brad ledson

The Sunday Papers

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Private equity in Peacocks rescue bid, Tesco brand slumps in key business poll, Decathlon in race for Best Buy, Carrefour shows Tesco what a real retail crash looks like, Fitness First to cut debt, Morrisons and rivals in £1.5bn bid for Iceland, Mitchells & Butlers faces another bar brawl, High Street carnage fear over rates rise

Sunday Telegraph

Private equity firms KKR, Permira and Sun European Partners are all separately poised to bid for Peacocksafter Sun European secured a £10m deal to buy the retailer’s Bonmarche arm in a pre-pack administration. Edinburgh Woollen Mill, the Scottish clothing group owned by Philip Day, is understood to lead the list of trade buyers interested in buying some of the Peacocks business.

Tesco has slumped in a poll of business leaders asked to name the companies with the most powerful brand image and innovative approach to the future. In another blow to the supermarket chain, the annual Thought Leadership Index places Tesco 24th, the first time the supermarket has fallen out of the top 20. The annual Populus poll of 1,000 executives, politicians and media figures is keenly watched for evidence of companies that have caught the public mood or are highly rated by senior business figures. In 2007, Tesco was placed third, behind Google and Apple.

Decathlon, the world’s biggest sportswear retailer, has entered the fray in the battle for some of the Best Buy stores as it attempts to open 100 shops in Britain. The company, which has just 12 UK shops, wants to expand after the collapse of Blacks Leisure and difficult trading for JJB. Its plans also include tie-ups with local authorities to open “sports villages”. The family-owned French company is understood to be in negotiations over several of the 11 Best Buy shops, though not all of them.

Observer on Sunday

When Tesco unveiled grim Christmas sales figures and its first profit warning in decades on 12 January there was a very sharp intake of breath among investors who had come to rely on the world’s third-biggest retailer as a reliable profits machine. But Tesco’s problems are as nothing compared with the carnage at Carrefour, the world’s second-biggest retailer with 9,500 stores in 32 countries. It has issued a shocking six profits warnings in the past year and last week admitted that its annual results would be at the very bottom of the 15%-20% profit decline analysts had pencilled in. Its shares have tumbled from some €36 to €17 in the past 18 months.

Sunday Times

The world’s biggest gym chain has been forced to restructure its £550m debt months after shelving plans for a float. Dorset-based Fitness First, which runs 440 clubs in more than 15 countries, is expected to breach the terms of existing loans this year. It will meet lenders ahead of a key financial healthcheck within the next couple of months.

The Independent

Morrisons and private equity firms are among the groups that are this weekend considering making a bid of as much as £1.5bn for Iceland Foods, the up-for-sale frozen food specialist. Five parties, including Bain Capital and BC Partners, were active last week in the “data room” examining the books on Iceland ahead of the deadline for second-round bids on January 31. Morrisons remains an active participant in the process, but it is unclear if it will make a second-round bid for Iceland, which has about 750 stores. 
All of the directors at Mitchells & Butlers are up for re-election at the pub group’s AGM this week. Although they are expected to be retain their positions, the directors might still face difficult questions over the group’s future.

Mail on Sunday

Desperate retailers are demanding an urgent review ofbusiness rates amid fears that a forthcoming rise will force the closure of many stores that are already struggling to survive. Business rates are due to leap by 5.6 per cent in April and if the rise goes ahead there are dire predictions that more household names will vanish from the already battered High Street. Peacocks, La Senza and Barratts are among the familiar retailers that have been placed in administration over the past month. Business rates are a source of deep resentment among retailers. In recent years, landlords have started negotiating on rent, but rises in rates have been relentless. 

All Eyes On Social TV
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Conversing about our favorite television shows is a national pastime, and with the advent of social TV platforms, it’s now easier for viewers to share their tastes and preferences online as they watch.

Social TV is therefore becoming the water cooler of yesteryear, with people gathering to talk about the latest plot developments of their favorite shows–only now the buzzworthy events are talked about in real time.

“The way people are experiencing television is evolving very rapidly. We no longer just watch TV; we are experiencing it across multiple devices and streams and media channels, and that affects how people experience advertising, as well,” says Mike Proulx, co-author of the upcoming book “Social TV,” in an interview with “Brands that continue to just focus on integrating with TV programs themselves on television are missing out on a big opportunity in this modern era.” It’s no wonder that many CMOs have turned their attention to this growing medium, which has created an ideal platform for delivering product placements that are more likely to be seen while users are deep into online discussions.

