Business Diary: Mail strike hits the Labour conference

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The Independent Online

Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, has studiously ignored all requests to intervene in the postal strike and thus has no one else to blame if attendance was a little thin on the ground when he spoke to a Social Market Foundation event at last week's Labour Party conference. Our invite turned up in yesterday's mail.

Branson on track for another gong

Another coup for Sir Richard Branson, who has just been voted Britain's best ambassador of customer service in a survey from the Institute of Customer Service. The idea is to promote National Customer Service Week, though giving such an accolade to the man who brought the nation Virgin Trains actually highlights nothing more than the fact that people's memories are very short.

Everyone wants to thrive and survive

To the CBI's annual lecture, where business leaders flocked to hear Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer talk about "Thriving and Surviving". Good to see John Cresswell there: the ITV chief operating officer had told friends he would leave the broadcaster if it hired Tony Ball as chief executive. Mr Cresswell survived that, but can he now thrive, with the race for the top job back on?

B&B investors appeal to a higher authority

Is there some significance attached to the venue for the next meeting of the Bradford & Bingley Shareholder Action Group? Up to a million investors have been having great difficulty getting decent information about redress out of the Government, let alone some compensation for the loss of their shares. Next Saturday's meeting will be held in South London church – divine intervention may be the group's best hope.

Hong Kong toasts its number one ranking

Where is the world's largest market for fine wine? Certainly not France, or even the United States, as one might imagine, but Hong Kong according to Sotheby's. The auction house sold $8m (£5m) of vintage produce at the weekend.

Number of the day: 21

The number of stores that French Connection is to shut in Japan, its entire loss-making chain in the country