Happy Sunday: 14 March

Posted on Mar 14, 2021. by NTI

We had to look it up, but a ‘dinner party’ (we seem to recall) is where people come round to your place and you all eat food together. At such events, once all guests have discussed - at frightening length - their journey there and the size of their respective mortgages, there are various topics that can be turned to. 

Can we in the NTI newsroom venture such a topic for future soirées? If you weren’t a Brit (if such you are), what nationality would you choose to be? Top three answers (and these are a matter of fact, not opinion): Italian (obviously, because apart from their politics, and possibly their plumbing, everything about Italy is glorious. If you doubt this, get jabbed and go the Amalfi coast; then return and apologise).

Maybe Japanese, because that is the only way anyone will ever understand what on Earth is going on over there, so inscrutable and fascinating is it. Thirdly; American, and not just because of the free $1,400 dollars about to be dolled out to each US citizen, and definitely not the TV, but everything else. 

What you wouldn’t be, at least this morning, is German. They have made a right hundefrühstück of their Covid-19 vaccination programme over there. There is an unedifying squabble over distribution, supply and choice of vaccines on the continent, so much so that the usually mild-mannered Austrian chancellor, Sebastian Kurzand, has been forced to tweet that if the current distribution continues “it would result in significant unequal treatment - which we must prevent.” You tell them, Sebastian. 

The Germans are so behind the line on this one that whilst all Brit adults will be jabbed and out-and-about, ironically driving German cars to dinner parties, by mid-June the Germans will only be able to watch jealously from behind twitching curtains (zuckender Vorhang) for two more months - costing them, economists guess, an additional €10 billion per month. 

What’s more, connected party antecedent transactions appear to be rife over there. It is reported today (Sunday 14 March) that Greensill Capital borrowed almost €100 million from its sister bank in Germany in the months leading up to its collapse. Questions are being asked, as related party transactions are strictly limited under German law and discouraged almost everywhere else in the world (even Sunderland). 

Greensill Bank, which has raised €3.5 billion of deposits from retail clients and municipalities, is expected to be formally wound down soon, and you definitely wouldn’t choose to be a director there right now (even though we bet the company car policy included some very juicy high-end Audis).

If you are planning to re-introduce the dinner party into your moribund social calendar after 21 June you could be serving food from Pret A Manger. Ten years after they should have done so, the chain with a sandwich and coffee outlet on the corner of every street in the UK, and so a knackered balance sheet, have finally woken to smell their own coffee.

Clare Clough, Pret’s UK managing director, said that its dressings and sauces could soon be sold in supermarkets. “It’s all about growing the at-home brand,” she said. Pret already sells coffee via Amazon, Ocado, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. It is also said to be in talks to sell what are described as ‘baked treats’ in Tesco stores, as well as fozen Pret croissants for re-heating.

“So, why didn’t you think of this ten years ago whilst planning to open six outlets on Kings Cross station in London, Clare?”

“No-one could reasonably have foreseen that having Pret a Mangers occupying alternate store premises on every street in the world was going to amount to over-supply and could eventually be an issue ... oh, shut-up. Stop bullying me.” 

On Richard Branson’s private Caribbean island of Necker, where there are only three Pret a Mangers (two having recently closed, following a crayfish scandal), a cheque for a further £100 million is being written to further underwrite Virgin Atlantic, the bearded guru business-mogel having written one for £200 million last year as crisis followed crisis in the airline business.

How much does a millionaire have to spend to save his own airline? (the NTI newsroom roving reporter asked people on the streets of Lytham St Annes). 

“Why are you asking me this? I have two tins of beans with an expiry date of July 2019 and a scratch card in my bag,” came the reply of Sandra (36) a local resident.

And that surely is the moral of today.

Happy Sunday.

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