Colors: Purple Color

Gemalto, the world leader in digital security, is launching the Gemalto Assurance Hub, a groundbreaking approach to fraud prevention in online banking. Powered by machine learning, it analyses the profile and the behavior of customers in real time. The platform only activates additional authentication measures when required, providing a smooth user experience.

Banks are delivering a growing number of digital services. In doing so, they are also subject to more sophisticated cyberattacks. Banks need to distinguish genuine users from potentially fraudulent ones, thereby giving legitimate customers a hassle-free service and blocking unauthorized users.  Financial institutions must also comply with the latest banking regulations such as PSD2 or FFIEC*.

Gemalto Assurance Hub is based on big data; processing millions of transactions built from thousands of attributes (such as device profiling, location, user behavior, biometric data  or keypad style) to analyze  behavior  in real time  and  trigger appropriate authentication checks when needed. For example, if someone makes a high-value transfer from an unusual location, then additional biometric authentication will be requested to validate the transaction, such as fingerprint or facial recognition. Users benefit from non-intrusive security within a trusted environment.

“A recent Gemalto study showed that 44% of consumers would leave their bank in the event of a security breach, and 38% would switch to a competitor offering a better service. At the same time, consumers suffer from both unjustified rejection and excessive authentication steps when banking online or on mobile,” said Bertrand Knopf, Executive Vice President Banking and Payment from Gemalto “The challenge is to minimize and simplify security procedures, without compromising trust in the digital banking domain. This is what the Gemalto Assurance Hub does so easily.”

Black Country Chamber of Commerce are celebrating BCRS Business Loans as our Member of the Week after the not-for-profit lender has received national recognition for the way in which it leads, manages and supports its people.

BCRS Business Loans, which supports businesses across the West Midlands with access to finance, has been accredited as an Investor in People after surpassing the standard for better people management set out by the body.

Sarah Moorhouse, Operations Director of BCRS Business Loans who oversaw the process, said: “We are delighted to have received Silver accreditation as an Investor in People, especially as it’s the first time BCRS has ever been through the process.

“We have worked hard to implement a new employee benefits programme, focusing on both personal and professional development, and an improved employee review system in recent years.

“Aside from operating to have a positive impact on local businesses and the regional economy, we understand the importance of supporting the very people that make it happen – our employees.”

Sarah further commented: “Being a member of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce ensures that we maintain strong links with the local business community, which is vital for us as a business loan provider.

“In particular, since joining The Platinum Group Service Sector we have been able to form strong working relationships with like-minded businesses in the local area, sharing best practice that will help to support our future ambitions for growth.”

With a range of dedicated Business Loan Funds available that provide loans from £10,000 to £150,000, BCRS Business Loans offer support for viable small and medium sized businesses that are struggling to access finance from traditional lenders. Over the course of their 15 year history, businesses throughout the region have been able to generate an extra £300 million for the local economy as a direct result of funding from the prominent regional business lender.

Their sole purpose is to provide finance to promote the growth and prosperity of local businesses. A loan from BCRS Business Loans can be used for a wide range of projects, including purchasing equipment, employing additional people, investing in marketing, working capital requirements and much more.

Black Country Chamber of Commerce wants to support businesses to grow and succeed, and Member of the Week is an initiative to celebrate the great work that our members are doing and to highlight the success stories in the local area.

Canada’s Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, is pleased to chair the 2017 Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting (CFMM) in Washington, D.C., this October.

“I am proud that Canada has been asked to chair this meeting and to share our approach of creating the kind of economic growth that works to strengthen the middle class,” said Minister Morneau. “Given this time of rapid global change, it is important that all countries work together to address our shared challenges and seize new opportunities. Above all, it is critical that the benefits of the growth we create in Canada and around the world are widely shared.

"As the Commonwealth’s third largest economy and member of the G7 and G20, Canada is committed to contributing to global growth prospects that will lead to greater fairness and prosperity for Canadians and people around the world. The Government of Canada’s approach to creating long-term growth that works for the middle class and those working hard to join it has received international recognition and complements the theme of this year’s CFMM, which is Advancing Jobs and Resilience through Innovation."

