Colors: Purple Color

The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham has today announced it is to further build upon its reputation as a pioneering centre of world-class surgical excellence by introducing robotic-arm assisted surgery for the first time.

The hospital, home to one of the largest and most respected specialist orthopaedic surgery units in Europe, has confirmed it has invested in new robotic-arm assisted hip and knee replacement technology.

The advanced Stryker Mako robotic-arm assisted surgery transforms the way joint replacement surgery is performed, enabling the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital’s team of highly-trained surgeons to operate with even more accuracy.

The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital will introduce the revolutionary surgery in its newly launched Woodlands Suite.

The investment comes as demand for joint replacement surgery, especially among those aged under 60, has risen dramatically in the UK over last decade, according to statistics.

British hospitals saw a 76% increase in hip replacements for those aged 59 and under between 2004-5 and 2014-15. There was also a 47% increase in the number of hip replacements across all ages during this period.

More than 217,000 hip and knee replacement operations were carried out at NHS and independent hospitals in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man last year, with 1,325 hip procedures undertaken at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital alone.

Professor Edward Davis, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, said: “The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital has been pioneering care in the field of orthopaedics since its inception and this investment in leading-edge technology represents another exciting chapter in that story.

“With this technology we can provide each patient with a personalised surgical experience based on their specific diagnosis and anatomy.

“Using a virtual 3D model, Mako allows surgeons to create each patient’s surgical plan pre-operatively. During surgery, we can validate that plan and make any necessary adjustments while guiding the robotic-arm to execute that plan.

“It’s exciting to be able to offer this transformative technology to in our newly created Woodlands Suite offering state-of-the-art care to patients at every step of their journey through the process from planning to post-operative recuperation and care.”

Osteoarthritis was the main diagnosis for primary hip replacement and almost exclusively the diagnosis for primary knee replacement during the 2016 calendar year, in 90 per cent and 99 per cent of cases respectively.

The Mako Total Hip application is a treatment option for adults who suffer from degenerative joint disease of the hip. During surgery, the surgeon guides the robotic-arm during bone preparation to prepare the hip socket and position the implant according to the pre-determined surgical plan.  The tool aids precision surgery, helping reduce post-operative pain and speed patient recovery time”.

Mum-of-two Elaine Spencer, 69, was the first patient to undergo the treatment. And six weeks after the surgery, the mum-of-two has gone from strength to strength.

She said: “I have been keeping my own diary of my progress. After two weeks I was back swimming, after three weeks I was driving and could go up and down stairs normally, rather than a step at a time, and at four weeks I got rid of my walking stick altogether.

“Since then I have been to the theatre and I’ve got on the train, both of which involved lots of steps. I can now sleep on the side that was operated on and I am enjoying going for walks, in fact I am just in from a walk just now.”

“I am really really pleased with how things have gone. It has been a transformation.”

Professor Davis said: “We are proud to be the first NHS hospital to offer this highly advanced robotic technology in the UK.

“The addition of Mako to our orthopaedic service line further demonstrates our commitment to provide the community of Birmingham, the West Midlands and beyond with outstanding healthcare.”

A series of masterclasses aimed at getting West Midlands businesses confident enough to export their goods and services is being launched in Birmingham.

Funded by ERDF SME International Growth Project and organised by the Department for International Trade (DIT) and West Midlands Chambers of Commerce, the three half-day masterclasses take place in the city centre and will be headed by a specialist trainer in international business strategies. There is no cost to eligible businesses attending.

The first takes place on April 19 and will focus on how to increase export sales. It will include techniques on how to upsell to existing international clients, how to identify new markets and build brand awareness, as well as mitigating risks and using a range of channels to sell.

The second takes place on May 22 and will examine how companies can pitch their business to an international audience, looking at business style, culture and market, using the Export Opportunities platform, and how to make the most of Department for International Trade networks and overseas contacts.

The third masterclass on May 10 is about the eight steps to successful international negotiation skills, planning and how to improve the outcome of negotiations.

