Colors: Purple Color

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.”

2017 saw a number of changes made to regulations governing the private rented sector and a record number of government consultations held in relation to letting in the UK, meaning there is plenty for landlords to consider and act upon in the new year.

Allison Thompson, managing director at property specialist Leaders, says: “From tax relief to energy standards, there is much for landlords to factor in to their calculations for the year ahead.

“Property is still the most attractive and rewarding investment option, but staying on top of changing regulations and acting accordingly will help landlords to stay one step ahead and to realise the maximum potential of their portfolios.”

Leaders has identified five issues all landlords should be aware of and work towards in 2018:

1) Mortgage interest tax relief

Between 2017 and 2020, the amount of mortgage interest landlords can deduct from their rental income before calculating their tax liability is being reduced from 100 per cent to zero. In 2017-18, landlords can claim 75 per cent of this cost at the higher rate. It is crucial all landlords consider these changes and how they will affect profits. Taking expert advice now will pay off in the long run.

2) Minimum energy efficiency standards

From 1st April, privately rented properties must have a minimum rating of E on an Energy Performance Certificate. With very few exceptions, it will be illegal to let a home that has not achieved this and landlords could face prosecution. Taking advantage of voids and lease breaks to upgrade a property’s energy performance is a wise move.

3) Further PRA changes

The Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) introduced new, tougher standards for landlords with four or more mortgaged properties in September 2017. These standards will aim to prevent high-risk buy-to-let lending. Landlords should create a business plan and maintain all financial records to stand the best chance of succeeding in any future mortgage applications.

4) Carbon monoxide safety

Conclusions from an ongoing government consultation into carbon monoxide safety are expected soon and could result in new requirements for landlords to take measures in this area. It is currently a landlord’s responsibility to fit a smoke alarm on every storey of a rental property and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room that contains a solid fuel burning appliance.

5) Universal Credit

The government announced changes in the Autumn Budget that will see new housing benefit claimants able to receive the benefit for an extra two weeks while transferring to Universal Credit. This is designed to reduce rent arrears at the point of moving to Universal Credit. While this should improve conditions for landlords and tenants, some are still cautious. One option for landlords is to request direct payment.

Allison adds: “It can be tough to find the time to deal with all these issues and more, but working with a knowledgeable letting agents can ease the burden and lead to ultimate peace of mind. The cost of seeking professional help will undoubtedly be significantly lower than a fine for failing to comply.”

Birmingham Hippodrome has announced the appointment of its new Director of Finance as Time Maycock, who will oversee the commercial interests of the organisation and support the growrth of the theatre.

Commenting on his appointment, Tim said “This is a great opportunity for me, working with a great board of Directors to help Birmingham Hippodrome realise its ambitions. This includes not only being one of the greatest theatres in the world, but also nurturing the local community and investing in future talent through the artist development program.

“The financial health of the organisation is of vital importance if the theatre is to continue to provide unforgettable performances on the stage, invest in new artists and run successful events for the local community. I want to help the theatre reach its full potential, maximising efficiencies and making improvements to processes.”

The property market is enjoying a busy start to 2018, with visits to leading portal Rightmove up by nine per cent in January compared with the same month last year.


An average of more than four million visits have been made to the website each day so far this month.

As well as a surge in the number of people searching for properties, average prices are also on the up. Rightmove has reported a 0.7 per cent increase in the typical price of a property coming to the market in comparison with January 2017.


Kevin Shaw, national sales director at estate agents Leaders, says: “The early signs for the property market in 2018 are extremely positive, with online searches up and asking prices continuing to rise. The combination of these factors makes it the perfect time to get your home on the market.


“However, it is worth noting that properties are currently taking slightly longer to sell than this time last year, indicating buyers are happy to wait for the perfect home. As such, sellers should choose a reputable estate agents that can market their property effectively, present it at its very best for viewings and ultimately agree a quicker sale at a great price.


“Overall, our own figures back up those from Rightmove; demand is high, more people are registering with our branches and property values in all areas remain strong.”


The Rightmove statistics also showed people selling homes that are suitable for first-time buyers have the greatest chance of success at the moment, so those thinking of putting a flat or small house on the market should do so now.


Kevin adds: “The government’s decision to abolish stamp duty for most first-time buyers has taken thousands of pounds off the cost of getting on the ladder, making it easier for this group to buy and also for second-steppers looking to sell to move on.


“I expect first-time buyers to act quickly to snap up properties now before stamp duty savings are counteracted by rising house prices, so sellers in this market need to get their home on the market in the first quarter of 2018 for best results.”

A programme of free masterclasses is being launched to help West Midlands companies become more culturally savvy when working to win business overseas.

Organised by the Department for International Trade (DIT) West Midlands, the series comprises seven half-day masterclasses, all of which provide essential cultural tips when conducting business in different markets.

