Butter’s redemption is almost complete. Unilever, the global king of margarines, has announced its surrender in the face of plummeting sales. It is now adding real butter to its best selling spread in Germany. Company chiefs have admitted “the battle is over” as butter sales soar and more people return to real food not processed mush. It is a significant step as Wirral-founded Unilever gleefully joined the anti-butter bandwagon, proclaiming it a dinner table kind of Grim Reaper. Bad science, bad advice from governments and the vested interests of Big Food backed by the media led to this unpalatable situation. But the wheel is turning. Progressive Sweden is the first Western country to turn its back on the low calore/high carb and anti-saturated fats advice that has plagued us for three decades and actually caused the obseity explosion. The UK and USA will eventually coming around too – it will take time because many so-called experts are going to look like complete chumps. Butter sales in the US have hit a 44 year high while marge is down to it worst level for 70 years.
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The Daily Post has been killed off. Not just the newsprint edition but the online version too. Most newspapers that are shutdown live on in some sort of digital format, so does this signal a new and even more worrying trend for newspapers?Last Week Trinity Mirror stated: “The Post was a wonderful and much loved old lady who had simply come to the end of her natural life.” You can’t disagree with the fact its printed version was ready to be laid to rest even though the newspaper offered an alternative view to the tabloid frenzy of other publications and has seen many inspiring journalists pass through its ranks.
Someone, somewhere within Trinity Mirror decided on drastic action. For in the summer the website was revamped and a new daily app for smartphones was launched. Here’s what editor Mark Thomas said just a few months ago: “The new digital publication is a very exciting step for us, keeping our brand at the cutting edge of the news industry in our third century of publication.
“We have expanded our award-winning business team to deliver a richness and depth of business coverage that I think will be unrivalled in any regional city.”
That sounded like paving the way for an end to newsprint but it certainly didn’t sound the death of the brand.
So what’s going on here? I was quite surprised by the fact that the Daily Post daily e-newsletter had a roster of seven business journalists. I doubt some national papers have a team that big. When Trinity Mirror bought the Manchester Evening news it reduced the business team from five to three and that has a circulation of 75,000 not 5.000 like the Post.
More than that, the Post was asking subscribers to pay £9.99 for its app. Come on, in the era of freebies that isn’t going whet anyone’s appetite.
So either TM was throwing everything bar kitchen sink at the Daily Post or saddling it with a wage bill and a cost that wouldn’t have been viable in a million years.
And the closure announcement was accompanied by a statement that no journalists are going to lose their jobs. What a talented business team is going to do for the Liverpool Echo remains to be seen.
What we have to ask is whether the demise of the Daily Post online signals the second phase of the digital revolution; namely the disappearance of online brands because they too are not paying? This is quite possible. Murdoch abandoned his ipad-only newspaper while AOL is about to ditch 300 of its 900 patch.com community news sites in the States.
It may not be that drastic yet. Trinity Mirror may feel that cities with both morning and evening titles are superfluous in the current circumstances.
What is absolutely clear is that losing traditional newsprint readers is not really the issue; papers are built on a foundation of advertising and that is continuing to drain away both because of competition and the fact some businesses prefer spending on SEO . Also Theresa May has argued that local BBC news websites are killing local papers.
However the disappearance of a publication like the Post means business no longer has a voice in the city and one of the best business teams around has been dissolved.
Instead anyone interested in business news can look forward to soundbites in the Echo or online Newsletters. Hardly in-depth coverage.
Talking of the Echo, there are many grumblings of discontent about its front page emphasis on crime, drugs and guns. I can see what is happening; this is punch in the guts journalism, an attempt to grab people’s attention with shock tactics. What happens when that doesn’t work though…we’ll have to wait and see.
*Barry Turnbull is a former Daily Post business journalist.
Handmade designer specs favoured by the likes of Daniel Craig and Lady GaGa are in hot demand on Merseyside. MYKITA frames are prized around the world but very few retailers are given the thumbs up to sell them. Step forward Hoylake’s Spectacle Warehouse where director Roy Corke has spent two years lobbying for permission to promote the brand. The only other place north of Birmingham you can find them is in Manchester city centre. The shop close to Hoylake railway station is just a short hop from Daniel Craig’s old school Hilbre High. Said Roy: “The company is very fussy about its brand and who can use its products. It wasn’t easy from the start but perseverance has paid off. They had to vet the store and I was even interviewed. To them everything is about the branding and the businesses they like to associate with.” MYKITA’s glasses are hand made in Berlin using superlight stainless steel. The frames have no hinges and can be bent and folded. But the only think exclusive about them is the design and name – the cost is affordable in designer chic terms.