“I think it’s something that should be looked at in conjunction with television buys. The initial research shows that fans who are online talking about these shows are highly engaged, so they are a very valuable audience for marketers,” says Stacey Shepatin, senior VP director of national broadcast for Hill Holiday, in an interview with “I do think marketers need to be careful about how they engage in this space because they don’t want to interfere with those interacting. They need to find ways to complement the content with an advertising message.” According to a recent report by Park Associates, a market research and consulting company specializing in emerging consumer technology products and services, more than one-fourth of users ages 18 to 24 are interested in having more social features integrated into their TV experiences. Being able to chat with others who are watching the same programs registered with 18 percent of respondents as the most desired feature.

So, while people are now connecting with other people, they are also connecting with content owners/producers and brands. In turn, brands are gaining access to valuable information about how to reach their key consumers in relevant, efficient, and targeted ways. “The television advertising industry is currently in a state of transition due to the emergence of connected TV platforms, which offer a new content source as well as an advertising delivery method,” says Heather Way, research analyst at Parks Associates, in an interview with “While digital-media platforms, services, and content proliferate in the marketplace, a host of advertising industry participants and their clients are developing innovative ways to monetize the connected.” Second Screen Perhaps what has most industry experts buzzing most about social TV possibilities today is a second-screen or containing-device element.

“It’s as if I am watching a linear broadcast or a program on my smart TV; if I’m also using my tablet device or smartphone, it pushes content or ads from the program to my mobile device,” Way says. “It’s in its early stages, but something I see emerging in the next few years.” Bravo, Lifetime, and ABC have all been looking into the effectiveness of second-screen apps that synchronize content, but fully synchronized ad executions that invite interactivity are still in test stages. One recent case study involved a recent partnership of USA Network and Ford with mobile tech company SecondScreen Networks.

Ford Lincoln Mercury ran a commercial on USA Network’s “Necessary Roughness” finale in October; when it appeared, SecondScreen launched a complementary rich-media unit across USA’s CharacterChatter app on the network’s Web site, on Facebook, and on an iPad companion app. The second screens polled users on both the car featured and a character on the series they were watching. “It engaged 23 percent of the people viewing the ad on second screens,” says SecondScreen CEO Seth Tapper in an email to “Ad serving is not time-based. It is around targeting the right ad for the person visiting a page.”

Pepsi also experimented with a truly integrated social television platform around the Fox show “The X Factor” this season. It created The Pepsi Sound Off, allowing fans of the show to chat about the contestants, judges, and anything else. Shiv Singh, global head of Pepsi Digital, said in a company press release the platform “functions as Twitter on steroids for all the ‘X-Factor’ fans across the country. For every action they take, they are earning points in the background that improve their rank on a leader board, so there is a whole game mechanics behind it.“

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“What Pepsi is doing is somewhat unique in that they have a huge sponsorship in the show and online and eventually will put the talent in their commercials,” Hill Holiday’s Shepatin says. “It’s unrealistic that many clients will do something like that. More and more people are testing the different elements in social TV to see how it can lift brand metrics and drive sales.”

To a lesser degree, Toyota was involved with Bravo’s “Top Chef” this season. When someone was voted off, the chef was sent to the Web series “Last Chance Kitchen,” sponsored by Toyota, where the contestants competed for the chance to get back into the main TV program in the finale.

Key Players
Social TV systems are designed to integrate text-chat, voice communication, presence and context awareness, TV recommendations, ratings, or videoconferencing with the TV content either directly on the screen or by using ancillary devices. “The value for CMOs is that you have a much more engaged audience, and you have the chance to build an affinity with fans,” Shepatin says. “To find ways to incorporate your brand into that experience in a way that’s going to get people to engage in the way they do with the content, it’s going to be a place people will be spending a lot of money.”

