One of my favourite news alerts is UK Activity Report, which updates me on corporate announcements and changes across the UK (job losses; acquisitions; plant closures, investment rounds etc). The presentation is bland, but gems lurk within. I did a quick and dirty analysis of this week's news:
* 1,930 new jobs announced. Primarily in retail (M&S, Sainsbury, Aldi, new Trafford Centre in Manchester). A fair few from call centres and financial services. Two notable big recruiters: Tangerine Confectionery adding 450 to the workforce at its recently acquired sugar confectionery business in Blackpool; and 130 new jobs at Metalysis's new metal-processing factory in Yorkshire (nb: patented techniques).
* 1,510 job losses announced. Health & Safety Executive losing 300; a lot from industries such as glass, printing and packaging, furnaces, tablemat-manufacturing (farewell Consett-based Pimpernel International); a laundry factory in Irthlingborough; Thames Water shutting the taps on hundreds of jobs; an egg-packing plant; a confectionery manufacturer (see above); and 200 jobs from Bradford NHS Trust.
* £43m-worth of grants awarded by The Wolfson Foundation to improve displays at 43 English museums.
* Expansion plans: 15 new Fitness First clubs; 15 new Dreams bed stores; five new Sniff footwear shops; 104 new Superdrugs; six new Raspberry Village furniture stores; 30 new Slater menswear shops; £70m investment in new Macdonald hotels; five new care homes for the elderly; 100 new branches of Rok builders.
Received wisdom says that the UK is turning away from traditional industries, becoming instead an ageing heritage economy obsessed with shopping, leisure and food; in which unique innovation is vital; but whose public sector is still bloated. Looks like received wisdom is right. It also looks like this new, changed economy is doing okay.
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