British Airways Owner IAG Upgrades Profit Forecast

British Airways Owner IAG Upgrades Profit Forecast
The parent company of British Airways, IAG, has upgraded its profit forecast after it reported a 30% rise in third quarter profits. Operating profits at IAG rose to €900m (£708m) in the three months to 30 September, up from €690m a year ago.

IAG added that it expected an improvement in annual operating profits of €550m-€600m, compared with previous guidance of a rise of at least €500m.

In addition to BA, IAG also owns the Spanish airlines Iberia and Vueling.

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh, said: “We continued to grow capacity efficiently and both our non-fuel and fuel unit cost performances were strong with the latter boosted by the introduction of new, more efficient aircraft into our fleet.”

RBS Reserves £400m for Currency Probe

RBS Reserves £400m for Currency Probe
Royal Bank of Scotland has set aside £400m to cover potential costs from an investigation into alleged manipulation of the foreign exchange market. The provision, revealed in its third quarter results, follows Barclays’ decision to set aside £500m.

Pre-tax profit at RBS came in at £1.27bn – up £260m on the previous quarter and far better than the £634m loss in the same period last year. RBS also said that it planned to retain Ulster Bank.

The bank’s chief executive, Ross McEwan, said that Ulster remained a core part of the bank following a strategic review into its future. He said early progress had been made towards his goal of making RBS simpler, clearer and fairer, adding: “But we know we still have a long list of conduct and litigation issues to deal with and much, much more to do to restore our customers’ trust in us.”

The £400m provision for the currency investigation sent the corporate and institutional banking division to an operating loss of £557m.

RBS is among several banks being investigated by regulators over allegations that currency markets were rigged. The bank also set aside a further £100m to cover the cost of compensation for mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI).

Investors welcomed the improving performance for the bank, sending shares up 3.4% in early trading in London to 375.8p, valuing RBS at £41.8bn.

RBS’s overall position improved slightly in the three months to September 30, with its core tier 1 ratio – a key measure of financial health – up 0.7 percentage points to 10.8% in the quarter. However, it warned: “Ongoing conduct and regulatory investigations and litigation continue to present challenges and are expected to be a material drag on both earnings and capital generation over the coming quarters. “The timing and amounts of any further settlements or redress however remain uncertain and could be significant.”

The bank also said that it had released £801m of money set aside for bad debts – known as impairment provisions – in the quarter compared with a figure of £93m in the second quarter of 2014. That was considerably better than the £590m analysts had expected and reflected an improving economic picture in both the UK and Ireland.

Total income fell 11% to almost £4.36bn, while operating expenses rose 5% to £3.88bn. Restructuring costs were down £205m to £180m compared with the previous quarter. Loans and advances to customers were up 2%, or £7.4bn, to £393bn, and customer deposits increased by £4.1bn, or 1%, to £405.4bn.

Government to Pay Off Some of World War One Debt

Government to Pay Off Some of World War One Debt
The UK Government has said that it will pay off part of the UK’s First World War debt by refinancing bonds issued in 1917. The Treasury said it will redeem £218m of the £2bn of debt outstanding from the 1914-18 war.

The chancellor George Osborne is able to do this because interest rates are currently lower than the 4% interest on the debt. It is the first payment of its kind for 67 years.

In addition to re-financing the war bonds, the government will also redeem debt stretching back to the eighteenth century.

The war debt comes from bonds that were sold to finance the war and converted into perpetual bonds by the then chancellor Winston Churchill. Perpetual bonds, as the name suggests, pay a steady stream of interest forever. The bonds that Mr Osborne have acquired instead have a much lower interest rate.

Plantation Shutters: The Perfect Window Treatment for Your Home

Plantation Shutters: The Perfect Window Treatment for Your Home
Brightly-painted walls and brightly-coloured furniture are the obvious combinations to look for in the ultra-modern home décor, but one should not forget the role that windows play in the overall scheme of things. Surprisingly, the answer for many homeowners is plantation shutters, which add texture, depth and a classic, elegant look to any home décor, traditional or modern. 

Plantation Shutters Create a Real Look of Quality
Are you looking for a window covering that will provide your home with a real look of quality? Then why not invest in plantation shutters? Plantation shutters are wooden shutters that provide a classy alternative covering for windows and doors. Originally used to increase the privacy of a home or to improve security, plantation shutters are now in high demand amongst those who are looking to add a real sense of style to their home. They’re very much a design statement that more and more homeowners are choosing to make.

Plantation Shutters, Ever in Vogue
With the wide range of shutters on the market, you might be concerned that plantation shutters are going out of style and that they aren’t as popular as they once were. In actual fact, they are more sought after than they’ve ever been and interior design experts throughout the UK tend to favour them over other many window coverings and treatments. Unlike draperies, wooden shutters never go out of style or fade and you can rest-assured that they’re remain looking as stylish and chic years after they day you first installed them.

