Business news 26 September 2023

James Salmon, Operations Director.

Poll identifies hybrid working as the ‘optimum solution’. WFH means more calories and fewer steps. Number of workers taking sick leave hits 10-year high. Retail sales slip in September but optimism is up. Many still under pressure from food inflation.  And more business news that we thought would interest our members.

Poll identifies hybrid working as the ‘optimum solution’

A new Ipsos survey suggests a hybrid work pattern offers the “right balance.” Ghassan Karian, chief executive of Ipsos Karian and Box, said the poll identified three days in the office “as the optimum solution,” adding: “It strikes the right balance that realises the benefits of office working for both employer and employee, while also giving individuals the ability to think, work and manage their home lives in a flexible way.”

The study also found that a number of businesses are offering perks in a bid to coax staff back to their desks. KPMG’s chief people officer, Lisa Fernihough, told BBC Radio 4 said that while the firm had tried offering perks like free vegan meals on Mondays and fish and chips on Fridays, “the biggest thing that draws people back is the opportunities to work with people that they know, to network, to have those interactions that you just can’t get in the same way when you are working remotely on Teams or Zoom.”

WFH means more calories and fewer steps

Analysis suggests that people consume almost 800 extra calories and walk 3,500 fewer steps on average when they work from home.

A MyFitnessPal poll of 2,000 hybrid workers saw 60% say they are unhealthier when they work remotely. While many cited having fewer temptations as the main reason they are healthier when they are in the office, some said they are encouraged to be healthy by having other people around them.

On average, respondents consumed 2,752 calories when working from home – 791 calories more than the 1,961 consumed on a typical day in the office. The poll also found that home working employees typically take 4,518 steps per day, while on an average day in the office, they clock up 8,087 steps.

Number of workers taking sick leave hits 10-year high

The number of workers taking sick leave has hit a 10-year high, with stress being one of the main contributors, according to a report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). The report analysed sick leave and employee health among 918 organizations and found that 76% of respondents reported stress-related absences in the past year.

The analysis revealed that staff were absent for an average of 7.8 days, the highest level since 2010. The report found that companies are attempting to address health and wellbeing issues, with 69% offering occupational sick pay leave schemes for all employees and 82% providing an employee assistance programme.

Retail sales slip in September but optimism is up

Retail sales fell for the fifth consecutive month in September, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). The analysis shows that 20% of retailers said sales volumes in September were up compared the same period last year, while 34% said they were down, giving a balance of -14%. September’s reading is the highest in three months and marks an improvement on August’s -44%. It also exceeds forecasts, which had pointed to September’s figure coming in at -21%. Retailers’ expected sales balance for October rose to -8.

Martin Sartorius, CBI principal economist, said: “There are some elements of optimism in our survey with retailers expecting the recent fall in sales to continue to ease.” He added that recent lower than expected inflation figures will ease pressure on household budgets and “give retailers some hope going into the crucial autumn and winter trading period.”

Many still under pressure from food inflation

Aldi CEO Giles Hurley has warned that while food price inflation is easing, many households remain under pressure from the increased cost of living. Grocery inflation hit 19% in March but official data shows it slowed to 13.6% in August, while industry data puts it at 12.2% in September. Mr Hurley said: “Whilst grocery inflation has started to ease, it’s clear that people remain under real pressure from its impacts.” He also suggested that the cost-of-living crisis has changed shopping habits, with shoppers buying more cheaper, own-label products than ever before – a change he expects to be permanent.

Steady interest rates a ‘welcome pause’ for banks

Experts say the Bank of England’s decision to keep interest rates on hold at 5.25% is a “welcome pause” for high street banks. Analysts at Barclays said: “A pause in rate hikes is positive for the UK and its banks, particularly if adverse deposit trends … can moderate from here as we expect,” while Tomasz Noetzel, banking analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said: “Deposit repricing and a shift towards more expensive time products may now slow,” adding that falling mortgage rates would likely “bolster volume.”

ECB chief: Interest rates will stay high ‘as long as necessary’
European Central Bank (ECB) president Christine Lagarde says interest rates will stay high enough to restrict business activity for “as long as necessary” in a bid to tame inflation. She told the European Parliament´s committee on economic and monetary affairs: “We remain determined to ensure that inflation returns to our 2% medium-term target in a timely manner,” adding: “Inflation continues to decline but is still expected to remain too high for too long.” Annual inflation in the eurozone eased from 5.3% in July to 5.2% in August. The ECB last week raised its benchmark deposit rate to a record high of 4%.

Labour pledges to overhaul audit and corporate governance regime

Labour plans to pass long-awaited legislation on audit and corporate governance reforms if elected, with shadow Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds saying the party would deliver the required legislation to replace the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) with a new, tougher regulator – the Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority (ARGA) – and grant it statutory powers. Calling for reform, Mr Reynolds said the Government “has not just delayed it, we think it’s dead. We think it’s not coming.” While legislation to deliver the ARGA has been repeatedly delayed, a Government spokesperson said ministers remain “committed to improving audit and corporate governance” and that legislation would be introduced “when parliamentary time allows.” They added that reform is “already under way,” with the FRC having “transformed the way it works” and currently consulting on changes to the corporate governance code.


In an escalation in the US car workers strike, Ford, halted construction of a $3.5bn electric battery plant in Michigan.


OpenAI have announced that its AI tool  ChatGPT will allow it to have voice conversations with users, just like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. Subscribers will also soon be able to send the ChatGPT images for it read, such as a photo of ingredients to prompt recipe suggestions.

Smiths Group

Smiths Group said it had delivered a “record” year of organic revenue growth as its profit more than tripled. The company reported a pretax profit of £360 million in the year ended July 31, multiplied from £103 million the previous year. Revenue from continuing operations climbed 18% to £3.04 billion from £2.57 billion.

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The Credit Protection Association (CPA) has been assisting thousands of UK businesses to get paid, since 1914. We have seen many financial crises, this one will be particularly deadly for suppliers for some time to come.

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The Credit Protection Association – Prompting Punctual Payments – Ethical, Effective, Efficient, Economical collections


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The Credit Protection Association – Prompting Punctual Payments – Ethical, Effective, Efficient, Economical collections.


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The Credit Protection Association – Prompting Punctual Payments – Ethical, Effective, Efficient, Economical collections.