According to J.P. Colaco, Hulu’s head of advertising, since the public launch of in 2008, millions of its users have connected with each other on Hulu discussion boards by tweeting clips of shows and sharing entire episodes on their Facebook walls. In October, the company rolled out an advertising unit called “Ad Sharing” as part of its social integrated Hulu on Facebook app, which allows Hulu users to share ads much like they can share shows and movies and other content on the site. That includes its Ad Tailor metering system, which works by offering viewers the option of providing feedback on every video advertisement’s relevance. When one views an ad, a pop-up question of, “Is this ad relevant to you?” will appear with “yes” and “no” options. The feedback is invaluable to marketers and advertisers of these shows.

Facebook data shows that its users have “liked” TV shows more than 1.8 billion times, and millions chat about the shows they are watching each day. Hundreds of thousands of tweets go across Twitter about TV daily. Meanwhile, the Yahoo application IntoNow brings interactivity to TV commercials by encouraging viewers to tag TV shows and commercials for rewards. A study this summer by network equipment vendor Sandvine revealed that Netflix streaming accounts for 20 percent of all Internet traffic. Although exact numbers are not known, Nielsen reported an excess of 270 millions streams in July alone. As of yet, the company has not followed Hulu’s lead with advertising opportunities. However, once it does, it’s expected to be ripe for CMOs’ marketing dollars, and many are eager to jump aboard.

Measure Matters
While many analytics and testing have been done to provide a good sense of how television, print, and digital build a brand, social TV is an area where measurements don’t offer a solid representation–yet. “One of the biggest things a CMO should understand is that this is a new space and there aren’t standards for measurements. If you enter this space, you need to be willing to take some risks, and not everything is going to work,” Shepatin says. “It’s important that the media and creative teams work together and not be locked into the old ways of evaluating.”

Shepatin adds that investing in social TV doesn’t make sense for every program. Reality shows and appointment television like “The Walking Dead” are going to be better at snagging social interactions than your typical drama, where it’s more important to stay focused on what’s happening on the screen. One easy way to gauge some numbers, Proulx says, is that if you have a big TV spot running, you can simply type in your brand name and you’ll be able to see right there hundreds, if not thousands, of tweets about your product. “Brands need to test and learn so that they are able to get data from experimentations and be proactive about how people are watching television,” Proulx says. “Social TV is not something that is a new phenomenon, and now is the time to get involved.”

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Starbucks to Create 5,000 UK Jobs Through Outlets

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The Starbucks coffee chain has announced plans to create 5,000 jobs in the UK as it increases the number of drive through stores it operates over the next five years.

The company, which currently has 700 UK stores, wants to grow the number of UK drive through outlets from nine to 200. Around half of them will be opened in partnership with Euro Garages. Starbucks opened its first drive through outlet in the UK  in 2008.

The company has also announced plans to open a further 100 conventional Starbucks outlets.

Commenting on the plans, Starbucks UK managing director Kris Engskov
said: “Customers told us that they now expect the best possible coffee wherever they are and the success of our first drive-thru stores shows this is a huge opportunity."It also means that we are able to create quality jobs at a time when they are most needed and because half of our baristas are under 24 years-old, this will particularly benefit young job-seekers at a time of record youth unemployment.”

The government welcomed the news with Prime Minister David Cameron saying: “I welcome Starbucks’ announcement, and I am glad to see continued investment and job creation in the private sector.”
Google+ Now Up to 62 Million Users, Adding 625,000 a Day
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Paul Allen, a Google+ watcher whose estimates about the social network’s growth have proved accurate in the past, claims that the site now has 62 million users and is adding 625,000 new users per day.

“It may be the holidays, the TV commercials, the Android 4 signups, celebrity and brand appeal, or positive word of mouthmor a combination of all these factors,” Allen wrote on his G+ profile page Tuesday, “but there is no question that the number of new users signing up for Google+ each day has accelerated markedly in the past several weeks.”

Allen, the founder of, takes an unusual approach to come by his estimates: He and his staff run hundreds of queries on surnames they’ve been tracking since July and then extrapolate the size of the network. At this rate, Allen writes, G+ will reach 100 million users by Feb. 25, 2012 and 200 million by Aug. 3. By this time next year, G+ will have close to 300 million users.

