claim the move strengthens Matthews & Goodman’s existing presence in the North West and gives Edmund Kirby’s clients access to the wider geographical coverage provided by a national organisation. Philip Silby, of Matthews & Goodman, said: “This merger achieves the strategic objective of both firms, to develop capabilities nationally and regionally in the North West. “Edmund Kirby are a well-respected organisation with whom we have a good operational and cultural fit. “This is a great opportunity for all our clients and our staff as we take the new firm forward.” Geoffrey Smith, of Edmund Kirby, added that the combined business would continue


St Helens’ Premier Business Park

Tempting offices To Let/For Sale at Mere Grange Nations House, in Edmund Street the emphasis on the “provision of first-rate commercial and independent consultancy advice on property matters, with a focus on hands-on, solution-driven service”. Edmund Kirby has recently been advising a number of landowners affected by the proposed redevelopment and expansion of Liverpool’s Edge Lane Retail Park. The scheme was granted planning permission by Liverpool City Council planners in December last year.

Self-contained offices 2,500 – 10,100 sq ft

01925 273000




A570 St Helens Linkway Off J7 M62, St Helens


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

LDP business Aerospace & Defence

31634 25138 Forgn & C 32334 206

Index 3380.46 ▼ 6.38 Avon Rbbr



249 xd


37914 29434 BAE Systems 33378




Hend Sml Cos 30914


36278 27314 Law Dbenture 34318xd -138 25034 18614 Scot Am 522

40978 Witan

24438xd -114 51812xd


73612 51958 Chemring

692 xd





Fixed Line Telecoms


Index 2347.24 ▲ 4.06



38078 26134 Meggitt 535



15912 10438 Senior

34838xd 627




Automobiles & Parts






30614 25758 Morrison W


Bco Santander 72534

73078 59614 HSBC


16614 1914 Ireland


-112 -1212 -14





7734 xd




7758 5012 Lloyds Banking5958


Index 5043.02 ▼ 2.62

3758 Ryl Scotland




Beverages Index 9574.49 ▲ 109.91 1304 900 518

Barr (AG)