The CFMM will bring together 52 Commonwealth countries to discuss common economic challenges and opportunities.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said, “This will be my second Finance Ministers Meeting and I’m always struck by not only how diverse our Commonwealth family is, but by the potential that exists given the dynamic experience and skills that our countries bring to the table.

“We represent a third of the world across six regions. We have small and vulnerable states, developed and developing states, and five of the countries making up the Group of 20 (G20), namely Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the UK. When the Commonwealth comes together, it is incredible to witness what we can achieve in terms of collegiate dialogue and cooperation in creating greater prosperity for all of our citizens.”

The CFMM will take place on the margins of the Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group, October 13-15, 2017.

The UK is on the cusp of a large-scale wealth transfer and, according to new research released by FTSE 100 wealth manager, St. James’s Place, it could make a significant contribution to UK GDP.

There is an estimated £6.6 trillion of wealth held by those aged 55 years and over in the UK, of which the research suggests some £2.8 trillion could be available for transfer over the next 30 years.

The study, commissioned by St. James’s Place in conjunction with Capital Economics, showed that this age group intend to make nearly a third (32%) of their total wealth – excluding property – available for transfer, meaning approximately £920 billion will be gifted to family members over the next three decades.

This generosity will not just help those receiving it, but will make a powerful contribution to the economy in the years ahead.  For every £1 transferred, an additional £1.65 will be added to the UK economy.

Over the next 30 years, wealth transfer will therefore potentially add £677 billion to the economy, or 1.2% of UK GDP each year – enough to fund the purchase of around 3.4 million homes for first time buyers, provide 21.2 million deposits, or pay for 24 million students’ tuition fees.

Iain Rayner, Joint Chief Operating Officer at St. James’s Place, said:

“The economic contribution made by older people in the UK transferring wealth to the younger generations is huge – for every £1 transferred, £1.65 is generated for the UK economy.  On average, 55 to 85 year olds transfer £40,000 to their children, grandchildren and family members, mainly for housing, university education or other major purchases.  These are serious sums of money and, collectively, represent a vast wave of wealth that our research shows is about to be transferred.  This will have a significant impact on the finances of the recipients and the wider economy as this wealth floods into the market.

“Families need to think about how and when they intend to make transfers to maximise the impact and achieve the most beneficial tax treatment – and lucky recipients really need to think about how and when to best deploy these gifts to change their lives.”

The findings from the St. James’s Place commissioned research suggest that the scale of wealth transfer in the UK is set to grow, with the primary reason for transfers aimed as supporting family members with a property purchase:

  • 31% of people aged 55 to 85 with £50,000 or more in assets have already transferred money to their children (28%), grandchildren (9%) or both – transferring an average of £40,000;
  • Looking to the future, 61% of over 55s say they will transfer something in their lifetime; 53% to their children; 29% to grandchildren;
  • Only a third (36%) say they won’t transfer any money in the future during their lifetime.
  • On average, individuals give to their family between the ages of 65-70;
  • Almost two-thirds who had made a transfer (64%) had done so to help with a property purchase; in other cases, money was used for other major purchases (25%); to fund university education (28%); or for general financial needs (34%).
Very few survey respondents over the age of 55 with £50,000 or more of investable assets say they are concerned about their money running out.  Of the roughly one-third (36%) who say they won’t be transferring their wealth in their lifetime, just 13% say it’s because they feel they don’t have enough. Instead, the most common reasons given are that they simply wish to use their wealth to enjoy old age (58%) or, similarly, to maintain their lifestyle (48%).

Birmingham’s business community has announced its full backing for the city’s bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games. The bid was confirmed when the Birmingham Commonwealth Games Steering Group formally announced the bid and revealed that “an enhanced and refurbished Alexander Stadium” will be pivotal to the Games.

Paul Faulkner, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC), is a member of the Steering Group, and he said: “Today’s announcement represents a huge opportunity for the Greater Birmingham region and has the full backing of the region’s business community.

“It will once again put Birmingham on a global stage and at the same time create job opportunities in the build-up as well in the work that will be required on some of the sports infrastructure in the city.

“We greatly look forward to working with the business community in the city to promote Birmingham’s bid and if successful to ensure we make the very best of the Games. Every aspect of business in the city, from the shops and theatre to the bars and restaurants will benefit.”