Allen, however, doesn’t address how many of those 62 million are active users. Experian Hitwise, however, found that those users are on the rise as well, though they represent a fraction of G+’s base. Hitwise found that total visits to G+ hit 9.4 million for the week ending Dec. 17, the most recent full week it tracked. That was a nice jump over the 7.2 million visits G+ experienced in the comparable week in November, but below the 15 million visits to G+ for the week ending Sept. 24, when Google opened the previously invitation-only site to the public. Google’s last official acknowledgement of G+’s membership came during a conference call with analysts, when CEO Larry Page pegged the figure at 40 million.
Steve Jobs Biography Author Says His Book Was Only “First Draft,” More to Come...
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Steve Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson is considering adding more content to his already-released book on Apple’s late co-founder and former CEO.

The book originally went on sale not long after the iconic Jobs’ death, but with so many questions left unanswered and some pundits suggesting that the book misses important events from the man’s life, Isaacson has admitted that he may well need to add more content to his already-lengthy book.

In fact, during an interview with Fortune, Isaacson went so far as to call the best-seller a “first draft,” which we are sure will no doubt not please everyone who spent their hard-earned money on it.“One possibility is doing an extensively annotated version. Another is writing an addendum that addresses the period surrounding Jobs’ death. Fleshing out the details seems like a logical next step, since Isaacson believes the Apple CEO’s story will be told for decades or a century to come. “This is the first or second draft,” he said, referring to his book’s role in documenting Jobs’ life. “It’s not the final draft.”

For a first draft the book did exceedingly well, becoming Amazon’s best-selling print book of 2011 as well as being the online retailer’s best-selling new release of the year when print and digital sales are combined. Hopefully those of us with Kindle editions will get the book updated free of charge, but what about everyone who bought the paper version? With Steve Jobs being such a celebrity in tech circles, it is entirely possible people would buy the book all over again if it meant learning more about a man that almost single handedly saved Apple in the late 1990s, turning it into the giant that it is today.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Gavin Matthews, Head of Retail at Bond Pearce, explains how retailers need to manage risk and protect their reputations to maintain customer loyalty.

Reputation has never been more important. With consumers cutting back on their spending, those times they do splash out they will tend to stick to the brands that they feel loyal to and those that they feel provide good value for money.

A recent CBI report forecasts gloom right up to Christmas with the UK high street suffering slumping sales and retailers shedding jobs at the fastest rate in two years as they prepare for tough trading conditions. So in such a squeezed market, retailers must encourage every penny consumers are willing to part with to come their way. And the best way to encourage people to step into your store or click on your website is to have a very well managed and protected reputation.

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In a roundtable we hosted this week, many business professionals from the legal world met to discuss how managing risk is vital to the protection of reputation and building business. Amongst those speaking were Clare Wardle, group legal director of Kingfisher PLC, highlighting the importance of risk management when building and sustaining a brand in the incredible competitive world of retail.

First things first, to protect your reputation as a business you must comply with regulations and manage risks, this is ‘getting the basics right’ at its most critical. An organisation’s lawyers should take on the role of defining what 'corporate governance’ and 'risk management’ looks like, adapting it to their business and its corporate structure, ensuring it becomes part of the institutional fabric of the business and then finally using it to achieve competitive or financial advantage from it.

If you can be sure that every compliance box is ticked and every risk considered and planned for, then you can make commercial decisions with a positive attitude to risk, turning avoidance to advantage, even in such economically dour times.

Well governed businesses taking affordable risks for commercial advantage are the ones that will survive and thrive and hopefully lead the way to better times on the high street. Sticking to just playing it safe won’t increase your market share or take you to new levels. However your risk management must be water-tight, and your compliance and risk officers on the ball, a good reputation once lost is lost forever, or at least a good while. As we all recall, Ratner’s comments about the 'questionable’ quality of his jewellery in 1991, once made public, certainly didn’t prove to be good for business.

The Sunday Papers

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Jaeger fashion group owner Harold Tillman sells, Administrators’ legal action may follow collapse of Life & Style Retail. Companies attack Royal Mail, Ocado set for price war with Tesco, Cambridge’s Trinity College buys 50pc stake in Tesco stores, Debenhams signs deal to sell Nautica, Could supermarkets’ race for shop space backfire? Walmart grandson plots Europe drive from Carnaby Street, Iceland bidders due to make offers this week. Hornby hit by leaves on the line, LVMH goes shopping for jewellers, Rank eyes £250m takeover of Gala casino, Indian tycoon chases £750m Marriott hotels, Iceland founder lines up Canadian cash for £1bn bid, Fast food chains prosper as cash-strapped consumers shun retailers.

