Anyone that has studied hard for their exams will almost certainly at one time or another utilised the services of a strong coffee.
Whilst desperately trying to cram that last bit of knowledge into your brain before the exams there is often a temptation to grab a strong coffee late in the night to keep your mind awake.
For years students around the world have been utilising the caffeine in coffee to help get that extra mark or two.
Coffee is said to originate from East Africa where legend has it that a 9th century Ethiopian goat herder by the name of Starbucks Kaldi noticed that after his goats had ate some coffee beans they started bouncing around like teenagers at the local disco.
This started the journey of coffee and associated caffeine hits so loved by students around the world.
Over in Thailand though a new type of coffee has just been put on sale which has, how can I put it, but a pretty unusual processing method.
The key staff involved in the processing function are also unusual as they have massive heads and bodies, weigh on average 4,000 kg and are grey in colour.
Yes, that’s right. The key team members involved in processing coffee are 20 Thai elephants.
The new brew of coffee is “processed” by getting the elephants to eat some coffee beans and then stepping back (in fact stepping way back) and letting the natural digestive juices in their stomachs do the job of “processing” the beans before they are deposited naturally on the ground a day later.
The beans are then handpicked out of the elephant dung by people who probably don’t bite their nails before being dried and then ground into coffee.
The finished coffee is said to have a slight pooey taste smooth flavour without the bitterness of normal coffee and is some of the most expensive coffee in the world selling for nearly £150 per kilo.
It’s certainly an unusual production technique but it’s also for a good cause as 8% of the sales revenue goes towards the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, a refuge for rescued elephants in Thailand.
We’re now heading off on our Christmas holidays and will be back blogging in January.
Thank you to all of you that have read our blog during 2016 and have a great holiday season!
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/ExP_coffee.jpg453806Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2016-12-21 14:15:202016-12-21 14:15:20Would you drink this coffee?
I admire them for being brave enough to do it but if I’m honest, by the look on some of their faces, I think a few of them aren’t sure that this will be the high point in their career.
Partners in accounting companies are renowned for being hard working and intelligent individuals.
One thing they are not renowned for is singing.
Now, whilst there are no doubt a number of partners who are good at singing, the PwC partners in Hungary have just released a video of them singing a cover of the famous John Lennon song “So this is Christmas” and it has confirmed that their finance and business skills are far superior to their singing skills (or at least I hope their finance and business skills are better than their singing…)
Congratulations though to them for getting into the festive spirit and their singing skills can be seen in the video below (if you’re viewing this in the office I’d advise headphones so as not to alarm any of your colleagues…)
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“Don’t worry, it’s secured with cheese” isn’t the most common phrase you hear when discussing the bond markets but a €6 million bond issue may well change that.
When a company issues a bond, the investor is lending money to that company in exchange for the bond. When the bond matures the company will repay the money that was lent (together with interest).
If you put yourself in the shoes of the investor, then what type of company would you invest in?
The chances are that you would be looking for large, well established and financially secure companies to invest in. That means that smaller companies generally find it challenging to raise funds via bonds.
An Italian cheese manufacturer has found a novel way around this problem.
4 Madonne Caseificio dell’Emilia is a relatively small Modena based cooperative firm which produces 75,000 wheels of Parmigiano cheese annually (nearly 2% of the world production of the famous cheese). It has issued a €6 million bond offering an annual yield of 5% with the capital being repaid in 5 annual amounts starting in 2018 and ending in 2022. The funds raised will be used to support their commercial expansion plans.
The interesting thing about the bond issue though is that it is secured by Parmigiano cheese worth 120% of the bond value. This means that if the company fails to repay the money the investors can get Parmigiano cheese from the company.
€7.2 million worth of cheese – that’s a lot of cheese! Let’s hope the bond matures nicely without any problems.
Whilst a lot of you won’t admit to being lazy (and I’m sure most of you aren’t in fact lazy!), some of you will know somebody who you feel is lazy.
Is it such a bad thing to be lazy though?
Perhaps not, as according to a study by scientists from Florida Gulf Coast University laziness could correlate with high intelligence.
The study found that people with a high IQ rarely got bored. As a result, they spent more time lost in thought. On the other hand, the study suggested that less intelligent people were more likely to be prone to boredom and consequently were more likely to do more physical activity.
The researchers worked with 2 types of students. The first group expressed a strong desire to think a lot whilst the second group were keen to avoid doing things which were mentally taxing.
The participants were then fitted with fitness trackers which monitored how much they exercised over a 7 day period. The study found that people who thought a lot were much less active than those individuals who avoided high-level thinking. Interestingly, this discrepancy in levels of activity only happened during the week and there was no difference during the weekend.
Before any of the lazy people out there start claiming that they are more intelligent, it’s worth noting that the sample size of the test was small and further tests will be needed to prove the correlation.
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/lazy-couple.jpg475844Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2016-11-08 22:53:222016-11-08 22:53:22Laziness and intelligence.
