Archive for April, 2014

Time for Government intervention?

From the ever excellent Real Business magazine, the following

Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of its members reported an increase in late paying clients, while just 3 per cent said the problem had declined over the last year. 29 per cent reported an increase in the average length of time past the payment deadline.  


Disturbing statistics proving once an for all that to date, the rather tame government initiatives have had no effect whatsoever.

Many will blame the economic climate for the increase in delayed payments, but Im not so sure. To put it simple human terms, it is very much a case of “if they are doing it, why shouldn’t i?”. Late settlements are becoming habitual and almost standard

And will the trend improve? I will address why I am very doubtful in a future post, because this is a wider issue but it is reasonable to assume that change is best achieved when pressure is applied

“Small businesses call for the government to bar late payers from contracts”

Interesting to see if there will be a response to a call which has a great deal of merit


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Rip off invoicing part two

Burglar AlarmA completely different tale from the fire protection industry

Many years ago I was working for a very high end fire and burglar alarm division of Thorn EMI. A large proportion of the revenue was generated by maintenance contracts.

Each alarm was supposed to be visited twice a year to be checked and serviced. Did this happen? Not a chance

Our Glasgow division was particularly poor and after a gap of 20 years they finally went to a jewellers to maintain the alarm. Yes 20 years

But it wasnt a problem for the client. He was extremely happy with the installation because it hadnt given off one false alarm in all that time

And can you guess why?

Maybe you can

It had never been connected.

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The future Tube map of London

With the addition of Crossrail and the ever expanding and hugely successful (of which more later) London Overground as well as some minor changes to the network

it can never be emphasised strongly enough how important a decent public transport network is to any city. For many year’s London’s was not up to scratch and in fairness this was partly a legacy of a very old network and many years underinvestment. The Olympics were a spur but it should not and perhaps did not take that alone.

And now? The underground is more efficient and much cleaner than at any time i can recall. Overcrowded in places yes. But that is a little hard to avoid when the city is absolutely booming and trains are running at over 30 an hour on the bust lines

The cleanliness point is interesting too. Not an obsession of mine but the changearound took little investment other than a strong will and initiative. Dare i say that Ken Livingstone can a lot of credit here

The late Bob Crow would also hardly be a political bedfellow but it is perhaps worth remembering his last fight. The battle to keep ticket offices open.

We have a pretty good service now which it should always be remembered will leave an impression with tourists and potential investors too. Its a showcase. But we ought to remember that visitors are visitors and they often need help to navigate an somewhat complex system. Never underestimate the long term impression of help and courtesy

Is it really that costly to keep at least some key offices open?

Think again TFL

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Rip off invoicing. Part one

Every credit manager will from time to time find themselves in a situation whereby they find it rather difficult to morally defend their employers charges. A couple of amusing instances have come to my mind and in time im sure many more will. My first example was from the advertising industry, where I was a group credit manager

A specialist financial agency charged a client for branding their new online presence. The charge was £1k which may not seem excessive

I cannot quite recall the businesses name, but it was something along the lines of Norfolk Insurance

So what was the brand name this agency produced and charged £1k for

“Norwich Insurance Online”

I kid you not.

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Co op woes continue


The co-op group certainly does appear to be in a shocking condition with some pretty catastrophic errors of judgement weighing heavily on its current and future prospects

So whats new and what do we learn from this sorry saga?

Firstly the biggest error does appear to have been made with the appointment of senior directors. Simply put they did not have the requisite experience or simple straight forward know how. In fact it would appear that in many cases and one in particular, they didnt have a clue about the market they were involved in

An obvious mistake? Sure but whilst it is hard to defend much top executive pay there is no doubt in my mind that the right people more than pay their way. Bob Diamond would have cost the Co op at lot more than their hapless executives but would he have made such dismal errors of judgement. And weigh that up against the reported losses

Yes we can retort with Fred Godwin but ultimately you will get what you pay for. 


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“Do IPs do turnaround?’

A question posed by my friend Tony Groom of K2 partners. Unfortunately i cannot link the article but the responses are interesting

And maybe in some cases a little defensive?

Some strong opinions but I thought that this was perhaps the best

“In my view that is like asking, ‘Do solicitors carry out the property valuations for their own conveyancing instructions?’ or ‘Do barristers undertake all of the pre-legal investigates on a case they are to present before the courts?’ The simple answer is ‘no’, but IPs do work in conjunction with and can assist turnaround specialists. To coin a phrase, ‘You do not have a dog and bark yourself!’ Like insolvency, turnaround is a specialist field and those who work within and alongside the company directors do so without any protection from the likes of a moratorium or an approved CVA. It is comparing apples and oranges.”

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