Now Sainsbury’s Suffers Website Difficulties

Now Sainsbury’s Suffers Website Difficulties
Sainsbury’s has become the latest victim of website difficulties amid the rush for Christmas orders. Hundreds of customers complained that their orders were wrongly cancelled after a computer failure on Sunday evening. Dozens took to Twitter to express their frustration.

Sainsbury has apologised and is investigating what went wrong. It says the website is now running as normal.

Jenny Grasham-Whalley, from Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands, was offered an alternative delivery date on 27th December. “I think it is a disgraceful treatment of clients from a brand such as Sainsbury’s,” she told the BBC. She was offered a £50 voucher as an apology.

Earlier this month, Marks and Spencer and courier firm Yodel warned of delivery delays after they were overwhelmed by orders.

Marks and Spencer had problems with a new distribution centre, and warned that deliveries to customers could take up to 10 days, instead of the usual three to five.

Yodel – previously known as Home Delivery Network – had to suspend collections, and admitted that some parcel deliveries were taking up to eight days.

Higher Pay Deals on the Way, suggests Martin Weale

Higher Pay Deals on the Way, suggests Martin Weale
Bigger pay rises may be on offer in the coming year, according to Martin Weale, a member of the Bank of England’s interest rate setting committee. He told Radio 5 live’s Wake up to Money programme that employers were clearly becoming more confident. Mr Weale predicted this would feed into higher pay awards to employees.

His comments came as a survey from the CBI business organisation found that half of UK firms plan to expand their workforce next year. This would lead to more permanent jobs being created than temporary ones, the CBI said.

Mr Weale sits on the the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) which is responsible for setting interest rates.  At the past five meetings of the MPC, Mr Weale – along with Ian McCafferty – has voted to raise the official bank rate from its historic low of 0.5% to 0.75%.

He has argued that the growing strength of the economy means that it is time for a rate rise.

“When I go and visit businesses throughout the country, I find that they are talking of pay increases in a way quite different say from what I was hearing early in the year, certainly this time last year,” Mr Weale told the BBC. “I’m getting a more general sense now that people are talking about pay increases which are materially higher than they’d offered in the past, whereas a year ago I would come across quite a few firms saying they were going to have a pay-freeze.”

The CBI’s survey found that all UK nations and regions were expected to expand employment, and prospects for young people were better than last year. However, it warned that that skills gaps could prevent some of those jobs being filled.

The CBI’s survey heard from more than 300 firms which collectively employ more 1.25 million people. The survey also had positive news on pay, with increases anticipated in 2015, albeit at a “cautious” rate.

But firms also expressed concern about new regulation damaging job creation.

“We want to see everyone enjoy the rewards of the economic recovery,” said the CBI’s deputy director general, Katja Hall. “It’s a concern that the UK’s growing skills gap is now seen as the number one workforce threat to the long-term health of its economy. “Companies and the government need to work together to find ways to develop skills within the workforce and help employees move into higher skilled and better paid jobs,” she added.

The CBI’s findings indicate that the trend seen in recent official employment and pay statistics is likely to continue. The most recent data showed wage growth in the UK was picking up.

Last week the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said average earnings, excluding bonuses, were up 1.6% from a year earlier and the number of people unemployed was down by 63,000 to 1.96 million. However, the TUC’s general secretary, Frances O’Grady, pointed out there was a lot of lost ground to be made up.

“After seven years of falling wages and few decent pay rises on offer, Britain’s workers are set to wait years for their living standards to get back to where they were before the financial crisis,” she said. “We need stronger growth and better labour market regulation, to ensure that the rewards of the recovery are fairly shared and to avoid getting stuck with a low value, cut-price economy.”


Ladies’ Fashions from James Meade

Winter Sale Prices on Ladies’ Fashions from James Meade
With the Christmas shopping season in full swing, many smart shoppers who started early are now winding down and enjoying time with family and friends. Not everyone is so fortunate, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. While having to do last-minute Christmas gift shopping can be rather stressful as Christmas day approaches, those final days still present opportunities to save money on clothing and other seasonal items.

