Business Diary: 23/12/2009


John Lewis staff put in the extra hours


So this is how John Lewis is achieving those stonking sales figures it has been boasting about of late. Staff at its High Wycombe branch actually spent Monday night sleeping in the store.

To be fair, the retailer was being kind to its employees (they couldn't make it home because of the snow). And if you're going to have to spend the night at work, where better than one of Britain's best-known bed and linen shops?

How to get all your ducks lined up

We're indebted to the BBC's website for a clever little series on top tips for success from a host of leading businessmen and women. Amongst the usual trite little aphorisms was this gem from Mark Dixon, boss of office space business Regus, which we will try to take to heart. Do your thinking in the bath, he says.

An auspicious time for these fund launches

Ethical investment – funds for people keen to see their money put into causes of which they approve – is not a new development, but we like three new exchange traded funds aimed at Christians. Just in time for Christmas, FaithShares has launched the Catholic Values fund, the Methodist Values fund and the Christian Values fund. Covering all eventualities, you might say.

Seeing the recession with beer goggles?

You've never had it so good. No, honestly, Penfolds, the wine people, says the decade just passed has been the best for 50 years – a vintage one (see what they did there?) – with stable economic growth, unusually low unemployment and record business profitability. Have they been drinking rather too much of their own produce?

Mandy's shoe duties kick him back

Much chagrin amongst British retailers over the European Union's extension of import duties on cheap shoes, which the UK has opposed. But who introduced those taxes on Chinese and Vietnamese shoes, now paid for by British shoppers, in the first place? Step forward the then EU trade commissioner, one Lord Mandelson.

Number of the day: 41p

The new price of a first-class stamp, with effect from 10 April next year, a 2p increase.

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