Colors: Purple Color

Around half of businesses (53%) have seen input prices increase over the past year but of those that have, less than half are willing to absorb the costs with 54% planning to offset the rise. Most will be passing the cost rise onto customers or finding cheaper suppliers according to new ICAEW research. Reducing wages and  planned investment are among the least popular options to offset the increases.

Companies that have seen increases in prices cite a rise in the cost of raw materials (35%) and the cost of services (29%). Other reasons include the changes in the exchange rate and the price of labour (Other totalling 30%). Those businesses who export and whose input prices are in foreign currency have been more impacted. Despite this, only 54% are planning to offset the increase in input prices in the next 12 months.

Stephen Ibbotson, ICAEW Director of Business, said: “Businesses are facing pressure from the fall in sterling and rise in commodity prices which together have driven up prices. Whilst many have sought to protect customers from those rises by absorbing the costs, that is no longer sustainable. It is not surprising therefore that more than half of companies are planning to offset the rising costs. UK companies cannot put off decisions that will undermine or hinder the economic progress made in recent years and need to take advantage of new opportunities.”

Those businesses who are planning to offset plan to increase prices charged to customers (82%), find cheaper suppliers (48%) and revise product specifications (31%). Reducing headcount (27%) and planned investment (14%) are among the least popular options.

The changes in the pound since last year has had a varied impact on UK businesses. Over a third (37%) believe the devaluing has had little or no impact on their business, 37% a negative impact and 24% a positive impact -  especially among exporters. Increased costs (77%) was the main reason companies felt the changes in the value of the pound had had a negative impact.

Stephen Ibbotson concluded: “Government needs to spell out and put in detail how it can partner with business to make the long-term investments necessary to secure the UK’s economic future and make it the best place to do business.”

Saudi Arabia and Oman will lead the GCC’s multi-billion dollar investments in cultural tourism, with a series of projects to develop new world-class cultural attractions, according to a report published ahead of Arabian Travel Market, taking place 24 – 27 April 2017 at Dubai World Trade Centre.

According to the research, compiled by Colliers International, Saudi Arabia is ready to invest up to US$2bn – one of the highest commitments of any government to cultural tourism in the region – with a number of projects and targets set out under Saudi Vision 2030.

Under the vision, by the year 2030, Saudi Arabia will: increase the number of public and private museums from 155 to 241; increase the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites from four to 10; and increase the number of archaeological sites suitable to visit from 75 to 155. In addition, the Kingdom will increase the number of archaeological heritage sites from 10 to 28 and increase the number of activities and cultural events from 190 currently to 400 annually.

Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, Arabian Travel Market, said: “Cultural tourism sits perfectly alongside this year’s theme of experiential travel as travellers look to explore destinations and enjoy a more holistic holiday experience. What we see today in Saudi Arabia, and other GCC countries, is an open commitment to strengthen this sector and capitalise on the current global trend.”

In 2015, Oman pledged investments of $2.5bn for the Omagine Project – a mixed-use development set on 245 acres of prime beachfront facing the Gulf of Oman, which is an integration of cultural, heritage, educational, entertainment and residential elements.

Its completion will add to Oman’s growing cultural tourism sector, which includes 18 museums, four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Royal Opera House Muscat and Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, among others.

Press said: “Across the GCC, there is a rising demand for authentic and enriching travel, full of experiences and opportunities to learn about the unique history and culture of this region. For this reason, we can expect many more project announcements of this kind over the coming years.”

Already gaining popularity with tourists thanks to its collection of world-class hotels, beaches and golf facilities, Saadiyat Island in the UAE will receive a further boost with regional and international visitors when the first of its highly-anticipated museums, opens later this year. By 2020, the island will be home to Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Zaha Hadid designed, Zayed National Museum.

In Dubai, the $300m Dubai Opera launched in 2016, with the first shows including Les Miserables and Cats. Dubai has also seen an increase of 127% in the number of visitors to its most popular museums and galleries, taking the total number of visitors to just five of the Emirate’s museums to 1.75 million in 2015. These numbers will receive a further boost over the coming 24 months with the opening of the Museum of The Future in 2017 and Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, in 2018.

At the newly launched Al Habtoor City – home to St. Regis Dubai, W and Westin Dubai – 2017 will see the debut of the region’s first permanent show, La Perle.

