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Posted on Sep 23, 2020. by NTI

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Do you think the Kerry Group, manufacturer of Cheestrings, ever sat around a table and thought, 'Yes, but is it cheese?' It's possible, as it is as much like cheese as a barbecue fork is. The latest iteration is called 'Strings & Things' which is advertised as 'good food made fun, without mess or stress' ... or cheese. Actually, that is not entirely fair; its ingredients include salty sheep milk cheese, available smoked or unsmoked and that is every bit as delicious as it sounds. In the interests of journalistic balance, Cheestrings are said (by the Kerry Group) to be perfectly portion-controlled, taking the guesswork out of snack time! (Their exclamation mark.) Is it 'cheese'? I'm guessing it is! (Our exclamation mark.)

NTI don't sell cheese (equivalent) snacks, but don't say it too loudly, as Neil will have it on the website within 20 seconds of the end of a conversation about it. The newsroom deals in news and we have had a big internal debate today as to whether this is that; ie is this news? Is the UK's economic recovery running out of steam? The purchasing managers’ index showed that while the economy is still growing in September, there was a marked easing from last month. But, wasn't that the month we all dined out on 00 Sunak? 

The Cips/Markit report flash estimate of the service and manufacturing sectors dipped from 59.1 in August to 55.7 in September. A reading above 50 indicates the economy is expanding, but the survey was conducted before the introduction of fresh curbs across the UK this week. Just to be clear; the news is that the economy is still growing and at quite a rate, and there may be more news later about the economy not growing - but that isn't now. Do you see our dilemma?

The Bank of England expects growth domestic product in the current third quarter of the year to be 7 per cent lower than its pre-pandemic level following the 20 per cent collapse witnessed between April and June as the lockdown forced large parts of the economy into effective hibernation. But that also isn't news yet, as it hasn't happened. What is news is that the same Bank (of England) had previously reported that they initially expected there would be a 30 per cent 'collapse'. The 'news' is they were wrong. By a huge amount.

It is news that SSP, owner of Upper Crust and Caffè Ritazza has said it will achieve only a quarter of last year’s sales because of the impact on its railway and airport outlets. It is a global company, operating in 35 countries, and has reported that sales would fall by £1.3 billion, or 86 per cent, for the year to the end of September, worse than the 80 per cent fall predicted in March. It has now opened about a third of its outlets, an improvement on March when it recorded that turnover had fallen by 95 per cent, which is pretty much all of it.

It is sort of news that sales in the first half of 2020 at PZ Cussons have been boosted by an exceptional demand for its hand-sanitiser and soap range during the pan ... blah, blah, blah, but sales of shower gel fell, along with other personal care and beauty categories, suggesting us Brits now have very clean hands but nothing else should touch the buffet.

It is definitely news that a conglomerate headed up by Mukesh Ambani, Reliance Retail, have popped out of the woodwork and are circling our old favourite, Debenhams. Mr Ambani, reputedly India's richest man, bought Hamley's last year and probably sees Debenhams as a cutting edge fashion retailer, depending on how often he gets out of Mumbai. We have sent Mr Ambani a link to the NTI app and suggest he 'scrolls down' to our two most recent items on the retail group.

 

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