The Money Lion | » business All the latest finance, business, money and legal news Fri, 01 Mar 2023 11:41:22 +0000 en hourly 1 The Money Lion | Can Interactive Technology Save Retailer Stores? Thu, 28 Feb 2023 09:37:08 +0000 Tim Chow Are high street retailers doomed? We’re only two months into the New Year and established businesses such as Jessops, HMV and Republic have been claimed victims of administration - will high streets become ghost towns?

The internet has had a profound effect on brick and mortar retailers. In fact, shoppers spent 12% more online in 2012 than the previous year whilst Britons are the biggest online shoppers in the developed world. But a retailer will always have the advantage of being able to purchase a product right there and then. It’s not about retailers competing with their own online stores; it’s about offering the customer something different.

So how do you convince people to ditch their mouse and keyboard for the high street? By immersing them in an experience their PC screen can’t offer. Technology is slowly entering the retail environment and it’s bound to become more prominent in the very near future.

I’ve picked several examples which showcase how the retail environment can become more interactive.

If all else fails, there’s nothing like discounts to get people through the doors. Store cards and coupons are things of the past - the future lies with augmented reality.

And even the simple Coke vending machines are getting interactive…

Do you think an interactive shopping experience can save retail stores? Tell me in the comments section below.


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The Money Lion | 2013 Global Economic Predictions – What The Experts Say Thu, 21 Feb 2023 17:00:09 +0000 Andrew Scott

Making predictions about the economy is notoriously difficult and a challenge that is best met by looking at all the sources – somewhere in the middle the truth might yet be glimpsed.

This post is a curation of what has been said online over the last couple of months with regards to the Economic outlook for 2013. Of all the predictions made this year 3 things stand out:

1. The Eurozone Crisis will not disappear, but it is less of a concern
2. American and China should continue to grow – even if it’s very modest growth
3. Investors should be looking to equities rather than bonds to increase yields

What Pensions Age said:

“The global economic environment will remain challenging and uncertain during 2013, but it will also offer opportunities for pension fund investors.” Pensions Age

Pensions Age where moderately upbeat about 2013, stating that 2012’s big storms of the Eurozone Crisis and the Chinese leadership transition will have died down considerable in 2013. They believe that low interest rates and anaemic growth will continue in 2013. They suggest “a strategy which favours higher quality stocks and is focused on enhancing yield through asset classes like high yield debt”.

What said:

“‘More of the same’ is my current theme.” Dominic Frisby

A rather sobering account of 2013 from suggests nothing much will change. His belief is that we should look at the bigger picture, and for him that’s a ‘zombie’ like western economy with little movement in any direction. His more specific predictions are no country will leave the EU, the UK will lose its AAA rating and the Bank of England will own 40% of UK government debt.

What said:

“Glimmers amid the gloom as risks start to fade.” David Smith

Over at David Smith gives his mixed opinion of the global economic outlook. Much like Pensions Age David thinks that the woes of the Eurozone crisis and US Fiscal Cliff are for the most part behind us, yet he says we may not be out of the woods yet and both these spectres may come back to haunt us.

What Russell Investments UK said:

“Ongoing volatility, possible recession in Europe likely will be countered by continuation of growth, albeit slow, in U.S. and Chinese markets” 2013 Annual Global Outlook

Russell Investments give a reasonably positive outlook for the year ahead. They think we have a reasonably volatile year ahead mainly due to the tug-of-war between austerity and reflationary monetary policy in the Eurozone, yet despite this investors should see signs of a global recovery, mainly due to a continuation of US and Chinese growth. Much like many other commentaries Russell see that the low yield on bonds will force investors a little up the risk curve towards equities.

What Money Observer said:

“Investors worried about the levels of debt in global economies, the lack of economic growth and the long-term costs of governments’ attempts to refloat their economies.” Heather Connon

Money Observer isn’t so sure that the Eurozone crisis is over citing that the southern countries are still on uncertain ground while the entire region is suffering lowered consumer demand due to austerity policies. The positives come in the form of global companies that are doing reasonably well and could benefit from a recovery in the US and a soft landing in China.

What the Telegraph said:

“Small but more sustained economic recovery in the latter part of 2013, which could mean another good year for equities. And investors already appear more confident, with more putting money in shares rather than bonds or cash.”

