Thursday, 31 January 2013


The great thing about the story of the Caterpillar is how it changes from the grub - yes the one you were warned NOT to put on your friends arms at school - from something a bit meh to something of beauty.
It's not that surprising it is used as a metaphor which the upcoming season kind of reminds me of from the dark, icey winters to the blossoming of Spring with all the flowers coming out.
This from Kaleidoscope is a lovely spring/summer T made from polyester with a lovely design on it says it all.
The design is called 'Together, is made from Polyester  and is easy to accessorize with necklace and a fashionable pair of sunglasses.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

High street update

Brrr it's cold outside and I haven't been able to venture terribly far what with all this snow, ice and what not but who cares as I see plenty enjoying the winter that is probably more than our Prime Minister is at the minute.
Whats happened in the last week or so is the retailer HMV  who had gone into administration seems to be be in the process of being bought out by Hilton's who bought the Canadian stores a few years back and there's a willingness on the part of suppliers such as the music companies to lower wholesale prices and the terms of supplying goods to give the ol' dog some bite as they see an advantage in having their products on the high street (and not just a few titles in Asda and Tesco's).
That's good but I still feel 200+ stores is just not sensible in the current market all coming with their individual rent which is a large part of the problem in being a physical high street retailer in the UK. Indeed in passing I'll mention as of the end of this month the Disney store locally in a 350,000 population catchment of the North-west Midlands is closing because the mall rents are too high for them, which I think gives you an indication of the scale of the rent issue - and it needs action.
I feel they need to make better use of having an internet store - currently closed - allowing customers to order directly from a central large catalogue and allow them to nominate a store for picking up bulky or otherwise hard to deliver items in the metropolitan districts.
It also would help the stores by meaning they wouldn't have to keep very large stocks and if each store also had wifi, you could whip out your tablet, order a title and collect when convenient just by yourself. That may help staffing costs too.
Bigger stores may benefit by having a coffee store and maybe used vinyl store concession being allowed operate from the store to make the most of being the music store of a area which would help smaller store get more exposure without the expensive of a prime location. You see concessions in many 'womens' stores so why not try it???
The Prime Minister bit: spare you the details but he's wanting to reform the EU first and put that in a upcoming Tory government bill on a referendum as the yes option.
I really don't feel whatever the merits (and there are many) of reforming the EU, it's a proverbial can of worms most European leaders want to open particularly if we're talking about renegotiation of terms. It seems to me he's trying to folk on side who'd defect to the anti EU membership political party, UKIP rather more than seriously believing it would work out.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Nipper has lost his bark!

After last week, she said trying desperately not to come over all smug, it's finally happened, music retailing has moved from the high street.  Poor ol' Nipper.
Well okay, I know that's Birmingham Bull Ring, not Broad Street, but you know what I mean -our town and city centres - with the shock announcement late last night the national music and video retailer HMV was planning on going into administration following poor Christmas sales.
Sounds familiar,eh? And rather like with Jessops they also were being bankrolled by the suppliers who provided much of the January 25% off "Blue Cross" sales stock as did two state owned banks who to put things with my usually matter of factness, want their money back.
Some other similarities include high rents, failure to capitalize on online sales, poor in store stocks (I mean just seven studio albums by the Stones in the branch in a large city branch near me???), uncompetitive online store pricing (Amazon often cheaper).
HMV potentially could of gotten into downloading but after a brief messy store attempt, partnered up with 7Digital who run that for them which would be fine except 7Digital are a big brand in their own right so most would of gone straight to them.
As much as I feel for for all the staff I'm expecting nearly all the branches to go simply because it seems to me you can't run a big chain anymore because of the overheads and also your immediate best sellers, new albums, are stocked by both supermarkets such as ASDA and Tesco cheaply and the likes of Amazon for those who want cds but many more  prefer to download and these can obtained cheaply from the big three Amazon, iTunes and 7Digital.
You can do niche cd selling from a small side street location with an internet presence backed by a warehouse.
Hmv failed also to capitalize on the "Vinyl revival" by stocking few new and re-issue titles that many who like a physical album buy which was the tipping point for me becoming fed  up of having to order run of the mill cd titles only to return later at my expense to collect, getting an account at Amazon  ordering from them. I guess I wasn't alone in that!
I get the nostalgia many are feeling, remembering the first time I visited HMV Oxford Street London and the Manchester store still having those records and the many BritPop vinyl  titles on 7" and 12" lp I bought new that are most collectible.
I just feel by years end the high street will be that much the poorer.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The end of high street photo retail

I guess it had to happen really and was more question of when rather than if but the UK photography chain Jessops went into receivership as of today brought about by an inability in the part of directors, creditors and suppliers to extend credit to this long established but ailing concern that goes back many decades.
It's my understanding some suppliers had during last year offered credit to them to enable their products to be sold as it was the #1 high street outlet for their goods.
Jessops was the first chain in the UK I established a relationship with as a consumer, a place where at the time you could get all manner of advice connected with photography, the virtues of different lenses, filters, film ect over the sales counter. My local branch would root out stuff for me to try instore without obligation. They also run a photography residential school with industry experts providing tuition.
Two things probably did for this type of retailing, the first being digital photography has  less repeat custom after buying a camera and maybe a spare memory card and for Dslr users an additional lens or two. You sure wouldn't be buying a new memory card each week in the way you bought film and although they'd invested in instore printing, a lot of casual users either print at home or don't even print their images so you wouldn't be getting much of an income stream from that!
As a traditional film slr user I saw reductions traditional products in stock to the point while on vacation I couldn't get medium speed print film and ended up visiting a well known drugstore that had better stocks off the shelf!
Also many users use smartphones as cameras leading to a drop in demand for digital compacts that come on contracts while professionals users would use online stores that held larger 'to go' supplies with rapid delivery

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Caution you may become an O.A.P

First of all I'd like to start this edition of ze blog off by wishing everyone a happy new year and hope your plans do come to fruition.
One thing about new years is it reminds me about getting physically older even if somedays I don't half feel rough just wondering what I'll be like by the point I get into my sixties and that takes me to this weeks subject.
When you get to the point you need a lot of looking after often people move into care homes sometimes by pure choice sometimes because the Local Authority who part fund care having done the math have decided having people coming to you would cost more than you going into care.
Now the UK like many western societies, has an aging population so more folks are requiring care provision which is currently troubling our Politicians. They think they have a plan but the treasury are stalling over paying for it. It is being suggested that money currently given to every pensioner to cover the additional costs of staying warm in our cold winters - a cost that is increasing as energy costs are going through the roof - should only be given to the very poorest of pensioners. The idea being mooted is the money saved would go to pay toward care costs.
One problem I can see straight off is this will require systems and people to assess income levels to determine who gets it and who doesn't so you may not have that much by way of savings. Also in my experience, some people over 65 are still paying their mortgages off and if they have say more than £150 per week coming in it may be they have less disposable income than someone just under that amount who will get additional help.
Is that fair?
One is also inclined to say why is is  that this Winter Fuel Allowance rather like the welfare bill is touchable but Overseas Aid is not particular as many reports do question it's effectiveness in helping the disadvantaged overseas? And would it not make more sense to review the cost from the commitment to Co2 emission restrictions placed on energy providers that are in part pushing up the costs of heating our homes and factories?
If energy prices could be reduced then apart from anything else the cost of the Winter Fuel Allowance might well be more sustainable. And even now pensioners are going short on heat.
I can see this upcoming year being a worrying time for the elderly.