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UK Retail Sales Decline in December

Retail sales figures in the United Kingdom for the month of December fell 1.9 percent from the previous month, according to the latest data released by the government.

Sales across all main retail sectors went down, with non-food stores accounting for the biggest contraction, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The latest retail sales figures represent the heaviest monthly fall in over four and a half years.

Some analysts attribute the December plunge to heavy Black Friday discounts given by retailers in late November. They point out that November figures were boosted because of the discounts and that December numbers slumped because shoppers lost the incentive to shop.

Also severely impacted by the shopping decline were household goods, footwear, and clothing.

Experts had forecasted a much smaller monthly decline at 0.1 percent.

With inflation figures showing an increase in retail prices in December, analysts are expecting the rest of the year to chart a downward path as higher prices are bound to negatively impact disposable income and consumer spending.

Compared to last year, however, UK retail sales in December are actually up 4.3 percent, and while main sectors saw their sales drop, smaller retailers like butchers have reported sizable boosts in sales during the holidays.

In related news, the ONS found that online shopping in the UK in December rose with consumers buying roughly £1 billion worth of goods and services from ecommerce websites and apps, representing a 21.3 percent rise compared to the same month last year.

Bank of England governor Mark Carney, this week, said that household spending remained strong, but cautioned that the UK economy was becoming a bit too dependent on consumer spending for economic growth.

The UK economy is among the world’s fastest-growing advanced economies in 2016, but the Bank of England expects growth to slow this year as higher prices and a weaker currency will likely adversely impact consumer spending in the near term.

Contact Assured FD Services today, for expert advice on business growth and strengthening your financial position.

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IMF upgrades UK’s growth forecast for 2017

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has upgraded its growth forecast for the United Kingdom (UK) this year, citing a better than expected economic performance since the June referendum.

The IMF noted that economic activity in the the country has “held up better than expected,” prompting the monetary body to revise its 2017 forecast from 1.1 percent to 1.5 percent.

The monetary body’s updated forecast closely mirrors projections made by the Bank of England and the Office for Budget Responsibility, which both see the UK economy edging higher by 1.4 percent this year.

IMF’s growth estimates for the global economy remains unchanged at 3.4 percent in 2017, and 3.6 percent in 2018.

Commenting on the updated projections, a Treasury spokesperson said that the fundamentals of the UK economy are robust, adding that the country was the fastest-growing major advanced economy in 2016, and that the revised figures from the Washington-based fund confirm such assertions.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics shows that the country’s GDP grew by 0.6 percent in the third quarter of 2016, while surveys suggest growth of 0.5 percent in the last three months of the year, nudging UK’s full year GDP growth to approximately 2.1 percent.

The World Bank, meanwhile, has downgraded its growth forecast for the UK. It expects the UK economy to grow at a rate of 1.2 percent, down from its previous estimates of 2.1 percent.

The World Bank’s numbers are also broadly supported by the forecasts published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, noting that reduced growth prospects and increased volatility, as a direct consequence of the June vote, will mitigate the country’s growth potential in the near term.

Several other countries, including the United States and China, also saw their growth forecasts upgraded. The US economy is projected grow by 2.3 percent this year, slightly up 0.1 percent from a previous forecast of 2.2%. Growth figures for China were likewise updated to 6.5 percent from 6.2 percent.

Contact Assured FD Services today, to provide stability to your business and strengthen growth.

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The Part Time FD

The position of Finance Director (FD) is key for many organisations, as their ability can have a tremendous impact on the stability and future of the business. Financial objectives are often set by the  Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and FD at the beginning of the year, so they have great influence over the strategic direction of their firm. It is even common for an FD to eventually become a CEO due to their ability to provide financial security to the business, so it is clear to see the positive impact an FD might have on an Small to Medium Enterprise (SME).

However, a full time Director comes at a significant cost, so SME’s often attempt to get by without an FD. This can have severe consequences if leadership lack financial expertise. Fortunately, it is possible to employ a part time FD.

As Stuart Smith of Watersmiths Business Services suggests, a part time FD will grant you the opportunity to have someone with a wealth of experience objectively review your organisation. This enables them to review strategic objectives such as cash flow, and make impartial recommendations that meet the needs of the business and are not influenced by existing relationships or loyalties within the organisation.

Employing an FD part time also grants the organisation the flexibility to scale up or down the role depending on growth. If you start to feel the need to create an FD position but the expense is too great to provide a full time role, then creating a part time position is a perfect compromise. If you are able to continue to meet your targets and grow the business, then maybe you might wish to increase your FD’s hours to meet your needs. Similarly, you might feel you find great value in having a superior source of experience within your business and an extra set of eyes and ears to depend on when making strategic decisions. It also gives you the luxury of trialling the candidate to see if they’re a cultural fit for your organisation!

Ultimately, you have a commitment to your stakeholders to ensure that your organisation is as financially secure as possible. If you cannot afford a full time FD or you feel there is no need, then having access to a part time Finance Director is a great solution if you require specialist expertise.

