Published on: 07 Mar 2018
I guess a lot of us have been there – we stagger out of bed in the morning half asleep and get in the shower. Suddenly we start to have some great business ideas and wish we had a pen and piece of paper.
Now, if I’m entirely honest with you this has never happened to me and I doubt it ever will.
The thought usually going through my mind is more of wouldn’t it be nice to have a bit longer in bed rather than be in the shower getting ready for work.
It seems though that not everyone shares my lack of business enthusiasm in the shower.
Marriott hotels in the US undertook research which indicated that half of business travellers felt that their best ideas came whilst showering.
So why all this talk about showers and ideas?
Well, Marriott have turned some of their shower doors into digital notepads.
Yes, after the door steams up, guests can write their business ideas on it (or for that matter draw a rude picture of their boss if they wanted to) and then their completed creation will be emailed through to them.
In the words of Marriott, so that “their brilliance doesn’t wash away”.
I’m not convinced that I have too many moments of business brilliance in the shower but fair play to Marriott for coming up with a clever use of the shower door.
Published on: 28 Jan 2018
KPMG UK released their results last month for their most recent accounting period and they showed a fall of 10% in pay for the KPMG partners when compared to the previous year.
Although the firm’s revenue rose by 5% to £2.2 billion, it’s profit fell to £301 million.
The firm wrote off a number of technology investments.
KPMG, like the rest of the Big 4, have invested heavily in technology companies in an attempt to stay at the forefront of technology.
Unfortunately for KPMG, not all of their investments were successful. Bill Michael, the Chairman of KPMG, highlighted one investment that hadn’t done so well – KPMG had committed £3 million to Flexeye, a tech company that analyses large amounts of data and it hadn’t proved to be the wisest investment.
Whilst profits fell, it hasn’t all been bad news for KPMG as their audit practice grew by 10%.
Back to the average pay of the KPMG partners though and although their average pay fell by 10% I’m sure that the partners will still be able to afford to buy a sandwich for lunch.
The average pay for the KPMG partners was £519,000 each.
That’s not too bad is it?
But how does it compare with the average pay from the partners of the remaining Big 4.
The most recent reported results show the following average pay per partner:
Deloitte – £865,000
EY – £677,000
pwc – £652,000
It looks like Deloitte partners will be having the more expensive sandwiches for lunch.
Published on: 14 Dec 2017
There’s an interesting movement in the types of planes which the large airlines are demanding.
10 years ago, the Airbus A380 or the “Super Jumbo” as it’s known, was launched with the aim to transform the airline industry by enabling up to 868 people to fly in one plane.
But things are changing and the anticipated demand for the superjumbos hasn’t materialised. Airlines are instead preferring smaller but more efficient twin-engine planes.
The most number of A380s that Airbus produced in a year was 30 but the order book has collapsed. Last week it was reported in Euronews that Airbus are exploring plans to cut A380 production to 6 aircraft per year.
Another company that has been affected by the drop in demand for A380s is the leasing company Amedeo.
Amedeo’s business model involves them buying aircraft from the likes of Airbus and Boeing and then leasing those aircraft to airlines.
Amedeo for example has purchased four A380s from Airbus and leased them on to Emirates.
The challenge for Amedeo though is that they have eight A380s in their portfolio and have another twenty on order from Airbus. Given that the demand for A380s from airlines has dried up, that’s not particularly good news for them.
However, they have come out fighting and announced that they will be launching their own airline.
Instead of simply leasing the plane out, the new business model will involve them running things as an airline. They will offer seats to existing carriers who will provide the ticketing service but Amedeo will operate the flight using their own cabin crew.
As well as offering the flights to existing airlines, Mark Lapidus the chief executive of Amedeo raised the prospect of providing flights for potential partners such as Airbnb.
Time will tell how successful this will be but it certainly is a novel approach to trying to find a solution to what to do to address the fall in demand.
Published on: 27 Nov 2017
It may be stating the obvious but if you’re a retailer in a shopping centre you’ve more chance of making a sale if people are in the shop.
Retailers in shopping centres face a number of threats. Some of these are a more recent phenomenon (e.g. the rise of internet shopping) whilst others have been around for a number of years.
One of these threats which has been around for a while is something which I’m sure a number of our male readers can sympathise with.
Let me ask the male readers out there who are married a question – have you ever gone shopping with your wife and at the start of the shopping trip things were going well but it soon descended into a long and windy journey through shops which to the male eye looked very similar but to the female eye were all different and offered new and exciting opportunities to try new items of clothes?