With over 450 performances per year, the show is to be presented in a 1,300 seat, purpose-built, state-of-the-art theatre, filled with 2.7 million litres of water. Highlighting its commitment to regional culture, La Perle is ATM’s Experiential Travel Partner for 2017.

Craig Hartenstine, Executive Producer, La Perle, said: “The arrival of La Perle at Al Habtoor City marks a new chapter for live performance in the Middle East. This will be the first time in the region a show will become a permanent destination-defining attraction to be enjoyed by visitors all year round.”

In Qatar, where a year-round calendar of culture and performance events has played a significant role in driving visitor demand, a number of new attractions are also under development. The projects, headed by Qatar Museum Authority, have so far included Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Islamic Art and the Orientalist Museum. Over the coming year these museums will be joined by the highly anticipated National Museum of Qatar, designed by Jean Nouvel.

This year’s ATM will have a wide variety of emirates and countries focusing on culture in their strategies, including Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Qatar, Bahrain, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India.

A Birmingham-based law firm has teamed up with business group Boardroom Knowledge to discuss Chinese investment in the Birmingham and wider Midlands region.

Clarke Willmott LLP hosted the first lunch event of its kind at the firm’s Birmingham office, where 30 delegates considered the issue of Chinese investment into property and developments in the region.

The attendees included influential individuals from the Chinese community keen to invest in Birmingham.

This was the first collaboration between Clarke Willmott and Boardroom Knowledge, which was founded by Mark Williams of Rider Levett Bucknall and Peter McHugh of Clarke Willmott. The group was created to provide a boardroom-style platform for senior executives to consider current issues and opportunities. 

Mark Williams, from Boardroom Knowledge, said: “Birmingham has recently been named the most investable city in the UK for a second year running.

“The city was named above the likes of Milan and Paris in an annual survey of European investors’ intentions, which named it the sixth best place to invest money on the continent.”

Peter McHugh, Partner at Clarke Willmott and Co-Founder of Business Knowledge, said: “During the lunch there was a lively and fascinating round table discussion which covered a wide range of issues from investment opportunities to collaborating with potential investors.”

With the success of the inaugural Boardroom Knowledge event, the organisers aim to host another soon, and hope to announce the date and venue shortly.

New analysis from Santander UK reveals that when it comes to budgeting and spending patterns, over two fifths (43 per cent) of Brits say their parents have been their biggest influencer on their money behaviour while one in 10 (11 per cent) attribute this to their partner.

Interestingly, 40 million people (78 per cent) believe that being good with money is a learned behaviour that anyone can pick up with practice. The study, which investigates the savings habits of the nation, also reveals that over a quarter of Brits (28 per cent) say they overspend on a weekly basis, by a collective £788 million each week, the equivalent to £55 each.

The results of the study were brought to life through a social experiment where children were put in charge of the supermarket shop to see if some people are natural born spenders or if the ability to stay within a budget is something we learn from our parents.

With the help of Dr Sam Wass, Channel Four psychologist and research scientist at the University of East London, the bank’s video shows that children do mirror their parents’ spending habits, whether that’s sticking to a shopping list, staying within a budget or making impulse buys.

Dr Sam Wass said: “Our experiment reveals that children do take after their parents so if your parents are good with money then you’re more likely to be too. It also suggests that being good with money is a learned behaviour, and that’s great news as it means there’s always room for improvement!”

The survey also highlights that more than half (52 per cent) of respondents wish they could save more, on average an additional £388 each month. The most popular way to put money aside is in a savings account (53 per cent) followed by a Cash ISA (27 per cent). However, many Brits overlook investing as a way to manage their money with only one in 10 (12 per cent) saying they invest and utilise Stocks and Shares ISAs.

Half of Brits (53 per cent) say they wish they had received more money advice at a younger age rising to two thirds (66 per cent) for those aged 18 to 34, and decreasing to 42 per cent for those aged 55 and over. More than one in five UK adults (21 per cent) wish they had been taught more about budgeting, while 19 per cent wish they had received more advice about the different savings options available to them.

A commercial law firm has announced the arrival of a new Director who has joined, based within the Dispute Management department. Arif Khalfe joins Yorkshire-based Lupton Fawcett with experience in a wide range of litigated areas including Professional Negligence, Contentious Trusts and Probate as well as Consumer Litigation. His also has a keen interest in all aspects of alternative dispute resolution and is a qualified mediator.