When you’re looking to create a look of quality for your home that’ll leave your neighbours green with envy, look no further than plantation shutters. You can rest-assured that they’ll give your home plenty of curb appeal due to the fact that they look just as beautiful from outside as they do from the inside.

A Desired Window Dressing
Plantation shutters are now a highly desired window dressing. This makes them a sound investment for your home in terms of adding value and making it more appealing to prospective buyers. Unlike draperies, which won’t increase the value of your home, window shutters are considered to be a permanent fixture in your home and this means that they’re usually included in its valuation. As a result, if you’re planning to sell your property in the future and are hoping to get a good price for it, it makes sense to wooden shutters in order to improve its value whilst setting it apart from other properties in your area.

If you’re looking for tier on tier shutters, full height shutters or café style shutters, you’ll need to find an established shutter company with an excellent reputation for its quality products and service. There are many shutter companies out there, however, it’s essential that you take your time to find a competent and trustworthy supplier and installer.

The Beautiful Shutter Company brings a wealth of experience to the window dressing industry and is committed to providing homeowners with the perfect set of high-quality plantation shutters for any home.

To learn more about our wide selection of shutters or to book an appointment, call us today on 01642 688049 or visit the Beautiful Shutter Company website.

RAC Says Motorway Fuel is £8 a Tank More Expensive

RAC Says Motorway Fuel is £8 a Tank More Expensive
Filling up at a motorway service station can cost the average motorist an extra £8 a tank compared with elsewhere, the RAC has said. The motoring organisation says motorway prices can be 10p a litre above the national average. It wants retailers to cut their prices, or be forced to do so by the government.

The Petrol Retailers Association said the prices were justified, because of the high costs of running the sites.

The RAC’s Simon Williams said the motoring body could see “no reason why motorway fuel should be so much more expensive”. “In fact arguably it is much easier from a delivery point of view than it is getting fuel to urban delivery stations,” he said.

In extreme cases, the RAC said petrol and diesel could be 15p a litre more expensive on the motorway. The UK has four big motorway service station operators, Welcome Break, Moto, Roadchef and Extra. Three of them are owned by venture capitalists.

“These service areas cost a fortune to build,” said Brian Madderson of the Petrol Retailers Association. “One, on the M5 in Gloucestershire, cost £30m,” he added. As far as profits are concerned, he said margins on diesel for HGVs and buses were very small, although they were likely to be higher on fuel sold to motorists. “The operators will get a reasonable margin – but only to balance out the costs of operating a motoring forecourt,” he said.

According to the RAC, many motorists only fill up at a motorway service station when there is no other choice, or else they put in just enough “to get by”. That increases the risk of drivers running out of fuel.

The organisation would like prices to be advertised in advance on motorways, as they currently are in France, and once were in the UK.

In May 2013, David Cameron asked the Number 10 policy unit to investigate making this compulsory once again. But the RAC says there has been no progress on the issue, and no update on tackling high fuel prices.

The Department for Transport said it had carried out a trial on advertising prices in advance, but it was still evaluating the results.

Last year, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) reported that petrol prices on motorways were 7.5p a litre higher than elsewhere, and diesel prices were 8p a litre more expensive. However, the OFT concluded there was no evidence of price fixing.

Tesco to Face Criminal Probe after £263 Million Hole Found in Profits

Tesco to Face Criminal Probe after £263 Million Hole Found in Profits
Tesco’s senior bosses face the potential threat of jail after the Serious Fraud Office launched a criminal investigation into the ailing supermarket’s £263m accounting scandal. The SFO confirmed that its director, David Green, has opened a probe into “accounting practices” at Tesco following the huge black hole in the profits of the UK’s biggest retailer which was first revealed a month ago.

Accountants Deloitte and law firm Freshfields, appointed by Tesco, found the accounting error was worse than first thought and that the supermarket had been overstating its earnings for some years.

The accounting scandal, which shocked the City, centres on the company booking deals such as rebates from suppliers too early, and deferring costs to inflate profits. Eight senior members of staff have been suspended, representing a serious blow to a retailer gearing up for the Christmas trading period.

Tesco said it “has been co-operating fully with the SFO and will continue to do so”.

The SFO’s decision to launch a full criminal investigation – which can take years in some cases – means it is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to suspect serious or complex fraud or bribery. The agency is likely to take months sifting through vast quantities of digital data and other evidence, while seeking to identify and trace witnesses.

Tesco’s new chief executive, Dave Lewis, unveiled the overstatement just  three weeks after he began the huge task of turning around the company’s fortunes.

The figure is bigger than the £250m first feared, although Mr Lewis insisted last week at the firm’s half-year results that there was no evidence of fraud or personal gain from the accounting manipulation. The City regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, is dropping its own investigation in light of the SFO’s decision, although Britain’s accounting watchdog, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), is “giving careful consideration” to whether it should take action.