Patrick McCarron, business development manager at the Department for International Trade, said: “More often than not, businesses need a guiding hand when it comes to having a strategic plan for export growth because there’s a step up from being reactive when an enquiry comes in from really planning to grow the business’s overseas markets.

“Our masterclasses can put businesses on the right path towards exporting, give them the confidence they need and also provide vital information on where they can get DIT support.”

Eligible businesses can sign up for the masterclasses relevant to their needs and the sessions will be hosted by Richard Jeffrey, of Business Navigators, at KPMG, at One Snowhill, Snowhill Queensway, Birmingham.

The Deputy Mayor of Wolverhampton, Councillor Phil Page, opened the new Food Warehouse (Iceland) flagship store at the Peel Centre in the city.

Wolves at Work employment programme has helped the major new Stafford Street retailer successfully recruit city residents for 50 permanent jobs.

Forty-five of the 50 (90 per cent) retail assistant and night replenishment assistant roles have been filled by City of Wolverhampton residents – and of those 45, 27 were previously unemployed.

The Food Warehouse joins the recently-opened Home Bargains store and JD Gyms’ new gym on the rejuvenated retail park.

Food Warehouse Store Manager, Adam Allmark, said: “It’s great to finally open the doors after a lot of hard work by the team.

“The initial reaction from customers has been very positive and the staff are very proud to be serving them in their home city.”

City of Wolverhampton Council, Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor John Reynolds, said: “It is great to see the Peel Centre being brought back to life by these major businesses.

“It is another example of the £3.7 billion of investment currently on site or in the pipeline across the city also paying dividends in terms of job opportunities for the people of Wolverhampton."

Anyone interested in local jobs or employers needing recruitment support in Wolverhampton can register at

A collection of new high-value manufacturing, business and logistics investment opportunities in the City of Wolverhampton and Staffordshire has been unveiled at MIPIM in Cannes.

The M54 Wolverhampton – Staffordshire High Growth Zone will be one of the biggest in the UK and was showcased at The Right Landscape for Growth hotspot at the global property forum.

The Growth Zone consists of six strategic cluster sites next to the M54 and junctions 10a and 12 of the M6.

It builds on the award-winning i54 joint venture formed by City of Wolverhampton, Staffordshire and South Staffordshire councils in 2012, working closely with private sector partners.

The Growth Zone has the potential to deliver more than 11 million sq ft of floor space and 20,000 jobs over 15 sites.

It provides investors, developers and occupiers with exciting opportunities over a ten-year programme.

The six strategic cluster sites are i54, Wobaston Park, Wolverhampton Business Park, ROF Featherstone, Mercury Park and Vernon Park, and West Midlands Interchange and Four Ashes Park.

Councillor John Reynolds, City of Wolverhampton Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “This is a great opportunity to join global brands in a nationally significant growth zone.

“These strategic sites are centrally located with first-class connectivity and major public-sector infrastructure investment.

“The scale of the proposition makes it one of the biggest in the UK and also offers access to a highly skilled workforce.”

The first cluster is the final 15 acres on plots C, D and E at i54, where the likes of Jaguar Land Rover, Moog, ISP, Eurofins, ERA and Atlas Copco (Tentec) are located.

The i54 partnership is now proposing a 100-acre western extension of the site, off junction 2 on the M54.

Wobaston Park offers two adjacent sites with easy access to the newly-improved Wobaston Road and M54, with planning permission for B1, B2 and B8 use.

Further north along the A449 is Wolverhampton Business Park on M54 Junction 2, which boasts available plots for professional services and end occupiers.

It is already home to Sunday Times top-ten company, Charter Court Financial Services.

ROF Featherstone, just north of M54, junction 2, is a 60-acre former ordnance site, owned by St Francis Group. It includes plans for a 30-acre extension. Joint venture partners are funding a new access route to the site, which will be followed by a planning application later this year, with plots available from 2020.

Mercury Park and Vernon Park lie just off M54 junction, where there are opportunities to join brands like Mann & Hummel, DHL, Squire, Hough and J Banks.

West Midlands Interchange is a proposition developed by Four Ashes Ltd – a joint venture between Grosvenor First, Kilbride Group and Piers Monkton. It will have direct freight access to the West Coast mainline and onward to the nation’s key deep-water ports. It will be subject to a ministerial development consent order this year, highlighting the significance of this national infrastructure project.