Contact Assured FD Services to find out more.

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Snapchat Chooses The UK For International HQ

Snap, the American company that owns popular messaging app Snapchat, has established its international headquarters in London, where it will book all non-US ad sales, in what some analysts note as a vote of confidence for the post-Brexit United Kingdom.

The decision to open an international hub in the UK by the California-based startup sets it apart from its peers in Silicon Valley. Top American technology companies like Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Uber, Twitter and several others have chosen Ireland, Luxembourg or the Netherlands as their international HQs to shelter their earnings from US tax laws, taking advantage of lower tax rates in these European countries.

United Kingdom’s corporation tax rates is also one of the lowest in the world, but plans to reduce it even further have made the country an attractive option for many companies with international operations.

Snap Group Limited, which is the company’s new UK entity, will be booking all revenues from customers in the UK and in all countries where it has no local office.

The company’s newly-minted international HQ will be stationed near its existing Soho office in London, which was established back in 2015. It currently has 75 people on staff, but will hire additional workers, including engineers.

“The UK is where our advertising clients are, where more than 10 million daily Snapchatters are, and where we’ve already begun to hire talent,” said Claire Valoti, general manager of Snap Group in the UK.

Snapchat’s move to establish a headquarters in Britain comes amid criticism of American companies’ practice of avoiding US taxation by setting up shop outside the US even though most its operations are inside the US.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt defended the industry’s much-criticised tax avoidance tactic, saying they do it “based on the incentives that the governments offered us to operate.”

The company is set to go public as early as March this year, with an estimated valuation of $25 billion.

If you are looking for expert Part Time FD Services in the Leeds & Yorkshire area contact Assured FD Services today.

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UK manufacturing soars to 30-month high on strong domestic and overseas demand

United Kingdom’s manufacturing sector closed 2016 with a bang, hitting a two-and-a-half-year high in December, an industry survey revealed.

The Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index (PMI) went up to 56.1 last month from 53.6 in November. Industry players monitor the seasonally-revised index for signs of expansion or contraction in the manufacturing sector. When the index is at 50 or higher, that means the sector is expanding. Conversely, any figure below 50 indicates contraction.

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UK manufacturing production and new business rose last month, with new export business growing for seven straight months, as British manufacturers reported increased orders from major markets including China, Europe, U.S., and the Middle East.

Not only was last month’s PMI reading the highest in 30 months, it was also the fastest in terms of growth rate for both production and new orders in nearly three years.

The December survey attributes the rise of the index to robust demand from abroad, which was boosted by the weaker pound. The British currency has fallen sharply against rival currencies in the past year, making UK products more affordable for overseas buyers.

The weakened sterling, however, is proving to be a mixed blessing for the sector.  While the pound helped boost the country’s manufacturing sector get off to a strong start this year, cost for British manufacturers remain high due to reduced importing power, the Markit/CIPS survey found.

The weakness of the British currency has nudged the price of imported goods higher, which has translated to higher costs for a number of manufacturers.

The survey noted that price pressures continued to be at elevated levels in December, with inflation for input costs and output charges remaining among the fastest in the survey’s history.

To negate the higher input costs, some manufacturers have started to pass on the burden to their clients by increasing their selling prices, with prices consistently rising over the last eight months.

Some analysts expect these higher costs to push the inflation up in the coming months.

If you are a UK business within the Manufacturing sector looking to boost your company finances, a Part Time FD can provide the direction and financial guidance you need to ensure maximum success. Contact Assured FD Services today to see how we can help.

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Why Interim CFOs Are The Way To Go…

Hiring high-level professional help can be daunting task for most small and medium sized businesses. According to a recent study, the average annual compensation of a CFO in the UK is £100,944. This prohibitively high cost can impede a small business from hiring a CFO, all the while stopping them from making progress.

A revolution has began in this regime. The rise of many companies that offer on demand financial management are a breath of fresh air to small business owners. You can now hire top level CFOs at a fraction of the cost through consultancy services, as interim CFO.

With the need for adequate financial consulting growing due to stricter government policies for business, these services are the need of the time. With difficult tasks like marketing, sales and customer support already competing for the time and attention available to a small business owner, the added experience and time needed to perform audits, file taxes and manage the company’s financial resources adequately, can become impossible for business owners.

Now with the advent of financial consulting services, companies can acquire the services they need without hiring executives who become a burden to their already strained budgets. However, some may claim that the services offered by such agencies may be sub par. This is far from the truth. In fact, the competitive nature of the market in which they strive to gain contracts guarantees that they provide high quality services. This provides a better alternative to hiring lesser talent at a lower cost, which also results in negligible progress for a company. Thus, interim or part time finance director services are the only way to ensure that you receive high quality work for every penny you pay.

If you are a small business owner and want to make the most of your financial resources, contact Assured FD Services today to use your resources to the fullest potential. This is the best way to ensure that you make the most of your resources and grow your company at the pace you want.