Trick or Treat Business Challenge

Monday, October 20, 2014
by Jim Riley

A seasonal quiz challenge for your business students here courtesy of @tutor2u_jon in the tutor2u Learning Lab.

You'll need some suitable treats handy before you start.

Each student must choose one of the pumpkins on screen. If the student is lucky the pumpkin will have a smiley face and the student simply receives a treat. If they are unlucky the pumpkin will have a wicked face and they must correctly answer the business question to earn a treat!

We've provided 10 questions ready to go. You can edit this PPT file to add your own.

Download Trick or Treat Business Challenge

Manufacturing - Energy Costs and Competitiveness

Friday, October 17, 2014
by Jim Riley

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.

A new survey from the EEF (the manufacturer's trade association) has highlighted the crucial link between energy costs and the competitiveness of manufacturers in the UK.

There is some gold-dust research evidence in the survey and accompanying report for students building their understanding of the factors that determine how competitive manufacturers are - particularly those that are trying to compete in global markets with production based here in the UK.

Some key findings from the survey include:

73% of manufacturers say a projected 50% rise in electricity costs in the UK (by 2020) would have a noticeable impact on profit margins – over half (53%) say it would hit their competitiveness

Energy already accounts for 6% or more of turnover for 27% of firms – affordability is a key concern for 83% of companies

While a third (32%) say the UK’s lead in setting ambitious climate targets drives innovation, 41% say it risks undermining competitiveness

The EEF is calling on the next Government to ensure that energy policy supports ambitions for a better-balanced economy - i.e one that is less reliant on services (and in particular financial services) for economic growth.

The EEF report and survey highlights a dilemma facing policymakers in government. They want to do all they can to support manufacturers in the UK to be competitive. However, they are also committed to policies that promote a low carbon economy, including the imposition of a range of "green" taxes on energy.

Luxury Goods - The Decline in Global Demand

by Jim Riley

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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