Brexit: Firms Speeding up No Deal Plans

UK companies are likely to speed up plans for a no-deal Brexit in response to Tuesday’s votes in Parliament, the head of the CBI has told the BBC. Carolyn Fairbairn said a plan to renegotiate the UK’s withdrawal deal “feels like a real throw of the dice”.

“I don’t think there will be a single business this morning who is stopping or halting their no-deal planning,” she said in response to the idea. “I fear they may even be accelerating it,” she added.

Brexit: Firms Speeding up No Deal Plans

Theresa May is expected to seek further talks with EU leaders in the coming days after MPs voted 317 to 301 in favour of replacing the backstop – the insurance policy designed to avoid a hard border in Ireland in the event of no deal.

The backstop is the main objection that Brexiteers in the Conservative party have to the deal negotiated by Mrs May, which was heavily rejected by MPs earlier this month in the largest defeat for a sitting government in history.

The EU has already said it will not change the legal text of the deal.

Ms Fairbairn said the reaction of businesses to the outcome of Tuesday’s voting would be one of “rising frustration and concern”. She said Parliament had shown that there was “a consensus against no-deal”, but added: “It does nothing to take no-deal off the table and it does feel like hope rather than strategy.”

The CBI head said businesses in Northern Ireland were “incredibly concerned” about the turn that events were taking, adding: “The backstop is there for a purpose.”

One day, technology might be able to solve the Irish border problem, she said, but until that was possible, there had to be “other arrangements in place”.

Ms Fairbairn said many small and medium-sized businesses had done nothing to prepare for the “shock” of a “cliff-edge” departure from the EU on 29 March. “I think the kind of concerns that people have around disruption are absolutely right,” she said. “No deal is just not manageable at this stage.”

Other business groups endorsed the CBI’s view that Parliament’s opposition to a no-deal Brexit was welcome.

Stephen Phipson, chief executive of the EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, called on Mrs May to “confirm that she will not allow us to slide over the no-deal cliff”.

Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said MPs had “at least made some movement on breaking the Brexit deadlock”.

Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Neither government nor many businesses are ready for a no-deal exit in two months’ time, and it must not be allowed to happen by default.”

Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, said: “While it is something that MPs have managed to form a majority in any vote, the path ahead is still far from clear.”

Lead Generation Tips for Ecommerce

When we hear the words “lead generation,” our minds automatically conjure up a B2B marketing strategy aimed at filling the top of the sales funnel. But leads are not exclusive to B2B companies.

Every type of business, be it wholesale, retail, startup or whatever else, needs qualified “potential” customers who can be nurtured into actual paying customers. Ecommerce is no different.

Lead Generation Tips for Ecommerce

With the barriers to starting an ecommerce business tumbling faster than you can say Jack Robinson, the ecommerce industry has become competitive like never before. The online SEO journal ‘Search Engine Watch‘ has posted some useful guidance on the subject and is well worth a read. Here is a summary of the article.

  1. Rewrite your product descriptions with a focus on SEO
    This mistake, like history, has been repeated time and again in the world of ecommerce. While the importance of having unique product descriptions is plastered all over the web, rookie ecommerce companies still make the same mistake of using manufacturer’s descriptions and putting off giving them a custom twist until later when they’ve “made some sales.”
  2. Continually expand your email list, segment it for maximum impact
    There’s no better (and cheaper!) way to stay in touch with your customers than via email. I could quote research that shows how every dollar spent on email marketing brings back up more than $40 in revenue, but even if you don’t get such exponential ROI, email marketing is a channel you absolute must leverage.
  3. Bring back lost souls with remarketing
    As the old adage goes, a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. Getting users to come to your site in the first place is hard enough. But having them leave without buying a thing is simply heartbreaking. Put the brakes on your users’ exodus by retargeting them with two of the most effective methods available – retargeted emails and retargeted ads.

SEO – How will it help Your business?

SEO Campaign – What is it, and how will it help my business?
In order to succeed in business in 2019 and beyond, SEO, and especially local SEO should be a required part of your marking strategy. SEO stands for search engine optimisation, which means that the website for your business can reach potential customers using search engines like Google and Bing. Since getting your business in front of the right consumers is the first step to winning them over as customers, you can’t afford to skip out on a solid SEO campaign.

How do we know you need SEO?
By analysing current and past trends, we can determine what searchers want. In recent years, “near me” searches have been on the rise. This type of search is like when a consumer Googles something like, “dentists near me.”

You can replace “dentists” with any type of business or office.

What this boils down to is that people want fast access to information about local businesses that will meet their needs.