36412 Britvic





1258 1025 Diageo

1200xd +10

2306 1827 SABMiller

227012 +3312

1182 918


5700 5570

Mar 14 - Mar 18

Mar 21 - Mar 25

988 645

90712 768




42478 33934 Dairy Crest



7534 4134 Nth Foods



3278 16

1995 1688 Unilever


Apr 5, 2011

2885 1724 Signet Jwlrs






39814 WH Smith

Health Care Equip & Serv




53712 Smith Nph



Household Goods




Barratt Dev




General Financial





2100 1460 Johnsn Mat



Index 6035.82 ▲ 42.54

23334 114




Index 4172.74 ▼ 94.08

18512 Costain


-614 -1414



1383 88612 Kier Group

1353xd -29

6312 2834 Low Bonar

5318 xd



7834 Marshalls








Electronic & Electrical

1257 76212 Rathbone



1922 1154 Schroders

1822xd +25

General Industrials

38312 Domino Ptg

636 xd



9834 Laird




16712 Morgn Cru





Oxford Inst

720 xd +812



Volex Gp



Equity Inv Instruments

37778 29312 Alliance


14012 105

13558xd +18

Candover Inv 620

10034 Dunedin Sml

46714 366

Edin Invst


96 2312



39 Adv Medical 378 AEA Technology 241 Albany Inv Tst


764 AMEC


2012 Anglesey Mining



37538 29038 Rexam







Smith DS



22934 Balfour Beatty 29 Beale

48018 Utd Business 611






84612 608






1861 846



Industrial Transportation

2514 1214 Ashley L

+12 -2

+12 -5



BBA Aviation







47778 29414 Aviva

44438xd +138

3612 1134 Dixons Retail 1134


12234 7214 Lgl & Gen


72912xd +112




29518 18812 Home Retail



32438 21114 Resolution




24434 173

48914 Prudential



JJB Sports



27114 19812 Kingfisher



42712 32638 M & S



83812 53612 BSkyB



59412 433



9312 4814 ITV


62712 390


2344 1868 Next






828 xd

D Mail Tst







5912 IS Pharma



650 JD Sports Fashion


+4 -4212



1112 JJB Sports





-734 -1012


1534 Johnson Serv





-614 -1118


355 Nichols






49258 Compass Gp



478 Coral Prod


875 Dee Valley



- 14 -512 - 34



32534 85


Vodafone Gp



Nonlife Insurance Index 1592.16 ▲ 8.18 1753 1238 Admiral Grp



Brit Insurance 1067


189038 126314 Marsh McL


14312 11434 RSA Insurance 13318xd +34

156412 984


- 12

+ 12




1834 Park Gp

37 xd

+ 14


76212 Rathbone





9712 Redrow





34118xd +18

Pharma & Biotechnology Index 8811.01 ▲ 8.17




Smiths News 84

+1 2



3614 1914 Speedy Hire 1127 709



Travis & P


Tech Hardware & Equip Index 763.95 ▲ 15.33 651

22838 ARM Hldgs



1934 BATM


+15 +18


-5 8

16014 10234 Spirent Coms 13738xd

290612 +1112

131812 1095



5312 31



Index 29194.78 ▲ 193.88 254912 1959 Br Am Tob


2069 1753 Imperial Tob


Travel & Leisure




49258 Compass Gp 555



Real Estate



1435 982




Holidaybreak 320


21278 Intl Cons Airlns 221

16234 12234 Ladbrokes


12878xd -118 9618

-3 4



Mitchells&Btlrs 30158



Punch Taverns 79

-538 +78

14818xd -134

31158 20814 Restaurant Gp 303 35314 28438 Big Yellow Gp 327 58512 41814 Brit Land


56012xd -63

40118 28012 Gt Portland


-1 4



-1 2

Land Secs

33114 25014 SEGRO


16034 Stagecoach


30378 190

TUI Travel



1887 1266 Whitbread






110712 875


Dee Valley

1975 1271 Autonomy




48414 National Grid 589

5912 3012 Emblaze




48278 Pennon Gp

36414 23014 Invensys



12612 85




14778 10134 Logica






22234 Sage

Support Services Index 4518.34 ▼ 3.23 2312 378

AEA Tech



-11 -7

1513 1086 Severn





Utd Utils

AIM Index 907.45 ▼ 0.10 1912 714




1514 558

Armour Gp


-3 8



19012 Cape

49314 2










Crimson Tide 112


36014 Berendsen





Dawson Intl











65538 30278 BP




63512 Capita



3512 1534 Johnson Serv 3278

-3 8

49314 366




54912 De La Rue


-1 2


3034 Man Brnze



2140 1085 Premier



27912 20214 Electrocmps







-1 2

229012 1554 Ryl D Shell B









Portmeirion P 50212






17312 55




24134 Hyder Cons



4014 1112 Scapa Gp









Cairn Energy



Oil Equipment & Services Index 26000.01 ▼ 0.48 1251 764



3614 5212

29634 18312 Interserve 540


33734 Menzies J











Young A



3534 Sportech




2412 Telme Gp



3234 UK Coal




Var 5Day

13318 xd


-3 4 +514

+18 +14

+1 +134 +112 -3

1 34



1688 Unilever




507 Utd Utils




Gwth & Inc




Income Plus








Jpan Spec Sits




Spec Sits




Sth East Asia





Euro Sel Opps








Pratical Inv























New Zealand



166.97 4.43


Index-Linked Acc




International Acc

-1025.39 1079.36


Pacific Acc




Property Bonds

-1988.90 2071.77







British Gilt & FI


Gilt & Fixed



Monthly Inc



268.60 3.06 3.50

209.60 3.30




European Smllr Cos A Sterling Bd Unit Tst UK Equity Inc A


- 53.99 -


56.41 4.10



UK Advantage Inc







331.57 1.10



Far East




Inc & Gwth








North Amer Acc









In order to give a greater range of Unit Trust information, covering a larger number of trusts, the list of funds changes each day as follows: UNIT TRUST MANAGERS DAYS PUBLISHED A to Com ................................................... Tuesday F to Inv....................................................Wednesday JP to Pru...................................................Thursday Roy to T .........................................................Friday

