Neville Prior

Olympic Pride

Neville Prior  21 August 2016 08:16:56 PM
Image:Olympic Pride
What a great performance from Team GB. 2nd overall but what a performance per head of the population, and top in terms of number of sports in which gold was won.

Since the depths of 1996 in Atlanta, it just shows that where there is a will there is a way!

Well done - inspirational!

(And of course congratulations to competitors, winners or not, from all countries)

Confectionery Faces Voluntary Sugar Targets and Calorie Caps in the UK

Neville Prior  19 August 2016 09:23:14 AM
Voluntary sugar targets and calorie caps on confectionery and eight other categories are planned by the UK government in March 2017.

Government Unveils £2.5bn Apprenticeship Proposals

Neville Prior  18 August 2016 11:39:01 AM
Extra support - worth £2,000 per trainee - will also be available for employers and training providers that take on 16 to 18-year-old apprentices or young care leavers The government’s new funding model for the planned apprenticeship levy would see the vast majority of employers having 90% of training costs paid for by the government. Under the plans employers that are too small to pay the levy - around 98% of employers in England - will have the bulk of the costs provided. Extra support - worth £2,000 per trainee - will also be available for employers and training providers that take on 16- to 18-year-old apprentices or young care leavers. Employers with fewer than 50 employees will also have 100% of training costs paid for by government if they take on these apprentices. In all, £2.5bn will be invested in apprenticeship training by 2020.

Apprenticeships and skills minister Robert Halfon said: “We need to make sure people of all ages and backgrounds have a chance to get on in life. Apprenticeships give young people - especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds - a ladder of ‎opportunity. That’s why we continue to work tirelessly to deliver the skills our country needs. The apprenticeship levy is absolutely crucial to this."

“Our businesses can only grow and compete on the world stage if they have the right people, with the right skills. The apprenticeship levy will help create millions of opportunities for individuals and employers. This will give our young people the chance they deserve in life and to build a highly-skilled future workforce that the UK needs.”

A new register of training providers will be introduced from April 2017 to improve the link between training providers and employers to will help employers identify a high-quality provider so they can deliver the skills they need to grow. All employers and training providers now have the chance to feedback on the proposals for apprenticeship funding by 5 September. Final funding proposals will be confirmed in October 2016.

In response, the Federation of Small Businesses chairman Mike Cherry, said: “This announcement sends a clear signal that ministers are listening to our members’ concerns. “Smaller businesses are taking on more apprentices than ever before. What’s more, a quarter of our members say they are considering employing an apprentice in the future, but only if they feel apprenticeships are affordable."

“While many small firms are committed to apprenticeships, many more continue to be worried about the time and personal commitment required. Getting apprenticeship reform right, including changes to existing funding arrangements, is key to apprenticeship growth among small businesses and the government achieving its target of three million new apprenticeships over the course of this Parliament.”

Retail Sales Rise in July

Neville Prior  18 August 2016 10:40:38 AM
Image:Retail Sales Rise in July
Warmer weather and a weaker pound helped boost retail sales in July, according to official data. Retail sales grew by 5.9% compared with July 2015, the Office for National Statistics said. "Better weather this year could be a major factor, with sales of clothing and footwear doing particularly well," said Joe Grice of the ONS. He added that there was anecdotal evidence suggesting the weaker pound encouraged overseas visitors to spend. Sales of watches and jewellery were up 16.6% in July compared with the same month last year - the biggest jump in nearly two years.

Compared with June, UK retail sales were up 1.4%, a figure that was much stronger than expected. Sterling climbed about half a cent to a two-week high against the dollar after publication of the figures. The retail data went against expectations of an immediate hit to consumer confidence from the UK's vote to leave the European Union. Other figures released earlier this week also showed little immediate impact of the Brexit vote on the labour market, but there were signs of inflation pressures building after the plunge in sterling, which could diminish the spending power of households.

Dennis de Jong of UFX.com said: "The High Street certainly hasn't taken as big a hit as many had predicted in the immediate aftermath of Brexit, but retailers will still have concerns about what lies ahead over the next few months. "The government won't be celebrating just yet, as they will need to see more evidence that consumers are continuing to reach for their wallets as the effects of Brexit become clearer."

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist for Pantheon Macroeconomics said that "consumers' blissful ignorance won't last long". "July's retail sales figures show that consumers have been protected from the immediate fallout of the Brexit vote, but with firms intending to stop hiring and inflation set to soar, the High Street is set for a tough year," he said. "The real test for consumer spending lies in 2017 when jobs cuts will kick in and inflation will erode spending power," Mr Tombs added.