How can your business benefit from an SEO campaign?
Now that you know a bit about what an SEO campaign can do, it’s time to move on to understanding why it works and what the benefits are. SEO can:

Draw new customers to your website

Get customers the information they need

Help your business be available 24/7

An SEO campaign accomplishes all of this by making your website one that search engines love to show users. This translates to getting a high-ranking spot on search engine results pages, or SERPs.

More Customers Means More Growth

Many people often confuse marketing and sales because the point of marketing is to bring in customers to boost sales. However, you know as well as we do that it’s a different job altogether. Yet, everything in business is tied to the bottom line. Sales define a business’ success. They determine whether a business dives, survives, or thrives. The more customers you can bring into the business, the more sales your business can get. We know you know this.

What you might not yet know is that you need local SEO to keep bringing in customers. A business with strong search engine rankings is more likely to be found. Local SEO not only connects your business to consumers, but especially to local consumers. If you want to get people in the door, they need to find you online. They need to find you on search engines.

Google handles at least 2 trillion searches a year. That number has consistently been on the rise since the search engine’s inception. The power of internet search is not waning. You need to get on board with SEO if you want to continue to get customers in the door–whether virtually or physically.

The Benefits of Website SEO
Search engine optimisation is very important if you want to increase your visibility in the online world. While the methods of getting your brand message out there have evolved as search engines have become more and more sophisticated, the basic idea is still the same. When someone searches for something in your industry or product category, you want your website to rank near the top of the search engine listings.

Ø  Over 90% of internet users take advantage of a search engine to find what they want on the web and that figure is fairly constant across the globe, including the UK.

Ø  While competition for keywords in your industry might well be high, there are a number of other factors involved in SEO that need to be addressed if you want to boost your rankings significantly.

Ø  Strong SEO is part of the entire marketing mix and can feed into other aspects of your strategy such as local searches and visibility on social media.

Ø  Website SEO is a mix of standard inclusions such as site maps and good content that needs to meet appropriate standards as well as ongoing initiatives such as building strong inbound links, internal linking, image tagging and regularly updated and engaging content.

Time to Get Your Website Noticed
Direct Submit prides itself on the underlying process by which we approach each and every SEO project we are involved with. We understand that each client will have specific, individual needs and our approach in creating and implementing the correct SEO strategy is vital to the success of the SEO project.

This approach and attention to detail is what has helped Direct Submit become a leading Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) company. Call us today on 0845 2722350 and get your website working harder for your business.

Importance of UKAS Accreditation

The importance of UKAS Accreditation

There are a many reasons why you should use a UKAS accredited testing laboratory. Here are some of the most important:

  1. Demonstrate credibility – A UKAS accredited laboratory is able to demonstrate a full audit trail fortheir full service.
  2. Keep your reputationintact – Confidence in your product is enhanced if clients know it has beenthoroughly evaluated by an independent, competent testing facility.Increasingly customers are relying on independent evidence, rather than simplyaccepting a supplier’s word that the product is fit for purpose.
  3. Minimise your risk – While risk can never be removed altogether, employing the services of a UKASaccredited testing company means you have chosen a technically competentlaboratory, thus minimising the risk of producing or supplying a faulty service/product.
  4. Reduce ongoing costs – precompletiontesting of buildings can be expensive and time consuming, even when they aredone correctly the first time. If not done correctly, then the cost and timeinvolved in undertaking the re-testing can be even higher if the product hasfailed to meet the specification and building signoff cannot be achieved.  
  5. Defend against litigation – The use of a UKAS accredited sound testing laboratory is a powerful demonstration that you have exercised all due diligence in the selection and appointment of a supplier.

 APT is a multi UKAS accredited company to undertake pre-completion testing; here are some links to our UKAS accreditation:

If you would like more information in regards our acoustic design service or UKAS sound insulation testing services, please contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or call APT Sound Testing Direct on 07775623464. Alternately, If you would like more information on how to prepare for your sound insulation testing please download our sound test checklist.

Wages Rises Accelerate to Fastest Pace since 2008

Wages Rises Accelerate to Fastest Pace since 2008
The BBC are reporting that Wages are continuing to rise at their highest level for nearly a decade, the latest official Office for National Statistics figures show.

Average weekly earnings, excluding bonuses, went up by 3.3% in the three months to October, the biggest rise since November 2008.

Average weekly wages are £495, £25,740 a year, the highest since 2011, once adjusted for inflation.

Wages Rises Accelerate to Fastest Pace since 2008

The number of people in work rose by 79,000 to 32.48 million, a record high. That is the highest figure since records began in 1971.

Unemployment increased by 20,000 to 1.38 million, although the total is still lower than a year ago. The number of unemployed men increased by 27,000, while the number of unemployed women fell by 8,000. The reason both employment and unemployment have increased is a result of the UK’s rising population and more people joining the labour force, such as students and older people.

