Maplin in Talks with Potential Buyers

Maplin in Talks with Potential Buyers
One of Britain’s biggest electronics retailers is in talks with potential buyers amid reports it is seeking to head off the threat of administration. Maplin, which has more than 200 stores and 2,500 staff, hopes to strike a deal this week, the company said.

News of a possible sale, first reported by Sky News, comes after insurers withdrew credit cover last year because of falling profits.

Maplin, owned by Rutland Partners, is the latest High Street name in trouble. A string of clothing retailers and restaurants, plus Toys R Us UK, have all run into financial problems in recent months.

However, Maplin said it expected to be able to unveil a “solvent sale” within days. “Once secured this will stabilise the business to the benefit of all stakeholders and provide Maplin with the financial firepower to deliver its 2020 multi-channel strategy focused on smart tech,” the company said in a statement. That is a reference to its 2020 Vision Strategy to take on competition from the likes of Amazon by not just selling smart devices, but installing them as well.

Sky News reported that the potential buyers include Edinburgh Woollen Mill, the clothing company that owns Peacocks, Country Casuals and several other retailers. It was also reported that if Maplin could not find an outright buyer, it would consider a so-called pre-pack sale. Under this arrangement Maplin would line up a sale before going into administration, with the new buyer emerging almost immediately with the most profitable assets.

Jeremy Corbyn Vows to Curb City of London’s Power

Jeremy Corbyn Vows to Curb City of London’s Power
Jeremy Corbyn is vowing to take on the City of London if he becomes prime minister, saying finance should be “the servant of industry, not the masters of us all”. The Labour leader will call for a “fundamental rethink” of the finance sector and how it is regulated. He will also promise to give the government new powers to intervene to prevent “hostile takeovers”.

The Tories said Labour would “end up harming Britain’s businesses”.

Mr Corbyn has often criticised bankers, and promised a “fundamental shift” in economic policy if he wins power.

In a speech to the EEF manufacturers’ organisation on Tuesday, he will say his administration would be the first in 40 years – a period which includes 13 years of Labour government – to “stand up for the real economy”.

“There can be no rebalancing of our distorted, sluggish and unequal economy without taking on the power of finance,” he will say. “For 40 years, deregulated finance has progressively become more powerful. Its dominance over industry, obvious and destructive; its control of politics, pernicious and undemocratic.”

A Labour government, he will say, “will take decisive action to make finance the servant of industry, not the masters of us all”.

Mr Corbyn will point to the ongoing attempt by manufacturing turnaround firm Melrose to gain control of engineering giant GKN as a further example of “short-term performance and narrow shareholder value (being) prioritised over long-run growth and broader economic benefit”. Labour would broaden the scope of the public interest test applied to such takeovers, he will say.

Responding to his remarks for the Conservatives, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Robert Jenrick said: “Labour don’t know how to handle the economy and would end up harming Britain’s businesses, and there would be fewer good jobs for people as a result. We are stepping in to make sure businesses play by the rules, after Labour’s failure to properly regulate the banks.”

At the same EEF event, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox will hail the UK’s manufacturing sector, saying the government is already “laying the groundwork” for new trading relationships across Africa and Asia after Brexit.

Welcome & Introduction to Hereward College

Welcome & Introduction to Hereward College

If you are a parent with a child that has special needs or work with young people with disabilities you may find it difficult to find suitable further education that is able to cater to the individual needs of disabled people.  Due to the shortage in suitable provision locally, letting a young person gain further qualifications and education in a specialised residential college can sometimes be a really good option.

At Hereward College they have an excellent campus complete with all the facilities required to help disabled people reach their full potential, and with a wide range of courses on offer they make sure that every student has the opportunity to study at a level that is completely suited to their level of ability.

With a focus on helping every student make sure that they are fully prepared to begin their next stage of life with confidence and the skills they require, each learner is provided with a bespoke study plan that it designed to take any special additional requirements into account.  Facilities onsite include an assessment centre, various therapies, a well-equipped learning resource centre, sports centre and a comfortable café. All areas have had adaptations to make them accessible to all students regardless of their mobility needs, so every effort has been taken to make sure that all students get to make the most of all the opportunities available at Hereward Collage.

There is the choice to attend as a residential or day student at Hereward College so learners can decide if they are ready to try staying away from home if they wish.  With all bedrooms including Wi-Fi and a fully accessible en-suite bathroom it is the ideal way for any young person with special needs to start gaining more personal independence, and with plenty of well trained staff on hand if there is ever an issue you can have the added reassurance that they will have any help that they need.  With courses including units to improve independence, personal care and preparation for entering the world of work at Hereward they aim to provide every learner with skills that will really benefit them later on in life.

