Last month’s leaking of the ‘Panama Papers’ containing details of secret offshore investment funds caused some nervous squirming on parliamentary benches. With commendable alacrity the PM, Chancellor of the Exchequer and their shadow counterparts published their personal tax returns which showed they have nothing to hide and are in fact boringly normal. The most normal of all is Jeremy Corbyn who was fined £100 for his handwritten late return.
Government advisors are nervously gauging public opinion
The Panama leaks added another couple of layers to the EU In/Out debate after UKIP leapt in to ask why the government had not delivered their promise to repeal inheritance tax and why the EU continued to allow onshore members like Luxembourg to offer tax ‘sweetheart deals’ to help Starbucks avoid tax altogether. Government advisors are nervously gauging public opinion on the vote as it seems pretty evenly-split in the run-up to 23rd June.
Sainsbury’s buy Argos from the Home Retail Group
Meanwhile Sainsbury’s Chief Exec. Mike Coupe has finally bought Argos from the Home Retail Group, but only after HRG sold-off it’s Homebase business to boost the share price to 171p. That is 75% more than when Mike started sniffing round in January which may have left him a little bit nervous about the dividends he’s now expected to deliver. He had promised the City he’d not pay over the odds and still be able to generate profits by slotting Argos into underused Sainsbury stores and saving costs for both.
Sainsbury have been looking to diversify from supermarkets and eyeing-up Argos and it’s proven delivery service for some time
Sainsbury have been looking to diversify from supermarkets and eyeing-up Argos and it’s proven delivery service for some time. Mike announced ‘I genuinely have no idea in 10 years’ time how customers will shop but we need to anticipate the possibilities. There may be someone in California who is inventing the equivalent of Uber or Airbnb for our industry. You might want some of your grocery shop to be delivered to the local store, some to your home or you might have a really urgent problem where you want it within an hour or two’. And of course Argos can drop off your new X-box at the same time. Full marks for honesty Mike but it comes with a £1.4 billion price tag and leaves nervous City investment analysts and stressed Argos employees studying closure plans.
A proven way to soothe nerves and reduce workplace stress is to take your dog to work
A proven way to soothe nerves and reduce workplace stress (according to US Researchers) is to take your best friend – your dog – to work. Amazon, Etsy and Google now allow office workers to bring their furry friend into the workplace which lifts morale, reduces absenteeism and increases productivity according to the University of Virginia. In Northern Italy a privately-owned supermarket, Unes of Luino has taken this one stage further and allows customers to take their dog shopping in a specially-designed trolley complete with a hygienic lined basket so Fido can enjoy the view. There are some obvious size restrictions (have you ever tried lifting a Saint Bernard?) but apparently turnover has soared as delighted pet owners flock to the store.
The UK is of course a well-known nation of dog-lovers
Owner Gianfranco Galantini dislikes barking dogs tied up in the rain outside his shop. Shoppers can now take all the time they need to make purchases without worrying about their pet’s welfare. ‘So far’, Gianfranco says, ‘no dog has caused any problem except for one which barked the first time’. The UK is of course a well-known nation of dog-lovers so maybe Sainsbury should follow his example. Unfortunately, Korean shops have already done so but with Fido more likely to end up in a casserole.
Building surveyors also tend to get nervous during storms, often with good reason
Building surveyors also tend to get nervous during storms, often with good reason. ‘Storm Gertrude’ (who dreams up these names?) was no exception and exposed two major failings. Firstly it pushed over a school wall and made Edinburgh City Council ask if their PFI (Private Finance Initiative) partnership to build Schools with Miller Construction had been such a good idea. Someone seems to have pruned the specification too much or the brickies simply left out the wall ties or no-one checked their work – all of which is a bit basic. This prompted the City Council to order their very nervous Building Standards Surveyor to show this was nothing to worry about by standing under the partially-collapsed wall without his safety helmet. The Council then told him to go home and join all the other wee bairns whilst they closed down another 16 schools for investigation.
Secondly, it ruined my planned weekend salmon fishing on the Tay. These storms are appalling. The government must do something.