Four Ashes Park is the new home to international manufacturer Gestamp. It has also seen international developer First Panattoni invest in a 400,000 sq ft speculative build. The private investment is matched by public sector investment already being developed to support business growth and success.

The M54 Wolverhampton – Staffordshire High Growth Zone is supported by the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, West Midlands Combined Authority, and Midlands Engine.

Staffordshire County Council’s economic growth leader, Mark Winnington, said: “The M54 high growth zone presents huge opportunities for global investors and so presenting it at MIPIM is a vital part of our marketing of the area.

“All of the sites within the zone complement each other and are already home to world-leading brands which are playing an important part in UK and regional growth.

“The fact that the zone contains thriving enterprise hubs is due in no small part to the highly successful partnership of councils which has levered in millions of pounds of private investment.

“Its central location and road and rail links of course strengthen our pitch and we expect more improvements to infrastructure.

“The continued expansion and growth of the zone will create thousands more quality jobs in our area and ensure we have a skilled workforce to meet the needs of future business.”

Smaller businesses in the West Midlands are embracing apprenticeships, with 76 per cent of SME owners and senior workers who have taken on apprentices saying that they have added value to their business within six months of taking them on, according to a new study by AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians).

The study, commissioned for National Apprenticeship Week (5-9 March), shows that businesses appreciate the value apprenticeships can bring to them, with 60 per cent saying that taking on apprentices has been good value for money for them, 64 per cent saying that they get staff who are more suited to their businesses and the skills they need by taking them on as apprentices, and 48 per cent saying they have boosted productivity within their business.

The average number of apprentices taken on by small businesses in the West Midlands in the past two years is four (compared with an average of three across England as a whole), with 12 per cent saying that they have taken on five or more. 80 per cent say that the number of apprentices they have taken on in the past five years has grown. In a signal of satisfaction with their apprentices, all of those questioned say that they are very likely or quite likely to take on more apprentices in the next two years.

68 per cent of those who have taken on apprentices also said that apprenticeships are the best pathway into the industry in which their business primarily operates, versus 24 per cent who said a university degree is the best.

On average, the businesses in the West Midlands who have taken on apprentices say they have offered to keep on two thirds (66%) per cent of them after they finished their apprenticeship, with one in five (20%) saying they have offered to keep on all the apprentices they have ever taken on.

When looking to take an apprentice on, 40 per cent found out how to hire one from a government website, 32 per cent found out from a registered training organization, 12 per cent found out from their local FE college or training provider, and 12 per cent got a word of mouth recommendation. 64 per cent of those who take on apprentices said they take the initiative and contact their local FE college or training provider to help them find apprentices, 56 per cent say they get contacted themselves, but 8 per cent say they don’t contact or get contacted by local colleges.

40 per cent of those who have taken on apprentices say they have already accessed available funds from the Apprenticeship Levy to help train a new employee. 40 per cent say they have already accessed funds to help train an existing employee. 20 per cent say they have not accessed funds but intend to do so this year, 8 per cent say they have not accessed funds but are likely to do so over the next few years, and 8 per cent say they were totally unaware that funds from the levy were available for their business.

Of the businesses spoken to who have never taken on an apprentice, 41 per cent say that they feel there are still barriers holding them back from taking one on (compared to 39% across England as a whole). Of those, 24 per cent say trying to find out how to get funding is too complicated, 19 per cent say the cost of starting an apprenticeship scheme is the biggest barrier, and 10 per cent say they don’t know how to start a scheme. Despite there still being perceived barriers for these businesses, over two thirds (67%) of those who have never taken on an apprentice say they are currently planning to take some on.

Rob Alder, Head of Business Development at AAT says: “The theme of this year’s National Apprenticeship Week is ‘Apprentices Work’, and our research shows that smaller businesses in the West Midlands hugely endorse apprentices within their own firms. It shows that many smaller businesses value the benefits apprentices can bring to them, and that apprentices can over time be trained to meet the skill requirements the business needs. Those who have taken on apprentices are happy with them, and even those who haven’t yet taken any on are making plans to do so.