The Telegraph asked a lot of experts to make predictions about key aspects of the economy. On equities vs. bonds HSBC and others agreed that there would be a gradual slow recovery in 2013 and with such a low yield on government bonds the case for equities is strong. Again chat of the Eurozone brings in mixed opinions the worst may be over – maybe. Tech companies particularly those in the cloud and mobile computing arenas may be worth a punt in 2013 according to HSBC strategists. The outlook for housing and saving is still grim with the consensus being there isn’t much to be gained in either investment options.

This blog has been written on behalf of Russell Investments . The opinions expressed herein are not a statement of fact, are subject to change and, unless they relates to a specified investment, do not constitute the regulated activity of “advising on investments” for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. This material does not constitute an offer or invitation to anyone in any jurisdiction to invest in any Russell product or use any Russell services where such offer or invitation is not lawful, or in which the person making such offer or invitation is not qualified to do so, nor has it been prepared in connection with any such offer or invitation.


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The Money Lion | Ulster Bank to Close 20 Branches - UPDATED 17/1/13 Tue, 15 Jan 2024 08:00:50 +0000 Jamie Meikle In some more bad news for the banking industry on the Emerald Isle, Ulster Bank have announced they are to close around 20 (correction - the number is now 22) branches/sub-offices island wide.

Image created using a photo by "Images_of_Money" found on flickr


As the 3rd largest bank in Ireland, Ulster Bank currently operate 146 branches south of the border and 90 in Northern Ireland. The decision has come as part of the company’s recent review of their branch network. The Irish Bank Officials’ Association has indicated that the ROI and NI will see roughly half of the closures each.

In 2011, the bank was forced to write off £1bn in bad loans, mostly involving property. Last January it announced plans to shed 950 jobs over the course of 2012 - 350 in Northern Ireland and 600 in the Republic. However, the high profile IT problems experienced in the summer caused the redundancy plans to be delayed.

Ulster Bank did stress that they have no further plans for redundancies beyond the 950 announced last year.

No detail of the branch closures have been revealed yet. A spokesman for Ulster Bank explained:

“We continue to keep our branch network under review to ensure that we are operating in the correct locations for our customers,” said a statement from the bank.

“As part of this review we will be closing in the region of 20 branches and sub offices on the island of Ireland in 2013. We expect to be in a position to provide further details in the next few weeks and will communicate directly with our customers and employees at that time.”

Ulster Bank is likely very keen to see many customers begin using internet and mobile banking in the UK and Ireland.

In November the National Irish Bank closed all of its branches and rebranded to Danske Bank (the name of its Danish owners), switching entirely to servicing customers via post offices, internet banking and phone banking.

Over the course of 2012 several other major banks announced branch closures on the island. In July TSB Permanent announced it was planning to close 19 of its 92 branches with around 250 job losses. Allied Irish Banks has already closed 51 of its 267 branches with another 16 set to close over the coming months.

This all comes on top of a raft of closures of small banks which folded during the financial crisis.

It looks like many Irish customers will have to get used to the idea of either doing their banking at the post office or using phone or internet banking.

Are you planning to start doing your banking online or over the phone? If so feel free to let us know your feelings about it.


UPDATE 17/1/13 - Branches/sub-offices to be closed - 22 in total:

The Republic of Ireland closures:

Belturbet (Co Cavan), Castlepollard (Co Westmeath); Glenamaddy (Co Galway), Killeshandra (Co Cavan) and Kilnaleck (Co Cavan), together with the following sub-offices: Carrigallen (Co Cavan), Delvin (Co Westmeath), Kilcormac (Co Offaly), Kilkelly (Co Mayo), Rathangan (Co Kildare) and Swanlinbar (Co Cavan).

Northern Ireland closures:

Carryduff near Belfast, Dromore in Co. Tyrone, Harryville near Ballymena, Jordanstown near Belfast, Knock near Belfast, Longstone Street in Lisburn, and Shaftesbury Square in Belfast City; together with the following sub-offices: Ardglass in Co. Down, Moy in Co Armagh. Rosslea in Co. Fermanagh and Saintfield in Co Down.


