Business features

'Doors are opening for house buyers'

By Candice Krieger, February 12, 2009

Evidence that the UK housing market may be showing signs of a revival is beginning to build. Residential property has undergone an increase in activity since the start of 2009, says Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist for the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).


The laundry firm cleaning up

By Candice Krieger, February 5, 2009

Talk about bucking the trend. More than 200 shops a day are expected to close this year as the recession deepens — victims already include Woolworths, MFI, Zavvi, Adams, Whittards, Waterford Wedgwood and The Pier, with heavyweight Marks & Spencer set to cut jobs. But Julian Stone, who established the American Dry Cleaning Company in 1990, says now is an opportune time for an aggressive expansion.

The company, which has 27 high street branches, has been expanding by 20 per cent a year. Group turnover is up 25 per cent on last year and is on target to hit £9 million.


There’s still life in the art market

By Candice Krieger, January 29, 2009

Shrinking fine art sales and price drops of up to 30 per cent present a bleak picture for the art world. But Philip Hoffman, who founded the UK-based Fine Art Fund — one of the world’s largest fund management firms — believes there is reason to remain upbeat.

“We have raised more money in the past four months than we did in the past year or so,” says Mr Hoffman, 47, who founded the fund in 2004. For a minimum of £125,000, it helps investors buy and sell paintings, from old masters to contemporary art. Purchased works are stored in a Geneva warehouse.


Not the end of the retail world

By Alex Brummer, January 22, 2009

The new landscape of Britain’s high streets is becoming all too familiar.

Closing down sales, bill-littered doormats, boarded-up shops and other ugly manifestations of recession are in evidence as well-known chains from Woollies and MFI to other newer and less familiar names like Zavvi (an outgrowth of Virgin), children’s wear firm Adams and Officers Club have gone bust.

Even Marks & Spencer, once regarded as a rock of stability amid the organic mass on the high street, is closing 25 of its specialist Simply Food stores.


Have Israeli firms lost AIM for good?

By Candice Krieger and Simon Griver, January 22, 2009

Stung by the market turmoil, Israel-associated companies have been left with little choice but to delist from London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM).

Eleven such companies have delisted over the past year. The 12th is expected to do so in the next few weeks, and many more of the 34 companies still listed are tottering on the brink of delisting. The situation is a far cry from late 2007 when there were an estimated 55 Israeli companies listed on the London Stock Exchange — 45 of then on AIM.


'Property prices could fall by 50 per cent'

By Candice Krieger, January 14, 2009

The bank of England’s interest rate cut to a record low is unlikely to do much to halt the collapse of the commercial property market, warns industry expert Ian Marcus.

Mr Marcus, 50, says that the reduction will be more than compensated for by the increase in margins and fees now demanded by those few banks willing to lend at all.


How we can fight off a depression

By Candice Krieger, January 8, 2009

The government must act to contain the recession and avoid a revival of nationalism, social unrest and protectionism, warns one of the financial world’s most authoritative figures.

Such a caveat is sounded by George Magnus (below), the senior economic adviser at UBS. Mr Magnus, 59, who was one of the few to foresee the financial crisis, says we should be braced for the recession to linger through 2009 and possibly into the following year.


The indie kid who’s taking on the slump — and cinema’s big boys

By Candice Krieger, December 18, 2008

Daniel Broch, the man behind the Everyman cinema group, has obviously not read the script.

As many leisure businesses struggle to cope with the impact of the credit crunch, Mr Broch is plotting an ambitious assault on the cinema sector.


Plunging pound? You just need a holiday exchange, says Mr Travelex

By Candice Krieger, December 18, 2008

“Inevitably, people who like to go to Europe will look to places such as Turkey, which is not in the euro and so it won’t be as expensive to outbound UK travellers,” says Lloyd Dorfman.

“Similarly, I think Asia may represent value. But the traditional, short-haul, European destinations are going to be expensive. When North America was $2 to the pound, everybody was happy to rush over there, but that’s now not the case. People will have to pay more or go elsewhere.”


There are other opportunities out there

By Emma Sinclair, December 11, 2008

On every news medium we are reminded of the carnage in global markets. Banks are collapsing, governments are making epic financial contributions to the private and public sector and job cuts are increasing. Commercial and personal financing is harder to source and the amount and terms are sharp compared to the past few years.

Confidence is low and inflationary pressures have - until now - been driving up energy and food prices. People are naturally concerned about getting through it and the next few years are clearly not going to be an easy ride.