It’s already 3 January and Neil still hasn’t had his Covid jab. This is, according to Tracee, despite being 107 years old, with underlying humour issues. As we all watched muted pyrotechnics on the stroke of midnight on 31 December (or is it 1 January?) from within protective plastic tents for one (or, at a legal stretch, two) we were promised a revolution in 2021, which has yet failed to arrive.
It’s possible that we are being a tad impatient, but having been promised the cavalry this year we haven’t even been visited by a tatty old horse. Billy and Tracee expect more of us, still the leading generation.
With Champagne bubbles lying flat in the bottom of his glass, 00 Sunak could reasonably have expected to get to the first working Monday of the year before receiving demands to pay every business £10,000 a week for the rest of time in order to save jobs and rescue the economy. However, in the Sunday papers this morning business leaders, such as those from Wetherspoons, Marton’s and Alton Towers, are demanding an urgent review of rescue measures, such as business rates relief and the cut in VAT from 20 per cent to 5 per cent for hospitality, tourism and accommodation, for at least a year. Damn it all, Rishi, some could be heard to shout, why stop there? Let’s never pay tax or rates again. You owe it to humanity.
If you look carefully you can begin to understand why a number of businesses are failing. If that’s the way they would run a country, it’s unsurprising they cannot manage something as straightforward as a hospitality or leisure company. If the shoe had been on the other foot (unlikely, we grant you, but work with us) and Rishi Sunak was demanding free beer during 2021 and no-payment-access into Alton Towers in perpetuity, can you imagine the response? It absolutely is a one shoe fits only one foot situation.
Talking of shoes, one of the younger members of the Clark’s shoes dynasty (he’s 86) has put an unfashionable boot into his elders, claiming they have failed to move the company fast enough into the 21st century. We think he means ‘the 19th century’, given Clark’s image and extensive range of faux fur-lined slippers, but we get his drift.
You may recall that Clark’s received a £100 million rescue deal from LionHeart Capital at the tail-end of last year (how?), whilst negotiating their way around a CVA which cut rents to their 320 UK shops, meaning none of them will close. However, this young family pretender named (with no word of a lie) Galahad Clark is furious with his elders, accusing them of “accepting as much milk as they could get from the business” and not “nourishing it enough”.
Ouch, Galahad, a milk-based metaphorical attack aimed at (very) old people; you know where to fire the arrow. He also says that the company had miserably failed to build much of an online presence, which is unsurprising, as its owners have not heard of the internet, preferring to market their extensive range of strapless sandals by word of mouth to their friends in care homes.
And still ‘talking of shoes’, one of the Sunday papers this morning runs a piece about entrepreneurs and how cruel to them the business environment has been over the past year. Unfortunately, the article gives pride of place to a person, who we in the NTI newsroom are sure is a very nice young woman, but one who bet the ranch on making specialist shoes for ‘business women with bunions’ (this piece writes itself).
As business women (much like business men) ran their lives mainly from home in 2020 the specially adapted shoes were mainly replaced by slippers. Really? Is she an ‘entrepreneur’,or just a woman with painful bumps on her feet, with friends who suffer similarly?
Can those who market non-slip knee-pads for fidgety gardeners, or tiny beer mugs for alcoholics truly be said to be “entrepreneurs”? Are we madly searching for a headline here, journos?
Meanwhile two of our least favourite Brits are back in the news today. Cheeky (but desperately annoying) chappie, Jamie Oliver, whose restaurant chain (the hideous and lamentable) Jamie’s Italian went into Administration in May 2019, is still dipping his stubby little hands into deep pockets over the failure of the eponymous vanity project.
Profits in Oliver’s holding company have halved from sales of £30 million, and we at NTI truly hope that this ‘makes a difference’ to Jamie, Jools and their 14 little cockney children.
That other cockney, Lord Sugar, is still alive and getting uppity about Caffè Nero’s company voluntary arrangement. It appears that Sugar is a landlord of the chain and doesn’t want to receive a haircut in the process. Amsprop, the property vehicle owned by Sugar, is among seven parties that have launched a legal battle against the coffee chain’s CVA. The cost of the fight is being covered by the Zuber sibling tycoons, the new Asda owners. You may remember a couple of pieces last year from the NTI newsroom which reported their controversial takeover bid for Caffè Nero, before the CVA was approved last month. Our prediction is that they will ultimately win, with a Caffè Nero in all Asdas by the summer.
The new year is starting to shape up.