As well as the GBCC, Birmingham’s bid has the full support of: Birmingham City Council; three regional local enterprise partnerships: Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP; Black Country LEP; Coventry and Warwickshire LEP; the West Midlands Combined Authority; the West Midlands Growth Company; and the newly elected Mayor of West Midlands, Andy Street.

In a statement, the group said: “Birmingham can demonstrate the very best of Global Britain to the world with this bid, which showcases its strengths of youth and diversity alongside its world class reputation for sport and culture.

“Birmingham’s decision to bid has been measured and purposeful, based on a feasibility study that explored both how the Games would be delivered and why it would be beneficial for the city and the wider region. Ninety-five percent of proposed competitive venues are already in place.

“With a strong cultural programme running in parallel with sport, Birmingham is ready to extend the hand of friendship, competition and understanding to the 71 competing nations.

Sitting at the heart of the UK, and standing for the diversity of the Commonwealth, Birmingham is well positioned to attract people to the Games and to ensure that the benefits of hosting extend from the city and region, to the UK and the Commonwealth.”

Unique to England and Wales, there are two different forms of legal ownership: freehold and leasehold.  Freehold remains the majority type of ownership in the UK however with the large number of new build developments and conversions being sold, leasehold ownership is becoming more common place, particularly in places like London where 95% of new properties sold 2016 were classified as leasehold.

Unlike Freehold which is the outright ownership of a property and the land it stands on, leasehold ownership is buying the temporary right to use the property – which is yours for the duration of the lease.

Dan Lowery, Director of Romans Surveyors explains further: “The leasehold homeowner has a lease with the landlord (Freeholder) which states how many years they own the property and what restrictions may be imposed on how they live in the property such as whether pets are allowed or whether they can make substantial alterations.”

When the lease expires, the property can return to the landlord however in reality most people never actually get to the end of the lease and renew it long before then.

“The length of a lease can affect the value of a property typically the shorter the lease, the lower the asking price.  On the whole, when the lease gets past 90 years, it is usually a good time to start looking into extending it.  Once the term falls below 80 years the costs to extend can increase significantly, and if selling is part of your plan, this can affect the asking price and whether a buyer can get a mortgage on the property or not – which limits potential buyers.

New figures show that it was a record April for the number of overseas visits to the UK and spend.

VisitBritain figures show that 3.7 million visits were made to the UK in April this year, up 19% compared to the same month last year and the highest April since records began. Overseas visitors spent a record £2 billion in April, 20% up on the same month last year.

Today’s figures come on the back of a record first-quarter for inbound visits to the UK and spend.

VisitBritain Director Patricia Yates said:

“Tourism is one of Britain’s most valuable export industries and it is very encouraging to see this continued growth as we head into the peak summer season and beyond. We continue to drive home the message of value and welcome globally, particularly in our high spending markets China and the US and the valuable European market.”

Today’s figures bring the number of inbound visits to the UK for January to April this year to a record 11.8 million, 11% up on the same period in 2016 with visitors spending £6.2 billion, up 14% and also setting a new record.

Growth this year has been led from long-haul regions including North America with more than one million visits from January to April, up 16% compared to the same period last year.

There were a record 8.3 million visits from the EU from January to April this year, up 7% on 2016.

Strong growth has also been seen in holiday visits with a record 4.4 million visits from January to April this year, up 26% on the same period in 2016.

Latest flight booking data from ForwardKeys shows that bookings for international arrivals to the UK during the summer are currently tracking 12% ahead of the same period last year.

Tourism is worth £127 billion annually to the UK economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth across its nations and regions.

A wide range of insurance options – some compulsory and others advisable – are available to landlords letting a property in the UK.

Allison Thompson, managing director at property specialist Leaders, has had her say on cover available and urged landlords to protect themselves.

“Unfortunately, there is always the possibility of something going wrong and a landlord being left out of pocket, even with the most committed and reliable tenant in place, so adequate insurance is a must,” she explains.

“By selecting the right products landlords can cover themselves against most eventualities, ensuring ultimate peace of mind.”

