Business News (July 2018)

Ryanair faces more industrial action

Recent industrial action by Ryanair has affected flights between the United Kingdom and Ireland, following a vote by the Irish Airline Pilots Association to strike after disputes with senior management over pay and working conditions, including base transfers, promotion opportunities and annual leave.

During the autumn of 2017, Ryanair were faced with the decision to cancel hundreds of flights following issues with staff rotas, leaving the airline with insufficient numbers of crew. It was during this period that Ryanair staff made their feelings known about poor working conditions.

The relationship between Ryanair and the unions has frequently been hostile, but in December 2017 Ryanair took notice of the unions concern and agreed to act, however the unions feel that not enough has been done.
Minor industrial action took place in Germany and Portugal earlier this year. Now the unions have confirmed that they are preparing for a series of strikes that will affect more routes across Europe this summer.

Italian cabin crews have confirmed a 24 hour strike on 25th July, with further strikes planned in Spain, Portugal and Belgium the same day for 48 hours. Airline unions have confirmed that should Ryanair not make the required changes needed to their members current employment terms including the way in which staff wages are handled, then further action may be taken.

Housing market slows down

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) have reported that property markets are sluggish – houses are taking longer to sell in what has been called an “uninspiring” housing market.

Figures last year showed that it approximately took 16 weeks for a house to be sold, from the time it was listed onto the market, to eventually being sold. Recent figures released have seen a slow down in the market, with house sales now taking an average of 18 weeks to complete.

The RICS figures announced in June showed that house sales have successively declined over a period of 16 months. Surveys have also shown that the market has been quiet this year and house price rises have also slowed, pleasing many potential first time buyers.

The UK’s largest mortgage lender, the Halifax reported that house prices within the UK have risen at the slowest pace since March 2013, with an increase of approximately 1.8%. Simon Rubinsohn, Chief Economist at the RICS announced his concerns about the property market, and explained that it was going to be hard to provide incentives to increase activity within the housing market. Rubinsohn also mentioned that rental properties were similarly on the decline. The RICS believe that due to tax changes, such as Stamp Duty surcharges, targeting buy-to-let investors and second-home owners has led to landlords leaving the rental market.

Banks to be more accountable for system disruptions

Banks across the United Kingdom have been instructed by the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority to detail how they would respond and manage a technology failure or cyber-attack. The Bank of England and the FCA want to see senior management to be held accountable for any prolonged disruption to bank services, and for action to be taken if banks plans are inadequate.

April this year, saw TSB customers locked out of their online accounts for just over a month following an unsuccessful upgrade attempt. Both organisations have started consultations with customers, banks, insurers and other financial institutions surrounding future contingency plans, and the banking services plans to make their facilities resilient in times of a technological breakdown.

The FCA Chief Executive Andrew Bailey, and Bank of England’s, Jon Cunliffe agreed “Operational disruption can impact financial stability, threaten the viability of individual firms and financial market infrastructures, or cause harm to consumers.”

Regulators have warned that upgrades can lead to a disruption in service and customers need to be protected. It has been suggested that a period of 2 days is an acceptable limit to disruption.

Follow Iman on the Thames

We’re proud to announce that Iman Zamani, our friend from UK Power Network Services’ team will be attempting to row 8.5 miles on the Thames River on Tuesday, 24th July in order to raise money for the AHOY Centre, an inner city London based charity who work with disadvantaged children, young vulnerable people and those with disabilities. If you would like to help support them in their cause, please visit their fund raising page at: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/rowsilent.

To find out more about the AHOY Centre visit http://www.ahoy.org.uk.

Brexit on a wing and a prayer

Since Airbus’s threat to reduce its UK presence due to the disruption caused by Brexit, Theresa May has commented publically and promised to provide extra investment to the aerospace industry; it is also believed that she will announce the plans to secure millions of jobs within the aviation industry.

These promises have arisen since further criticism of her plans for Brexit have been released, leading to resignations from government members last week. It was during a speech on Monday at the Farnborough Airshow that she will be offered over £300 million of governments funds to aid projects, including research into environmental-friendly aircraft. Additional funding was also highlighted for the proposed new spaceports, one based in Cornwall the other in Scotland, as well as a further commitment into the development of a new high-tech fighter aircraft to eventually replace the Eurofighter Typhoon.

£60 billion is the estimated turnover for the UK aviation section with a workforce of nearly 1 million. Exports within the British aerospace industry were valued at £30 billion during 2017. The Aerospace, Defence & Security Industry (ADS) has highlighted issues regarding Britain leaving the EU, with fears of the sector being “paralysed” if Britain were to leave the EU customs union and single markets.

Last month, Tom Enders, Airbus’ UK boss stated that they could halt productions and leave the UK if no transition deal were to be made. Since this statement, Enders has welcomed Prime Minister May’s plans and feels that the government is moving in the right direction.

Ender’s comments coincided with a BBC interview with his arch-rival Dennis Muilenberg from Boeing. He feels that although disruption to the movement of goods was not welcomed, his companies plans would not alter following Brexit, and pledged to continue long term investment plans with Britain. “We are going to continue to grow in the UK…regardless of how Brexit plays out”.

During May’s announcement, she explained how the UK could stay a critical part of the European Aviation Safety Agency and how government and industry will work closely together at the forefront of aviation, making the most of future investments and opportunities in the industry.