He also has specialist expertise within Immigration; advising and assisting in all aspects of business and sports immigration which includes advising on sponsorships and visas under the points based systems. As well as that, Arif also advises clients on applying for sponsor's licenses from the Home Office and complying with their sponsorship obligations once they are licensed. He also assists in managing and advising on sponsorship management systems.

Richard Marshall, Managing Director, comments: “Arif is very well-respected and passionate about wanting to help businesses and individuals alike. He’s a fantastic appointment for the firm and adds real strength to what is already a very well respected team. Clearly Brexit will put immigration onto many employers’ agenda as international recruitment becomes more complex. His expertise will help and guide clients through the immigration process and any issues they may face.

Khalfe comments: “I am delighted to be joining Lupton Fawcett to establish a leading Immigration offering that is commercially beneficial to clients and their workforces.  I am also excited to be part of a firm that has a clear strategy to meet our future challenges and I look forward to reinforcing the reputation that the firm already has in the Yorkshire market consisting of Leeds, Sheffield and York."

Three iconic brands will be joining the line-up at the region’s most visited shopping centre, Bullring. Luxury brands Coach and Russell & Bromley will open stores on the Upper East Mall alongside the likes of Michael Kors, Whistles, Ted Baker and Diesel, whilst Ben Sherman joins the line-up at the recently developed LinkStreet mall.

Coach, the leading New York design house of modern luxury accessories for women and men, will open its first standalone store in the region. The 280sq m space will offer the brand’s full range of bags, footwear, outerwear and accessories.

British footwear brand, Russell & Bromley, will join Coach on the centre’s Upper East Mall when they both open later in the year, in a 260sq m store.

The iconic Ben Sherman brand is set to open on 10th April in a 164sq m store on the LinkStreet mall area, which is located on the walkway between Bullring and Grand Central. Offering its full range of menswear collections including shoes and accessories, the store joins the likes of Luke 1977 and Pretty Green in taking a unit at LinkStreet. Other brands to join the new revamped mall space include the hugely popular restaurants, Not Dogs and Cereal Killer Café.

Michaela Moore, General Manager at Bullring, commented: “It’s fantastic news not just for Bullring but for the city that these three stand-out brands have decided to have a presence in Birmingham. All three brands follow Smashbox, T2 and New Look Men in choosing the centre to open their first standalone stores in the region.”

A former social worker from Birmingham, who launched a line of musical jewellery boxes featuring black ballerinas, is achieving huge exporting success – thanks to Department for International Trade (DIT) experts.

Sharon McBean, who lives in Birmingham, launched Nia Ballerina in August last year and received so many orders from the USA in the run up to Christmas that she had to enlist the help of a fulfilment house in Virginia, USA, to cope with demand.

After meeting Cheryl Boxall, an International Trade Adviser in DIT’s Birmingham office, at a trade show last year, Sharon has taken advantage of exporting support provided by the Department to ensure she is fully equipped with the necessary resources for overseas trading. DIT support included advice on protecting Nia Ballerina intellectual property, internationalising the website and launching a global e-commerce website.

“The fact that Nia Ballerina has experienced such rapid success, particularly in the USA, demonstrates that she has tapped into a gap in the market. DIT has been helping the company from the very beginning and we have continued to offer support as Sharon looks to expand more strategically into new markets. Issues such as intellectual property are crucial in business and this has been an important part of her export experience so far," Cheryl said.

Sharon came up with the idea for the jewellery boxes after failing to find one for her ballet-mad five-year-old daughter.

Realising there was a business opportunity, she hired an illustrator to design two images for the musical jewellery boxes and ordered black ballerina figurines to go inside them.

Following her initial success, which included selling more than 1000 boxes to US buyers in just a few weeks during the Christmas period, Sharon is now in the process of designing new jewellery boxes and creating new lines to complement them. She has also collaborated with US-based organisation Brown Girls Do Ballet.

Sharon said: “The past few months have been absolutely overwhelming. I never imagined that these jewellery boxes would become so popular so quickly. They have proved a major success in the USA in particular, accounting for about 80% of sales over the Christmas period. I'm looking to see how we can continue growing sales there, building on the success we've has thus far. I’m grateful to Cheryl and the team at DIT because without that support I'm not sure I would have been able to prepare my business for overseas trading so quickly. I'll continue working with DIT and plan to tap into African markets such as Ghana and South Africa next."