Allison has identified six popular types of insurance that every landlord should consider:

1) Buildings insurance

Buildings insurance is widely considered to be the most important type of cover and a priority for all landlords. Mortgage lenders are likely to insist on a landlord holding a policy – and even those without a mortgage are advised to cover themselves.

A good policy will cover the cost of rebuilding or repairing a property should it be affected by issues such as storms, floods, vandalism, fire, damage to water or heating systems, subsidence, falling trees and much more.

Your policy will also cover loss of rent, but only in the case of an insured peril, such as a fire or flood.

Buildings insurance will, in many cases, cover malicious damage by tenants, providing a further benefit to landlords.

2) Contents insurance

Contents insurance is just as important as buildings insurance, particularly if a property is let fully or part-furnished. This insurance protects all contents – such as furniture, sofas, televisions, carpets and other possessions – against theft or damage.

One tip is to ensure a policy offers a ‘new for old’ term, meaning landlords can replace existing items that are damaged or stolen with brand new versions. Landlords do not need to insure their tenant’s belongings, so should only purchase cover for their own items.

3) Landlord liability insurance

This crucial policy covers landlords in the event of somebody being injured or killed while on their property. It also protects landlords against any tenant who opts to sue following an accident. Those who let to students may find this type of cover is a requirement of their university, while local authorities often stipulate a minimum level when letting to applicants on housing benefit.

Landlord liability insurance is sometimes offered as part of another landlord policy, but if it is not it is well worth taking out.

4) Rent guarantee

Even tenants who tick every box during the application stage can go on to default on their rent. A change of circumstances – such as the loss of a job – is sometimes all it takes. But landlords with a rent guarantee plan in place – such as Leaders’ Premier Rent Guarantee Service – will still receive their monthly payments, typically up to a maximum amount for an agreed period.

5) Home emergency insurance

Landlords are unlikely to want to have to respond to every incident in a property, so instructing a quality letting agents to manage their tenanted home and investing in home emergency insurance is a wise move. Home emergency insurance covers the cost of arranging repairs in the event of, for example, a burst pipe, gas leak, burglary or pest infestation. It guarantees a qualified tradesman will be available to resolve emergencies 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

WaterSafe, the UK national accreditation body for approved plumbers, has created a quick and easy five-step guide for new home owners in the Midlands to check their plumbing is in tip top condition.
The scheme is launching a Moving House campaign this week to guide new home buyers on what they should look out for in their new home when it comes to plumbing, pipes, taps and fittings.
The campaign has been launched to coincide with the housing market’s summer time boom in sales.
The guide was put together following a survey with WaterSafe approved plumbers to find out the most common problems they get called to help with and their top advice.
The survey revealed the plumbers’ top five tips are:
  • Find your internal stop tap – where your water supply comes into your home – you may need to turn the water off in an emergency
  • Check the boiler’s service history and that there is a lid on the cold water tank (usually in the loft) – and always use a Gas Safe registered engineer for servicing
  • Look out for leaky taps, toilets and radiators – tell-tale signs are low water pressure, rust and water stains on the floors or carpets, or mould on ceilings and walls
  • Find out if your home has any lead water pipes – these are shiny when scraped with a screwdriver. Lead can be harmful so it’s a good idea to replace these
  • Check if you have a water meter – as you’ll be billed for the amount of water you use if you do. It’s usually in the ground outside the front of your home, or inside near the stop tap.
Julie Spinks, Director of WaterSafe, said: “There’s lots to think about when you’ve just moved into a new home, but our campaign is about making it easy for people to check the plumbing basics.
“That campaign advice is based on the invaluable experience of our approved plumbers who are often the first port of call when there is a problem – particularly for issues like finding and turning off the stop tap when there’s a water leak.
“We would urge home buyers to follow our top plumbing tips about what to look out for so they can ensure their plumbing is working as it should and keeping their tap water fresh and healthy.”

Rapid growth in the use of contactless cards means cash will be overtaken as Britain’s most frequently used payment method by the end of 2018, according to a new report published by Payments UK, the trade association for the payments industry. This latest forecast still does not herald the demise of cash – even in ten years’ time it is still expected to make up 21% of all payments.

