AQA BUSS4 Research Theme for 2015 - Manufacturing in the UK

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Court Out! Red Bull and other cases of false advertising

Friday, October 31, 2014

Prepare yourselves for a shock; Red Bull does NOT give you wings, and have had to pay over $13m in compensation for saying so. I would assume the latter statement caused more astonishment than the former, and so I looked into previous false advertising cases and compiled the attached game called Court Out.

There are 10 case of false advertising, students have to decide which businesses were “court out” and had to pay damages, which advertising campaigns “got away with it” and which one is an urban legend. On the final slide is Graham’s “Spectrum of Analysis” in which students must evaluate which ones they felt were the most or least culpable.

To prevent any class action law suits against me, I would say it is a relatively fun and engaging game that should promote discussion and evaluation and might help students understand the fine line between good marketing and mendacity*.

*learning not guaranteed but I hope it helps!

Manufacturing - Energy Costs and Competitiveness

Friday, October 17, 2014

Surveys of manufacturing businesses in the UK often ask what aspect of government policy would be most helpful to manufacturers. High up the list of priorities come a better-trained and educated workforce, lower taxes and greater financial incentives to invest in R&D. However, there is one factor that nearly always comes top - energy pricing.

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Luxury Goods - The Decline in Global Demand

It seems that all is not well in the global market for luxury goods. There is increasing evidence of a slowdown in demand for luxury products. One reason is slower economic growth in the emerging economies. The geo-political environment isn't helping either, with unrest in the Ukraine and Hong Kong contributing to consumer unease.  Add in the worries over the Ebola outbreak and a clampdown on public corruption in China - it is not hard to see why demand for luxury goods is weakening.

But, is there another underlying reason - are consumers also getting fatigued with some luxury brands?

This useful FT video explores the issues.

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Dr Dre V Jay-Z – Focus V Diversification

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

As we all know, the mean streets of my adopted home town of Solihull share many similarities with Dr Dre’s Compton and Jay-Z’s Brooklyn, so I always take a keen interest in their progress.

This PowerPoint task asks students to research two of hip-hop’s biggest stars, use Ansoff’s Matrix to organise the many roles and businesses that they are involved in and then discuss how their contrasting strategies have impacted on their net worth.

Is Jay-Z’s “empire [building] state of mind” the best strategy, or is Dr Dre’s focus on music “still” the way to make the most money? Students can use the evidence that they have collated to complete the evaluation question on the final slide.

Hope it helps!

Advertising bans - fun activity called ‘Wordsnake’ to test students’ recent knowledge

If you've noticed the story about the Wongo TV advert that was banned recently for failing to clarify the level of interest charged on their loans, you may find this activity of interest.  Using a technique called 'Wordsnake' developed by our own Graham Prior, the activity lists 5 businesses with adverts banned by the Advertising Standards Authority in 2014 (other than Wonga).

At first glance it appears to be a wordsearch as you see a grid of what appears to be 100 random letters. However, the name of the business 'snakes' around the grid rather than being up, down or diagonal as in a normal wordsearch.

Students are given a clue about the the business hidden in the grid. Who can be the first to spot the answer and call out its location?

If the answer is not obvious at first, the teacher can press the space bar and the letters reveal themselves one at a time. 

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Manufacturing in Action - The Kit Kat Supply Chain

Monday, October 06, 2014

This production line in York makes 5 million Kit Kat bars every day. What is involved in the manufacturing process? Have a break and take a look!

The short video focuses on the local sourcing of milk from Scotland which supplies the ingredient preparation (crumb) plant at Girvan. Reference is made to the concept of "food miles", an important idea linked to resource sustainability.

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Manufacturing: Does the UK Steel Industry Have a Future?

Thursday, October 02, 2014

The FT produce some superb videos that are ideal for use in the Business & Economics classroom - and this one on the UK steel industry is another excellent teaching resource - particularly for students researching UK manufacturing.

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BUSS4 UK manufacturing

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

As BUSS4 students start on their research into UK manufacturing, one piece of data that they should keep an eye on is the CIPS Purchasing Managers Index. This is produced monthly by the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply by surveying managers responsible for purchasing materials in manufacturing industries, and so it gives an indication of the level of activity. A reading above 50 (shown by the red line on the graph above) shows growth in activity, below 50 shows a decline.

