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Window Dressing

Mary Portas has been appointed by David Cameron to sort out Britain’s High Streets.

She’s being brought in to “address soaring shop vacancy rates, prevent the proliferation of “clone towns” dominated by familiar big names and boost the number of small and independent retailers in town centres.”

Crikey – a bit of a job for one woman eh?

So as a wee part time thing to keep her busy, Ms Portas has been given a brief to reverse forty years of dodgy planning decisions, the rise of internet shopping, rents and rates that are prohibitive, traffic management and parking schemes thought up by lunatics and punitive rates of VAT. Not to mention somehow controlling the expansion of tungsten nosed retailers who have bigger turnovers and better satellite surveillance than many countries.

Aye a wee bit of window dressing, marketing and staff training is what’s required and everything will be tickety boo.

Best of luck hen.

In other news, Colin and Justin are being brought in to revive the shipbuilding industry.


And the Second Least Surprising News of the Day is…………

David Cameron admitting that the bank lending scheme is in trouble.

Listen, banks may take outrageous nay absolutely scandalous risks. However, lending to small and medium sized businesses in near impossible trading conditions ain’t one of them.

I remember 12 years ago seeking a modest overdraft when my business was expanding. Not modest in the sense that it was a small amount of money but modest in relation to the solidity of the business. The bank had twelve years accounts showing year on year steady growth and I naively thought that all that I would have to do would be to phone the bank up and all would be arranged.

“We’ll send one of our business managers up from Leeds to talk to you about it” said the wee lassie on the phone. “What?” I said “This is a relatively small overdraft – we’re talking about a small fraction of the business turnover here and it’s to actively expand the business on a business plan with a rock solid provenance”. Nonetheless Jonathan (for it was he) arrived from Leeds the following week to pass judgement on me and my business.

Jonathan worried me. It struck me five minutes into the conversation that if Jonathan were ever left to be left to run his own business, he’d be in trouble. I mean cautious is one thing but this guy……….sheesh!

Complete banker he was.

“Have you considered your options in the event that the expansion might not work out?” Fuck me! they had sent a guy out from Leeds to stay overnight in a hotel to ask me this shit?

Jonathan continued in this vein and I realised that I wasn’t impressing him.

When Jonathan phoned me the following week he had changed into a comedian. “We’re prepared to grant the overdraft. You’ll be charged at 3% over base rate and we’ll require a charge over your house as security”

How could I resist? Well quite easily actually. Time was marching on and I’d no time to bugger about talking to more *ankers, so I phoned AA finance with whom I had no previous financial relationship at all. “You want a loan? how much?” “£15,000” “What’s it for?” “Eh…to buy a car” “OK can I ask you a few questions?”

That was at 1pm. At eight o’clock THE NEXT MORNING a taxi arrived at my door with the cheque.

I paid off the loan in four years.

The bank went bust in 2008.

Mystic Rab

The only mystery to me about the latest official inflation figure is that it is so low. If this figure is genuine, which I seriously doubt, then it can only be for one reason, and that is that retailers are absorbing some rising costs and reducing their profits. Perhaps they are being cautious on the back of the 2% VAT increase, keen not to put point of sale prices up too much at the same time? I know at the coal face of retailing that is what we are doing.

This of course cannot continue and as we enter the third quarter of 2011, inflation will only be going one way.

It was with a wry smile I checked out a couple of old posts here and here.

On the first post, Mervyn King appears to be either mendacious or incompetent.

On the second post from August 2010, which two, from the three commenters do you think would qualify as having their finger on the political pulse?