“However, the fact that there are some who still feel that there are barriers to them taking on apprentices, and who are having problems with costs and understanding the system, shows that more still needs to be done to raise awareness and help smaller businesses especially.”

Now a rapidly growing market, the Luxury Property Show will have some 50 exhibitors from around the world to present investment opportunities ranging from Mediterranean villas to beachside apartments in Thailand via alpine retreats in Northern Europe to luxury lofts in New York.


To be held at the London Olympia, in the UK, exhibitors and sponsors list is long and distinguished, with the likes of St. James Place Wealth Management, Remax, Almanzora, Baker Woods, Mansion Global, Yamaha Music, Corcoran Group, Prime Properties, the International Property Awards and many more already expected to be present.


The two-day event will highlight fabulous properties on sale; including - Beachfront homes in Dubai and The Caribbean to Asian penthouses, Prestige golf villas in Portugal, Spain and Florida to French Chateaux, Luxury apartments in New York, London, Moscow and MonacoEuropean mountain & lake retreats to Australian Waterfront Homes.


One exhibiter, Annette Reeve, of Mayfair International Property, said: “We’ve been here every single year and it does exactly what we want; it brings our clients terrific exposure for their properties.”


Alessandra Merola, of The Good Estate Agency Overseas concurred: “We have made a lot of good business contacts and I recommend joining the show next year. I know we’ll be back for sure.”


The Luxury Property Show 2018 will be held from November 1 to 2.



Investors in the West Midlands under the age of 35 are much more likely to take a ‘hands-on’ approach to their wealth compared to older generations, according to a survey of over 1,000 UK savers and 500 High Net Worth Individuals commissioned by Rathbone Investment Management.

Over half (54%) of investors in the West Midlands aged between 18 and 34 have taken steps to protect or safeguard their savings as a result of recent economic uncertainty; in comparison, just 40% of investors aged over 45 had done the same.

Rising inflation, historically low interest rates, and the ongoing Brexit negotiations have contributed to an atmosphere of heightened economic uncertainty in the past year, and today’s research shows some striking differences in how the different generations are navigating these choppy waters. Indeed, 19% of 18-34 year olds had diversified their portfolio amidst uncertainty, and almost a quarter (23%) had personally reviewed their portfolio.

Part of the reason for younger generations being more involved in their own finances may be because a higher proportion have generated their money themselves, rather than inheriting it from previous generations. According to the research, 14% of 18-34 year olds in the West Midlands had made their money through owning and running – or subsequently selling – a business. This is less than the over 45s, with 9% saying this was the case. Another potential factor for the younger generations being more actively involved in their approach is that they have grown up in very different economic times.

Rathbone’s research also revealed that younger generations were more likely to use their money for good than older generations. 10% of 18-34 year olds believe social impact investing is one of the best ways to use your money for good, compared to just 5% of over 45s.


Ian Tansley, Regional Director of Rathbones’ Birmingham office comments: “Younger generations – particularly millennials – have grown up during times of prolonged economic uncertainty, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that they are taking a hands-on approach to their finances.”

“Typically, it’s assumed that younger generations are less financially astute, but our research suggests that this is not the case. The start-up boom and rise of entrepreneurship in the UK means that younger generations are now much more clued up on their investments, and how best to protect and grow them.

“Higher inflation and the current economic uncertainty over Brexit mean that investors should be taking steps to ensure their portfolio can weather any storm as well as possible. A large part of this will be making sure that portfolios are well diversified.”

More than 100 ambitious businesses from across the West Midlands took part in a major event funded by ERDF SME International Growth Project that could help them grow their exporting plans.

New Year, New Markets at the ICC featured 30 market specialists representing 93 markets from across the globe – including Africa, Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Gulf.

Organised by the Department for International Trade (DIT) and West Midlands Chambers of Commerce, funded through their ERDF SME International Growth Project this trade event was open to small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) based in the West Midlands region. Attendees ranged from experienced exporters looking to expand their global reach to those that have never traded outside of the UK before.