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Business start-ups - advice for fish fryers

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

BBC Radio 4 has a 5-part series this week which follows eight budding entrepreneurs on a course in Leeds, specialising in how to run their very own Fish and Chip shop. I caught the first episode yesterday; with each episode only 15 minutes long, it seems like a very good set of programmes for students who are beginning a Business studies course, as it covers a wide range of the issues that they will be learning about.

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How to increase your cash by 40% in one day – buy shares in Alibaba!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Chinese internet giant, ran by former English teacher Jack Ma, has become the biggest initial public offering (IPO) in History.

Having studied them last year, I considered buying shares in them, hemmed-and-harred, and didn’t. What a mistake! Shares started at $68 and rose to $92.70, an increase of 38%. Had I invested my spare £5mil (left-overs from the Apple shares I bought in 1999), I would have been up by a cool £1,900,000!

I used this as a way to introduce Public Limited Companies, but also linked it to risk and reward, raising finance and working out percentage increase.

Here is the link to a previous research task on Alibaba (suitable for most BUSS4 topics) and the more current BBC news article.

Hope it helps

Tesco’s fall from grace

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tesco's share price slid again today, although the firm has announced that the new Finance Director Alan Stewart started work three months earlier than expected. 

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Every little counts against Tesco

Monday, September 22, 2014

News about Tesco's troubles comes thick and fast, today's bad news about overstating profits has wiped off 11.59% of the share price. It fell by 26 pence to £2.03.  

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Networked Manufacturing - The Complexity and Culture of Global Production

A fascinating video here from the excellent Peter Marsh of the FT which explores the complexity of manufacturing operations at the world's largest eyewear maker Luxottica.

You probably haven't heard of Luxottica, but you will almost certainly be familiar with their broad product range. Luxottica's best known brands are Ray-Ban, Persol and Oakley. It also makes sunglasses and prescription frames for a multitude of designer brands such as Chanel and Prada, whose designs and trademarks are used under license.

In total, Luxottica is estimated to have around 80% of the global market for eyewear. It is also a vertically-integrated business with over 7,000 retail outlets around the world, many them trading under the Sunglass Hut brand.

Luxottica has six plants in Italy and two in China.

In the video, Peter Marsh introduces the concept of networked manufacturing. This concept is explained further by this excellent Economist article. The close integration of marketing (new product development & brand / product portfolio management) with operations is a key theme explored in the video.

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Choosing a Business Location: Manufacturing in South-east Asia?

Where should multinationals base their manufacturing operations? What are the risks involved in changing location? How can these risks be mitigated? 

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Lesson Activity - Cashflow-Cluedoh!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cashflow Cluedoh!, our free murder mystery game for business teachers, has just reached the 20,000 download level! Grab this popular lesson activity below.

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The Young Millionaire’s Dilemma

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

An interesting and inspirational story for all AS Business Studies students. Nick d’Aloisio wrote an app called Summly at his parents’ home when he was 15. At 17 he sold it to Yahoo for £20million. He now works for the internet giant in California, project managing the rebranded app News Digest… whilst still sitting his A-level exams!

The young entrepreneur is now deliberating whether or not to go to University. Attached is a short research task with videos and articles that asks students to create a balanced, evaluative argument about the pros of cons of Nick going to university. They must then apply the same question to themselves to see how the reasons differ.

It works well to introduce the key skills of application, analysis and evaluation, whilst learning about one of the UK’s most successful young entrepreneur.

Business Simulation - The Trading Game

Friday, September 12, 2014

There is nothing that better epitomizes the concept of being entrepreneurial than trading - buying and selling - hopefully profitably!

That's the idea behind The Trading Game - an interactive teaching and learning resource developed by tutor2u.

To request your free copy of The Trading Game simulation, please submit the following form and we will automatically send you the download link

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The Business of Religion

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

As an interesting way to introduce 3 of the 4 functional areas (and illustrate to students that business studies concepts are everywhere), I used these 3 news stories about how different religions have changed their strategies this year.

