Colors: Purple Color

Survey shows shoppers in the West Midlands expected to shop second-hand to save money and support those in need, following pandemic

Charity shops could be vital to the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic by helping people save money, shop sustainably and fund charitable services, according to a new survey. 

The survey commissioned* by the British Heart Foundation showed that over a quarter of adults in the West Midlands (28%) feel that charity shops are more important to society following Covid-19, while just under four in ten (38%) agree that being sustainable and thinking about the environment when they shop is more important than before.

Of those who think charity shops will be more important for society in the West Midlands: 

Over three in five (64%) say it’s because charity shops provide affordable items to those with financial concerns.
Over three in five (62%) say it’s because they raise funds for charitable causes at a time many of these causes are in high demand. 
More than half (52%) say charity shops are vital because they prevent items from being thrown away.
Four in ten (40%) respondents say they provide jobs and volunteering opportunities in community at a time the UK is facing recession. 

Last year alone, thanks to the generosity of donations to our shops the BHF helped re-use an incredible 71,000 tonnes of items and prevented 135,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from being released into the atmosphere. The BHF say the Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the benefits charity shops bring to the economy and consumers, from saving people money, to preventing items going to waste and funding causes that have given vital support to people during this time. The charity hopes its shops will be a first stop for those wanting to declutter and donate as people are more conscious of these benefits than ever.

Allison Swaine-Hughes, Retail Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This pandemic has been devastating for so many of us and the reopening of charity shops is going to be vital for millions as we look to recover. Charity shops provide high quality items at affordable prices, power charitable services that have never been more in demand, re-use thousands of tonnes of items and provide a community space for so many volunteers and customers.”

 “Every pound raised in our shops helps us to support the 660,000 people in the West Midlands living with heart and circulatory diseases, many of whom are at increased risk from Covid-19. Shopping at the BHF will help us, help them.”

At the end of March, the BHF temporarily closed its 750 nationwide shops in order to protect staff, volunteers and customers. The charity has since revealed that its funding budget to support research into heart and circulatory diseases may be reduced by £50 million this year and needs the public support more than ever to maintain progress.

Just £16 worth of your donations can support an early career scientist in carrying out an hour’s research and £25 gives a researcher an hour’s access to equipment. If your donations raised £100, this would fund a DNA extraction kit to identify genes linked to heart and circulatory diseases. 


Flour Mills of Nigeria release positive audited financial performance report, finishes strong with a record 184% growth in after tax profit


FMN (Flour Mills of Nigeria PLC) the largest Agro-Allied and food group on the Continent of Africa, recently announced its audited financial performance for the 2019/2020. The report released on the 3rd August to the Nigerian Stock Exchange, highlights a number of remarkable achievements despite the prevailing economic headwinds and difficult operating terrain in Apapa, Lagos. 


In line with the group’s management focus of developing Nigeria’s self-sufficiency within the agricultural value chain, FMN has invested heavily (over 150 billion Naira) in recent years to ensure Nigeria has the infrastructure and capabilities to create its own raw materials to support the food sector.


This is now clearly paying off as the Agro-allied segments saw strong profit growth in Oils and Fats and Proteins, with a Gross profit doubling both segments on an annual basis. 


The Group realized a revenue growth of 9% (YoY) to N574 billion naira, Profit Before Tax also increased by 72% (YoY) to N17.5 billion Naira and a whopping 184% (YoY) Profit After Tax increase to 11.4 billion Naira.


Commenting on the result, Paul Gbededo, the Group Managing Director said: “The 2019/20 financial year was a remarkable year for our Group and I am really pleased with the result.

Our Profit Before Tax saw a remarkable increase of 72% to 17.5 billion Naira, while our Profit After Tax nearly tripled from 4.0 billion Naira last year to 11.4 billion Naira in the current year. This is partly attributable to the improved performance of our Agro Allied Businesses and in line with our strategy to continue to grow the wealth of our shareholders.”


He further stated: “We will remain focused on increasing operational efficiency within the group as we continue to implement our accelerated cost optimization plans across all businesses to ensure profitability in the new operating environment.”

Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc was incorporated in September 1960 as a private limited liability company and commenced operations in 1962 with an installed flour milling capacity of 500 metric tonnes per day. In 1978, Flour Mills of Nigeria was converted to a public limited liability company and its shares were subsequently listed on The Nigerian Stock Exchange. Today,

Flour Mills of Nigeria is the largest flour milling company in Nigeria, with an installed flour milling capacity of approximately 12,000 metric tonnes per day. The Company continuously strives in its purpose to “Feed the Nation, Everday” through its five core food value chains: Grains, Sweeteners, Oils and Fats, Proteins and Starches. The Company is increasing local content in a substantive and sustainable way with its “farm-to-table” model in order to further mitigate reliance on imports and exposure to external volatility in the food business.