More than 300 1:1 meetings took place with market specialists and trade advisers, and parallel workshops provided specific market intelligence too.  Those focusing on North America, Africa, UAE, Germany and India proved to be the most popular among delegates.

Andy Smith, International Relationships Manager for the SME International Growth Project, said the turnout demonstrated that companies from across the West Midlands region – which includes Coventry and Warwickshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire – are keen to explore overseas markets.

“This was a great l turnout for such an event and it shows that businesses are hungry for export advice and intelligence,” he said.

“It was heartening to see the level of interest across the market spectrum, from close EU neighbours to further-flung growth markets such as those in Africa or South East Asia.”

Some of the world’s leading entrepreneurs, business leaders, academics and creatives will gather to celebrate UK technological excellence at the GREAT Festival of Innovation in Hong Kong this spring.

Taking place March 21-24, 2018, the event has already attracted a host of top names to take part in a packed conference programme, with thought-provoking sessions touching everything from the future of free trade to the threats and opportunities posed by the development of artificial intelligence.

Organised by the UK’s Department for International Trade, a number of the Festival’s key speakers are amongst the leaders of globally recognised technology businesses. Names confirmed include former GCHQ boss Robert Hannigan; Tea Uglow from Google’s Creative labs; Sanjay Aurora, from cyber-security experts Darktrace; Alex Kong of currency transfer firm TNG Wallet; and entrepreneur and co-founder Brent Hoberman.

The four-day Festival will examine the future challenges and opportunities of our increasingly connected world, and showcase the UK as one of the world’s best places to visit, study, invest in and do business. There are over 58,000 technology firms based in the UK, and the Festival aims to deliver further growth and investment through enhanced international trade.

Day One has a tech focus and some of the sessions announced so far include Fintech Futures, a look at technologies such as blockchain, apps and online lending that are driving start-ups in the financial sector; Disruption in Business, examining the societal and technological changes that businesses should protect themselves from; and Securing the Global Network, a debate into the importance of cyber-security.

Other tech sessions include Powering Tomorrow’s Ideas, an examination of how governments and the private sector can develop low-carbon cities; Dawn of the AI Age, a look at the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning; and Workplaces of the Future, with some of the world’s top architects and business leaders examining the changing role of workspaces to keep employees healthy and happy.

Outside of the conference programme, the Festival will offer specially-invited UK business leaders the chance to meet counterparts from across Asia to discuss possible future trading and investment opportunities.

The Great Festival of Innovation Hong Kong will be the third of its kind, following successful events in Istanbul (2014) and Shanghai (2015). Its vision is to create long-term partnerships that drive the future of free trade and prosperity between the UK and Asia.

The GREAT Britain campaign is currently active in 144 countries and has already delivered £2.7 billion in economic benefits for the UK.

Several hundred invited delegates will attend the Hong Kong event, which takes place at the Asia Society Hong Kong Centre and will feature more than 60 panels and events over its four days.

A training scheme to help retailers tackle the risk of selling alcohol and cigarettes to underage young people has been launched by Sandwell’s trading standards team.

Believed to be the first in the country, the Responsible Business Scheme helps shops and their staff avoid the offence in the first place – known as the ‘due diligence defence’ in law.

More than 20 shops have already signed up and yesterday (Thursday) representatives from nine shops received certificates for completing their training. Councillor Elaine Costigan, cabinet member for public health and protection, said: "There are strict laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol and tobacco to young people because they are considered to present a real risk to their health and welfare.

"We recognise that the vast majority of businesses want to comply with the law in order to trade fairly and successfully and at the same time make a positive contribution to their local community.”

Councillor Costigan added: "Even before the launch of the scheme, 23 retailers have already signed up and many more are waiting to join, showing the popularity of the scheme.

"Last year, our Trading Standards team carried out 82 undercover test purchases with 32 per cent of shops selling an age-restricted product to a young person.

"All the offending shops were subject to tough enforcement action. I would urge retailers to join the scheme and avoid being one of the offending businesses."

