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We’re coming up to Episode Three in Year 10 of The Apprentice, says Scot-Buzz editor BILL JAMIESON. The format is wearisomely familiar but still hypnotic in its ghoulish humiliation. A bunch of would-be “entrepreneurs” (how all-embracing this term has become) vie to outperform each other to be spared a peak-time television roasting by arguably Britain’s worst boss: the bruising, brutal business bully boy, the Amstrad Archimedes, Alan Sugar. It’s compelling television, says Bill – if your taste runs to degradation, verbal flagellation and watching character assassination at the hands of a one-man firing squad.
This week Labour’s in the spotlight as it slowly sinks in the West. Gordie Broon’s got himself into a fine mess; Ed and Johann look set to follow. St Margaret rides to the rescue! Nippy Sweety steps up to the podium rallying the new troops. We give you trouble at St Andrews, Brighton and the Greens, more UKIP, some useful technology, Sherlock Holmes, some well-remembered poetry – and we solve your Christmas present dilemma. All rounded off with some spaced out sheep. Surely your cup runneth over…
This week KEN HOUSTON indulges in a spot of retail therapy. Financial meltdown put paid to Glasgow's weekend invasions wafted in from Reykjavik by Icelandair and one-off events like the Games don't really add much to shop sales. There's a problem, Ken thinks, with the planners. Delays in securing planning consent and warrants is stifling investment and harming our town centres. But recession has provided a breathing space - a chance for a complete re-think on retail strategy, and maybe save our vanishing High Streets in the process ...
Somewhere in North Queensferry, says JOHN McGURK, a grey-haired burly figure is looking out towards the Forth Bridge wondering where life has gone wrong. He's pacing up and down clunking his fist into the palm of his left hand and muttering under his breath. Suddenly, he picks up a telephone and dials a secret number. He waits impatiently to hear a buzz-buzz and then a click indicating an answer. And from there, says John, trouble spreads like ripples on a pond...
News that RBS is setting aside £140 million of new lending for small businesses in Scotland is a welcome sign of improvement in bank finance for the SME sector after widespread criticism about the banks’ low levels of lending to small businesses. On current demand for business lending, the environment has improved markedly from a year ago. RBS Scotland Chairman Ken Barclay [pictured] sees enthusiasm and more optimism from customers as RBS works to regain trust and confidence...
GEORGE KEREVAN says forget the gyrations on the stock market. The real shocker is that oil prices have crashed. America’s West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude has slumped by 20 per cent since June, to just under $83 per barrel. World benchmark Brent petroleum has spiralled downwards by almost a quarter lower, to $US86.46 per barrel. What gives? Ask our old friends the Saudis, says George, with whom OPEC is far from happy just now...
A slackening growth pace is evident in the latest Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs. But the figures show further robust increases in both permanent appointments and temp billings in Scotland last month. And strong upward pressure continues on staff pay, particularly permanent starting salaries, as rising demand for employees contrasts with a further deterioration in candidate availability. The Bank's chief economist says Scotland's economic recovery continues...
Scot-Buzz editor BILL JAMIESON has been rooting around in back offices of the elegant Georgian former RBS headquarters. All in a good cause. The first floor has been converted into space for young start-ups, homeworkers, freelancers, entrepreneurs and SMEs to make contacts, advertise their business, rendezvous for meetings, hold informal conferences – or simply find a quiet desk for working. Great things can happen, says Bill, when banks get together with small businesses. Brilliant idea! Please copy...
Recent research highlights the huge contribution mid-size companies make to the Scottish economy, but are they undervalued and overlooked? RHONA ALLISON, director of Company Growth at Scottish Enterprise, says on the contrary, almost a quarter of the companies SE focuses on are in this sector. Here's how Ruth tailors resources, skills and expertise to help mid-size companies achieve their full potential...
This week GEORGE KEREVAN predicts big job losses among the professional middle classes. Capitalism has been good at replacing brawn with machine power, says George, raising productivity and profitability along the way. Steam replaced muscle, then electricity and internal combustion engines brought mass production and a global market. Now computers are replacing brain work with thinking machines. So far,the impact on jobs has been relatively benign. But that won’t last...
Budgets are riddled with unintended consequences. Knock-on effects can result in the most adverse reactions for voters and politicians. John Swinney’s first budget, containing the first tax raising measures by a Scottish government in more than 300 years, is set to prove the point. Exempting houses costing less than £135,000 is welcome. So, too, is the graduated nature of the Land & Buildings Transactions Tax, compared to the Stamp Duty it replaces. But there the good news ends...