Flour Mills of Nigeria remains Nigeria’s largest and oldest food and agro allied company, with a broad product portfolio and a robust pan-Nigerian distribution network. The Company’s three major business segments are constantly evolving to meet the diverse needs of all stakeholders.



Dorsett Wanchai and Dorsett Mongkok Win 2020 Travellers’ Choice Award By TripAdvisor for Exceptional Hospitality

The Covid-19 has definitely affected many people in one way or another, but it hasn't stopped the two sister hotels - Dorsett Wanchai and Dorsett Mongkok, Hong Kong from achieving more. Last week, both hotels saw their hard work being paid off when they were announced the award-winners of the 2020 Travellers' Choice Award by TripAdvisor, the world's largest travel platform.

The annual award recognizes the top 10% of hotels that perform exceptionally well in the hospitality businesses based on a large volume of positive travellers' reviews received globally and verified by TripAdvisor in the past year.

Ms Anita Chan, General Manager of Dorsett Wanchai and Dorsett Mongkok said: "Despite tourism industry being heavily impacted by Covid-19, our commitment to serving our guests with genuine hostility has never once been shaken by the pandemic. Winning this award has a special meaning for us this year. Not only does it assures our guests that we are still a trusted place to stay, it also proves that nothing is impossible with a passionate heart.

“Therefore, I want to take this moment to thank all our guests for their support and to the hotel staff for doing a marvelous job in keeping guests safe and well during these extremely challenging times. We wouldn't have achieved this without the trust of our guests and the full support from our people".

At Dorsett, the safety and well-being of the guests and staff has always been the top priority.

In the past few months, they have been taking cautious steps to upgrade our safety measures.

They have partnered with Ecolab and use their medical grade disinfectant; we also incorporate technology to increase cleaning and disinfecting efficiency, such as the AI vacuum cleaner and AI thermal scanner.

They have also launched a new foodpanda menu to enhance our in-room dining experience, and a vending machine fully-stocked with sanitizing amenities and daily necessities to provide convenience for in-house guests.

"We are better prepared than ever in face of the pandemic in Hong Kong. When you are ready to travel again, we are ready to serve you at Dorsett," said Ms Chan.



The latest completion of an 11,000 sq. ft warehouse by Stepnell has been a project with a difference, with the construction firm not only acting as the landlord, developer, principal contractor, and employer’s agent, but also successfully implementing its “whole team” approach to deliver in an efficient manner.

Acting as a “complete construction partner”, the detached warehouse is part of the latest phase at OGEE Business Park in Wellingborough.

Stepnell provided master-planning to create more than 350,000 sq. ft. of high-quality warehouse, industrial and office space. The 24-acre OGEE Business Park offers design and build opportunities available for sale or to let through Stepnell’s property team.

The warehouse unit is being leased by one of Stepnell’s existing tenants at the business park, Double R Glass and Roofing Systems Ltd. The double-glazing supplier is expanding from its current warehouse at Ogee Business Park that it has leased since the unit was first built by Stepnell ten years ago.

The new warehouse, located at the entrance to the business park, features fully fitted office space, including kitchen areas, a reception space and private offices.

Edward Wakeford, property director at Stepnell, said: “We are delighted to have completed our latest project at OGEE Business Park. The development showcases our ability to offer a complete service; from planning and construction, all the way through to the development overseen by our dedicated team.

“Using our own in-house expertise and property management team, we’ve been able to manage the project as a whole rather than having to tackle each part individually, making for an efficient build. We are proud to be able to offer this end-to-end approach, helping to provide continuity and consistency throughout the development.

“We are really pleased to have supported our tenants Double R Glass and Roofing Systems on this development as part of their business growth and to provide the new warehouse facility, which they will now expand into. Stepnell built the first unit that Double R Glass and Roofing Systems occupied for the past ten years and it is great that we are able to continue the relationship.”

Made up of a steel portal frame construction, the building also features fully landscaped external areas, providing a loading area with two five metre high loading doors as well as a dedicated car park for up to 17 vehicles. Once fully complete, OGEE Business Park - situated on the Finedon Road Estate and approximately a mile and a half north of Wellingborough town centre - will bring new investment and commercial opportunities to the area, providing new jobs for the Midlands region.

