Johnston Press runs out of paper

Scotsman front pages

Plunging Johnston Press into administration may be one of the better outcomes for the papers and websites the company has controlled - many of them important to communities from Fraserburgh to Eastbourne.

The bondholders have been taking nearly £20m a year out of the business annually at a eye-watering interest rate of more than 8% on the £220m debt.

To pay that and reduce the debt pile, the titles have taken savage cuts to costs, with little left to invest in the transition to digital news publishing. It has hugely hobbled one of Britain's largest news publishers at a time it needed to invest heavily in change.

Management had made progress in getting the debt down. Having splurged on local titles in the pre-crash years of cheap credit, the debt peaked at nearly £800m.

In 2005 alone, Johnston spent around £500m on buying newspapers, including £160m for The Scotsman stable of titles in Edinburgh.

Read full article Johnston Press runs out of paper

Michelin in Dundee: Wheel of misfortune

tyre Image copyright Getty Images

If you've needed new tyres recently, you probably found that they had to be ordered and trucked from a distant warehouse.

It used to be that you could go into a garage, you might get a choice of three manufacturers, and there and then, the mechanics could haul any of the three off a storage rail.

Read full article Michelin in Dundee: Wheel of misfortune

Choppered: Downdraft for the offshore helicopter business

Helicopter on platform Image copyright Getty Images

The revival of the oil industry has been come down the pipeline in sticky lumps, with the offshore sector taking longer than the onshore frackers to pick up the pace.

That shouldn't surprise. With the price per barrel up from the $30 basement to the mid-$70 range, the drilling and fracking of short-run wells in the back of America's beyond can be fired up with a small amount of robust drilling kit, on the back of a couple of trucks.

Read full article Choppered: Downdraft for the offshore helicopter business

Choppered: Downdraft for the offshore helicopter business

Helicopter on platform Image copyright Getty Images

The revival of the oil industry has been come down the pipeline in sticky lumps, with the offshore sector taking longer than the onshore frackers to pick up the pace.

That shouldn't surprise. With the price per barrel up from the $30 basement to the mid-$70 range, the drilling and fracking of short-run wells in the back of America's beyond can be fired up with a small amount of robust drilling kit, on the back of a couple of trucks.

Read full article Choppered: Downdraft for the offshore helicopter business

Budget 2018: and now for Holyrood

Philip Hammond Image copyright AFP

That Budget from Philip Hammond may leave you wondering what all that austerity fuss was about. Turning the deficit into a surplus was a sacred cause when George Osborne was Chancellor, and nothing would be allowed to stand in its way.

Well, OK, it didn't work out as planned. Cutting public spending may well have dampened economic growth, so the targets kept being moved.

Read full article Budget 2018: and now for Holyrood

RBS: the cost of crisis and lurking legacy

Image copyright PA

The most striking feature of the latest set of figures from Royal Bank of Scotland is how ordinary they are. It's almost as if this is a normal bank, at long last.

Analysts may take issue with the size of third quarter profit and interest rate margins heading in the wrong direction, but £442m looks OK to us, the main shareholder, after all that it's put us through. At least the colour of ink is not red.

Read full article RBS: the cost of crisis and lurking legacy

The unsustainable NHS: What would you do?

Nurse with patient Image copyright Getty Images

NHS Scotland is on an "unsustainable" financial path: overspending, more loans from the Scottish government, and ever rising costs at more than the main rate of inflation.

"Further and faster change is essential," says the Auditor General. She's said similar things before.

Read full article The unsustainable NHS: What would you do?

Meet the New Boss

Business meeting Image copyright Getty Images

Do workers get the bosses they deserve? Are bosses up to the jobs they have? Do they need more training to get the best out of their workforce?

Are the right people selected for leadership, or promoted for doing their previous job well? Are they selected perhaps for resembling or imitating the bosses doing the promoting, thus cementing in bad habits and old thinking?

Read full article Meet the New Boss

Press feels the heat

The Scotsman newspaper Image copyright Newscast
Image caption Johnston Press, which publishes the Scotsman, is seeking buyers amid the decline of newspapers

Want to buy a newspaper? The not-very-funny joke is that it may not cost you much more than £1.50. Indeed, a peppercorn quid is probably going to be enough if you're willing to put Johnston Press out of its financial misery.

For that, you get the 'i' compact newspaper, The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday, the Edinburgh Evening News, the Yorkshire Post and around 200 local titles.

Read full article Press feels the heat

Lubricating the economy

Diesel hose and nozzle Image copyright Getty Images

I filled up my first £80 tank of diesel the other day. I'm not saying this in expectation of either applause or sympathy. In part, it reflects the fact that I'd run unusually close to emptying the tank.

It's also because prices have been rising, both because the raw material has seen a boost, and as the pound's strength, or lack of it, against the dollar.

Read full article Lubricating the economy