Sound Insulation Testing in London

Sound Insulation Testing in London

With many living in the overcrowded environment that is London, it is essential that noise transference between adjoining properties in kept to a minimum for the occupant’s wellbeing. One way of ascertaining that a building is in compliance with Building Regulations Part E for the prevention of noise transference, is to undertake Sound Insulation Testing in London.

We have undertaken thousands of sound insulation tests throughout London and the South East on all types of projects from simple flat conversions to large developments containing hundreds of flats. We also undertake Sound Insulation Testing where a lease holder dispute has arisen, i.e. where the buildings lease stipulates that wooden floors should not be used instead of carpets and as a result of the change of floor finish the noise levels have increased – especially the impact noise. We can also undertake sample sound testing to highlight the existing noise levels so a targeted acoustic design can be undertaken.

Tapping Machine for Impact Sound Testing

Currently we are also experiencing a rise in the amount of sound testing required to existing blocks of flats, such as existing council stock. This is hardly surprising as the amounts of noise complaints have more than doubled within the last 10 years due to residents experiencing excess noise between the dividing wall and floor partitions.  By utilising our extensive knowledge of different materials and construction we can forward a simple, explanative cost effective solution for wall and/or floor upgrade. Where our clients have followed our advice they have achieved a 100% success sound test pass rate, ensuring compliance with Part E of Building Regulations.

The Sound Testing procedure is fairly simple and our engineer will be happy to explain this on site. Essentially, for party walls there is one type of sound insulation test which is airborne sound test and for compartment floors there are two types of sound insulation tests which are airborne and impact sound insulation tests. The airborne sound insulation test is carried out by means of a loudspeaker emitting a steady source of noise on one side of the partition (wall or floor) to be measured. The corresponding sound level is measured on the other side of the partition. Impact sound insulation tests are carried out by means of a tapping machine placed on the floor sample to be measured and the noise measured in the room or space below

All our engineers carry out the sound test measurements in full accordance with the measurement procedures of BS EN ISO 140-4:1998[3] for field measurements with a single figure DnTw and LnTw in accordance with BS EN ISO 717.

Ongoing problems with airborne and structure borne sound are often associated with direct noise flanking transmission through floors and supporting walls and other associated structures. One common cause of noise flanking is often associated with the inclusion of lightweight blocks within the construction of the building envelope and/or blocked cavities. It all cases it is essential to establish if your problem is due to direct transmission, flanking transmission or a combination of both so that the most cost effective remedial treatment can be chosen.

Unwanted noise travelling along flanking paths will make the building structure vibrate which causes the sound to radiate into your room. One simple cost effective solution is to build another wall or ceiling in front of the original, but not connected to it (often called an independent wall or ceiling) so it provides isolation between materials.

One way to reduce the chance of flanking transmission is through careful consideration to the design at the start of the project.  Unfortunately, by simply specifying high performance wall and floor partitions it is no guarantee to adequate sound isolation and successful sound testing.

APT Sound Insulation Testing offer both preconstruction and post construction design solutions if a project has failed the sound testing. We also offer onsite inspection services to ensure that the sound insulation elements are being installed as per manufactures guild-lines.

If you require pre-completion sound testing and/or you would like acoustic design advice on your project, please contact us now at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk.

New Homes ‘Crumbling Due to Weak Mortar’

New Homes ‘Crumbling Due to Weak Mortar’
Hundreds of new properties have been built using weak mortar that does not meet recommended industry standards, the Victoria Derbyshire show has found. There are reports of homes with the fault on at least 13 estates in the UK.

The full extent of the industry-wide problem is hard to measure as some homeowners have been asked to sign gagging orders to claim compensation. The industry says mortar performance is a complex issue and can be affected by a number of factors.

One of those homes was owned by Vincent Fascione, 70. He says he was watching football on TV one evening in 2016 when he heard a loud cracking noise from the external walls of his house.

The next morning, he found a sand-like substance all over his front path and driveway. Photographs and video from the time appear to show growing cracks in the mortar holding his bricks together.

Mr Fascione, from Coatbridge outside Glasgow, bought his semi-detached property in 2012 for £112,500.

He complained to the homebuilder, Taylor Wimpey, and to the NHBC, the industry body that signs off and provides the warranty for most new-build houses.

Under NHBC guidelines, mortar in most areas of the UK should be made of one part cement to 5.5 parts sand.

The BBC‘s The Victoria Derbyshire Programme has heard about new build properties in at least 13 estates from Scotland to Sussex, built by different companies, with what appears to be a similar problem.