Although ADS have saluted the plans set out by the government, they have insisted that there are still complex and important issues that have yet to be resolved. Paul Everitt, the Chief Executive of ADS believes that May’s remarks could help build confidence and encouragement surrounding investments, and that she has made a strong statement of intent. “The international political, military and business leaders visiting Farnborough will be reassured by last week’s Brexit White Paper and are keen to hear more about the UK’s post-Brexit ambitions.”

Prime bargains questioned

Shoppers waiting for Amazon Prime Day deals have been warned that the bargains on sale could end up being not the bargain they had hoped for. Consumer services and expert advice service Which? have reported that although consumers can make great savings, goods are seasonal, and prices will fall at different times of the year.

The Amazon Prime Day deals are offered to subscribers of the Prime shopping service. Time limits apply on most goods offered, and shoppers are advised of limited supplies in stock. The sale lasts for 36 hours and is offered across the globe. It is aimed largely at Prime subscribers across many continents and starts at midday GMT.

Which? have warned consumers that many of the goods offered on sale could be on offer at cheaper prices outside of the sale period. They have also said that consumers get caught in the hype of the sale, thinking that they’re going to get a bargain. They have advised buyers to do their research in order to ensure that they will be getting the deal that they anticipate rather than being caught out.

Fairer Finance founder, James Daley is just one in a consumer group who has posed the question as to whether targeted persistent sales messages sent direct to mobile phones should continue to be allowed. He said “There’s so much data. Retailers can work out so much about us”…”It turns into a bombardment of high-pressure sales messages that can lead people to make the wrong decisions. It’s time for us to have a debate on whether more boundaries need to be drawn.”

The marketing budget to launch Amazon Prime Day is phenomenal, using celebrities and pop stars like Take That and Ariane Grande in Amazon’s advertising campaign. British newspapers as well as websites have also assisted Amazon, allowing direct online links to their site, with each sale earning them commission.

Look for the bear necessities

The Build-A-Bear Workshop promotion to “pay your age”, turned out to be a shopper’s nightmare earlier this month. The promotion led to long mind-numbing queues and chaotic scenes with police being called out, leading the company to end the promotion early.

If you’ve not heard of the brand, Build-A-Bear was established in the US in 1997, and stores offer children the opportunity to design, stuff and dress their own teddy bear. Sounds and scents can also be added at an extra cost. Bears cost in the region of £12 to £27, and limited editions could cost the consumer over £50. Accessories and clothing for the bears range from £4.50 to £15.

The Build-A-Bear promotion offered UK and US customers the opportunity to purchase any bear in store (usually retailing up to £52 in the UK), with the age of their own children setting the price. Hindsight is a great thing, and although the idea of the promotion seemed to be a good idea, the firm had poorly executed the deal. Scenes right across the country showed shoppers with their children queuing for hours to get in on the deal.

Consumer experts have commented that the firm should have learnt from previous mistakes with similar promotions. Previous promotions that have seen the same chaotic outcomes include Nutella chocolate spread, free flights offer with a vacuum cleaners and fights in fast food restaurants in order to obtain a complimentary doll.

The long queues that were witnessed at shopping centres across the nation led to many of the Build-A-Bear stores closing early and shoppers being turned away. In most cases, shoppers had been stood in their respective queues for hours. Children had also become distressed from waiting in the soaring heat.

A member of the US Build-A-Bear Workshop made a statement. “Based on the information available to us before the day began, we could not have predicted this reaction to our Pay Your Age Day event.” Marketing Director at the Chartered Institute of Marketing described the event as an “ill thought-out and unprofessional promotional execution that has risked their brand reputation and the potential to bring the wider marketing sector into disrepute.”

Despite this, the Build-A-Bear Workshops reputation seemingly could still be revived due to the retailer’s response with the disappointment of many customers. Staff showed empathy within the stores and handed vouchers to those customers who were unable to make it into store. The vouchers can be used up until the end of August.

Starjammer Business has been a Busy Bee

And finally, The Starjammer Group has some news of its own to put in the bulletin yet again. Starjammer Business is to be divided into two separate sub-companies, following its success in dealing with the contractor and consultancy sector in particular.

The group itself, will take over this side of the business, while the small business and virtual secretarial side of the business will be a separate entity by 1st September. Our existing customers can look forward to lots of exciting changes that will compliment the services already available to them, as we expand our services further afield. More news on this in August’s Business News bulletin.

And save the date in your diaries: Friday, 27th July 2018. Next week, the Starjammer Bulletin among other things will be undergoing something of a makeover. Exciting times ahead – we look forward to telling you all about it.

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Business News (June 2018)

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The Starjammer Bulletin is the official newsletter for The Starjammer Group, its customers, clients, affiliates and subscribers. With over ten years under our belt, we are proud of our commitment to our clients, and of our assurance that we provide them with the best level of service and help that they have come to know and respect us for. The Starjammer Group is proud of its track record to date, and strives to improve its products, services and standing on all fronts. Our mantra has always been '21st century thinking'. Why? Simple: we love doing what we do, enjoy our work, and work on the principle that our customers, clients and associates should share in the fun. Business shouldn't be a chore: we spend on average 8 hours per working day in the office, or factory, behind a desk, stall or wheel. We employ people who are not only competent and good at their job, but people who have that something; that little spark that grabs our attention. It can't be defined, and it's not always obvious. Nethertheless, we have been lucky to attract and keep the right people. Something we are proud of.