If I had asked that question 10 years ago the chances are that a large proportion of answers would have been “a suit”.
Things are different now though. Tastes are changing and so are a number of office dress codes. As a result, fewer people are now wearing suits to the office.
A number of major companies revised their dress codes this year. JP Morgan for example decided to allow their employees to wear business-casual attire on most occasions. PwC also switched to a more casual dress code where employees were allowed to wear jeans as long as there were no client meetings.
Whilst this relaxing of business wear rules can have benefits for individuals who prefer to work in more casual clothing, there are some organisations who will suffer.
Fashion brands focussing on tailored men’s suits are an obvious example of a business which could suffer due to the decline in demand for men’s suits.
Brioni, the Italian menswear fashion house owned by French holding company Kering was founded in Rome in 1945 and is renowned for its high-quality suits. It has had numerous famous faces as its customers including James Bond in the Bond films from Goldeneye to Casino Royale and more recently it was reported that Donald Trump has been wearing Brioni suits during his US presidential campaign.
But things aren’t going well for Brioni.
Earlier this year Bloomberg reported 400 job losses due to a fall in demand and recently Justin O’Shea, the creative director of Brioni who was brought in to modernise the luxury Italian brand, left abruptly after just six months in the job.
Mr O’Shea is well respected in the fashion industry and has a reputation for being a very straight talking person. He told Vogue that “First of all, I would change the shitty logo. I would change the campaign. I would change the clothes. In fact, I would change pretty much everything.”
When it comes to change though, one thing seems certain and that is that the fall in demand for men’s suits is unlikely to change given the relaxing of more and more office dress codes.
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/suit-product-life-cycle.png475844Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2016-11-01 10:39:402016-11-01 10:39:40Does this suit you?
Sometimes it’s not what you do that counts but what your competitor does.
Apple are without doubt a great company and one of the most successful organisations that has ever existed.
They released their iPhone 7 the other week and whilst the die hard Apple fans will say that it is a big step forward for the iPhone, a number of commentators were not overly impressed with it.
But, and it’s a big but – their share price has been performing phenomenally well over recent weeks.
Just over 3 months ago at the end of June the price of an Apple Share was $92.04.
Since then the share price has increased by nearly 28%. This increase is partly due to the introduction of the new iPhone but the problems of their biggest competitor have also played a major part in their share price increase.
Samsung’s Note 7 has been a disaster for the South Korean company. Reports of the newly introduced Note 7 catching fire and the subsequent withdrawal of the phone from the market have caused big problems for Samsung.
Not so for Apple though as the 28% increase in their share price driven by the new iPhone and the problems at Samsung has resulted in the company increasing its value by $138 billion in the 109 days from 27 June to 14 October. Yes, the market value of Apple increased by $138,000,000,000 in just over 100 days.
$138 billion in 109 days is equal to
$1.27 billion per day, or
$52.75 million per hour, or
$879,205 per minute, or
$14,653 per second.
That’s not too bad an increase is it?
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/apple-share-price.png9401671Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2016-10-16 15:23:262016-10-16 15:23:26Is it you or your competitor?
A lot is the simple answer but some recent research by Deloitte’s has shown that the price of luxury items varies significantly around the world and foreign exchange movements play a big part in that valuation.
According to Deloitte, in US dollar terms London is now the “cheapest” city to buy designer and luxury goods.
Since the Brexit vote in June, at the time of writing the pound has fallen by more than 17% against the dollar (i.e. you need 17% more pounds now to buy the same amount of dollars you would have received back in June).
According to the research, on 7 October a Speedy 30 handbag from Louis Vuitton costs £645 ($802) in London, €760 ($850) in Paris and $970 in New York. China was the most expensive place to buy it with the handbag costing 7,450 Yuan ($1,115).
Nick Pope, fashion and luxury lead at Deloitte, told the BBC that “the trend in luxury pricing in the UK is being driven mainly by the depression on the sterling – thus making the same item more affordable in the UK than in any other luxury market”.
Of course, if your income is in British pounds then the cost to buy the handbag in London remains the same. If however your income is in another currency such as US dollars then it is $313 cheaper to buy in London than in China for example. If you are stocking up on your luxury handbags should you be planning a trip to the UK?
It’s not just the ladies from outside the UK who are buying luxury handbags who could be benefiting from the exchange rate movement.
Any male readers may be interested to know that a Brunello Cucinelli cashmere V-neck sweater now “only” costs £650 ($843) in the UK compared with $942 in France and $995 in the US.
$843 for a sweater?
Please form an orderly queue as you rush to the shops to buy one. Or maybe two…
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Louis_Vuitton_shop.png5751022Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2016-10-08 12:10:282016-10-08 12:10:28A good excuse to buy another handbag?
As England’s football manager there are certain things that you should do and certain things that you shouldn’t do.
Winning a major tournament is a thing that you should do for example whilst looking to receive large amounts of money to advise people how to get around football transfer rules is something you shouldn’t do.