The role of accountancy firm PwC, Tesco’s auditor since 1983, is also likely to face fierce examination, while the supermarket’s suppliers have also called in their own auditors to examine whether their accounts are affected.

Tesco’s shares have halved in the past year as the accounting shock comes against the backdrop of a bitter price war.

The once-mighty Tesco – which sacked former chief executive Phil Clarke earlier this year – has been losing ground to discounters Aldi and Lidl. It has also struggled to attract shoppers to larger, out-of-town stores as consumers trend towards shopping online and “top-up” visits to convenience shops. Tesco’s overseas empire has meanwhile been struggling and seen by analysts as ripe for a sell-off to shore up the UK business.

Warwick Business School Professor Crawford Spence said: “Now that Tesco are being investigated for fraud, the  FRC have yet greater reason to start an investigation into the auditors’ role with regard to these irregularities. “Tesco have been losing market share to their competitors steadily in recent years and losing value quite dramatically in their share price in recent months. Rather than fix the underlying problems, they have been playing around with their numbers to try and make things look better.”

Nationwide: Housing market is losing momentum

Nationwide: Housing market is losing momentum
House price growth is continuing to show signs of slowing down, according to the UK’s second biggest mortgage lender. Nationwide said house price inflation slowed to 9.0% in October on an annual basis, down from 9.4% in September. Indicators suggest the market has “lost momentum”, it said.

The trend may continue in the near term, especially in London, Nationwide added. Monthly house prices rose by 0.5% in October, taking the average house price up to £189,333.

However, Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “A variety of indicators suggest that the market has lost momentum. “The number of mortgages approved for house purchase in September was almost 20% below the level prevailing at the start of the year,” he said.

Despite the gradual slowdown in house price growth, the broader economic outlook remains positive, Nationwide said.

House price calculator

House price calculator
The figures are the third piece of evidence this week which suggest a cooling of the UK housing market.

Yesterday the Bank of England said that the number of mortgages being approved had fallen to its lowest level in 14 months.

The Land Registry said that house prices in England and Wales had fallen during September, for the first time in nearly a year. The Land Registry figures include cash sales, which can be a third of the market.

The Nationwide said tougher mortgage lending rules which began in April may be one reason for the slow-down; a fear of higher mortgage rates next year another.

Jonathan Samuels, chief executive of Dragonfly Property Finance, said the “irrational exuberance” in the market appeared to have subsided. “The new lending rules introduced earlier in the year clearly triggered a slowdown, but since then I suspect some good old-fashioned common sense has also played a role,” he added.

Keep Your Dog Warm and Dry this Winter with Dog Coats and Towels

Keep Your Dog Warm and Dry this Winter with Dog Coats and Towels
Autumn is here once again, as we can all tell by the crispness in the air, the beautiful fall foliage and the sun setting earlier with each passing day. The fact that the days are gradually becoming shorter and cooler again need not mean cutting short the amount of time your four-legged friend gets to spend outside. While concerns related to sickness and injury are just as real for canines as they are for us, simple precautions and preparations will ensure that your dog gets just as much enjoyment out of autumn and winter as the rest of us.

Helping Protect your dog from illness
Just like their human counterparts, dogs can catch a chill. And even when it seems inevitable that your beloved dog will sometimes get wet and dirty, such as during walks through the neighbourhood when it unexpectedly starts raining, or going for walks in old, dirty snow – because let’s face it, the weather isn’t going to stop your dog from needing to use nature’s facilities – it is important to be prepared for those unavoidable moments when a short jaunt outside leaves your friend in need of a quick bath and drying off.

A number of reputable companies specialising in pet care offer supplies such as thermal dog coats and dog towels made of advanced microfibre materials designed to pull more moisture away from your dog’s coat than a cotton towel. Keeping such a towel and a dog brush by the front door at all times will also ensure that any puddles or snow your dog might walk through outside won’t accompany you into your home.

Helping Protect your dog from injury
Whether you’re an enthusiastic runner or simply cannot go a day without a lengthy walk through the city or countryside in the evening, your dog is undoubtedly a big part of the time you spend outdoors. When the days are getting shorter, or if you generally take your leisurely outdoor stroll or jog during the wee hours of the morning, it is extremely important that your dog have protection in the form of some sort of reflective lead or jacket so that any cars you pass along the way will be aware of the other living creature trotting along beside you.

While many dogs prefer to run in grass and dirt rather than on pavement, this may not be an option everywhere along the path your take for running or walking, and most dogs do not easily recognise which parts of a paved surface are areas where vehicles may legally pass.

