Ikea’s New Uk Boss Homing In On Change

Ikea’s UK chief, Gillian Drakeford, pictured at the furniture retailer’s store in Wembley, top right,  admits the customer experience needs improvement

Its famed for its blue-box stores, meatballs, marital rows, the strange-sounding Scandinavian names given to products and the long, winding walk around the shop. The new boss is an Ikea lifer. She was in the management team that opened the companys first UK store in Warrington in 1987. She went to Hong Kong in 1998 and then on to China, running a Beijing store that served 6m customers a year. While happy that Ikea is so well-known in the UK the sixth biggest market in Ikeas empire Drakeford believes its time for the group to nail down its place as the number one in the British market. Engaging company and seemingly light-hearted, she is deadly serious when setting out her aim to double Ikeas annual revenues to more than 2bn by 2020. This should double Ikeas market share, from just over 6pc to 12pc, all at a time when most of Middle Englands default option is to shop at John Lewis. Drakeford admits John Lewis is a formidable competitor but insists Ikea is better value a third cheaper on kitchens and offers similar quality. She adds that, unlike other sectors such as grocery, much of the spending on home furnishing and furniture is not with the major players such as Ikea, B&Q and Dunelm. To grab a bigger slice of Britains wallets, Ikea wants to open more stores, transform its online offer and tailor its ranges far more to the local catchment area around its shops. Last year, Ikea sent staff into 500 homes up and down the country to see how people live and its already helping managers to develop and adjust the displays in their stores. In Ikeas Wembley HQ, next to the North Circular road, one of the lounges on display includes the bay window and fireplace so common in houses in the capital. Then there are the adult bedrooms that have a childs bed in the same room, separated by nothing more than a curtain. Drakeford says: The living space is quite small in London but the family is still growing and we can really see that quite often children are now sharing the adult bedroom.

UK payday lenders face crackdown

View gallery A new UK financial watchdog has unveiled curbs on payday lenders it will bring in next April when it takes responsibility for the A2 bn sector (AFP Photo/) October 3, 2013 5:45 AM London (AFP) – A new UK financial watchdog on Thursday unveiled curbs on payday lenders it will bring in next April when it takes responsibility for the A2bn a year sector. Lenders will have to carry out an affordability check on borrowers and will only be able to roll over loans — when borrowers pay a fee to delay paying them back — twice, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced. It plans to limit what lenders can say in adverts and will have the power to ban any misleading campaigns. In the wake of claims that some lenders are draining cash from borrowers’ accounts to make sure they get their interest repayments, they will only be able to debit two payments over the course of a loan agreement. “The clock is ticking,” said Martin Wheatley, the FCA’s chief executive. “Today I am putting payday lenders on notice: tougher regulation is coming and I expect them all to make changes so that consumers can get a fair outcome. The clock is ticking.” Next April, the FCA will take over from the Office of Fair Trading as regulator of 50,000 consumer credit firms, which also includes businesses providing overdrafts, credit cards and debt advice. The OFT, in a recent investigation of its own, found “deep-rooted” problems in the payday loan industry, including that some businesses models were based on giving loans to people who cannot afford to pay them back. The Competition Commission is currently investigating the payday loan industry and is due to report at the end of next year. The FCA’s new rules were welcomed by Martin Lewis, founder of consumer help website MoneySavingExpert.com. “Parasitical payday lenders have taken over our high streets in the last five years. Our lax rules have made the UK a crock of gold and they’ve flooded in from across the world,” he said. “For those of us who’ve been crying out for a crackdown, this hardcore regulation, while not perfect, is very welcome.” Finance Washington (AFP) – With their leadership clinging to its strategy of demanding changes to the health care law, some rank-and-file Republicans acknowledged Saturday that ending the US government shutdown requires a new game plan.

UK gears up for cyberwarfare offensives

Markets closed JinkoSolar to Supply 18.5MWp to Lightsource, the UK’s Largest Solar Energy Generator Press Release: JinkoSolar Co., Ltd. Fri, Oct 4, 2013 6:00 AM EDT 23.40 -0.4200 LONDON, Oct. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ –JinkoSolar Holding Co., Ltd. (“JinkoSolar” or the “Company”) ( JKS ), a global leader in the solar PV industry, today announced that it has entered into an agreement with Lightsource Renewable Energy, the UK’s largest solar energy generator and asset operator, to supply 18.5MWp of solar PV modules for a solar farm project located in the United Kingdom. “Lightsource is the UK’s largest generator of solar power and we are pleased to have the opportunity to cooperate with them on this solar farm project. It further extends our presence and brand recognition in the local market,” commented Mr. Xiande Li, Chairman of JinkoSolar. “We look forward to working closely with Lightsource and share our mutual vision of a green low-carbon future.” Mr. Kareen Boutonnat, Managing Director for Lightsource Renewable Energy commented, “As the UK’s largest developer and operator of large scale solar farms, we have to ensure that our supply chain remains intact as our business expands. During the early stages of anti-dumping uncertainty, we expect to work closely with our suppliers to put in place orders that would secure the development of our projects. We are pleased to be working with JinkoSolar to meet the UK’s renewable energy targets, and hope this partnership will continue into the future.” “The recent progress of the global green energy economy has been astonishing. The UK’s demand for solar PV has been notable as well.

JinkoSolar to Supply 18.5MWp to Lightsource, the UK’s Largest Solar Energy Generator

Speaking at the annual Conservative party conference, Hammond said the United Kingdom was dedicating additional resources and funds to building a strong cyber intelligence and surveillance network, according to Reuters . As cybercrime continues to prove a lucrative way for hackers to steal valuable data for profit or as part of state-sponsored jobs — and many governments struggle to catch up and protect networks adequately against rising attacks — defense budget funds now need to not only consider physical threats, but digital warfare as well. Hammond commented: “Last year our cyber defenses blocked around 400,000 advanced malicious cyber threats against the government’s secure internet alone, so the threat is real. But simply building cyber defenses is not enough: as in other domains of warfare, we also have to deter. Britain will build a dedicated capability to counterattack in cyberspace and if necessary to strike in cyberspace.” In February, the National Audit Office named “addressing the UK’s current and future ICT and cybersecurity skills gap” as a “key challenge.” The NAO report was published as part of the UK’s 650 million pound ($1.09 billion) Cyber Security Strategy scheme, and said it could take “20 years” to address the skills gap at all levels of education. Not only could a dedicated task force of offensive security experts deter hackers in the future, but the Defence Secretary told the Mail on Sunday that cyberstrikes could work “alongside conventional weapons in future conflicts,” disabling communications, nuclear weapons, ships and critical hardware. To establish the new cybersecurity force, the UK will recruit experts in their hundreds from a number of fields. The recruitment drive will include civilian computer experts who will be part of the “Joint Cyber Reserve,” and their role will be to work alongside members of the Ministry of Defence and GCHQ to protect critical infrastructure and prevent data theft. The cost of the program was not disclosed, but recruitment is due to begin in October. Hammond commented : “Increasingly, our defense budget is being invested in high-end capabilities such as cyber and intelligence and surveillance assets to ensure we can keep the country safe. The cyber reserves will be an essential part of ensuring we defend our national security in cyber-space. This is an exciting opportunity for Internet experts in industry to put their skills to good use for the nation, protecting our vital computer systems and capabilities.” The UK is also seeking ways to train the next generation of cyberspecialists. In May, two UK universities — Oxford and Royal Holloway — were granted 7.5 million pounds in funding to help develop the country’s skills in online security.