Bob Charnley, Sandwell Council’s trading standards and licensing manager, said: "The scheme provides businesses with a comprehensive package of training for staff and an annual onsite audit by the trading standards team for just £159."

Mr Charnley added: "It's the sort of package you would expect to see at all the major supermarkets. With this scheme, you don't have to be a major national supermarket to protect your business from legal action such as criminal prosecution or risk losing your alcohol licence."

Mr Gurdip Bali, owner of Hilltop Wines in West Bromwich, and a member of the scheme, said: "Working in partnership with our local trading standards department, the very people who enforce the law, has helped our business to thrive and prosper.

"Their help has been invaluable in helping us to ensure the shop is fully compliant with the law surrounding the sales of alcohol and tobacco and it has been essential in building up a good reputation within the local community."

The shops who have completed their training are:

  • M&M Supermarket, Smethwick
  • Hill Top Wines, West Bromwich
  • Loco-252, Smethwick
  • WB Store, Carters Green
  • Hill Top Supermarket, West Bromwich Quality Convenience Store, Rowley Regis
  • Quality Supermarket, Wollaston
  • MGB News Ltd, Cradley Heath
  • Samras, Cradley Heath

Twycross Zoo is inviting all little monkeys to join in the fun this half term with its immersive school holiday club.

Set in the heart of England, the award-winning conservation charity is running Zoo Club from Mondays to Fridays*, where children can come and enjoy a host of exciting activities whilst learning about its amazing and endangered animals.

With engaging animal-themed tasks and the chance to discover the zoo’s 500 fascinating creatures, from great apes to creepy crawlies, Twycross Zoo gives children the opportunity to learn and play during the school holidays.

Twycross Zoo’s dedicated Discovery and Learning Team will lead all activities including cryptic trails around the zoo, enrichment toy-making for the animals, arts and crafts and even the chance to give health checks to some of the friendlier animals. Children can have fun playing games whilst learning about a range of hot topics, like global conservation, with the zoo’s expert team on hand to supervise at all times.

Zoo Club is for children aged 8-14 and is available from £20 per person per day, or £85 per person per week (5 days). Wrap around care is also available, with sessions from 8.30am-9am and also 4.30pm-5.30pm from £5 per session.

The Littleton was awarded with the ‘Best Reviewed Restaurant in the UK’ accolade in the fine dining category. The restaurant also won ‘Best Reviewed Restaurant in Walsall’ and was recognised as being the third best business in the UK.


The Littleton, opened by Walsall College as part of its £11m business and sports hub, combines luxurious surroundings and friendly service, with a lively, vibrant atmosphere. Headed up by AA rosette winning chefs, Steve Biggs and Paul Ingleby, the 40-seat bistro offers a contemporary menu of British inspired cuisine, created using high-quality fresh food focusing on locally sourced ingredients.


The Business of the Year Awards are organised by thebestof, a national marketing organisation committed to raising the profile of local, independent and recommended businesses serving areas across the UK.During the campaign, people were asked to show their support for their favourite local business by submitting a review of the service they had received. At a national level over 37,000 verified reviews were left for businesses who had qualified to take part in the awards. The awards operate at a national and local level with an overall UK Business of the Year and a Business of the Year award for each business category and town.


Head Chef at The Littleton, Steve Biggs said: “We are absolutely delighted to have received these accolades based on customer reviews. Since we opened in 2016, we have developed an esteemed reputation, which is a testament to the hard work and efforts of all our staff who ensure guests have an outstanding dining experience.


Littleton Supervisor, Emma Huckle, said: “We’ve received continuous 5 star reviews since we opened. We’re delighted that diners are coming from all parts of the West Midlands and beyond. We see an eclectic mix of customers coming to the Littleton, from business people enjoying lunch and after-work drinks, to families and friends celebrating birthdays and evening meals.”


Trip Advisor commenters have described the food as ‘exquisite’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘well presented’. Staff could not be more helpful, and many say they have recommended the bistro to friends and family.

The Littleton, located in The Hub next to Walsall College’s Wisemore Campus, is also creating chefs of the future through its apprenticeship programme.