FUNDS High Consols

£90932 £582732

Low Funds



£741516 Cons 4% .................£7734 £4934 Cons 212% ................ £50



£69 Cnv 312%.................£7212 £10214 Cnv 9% 11 ............£10214




European Union




▼ 0.67%

1914 Speedy Hire

Redhall Gp

32318 15214 Northgate







62812 507

20778 77






1685 1154 Aggreko Ashtead Gp


Index 4587.28 ▼ 52.90 34618 26412 Centrica




26934 16518 Thomas Cook 16818xd +38

2919 2157 Daejan Hldgs 2650





Price Gross

Amer Spec Sits

Intercontl Htls 1259xd -11

15234 9434 Rank Gp

Index 1958.11


1485 1042 Go-Ahead Gp 1312xd



-3 4


49138 37614 Greene King





Index 4592.27 ▼ 36.24

11718 8978 Marston’s -1



3153 2037 Carnival

Cancel Fund


10012 7134 Psion




2261 1223 Wolseley


3385 2772 AstraZeneca





32412 easyJet


11434 RSA Insurance

3 78













-34 -1414






41258 31938 FirstGroup


26512 PZ Cussons


13812 8414 Rentokil

13914 8438 Enterprise Inns 8618

Index 722.66 ▲ 0.11

Var 5Day

Var 5Day


Index 4023.19 ▼ 60.39

down 8.04



Mobile Telecoms

1493 99112 Tullow Oil

Index 4315.22 ▼ 25.74

1210 61212 Burberry Gp

30834 20838 Prem Farnell

49612 32412 easyJet

Software & Comp Servs

Index 8854.03 ▼ 4.57

Standard Life 21414xd +14

JD Sports




Oil & Gas Producers


96412 650

5912 3234 UK Coal

Index 4534.92 ▲ 25.77


23718 Inchcape


Life Insurance

Brown (N) Gp 26034

34814 Halfords

4712 2812 Rio Tinto

1092 728

31114 221 53



2025 1344 Spirax Srco





Weir Gp

2616 168412 BHP Billiton





6655 4425 Randgold Res 5225





38634 18314 Fenner






1634 761

2113 1355 Lonmin



3273xd -1112



MS Intl

3437 2254 Anglo Amer



17712 115

Index 27250.97 ▼ 136.89






85312 567



1671 965

34618 18212 Bodycote

4312 Molins


1682 76312 Fresnillo

Index 7127.01 ▼ 79.88


Index 20211.53 ▲ 144.54




To assist in the analysis of the market two figures are given for each sector. Firstly an index (set at 100 on January 1 1992) to give a comparison in the performance of various market sectors. Secondly an indication of the percentage change in the price of all the securities within a sector since the previous close.




Index 2579.60 ▲ 12.75

Index 1597.70 ▼ 3.59




3116.63 ▼ 0.18%

Personal Goods


Industrial Engineering






66012 53012 Edin USTrkTst 64912




Index 6060.97 ▼ 21.40

22712 17118 DunedinIncGth 22312

Coral Prod




2214 Taylor Wimpey 4014

1059 578


1258 478

15178 9712 Redrow 44

+312 +6

36738 Cooksn Gp

3655 3015 Reckitt Benck 3268xd -22

General Retailers




London Stk Ex 861

1429 1008 Smiths Gp

Index 3015.11 ▲ 1.35





1305 1010 Scot&Sthrn



81012xd -19

Index 3290.64 ▼ 9.94

44858 28412 Intl Power

Br Assets

Close Bros


1033 72812 Provident




57012 34158 ICAP


Index 7952.89 ▼ 44.24 42018 32614 Drax Gp

25178 3i

88812 664

35714 22934 Balfour Beatty 334

190912 102334 CRH

6012 STV Group



15958 5634 Elementis

Construction & Materials

FT ALL-SHARE down 5.52



Aga Rngmstr 125

13734 70


59012 46058 Reed Elsevier 543 154

Index 6382.26 ▼ 50.39 138

60812 36758 Mondi


17018 4534 Trinity Mirror



1149 864

Index 6457.43 ▼ 59.24 -18


Share price (pence)

Oct 5, 2010

Forestry & Paper




Index 3960.76 ▼ 6.97

58912 +1812

5847.41 ▲ 0.03%

Those securities which have increased in value since the previous close are shown in bold type.