During the weeks that follow Christmas, the opportunities are even better. Although most people do not associate the end of Christmas with the coming of spring, early winter is a great time to take advantage of reduced prices on winter clothing and even think ahead to autumn and winter wardrobe updates for yourself or setting gifts aside for next year.

Sweaters in a variety of materials, including cashmere and merino wool, can be found at a substantial discount during winter sales, as can purses, shoes and other accessories in colours that travel well across seasons. And consider the winter coat you wear the most: if you’ve had it for several seasons and feel that it has seen better days, purchasing a coat during a winter sale and saving it until next year will allow you to continue wearing the coat you already have until the end of its useful life, and you will be able to make a fresh start when the time comes to take your new coat out next year.

Shopping online makes the task even easier, with size charts taking the guesswork out of clothing size selection and convenient online ordering saving you the trouble of driving to a shop.

James Meade has been producing high-quality ladies’ clothing in classic styles for over 20 years. Our exclusive designs embody timeless elegance and will be welcome elements in your wardrobe and in those of friends and relatives with a preference for classic ladies’ fashions which help them put their best foot forward at all times. Our helpful size charts, free returns and no-time-limit guarantee make online shopping simple and worry-free.

Save now during the winter sale, visit our online ladies fashions website or for more information or to place an order, call James Meade today on 0844 573 4970.

Business:         James Meade Clothing


Tams Tyres – Providing Car Tyres to Newcastle & Gateshead

Tams Tyres – Providing Car Tyres to Newcastle & Gateshead
Tyres are one of the most important safety features on your car or vehicle. After all, your tyres are the only thing that connects the car to the road surface, and other technologies such as antilock braking systems and electronic stability controls cannot do their job if the tyres don’t have a good grip on the road surface. Yet tyres are often considered to be one of the least understood components of our vehicles.

As everyone’s driving needs are different, it makes sense that no one single type of tyre is best. Like most things in life, what tyres are the best for you may not be appropriate for another driver.

When replacing your car tyres it pays to speak to a specialist, someone like Tams Tyres (Newcastle & Gateshead), who have been supplying high quality, low cost tyres to drivers of all vehicles across Gateshead, Newcastle & the North East. Tams Tyres carry a wide range of leading brand names tyres and after discussing the type of driving you do will be able to offer the very best advice and recommendations as to which tyre to fit to your vehicle.  Remember, cheaper quality and poorly manufactured tyres will likely wear out much quicker than good quality tyres, plus can often lead to extended stopping distances and may result in less control during an emergency manoeuvre.

Tyres, like most things in life, can be something of a trade-off. Performance Tyres can often wear out quicker than ‘regular tyres’ – obviously depending on your driving technique and the road conditions, while general road tyres will provide a more comfortable ride but be less agile in the corners. Again, speak to your tyre dealer about any possible trade-offs for the type of tyres you are considering buying.

Most modern cars will come with general all-season tyres fitted. These are great for most people for most conditions, however if you live where it snows a lot, then you may wish to consider buying a set of snow Tyres (sometimes referred to as winter Tyres) and use them throughout the winter months. All-season tyres are designed to handle all weather conditions. Snow / Winter Tyres are designed with one thing in mind: to help you drive more safely and improve road traction when temperatures are low and the roads are covered in snow and ice.

Many drivers will fit a car tyre then forget it. Even allowing for modern tyre reliability and manufacturing methods, this can be a mistake as tyres are NOT maintenance free items! It is estimated that an average tyres will lose around 1 psi of pressure per month so it is a good idea to check your tyre inflation pressures and inspect their general tread condition on a weekly basis. Underinflated tyres can impact upon your cars fuel efficiency, reducing the miles per gallon you achieve – costing you money, and are more likely to suffer a puncture. Remember, you can’t tell the tyre pressure is low just by looking.

So, how can you increase the lifespan of your car tyres? Adopt the following and you could put off having to make a trip to your local tyre dealership for at least a couple of months. Regularly check your tyre pressure and tread condition.  This probably won’t involve any more than a couple of minutes, but that time spent checking your tyres could alert you to any problems that might have arisen. Check the surface of the tyres for cracks and odd looking bulges. Try to avoid accelerating to quickly form traffic lights of junctions. Wheel skid may sound good but it’s a great way to quickly wear out your tyres. These alone could prolong the lifespan of your tyres significantly.