The co-founder and CEO of award-winning international games label Team17 Debbie Bestwick MBE will be delivering the keynote at this year’s Games Finance Market.

The industry veteran and pioneer will be sharing the lessons she has learned on the path to Team17 becoming the biggest UK games publisher, including how to scale a small company and attract investment with over 150 delegates assembled for the Games Finance Market.

Bestwick co-founded Team17 in 1990 having previously worked in video games indie retail. She launched the multi-award winning Worms in the mid ’90s, a franchise that has sold/downloaded over 75m units since. She helped move the developer into self-publishing on mobile and digital downloads in the early 2000s, completed a MBO of the company in 2011 and launched Team17’s games Label in 2013 making Team17 one of the prolific indie labels in Europe.

In 2016, she was made an MBE for her services to the computer games industry and helped secure £16.5m in investment for Team17.

The Games Finance Market runs from Wednesday 5 April to Thursday 6 April and takes place at The Grange Tower Bridge. The event will see investors and publishers meeting with games developers; there is over £500m in potential investment at the Market.


“Made in Germany” is the most highly regarded quality label for goods and services around the world, outshining other major exporting nations’ trust marks such as “Made in USA” or “Made in UK”. This is one of the findings from Statista’s Made-In-Country Index (MICI).

Statista, one of the world’s leading databases for business-relevant facts and information, sought to find out which countries around the globe enjoy the best reputation as countries of manufacture and exporting nations. Statista therefore surveyed some 43,000 consumers in 52 countries about countries’ quality labels. The result is the Made-In-Country Index 2017 – a global ranking of countries and an indicator of the power of the individual nations’ brand image.

Here are the results: “Made in Germany” takes prime position and is therefore the world’s leading quality label. The label’s first-place position is mainly due to positive ratings in the product categories “quality” and “security standards” along with the overall popularity of “Made in Germany” across many countries in the world. Switzerland is in second place and received very high ratings from around the world in the categories “status symbol” and “authenticity”. Italy excels with regard to design, while Japan received the best “advanced technology” ratings of all countries. China outshines others regarding “price/performance ratio”.

The USA just scrapes into the Top 10: All in all, the USA ranks eighth and is thus behind countries such as Great Britain, Sweden, and Canada. The United States is furthermore among those countries, whose global reputations have worsened the most over the course of the past twelve months, suggesting a ‘Trump effect’. But the USA is not the only example of the fact that major political changes do have a noticeable effect on the image of certain countries of manufacture. Turkey’s and Greece’s scores are also linked to recent political developments that damaged both countries’ reputations.

The bronze medal is taken by the “Made in EU” label, which was established as late as in 2003 by the EU commission. The label primarily owes its positive reputation to consistently high global ratings. Thus, not only consumers from European Community countries such as, for instance, Sweden and Great Britain, have faith in the label, but also respondents from outside the EU. For example, “Made in EU” took top places in almost all South American countries (e.g. Argentina and Colombia).

The Phoenix Newspaper will, again, be showing its international ‘pull’ when it will be part of a major African exhibition attracting some of the continents – and worlds – biggest established businesses.

Bringing together a wide array of companies, nationally and internationally, Southwest Investment Exhibition & Summit (SWIFT), running for a 4th year, will again be looking to attract foreign investors to southwest Nigeria, in particular, and the country, as a whole, targeting corporate and small-to-medium concerns by exhibiting their products, create new markets, meet funders and funding organisation, see new inventions, and have the opportunity to network with government officials whilst adding value and profit to their business.

With a goal of improving the gross domestic product of the region, the two day event - May 2-3 – will be looking to continue create newer technological transformation, further create employment opportunities and government internally generated revenue. And The Phoenix Newspaper will be major media partners, lending its considerably global attraction, making sure no-one misses out.

The exhibition, at the Landmark Centre, in Lagos, has already attracted enormous international interest, with exhibitors from as far and wide as the Americas, Europe, Asia, as well as throughout the African continent.

In the UK there’s great anticipation for the event, especially thanks, in no uncertain way, to Birmingham-based international trade developer, Kunle Aderemi.