Premier Foods 3014

59912 40918 Tate Lyle



Mar 28 - Apr 1



6007.06 ▼ 0.16%

s............ dealing suspended xd.............price ex-dividend xs ......... price ex-scrip issue xr ........ price ex-rights issue xc ..... ex-capital distribution xa................................ ex-all £......price value in £ sterling



AB Foods

Index 7038.78 ▼ 6.24 Croda



68212 47712 Carrs Mill


1718 901




Food Producers

1959 1525 Stan Chart

20-Day Moving Average

60 +118


FT-SE 100 INDEX down 9.92



31278 Sainsbury




Index 4584.74 ▼ 23.90


Closing Indices



Food & Drug Retailers


Index 4719.58 ▼ 4.23



5114 Cble&W Wwd 5112


38318 25538 Barclays



6512 41

Keep track of all the major share moves of the day with our live FTSE ticker at


6334 4438 Cble&W Com 4558 93

Index 4895.91 ▲ 7.01 23718 10914 GKN

19118 10978 BT Gp






£50 Tr 212% .................. £50916

£1171516 £11014 Tr 9% 12.............. £110516 £10738 £1032132 Tr 5% 12............. £1032132


£121516 £1151316 Tr 8% 13............. £1151316


£114332 £109532 Tr 5% 14.............. £109516









£320116 £301332 Tr 212% IL 16 ...... £3173132






















new lira




United States





£105732 Tr 734% 12-15........£10614

£142316 £1322132 Tr 834% 17 ........... £133532 £147132

-1116 - 38

£13358 Tr 8% 21............. £1351932


£6712 War Ln 312%.......... £70932




Last night, the pound was worth: $1.6280 (up 0.0154)........... 1.1438 euros (up 0.0099)........... 129.30 yen (down 0.12) ...........Its trade weighted index was 80.20 (up 0.80) Metals in $ per troy ounce: Gold 1433.50 (down 2)..........................Silver 38.08 (down 0.38) ......................... Platinum1787 (up 6) ......................... UK base lending rate 0.5%


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

LDP business London market LONDON’S blue-chip share index struggled to make headway yesterday as a Chinese rate hike and fresh European economic woes hit investor sentiment. World markets saw subdued trading after China moved to increase interest rates for the fourth time since October to calm inflation, while Moody’s downgraded Portugal’s debt rating for the second time in less than a month. The FTSE 100 Index closed 9.9 points lower at 6007.1, with the Portuguese concerns putting banks under pressure. Figures for the UK services sector were also in the spotlight after activity grew at its fastest pace in more than a year in March, reigniting concerns of an imminent interest rate hike. The data saw the pound strengthen across the board, with the Markit/ CIPS survey from the services sector showing activity surge to a 13-month high in March. Sterling rose to $1.63 and 1.14 euros. There was service sector news in the US as well, where figures showed lower-than-expected growth last month. Oil prices hit fresh alltime highs in sterling terms, but benchmark crude eased back after the Chinese rate decision led to demand fears. Notable risers included Argos and Homebase owner Home Retail Group in the FTSE 250, as it lifted on takeover speculation. The biggest Footsie risers were Vedanta Resources, up 106p to 2518p, Resolution, ahead 9.4p to 303.8p, Icap, up 15p to 541.5p and Arm, up 15p, to 588.5p. The biggest Footsie fallers were Invensys, off 7.8p to 344p, ITV, down 1.8p to 78.1p, IMI, off 21p to 1038p and Aggreko, down 33p, to 1645p.



