Some oddly encouraging news is coming from research firm Strategy Analytics today. In its latest survey of home computing devices, Strategy Analytics reports that an increasing number of consumers are planning to upgrade over the next year.
According to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), retail sales hit their six-month high in July. Retailers recorded strong demand for clothing, footwear and just anything related to tropical temperatures.
The latest data from the Office for National Statistics estimates the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 0.6 percent sequentially in the second quarter, and have predictably been jumped on by both the Conservatives and Labour.
The biggest contribution to GDP was the services industry, growing 0.6 percent or 0.48 percentage points to the 0.6 percent increase. Productive industries also grew with a contribution of 0.08 percentage points, as manufacturing increased 0.4 percent after negative growth in the first quarter. However, all of these industries are well below their pre-crash levels.
The GDP growth, the ONS says, now puts the UK at 3.3 percent below the peak in Q1 2008, before the worldwide economic crash.
The growth was expected by the market and did not affect the London Stock Exchange, the BBC reports.
GDP was growing steadily between 2000 and early 2008 before the financial market crashed. Services continued to grow but production was largely flat, although construction was experiencing a boom at the beginning of the decade. The 2008 crash had an effect on all industries, particularly construction and production.
Economic growth did pick up late 2009 but at a far slower rate than prior to the crash. The crisis in the Eurozone swelled in 2010 creating further economic uncertainties and slowed growth again. According to ONS data, because construction and production has only managed to approach 2009 levels, GDP growth since then is attributable to services instead.
Although GDP growth has been welcomed, it does not necessarily translate into standards of living in real terms, and has its own set of criticisms as a measure of economic wellness.
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said “families on middle and low incomes are still not seeing any recovery in their living standards,” noting that wages have not risen with prices. Coalition chancellor George Osborne admitted “things are still tough for families”.
The creeping growth – nowhere near pre-2008 levels and after years of remaining flat – is terrifically vulnerable in a very uncertain global economy.
It’s not time to put the Tesco Value Cava on ice just yet: EU countries are increasingly volatile, austerity policies are being demanded all across the world, shocks to the markets could happen at any moment and in private industry, the prevailing attitude is one of caution.
The United Kingdom is expected to end the year with a healthy £1.8 billion internet trade surplus, thanks to British internet retailers who adapted to online faster than their continental counterparts.
In a report called Modern Spice Routes, the Nielsen Company and PayPal worked out that the UK is going to spend £8.5 billion online internationally, but it will also sell £10.3 billion worth of goods and services. There’s more good news, as the figures are expected to reach £18 billion and £24 billion by 2018, generating an impressive surplus of £6.4 billion, reports The Wall Street Journal.
British internet retailers are obviously doing something right, but more importantly the Germans aren’t. Germany is expected to have a €4.7 billion trade deficit this year and the UK should have a positive internet trade balance with Deutschland. German shoppers are expected to buy €1.7 billion in UK goods, while Brits will spend just €619 million on German products.
PayPal Senior Vice President for EMEA & Asia Pacific, Rupert Keeley, said UK retailers have adapted more quickly to international buyers than their German counterparts. He also stressed that China represents a huge opportunity for global traders.
“Once China does crack its customs and import challenges, and they get through the logistical issues, it will become a huge market, particularly for British goods,” he said.
However, we have a Eurozone caveat of our own. There is a very good reason Germans are flocking to British shops and it’s not the nice lass behind the virtual counter – it’s the euro. The pound has lost quite a bit of ground over the past five years, making many products in Britain significantly cheaper than on the continent, even with VAT and shipping. This was not the case five years ago and for British retailers to do well across the Channel, the pound needs to stay weak.
Richard Lane has been named as the company’s new European distribution & partnerships manager.
Ctrack currently has distribution operations in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Spain and Portugal to complement its owned operations in Germany, France and Benelux.
The new management role requires Lane to find suitable partners in countries where Ctrack currently does not have a presence.
In a statement, the company said it is is keen to take advantage of untapped vertical markets such as insurance telematics.
Lane was previously responsible for channel sales within the UK & Ireland. He joined Ctrack having spent four years at Cybit, and subsequently Masternaut, responsible for developing and managing its reseller programme.
John Wisdom, European managing director of Ctrack, commented said that Lane had been responsible for extending the reach of the business within the UK by establishing an effective partner and reseller network.
“We are looking to use his proven expertise to take advantage of opportunities that exist in new European markets to maximise the growth of the business across the region,” he said.
This means that publishers can print a range of colour books quickly and cost effectively worldwide.
David Taylor, Senior Vice President, Content Acquisition International, Ingram Content said that the marriage of colour inkjet book manufacturing with a single copy print-on-demand (POD) selling model is going to be a first for the UK market.
So far inkjet colour options have almost exclusively been limited to short run printing.
But the new colour offer is poised to be a real game changer for publishers as the cost to print full-colour POD books is approaching the price of black and white manufacturing, he said.
The combination of an economical, single-copy solution with Lightning Source® quality broadens the scope of print-on-demand POD to more titles.
Taylor said that the new inkjet colour offer is competitively priced, half the cost to print colour books in most cases, and savings will be passed from Ingram to the publisher.
Hundreds of publishers that work with Lightning Source are already using the new colour printing option for both their short run needs and to fulfill orders via Ingram’s comprehensive reseller channels, which reach tens of thousands of online and traditional bookshops worldwide.
Lightning Source will begin manufacturing colour books using inkjet technology immediately for publishers worldwide from the UK.