C.E.O. of FODION (Foreign Direct Investment Drive) Consultants Limited, Kunle’s passion for the upcoming exhibition is unwavering, which is understandable.

A Lagos native and co organizer of the event, in partnership with DAWN (Development Agenda for Western Nigeria), he knows only too well the power of the Southwest Investment Exhibition & Summit.

“Expecting some 2000plus visitors, SWIFT will, as always, add great value to south west Nigeria. It will attract His Imperial Majesty the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Nigeria Vice President Professor Yemi Osibajo, Minister for Trade & Investment, Professor Okechwukwu Enelamah as guests, in addition to the six Southwest Nigeria State Governors.”

Southwest Investment Exhibition & Summit 2017 will then end with a Networking Dinner. And, The Phoenix Newspaper will be there to cover every second.

A major push for businesses to explore markets outside the EU has been launched by Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC). And a prime target for the European Commission-funded initiative will be the US, with UK companies being urged to attend the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January.

In a move designed to help small and medium-sized businesses in Europe to go global, the newly-launched Ready2Go programme will provide financial assistance for a limited number of UK companies and they must apply by 31 March.

The initiative, which will also focus on Canada, Chile, India and Cameroon, is backed by the International Business Hub at GBCC.

Companies taking part in this exclusive programme will undergo the development of a bespoke “internationalisation” business plan; a three-day individual training and coaching programme, including advice about the culture and customs in each country; two-day collective training; and pre-arranged meetings in their chosen countries.

It is open to companies from multiple sectors, including agro-food, creative industries, environment, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, ICT, intelligent energy, key enabling technologies, material, nano and micro-technologies, retail and services, sustainable construction, textile and fashion wood and furniture.

The USA opportunity will include support to prepare for the CES, which for 50 years has been the launch pad for innovation and technology that has changed the world.

Held in Las Vegas every year, it is the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies and where next-generation innovations are introduced to the marketplace.

Rupi Nandra, head of international programmes for the GBCC’s International Hub, said: “This EC project had been developed by a consortium led by the Milan Chamber in collaboration with the Enterprise Europe Network. “Ready2Go is a new programme designed to give SMEs the necessary tools for success abroad.

“In today’s world the international marketplace is no longer reserved for big corporations and it’s vital that SMEs step in, especially in the light of Brexit and the changing political climate in the US.

“But setting up shop abroad is not easy, which is why Ready2Go is looking to help dynamic SMEs in Europe to successfully go global.

“We would strongly encourage businesses in the West Midlands and across the UK who are interested in joining the Ready2Go programme to register early because only 80 companies from all over Europe will be selected to take part.”

Sunny Claire, business advisor, Enterprise Europe Network, adds: “The CES event in Las Vegas is a tremendous opportunity to see the latest electronic technology in one of the biggest exhibitions of its kind. Delegates get the opportunity to tap into this global market, in many ways, including investment, selling or distribution.

“We urge businesses in the Greater Birmingham region who are interested in joining the  Ready2Go programme to register early because only 80 companies from all over Europe will be selected to take part.”

Severn Trent is working hard to protect its customers by fighting fat! The company has been removing tonnes of fat from the sewers to help prevent flooding in customer’s homes and businesses. Aaron McCusker, senior network technician for Severn Trent, says: “Fat and grease are good for lots of things, but one thing they’re definitely not good for is our sewers. “When poured down the sink, they quickly solidify and cause blockages in the pipes, which are a lot smaller than people might imagine, and this can lead to the nightmare that is sewer flooding for you or your neighbours.”

Following his much published intervention on the issue of a pupil at local primary school being prohibited from wearing an Islamic hijab headscarf, Birmingham City Council’s Councillor Waseem Zaffar has resigned from his cabinet post. The resignation of Cllr Zaffar, Labour councillor for Lozells and East Handsworth, shortly after the news of the departure of Council chief executive, Mark Rogers.

Kapil Mishra, Tourism Minister of Delhi in India, has stressed the need and importance of the government and the industry to work together to boost tourism. Mishra spoke at the Travel and Tourism Fair (TTF) 2017, in New Delhi on February 27 at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium. TTF is India’s largest travel trade show network.

Propertymark, a brand new stamp of approval for the property market, has been launched by two of the industry’s regulatory bodies. The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) and the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) have joined forces to create the new certification, which will replace the National Federation of Property Professionals brand.