market comment

Historycan teachan important lessonabout risingprices

AT ITS root, the minimum goal of most investors (as opposed to speculators or traders) is not to avoid losses, but to preserve purchasing power over the long term. For much of the past 30 years, this has not been too challenging, since a declining inflation rate and reasonable interest rates on short-term deposits have meant that the task has equated to that of preserving capital in absolute terms. This is no longer the case. Many commentators are now suggesting that the path of inflation may be upwards for some time to come, while, at the same time, interest rates on bank deposits are at record lows. Investors, therefore, are increasingly on the hunt for alternative “insurance policies” against the erosion of purchasing power that would result. For some clues as to what to do, let us time travel back to the 1970s, the last episode when inflation was rampant. Looking at the key asset classes, during the 10-year period from 1970 to 1980, according to data taken from the Barclays Equity Gilt Study and rounding to the nearest whole number, in a period when inflation compounded at just over 13%, shares delivered a nominal compound annual total return of 10%, cash 9% and bonds 8%. Putting it simply, it looks as if there is no hiding place, with equities the best of a bad lot. However, a more detailed inspection of the period reveals deeper lessons to be drawn from the historical context. Specifically, looking at the second

half of the decade, inflation was actually higher at 15%; however, equities returned an impressive 36%, cash only 10% and bonds 18%. Although this was an unusual period (1974 was the UK’s 1929 for shares) the important point to grasp is that the damage to equities was done early in the decade, when the problem was one of “stagflation” – an inflationary shock that also destroyed demand and profits. When growth resumed, equities delivered much improved returns and were, in fact, a good “insurance policy” against the ravages of inflation. Cash, on the other hand, saw a sustained erosion in value throughout the period, and bonds were uncertain friends. Clearly, we must be careful of drawing too many conclusions from a single example, particularly such an extraordinary one. Nevertheless, unless there is another stagflationary episode, there are good reasons to believe that equities will again provide good protection against any increase in inflation in the upcoming decade.

British shoppers will continue to face high inflation, much of it imported from China and elsewhere Picture: GARETH FULLER Why is this? It is because the source of the inflation will likely be demand growth in export-driven emerging economies (principally China), transmitted into the developed world through raw material prices. Since Chinese consumers are now also feeling the pressure of rising prices, the consequence is likely to be a more accommodating exchange rate policy, which will moderate local inflationary pressures but not those of China’s trading partners in the developed world.

Large blue-chip international companies have both exposure to the growth offered in these emerging markets and the ability to protect their margins in the developed world through efficient purchasing and pass-through mechanisms. We are, therefore, buyers of shares in these companies, happy that they will contribute to our mission to preserve purchasing power over the intermediate term. John Haynes, Head of Research, Rensburg Sheppards

For twice-daily FTSE updates from Rensburg Sheppards, log on to

business diary Thursday, April 7 JellyLiverpool is for people to get together to work in a different environment to their usual one, whether it be freelancers, homeworkers or just people who want a change of scenery. You can visit for the day or just drop

in for an hour. It is at Parr St Studio 2 from 9am to 5pm. For details, see Friday, April 8 The latest in Liverpool Chamber of Commerce’s Sixty Really Useful Minutes seminars will examine “the

naked truth of marketing 2011”. Quay Marketing’s Elizabeth Wheeler will highlight proven strategies to raise market awareness and increase sales which don't need to break the bank. It is free for Liverpool Chamber members and £5 for non-members. It starts at 9am. See to book.

Monday, April 11 As part of the European Union Sustainable Energy Week St Helens Chamber, in conjunction with Envirolink and Enworks are hosting a free Green Merseyside event for businesses who want to learn more about how energy efficiency and the lowcarbon economy can benefit their business.