All masterclasses will be held in Birmingham city centre, with the first one taking place on Tuesday, March 20, when DIT will focus on language and culture of doing business in Switzerland. Future classes in 2018 will focus on: Scandinavia, France, the Benelux countries, Germany and Austria, USA and Canada and China.

Led by Gerti Willis, DIT West Midlands’ communication and culture adviser, each masterclass will also cover: different business and economic environments; business cultures: religion, language, values and customs; business communication and negotiation styles; overcoming common trade barriers; and e-commerce strategy.

“Being more culturally savvy is important for any company that is already trading internationally, that wants to penetrate new markets or is planning to export for the first time,” she said.

“Doing business with a new market isn’t just about getting your goods and services out there, it’s about building relationships and understanding the culture and etiquette that is expected. This programme will help businesses to become more successful and effective when communicating across cultures.”

Businesses can sign up for as many of the free masterclasses to suit their needs. All sessions will be held at KPMG, at One Snowhill, Snowhill Queensway, Birmingham.

A festive production of The Hundred and One Dalmatians has raised over £5000 for two charitable causes.  Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, both registered charities, joined forces to raise funds during The REP’s production of The Hundred and One Dalmatians which opened at the theatre on November 30th.

Various fundraising activities were held during the 6-week run of the show with the highlight being a special doggy crèche. The canine crèche, sponsored by Fish4Dogs, was the first of its kind at a theatre and allowed owners and their Hearing Dogs to attend a performance of The Hundred and One Dalmatians.  The crèche looked after the dogs while their owners watched the show.

Vicky Ryan, Community Fundraiser at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People said:

“We have really enjoyed our partnership with The REP and have been really impressed with the support from the staff, theatre goers and cast and crew.

“We were lucky enough to be offered the chance to invite a group of our recipients and their hearing dogs to watch The Hundred and One Dalmatians. The REP, in conjunction with specialist pet food supplier, Fish4Dogs, organised a dog crèche so that the recipients could leave their dogs with us in a safe a secure environment whilst they enjoyed the show. An area in the foyer was set up and earmarked for our dogs where they could relax with the wonderful volunteers who looked after them. Everyone really enjoyed the show and the dogs had a very chilled out evening too.”

The money raised will make a huge difference to the two charities.  Twenty pence of every pound raised will go towards the work of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People with the remainder going towards REP First and the theatre’s forthcoming large-scale production of Woyzeck in June 2018 toto enable it to be completely accessible to all by providing captioning and audio description at all performances.  As part of The REP’s commitment to making theatre accessible to everyone, the entire run of The Hundred and One Dalmatians was Audio Described and Captioned, meaning that audiences with visual or hearing impairments were able to enjoy these services on any performance.

Rachel Cranny, Head of Fundraising at Birmingham Repertory Theatre said:

“As a registered charity, The REP is committed to making its performances and activities accessible to all and we are delighted to have been fundraising in partnership with Hearing Dogs for Deaf People alongside our production of The Hundred And One Dalmatians. The support from Fish4Dogs has been really fantastic and the crèche was a very rewarding activity.”

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, now in their 35th year, trains dogs to alert deaf people to sounds they would otherwise miss – simple sounds that many people take for granted like the doorbell, alarm clock and even danger signals like the fire alarm. A hearing dog can also give a deaf person a newfound sense of independence and confidence helping to overcome the feeling of isolation and loneliness experienced by so many suffering from hearing loss.

REP First is a three year campaign which aims to raise vital funds in order to ensure that The REP can continue to nurture the region's talented young artists, commission exciting new works, welcome new audiences and reach out to the communities of Birmingham and beyond.

Black Country Chamber of Commerce are supporting The Black Country Road Run, which will be taking place on 1st July 2018 in Halesowen. The event is co-ordinated by Halesowen & Rowley Regis Rotary Club and new for this year is an exciting ‘Corporate Challenge’ has been launched, so the Chamber is encouraging local businesses to get involved to support their social impact strategy for 2018.


Local businesses can participate in either a 10k run or fun run, which serves as a great way to get colleagues together as a team building exercise or to promote fitness in the workplace. Furthermore, it is set to be a great day supporting the local community and ultimately have fun.


Corin Crane, Chief Executive of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, commented: “We're very excited to be partnering with The Black Country Road Run and Halesowen & Rowley Regis Rotary, and we look forward to supporting the event. We encourage all of our members and the local business community to get involved in this popular road race, and help to raise money and awareness for your chosen charities.”


Alan Bowler, Event Organiser of the Black Country Road Run, added: “The Rotary Club of Halesowen & Rowley Regis is very pleased to be partnering with the Black Country Chamber of Commerce for the Black Country Road Run in Halesowen this year. This will be the seventh year for The Black Country Run and for the first time we are holding the new Corporate Challenge. We are challenging Black Country businesses to enter teams of five runners into either the 10k Road Race or the Family Fun Run and take part in this competitive team-building experience. The main aim of the Corporate Challenge is of course for companies to raise as much money as possible for their chosen charity.”