The Mail on Sunday

Jaeger fashion group owner Harold Tillman sells 70pc stake in Allders

Harold Tillman, owner of the Jaeger fashion group, has sold his controlling stake in Allders Croydon, Britain’s fourth-largest department store, to its management.The Daily Mail can reveal Andrew MacKenzie, the chief executive of Allders, staged a management buyout this week having raised what is thought to be up to £30million to buy a 70 per cent stake in the business, backed by private equity funds

Administrators’ legal action may follow collapse of Life & Style Retail

Administrators to Life & Style Retail may take legal action over activities at the fashion chain before it collapsed. According to documents seen by Financial Mail, the investigation by insolvency practitioners at RSM Tenon relates to ‘monies which were incorrectly used’. It is understood to involve one director at the company, which used to be known as Ethel Austin and which went into administration last June.

Companies attack Royal Mail as compensation for packages lost in transit is axed.Companies have attacked Royal Mail for axeing compensation for packages lost in transit. Changes introduced this month mean firms with a contract to use the Royal Mail standard business service can no longer claim for lost parcels. If they want guaranteed compensation, they must pay extra, either for special delivery – at  upwards of £5.45 – or for Royal Mail’s tracking service.


Ocado set for price war with Tesco

Ocado is to cut its prices on a range of products in a bid to steal a march on rivals such as Tesco Direct in the battle for online supermarket delivery customers. The Telegraph understands that the home delivery retailer will cut prices on around 600 products, making them 10pc lower than their equivalent at Tesco.It is aimed at attracting cash-strapped shoppers to Ocado, which has traditionally been seen as a more expensive offering than that of the mainstream supermarkets.

Cambridge's Trinity College buys 50pc stake in Tesco stores

The richest college at the University of Cambridge, Trinity, has invested in the UK’s largest retailer by acquiring a 50pc stake in a portfolio of Tesco stores worth £440m.It is understood to be the first time the college has invested in supermarkets, although it has a property portfolio worth more than £800m. Trinity uses endowment funds to invest in property and provide extra income for education and research. 

Debenhams signs deal to sell Nautica clothing brand Nautica, the American casual clothing brand, is to re-enter the British market, after Debenhams signed a deal with the company.The department store has signed an exclusivity deal with the brand, which specialises in the upmarket “sailing look”.The move comes after Debenhams enjoyed a better-than-expected Christmas, and said it gained market share.

Could supermarkets’ race for shop space backfire?

Supermarkets’ obsession with ever bigger shops could backfire, reportHarry Wallop and Graham Ruddick. It took Tesco 84 years of continuous expansion to reach 20m square feet of supermarket space in the UK, a landmark it reached in 2003. It was only achieved after countless battles with local authorities and an ambitious strategy to build on as many edge-of-town roundabouts and retail parks as possible, a strategy that saw it accused of turning Britain into a “Tescopoly” but also one that helped make it the country’s biggest and most profitable retailer.


Walmart grandson plots Europe drive from Carnaby Street

The cowboy-boot wearing grandson of Walmart founder Sam Walton has taken charge of the guns-to-food retailer’s European expansion drive.Steuart Walton, a 30-year-old lawyer from Arkansas, has been working from the group’s Carnaby Street offices in London since just before Christmas as he mulls mergers and acquisitions across the Continent.

Iceland bidders due to make offers this week. Final bids for Iceland Foods, the frozen food retailer that is up for sale for up to £1.5bn, are due in on Tuesday. Four bidders, the grocer Morrisons and three private equity firms, were still busy in the data room this weekend.

Times on Sunday

Hornby hit by leaves on the line

With model railways and Scalextric racing car sets gathering dust on shop shelves, Hornby admitted yesterday that, from its point of view, Christmas didn’t happen and said that annual profits would be 30 per cent below company estimates.The announcement put Hornby in a spin. The shares, already down 10 per cent since Christmas, plunged another 15 per cent — 18½p — to 105p. “The great British consumer was reluctant to spend their money on the big-ticket discretionary gift item,” Frank Martin, its chief executive, said.

LVMH goes shopping for jewellers

The private equity arm of LVMH, the world’s biggest luxury goods group, is considering a bid for the company behind the Goldsmiths, Mappin & Webb and Watches of Switzerland jewellery stores.The 165-store business, which sells upmarket brands such as Omega and Longines, was put up for sale last year for £200m after its holding company, Aurum, was taken over by the resolution committee of Landsbanki, the failed Icelandic bank.

