February 2011 Archives
There's been a clutch of news and speculation over the last week about JLR's plans for expansion both geographically and in terms of speeding up the development of a new range of cars.
Speculation has been mounting that the firm is in talks with the Chinese firm Great Wall Motors about a potential Chinese joint venture which would see JLR assembling cars in China for the first time.
Key rivals like BMW and Audi are already assembling in China, and Audi in particular have been reaping huge returns after pursuing a long term strategy of getting into the Chinese market.
Midlands Productive Heritage and Future
"So many exciting things can be made here in the Midlands and Stoke is the place to make quality, but there's been a mass blindness about making things in England," says Emma Bridgewater speaking in the hospitable surroundings of her Factory Shop in Hanley, Stoke on Trent. We're mulling over the demise of so many of our great brands born out of the West Midlands productive design heritage.
"It's not necessary, we can do it. It's sad to see so much of our manufacturing skills and heritage being lost. I like to work within a recognisable tradition. We have so much infrastructure - museums, art schools, all with the intention of making things, but somehow it doesn't seem to happen.
Last year the Mega-Banks - freshly bailed out by you and me - signed a tax code which demanded that they comply with the "spirit and the letter" of the law.
A year on and people are asking whether the banks are indeed doing just that after it became clear that Barclays paid a paltry Â£113 million in corporation tax in 2009, on a whopping pre-profit of Â£11.6 billion.
That works out at an effective corporation tax rate of around 1%. The rate of corporation tax in the UK is 28%.
"If an employee comes to you with an idea for a new product with no obvious market; it's new to the firm, new to the world and may not be even be possible to make, what would your reaction be?" asked Professor Mike Beverland at the Birmingham Institute of Art & Design at Birmingham City University recently, speaking at the first of the 2011 series of Design Built-In Visiting Lectures.
Many, if not most businesses wouldn't touch these ideas with a barge pole. For marketers, working to the credo, 'the customer is always right', innovations tend to become incremental; radical innovation is risky and rare.
I have been living France for the last eight weeks and thanks to social media no-one seems to have noticed.
A few of the favoured hostelries around Brindleyplace are down on their profits but largely nobody seems to care about my physical absence.
Last week, our elected representatives - or rather those not themselves in prison or on trial for expenses fraud - blew a metaphorical raspberry in the general direction of the European Court of Human Rights regarding the vexed question as to whether or not convicted prisoners residing at Her Majesty's pleasure should be able to vote. The issue is certainly divisive, and the recent comments from the Court's President comparing the UK to the Greek military dictators of the late 1960s probably hasn't helped.
Much of the debate seems to be polarised along strongly-held ideological lines. Those to the right of the political centre consider enfranchising convicted prisoners to be an extreme and dangerous idea which attaches more importance to criminals than it does to their victims. The Prime Minister has said that even having to contemplate giving the vote to prisoners makes him physically ill.
British based power systems giant Rolls Royce (RR) today reported better-than-expected earnings for 2010, as predicted in yesterday's blog here at the Birmingham Post, with strong demand from emerging economies offsetting a more modest recovery in its traditional markets.
According to RR, the growing middle class in several emerging economies is driving demand growth for travel and energy at twice the growth rate of such countries' GDP.
And pretax profit beat analysts' expectations, climbing 4% to Â£955 million, up from Â£915 million. Revenue rose by 6% to Â£11.08 billion, up from Â£10.41 billion. RR upped its final dividend by 6.7% to 9.6p, which together with the 6.4p already paid makes a total dividend of 16p, up from 15p a year earlier.
With West Midland-filmed TOAST tickling tastebuds at the Berlin Film Festival, Roger Shannon looks at how a Balsall Heath balti played a big role in the evolution of UK regional film funding.
The bankers have done it again. They have woven another magical spell over yet another chancellor and have got away with it.
It took ages to get Project Merlin together and it wasn't worth waiting for. This project was designed to get banks lending to business.
It has emerged instead today as a worthless piece of paper. It promises to do not a lot and is subject to the usual cancellation of obligations small print.
And Chancellor Osborne's role in this drama, like Darling before him? Full of sound and fury: signifying nothing
Beware of bankers bearing promises.
Having read the agreements emerging from Project Merlin, there is nothing in it to guarantee anything. No evidence of consequences. If they do not lend, what will happen? Er....nothing.
Power systems company and British technological powerhouse Rolls-Royce (RR) will give more details of the financial impact of dealing with the fallout of last year's Trent 900 engine explosion when it reports full-year results tomorrow.
There's anticipation that the much admired outgoing Chief Exec, Sir John Rose, will give guidance for the year ahead relating to provisions for compensation to Qantas after the grounding of A380s in late 2010.
RR has said that the compensation level could be as high as Â£50 million, but some think this figure could go higher.