Analysis carried out for UK Payment Markets 2017 forecasts that debit cards will become the most frequently used payment method in late 2018, three years earlier than previously predicted due in large part to the increasing popularity of contactless.

There were nearly 2.9 billion contactless payments in the UK in 2016, more than 2.7 times more than in the previous year (1.1 billion). Contactless payments made up 7% of the total number of payments in 2016, with the continued growth meaning that by 2026 more than one in four (27%) payments in the UK is expected to be contactless.

Debit cards were used 11.6 billion times in 2016, 14% more than the previous year, with just over one in five of these transactions made using contactless. Cash was still the most frequently used payment method in 2016, used for 15.4 billion payments (3.8 billion more occasions than debit cards). Four out of ten (40%) payments in 2016 were made using cash.

By 2018, when debit cards are forecast to overtake cash, 13.4 billion debit card payments are predicted, of which 4.6 billion (or one in three) are expected to be contactless. Cash is expected to be used for 13.3 billion payments in 2018, meaning it won’t be the most frequently used payment method for the first time.

Adrian Buckle, Chief Economist at Payments UK, said:

“The popularity of contactless means that we expect debit cards to overtake cash as the UK’s most frequently used payment method in late 2018, three years earlier than we previously thought. This is a significant shift but it’s vital to note that even in the face of this change, we believe any claims the UK will soon become a cashless society are wide of the mark.

“People will always want to choose the payment methods that best suit them, and cash will remain a frequently-used payment method for the foreseeable future. In ten years’ time, we will still be using cash for one in five payments in the UK, even as mobile payments and other innovations provide ever greater choice about how to pay.”

In total, 38.7 billion payments were made in the UK in 2016. UK Payment Markets 2017 also publishes data and 10-year forecasts for the other main payment methods, to give a complete picture of the UK’s payments landscape for both consumers and businesses, across every different payment type.

YPO, the premier chief executive leadership organization in the world, concluded its second-annual YPO Innovation Week by announcing the winners of the Global Innovation Awards, which honors those YPO members who have created transformative innovations and nurture continued growth and opportunity for leaders around the world.

In addition to recognizing the top ten innovators from among more than 24,000 YPO members across 130 countries, the Global Innovation Awards also honors Asia’s top innovator and the top young adult innovator, who is a child of YPO member (ages 17-29).

“The Global Innovation Awards highlight those distinguished innovators who are leading the way in creating forward-thinking companies and significant opportunities for this and the next generation. These leaders are making an indelible mark in the world,” said Keith Alper, Chair of YPO Innovation Week.

During May, 2017 YPO Innovation Week connected influential entrepreneurs, innovators and thought leaders to exchange ideas about inspiration, breakthroughs and transformation through more than 50 signature events, live two-way interactive video casts and livestream events around the world. At the conclusion of the week, YPO announced the top Asian innovator in Hong Kong and the Global Innovation Award winner in New York City.

Figures released by Utilitywise have revealed that businesses in the Midlands could collectively save as much as £27m on their water bills. This follows deregulation of the water market in England, giving business owners the chance to renegotiate their existing water contracts or look to a new supplier.

Utilitywise, the UK’s leading energy and utilities consultancy, estimates that savings on water tariffs will be around 10%, dependent on region. Around 164,000 businesses in the Midlands now have control over who supplies their water, giving the local water market a value of approximately £276m.

In the month following water deregulation on 1st April, Utilitywise has received more than 50,000 business engagements regarding water supply. This represents a 740% increase from the month prior to deregulation, as business owners look to take advantage of potential savings on their water bill in a time of economic uncertainty and rising costs.

The water market in England is now valued at £2bn, giving businesses the opportunity to access up to £200m of potential new savings.

While the initial response to water deregulation has been encouraging, there are potentially hundreds of thousands of businesses that are missing out on its benefits. Separate research from Ofwat, the industry regulator, and Utilitywise both revealed that less than half of the 1.2 million business responsible for their own water supply were aware that they would soon have a choice of water retailer.  