Rank eyes £250m takeover of Gala casino chain

Rank, the leisure giant behind Mecca Bingo, is in talks to buy the casino division of rival group Gala Coral for up to £250m. A deal would see Rank merge its 35-strong Grosvenor Casinos chain with the 24 gaming centres owned by Gala, making it Britain’s biggest operator. It is understood that talks are at an advanced stage, with suggestions that a deal could be ready in time for Rank’s interim results presentation on February 9.

Indian tycoon chases £750m Marriott hotels

Subrata Roy, the Indian billionaire, has made a bid for a collection of Marriott hotels being sold by Royal Bank of Scotland for about £750m. The 42 four- and five-star properties have attracted interest from a range of potential buyers. Roy’s Sahara group, which acquired the Grosvenor House hotel on London’s Park Lane a year ago, is vying with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and another Indian investor, Blue Post Group, among others. 

Iceland founder lines up Canadian cash for £1bn bid

Malcolm Walker has lined up £150m of backing from a Canadian pension fund to buy back Iceland, the frozen foods chain he founded more than 40 years ago. Just days before second-round offers for the group were due, Walker signed a deal for AIMCo (Alberta Investment Management Corporation) to bankroll a £1 billion takeover offer.


Fast food chains prosper as cash-strapped consumers shun retailers

US fast food chains Subway and McDonald’s announced plans to open hundreds of new stores creating more than 8,000 jobs. Mealtimes used to revolve around the kitchen table, but the fast-food boom is changing Britain and its high streets, as US food chains Subway, Starbucks and McDonald’s set out to conquer a recession-weary nation still hungry for instant gratification. 

Top 10 Metabolism Boosters
Your metabolism is the process by which your body burns its fuel, or food, for energy, and can be influenced by a number of factors. It can be increased and decreased with activity and diet as well as genetically predetermined. Here is a top ten list of foods that can speed up your metabolism, results vary from person to person. 1. Water
That’s right, we start our list with a good old glass of water, straight from the tap or bottle. A good sized 8 ounce glass of water is not only able to boost your metabolism, but it also helps to flush out toxins through urine production. There are a huge number of benefits enjoyed by those that remain hydrated and you should aim to drink around 2 litres of water per day, more when it’s hot or if you are exercising. It is possible to confuse thirst and hunger as well and a glass of water before every meal will make you feel fuller before you start eating, a clear weight loss advantage.
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2. Hot drinks
Tea, green tea and coffee have all been shown to boost your metabolism. We are all aware of the effect caffeine can have upon the body. Coffee has a rapid effect on how energetic you feel though do avoid over-consumption and try to avoid adding cream or sugar, and certainly not a muffin or biscuit.

Green tea or fruit teas, which come in a long list of flavours, some more tasty than others, do contain caffeine, in some cases, but are additionally rich in anti-oxidants. Many of them also have a calming aroma and are linked to boosting your mood. All this said, it all boils down to the fact it just makes you feel like you’ve drunk something healthy. 3. Spice
Exercise caution with this metabolism boosting food, a little hot pepper in moderation can work wonders, but too much and it won’t just be the ring of fire you’ll have to worry about. The spice we’re talking about here is from the capsium family, mainly hot peppers. A chilli vinaigrette or a few jalapeños sprinkled into your salads will make a good difference. Hot peppers are one of the most effective metabolism boosting foods and are also very tasty, as great way to keep your weight loss motivation on the straight and narrow. 4. Yoghurt
But only of the low fat variety, and in moderate portions. Yoghurt serves of a good example of a low fat food, which is still full of sugar, something even worse than fat when you’re trying to lose weight. However, low fat yoghurt helps to boost metabolism, mainly due to its calcium content which is one of the key minerals for effective weight loss. The fact that calcium is often hidden in cheese and cream means that you simply need to exercise precise portion control and good moderation when eating dairy foods. Otherwise a small pot or two per day will do you the world of good.

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5. Oily fish
Now why might you want to eat fatty fish like salmon or mackerel if you’re trying to shed a few pounds? The answer is that they contain omega three, which brings with it a whole collection of weight loss advantages. They also contain magnesium and B vitamins, which are also essential for those on a weight loss regime, even if you wouldn’t associate them with metabolism boosting foods, they work!