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The Money Lion | Former RBS Banking Boss Joins Raddison Ranks Mon, 26 Nov 2023 14:25:41 +0000 Ben Cordell Peter Anscomb, the former head of hotel finance at RBS, has been hired as a senior corporate director by Raddison Blu’s Edwardian London.

Raddison Hotel - amsfrank

Raddison hotel (Image via Amsfrank)

The travel and hospitality specialist has been brought in to the hotel chain to aid with overseeing the financial management of the Manchester and London branches of the Raddison Blu Edwardian portfolio.

Raddison Blu Edwardian group own a total of 13 luxury hotels and properties central London, Heathrow, Guildford and Manchester, with their most recent acquisition being the derelict Theatre Royal in Manchester’s Peter Street.

The plans for the listed theatre look to become part of an extension to the Raddison hotel next to it. With Anscomb aiming to put the Edwardian’s quick reactions to local conditions due to its private ownership to good use, we can only expect to see more of these sort of deals coming together very soon.

How do you feel about Anscomb joining the Raddison Blu Edwardian team? What do you think this will mean for the Manchester and London branches? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


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The Money Lion | Black Friday And Cyber Monday Mon, 26 Nov 2023 10:10:27 +0000 Liam McClure  

It is the time of year when people in America go a little loopy with their shopping habits and see no problem with queuing overnight to make sure that they get the best deals possible heading into the festive period. Black Friday has already taken place and it looks like it was an interesting year for the super sales.

Black Friday line

Black Friday line (Photo credit: tshein)

Overall there were more shoppers taking to the streets and malls than last year. A report produced by ShopperTrak showed that foot traffic climbed by 3.5% when compared to last year to more than 307 million people. But overall sales from this year dropped by 1.8% to $11.2 billion. Many people feel that the longer opening hours and the fact that Black Friday is continuing to cut into Thanksgiving will be affecting the way in which people are shopping and how they view the entire Black Friday weekend.

As you may have seen the queues and general stampeding at Black Friday events are unlike anything else. This is perhaps why many people decide to skip the pushing and fighting of heading to malls and choose to do their shopping online. Online sales have soared with many companies releasing deals before Black Friday. Sales increases of around 17% on last year were reported for Thanksgiving and nearing 21% for Black Friday. It is believed that the volume of online traffic will fall back to regular pre-holiday levels. This highlights the shift over this holiday period that Black Friday deals are no longer just for stores and Cyber Monday deals are not just for the single Monday.

We will have to wait and see what the overall growth is for this years holiday period as although people are being given more hours to shop they don’t have more people to buy gifts for and they don’t have more money to spend on goods. It could be seen as a good sign for the economy as the consumers did spend money but it is not a direct representation of the economy as a whole.

Were you involved in the Black Friday sales? Do you think that the Black Friday sales are taking away from the ideals of Thanksgiving? Please leave any thoughts or comments in the comments section below.

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The Money Lion | One-in-ten UK high street shops lying empty Mon, 19 Nov 2023 13:07:51 +0000 Jamie Meikle In more gloomy news for high street retailers it’s been revealed that more than one in ten town centre shops are lying empty.

A shop holding a closing down sale

Image by "James Bowe" via flickr

The British Retail Consortium (BRC), which has been gathering data on empty shops in town centres since July 2011, announced that the latest vacancy rate of 11.3% was the highest they’ve seen.

There is rather significant variation throughout different regions of the UK. Northern Ireland is in the worst condition with 20% of its town centre shops empty, Wales came next with 15.1%. Greater London fared much better with only 7.6% sitting empty.

A large portion of the rise in vacancy has been attributed to the failure of a host of major retailers such as Comet, JJB Sports, Clinton Cards, Blacks Leisure, Game and Peacocks.

The depressing news comes hot on the heals figures showing that high street footfall fell significantly in the last quarter when compared with the same period last year. The figures showed a 3.9% drop during the August to October period.

It all seems to add up to worrying times for high street retailers who have been facing tough times with the recession and ever increasing competition from online retailers. Of course, the Christmas shopping period is now well underway and should give many retailers a very welcome respite from the doom and gloom of the latest figures.

What do you think can be done to help high street retailers? Leave a comment and let us know.