See for more details. Wednesday, April 13 Barclays is holding a Boosting Business Online seminar at Liverpool Football Club to help the growing number of firms looking to market their way out of the downturn. International digital expert Josh Spear and Matt Brittin, MD of

Google's UK and Ireland Operations, will be joined by local digitalsavvy entrepreneurs to provide advice and support. To register or for more information, visit boostingbusiness Thursday, April 14 A one-day conference at Haydock Park racecourse is being held to explain how companies of all sizes and sectors

can transform their business using Lean principles. Lean is used to reduce waste, deliver operational excellence and improve efficiency. The event, which runs from 9.30-4.00pm, is organised by north of England Excellence. For further details, see or email events@


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

LDP business trading gossip ■

CONGRATULATIONS to Merseyside law firm Kirwans, who are Trading Gossip’s killjoys of the week. They have pointed out that millions of office workers taking part in Grand National sweepstakes this week could be at risk of breaking the law, falling foul of the Gambling Act 2005. James Corlett, a commercial solicitor with the firm, said: “Most staff will be allocated horses purely by chance. This is likely, however, to fall into the definition of a

lottery under the Gambling Act. “It is a criminal offence to promote a lottery unless the lottery is exempted. Promotion could be anything from advertising to selling tickets.” Rest assured, James, should anyone in the office here come around with a National sweep, Trading Gossip will be calling the police . . . if we don’t win.

AS YOU may have read earlier in LDP Business, Jaf Siddiqi, co-owner of Liverpool eaterie, Viva Brazil, clocks up a staggering 90 hours of work per week. Jaf, above, also told us that during the first seven weeks of opening, he spoke to every single customer. Time to take a break, old son.

LDP CREATIVE FOR the latest news from the creative sector

www. ldpcreative.



the back page

Organiser on course to serve up ace events

working day

Vicky Collins, 35, is the director of Wirral-based events company, White Events. She lives in West Derby, Liverpool. This is her working day 8am: I head to the office but start the morning with a run around West Kirby Marina, as it helps to wake me up and keep me focused for the day ahead. I like to get out and exercise on a daily basis if time and weather permits. 9am: Having had a quick orange juice and a bowl of cereal at my desk, it’s time to check my emails. There is a lot going on at the moment because, as well as delivering events for my clients, I am also running my own tennis event, The Classique. As I have so many things on my todo list, it can take a while to read through my in-box and reply to all my emails. 11am: I have just come off the phone with Aintree Racecourse. For the last few years, I have organised the Matalan Style Contest at The John Smith’s Grand National – it is fever pitch making sure that everything is finalised. 1pm: Usually, I like to go out and get a sandwich for lunch, but as I’m really busy selling tables for The Classique, I make myself a quick soup and hit the phones. We have recently signed Mark Philippoussis, so I’m really keen to let as many people know as possible. 2pm: Before setting off for my afternoon meetings, there is just time for me to make a quick phone call to my designer, Mark McKellier, of &Mark. He is putting together the newsletter for The Classique, and needs information from me to make sure that it is aimed at professionals in the North West, who make up my target market. With a few tweaks here and there, it is almost ready to go out. 3pm: For several months now, I have been working with Mark Bennett, the chef at Mottram Hall, where The Classique is being held, to make sure that the menu is exactly right for each of the three days of the tournament. Today is sadly the final tasting – it’s been so much fun pulling the menu together and particularly difficult to narrow down six delicious desserts to just three. 3.30pm: It’s time for my second meeting at Mottram Hall. The tennis courts

Vicky Collins, pictured with former tennis player Jeremy Bates, at the Classique launch take months of careful preparation to ensure that they look and feel as good as the ones at Wimbledon, so I need to touch base with Stuart Stenhouse, estate and golf course manager for the hotel. 5.30pm: I am back at the office to pick up my phone messages and check my emails. I also call Richard Krajicek, another player at the tournament, to help him make his travel arrangements.

6pm: Time to leave the office, so I quickly get changed before heading to Liverpool Cricket Club. I play tennis myself, which is one of the reasons I started my own tennis event. It is a great way to unwind after a long day at the office, and a lot of fun when you are playing with friends. 8pm: I’m back at home. I have a quick shower before getting some food with friends at the Quarter.

10pm: It’s time for bed. I have another packed day tomorrow. One of the things I love most about my job is that every day always turns out different, with lots of new challenges and interesting people to meet. Although I will doubtless be rushing around for the next few months in the run-up to this event, it is all part and parcel of the job and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

LDP Business 06.04.11  

Weekly business supplement from the Liverpool Daily Post

LDP Business 06.04.11  

Weekly business supplement from the Liverpool Daily Post