In one single estate in the Scottish borders, it is thought Taylor Wimpey has agreed to replace the mortar in more than 90 separate properties. The homebuilder says an assessment by engineers found “no structural issues” with the homes.

“This is both widespread and serious,” says Phil Waller, a retired construction manager who has blogged about the problem.

“It cannot be explained away by the industry as a few isolated cases.”

Exactly why the weaker building material may have been used is unclear.

In some cases, the housebuilder may have simply used the wrong type of mortar. In other cases, errors may have been made mixing and laying the material on site.

Some construction experts also blame the switch to a new type of factory-mixed mortar, which might pass a different strength test in the laboratory but not always be strong enough in the real world.

Faced with what could be an expensive repair bill, many homeowners have been told by their own solicitors not to go public until the issue is resolved. In some cases, customers have ultimately had their houses bought back by either the homebuilder or the NHBC.

Data Problems Hit O2 Mobile Network

Data Problems Hit O2 Mobile Network
cO2 has 25 million customers, but also provides services for the Sky, Tesco, Giffgaff and Lycamobile networks which have another seven million users. Many users took to Twitter to complain about the difficulties, which were first reported at about 05:30.

Data Problems Hit O2 Mobile Network

An O2 spokesperson said a software issue identified by a third-party supplier was to blame for the outage.

“We believe other mobile operators around the world are also affected. Our technical teams are working with their teams to ensure this is fixed as quickly as possible,” she said. “We’d encourage our customers to use wi-fi wherever they can and we apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

O2 is the second-largest mobile network in the country, behind EE.

Voice calls are unaffected by the problem.

The outage is having knock-on effects for other services that rely on the O2 network, including Transport for London’s electronic timetable service at bus stops, which has stopped working.

 

UK’s Richest Man Eyes North Sea Oil and Gas Fields

UK’s Richest Man Eyes North Sea Oil and Gas Fields
Britain’s richest man Jim Ratcliffe is hoping to extend his grip on the North Sea by buying oil and gas fields from US giant ConocoPhillips. Mr Ratcliffe’s company Ineos and ConocoPhillips have both confirmed that they are in exclusive talks.

Among the assets up for grabs is Conoco’s 6.5% stake in the Clair field, west of Shetland. The field potentially has 7 billion barrels of oil in place, according to BP’s chief executive Bob Dudley.

BP recently bought a 16.5% stake in the Clair field from ConocoPhillips, giving the UK oil giant a total holding of 45.1%.

Reports suggest that the assets ConocoPhillips is selling could be worth as much as $3bn (£2.3bn). They do not include the company’s oil terminal in Teesside or its commercial trading group based in London.

The North Sea is still a relatively new area for Mr Ratcliffe and Ineos.

The billionaire, whose £21bn fortune makes him the UK’s richest man according to the Sunday Times rich list, has traditionally invested in speciality chemicals businesses.

Ineos owns the Grangemouth oil refinery site in Scotland which manufactures a range of petrochemicals that are used in a wide range of products including bottles, food packaging and in the pharmaceuticals industry.

Ineos first acquired a number of North Sea gas fields in 2015 before it buying up the oil and gas business owned by Denmark’s Dong Energy for £1bn two years later.

The Sunday Times reported that Ineos had put down a deposit in exchange for three months of exclusive talks with ConocoPhillips.

Ineos declined to comment.

Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn Arrested over ‘Misconduct’

Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn Arrested over ‘Misconduct’
The BBC are reporting that Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn has been arrested over claims of financial misconduct, the carmaker has said. Mr Ghosn, a towering figure in the car industry, will be sacked from the Japanese firm after a board meeting on Thursday, its chief executive said. He has been accused of “significant acts of misconduct”, including under-reporting his pay package and personal use of company assets.

Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn Arrested over 'Misconduct'

Nissan said it was unable to give further details on the offences.

Japanese prosecutors have yet to comment on Mr Ghosn’s arrest.

Nissan is the world’s sixth-largest carmaker and its site in Sunderland is the UK’s biggest car plant.

“I feel despair, indignation and resentment.” said Nissan chief executive Hiroto Saikawa at a news conference. As the details are disclosed I believe that people will feel the same way as I feel today,” he added.

Mr Saikawa said Nissan would now try to “stabilise the situation, and normalise day-to-day operations” for staff and business partners.

It said it had been conducting an internal investigation for several months, prompted by a whistleblower.

According to Japanese media reports, which have not been confirmed, he under-reported an amount totalling 5bn yen ($44m; £34m) over a five-year period from 2011.

Mr Saikawa said he believed the misconduct “went on for a long period”.

From 2010, Japanese firms have been required to disclose the salaries of executives who earn more than 100m yen.