In addition, The Hub includes a 40-station gym, a multi-purpose sports hall, dance and fitness studios, spa, sports training and injury clinic, a business incubation centre for start-up businesses, as well as conference and event facilities.

The Boxing Gym, the world’s first fully-functioning in-store boxing gym had opened at Selfridges on Oxford Street.

The Boxing Gym is a collaboration with and run by BXR London, the first boutique boxing club launched in January 2017 by boxing superstar Anthony Joshua and a group of investment partners including Mark Ronson and boxing promoter Eddie Hearn.

The BXR residency at Selfridges will run for a month and is part of Lamyland, the opening act in a series of projects under a new umbrella campaign called Radical Luxury through which Selfridges is inviting customers to discuss the meaning of luxury today. Lamyland is the brainchild of designer and artist Michèle Lamy, a true fashion original and wife of designer Rick Owens, who was commissioned by Selfridges to interpret luxury in a personal and radical way.

Boxing, about which Michèle is passionate, as well as art and fashion are all at the heart of her Lamyland project and expressed – beyond the creation of the Boxing Gym - through a wide selection of exclusive designer and artist collaborations featuring Supreme, Everlast, Off-White, Craig Green, Gareth Pugh and Versace amongst many others. Those collaborations are available through the Selfridges Corner Shop, a retail destination launched in December 2017 and dedicated to temporary themed residencies.

The Boxing Gym is on the lower ground floor of the Oxford Street store, it's 3,500 sqft, offers 20 heavy water-loaded rubber punch bags and a bespoke boxing ring. There are 20 strength and conditioning stations set up in the space, each featuring a training mat, 2 dumbbells, 1 kettle bell and a choice of weight plates. Gloves and hand slips are provided for each session and a specially designed playlist featuring a mix of hip hop, rap, house tracks underpin specific sections of the workouts.

The Boxing Gym at Selfridges offers 55-minute group boxing classes bespoke for the new space, based on a combination of elements from BXR’s famous ‘Boxing Skills’ and ‘Strength and Conditioning’ classes. Private personal boxing sessions with one of the BXR’s elite coaches are also available. Group classes run from Thursday to Sunday and will include intensity rounds of boxing against boxing bags, paired with bodyweight exercises and core drills. Strength and body conditioning are developed using an individual box and a variety of load-bearing or resistance-based exercises fused with plyometric bodyweight routines, weighted cardio and explosive movements

Many people may be unaware of just how much their property has risen in value in recent months and how the increase could help them make their next move or release a substantial amount of equity.


The latest figures from Zoopla show a 3.62 per cent hike in house prices across the UK in the last 12 months, adding £10,930 to the value of an average property. When it comes to semi-detached houses, the increase in value is a huge 5.61 per cent, which is typically worth £14,556.


Variations have also been evident on a regional basis, with Rightmove recently reporting that some parts of the country have enjoyed house price growth of up to six per cent in the last year.


Kevin Shaw, national sales director at estate agents Leaders, says: “If you own your own home, you will understandably be interested in how much it has risen in value both recently and since you bought it.


“The good news is prices have increased in almost all parts of the country in recent months, leaving homeowners better off than they may realise. Rising prices are evidence of a strong market and give you an opportunity to sell up and make your next move, whether that is up the ladder, switching to a new location or moving to release equity.


“Inviting a reputable estate agent from your area is the best way to get a clear idea of exactly what your home is worth, with good agents aware of all the local trends and factors that will determine an exact value.”


Young people were boosted by the government’s announcement in the Autumn Budget that it is scrapping stamp duty for the majority of first-time buyers, taking thousands off the cost of getting on the property ladder.


Kevin adds: “Buying your own home is an ambition for many young people and capital growth is one of the primary reasons for doing so. As a homeowner, you will be in pole position when it comes to benefiting financially from any price increases.”

Big data is significantly changing many sectors of the Chinese economy, according to research by ICAEW, in partnership with the Shanghai National Accounting Institute and Chinese technology company Inspur. In its latest report Big Data in Chinese Businesses, the finance and accountancy body says substantial investment in data and associated technology is transforming businesses and putting China at the forefront of opportunities with artificial intelligence.