Pope Francis stamps out corruption in the Vatican Bank - By refusing to “do business” with certain unscrupulous customers, the profit at the Vatican Bank has dropped from £68m euros to just £2.3m. A strong move from Il Papa, but should a church make any profit at all?

Jehovah’s Witnesses change their marketing strategy - Instead of the door-to-door approach, Jehovah’s witnesses are trying to increase awareness of (and recruitment to) their “brand” by targeting train stations and shopping centres. Will this new tactic prove successful?

Church of England vote for women bishops - Traditionalist believed that as Jesus only “employed” male apostles, only men should lead the church. A recent vote has put an end to this misogyny, but one member of the church said “This is a show for the media. It's the end of the Church as we know it”. Should the church be exempt from the Sex Discrimination Act?

The lesson has now ended. All go in peace.

The Perfect BUSS1 Video – Steve Jobs Billion Dollar Hippy

Monday, September 08, 2014

The story of Apple, from inception up until 2011, is told beautifully in this 50 minute BBC documentary (available on Netflix or via this link) and literally covers all 15 sections in the BUSS1 specification (and quite a few from BUSS2 too). As an added bonus, I’ve created this 30-question worksheet to keep students focused.

A fantastic insight into one of the biggest companies in the world, a ready-made lesson... and chance for you to put your feet up for an hour!

Hope it helps!

Technology & Manufacturing - Innovation in Diesel Engine Design & Production

A great video here from the Royal Institution which illustrates how technology and manufacturing move together through the process of new product development.

The location for the video is a JCB engine factory and our guide explains how technological change impacts on the development of the next generation of high-powered diesel engines.

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BUSS4 research theme and the impact of technological change on businesses manufacturing in the UK

Monday, September 01, 2014

With brilliant timing to coincide with the first bullet-point for the new AQA BUSS4 research theme, today's Deloitte Monday Briefing focuses on Technology and Human Welfare. The piece considers the paradox between the very considerable effect that communication technologies have had on our daily lives, and the far less noticeable effect on output; measured productivity – effectively the efficiency of production – has improved far more slowly than the capacity of computers.

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What do you mean by ‘Business Class’?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Which airline boss has said for many years that “an airplane is nothing more than a bus with wings on”?

Of course, the answer is Michael O'Leary, the CEO of Ryanair - Europe's biggest budget airline. 

But, as Ryanair's passenger figures show that 25% of their customers are actually travelling on business, they have decided that now is the time to introduce a 'Business Class' service.

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Gallery of Entrepreneurs

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The first lesson of the year with any group is always difficult – usually by the time I get to know their names, hand out the textbooks and go over the course outline we are all in need of a fun activity.

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Growth with Inflation

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Over the last couple of days I have been watching balloons take off at Bristol's Balloon Fiesta. An evening out with friends, and a few pints may have inspired Don Cameron to take a risk, but a love of aeronautics or flying helped.

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CSR - Unilever’s Strategy & Culture of Sustainability

A superb article here from The Economist that should be essential reading for all students required to develop their understanding of corporate social responsibility (“CSR”) and, specifically, the concept of sustainability.

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Marketing Strategy - Twins Add Value to Humble Homewares Through Design Innovation

Monday, August 04, 2014

The use of innovative design as a source of competitive advantage lies at the heart of this entrepreneurial success story - detailed here in an excellent Guardian interview.

It is always good to see twin brothers succeeding in business! And the Joseph twins seem to have combined their talents very effectively to help re-invigorate their family business.

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Takeovers: Morrison’s Disastrous Investment in Kiddicare

If you are looking for a good recent example of how takeovers can destroy returns for shareholders (of the investing business), then add Morrison’s purchase of Kiddicare to the list!

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Strategy: Retrenchment for the Co-op Group to Reduce Gearing

The Co-operative Group, which has endured a pretty horrific period recently, is now firmly on a path of retrenchment. It is starting to take some substantial steps to dispose of business units in order to reduce the group’s high level of debts (gearing) and to focus the group on core activities.

