Business Diary: Sending retailers the wrong signal

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The Independent Online

We bow to no one here in our admiration for Mary Portas – star of BBC2's Mary Queen of Shops – and her campaign for the protection of small, independent retailers deserves the nation's thanks. Still, did she not think the launch venues for her latest venture, the Mary Portas guide to successful retailing, which is aimed at the independent sector, were just a little bit curious? After all, the Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield and the new Westfield project in east London are surely exactly the kind of chain-focused retail temples that have done the British high street so much damage.

A dangerous precedent

These are nervous times for stock market investors, who have seen share prices slide in recent weeks. Now they're watching the World Cup with some trepidation. Gary Jenkins of the stockbroker, Evolution Securities, points out that the last time there was a Holland vs German final, for example, in 1974, the Dow Jones lost 23 per cent of its value in the months following the tournament. Cross your fingers for a Spain vs Uruguay final on Sunday night, in other words.

Start as you mean to go on

Well done to The Guardian for spotting an opportunity as The Times puts its website behind a paywall. Still, shame they didn't think to check their welcome message for grammatical errors before sending it out. Was the full stop key broken, guys? "Here at The Guardian we can offer everything you ever wanted from The Times – and more – for nothing I suppose I ought to take the opportunity to introduce myself."

ABI learns from its members

Diary notes that even the Association of British Insurers has installed one of those infernal phone menu systems that seem designed to simply add time to your call before you actually get through to someone who can help. Mind you, given the proliferation of these sorts of things among the organisation's members, we should hardly be surprised.