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6. Apples (and other fruit and veg)
Apples are great! They are packed full of vitamins and fibre and as a result keep you feeling full. They make an excellent negative calorie snack to keep away your hunger cravings until your next meal. All fibre rich vegetables require energy to be digested and contain the many vitamins and minerals you need for optimal health. A serving of fruit or veg with every meal and some apples or grapefruit as a snack will keep the fat away. 7. Oatmeal
There’s a lot to be said about this weight loss hero. It lowers insulin levels, fills you up for a long time and keeps your energy levels stable. It really is a great food and a must at your breakfast table. Even though it’s packed with carbohydrates, it is still a worthwhile food to be eating in order to raise your metabolism. 8. Lean meat
It’s a common myth that eating a lot of lean meat will make you gain weight. This is an assumption made by the association of lean meat and body-builders. Meat such as turkey and chicken contains a lot of protein and relatively little fat which allows you to repair your body and build new muscle tissue – it is your muscles that burn your calories after-all. For men this is great and for women it’s proven that women that lift weights are in fact slimmer. There’s really no need to worry about looking like a man if you eat protein, it just won’t happen. 9. Green leaves
Green leaves such as spinach and rocket contain proportionally more vitamins and minerals than most other foods and are subsequently invaluable when improving your diet for the better. Spinach is a versatile ingredient that can be eaten raw or cooked and can easily be added as a side dish. It is cheap and readily available and a real must for all weight-loss hopefuls.

10. Broccoli
To look at broccoli, you just know it’s going to be good for you. Not only does it have numerous health properties, it’s low in fat and sugar, but very high in calcium and vitamin C. This is important because calcium boosts your metabolism and vitamin C aids your body in the absorption of calcium. If you want the calcium without havign to eat a lot of dairy products, this is the foot for you.
Sunday Round Up

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Apple’s struggle to defeat Amazon,TV Dragon Theo Paphitis offers to put fire back into La Senza, Desperate retailers set for 75pc discounting, Checking out chicken pays £45m dividend for Nando’s owner, Sports Direct may take the debt route to acquire Blacks, Royal wellies fall into American hands, HMV to post loss ahead of make-or-break Christmas, Harvey Nichols sees profits soar, Hilco considers Blacks Leisure move with Go Outdoors also poised.


Apple’s struggle to defeat Amazon set to be exposed by European ebook inquiry. The deal that the iPad maker struck with publishers could be threatened by an inquiry into the prices people in the EU pay for their digital reading. For book publishers, Christmas will come twice this year. After the festive trade in hardback tomes, the celebrations will begin again on Boxing Day, as the millions who got Kindles from Santa go online to stock them with reading material. Amazon already sells more ebooks than paperbacks. It claims sales of Kindle devices have reached 1m a week, while 13m iPads will find a home this quarter. 

Juniper Research forecasts 25m e-readers sales globally this year, and 55.2m tablet sales.

The Mail on Sunday

TV Dragon Theo Paphitis offers to put fire back into La Senza.Theo Paphitis has contacted his former firm, La Senza, to ‘offer assistance’ following the appointment of KPMG last  week to advise on a possible restructuring.Paphitis, who launched his own lingerie chain Boux Avenue earlier this year, refused to be drawn on what form the assistance might take or whether he might be interested in the whole business or  just parts of it. But he said: ‘This used to be my baby. We don’t know what the issues are yet, but it  was a very profitable chain at one time. If we can help, we  would love to.’

Desperate retailers set for 75pc discounting in a bid to pull in shoppers. The High Street is poised for some of the biggest sales for decades with prices slashed by up to 75 per cent as desperate retailers scramble to pull in shoppers.Rising unemployment, dearer fuel and utility bills and weeks of seismic economic news have left many consumers feeling financially fragile. Price cuts of 25 per cent are already commonplace in fashion stores and the levels of discounting have been described by retail experts as ‘unprecedented’.

Checking out chicken pays £45m dividend for Nando’s owner. It employs a team of mystery shoppers to make sure that its Portuguese peri-peri chicken lives up to the ‘legendary’ recipe claim. And Nando’s certainly seems to be reaping  the benefit. Now with more than 240 shops serving flame-grilled chicken, the fast food restaurant chain delivered a £45million dividend for its owner, Capricorn Ventures, in the year to February 27. Profits jumped 32 per cent to £31.5million on turnover of £317million, up from £278.8million.