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Revision Presentation - Business Ethics

This updated and extended revision presentation introduces the concept of business ethics. The distinction between ethical and legal behaviour is examined as are the potential benefits and drawbacks of ethical behaviour. Some topical examples of business ethics in action are also provided.

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Marketing Strategy - P&G Takes the Axe to its Brand Portfolio

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Are there too many brands chasing the available demand of households and other consumers? That's the view of AG Lafley, the CEO of Procter & Gamble ("P&G") - one of the world's leading multinationals in the fast-moving consumer goods ("FMCG") sector.

P&G has announced that it will look to focus on a much smaller number of consumer brands and cull up to 100 brands from its extensive product portfolio. In a classic example of product portfolio management, P&G wants to focus on those 70-80 key brands that have existing strong market shares and/or fast growth prospects.

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Leadership & Change: Sergio Marchionne Drives Culture Change to Turnaround Chrysler and Fiat

If business students are looking for a different example of how effective leadership can drive successful change, then they should add Sergio Marchionne to their research.

Sergio Marchionne was initially best-known for leading the turnaround of the Italian automotive group Fiat. More recently, Marchionne has led the transformation of US automotive group Chrysler, taking Chrysler from the brink of bankruptcy at the lowest point of the financial crisis in 2008/9 to profitability.

Marchionne took over as CEO of Fiat in 2004 and was able to return the struggling Italian car manufacturer to profitability with two years. He first connected with Chrysler when a strategic alliance was formed between Chrysler and Fiat (who took a 20% shareholding) as part of a US government-backed rescue of Chrysler as it tried to avoid bankruptcy. When Chrysler was able to pay off various US government loans in 2011, Fiat was left with a stake of over 50%. Since then, Fiat have been negotiating with a Chrysler employee trust in the US (which holds a substantial remainder of the shares in Chrysler) to complete a full takeover. A deal was finally agreed in early 2014 with the formalities now being completed. 

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Strategy – Multinationals Should Beware the “Local Dynamos”

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The world’s largest multinationals are in a constant search for revenue and profit growth, with many targeting emerging markets as the best source of growth that will satisfy their shareholders.

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Strategy - Tata Group Sets out its Conglomerate Vision

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The headline above from the FT really caught my eye this morning. Tata Group, perhaps best known in the UK for its ownership of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and Corus, has set out ambitious plans to invest $35bn in capital spending over the next three years as part of its vision for the next 10 years.

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Marketing Mix - When the Whole Industry’s Prices are Too High

There is a huge amount of business studies in this news story from the BBC in which a senior executive from private healthcare provider Bupa suggests that the whole industry in the UK has set its prices too high.

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Technology - Delays in Fast Broadband Threatens the Competitiveness of UK Business

"Nowadays every business is a digital business" claims the FT's Jonathan Moules in this useful video clip about the importance of fast broadband speed for UK business.

However, not every business has access to fast broadband and there is evidence presented here that the lack of acceptable bandwidth is reducing the competitiveness of businesses who rely on access to the Internet.

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Strategy: Foxconn Pursues Diversification as it Attempts to Move up the Value Chain

Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer best known for building Apple products, is increasingly adopting a strategy of diversification in response to rising labour costs in China.

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Entrepreneurship - How Failure Drove the Success of Dropbox

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

We're all big fans and users of Dropbox here at tutor2u - and the story of how Dropbox has developed into a hugely valuable business is a great example of how failure can inform and inspire successful entrepreneurial activity.

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Vertical Integration - Benefits Street and Baking Bought by Sky

Here is a small, but good example of vertical integration in action with a takeover by Sky of the production company behind the likes of Great British Bake-Off and Benefits Street.

Vertical integration arises when a firm buys a business at an earlier or later stage of the supply chain. In this case, Sky is undertaking "backwards vertical integration" - by investing in a controlling stake in one of the many television production companies that provide programming for Sky and other channels.

It looks like there may be some significant revenue synergies available to Sky as a result of its investment.  For example we are told that "Sky's distribution business, Sky Vision, will promote Love Production's formats and programmes to networks overseas.".

New Leadership - Can the Soap Man Save Tesco?

This will be a dynamic business story that will be essential for business students to follow closely over the coming months. Tesco has announced the appointment of Dave Lewis to replace Philip Clarke as CEO with effect from 1 October 2014.