It is also important to recognise that there is a legal requirement to maintain your car or other vehicle tyres. Remember, this legal requirement exists to help keep you, other drivers and pedestrians remain safe, and to prevent accidents occurring on the roads. If you would like a free tyre check and live in the Gateshead or Newcastle area of then call Tam Tyres now on 0191 4604809 who specialise in Tyres for Newcastle, Gateshead and the North East.

Business:             Tams Tyres


Mobile Firms & Government Agree Deal to Reduce ‘Not Spots’

Mobile Firms & Government Agree Deal to Reduce ‘Not Spots’
An agreement has been reached between the government and the country’s biggest mobile networks to improve mobile coverage across the UK. EE, O2, Three and Vodafone have agreed to invest £5bn and guarantee coverage across 90% of the UK by 2017.

The move should reduce the number of “not-spots”, areas of patchy coverage.

The firms had rejected the government’s preferred option of a system allowing customers of one network to use another if their supplier wasn’t available.

“I am pleased to have secured a legally binding deal with the four mobile networks,” said Culture Secretary Sajid Javid. “Too many parts of the UK regularly suffer from poor mobile coverage leaving them unable to make calls or send texts,” he said.

The agreement should reduce total “not-spots”, where there is no mobile coverage, by two-thirds, the government said.

Partial “not-spots”, areas where there is some coverage but not from all four networks, should be reduced by half, and full coverage from all four operators will increase by 69% to 85% by 2017.

Telecoms regulator Ofcom will enforce the deal.

Olaf Swantee, chief executive of EE, said: “This agreement ensures that our customers are able to stay connected in even more places up and down the country.”

A Vodafone UK spokesman said it supported the government’s objective of delivering better coverage to rural areas including partial not-spots. “The voluntary industry commitment we have agreed with the government today will deliver 90% of the UK’s land mass with voice services and a major improvement in mobile internet coverage as well. “It is a great result for UK consumers and businesses and it will make the UK a leader across Europe in terms of the reach of mobile coverage,” the spokesman said.

No cash payments will be made by the government to the mobile networks as part of the agreement.

Royal Mail Privatisation £180m Under Priced, Review Says

Royal Mail Privatisation £180m Under Priced, Review Says
The government made £180m less from the £2bn sale of Royal Mail than it could have, a report commissioned by Business Secretary Vince Cable has said.
It says shares could have been valued up to 30p more than the flotation price of 330p because of the high level of demand from banks and individuals.

However, former City minister Lord Myners, who led the report, said this would have involved “substantial” risk.

MP’s have suggested taxpayers lost out by £1bn in the 2013 privatisation. But the report calculates the untapped potential revenue to be lower than that.

Lord Myners was keen to stress that pricing a share sale is a difficult process. Speaking on BBC Breakfast, he said it was a “complicated transaction” and that “if any money had been left on the table it was pretty small”. He said that lessons could be learned about how to make the process less complicated.
His findings form part of his review into the way the disposal of shares owned by government are conducted.

The probe was ordered by Mr Cable after a National Audit Office review into the privatisation of Royal Mail said too much emphasis was put on rushing the sale – the initial public offering (IPO) – at the expense of value for money.

Lord Myners disagreed – saying this view was hard to stand up.

Shares accounting for 60% of Royal Mail were sold in the flotation. A further 10% of stock was given to the company’s employees, while the government retained a 30% stake.  Royal Mail shares leapt on their first day of trading in October 2013 by 38%, rising later to a peak of 615p. They now stand at 394p.

Lord Myners’ report says that a higher price could have been achieved but that “the consensus appears to be that this was the order of 20p-30p per share. equating to proceeds to government at IPO of £120-180m”. It adds: “For the avoidance of doubt, we do not believe that a price anywhere near the levels seen in the aftermarket could have been achieved at listing.”