Retail sales volumes in recent weeks were practically unchanged from the same period last year, according to the latest figures from the British Consortium of Industry. Although the industry was hoping for a better start of the summer season, there was little change, although the start of June looks a bit more promising than May.
Orders were broadly flat on a year ago, although they surpassed expectations of a third consecutive fall. Sales volumes were below average for the time of year in June, despite more optimistic expectations and good weather. However, the outlook for July is a bit brighter, as retailers expect sales volumes to rise.
The survey, conducted between 29th May and 13th June, found that 25 percent of firms reported sales were up on a year earlier, while 24 percent said they were down. One in ten reported good sales volumes in line with seasonal trends, while 26 percent said their sales were poor.
Looking at July, 32 percent of firms expect an increase in volumes, while 19 percent are gearing up for another decrease. Interestingly, 63% of wholesalers reported sales volumes were up on a year earlier, and 18% said they were down. These numbers saw faster growth than expected, while most other indicators fell below expectations.
Sales in non-specialised stores, foot and leather store and non store sales all saw double-digit growth, but sales in durable household goods, cultural goods including papers and DVDs, were down.
According to figures released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard, footfall in UK shops fell by 0.7 percent in May, year on year. Shopping centres saw the biggest decline, with a 1.7 percent drop, but there is some good news to report as well.
Retailers in London and Scotland outperformed the rest of the country, with footfall going up by 2.6 percent and 3 percent respectively.
The BRC reckons the good showing in Scotland can be attributed to good weather last month and the fact that sales were down over the first four months of the year. However, some regions weren’t as lucky. Footfall in Wales was 1.1 percent lower than a year ago, Northern Ireland saw a 3.1 percent slump, while the West Midlands and East Midlands were down 2.9 and 2.6 percent respectively.
Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC, pointed out that conversion rates were relatively good. Although people made fewer shopping trips, they were willing to pounce on good deals and seasonal promotions.
In addition, high streets outperformed shopping centres in the first five months of the year. Although the high street saw a one percent drop, shopping centres were down 1.7 percent.
“Footfall across all retail locations in the past few months has definitely been proving to be very volatile, particularly in high streets, which fell by seven percent in March, rising by 3.4 percent in April and declining by one percent in May,” said Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard.
Larger regional cities saw the biggest improvements in footfall, but small towns didn’t fare well. Shoppers are still willing to drive to bigger cities and out of town shopping centres, in spite of good weather. Footfall in out of town locations was up 1.2 percent compared to a year ago.
Although the PC market is in turmoil, Toshiba believes all is not lost and there is still room for growth. Speaking at the sidelines of a notebook launch event on Tuesday, Toshiba UK product manager Paul Hicks expressed a bit of optimism, which is becoming a rare commodity in the PC industry.
Oracle’s claims that it will be opening a data centre to support the UK government’s G Cloud service for the public sector are perfectly true, but appear to be designed as a boon to Oracle rather than the UK as a whole.
While G Cloud could, of course, always do with more power, an Oracle spokesperson confirmed to ChannelEye that the data centre will primarily be for existing or potential Oracle partners.
“Oracle will make Platform as a Service available to Independent Software Vendors (ISVs),” the spokesperson said. “Oracle’s PaaS provides Oracle Database and Java as a service, hence will be available to ISVs who run on this Oracle platform”.
“These ISVs will likely be existing Oracle partners, but we of course welcome new partners to join the Oracle Partner Network,” the spokesperson added. “The ISVs themselves need to have their cloud services accepted onto the CloudStore catalogue”.
Although presented as a helpful boost to the British economy, the plan appears to be fully Oracle’s with a light dab of spin.
“This investment is funded solely by Oracle,” the spokesperson said, “justified through our internal business case criteria and assessment of market opportunity, and is being made in advance of any contracts or orders from government”.
The global PC market contracted 13.9 percent in the first quarter of 2013 and Europe seems to have taken the worst hit. Sales of PCs in Western Europe fell off a cliff in the first three months of the year and they are down 20.5 percent year-on-year. Big brands like Acer and HP did even worse, experiencing a drop in excess of 30 percent.
This data centre will be designed specifically to support cloud service provisioning within public procurement, including those procured through G-Cloud Framework and CloudStore.
In a statement, Oracle said the data centre will be compliant with the ILS information assurance standard, as required by government departments looking to use cloud services. Some independent software vendors will also be able to use the facility.
The company boasted it will bring further jobs to the Thames Valley area, where Oracle’s British HQ is based.
HP exile and Oracle president Mark Hurd said in a statement that Oracle is “committed to working with public administrations around the world” and that the company applauds the G-cloud programme, believing it to be a “significant step change in the provision of public sector IT services”.
ChannelEye has approached Oracle for further comment, but has not received a reply at time of publication.
All IMIS members will now become BCS members. The idea is that the two groups will try to maintain standards and promote the professional reputation so that it can be recognised alongside established professions such as law and engineering.
The two hope that, together, they will be able to have a “stronger united voice to policy decisions” that have wider repercussions in the industry and internationally.
IMIS has previously been working to promote better understanding of information systems management, and has worked to provide leverage to those working in the profession, as well as promoting higher standards in education and training. Both it and the BCS are registered charities.
BCS group’s chief exec David Clarke said in a statement: “Today IT is central to society and business, therefore it is important that we establish standards for those currently working in the profession, encourage the next generation to consider IT as a future career choice and raise awareness among the general public of the importance of the profession”.
Prof Simon Rogerson, chair of IMIS Council, said that “together our organisations will offer the best opportunity for members to continue to meet their academic, professional and career requirements”.