Tesco: Every little is helping

  • 26 June 2015
  • From the section Business
Tesco store

As retail analyst Steve Dresser puts it, running a supermarket is not the most complicated business in the world.

"Putting staff back in stores, opening enough checkouts, food on the shelves and lowering prices. Not rocket science is it?" he said, following the announcement that Tesco is losing sales at a slightly slower rate than it was three months ago.

To understand why Tesco is slowly turning the corner it is worth looking at the rather mundane world of the humble ham sandwich.

Tesco now offers 30% fewer sandwich lines after it realised that the wide range it was selling meant that customers often could not buy their favourite, simple sandwich, like, say, one with ham in it. So, it reduced the range and increased the supply of the top sellers. Customers were happier that they could buy what they wanted and the number of transactions increased.

It is the same across the business, with ranges often reduced by 20% to simplify the Tesco "offer" made to customers.

Read full article Tesco: Every little is helping

All bets off for £38bn rail plan

  • 25 June 2015
  • From the section Business

It was launched with much fanfare in April last year - a £38bn plan to bring Britain's railways kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.

The "largest modernisation of the railways since Victorian times" was at the heart of the government's long term economic plan.

Read full article All bets off for £38bn rail plan

RBS: An IT problem it really doesn’t need

  • 17 June 2015
  • From the section Business
RBS

The word seems almost benign - a "glitch" affecting computer systems at the Royal Bank of Scotland.

But "glitch", when it involves payments to individuals and businesses likely to total many millions of pounds, does not do the issue justice.

Read full article RBS: An IT problem it really doesn’t need

Airport expansion plan faces court room battle

  • 15 June 2015
  • From the section Business
Aircraft over Heathrow

At a conference in November, Willie Walsh, the chief executive of International Airlines Group which owns British Airways, said that he did not hold out much hope that a new runway would ever be built in south-east England.

"Maybe I am cynical, but I remain totally convinced that nothing will actually happen," he said.

Read full article Airport expansion plan faces court room battle

Osborne's former right hand man moves to BlackRock

  • 11 June 2015
  • From the section Business
BlackRock sign

A very American-sounding "internal communication" has this morning landed in the in-boxes of employees of one of the world's largest fund managers, BlackRock.

It announces that one Rupert Harrison - the former chief of staff to the chancellor - is joining the business, as chief macro-strategist for multi-asset funds that invest in equities, bonds and cash.

Read full article Osborne's former right hand man moves to BlackRock

Why George Osborne is itching to sell RBS

  • 10 June 2015
  • From the section Business
RBS logo

In 2010, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer was confident that in the first five years of government he would be able to trumpet what he considered a notable achievement - the sale back to the public markets of the state's stakes in both Lloyds Banking Group and The Royal Bank of Scotland.

It proved far harder than anyone in the Treasury thought at the time.

Read full article Why George Osborne is itching to sell RBS

Can George Osborne persuade HSBC to stay in the UK?

HSBC's headquarters in Hong Kong
HSBC's headquarters in Hong Kong

HSBC's announcement on Tuesday that it is renaming its UK retail bank will do nothing to dampen speculation that it is plotting a sale of the British business.

And planning to move its global headquarters to Hong Kong.

Read full article Can George Osborne persuade HSBC to stay in the UK?

Thomas Cook chief executive apologises to family over Corfu tragedy

Thomas Cook shop

I have just spoken to the chief executive of Thomas Cook who has told me he is "deeply sorry" for the tragedy in Corfu which saw the deaths of two children aged seven and six.

After days of controversy when the company seemed unable to find its human side under layers of corporate speak and legal defences, Peter Fankhauser has now apologised to the family.

Read full article Thomas Cook chief executive apologises to family over Corfu tragedy

Steve Hilton: Pay bankers the same as civil servants

He was often lightly teased for his habit of wandering around 10 Downing Street in socks, jeans and a t-shirt, but Steve Hilton was the man widely credited with bringing plenty of fresh air to the stuffy world of Whitehall.

Studiously anti-establishment, he left the job of Prime Minister's director of strategy in 2012 and now works in suitably laid back California.

Read full article Steve Hilton: Pay bankers the same as civil servants

Many businesses do not fear leaving the EU

EU and UK flags

A large part of the vitally important debate about Britain's future in or out of the European Union will be based around a simple question which raises a whole host of complicated answers.

What would "out" look like?

Read full article Many businesses do not fear leaving the EU