Stepnell’s in-house property management experience includes an £8 million commercial development at Stepnell Park, which features ten industrial warehouse buildings and will eventually house a new head office for the 154-year-old family-owned firm.

Badby Leys in Rugby, a development of three homes, which was completed at the end of March 2020 was also fully developed, built and managed by the construction company. Other occupiers at OGEE Business Park include Bedford Battery Company Ltd, Double “R” Glazing, Robinson Manufacturing and Tripal International.


The latest research by leading property recruitment specialists, Rayner Personnel, has revealed which areas of the UK offer the greatest potential earnings for estate agents operating in that particular market.  

Rayner Personnel looked at the average monthly earning potential on offer across each of the UK’s regions and major cities, based on the average fee and the average number of monthly property transactions. The research shows that across Britain, there is some £274.4m up for grabs in estate agency commission every month.

In England, the current average fee of 1.5% means that potential earnings hit £248,667,842 per month, based on the average earning potential of £3,774 per property completion, multiplied by the 65,895 transactions that take place on average every month.  

Regionally, London tops the table as the most lucrative region for estate agents based on monthly earning potential. With an average fee of £8,501 and an average of 6,867 sales each month over the last year, there is a potential £58.37m to be earnt each month in the capital.

The South East isn’t far behind (£56.29m), followed by the East of England (£34.18m), the South West (£32m) and the North West (£21.13m).

Outside of London, Edinburgh is the second most lucrative city. On average, 953 transactions completed every month over the last year, generating a potential £3.26m in estate agency income on a monthly basis.

Birmingham (£2.99m), Leeds (£2.71m), Bristol (£2.31m), Bournemouth (£2.3m), Sheffield (£1.61m), Glasgow (£1.56m), Cardiff (£1.47m) and Manchester (£1.27m) also rank as some of the most potentially lucrative major cities for estate agents on a monthly basis.

Founder and CEO of Rayner Personnel, Josh Rayner, said:  “London is always going to drive the market in terms of volume and estate agent earning potential due to the generally higher fees. However, it’s important to remember that while these potential earnings differ by region and city, so too does the number of agents battling it out for this business.  

“The threat of the online and hybrid model hasn’t escalated to the levels previously expected, but they still pose a threat in terms of acquiring transactions across the UK which will also reduce available income.  

“While we appreciate that not every agent charges the average fee for their services, we wanted to highlight that the UK property market is alive and well despite wider uncertainties and estate agents can still make a very good living.  

“Of course, one way to ensure you acquire as much potential business as possible is to have the very best team, delivering the very best service in your given area. This comes down to hiring the right people, with the right attitude and this can be the difference when it comes to staying ahead of the competition.”

There has been a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in Sandwell in recent weeks. This has been partly driven by outbreaks in workplaces.

Lisa McNally, Sandwell Council’s Director for Public Health, said: “We need businesses to let us know if they have two or more cases of COVID-19 among their workforce. We can help to prevent a larger outbreak. If businesses delay in letting us know then outbreaks can become out of control and the business may need to close.

“Businesses should also contact us is they need advice on how to prevent coronavirus infection in the workplace. We can offer a telephone or on-site visit and really help them make their workplace COVID safe. 

“Business owners can get in touch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling the Healthy Sandwell team at 0800 011 4656.

“If employees are concerned about COVID cases or prevention at their workplace they can also contact us at the details above.  Obviously, anything they tell us will be treated in confidence and they can remain anonymous if they wish.”

Councillor Maria Crompton, Deputy Leader for Sandwell Council wants to reinforce the message to businesses and asks for everyone to work together. She said: "We are ramping up our efforts with local businesses as these potentially hold the key to making sure we don't get large outbreaks of Covid-19 in Sandwell.

“We need everyone to work together to stop outbreaks and I urge business owners and employees to get in touch with any concerns they have.

“It is in the interests of all businesses to contact us so we can provide the necessary help to business owners and save them from a potential closure.” 

For more details about getting in touch, go to

Businesses and employees should adhere to the following advice:

Anyone who develops symptoms – persistent cough, temperature or loss of smell or taste – needs to immediately self-isolate for 7 days.
Where possible people with symptoms should be isolated from others in the household who do not have symptoms. If you develop symptoms book a test immediately online or by calling 119.
Avoid any unnecessary interaction with people from outside your household. Crowded environments should be avoided. 
If you have to go out, maintain a distance of at least 1 metre (preferably 2 metres) from other people and wear a face covering.