In his report, Lord Myners said the privatisation, which raised a total of £2bn, was handled “with considerable professionalism” and that the complicated sales process was partly to blame for the sale at a lower than optimum price.

He added: “The sale was done against a backdrop of global economic uncertainty and a threat of industrial action, which go a long way towards explaining the cautious approach taken throughout the process. “We found no evidence to challenge the general assertion that an IPO price greater than 350-360p could have been achieved and we accept that a decision to revise the range would have come with added uncertainty and risk. The right decisions were made.”

Mr Cable said he was “grateful” for the report. “It contains a number of significant proposals which could make the general process of future sales more transparent… In particular [financial regulators] should explore how digital auctions could, in certain circumstances, make the sale process much more flexible,” he said.

In July, a report from the Business, Innovation and Skills select committee suggested Royal Mail shares had been undervalued and its property mispriced, meaning the sale could have raised an extra £1bn.

The Department for Business, however, said the report contained “factual errors and misunderstandings”, with Mr Cable commenting that the MPs had the “benefit of hindsight”. “We sold at a price that was regarded as the best that could be achieved in the context in which we sold it,” Mr Cable said.

UK Retail Sales Boosted by Black Friday

UK Retail Sales Boosted by Black Friday
UK retail sales rose at their fastest annual rate in more than 10 years in November, thanks to the effects of Black Friday. They rose 6.4% compared with November last year, the highest annual increase since May 2004. On a monthly basis they rose by 1.6%, with growth in all areas for the first time since December 2013.

US-style discounts for Black Friday took off in the UK this year, with stores seeing record sales.

Average store prices fell by 2% in compared with last year, the Office for National Statistics said, the largest fall since August 2002, mainly due to the large drop in petrol prices.

However, prices at food stores were also lower, recording their largest fall in since June 2002. “These numbers verify the shift in spending patterns happening in the final quarter of the year. Black Friday led to unprecedented demand,” said Natalie Berg from Planet Retail. “What we don’t know is to what extent did this simply bring spending forward,” she continued. “I suspect it slowed in the first couple of weeks in December.”

Wedding Photographers for Your Special Day

Wedding Photographers for Your Special Day
As anyone who has ever been married knows, a great deal goes into planning a wedding. How many people will we be able to invite? Where to hold the ceremony and the reception? Which florist, invitations and wedding photographer to use?

The quality of the wedding photography is an especially important consideration, as the photographs will shape your memory of the event for many years to come. It will serve you well to consider how you would like your happy memories preserved and to discuss your wishes with your photographer before the big day approaches, particularly with the following aspects in mind.

The people
Wedding photographers are very aware of the importance of capturing the exquisite beauty of the bride. However, since there are two people getting married on the big day and both typically have friends and family in attendance, there are a great many other people to consider! Remember to capture precious moments shared by all, realising that the wedding is just as momentous an occasion for many close friends and relatives in the wedding party as for the bride and groom. Be sure that the joy of this special day is memorialised for them, for others in attendance and even for future generations who will look to your wedding photographs as indispensable pieces of the family history.

The place
While elopement is hardly uncommon, most engaged couples consider every possible option before deciding on the venue where they will exchange vows, be it an historic church in an urban setting or a cottage in the country. Planning an outdoor wedding and see clouds outside on the morning of the big day? Fear not! For wedding photography purposes, an overcast sky is ideal, as it results in even lighting and removes any possibility of unsightly shadows on the nuptials’ faces.

Keep in mind, too, that the wedding rehearsal presents yet another, arguably better (since stress levels will still be relatively low) opportunity for wedding photographers to work their magic. If you wish to have sunny skies captured in some of your wedding photos, then you will double the odds by arranging to have photographs taken at both the rehearsal and the wedding. Regardless, an expert wedding photographer will also make every effort to capture the beauty of the setting in which you utter your vows and even include a few close-ups of objects of interest to help you complete the happy memories of your wedding day for years to come.