The Bank of England more than halved its forecasts for household spending growth over the next two years after the vote to leave the EU. It now expects growth in spending of 1.0% and 0.75% in 2017 and 2018 respectively due to lower growth in wages and higher inflation.

Happy Weekend

Neville Prior  12 August 2016 05:00:08 PM
Image:Happy Weekend
The sun is shining, its Friday evening - Good weekend all.

EU Opens Antitrust Probe on Dow Chemical, DuPont Merger

Neville Prior  12 August 2016 12:09:42 PM
Image:EU Opens Antitrust Probe on Dow Chemical, DuPont Merger
The European Union’s antitrust authority opened a full-blown investigation into the proposed merger of Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. , which could require the companies to make bigger concessions to clear their blockbuster deal. The European Commission said it would investigate whether the combination may reduce competition in crop protection, seeds and certain petrochemicals. The proposed merger, disclosed in December, would unite the two giants with a combined market cap of roughly $122 billion, before splitting into three separate companies. Last month, Dow and DuPont privately outlined concessions to EU authorities to address antitrust concerns there. In-depth antitrust inquiries are common in Brussels for large merger reviews and don’t necessarily mean a deal will be blocked. If the EU confirms its concerns, the companies can sell assets or make other adjustments to assuage regulators.

The EU’s deeper questioning of the Dow-DuPont deal comes as other top suppliers of seeds, weed killers and insecticide plan their own mergers, and antitrust officials for the bloc have signalled they will closely scrutinise consolidation in the sector.

“The livelihood of farmers depends on access to seeds and crop protection at competitive prices. We need to make sure that the proposed merger does not lead to higher prices or less innovation for these products,” said European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

The commission said it found the concessions Dow and DuPont outlined on July 20 “insufficient to clearly dismiss its serious doubts” about the merger being in line with EU rules. The commission said it was concerned about the concentration of herbicide and insecticide businesses, among other product lines. The companies on Thursday said they had anticipated “a thorough review” by regulators and still expect the deal would close by the end of this year. A final EU decision is expected by Dec. 20. Given the scale of the two companies, the commission said it was “cooperating closely” with competition authorities in the U.S., Brazil and Canada that are also scrutinising the deal.

TiO2 Prices

Neville Prior  12 August 2016 11:31:22 AM
Image:TiO2 Prices
It looks as if titanium dioxide prices may be heading up again for the autumn, as Huntsman announce increases of around €150 per tonne. I guess the producers may have reason to be optimistic, as usage has picked up a little and inventories are very low.

CIA Member Survey Reveals Positive UK Outlook

Neville Prior  11 August 2016 03:44:44 PM
Image:CIA Member Survey Reveals Positive UK Outlook
A survey of its members by the UK’s Chemical Industries Association (CIA) has shown that while some investment is expected to be hit by the uncertainty post-Brexit, three-quarters of companies will maintain or increase their capital expenditure. According to the trade association, 71% of members surveyed said levels of employment would remain the same or increase. The UK’s chemical industry creates 140,000 direct jobs and supports around half a million indirect jobs, with sales approaching £50 billion in 2015, according to CIA’s figures.

Over the next twelve months, 89% of respondents said investment in R&D will stay the same or increase, 87% said they believe exports will remain unchanged or rise, and 80% said sales will grow or  remain stable. The poll, carried out after the UK voted to leave the EU, also highlighted the uncertainty over the country’s future relationship with the economic union and the exchange rate of Sterling to euro.

On a positive note, members said they saw opportunities for growth through expanded production capacity, new products coming into the market and other operational improvements. Sterling’s lower value is also expected to boost exports, a key driver of growth for the UK, although on the flip side, imports will become more expensive.
CIA’s chief executive Steve Elliott said the survey shows there is still confidence that the UK can be a good place to do business. “I hope the views of our business leaders will further support the wish for all of manufacturing to invest in the UK and the government will do all it can to make it even better for companies to invest here,” he added.

Kat Von D Beauty Heads to the UK

Neville Prior  10 August 2016 01:50:46 PM
Kat Von D Beauty has responded to rising consumer demand from UK and is set to roll out some of its ranges in the the country from September.

L’Oréal’s Wearable UV Patch Finally Launched

Neville Prior  10 August 2016 01:49:35 PM
L’Oréal has launched its long-awaited wearable UV patch technology, allowing consumers to monitor exposure to harmful sun rays with a view to encouraging consumption of its La Roche-Posay sun care range.

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