The Spectacle Warehouse is also home to Victoria Beckham glasses as well as other cool names like Tom Ford.
The store at the Quadrant near Hoylake station does not carry out eye tests though. Roy explained: “I am an optical technician not an optician but a lot of people don’t realise that they can shop around after having an eye test. All we need is the prescription and we can proceed from there.”A company spokesman at hq in Berlin said: “When it comes to finding the right frame, expert advice and a broad selection are crucial. In addition to our shops wordwide, other selected retailers offering top quality service and advice also stock Mykita.”
One of Merseyside’s leading historical monuments is to be turned into luxury flats. Bidston Observatory, a Grade ll listed edifice that dominates the Wirral skyline, is subject to a bidding war by developers. This has been made possible because Wirral Council relaxed its own planning regulations to grant listed building consent. Agents have imposed a November 30 deadline for ‘best and final offers’ for the distinctive domed building on Bidston Hill which enjoys panoramic views of Liverpool and Wales.But the move has angered conservation group the Friends of Bidston Hill which is calling for a halt to the deadline race. Spokesman Roy Caligari said: “We are most concerned about the potential consequences for Bidston Hill, and we disapprove of the manner in which the sale is being conducted.
“Prospective buyers have only until 30th November to make their “best and final offer”, and to demonstrate that they have funds in place. The first viewings are scheduled for today (NOV 22) which makes it impossible for new buyers or a community co-operative to obtain a surveyor’s report or arrange a mortgage-in-principle in time.
“Why such a rush now? The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has been trying, on and off, to dispose of its assets on Bidston Hill since 2004, when the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory relocated to a new building at the University of Liverpool. We can only surmise that NERC has already lined up a developer, and, not knowing the developer’s intentions, we fear the worst. It is ironic that NERC, which funds research into the environment, could well be jeopardising ours.”
The Observatory is being sold with listed buildings consent for conversion into four residential
Estate agents Bennan Ayre & O’Neill say there has been interest from a number of parties keen to acquire the 14,500 sq ft site.
Planning permission for four flats was granted after years of marketing the landmark failed to attract sufficient interest.
Planning consultants Wrigley says the relaxation of policy will enable developers to “bring back into use an important local building of significant interest. It is currently deteriorating and a target for vandalism.”
The development will also have a considerable impact on locals who like to ramble and take in the sights from Bidston Hill. The 147 year old Observatory is expected to be turned into a fortress with access restricted by railings, fences and gorse bushes.
Before scientists relocated, the Observatory was also used to control the raising and lowering of the Thames Barrier.
It is now owned by the National Environment Research Agency which has been desperate to sell since it became redundant.
Wirral Council said; “There are material considerations in favour of development which outweigh planning policy for new housing developments.”
A Canadian pension fund has gobbled up Burtons’ chocolate factory in Moreton after a bidding war with owners of budget brands B&M and Poundland. Ontario Teachers’ Private Capital is acquiring Burton’s Biscuits for £350m after seeing off 30 rivals including Warburg Pincus and Apax. Around 50 people remain employed at the Wirral site which was substantially trimmed down when 200 were axed in 2011. Burton’s makes Jammy Dodgers and wagon Wheels.More staff are based at a distribution centre in Liverpool. The pension pot’s other investments include Camelot, the owner of the National Lottery. It is too early to say whether the deal will have an impact onlocal jobs. Leasowe and Moreton councillor Ian Lewis said: “I very much hope the Canadian pension fund will be in it for the long term.”
More than 250 peeps toil away at the Typhoo Tea factory in Moreton, Wirral, each day. I occasionally spy them scurrying into the factory as I trundle by on my decrepit boneshaker of a bicycle en route to the promenade. The company has just announced losses of £661,000 for the year – oo I hear you gasp, put the kettle on missus. But that’s an improvement- recent losses have been £2.2m, £7.2m £10m and £6m. The Indian company Apeejay has paid a heavy price since acquiring the factory for £80m in 2005. They seem keen to remain committed to the brand and currently have adventurer Ben Fogle fronting a TV ad and are extending sponsorship of St Helens Rugby league Club. Meanwhile it has increased its market share. Im not sure how long can a company sustain such losses but at least they are heading in the right direction – I’ll drink to that.