With the wife enjoying every moment but the husband getting more and more frustrated it is only a matter of time until stress levels rise, an argument ensues and the shopping trip is cut short.
A number of shops have chairs for the men to sit on and magazines to read but over in China, Shanghai’s largest shopping centre has come up with a novel way of keeping men occupied so that the wives are free to shop without the husbands getting bored.
Global Harbour shopping centre has introduced “Video Caves”. These are glass booths with a comfortable chair, a games console and a large screen. Men can be left to play computer games free of charge whilst their partners can shop to their heart’s content. The booths are soundproof so the computer games won’t disturb the other shoppers.
All in all, a great idea to keep the both the “lady shopper” and the “dragged behind man” happy but is there a potential problem?
After all, if you ask a lady how easy it is to get her other half off of a computer game when he’s nearly reached his top score, will we start to see women looking bored whilst waiting for the husband to finish his video game…
Published on: 20 Nov 2017
Language schools are big business. Research from the British Council predicts that more than 1.9 billion people will be actively learning English around the world by 2020. That’s a lot of people but will a recent bit of technology result in a change in the number of people learning another language?
A small US start-up company has recently launched a translation earphone.
Waverly Labs has introduced technology that may be the first step in making the need to learn another language redundant in years to come.
They have launched a translation device which is similar to a wireless earpiece. The earpiece is linked to an app on a mobile phone and when one person speaks in for example French the words are processed by software so that the words are played back in the earpiece in another language such as English. The impressive thing is that the translation is in real time with only a few seconds lag.
The first batch of headsets will support English, French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish languages.
More languages are expected to be rolled out soon.
Whilst there are already translation devices on mobile phones such as Google Translate, the Waverly Labs product is the first that offers a discreet earpiece to translate so that a face to face conversation can be held without having to look at your mobile phone to understand what is being said.
The earpieces can be pre-ordered for $249 and could well be the first step in terms of making face to face communication between different languages a lot easier.
All in all, very nice.
Or should I say, très agréable, sehr schön, molto bella, muito agradável, muy agradable.
Published on: 30 Oct 2017
What do you fancy for lunch today?
Do you want your usual lunch or would you like something a bit different?
A survey by New Covent Garden Soup found that office workers tended to show a complete lack of imagination when it came to lunch with most of those surveyed choosing the same lunch as they had yesterday.
More than 75% of workers who were surveyed had eaten the same meal for lunch for the past 9 months.
The most common lunches were sandwiches with the top 3 being ham in first place followed by cheese and then chicken. In 4th place was salad.
Yep, three quarters of people had eaten the same sandwich for 9 months.
In what was without a doubt, not a surprise, over 80% of respondents to the survey said they were “bored” with lunch.
Becky Spelman, a psychologist said that “eating the same thing every day means we risk not getting a wide enough array of nutrients, as well as simply being very monotonous. Making small changes, such as trying something new for our lunchtime meal, can – in a small way – help to open our minds to new experiences in other areas of life too.”
In summary, if you’re heading out to buy your lunch now and you’ve been eating the same ham sandwich for the last 9 months then maybe you could go for something dramatically different like a tuna sandwich instead…
Published on: 21 Oct 2017
There are over 300 million twitter accounts and more than 500 million tweets are sent per day. That’s an impressive figure that works out at over 5,000 tweets per second.
It can be a useful tool for companies. They can use it to engage with their customers and potential customers by way of branding and promotional activities. They can also use it as a form of a helpdesk or customer support. The Dutch airline KLM for example uses Twitter and Facebook to enable customers to contact them and get a reply within an hour.
Most companies will use Twitter to promote items or get their message out but Twitter user @edgette22 has identified a secret the fast food giant KFC has been keeping within their Twitter account.
KFC is the world’s second-largest restaurant chain (as measured by sales) after McDonald’s, with nearly 20,000 locations globally in over 100 countries.
They also have over 1.2 million Twitter followers.
But they only follow 11 people.
And the 11 people they follow are a strange mix.
Geri Halliwell, Mel B, Emma Bunton, Mel C and Victoria Beckham (in other words the 5 ladies who made up the Spice Girls).
They also follow Herb Scribner, Herb J. Wesson Jr, Herb Waters, Herb Dean, Herb Sendek and Herb Alpert.
Or to put it another way, KFC follow five Spice Girls and 6 Herbs.
Five spices and six herbs?
That sounds familiar as the secret recipe for KFC chicken is 11 herbs and spices.