Brendan Flattery, CEO of Utilitywise, said: "We are delighted to see such a high number of enquiries since the water market deregulated, but also believe that more can be done to make businesses aware of its potential benefits. A deregulated market could produce savings of as much as 10%, as well as improved service and greater choice. To compliment this, bundled utilities contracts, such as those offered by Utilitywise, which combine electricity, gas and water, have shown to save businesses up to 25%. Ofwat has a responsibility to ensure that these companies are aware of the water options open to them and to push for greater margins of savings for smaller businesses, like we have seen in Scotland.”

The Scottish Water market deregulated in 2008 with similar low margins. After three years the regulator intervened, widening the retail margin to allow savings of 20%+ for all businesses. Since the intervention, roughly 50% of businesses have switched, which could provide a clear blue print for Ofwat and the English water market.

Andy Poole, specialist water policy advisor at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: "We believe the new water market will bring opportunities for many small businesses to take advantage of the different services and tariffs on offer. Competition should drive up services, standards and trust for small business customers. We encourage businesses to examine what they are being offered by their current supplier and compare it with what others are offering. They should look at price, advice and support, innovation and technology, customer service, combined utilities and other additional services. There’s no need to rush into a new contract you’re not sure about- see what suits you best, before making an informed decision.”

Business leaders today expressed concern at the Bank of England’s prediction around earnings and economic growth following the Monetary Policy Committee’s decision to keep interest rates at a record low of 0.25 per cent.

The bank said has cut its forecast growth for 2017 to 1.9 per cent and revised its inflation prediction, likely to be 2.7 per cent this quarter, up from the 2.4 per cent rate forecast in February. Average earnings growth for 2017 was also adjusted to 2 per cent, down from the 3 per cent predicted in February

Raj Kandola (pictured), Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce senior policy and patron adviser, said: “Amidst the uncertainty created by Brexit negotiations, the Monetary Policy Committee voted to keep interest rates at a record low level.

“However, it was concerning to see the Bank the England revising downwards its predictions around people’s earnings and the overall economic output for the UK.

“Although we are mindful of the fact that previous predictions made by the Bank have turned out to be incorrect, if real wages are falling in real times (once adjusted for inflation), then this will no doubt have a detrimental impact on an economy that’s driven by the resilience of consumer spending.

“We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that poor wage growth is not just down to uncertain economic and political conditions, it also reflects long standing productivity issues which have blighted our regional economy.

“Whoever forms the new government will need to implement a robust Industrial Strategy which at its heart will tackle structural productivity issues and invest in infrastructure development to shift away from a reliance on consumer spending in order to bring economic growth to the country as a whole.

"Despite the mixed picture, research from our latest Quarterly Business Report shows local business confidence is at its highest level since late 2014 and it will be interesting to see if this confidence continues into next quarter as surveying for our next report will begin shortly."

A high profile case featured by the BBC, in which fraudsters put a five-bedroom home up for sale without the owner’s knowledge, illustrated the need to take advantage of the Land Registry’s anti-fraud measures, property specialist lawyers at Clarke Willmott LLP said today.

The case, which was highlighted on the BBC’s Rip off Britain and The One Show, replayed how two fraudsters used identity theft to transfer the deeds of a property into one of the fraudster’s names following which the property was put up for auction.

Mark Buckerfield, a partner in the Residential Property Team of Clarke Willmott, said: “Property fraud is a real threat and people who have paid off their mortgage are in a particularly vulnerable position as there are no lenders or other interested parties involved. Similarly people who do not live at their property need to be on guard.

“There are protective measures that property owners can take, for example registering with the free Land Registry alert service which ensures they receive a warning as soon as anyone attempts to deal with their property.

“However, although the alert service is an effective warning service it does not automatically block any dealings. In the case highlighted by the BBC, the fraudsters were able to intercept mail, forge signatures and attempt to sell the property through auction with no viewings.  Fortunately the victim stumbled across the advertisement three days before the auction and was able to stop the men in their tracks.

“It shows the lengths fraudsters will go to and for that reason registering a restriction on the property register is more secure. This can be done by a solicitor for around £200 - £250 plus VAT, which is not a huge amount to pay to protect an asset as valuable as a house.

“Sadly it is not something that many people do, but really should be something people consider, especially if they have made their last mortgage payment or the property is vacant or let.”