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The Money Lion | Starbucks avoids paying tax for three years Wed, 17 Oct 2023 13:29:02 +0000 Tim Chow One of, if not, the most loved franchised coffee shops operating in the UK has been heavily criticised in recent days. It has come to light that Starbucks have not paid any tax for the last three years; despite sales of £1.2 billion.


Image via Marcopako

That might sound inappropriate behaviour for such a large corporation, but Starbucks aren’t doing anything illegal.

Through a number of loopholes such as offshore licensing (read this special report by Reuters for more details) Starbucks are allowed to avoid paying tax. But does this make it okay?

Starbucks have reiterated it is not their job to create tax laws, but merely to follow them; and they do. But this has a massive knock on effect on local and British businesses up and down the country that have to compete everyday against the Goliath that is Starbucks.

Take for instance another major player in the coffeehouse market, British company Costa Coffee.

#Starbucks pays nothing and Costa £15 million in corporation tax. Think I will vote with my feet. #boycottstarbucks
Mark Stephens

The fear is with the advantage of paying no tax will lead to Starbucks dominating and eventually the market will become a monopoly. There aren’t many markets on the high street where you have a plethora of choices and everyone has a different place to go to, but coffee shops are one.

The loss in tax revenue from large corporations also has an effect on the British economy as a whole. When the country’s in recession, Britain could really use this tax to boost the economy. It makes me wonder, are there other companies using similar tactics to avoid paying tax?

There have been murmurs of a possible boycott by consumers until Starbucks do something to correct this. Whether this comes to fruition we’ll wait and see. Today, pressure continues to grow after a senior MP, Margaret Hodge, called for the HRMC to launch an inquiry into the matter by.

Here are just some of the reactions from Twitter.

Remember: the reason why we don’t have independently owned cafes on the highstreet is Starbucks. Now they don’t pay tax?! Beyond offensive
Mary Tracy

A new report has found that in the last 14 years Starbucks has paid 1% corporation tax, which in their terms is a ridiculously tall amount.

People talking about boycotting Starbucks over their tax should’ve boycotted them over their coffee long ago. It’s awful.
Rob Carr

Starbucks coffee farmers would need to work for 3 days before they could afford to buy a cup of their own coffee.
Injustice Facts

#Starbucks pays nothing and Costa £15 million in corporation tax. Think I will vote with my feet. #boycottstarbucks
Mark Stephens

Starbucks might need to re-think the design on their van doors!
Adrian Snood 

Is this another loophole the HMRC need to close? Will you be boycotting the coffee chain? Tell me what you think in the comments below.


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The Money Lion | Ethical Investment Week Mon, 15 Oct 2023 12:00:30 +0000 Liam McClure This week will see ethical investment look at ways people can invest their money in businesses and projects that are considered green finance.

There has been something of a boom surrounding ethical investment as people are becoming more aware of where their money is going and how it can have an impact on the environment around it.

Image by: rkimpeljr

There is a broad range of businesses and projects that you can invest in with the future of the planet in mind. Many people are looking into areas such as water management for ethical investment as there are growing concerns that by the year 2030 many areas around the world will be suffering from acute shortages as industry and population growth will push demand beyond supply.

There are other areas where ethical investors are looking to, including agriculture, which has had a lot of pressure put on it of late due to the unethical way in which many have made money by constricting the supply of food and raising prices.

One area of ethical investment that we think everyone should have a look into is co-operatives. These are generally investment opportunities that are going to help local communities. On top of helping out in the area that affects you most there is also the opportunity to make a decent return on your investment. Co-operatives allow people to invest in businesses or services that they want to help maintain in their community. There have been co-operatives set up to help a huge range of projects including renewable energy, post offices, pubs and local sporting teams.

They work by people buying shares, which is more like you are loaning the project money for a set period of time, you will then get your money back and hopefully there will be extra money assuming that the project has been a success.

Here at we hope that ethical investment week will help to raise the awareness of ethical investment opportunities and make people realise that there is an opportunity to make good investment decisions that will be profitable while also helping out the environment and looking to ensure that the future is being thought about.

Have you partaken in any ethical investments? Did they work out for you? Have you ever been involved in co-operative investment or do you know of any that you feel deserve a bit of recognition? Please let us know in the comments section below.