At Hereward College they have an excellent range of well trained staff to ensure that all students receive the correct care and supervision during their time.  Speech Therapists, physiotherapists and other support staff work alongside the teaching staff to make sure that all students are able to make improvements in all areas of their lives as well as receiving more formal education as well.  With a choice of pathway plans to take every student will have the opportunity to enrol on a course that reflects their abilities and that is designed to help them to learn new things that are achievable and well suited to their needs.  With a strong belief in student participation all learners are given the opportunity to voice their views and opinions about college life and are encouraged to engage in the wide range of social events and peer support projects that are on offer.

If you are looking for a place offering young people with disabilities day care provision or you are interested in residential services why not take a look at Hereward College’s prospectus?  With all the equipment and staff required to give young people with special needs a real opportunity to gain independence and further their education, with the special range of additional courses on offer as well they will also gain all the skills they need to successful transition into adulthood.

If you would like further information about the specialist services available at Hereward College for young people with disabilities, please call 024 7646 1231 or visit the Hereward College website today at http://www.hereward.ac.uk/.

Thousands Face Fine for Late Tax Returns

Thousands Face Fine for Late Tax Returns
A total of 746,000 people missed the deadline to file their self-assessment tax return, risking a fine of £100. Some 11.4 million people, primarily those with more than one source of income and the self-employed, were required to complete returns.

The deadline for those filling in paper forms was the end of October. Online returns should have been completed by the end of Wednesday.

The UK tax authority said a record number filed on time. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said 10.7 million submitted details on time, but 6.5% missed the deadline, compared with 7% last year.

Angela MacDonald, director general for customer services at HMRC, said: “We want the number missing the deadline to be zero, and we will continue to adapt the process to make it easier and simpler for all our customers until every return is in on time and without avoidable errors. If you’re one of the small number that missed the deadline, please submit your return now to avoid further penalties. We really don’t want penalties, we just want tax returns.”

The current system means HMRC could demand a penalty of £100 for late filing during the first three months after the deadline. After three months, additional penalties of £10 per day can be demanded, up to a maximum of £900, followed by further charges six and 12 months after the deadline.

However, the government is working on plans to introduce a points-based system, similar to driving offences, for those who fail to submit their tax returns on time, rather than an automatic fine. Under the planned changes, they would instead receive points and have to pay fines after a certain threshold was reached. Points would also be wiped off the record after a certain period of time.

This could begin with VAT in the 2019 tax year, before income tax is added to the system later, but some accountants are concerned that people may mistakenly believe such a change had already come into force.

Amazon 2017 Sales Increase by a Third

Amazon 2017 Sales Increase by a Third
Online retailer Amazon saw sales jump by nearly a third last year, helped by growth in its Prime delivery service. Full-year revenue came in at $177.9bn (£124.6bn), a rise of 31%, while profit hit $3bn, against $2.4bn in 2016. The company reported record sales in the final three months of the year, driven by a surge in online shopping over the holiday season and demand for its cloud services.

Shares in Amazon rose by 6% in after-hours trading. The company said more than five billion items were sent using its Prime shipping service worldwide in 2017. It added that more “new paid” members joined the scheme than in any previous year, both worldwide and in the US. More than four million people signed up in one week alone last quarter Amazon said. Prime members have access to fast shipping, exclusive TV shows on Amazon Prime Video and extra benefits when using the company’s voice-controlled Alexa digital assistant.

Amazon has focused on boosting Prime subscribers, which its chief financial officer has previously called its “most important customer base”. Prime subscribers tend to do more shopping with the company, although Amazon has not said how many people it has signed up so far.

The company’s boss Jeff Bezos said projections for its Alexa assistant had been very optimistic and the company had “far exceeded them. We don’t see positive surprises of this magnitude very often – expect us to double down.”

The company said fourth-quarter sales rose by 38% to hit a quarterly record of $60.5bn (£42.4bn). Fourth-quarter profits more than doubled to $1.9bn against $749m in the last three months of 2016.

The figures were boosted by a tax benefit of about $789m related to the new US tax law.

The results also include the contribution from the Whole Foods grocery store chain, which Amazon bought last year. “This was another blow-out quarter for Amazon,” said analyst Daniel Ives of GBH Insights. “The retail strength was eye-popping as the company had a banner holiday season and looked to capture roughly 50% of all e-commerce holiday season sales.”