Archive for December, 2008

The wondering almost ends for Woolworths

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

The wonder of Woolies seems to be over …

More than 200 Woolworths stores across the UK are about to close their doors, signalling the chain’s final days on the High Street after 99 years.

Barring any last-minute rescue, the remaining 600 stores will follow suit by 5 January and 27,000 permanent and temporary staff will lose their jobs.

Branches in Prestwick, Liverpool, Llandudno and Gateshead are among those due to shut on Saturday.

The chain called in administrators last month amid mounting debts of £385m.

The rest of the branch closures will be staggered, with another 200 stores shutting on 30 December, 200 on 2 January and the remaining ones on January 5.

Zavvi, Whittards, Officer’s Club follow Woolies

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

Music, games and DVD chain Zavvi has gone into administration, Ernst & Young has announced, threatening 3,400 jobs.

The troubled chain has been badly affected by the demise of Woolworths, which forced it to stop taking new orders via its website.

Zavvi’s main supplier is Woolworths’ unit Entertainment UK (EUK), which went into administration on 27 November.

All of Zavvi’s stores should be open as normal on Boxing day, for its traditional post-Christmas sale.

The retailer is the latest victim of the slump in High Street sales that has seen the administrators called in at tea and coffee specialist Whittards and menswear chain The Officers Club

Unretirement: painful trend sweeps the US.

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

A leading US website has unveiled a dramatic new trend it labels as, “unretirement”.

Six years ago, Paul Nelson gave up his long career in the defense industry for what he thought would be a peaceful retirement in Tucson. The weather was mild, the neighbors friendly. He had plenty of time to volunteer and garden.

But retirement hasn’t worked out the way he planned. In 2006 his wife of 46 years died unexpectedly. He tried to swap their house for a smaller one and lost a chunk of his retirement savings in the process. Then this year the stock market cratered, wiping out almost everything he had left.

Now the 71-year-old is looking for work at local hardware stores and Home Depot and contemplating filing for personal bankruptcy. “I have nothing left,” says Nelson, a former Raytheon engineer. “I am not alone, I think.”

Far from it. An increasing number of people who retired in recent years, confident they had set aside enough to live on comfortably, are finding themselves strapped. The stock market plunge and the housing downturn have affected many Americans, of course. But retirees have been particularly pinched because their homes and investments are the primary assets they depend on for income.

As a result, many of the country’s elderly are finding themselves in Nelson’s situation, low on money and looking for work. “Suddenly the rug has been pulled out from under them,” says Alicia H. Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

These are The Unretired.

Seniors who thought they were set for life just a year ago now face the prospect of going back to work for two, five, even 10 years. They’re sprucing up their résumés, calling old work contacts, and flocking to employment sites. There are no reliable stats yet on how many retirees are looking for work, but there are clear signs the number is growing. RetirementJobs.com, the largest career site for people over 50, saw traffic more than double, from 250,000 visitors in July to 600,000 in November. In April, before the worst of the market downturn, a survey conducted by the seniors group AARP found that 17% of responding retirees over 50 were considering or already going back to work.

These aren’t just the spendthrifts or sloppy planners you would expect to run into trouble in retirement. I

Floyd McCoy, 67, retired three years ago after working for IBM for 22 years and running his own consulting firm. But his $400,000 in savings has dropped 40% this year, and the value of his Weston (Conn.) house is down by a third. McCoy says he can’t afford to keep the house he and his wife built 25 years ago for retirement. “I never knew life could be as challenging as this,” he says.

CIMA: NHS costings system ‘too complex’

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) is an advocate of activity based costing and has created a report to provide NHS trusts with the facts behind Service Level Reporting (SLR) and Patient Level Information and Costing (PLICs).

On the one hand Service Level Reporting is advocated by Monitor while the more detailed Patient Level Information and Costing is supported by the Department of Health. CIMA, which has more members in the public sector than any other accounting body, has produced a report with the CIMA NHS Working Group to harness current thinking on both costings initiatives.

The NHS currently faces the challenge of lower levels of financial growth than it has seen in recent years and, with increasing public expectations, the importance of performance management and improved efficiency has never been higher.

CIMA chief executive, Charles Tilley, who is also a non-executive director at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust, explains:

“Both SLR and PLICs provide intensely useful performance management tools to enable Trusts to achieve increased efficiency, and enhanced, more effective financial control and decision making, especially in light of the expected squeeze on public expenditure. However, with increasing levels of sophistication comes additional complexity and the ability of finance staff to analyse this data will be crucial.”

UK retail and house markets continue “slump”

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

According to the BBC, total UK retail sales have fallen in consecutive months for the first time in at least 13 years, a closely-watched survey has said.

Sales in November were down 0.4% from a year earlier, said the latest British Retail Consortium-KPMG retail survey.

Following a 0.1% decline in October, it was the first drop in overall sales for two months in a row since the survey was first released in January 1995.

In addition, the BBC reported, Property sales fell even further in November, according to the latest survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics).

The number of sales per estate agency fell during the three months to November to 10.6, down from the 10.9 sales per agency reported a month ago.

Rics said this was the lowest level since its survey started in 1978.

Sales have slumped by more than half this year due to the credit crisis, driving down prices as a result.