This decision is significant for many reasons, not the least that Dave Lewis has never been a retailer, nor has he ever been a CEO. Nevertheless, Lewis was the man that Tesco wanted (he was headhunted) and he has a superb track record at Unilever, one of the world’s leading multinationals in the FMCG sector (“fast-moving consumer goods”).

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Retrenchment - Nadella Axes Jobs in a Bid to Simplify Microsoft

Satya Nadella, the new CEO of Microsoft who has taken over from Steve Ballmer, has announced that 18,000 jobs will be cut by 2015. These are the largest job losses in Microsoft's history and represents around 14% of Microsoft's total workforce. This is the classic action of a new CEO opting for a strategy of retrenchment as a way of imposing his/her views on the appropriate strategic direction.

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How did Aldi crack Tesco’s hold on the market?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Some news in the same week as Philip Clarke's high profile departure from Tesco, is that Karl Albrecht, who founded German discount supermarket chain Aldi  with his brother Theo, has died. The success and growth of Aldi (an abbreviation of Albrecht discount) is one of the thorns in the side of Tesco, and one reason for the profits warning that they announced yesterday, along with several other problems that Clarke inherited when he took over from Sir Terry Leahy three years ago. There is plenty to analyse in the criticism of Tesco's strategy, but also worth considering what it is that has enabled Aldi to break into the market, and how they have moved to a position of having 19% of those in the AB socio-economic catergory shopping in their stores.

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The do’s and don’t's of pitching for business investment

Here is an article which might be worth hanging on to for the start of next term, when new students start on their Business Studies course. The BBC has spoken to three venture capitalists - not the well-know Dragons, but some different names: the founder of Google Ventures, and managing partners of two funds based in India and in New York. They compare what they look for in a startup, what they avoid, and the best way for businesses to approach them.

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Vending Machine Pizza

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

This could be an excellent starter activity for a group discussion September?

Ask students to consider whether this is a good idea? Is it worth the price? What is its USP? Wonderful for getting students who havent studied business before (and those who have) to start thinking about many business concepts. I find that students tend to engage well with the concept of enterprise when they find the idea interesting?! And who doesnt love pizza???

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Barbie, you’re hired

Monday, June 30, 2014

"Entering the entrepreneurial world, this independent professional is ready for the next big pitch. Her "smartphone," tablet and briefcase are always by her side."

Sounds like one of the contestants to take part in the next series of The Apprentice? Actually no, it's the latest Barbie doll - Entrepreneur Barbie.

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Marketing, with a hint of Brazilian flavour

Thursday, June 19, 2014

As far as I know, Pot Noodles don't usually feature as a typically Brazilian dish, but they are just one of the products jumping on the World Cup bandwagon.
There are plenty of other examples to add - Domino's have new Fiesta and Rio pizzas, Tilda have 'sweet and spicy' rice and Lucozade have a new Brazilian variety. These and others all feature in an article about the range of Brazilian-themed products appearing in the supermarkets.

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Ikea in China - The Classic Long-term Success Story Built on Localisation

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I suddenly realised that, whilst we've featured Ikea prominently in our exam coaching workshops for a couple of years, we haven't linked to the wealth of resources that are out there to help tell & explain Ikea's strategy!

Here is a selection of the best - certainly contains everything you need to gather relevant evidence for why Ikea is such a timeless case study.

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Revision Presentation - Problems of Takeovers and Mergers including Integration

Sunday, June 15, 2014

This streamed revision presentation examines the problems of takeovers and mergers including difficulties integrating businesses successfully

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Revision Presentation - Impact On and Reaction Of Stakeholders to Takeovers and Mergers

This streamed revision presentation outlines some evidence of the impact on, and reaction of, stakeholders to takeovers and mergers

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Revision Presentation - Impact of Takeovers and Mergers on Business Performance

This streamed revision presentation looks at the impact of takeovers andmergers on the performance of the businesses involved.

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Revision Presentation - Factors Influencing the Success of Takeovers and Mergers

This streamed revision presentation considers the factors influencing the success of takeovers and mergers

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