Colour versus black-and-white
While colour photographs are obviously more modern, there is still something to be said for moments captured in black-and-white. Much like the hazy, muted Instagram effect that has become all the rage among amateur photographers on social media in recent years, the absence of colour adds a magical element that the immediacy of a crisp colour photograph simply cannot. Many experienced wedding photographers offer both options, so be sure to discuss this option with your photographer as well.

2Tone Photography has lovingly photographed weddings in the UK and beyond for almost 10 years. Our love of photography, storytelling and life itself ensure that we will beautifully preserve what may very well live on in your memory as the happiest day of your life.

For more information about our award winning wedding photography service, call 2Tone Photography today on 01207 290314 or visit the 2Tone Photography website and let us help make your special day that extra bit special.

Business:         2Tone Photography


High Street – Mary Portas Criticises UK Government over ‘Token Gestures’

High Street – Mary Portas Criticises UK Government over ‘Token Gestures’
Retail guru Mary Portas has accused the government of making “token gestures” in response to her 2011 review into how to rejuvenate struggling High Streets. After her review, 27 areas were given funding to build more diverse town centres but results have been mixed.

Ms Portas has now called for faster action on “crippling” business rates and for local councils to be given the power to take control of empty shops.

The government says it has spent millions to help the High Street. “The new powers this government has given councils and communities are supporting those successes and have revived high streets and up and down the country,” Communities Minister Penny Mordaunt said. A full “structural review” of the business rates system in England was also announced in the Autumn Statement, with the results due to be published in 2016.

Portas Review main recommendations:

Improve management of High Streets with new “town teams” (interested groups that have funding control)
Affordable town centre car parking
“Town centre first” approach in planning
Disincentives for landlords who leave shops empty
Greater inclusion of the High Street in neighbourhood planning

When asked for her thoughts on delivering on the recommendations of her review, Ms Portas told BBC Breakfast that “333 High Streets have benefited from an investment of £3.6m via their town teams” and also pointed to additional funding made available by the High Street Innovation Fund and the High Street Renewal Awards.

Markets were “really thriving” and the results in some of the 27 Portas Pilot Towns had been “astonishing”, she said. But she went on: “Three years on there is still a big job to be done. The government has made token gestures in response to my review, but much more needs to happen, and fast.

BT in Talks to Buy EE for £12.5bn

BT in Talks to Buy EE for £12.5bn
Telecoms giant BT is in exclusive talks to buy EE – Britain’s largest mobile network group – for £12.5bn. It said the period of exclusivity would last “several weeks” to enable it to carry out the necessary negotiations.

In late November, BT said it was in talks to buy either EE or O2, which is owned by Spanish firm Telefonica. “The proposed acquisition would enable BT to accelerate its existing mobility strategy,” BT said in a statement.

Under the terms of the proposed deal, EE’s owners Germany’s Deutsche Telekom and France’s Orange would take a 12% and 4% stake in BT respectively.

Deutsche Telekom would also be entitled to appoint one member to the board, BT said.

A takeover of EE would create a communications giant covering fixed-line phones, broadband, mobile and TV. EE leads the market in 4G (the fastest mobile bandwidth), has 24.5 million customers, and holds 33.8% of the UK mobile market by revenue, according to Citigroup.

BT said owning EE would accelerate its plan of giving customers seamless access to the Internet whether via fibre broadband, wi-fi hotspots or 4G mobile services. It also expected “significant synergies” through the deal, with savings on IT and back office costs as well as marketing and sales expenses. It said it would also be able to sell its fixed line services to EE customers who did not yet take a service from BT.

EE’s owners put plans for an initial public offering of EE on hold this year.

BT spun off its own mobile network, BT Cellnet, now O2, in 2002. In 2005 it was acquired by Spain’s Telefonica for £17.7bn.

Despite the talks, BT said it would continue with its own plans for providing mobile services to businesses and consumers, and said it “remains confident” of delivering on its plans if the deal with EE falls through.

Paolo Pescatore, a communications analyst at CCS Insight, warned the deal would face scrutiny from telecoms regulator Ofcom. “It combines the UK market-leader in fixed-line with the number one mobile operator. We believe it is unlikely that Ofcom would block the deal, but the combined entity could be forced to dispose of some spectrum [assets].”