In 2017 there were over 731m internet users in China. The volume of data and users provides significant advantages – more data powers more accurate predictive models, richer analysis, and supports more advanced machine learning and deeper learning techniques.

Kirstin Gillon, ICAEW IT Technical Manager, said, “China provides an excellent learning environment about the opportunities to learn from big data. Two features put China in a strong position to generate and exploit big data – the sheer size of China, and its rapid adoption of mobile technology. The most transformational way for big data to create value is through new business models, but it can also enhance sales and marketing, operational efficiency, and product planning and investment.”

However, there are significant organisational challenges in realising the value of big data. The research and case studies highlight many practical issues that are common to companies across the world as they transition from legacy systems and thinking to become a more data-centric organisation.

Kirstin said: “traditional businesses in particular face significant practical challenges, they need to deliver much wider organisational and cultural change alongside technology investments.

“Exploiting data requires three skill-sets: IT skills in data, analysis and mining of data, and business skills to interpret the results. Accountants possess most of these skills, but they also need to have deeper understanding around IT systems and data. This will make it easier for accountants and data scientists to have good quality conversations about how they can use big data to bring the most value to business in the UK.”

Two-thirds of those running small and medium-sized (SME) construction firms are struggling to hire bricklayers and carpenters as construction skills shortages hit a ‘record high’, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
Key results from the FMB’s latest State of Trade Survey, which is the only quarterly assessment of the UK-wide SME construction sector, include:
•More than two-thirds (68%) of construction SMEs are struggling to hire bricklayers and 63% are struggling to hire carpenters and joiners – the highest figures since records began in 2008;
•The number of firms reporting difficulties hiring plumbers and electricians (48%), plasterers (46%) and floorers (30%) also reached record highs;
•Construction SME workloads grew at a slightly slower rate than in Q3 2017, but new enquiries and expected workloads slowed more sharply; expected workloads among those firms building new homes showed a negative net balance for the first time since 2013;
•Fewer construction SMEs predict rising workloads in the coming three months, down from 41% in the previous quarter to 38% in Q4 2017;
•87% of builders believe that material prices will rise in the next six months, up from 82% in the previous quarter;
•Nearly two-thirds (61%) of construction SMEs expect salaries and wages to increase in the next six months.
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “Skills shortages are sky rocketing and it begs the question, who will build the new homes and infrastructure projects the Government is crying out for. The Government has set itself an ambitious target to build 300,000 homes every year in England alone. More than two-thirds of construction SMEs are struggling to hire bricklayers which is one of the key trades in the building industry. This has increased by nearly 10% in just three months which points to a rapid worsening of an already dire situation. What’s more, nearly as many are facing difficulties hiring carpenters and joiners. These figures are the highest we’ve noted since records began a decade ago. As a result, the wages for these increasingly scarce skilled tradespeople continue to rise sharply; that’s a simple consequence of supply and demand. This, coupled with the fact that small construction firms continue to face significant material price increases, will inevitably squeeze their margins and put a brake on growth.”
Berry continued: “The Government must take account of the worsening construction skills shortage with Brexit looming large on the horizon. The Prime Minister must ensure that the immigration system that replaces the free movement of people can take account of the particular needs of key sectors such as construction and house building. Without skilled labour from the EU, the skills shortages we face would be considerably worse, and it is not in anyone’s best interest to pull the rug out from under the sector by introducing an inflexible and unresponsive immigration system. On the domestic front and in the longer term, to ensure we have an ample supply of skilled workers in the future, the Government must continue to work with industry to set the right framework in terms of T-Levels and apprenticeships.”
Berry concluded: “The silver lining to current skills shortages among construction SMEs is that the numerous tradespeople and professionals, who may find themselves out of work following the collapse of Carillion, have a ready supply of alternative employers. The FMB is working with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Construction Industry Training Board to match-make ex-Carillion workers with small construction employers in need of skilled workers. We’re also working hard as an industry to re-home the 1,200 Carillion apprentices who are the innocent victims of the major contractor’s demise. It’s in everyone’s interests to ensure that these young people continue on their path to a rewarding career in construction.”