Archive for December 2011

Blacks Leisure stores may close

Shares in Blacks Leisure fell 50% after the retailer issued a warning that it may close.Blacks Leisure stores may closeThe troubled camping and outdoor clothes retailer said it was making the appeal for an outside investor after meeting major shareholders and investors to raise capital.

Blacks warned last month that sales in the crucial Christmas period would be weaker than had been expected.

Management are targeting a sale by January, the company said.

Blacks warned that shareholders may not gain if the ailing business is sold.

The company said it had the support of Bank of Scotland, its main lender.

“Given the current level of debt within the group, there can be no assurance that any sale would attribute value to the ordinary shares of the group,” a company statement warned.

Blacks currently has £36 million of net bank debt.

The firm has appointed accountants KPMG to find potential buyers.

It said it had obtained a waiver from the takeover panel to ensure that any potential buyer can remain anonymous and avoid rules that would normally compel it to make a formal offer within 28 days.

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Recruiters report fall in permanent jobs and work

The number of permanent job placements and work fell at its fastest rate in November since July 2009, says the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).Recruiters report fall in permanent jobs and workIt was the second monthly fall in a row as growth in job and work vacancies also slowed to a 25 month low, the REC said.

A survey of 400 recruitment firms conducted by Markit suggested unemployment will continue to rise.

“We expect unemployment to rise in December and January,” said Kevin Green chief executive of the REC.

“This is being driven by the double whammy of falling business and consumer confidence,” he added.

Whilst the number of permanent placements fell, the survey found a continued rise in temporary staff appointments, though the rate of increase slowed.

Wage inflation also remained subdued, the survey found.

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Christmas with two children costs a family at least £182

The lowest cost for a Christmas for a familywith two children is £182 new reserach illuminates.Christmas with two children costs a family at least £182Research for the charity Family Action says the poorest families will spend two thirds less on the festivities than the average family.

Most UK families will spend between £530 and £682 on gifts, decorations, food and drink, it adds.

But most of the poorer families quizzed for the study said even they would spend around £200.

The report, Breaking the Bank: A Cut-Price Christmas, is based on detailed focus groups and interviews with 22 families who use the charity’s services.

Many felt pressure to buy gifts for their children that were far more expensive than they could afford.

They blamed this mainly on retailers, the media and older children’s expectations of electronic goods like MP3 players, mobile phones and branded items.

One parent said: “The older ones, they’re all wanting mobile phones or the laptops and you haven’t got the money for that.”

Another said: “Mine, she wants a toy from X and it costs £40. She shows me on the TV every day, when they show advertisements. She just points with her finger. ‘Mum, can you buy me this for Christmas?”‘

Nonetheless, the majority of the parents planned to spend less than £200 in total this year and almost all planned to buy their children essential clothing as Christmas gifts.

The report says: “A Cut-Price Christmas highlights the challenge of being a parent on a low income: not wanting to crush your kid’s sense of fun but not being able to escape the reality of up-to-the wire budgeting and debt.”

A minimum standard Christmas involved celebrating Christmas Day along with the extended family, a slap-up meal, and giving a few cheap gifts.

A lone parent with two children aged eight and 12 is likely to receive £209.49 per week in benefits if they are not working. The report suggests they would need to save up their disposable income for two and a half weeks to be able to afford the £182 Cut-Price Christmas.

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Regions most effected by austerity cuts

The North East in general and Redcar and Cleveland in particular are the areas most who are the vulnerable places in England to the effects of austerity measures.Regions most effected by austerity cutsThe towns most affected are all within 20 miles of each other.

Credit research firm Experian looked at factors such as the numbers facing a large drop in income.

It said the Home Counties dominated the areas best equipped to weather cuts, including public sector job losses.

The least vulnerable areas are Elmbridge and Mole Valley, both in Surrey, and St Alban’s in Hertfordshire – all within London’s commuter belt – Experian said.

Experian came to its conclusions by weighing up a range of factors such as working age population, crime rates, house prices, the percentage of people in that area vulnerable to declines in disposable income and the jobless rate as of May 2010.

After Redcar and Cleveland, the next two areas most affected are Middlesbrough, which was the most vulnerable to government spending cuts in 2010, and Hartlepool, in the Teesside region.

But Experian said that it was not a “simple North-South story” as several southern areas feature in the 20 most-affected areas, such as Thanet, in Kent, and Newham, in east London.

In last month’s Autumn Statement update on the budget, Chancellor George Osborne said that the projected number of public sector jobs set to be lost by 2017 has also been revised up – to 710,000 from 400,000.

Meanwhile, public sector pay rises will be capped at 1% for two years.

The spending cuts are part of coalition government’s plan to cut the UK’s massive budget deficit.

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UK incomes to fall 7.4% in three years

The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) says George Osborne’s economic plans will mean a sharp drop in household income.UK incomes to fall 7.4% in three yearsThe think tank said real household income would fall by an average of 7.4% between 2009-10 and 2012-13.

The IFS said that following last week’s Autumn Statement by Chancellor George Osborne, the median average income was set to stagnate.

It expected it to be no higher in real terms in 2015-16 than in 2002-03.

The IFS said it was running out of words of sufficient strength to describe the current economic climate and the chancellor’s plans.

He said that Mr Osborne’s statement on Tuesday bore many of the hallmarks of his predecessor Gordon Brown’s Budgets and pre-Budget reports.

“Downward revisions in the outlook for tax revenues, fiscal rules expected to be met by the merest whisker, investment spending plans being cumulated over several years, a complex array of small policies aimed at promoting growth, fiddling with tax credits, backing away from pre-announced increases to fuel duties.

“Mr Osborne’s second Autumn Statement had more in common with some of Mr Brown’s Budgets and pre-Budget reports than perhaps either of them would care to admit.”

The coalition government broke with tradition and gave the job of forecasting the economy to the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

The OBR revised down its growth forecasts for the next few years, meaning Mr Osborne must make far deeper cuts to public spending to meet his target of cutting the deficit.

Mr Johnson said: “None of us should have been too happy to hear what the OBR had to say. The consequences for all of our living standards are just as profound as they are for Mr Osborne and his fiscal rules.”

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Be your own boss with an award winning health business!

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