Likewise, as most early-morning and after-dark joggers and walkers already know, drivers typically don’t expect to encounter foot traffic of any kind, which places the burden on the pedestrian, dog or no dog, to anticipate problems and prevent accidental injury to both humans and pets. One of the best ways to make your dog visible in low light is with a reflective dog vest, which are available online in a wide range of sizes to fit any breed.

Waggers specialises in pet care products and offers a wide range of dog coats, dog towels and other supplies to keep your best canine friend healthy and happy all through the year. We offer a 100 percent money back guarantee with free returns on the UK Mainland, and we will even take £10 off your first order when you request our catalogue! For more information, call us today on 0844 573 5310 or visit the Waggers Online Pet Supplies today.

Business:             Waggers Online Pet Supplies


New ‘Number Spoofing’ Scam Nets Millions for Fraudsters

New ‘Number Spoofing’ Scam Nets Millions for Fraudsters
A new phone scam, known as number spoofing, is netting millions of pounds for fraudsters, consumers are being warned. Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK) said the scam has become increasingly common in recent weeks.

Typically criminals fool people into thinking they are talking to their bank, or the police, on the phone.

To help gain the target’s trust, they display a fake number on the phone’s caller ID screen. They then persuade the victim to hand over details of their bank account, or passwords, or suggest that they move money to keep it safe. Using those personal details, they then steal money from that person’s account.

Frequently it is businesses which are being targeted, as well as some well-off individuals.

“There’s a big surge in criminals using this,” said an FFA UK spokesman. He said they had seen hundreds of such cases, with some companies losing as much as a million pounds.

When indulging in phone “spoofing”, criminals will often draw attention to the number that is showing on the recipient’s screen.

Officials warn people to watch out for such odd behaviour, as it is a big clue that something is wrong. “Remember that if a caller is trying to draw your attention to the number on your phone display, it’s very unlikely the call is genuine as there is no legitimate reason to point it out,” said Craig Jones of the FFA.

The technology being used has existed for a number of years, but fraudsters have only recently started using it. “It’s not difficult for the criminals to fake a caller ID,” said Mr Jones.

Earlier this month some of Britain’s High Street banks launched a campaign to warn consumers about the dangers of “vishing” – otherwise known as voice phishing. That is when fraudsters telephone victims, to try to get them to give out details of their accounts. The campaign listed eight things a bank will never ask its customers to do, including asking for details of PINs or passwords.

Improving Your Home with a Designer Bathroom

Improving Your Home with a Designer Bathroom
One of the best things a homeowner can do to increase enjoyment of the home and improve the odds of selling the home at a good price is to upgrade the bathrooms. Particularly where older homes are concerned, a stellar bathroom remodel increases the home’s resale value by making it more appealing to potential buyers of all ages.

Fortunately, more people these days are in a better position to take on home improvement projects of this size, and a number of bathroom design features that were once purely the domain of palatial residences have become more affordable and more widely available. If you feel ready to take that step toward significantly improving your home for now and for the future, it is wise to learn more about bathroom upgrades that have become popular in recent years and that will provide the best value both in terms of your own enjoyment and a potential home sale.

Natural, clean colours Neutral and cool shades of blue, grey, white, silver and black give a sense of both cleanliness and serenity as compared to gaudy colours or gold or brass accents, which are best saved for other parts of the house. One exception to this rule is the powder room: unlike the trends in master bathroom remodelling, it has become ever more popular over the past year to add dark hardwood flooring, furniture-like cabinetry and other colours and accents more commonly associated with other parts of the house.

Master shower cubicles To some extent, bathtubs in master bathrooms are going out of fashion, being relegated to children’s bathrooms and replaced in the master bathroom by multiple-head showers with frameless glass enclosures. When opting for multiple shower heads, installing two or more different kinds of shower heads adds value in that different home buyers will then have options which suit their individual preferences. Brands such as Hansgrohe make a variety of showers which should meet the needs of most anyone undertaking a bathroom remodelling project.

Let there be light & Warmth in the Bathroom Lots of light in the bathroom is also very popular nowadays, contributing as it does to that light, airy and above all, clean feeling that everyone wants to experience upon walking into the bathroom. Consider adding skylights wherever space allows – even directly above the shower cubicle!

Features that make the bathroom warmer and more inviting in cool weather are also increasingly common. After all, who wants to step out of a deliciously warm shower taken under the natural light from a skylight and step onto a cold surface in an equally cold bathroom?  Installations such as heated floors and designer radiators, from brands such as Bisque and Reina, are much more affordable than in years past and a very worthwhile component of a larger bathroom remodelling project.

P.T. Ranson has been providing branded bathroom supplies and service for bathroom remodelling projects for years. With more than 30 years of collective experience and a commitment to providing the best possible products and service for each individual bathroom remodelling project.

When buying online from P.T. Ranson, deliveries on the UK mainland are free of charge. For more information, call today on 0191 4696999 or visit the P.T. Ranson website today.

Business:             P.T. Ranson Bathrooms