This summer, Marks & Spencer (M&S) will become the first high street retailer to set a new standard in hypoallergenic jewellery – as it launches Skin Kind™.

From May 2017, every item in M&S’s fashion jewellery range will meet its new Skin Kind™ standards, so that even customers with the most sensitive skin can wear stylish accessories with confidence.

The project began last year when M&S discovered that more than one in four [28%] of customers didn’t wear fashion jewellery because they were concerned about potential allergic reactions. To help address these concerns, M&S partnered with Birmingham based, world leading precious and base metal experts at the AnchorCert Group’s analytical testing laboratory to find a practical solution for customers.

Victoria Gallant, jewellery technologist at M&S explains: "Fashion jewellery is one of the easiest ways to update an outfit or transform from a casual to evening look and should be something everyone can wear. We were surprised to hear so many customers were worried about buying jewellery because of allergy fears and we wanted a solution to put their minds at rest. Now Skin Kind™ is the standard across our entire range - all customers can wear M&S jewellery with confidence.”

Whilst more than a quarter of consumers have concerns, the reality is that approximately 10-15% of people suffer an adverse skin reaction to certain metals1. The project team analysed data from over 1000 individuals with known skin reactions to identify the most common metal allergens2. Using the results, the team developed a brand-new testing method that is now applied to M&S jewellery to assess the reactivity of metals used and help prevent any skin reaction.

The result is M&S’s new Skin Kind™ jewellery, designed to be extra kind to sensitive skin. To achieve this, M&S has used the research findings to change the specification and manufacturing process of its jewellery – minimising the effect of the most common metal allergens. M&S has also introduced new comfort focussed product criteria as standard across the range. For example, all M&S earrings posts are now made of titanium - one of the most non-reactive metals.  Strict weight limits are set for fashion earrings to make them easier to wear all day and smooth edge clasps and connectors are used on all fastenings to minimise any irritation.

Nyasha Pitt, Commercial Director at the AnchorCert Group said: "For those with sensitive skin, buying jewellery can be a mine field. We use our globally-recognised expertise to work closely with both manufacturers and retailers to ensure that jewellery is fully compliant with relevant legislation. Partnering with M&S to develop Skin Kind™ has been a fantastic experience for our team and we are incredibly proud to be part of such an innovative product range, which sets the gold standard for hypoallergenic jewellery.”

Qatar Airways has been named the “Airline with the Best Business Class”, and the “Airline with the Best Cabin Crew” at the prestigious Business Traveller Middle East Awards 2017, based on votes submitted by the readers of the regional edition of the prestigious industry magazine. Qatar Airways Country Manager - UAE, Mr. Rohan Seneviratne, collected the award on behalf of the airline, which added to the international recognition and the growing list of awards that the carrier has received.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “This is another proud moment for Qatar Airways. In everything that we do, we aim to go above and beyond, to set new standards for the airline. We have a vision of being not only a world leader, but of providing an unforgettable experience for our passengers throughout their entire journey; from booking their flights, to spending time in our impeccably appointed aircraft, to transiting through our award-winning Hamad International Airport. Our focus is, and will continue to be, on our passengers, which makes receiving recognition from Business Traveller Middle East all the more rewarding; it proves that we are delivering on our promise to provide the finest possible in-flight experience.”

At the 2017 Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai, Qatar Airways is hosting the Middle East reveal ceremony on Monday 24 April, for its highly-acclaimed, boundary-breaking new Business Class Qsuite, with international media, travel trade leaders, industry representatives and VIP guests in attendance.

Throughout ATM, guests and visitors to the Qatar Airways stand will be invited to experience the new Qsuite first-hand at the airline’s exhibition stand in Hall Two ME1445. The stand will give visitors the opportunity to be among the first to experience the comfort, entertainment and hospitality offered on board all Qatar Airways flights.

Qatar Airways also recently launched a new next generation user interface for Oryx One, its award-winning in-flight entertainment system that features up to 3,000 movie, television and game options. The platform will make it even easier to navigate the wide selection of blockbuster and classic movies, global music selection and the latest TV box sets; ensuring passengers the very best entertainment experience from the moment they step on board and every minute in the air.