The Overwatch League and social video service Twitch announced a historic esports media-rights partnership, ensuring that every match of the world’s first major global city-based esports league will be readily available to fans across the globe. The first match of the Overwatch League’s inaugural season goes live on Twitch this Wednesday, January 10, on

Fans of professional Overwatch have been eagerly anticipating a seamless Overwatch League viewing experience. This two-year deal, which encompasses the entirety of the league’s first two seasons, makes that a reality. With the exception of China, Twitch will be the exclusive worldwide third-party digital provider for Overwatch League regular-season, playoffs, and championship matches, with streams in English, Korean, and French.

The Overwatch League and Twitch also are developing innovative rewards for fans, which will bestow the league’s most steadfast viewers with Overwatch League in-game items. More details about exclusive content and additional rewards for the biggest fans, as well as Cheering with Overwatch League Cheermotes, will be announced as they become available.

“Our fans love to engage with content on Twitch, and we wanted to drive significant viewership of the Overwatch League in its inaugural season and beyond,” said Armin Zerza, COO of Blizzard Entertainment. “That’s why this historic and ground-breaking partnership is perfectly suited for Activision Blizzard, for Twitch, and—most importantly—for our growing global fanbase.”

“The Overwatch League is making a major impact on esports by reshaping the industry with city-based teams,” said Kevin Lin, COO of Twitch. “Given Overwatch’s consistent reign as a top-viewed game by our community, we look forward to offering their pioneering style of league play to a large and passionate fanbase that will be able to bond over not only their favorite plays, but hometown pride.”

The first season of the Overwatch League will run until June, with playoffs and finals scheduled for July. For the inaugural season, all games will take place at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles, a state-of-the-art live-event venue in Burbank, California, custom-renovated for Blizzard Entertainment esports events.

Move over ITB and WTM – for travel brands serious about capturing lucrative Japanese outbound market share, JATA’s Tourism Expo Japan is now the world’s premier exhibiting event. This powerful platform to cost-effectively raise awareness, and engage and conduct meaningful business with qualified buyers, has opened 2018 exhibitor and buyer registration.

Hiromo Tagawa, Chairman of the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA), notes a shift for Japan to not only set global per diem spending standards with outbound tourism, but he also sees his country as a nation based on tourism exchange, citing more than 50 million inbound visitors to Japan annually.

All of which makes Japan one of the most important global players for both inbound and outbound tourism, and Tourism Expo Japan a crucial trade event to attend in 2018.

Without fanfare, the Tourism Expo Japan, organized by JATA, has quietly emerged as the leading global travel/tourism show event for brands to capture inbound and outbound market share. This year’s Expo is being staged at Tokyo Big Sight, September 20-23, 2018.

The buy-to-let market will continue to offer landlords fabulous opportunities in 2018, but identifying locations in which the largest returns are likely to be on offer will once again be the key to a great investment.

Property specialist Leaders has picked out the top five towns and cities it expects to deliver the greatest returns on investment over the next year.


5) Nottingham

The East Midlands is likely to be one of the hotspots when it comes to the buy-to-let market in 2018, with affordable purchase prices and sky-high tenant demand combining to form ideal conditions for investors. Nottingham is one of the UK’s largest cities, has a huge student population and is set to benefit from the HS2 development. West Bridgford and Bingham are set to remain popular with students and families alike.


4) Croydon

Croydon has already witnessed significant house price rises in recent years, but average property values remain some way behind London as a whole and with new developments and investment continuing at pace the borough is expected to narrow the gap in 2018 and beyond. The introduction of Boxpark and potential arrival of a Westfield shopping centre will add value. While purchase prices may be large for some landlords, tenant demand is fierce and capital growth will ensure a highly successful investment.


3) Loughborough

Leaders believes house prices in Leicestershire are likely to grow by more than ten per cent in the next five years, meaning an investment in property in the county is sure to lead to a great return. Loughborough is well placed to capitalise on this trend, with a good range of housing available, a large local student population and high demand from all types of tenants.


2) Manchester

Manchester is one of the UK’s fastest growing cities as a result of a number of regeneration projects. With a thriving city centre, the digital zone of the Northern Quarter and the brand new tech hub at Salford Quays, it is now home to a huge number of companies that are bringing jobs and professional tenants to the area. What’s more, the city boasts a six-figure student population, so there is no shortage of demand for rental properties. Yields are incredibly high – often above six per cent – in areas such as Fallowfield and Chorlton.


1) Birmingham

A lack of supply and high demand has pushed rental prices up in Birmingham and this is expected to continue in 2018 and beyond, making the city a lucrative place to invest. From stylish city centre apartments to large family homes in suburbs like Edgbaston, there is something for all types of landlord in the area. With more than a million people calling Birmingham home, landlords can invest with confidence in the local rental market and returns will continue to be great in the new year.