Alas for Sam Allardyce he did the latter and not the former and is now no longer the England football manager.
There are plenty of ways that football managers can make money in a legitimate and ethical way and maybe Mr Allardyce should have followed the example of the current Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho.
In addition to the £12 million wages Mr Mourinho receives from Manchester United he also does pretty well from various other activities.
Hublot watches, Adidas, Jaguar, BT Sport, Lipton Tea and EA Sports all pay a significant amount of money to Mr Mourinho to endorse their products. They see him as an internationally recognised figure with global appeal.
The latest big name to sign him up is Heineken. They reportedly will pay him £4 million for a 2-year deal to be Heineken’s global football ambassador.
That’s a pretty nice sum of money to receive and it got the accountant in me thinking about the financials from Heineken’s point of view. How many additional litres of beer would Heineken need to sell to cover the cost of appointing José Mourinho?
Heineken’s latest set of published accounts show revenue of €20.5 billion with an operating profit of €3.4 billion. In 2015 they sold 18.8 billion litres of beer. Ignoring various accounting items such as contribution and fixed costs it follows that each litre of beer generates approximately €1.09 of revenue and €0.18 of operating profit.
To cover the £4 million (approximately €4.6 million) cost of José the company would need to sell an additional 26 million litres of Heineken!
This clearly shows the challenges involved when an organisation is deciding whether or not to undertake any form of sponsorship or increasing brand awareness as it is virtually impossible to accurately place a financial value to the benefits achieved. The marketing guys would argue that the value is more than purely an increase in immediate sales revenue.
The fact is that it is extremely difficult to directly link an appointment of a brand ambassador to an increase in sales. There are numerous other items which can impact on the sales of a product. For example, a sudden heatwave would increase the amount of cold beer that is drunk and not even Jose Mourinho could claim to be able to impact the weather.
Back to Mr Allardyce though and whilst I doubt that many companies will be approaching him to sign him up as a brand ambassador, at least he can claim to be the only England manager who won all of the games where he was in charge (even if it was only for one game…)
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/corporate-sponsorship.png9371666Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2016-09-29 12:28:042016-09-29 12:28:04Sam Allardyce and José Mourinho
Should you employ good-looking people or not so good-looking people?
Whilst the obvious answer would appear to be that it doesn’t matter what a person looks like as long as they can do their job properly, researchers in Japan have found out that the attractiveness of an employee can have an impact on the sales of a business.
Interestingly though, it’s probably not the correlation most people would think applies.
Researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong studied retail sales in shops and found that the more attractive the shop assistants of the opposite sex were, the lower the sales were. The researchers found that male shoppers were less likely to go into the shop if the more attractive woman in the research study was serving.
Even if they entered the shop with the attractive shop assistant in it, only 40% of them bought something. This compared to 56% who purchased something when a less attractive assistant was serving.
Lisa Wan of the University said “attractive service providers can lead consumers to become self-conscious or embarrassed. This is especially true when the provider is of the opposite sex. Even when the attractive salesperson is the same sex, consumers may feel a sense of inadequacy through self-comparison.
In either case, the shopper may avoid interacting with physically attractive providers, rendering the salespeople ineffective”.
It’s worth mentioning though that the scientists undertaking the research were monitoring a shop selling figures from Japanese comics and the male shoppers were obsessed with computers.
“Male shoppers obsessed with computers” – surely they would only notice the female shop assistant if she was holding a computer?
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/ExP-blog-geek.jpg9381668Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2016-09-22 16:47:142016-09-22 16:47:14Should you employ good looking people?
How would you feel if your chair was taken away from you at work? Probably not too happy I would guess.
A recent bit of research though may make your boss think otherwise.
Scientists from the Texas A&M Health Science Centre School of Public Health installed “standing desks” in a call centre employing over 150 people. The standing desks could be adjusted so that the employee could work at them either sitting down or standing up.
Half of the employees were given sit–stand desks to use whilst the other half were given traditional sitting desks. The performance of the employees was recorded over a period of 6 months and the results were surprising.
Despite the employees who had the sit–stand desks only using the desks in the standing position for a third of the time, their productivity increased by 50%. Productivity was measured by the number of successful calls that the employee made to the clients with “successful” being defined as being when the company earned revenue from that call.
Each employee typically made in the region of 400 to 500 calls every month and the company wanted them to achieve on average 2 successful calls per hour. Those with the sit–stand desks achieved the target whilst those with the traditional seated desks averaged 1.5 successful calls per hour.
Dr Gregory Garrett from the centre was quoted as saying that “having the ability to move throughout the day really makes a big difference”.
So, is it time to introduce standing chairs in your office?
https://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/business-yoga.png9181632Steve Crossmanhttps://www.theexpgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/styleguide-EXP-4.pngSteve Crossman2016-09-15 15:13:352016-09-15 15:13:35Standing up for productivity.
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