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Business Analysis & Features

Marsh Wall diary: 04/12/2008

Sky rockets in flight, credit crunch delight

In these times of economic hardship, as travel agencies find they aren’t quite as recession-proof as they thought, it is good to see companies discounting to help consumers looking for a low-cost fare. The latest is XCOR Aerospace which is offering tickets to, um, space for a mere $95,000 (£64,000). For those punters who can’t afford Virgin Galactic’s $200,000 tickets in these hard times, the consumer space race must be a welcome development.

Slight problem is that XCOR’s two-seat Lynx spaceship hasn’t been built yet, won’t go into orbit and the entire experience lasts less than 30 minutes. That hasn’t put off Danish banker Per Wimmer, who will be first to be shot almost, but not quite, into the stratosphere some time in 2011. Given some optimistic economists’ predictions, perhaps we will all be able to afford a go by then.

Shed heaven

Media companies have not had a good year, but one group that looks in pretty rude health is Shed Media, responsible for some of UK television’s most guilty pleasures. The company, so called because one founder thought they would either “end up in a shed” or make a “shed-load of cash” when it launched in 1998, yesterday announced Eileen Gallagher, below, would step down as chief executive after 10 years and focus on what she does best, the script business. On her watch, the group produced Bad Girls and Footballers’ Wives, both big Diary favourites, and currently has Waterloo Road and Supernanny in the portfolio. Chief operating officer Nick Southgate is taking over as the company takes on the US in earnest and its next project is … Bad Girls USA. The series has been taken on by Alan “Six Feet Under” Ball for HBO. We’re waiting to see how he can top lines like: “Thomas is gorgeous and he’s everything you would want in a man, but I want a woman.”

Ireland promise

Northern Ireland, land of green grass, rolling hills and murals, has become the most exciting place on the planet for miners to pitch up and start digging, according to the 2008 Mines and Money awards, held in London last night. It claimed the gong ahead of nominees Ecuador, Madagascar, Panama and Slovakia as “the country that has shown the most improvement, in terms of attractiveness to mineral investors”. The Diary has invested in a spade and is just waiting to hear which attractive mineral had the judges swooning before it heads for the ferry.

Size does matter

The furniture chain DFS yesterday landed in hot water with the advertising regulators. After 21 complaints that their sofas seem to dwarf the actors in a series of adverts, DFS was slapped down by the Advertising Standards Authority over accusations of artificially inflating their products’ size with special effects. If only they could use similar effects to work their magic on the company’s bottom line.