Either the social media department of KFC were having a quiet day and decided to play a few games or it was a deliberate move to get people talking about KFC when their followers were noticed.
Either way, congratulations are due to whoever was behind the idea.
Published on: 24 Sep 2017
Did you have anything for breakfast this morning before you headed to work?
If I’d asked that question a few years ago the chances are that the reply would have been positive and brought back nice memories of what had been eaten earlier at home.
Things are changing though and according to a recent study for the Grocer magazine, nearly half of those surveyed who were between 16 and 34 skipped breakfast altogether. Even those who had breakfast were only likely to grab a croissant from a coffee shop on the way to the office or eat a breakfast biscuit.
The report said that “Millennials may be more clued up to food and health trends than older generations, but in terms of traditional breakfast there are empty seats at the table”.
Whilst skipping breakfast isn’t necessarily that good for your health, there are also financial health consequences for companies who produce breakfast cereals. In the UK, sales of cereal over the last 12 months are down by £40 million.
A number of companies are trying to regain some of these lost sales though.
Weetabix Limited, the company that produces yes, you guessed it… Weetabix, are now producing biscuits, bars and breakfast drinks that can be consumed on the go or taken to work to be eaten.
Weetabix has been made in the UK since 1932 but in 2012 was sold to Shanghai-based Bright Food.
Bright Food had hoped that as part of the general trend to more western eating habits in China, eating cereals would become more popular. Whilst sales of Weetabix have increased in China, the market share was disappointing as the traditional rice and steamed bread maintained their popularity for the first meal of the day.
Weetabix has now changed hands and was purchased by the US company Post Holdings for $1.7bn (£1.3bn).
Post Holdings already own the Shredded Wheat and Bran Flakes brands so the acquisition of Weetabix seems a good fit.
Back to breakfast on the go though and if you’re one of those people who struggle to get out of bed in the morning and miss breakfast then look on the bright side, if you’re getting into the office late then at least you’re closer to lunchtime.
Published on: 19 Sep 2017
Are you happy when you spend money? I guess the answer depends on what you’re spending the money on but over in China, KFC have just introduced technology which enables a person to pay for their KFC meal with a smile.
Yes, a smile.
Nothing else is needed – no bank card, no phone app. Just a smile.
That’s a pretty advanced system and involves facial recognition technology.
Customers who want to get their dose of fast food at the KFC branch in Hangzhou can leave their cash and cards behind and instead smile at a scanner, press confirm and then hey presto you’ve paid for your meal without moving your hands and you will soon be tucking into your Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Payment is taken from a cash account which has been linked to the person’s face.
China has some of the most advanced facial scanning technology in the world. Collecting images of the public doesn’t need any consent in China and the technology is likely to spread.
For example, it’s been reported that students in several universities in China are now registering by scanning their faces and lecturers will soon be able to track the facial expressions of students to see how well they are following the lectures.
It may be advisable for these students to master the act of hiding those yawns during a boring lecture and instead start to practice for the KFC they’re planning to get after the lecture…
Published on: 06 Aug 2017
How do you make $1 billion in 4 years?
Well, the answer is fairly straight forward if you come up with a good idea and have some good friends.
I guess it also helps if you are the famous actor George Clooney…
Mr Clooney and two of his friends – Rande Gerber (the husband of super model Cindy Crawford) and Mike Meldman the property tycoon – reportedly used to play golf together and had properties on a golf development called Casamigos (meaning House of Friends in English).
Playing golf wasn’t the only thing that they did together as friends as they also used to drink tequila. The problem was that they found that the tequila they drank was of mixed quality. Some was good but at the other extreme some was pretty bad.
It was reported that Mr Clooney suggested that they create their own tequila which “didn’t burn going down, that was super smooth and … that we could drink all day long and not be hungover in the morning”.
As a result of that idea, back in 2013 they set up a business producing Casamigos tequila and it’s done pretty well. So well in fact that the drinks giant Diageo has purchased the business for $1 billion split between a $700 million initial payment and $300 million over the next 10 years depending on performance.
Given that only 120,000 cases of the Casamigos tequila were sold last year, that’s a big figure but Diageo are obviously looking to scale up sales it up to a global audience (so far Casamigos has been targeted at the North American market).
Either way, it’s a good return for Mr Clooney and his friends and I’m sure they toasted the sale with a shot or two of tequila.
Then again, maybe they decided to celebrate with champagne and we’ll see a George Clooney champagne in a few years’ time…