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The Money Lion | Manufacturing slump feeds financial woes Mon, 03 Sep 2023 13:44:10 +0000 Liam McClure  

Economic growth is what people are hoping for; the smallest sign that the economic woes that have been affecting the world  are starting to recede would make many jump for joy.

However, sadly this in not the case. This can be seen if you look at the manufacturing activity of countries and recent news has highlighted that this sector is still continuing to contract.

TAIZHOU, CHINA - NOVEMBER 01:   Labourers work...

TAIZHOU, CHINA - NOVEMBER 01: Labourers work at a shipbuilding plant on November 1, 2023 in Taizhou. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

Spain have had a rough few years with unemployment rocketing, the country is on the verge of bankruptcy, and their manufacturing sector is continuing to contract.

There have been improvements in exports but these have yet to move into actual growth. The most recent figures highlight the 16th month in a row that has seen a decline in figures, and with the government expecting further contraction of the economy as cuts to public spending begin to take hold, the future is looking decidedly bleak for Spanish manufacturing.

Spain is not alone. China, who have been experiencing growth for the past few years are also seeing their manufacturing sector contract.

Manufacturing is measured by Purchasing Managers’ Index or PMI; activity reading below 50 shows contraction and China’s most recent activity give a reading of 49.2, this is the lowest that it has been since November 2011. This contraction has been attributed to the slowdown in the domestic market and the financial climate facing many different markets around the world.

The general decline in manufacturing is the view for many different areas. Ireland’ s growth slumped from 53.9 to 50.9 between July and  August 2012, although this is technically still in growth it is a steep drop that will need to be looked at to ensure that this decline does not continue.

Looking forward it is going to be a tough road for many industries, and manufacturing will be relying on the international markets to balance out so that it can begin to grow. This will take time and in some cases may not look likely, so a focus on domestic manufacturing may be the main key to raising PMI and help to pull the whole economy back into growth.


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The Money Lion | Hot Desking for Freelancers Mon, 06 Aug 2023 11:56:04 +0000 Jakub Michalski ‘Hot desking’ is a good alternative to working from home for any freelancer. 

Midvale Company employee Elaine Regen, Payroll Department, main office, December 1951

Midvale Company employee Elaine Regen, Payroll Department, main office, December 1951

One of my friends, unhappy with her boss and tired of working long hours, recently quit her big agency job and started freelancing as a graphic designer. We’ve sat together over some coffee and thought about all the pros and cons of freelancing. The possibility of choosing when you work and what you work on is obviously great, but we got a little concerned about getting the work done.

Most of the freelancers I know work from home and this can be full of disruptions. There is always some background noise, neighbour’s dog barks and kids on the street scream.  I’ve recently seen more and more Internet platforms (ShareDesk, The Melting Pot in Edinburgh, LooseCubes, to mention few) listing single desks, conference rooms or even entire office floors. While renting such a space is a fantastic opportunity for everyone travelling in business, it also is a great solution for all the freelancers to straggling with getting the job done.

While there are many options of payment, usually you pay a monthly rent which will instantly make you get up in the morning and make the most of the space you’re renting. Depending on the location, spaces are going for around £200 a month. While it’s an extra cost, you might end up working harder and earing more, so the investment is worth your consideration. Another benefit comes with the flexibility of the service. You can ‘move in’ to your new desk within an hour from making a booking and, most of the time, you don’t need to give any notice before resigning from the rent. In case you need some time alone, in most places, there is an option to book a separate room.

While finding new clients and staying in control of your money are some of the cons of the self-employment, it can’t be the only thing you think about. I know many freelancers who find it hard to draw the line between their work and private life. They often work even in their free time and end up stressed and tired. There is something very therapeutic about shutting the office door behind and leaving the work behind and having a separate working space will definitely help any freelancer.

Sharing an office space with like-minded people can also be a great opportunity to network and meet potential partners. Also remember that other people ‘hot desking’ next you, though might be working on different projects, share your freelance worries and problems. Of course, it is not for everyone. Some might  also find it too disruptive or even isolating. Moving from desk to desk means you will need to be more adoptable and flexible in your approach.

Have a look at the video below and take a tour around an office:

I’m interested in your views and experience with hot desking. Do you have any advice for other freelancers?


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