The Observer: "BHS crash sets trend for a chain of closures on UK high streets" (Hammerson thinks it is up-market from all the failing riff-raff)
"The retail sector is still reeling a year after the collapse of the chain, with rising numbers of staff on zero-hours contracts and other big hitters shutting shop as the internet squeezes their share of profits"
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"Last year, research by industry trade body the British Retail Consortium (BRC) identified a 'lost generation' of predominantly female shop workers who – as thousands of BHS staff would find out – risk losing their jobs as structural change chews up the high street. It estimated there were nearly 500,000 retail workers, aged between 26 and 45, many of whom have children and need to work close to their family home, who would find it hard to find alternative jobs.
"Using the benchmark of those earning less than £8.05 an hour, the BRC says 1.5 million people work in low-paid UK retail jobs. About 70% are female and one in five receive means-tested working age tax credits.
"Norman Pickavance, chair of the Fabian Society taskforce on the future of retail, says the majority of companies in the sector are trying to save money by moving towards less secure employment models. 'There are more and more zero-hours-type contracts and self employment,' he says."
"The Paris Climate Change Agreement reached at COP 21 acknowledges the importance of keeping climate change to within 2C and provided rarely-seen, unified international political support for action on climate change.
"Unfortunately, all the research shows that what we are currently doing is simply not enough to achieve this. If all the sustainability-aware corporates hit published sustainability targets, we will still overshoot 2C of climate change. It therefore makes sense for those who are in a position to do so, to consider the potential sustainability risks that may impact their own operations, and identify areas where they can enact the most positive change. Furthermore, it is not enough anymore for businesses to draw a boundary around what we directly control and claim everything outside that is not our responsibility. We must consider ways to bring others on board and account for broader sector impacts too.
"Hammerson's response is to set a comprehensive Net Positive target for the business. In addition to its substantial Socio-Economic Net Positive goals, it has the objective of reducing carbon emissions, water demand and resource use to less than zero over the next 15 years." [Shame Brent Cross is such an environmental disaster, then.]
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"It is five years since rival developers Westfield and Hammerson were brought together by Tory politicians Boris Johnson and Gavin Barwell in a shot-gun marriage of convenience over their conflicting plans for the Whitgift Centre and Centrale, sited opposite sides of North End [Road].
"Then, under the banner of the Croydon Partnership, the Hammersfield scheme was to include 2million sq ft of new shop space, 600 homes and 'destination' leisure facilities."
"... In February, Hammerson announced it would sell at least £400million of its interests in the shopping centres it already owns to help pay towards the Croydon development.
"And last month, Westfield bought a 3 per cent stake in Hammerson – around £135million-worth of shares – amid talk of 'leverage', which usually means a way of applying pressure on a company."
|The Curious Case of The Corruption That Didn't Happen|
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"A driverless shuttle bus is to hit the streets of London in the first extended trial of its kind in the UK.
"About 100 people will travel in a prototype shuttle – known as Harry after clockmaker John Harrison – on a route in North Greenwich over the next three weeks."
[Reposted from Jan 2016] Evening Standard: "Architect Sir Terry Farrell's master plan for the regeneration of Brent Cross and Cricklewood includes a new shopping district." (The roof is built of nano-particles, and is unaffected by falling icicles or the weight of snow.)
"A £4.5 billion redevelopment of railway lands at Brent Cross and Cricklewood is bringing 7,500 homes, three new schools, four parks and a new Thameslink station, offering a 12-minute commute to central London.
The 20-year project is soon to start. It will create a new town centre for the area, including a high street leading to a revamped shopping district at Brent Cross. The high street will pass through new public squares and over a 'living bridge' — a new cycle and pedestrian crossing over North Circular Road.
The railway looms large in Cricklewood's history and topography. The area came of age in the 1880s when Midland Railway moved its locomotive works from Kentish Town to the new Brent Sidings and built an estate of railway cottages, now coveted private homes, for its workers.
Today it attracts people who have outgrown their Kilburn or West Hampstead flat and want more space for their money, as they seek to settle down in a good-value family house with a credible-sounding postcode less than four miles from Marble Arch. Cricklewood numbers former London mayor Ken Livingstone among its residents.
As a general rule, prices sag in the centre of Cricklewood, and rise expectantly towards its borders with Barnet, Brent and Hendon.
Check out the quieter streets and conservation areas either side of the bustling Broadway, including Mapesbury Estate and 'the Groves' — Yew Grove, Elm Grove and Ash Grove — plus roads surrounding 86-acre Gladstone Park, close to Dollis Hill."
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"British households ran down their savings to a record low at the end of 2016, raising fears that the UK is on course for a fresh consumer debt crisis in the wake of the Brexit vote.
The saving ratio – which estimates the amount of money households have available to save as a percentage of their total disposable income – fell sharply in the fourth quarter last year to 3.3% from 5.3% in the third. It was the lowest since records began in 1963.
"... Martin Beck, a senior economic adviser to forecasting group the EY Item Club, said the falls in savings and disposable income were 'worrying signs' for the health of household finances, not least because inflation is expected to climb higher.
" 'Given that this pre-dates the worst of the inflationary pressures, it provides further evidence that 2017 is likely to be a very tough year for the consumer, with little or no scope to offset the headwinds from higher inflation by borrowing more,' Beck said.
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"Innovations come when governments and businesses are forced out of their comfort zones"
"It would be fatuous to argue that the EU is somehow responsible for the structural defects of British capitalism, because the dominance of finance over industry and the reluctance to invest in new plant and skills has been a feature of the economy for at least a century.
"But at the margin, membership of the EU has accentuated those trends. ... Free movement of labour has allowed employers to meet extra demand by taking on more staff at the minimum wage or just above, rather than by investing. That helps explain why employment is at record levels, but productivity has been feeble.
"The cry from employers now is that curbs on migration will push up their costs and lead to consumers paying higher prices. Actually, consumers are already paying through the taxes that fund the in-work benefits which subsidise poverty wages."