Business news 9 November 2021

James Salmon, Operations Director.

Retail sales rise amid concerns over Christmas shortages. Governor warns Bank will raise rates if inflation drives higher wages. Rolls-Royce to develop mini nuclear reactors. Close to half of UK’s FTSE 350 ‘damaged’ by Brexit.  And more business news.

Retail sales rise amid concerns over Christmas shortages

Figures reveal that total retail sales rose by 1.3% in October, compared with 4.9% growth in October 2020, while sales were 6.3% higher on a two-year basis.

Online non-food sales fell by 8% in October, compared with 39% growth a year earlier, in a sign that more shoppers are returning to the high street.

Meanwhile, in-store sales of non-food items rose by 7.9% overall and increased 4.5% on a like-for-like basis last month.

Analysis also showed that clothing and footwear sales climbed last month but sales of electronic items have been held back by the global shortages of microchips.

Separate figures by Barclaycard reveal shoppers have started spending earlier than normal for Christmas because of fears of shortages. Over a third of shoppers are changing their approach to Christmas shopping this year with 52% buying gifts earlier than normal, particularly children’s presents. Online spending at toy retailers jumped by 38.4% in October compared with 9.9% in September.

Governor warns Bank will raise rates if inflation drives higher wages

The Bank of England will raise interest rates if expectations of higher inflation drive up wages, says Governor Andrew Bailey.

He said the Bank would act before the impact of inflation became widespread, stating: “Once you start to get an increase in inflation of this sort, we want to stop it becoming generalised in the economy.” Bailey cited the risk of more bottlenecks, especially in demand for labour, which could fuel expectations of higher inflation, adding: “And that’s why we would have to act on interest rates if we see that evidence becoming clear.”

His comments helped the pound – which came under pressure after last week’s decision by the monetary policy committee – to claw back losses. It was trading up 0.43% against the dollar, at $1.355.

Rolls-Royce to develop mini nuclear reactors

Rolls-Royce has received backing from a consortium of private investors and the UK government to develop small nuclear reactors to generate cleaner energy.

The creation of the Rolls-Royce Small Modular Reactor (SMR) business was announced following the £195m cash injection from private equity firms and also a £210m grant from the government.

The small modular reactors use nuclear fission reactors but are smaller than conventional ones. Such reactors are considered a cheaper and quicker way to harness nuclear energy. Kwasi Kwarteng, the business and energy secretary, said they presented, “a once in a lifetime opportunity to deploy more low carbon energy than ever before”.

Rolls-Royce SMR said one of its power stations would occupy about one tenth of the size of a conventional nuclear plant – equal to two football pitches – and power around one million homes.  Tom Samson, chief executive Rolls-Royce SMR, said the company had been established to “deliver a low cost, deployable, scalable and investable programme of new nuclear power plants”.

It is hoped the new enterprise could create up to 40,000 jobs by 2050.

Close to half of UK’s FTSE 350 ‘damaged’ by Brexit
Post-Brexit trading arrangements with the EU have been described as “damaging” by almost half of FTSE 350 companies, but nearly all remained optimistic about their own prospects and the wider economic outlook.

British companies escape to Estonia
Thousands of small British companies have left for Estonia after Brexit introduced new restrictions on trade with the European Union. But for Estonia, the influx of British businesses, especially technology firms, has contributed to a big jump in tax revenues and reinforced the country’s reputation as a hub of innovation.


Bitcoin surpassed $68,000 for the first time as it hit a new all time high.

Tory MP facing bankruptcy over unpaid taxes
Conservative backbencher Adam Afriyie is reportedly facing bankruptcy action over unpaid taxes. HMRC has filed a petition for bankruptcy against the MP in a dispute related to “past business interests”, leading to concern among some Tories that Mr Afriyie may have to step aside in his Windsor seat. Mr Afriyie, who has held his seat since 2005, vowed: “I will of course pay any tax that is due.”

Expats in Cyprus top ‘tax freedom’ league table
The 2021 report issued by the Institut Économique Molinari reveals that Cyprus still holds the top rank for ‘Tax Freedom Day’ in all of Europe, with annual taxes paid by 14th April. Jason Porter, director of specialist expat financial planning firm Blevins Franks, said this is proof that moving to Cyprus can offer significant financial benefits from a tax perspective.


Barack Obama accused China and Russia of a “dangerous absence of urgency” in reducing harmful emissions. He  also said  progress on climate change “stalled” on Trump’s watch but that under President Joe Biden America was “prepared to take a leadership role”. He ended on an upbeat note but the limited success of the summit’s first week somewhat undermines that optimism.

Primark struggling with rising costs

Discount fashion chain Primark has admitted it is struggling with higher costs and supply chain issues as it recovers from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.


Persimmon still expects to build 10% more houses in its current financial year. In a trading update for the period from 1 July to 8 Nov, Persimmon said its average private new home sales reservation rate per site was about 16% ahead of 2019. It added that £1.15 billion of forward sales had been reserved beyond the current year, up from £0.95 billion in 2019.

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