The Times on Sunday

Sports Direct may take the debt route to acquire Blacks. Sports Direct remains interested in taking over Blacks Leisure, despite walking away from an offer for the struggling company’s shares. Sports Direct said yesterday that, “after careful consideration”, it would not bid for Blacks. However, Sports Direct, controlled by Mike Ashley, the Newcastle United owner, is examining taking control via Blacks’ £36 million debt, according to a source close to the process. Blacks put itself up for sale ten days ago after issuing a profit warning and notifying shareholders that their holdings might be wiped out by any deal.

Royal wellies fall into American hands. The maker of the Queen’s wellington boots has been sold to an American private equity firm. The consortium behind Hunter Boot, which includes the former Tory party treasurer Lord Marland, has sold a majority stake in the business to Searchlight Capital Partners, which will help to fund its push into the lucrative Chinese market. Lord Marland teamed up with the Pentland sportswear group and Peter Mullens, the veteran Irish retailer behindThomas Pink shirts, to rescue Hunter from administration in 2006.


HMV to post loss ahead of make-or-break Christmas. HMV is expected to post another big loss in its interim results tomorrow, as analysts predict a “make or break Christmas” for the beleaguered music retailer.Numis Securities has forecast a pre-tax loss of £34.5m, though this would at least be down on last year’s £41.3m hit. The main problem is like-for-like sales, which fell 15.1 per cent in the first 18 weeks of HMV’s financial year.

Harvey Nichols sees profits soar. In a sign that the megawealthy keep on spending, Knightsbridge landmark Harvey Nichols has seen pre-tax profit before charitable donations soar38 per cent to nearly £16m.Revenue rose by nearly £3.5m to £87.1m in the year to 2 April. Harvey Nichols has other stores across the country, but these are held in separate companies. The group is controlled by Asian tycoonDickson Poon, who is also chairman at Harvey Nichols. The charitable donation was a £5m payment to St Hugh’s college, Oxford University.


Hilco considers Blacks Leisure move with Go Outdoors also poised. Hilco, the retail restructuring specialist, is considering a move for Blacks Leisure in the event a buyer cannot be found for the company as a whole. The company, which in July sold the remnants ofHabitat to Home Retail Group, is understood to be interested in buying the trading business either as a pre-packaged administration or if the business falls into administration. But it is believed to have no interest in buying the quoted entity which owns Blacks. At this point, however, Hilco is not thought to have had access to any information from KPMG, the accountancy firm brought in by Blacks’ board to run the sale process.

UK retailers’ “poor” mobile web strategies

UK retailers’ “poor” mobile web strategies mean they are missing out on up to £4bn of revenue as smartphone users are detracted from their sites.

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Weaknesses in mobile site performance in areas such as “thumb friendliness”, redirection from desktop to mobile versions, speed and customisation according to location are costing individual retailers as much as 12% in annual revenues, according to a report from technology solutions company QuBit.

Such “basic errors” could be remedied with “minimum investment”, says the report. Currently just 4.8% of retailers have websites optimised for the mobile web, says Graham Cooke, CEO of QuBit.

The percentage of retail website traffic coming from mobile devices has tripled year-on-year to 15% in 2011.

Of that percentage, tablets are now a major driver of mobile commerce growth, generating 25% more page views than desktop users and, for those who go on to purchase, a 22% greater average order value. However, the greater order value could be skewed because at present the majority of tablet owners are from wealthier demographics.

Google predicts that more people will use mobile phones than PCs to access the internet by 2013, while PayPal estimates that consumers will spend £2.5bn on m-commerce in 2016, up from £438m in 2011.

QuBit’s eight areas of analysis for retailers to identify weaknesses mobile site performance

Mobile redirects - whether the site is specifically made for mobile

Visibility - size of fonts

Seamlessness - whether the site is generally easy to browse

Thumb friendliness - ease of use of buttons by using thumbs to click

Local - content tailored to geo-location

Navigation - clear layout

Ease of conversion - clearness of signposting on the site and obvious call to actions

Speed - how quickly the site loads

Are you taking these things in to account when looking at going mobile?