Thursday, 21 June 2012

Trade in Balance of Goods and Services

To view this graph, please install Adobe Flash Player.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Income inequality

I am just covering this topic with my Higher class and found this interesting video. Although American, it poses a lot of the same issues we have here in the UK.

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Maximise your chances of getting into Uni...

I have been doing a bit of research into Universities offering Accounts, Economics and Business Studies for my new role as a Sixth Year Tutor this afternoon. Having made a note of all the expected entry requirements, I came across this information on the Kings College London website which will make very interesting reading for all pupils thinking of applying this year...and something to work towards during the next academic year to maximise their chances of getting in.

"We look for applicants with an enthusiasm for scholastic activities in general such as reading, debating, theological interests etc. Participation will be valued but achievement in these areas of interest will also be recognised."

We look for applicants who have participated as fully as possible in school, college or community life, making the most of the opportunities available to them and also those who have demonstrated some experience of society beyond their immediate environment.

We look for applicants who have varied extra-curricular interests and enjoy active participation in areas such as sport, music and the arts in general. Participation will be valued but any achievement in extra-curricular activities will also be recognised.

Although we do not require applicants to have been in paid or voluntary employment, we welcome applications from those with any experience of work within a business setting.

What is considered at interview? Communication skills particularly in analysis and debate.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Made In Britain

Just finished watching the first part of what looks like an excellent three part series on manufacturing in Britain. In the first episode, Evan Davis looks at why moving a lot of manufacture to China has not necessarily been a bad thing. I would highly recommend this for both my Economics and Business Management classes. The link to the BBC iPlayer programme is below:

Made In Britain

Saturday, 11 June 2011

The Circular Flow of Income....and David Cameron??

My S3 Economics class were given the task of creating a poster to show The Circular Flow of Income - here is the result. Not sure what the David Cameron creation is but if it helps them to remember the diagram, I am happy.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

IMF supports UK economic policies

Video from the BBC Economics Editor, Stephanie Flanders, on the IMF's support for the coalition government's economic policy.

Stephanie Flanders Video

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Discussion on Chinese economy and culture....over dinner!

I was fortunate to be invited out to dinner by a friend and her Chinese colleague who are currently doing a lot of work in promoting Chinese in the Scottish education system. As an Economics and Business teacher it was a great opportunity to ask a lot of questions on the rise of China and hear a different perspective than the scaremongering one often reported in the media. And to top it off, what a dinner! This was my first experience of a Chinese Hotpot and it is one aspect of Chinese culture I will be glad to embrace.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

The economic cuts aren't working, are they?

A really interesting article published in today's Observer on the effects of the economic cuts imposed by the Coalition government. Well worth a read as it looks at the effects of the cuts in government spending on unemployment, etc. and brings together a lot of the things we look at in Higher and Intermediate 2 Economics.

George Osborne's plan isn't working

Monday, 9 May 2011

School leavers lack basic skills


UK let down by poor language skills

The UK is under-represented in EU institutions due to poor foreign language skills an official has reported. Despite the government trying to reverse a decline in language study in schools, it seems this is one supply-side policy that needs special attention.

Read the article

Friday, 6 May 2011

Greece to exit the Euro....

A report suggesting that Greece has raised the possibility of leaving the Euro has led to a fall in the single currency.

Read the article

Thursday, 14 April 2011

World Bank in warning on food prices

The World Bank have warned that rising food prices (up 36% on last year), driven partly by rising fuel costs, are pushing millions of people into food poverty (44 million people since last June). Read the full article here

Scotland's economic recovery threatened by rising costs

Interesting article about how the rising costs of materials and transport are undermining Scotland's economic recovery. The Scottish Chambers of Commerce found that the rising costs are likely to be passed on to consumers. Rising costs threaten Scottish economic recovery

BRICS seeking more world influence

Very interesting development occuring at the moment in China where the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are gathering to discuss increasing their influence in the world economy.

One of the items on the agenda is Russia's entry to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as well as changes to the global financial system. They argue that the current financial crisis illustrates the weakness of the current monetary system with the dollar used as the world's most used currency.

The five countries represent 40% of the world's population and almost a fifth of world growth.

Well worth a read!

BRICS countries meet in China

Friday, 11 March 2011

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Monday, 14 February 2011

Economics Quiz of the Week w/c 13 February 2011

Click here for 10 questions on Economics in the news!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Real Madrid richest club in the world

Real Madrid have topped the league table of the world's 20 richest football clubs for the sixth straight year. Manchester United lost second spot to Barcelona and their arch rivals, Manchester City, were the big movers, up from 20th to 11th. All the teams in the top 20 came from the "big five" European Leagues - England (7), Germany (4), Italy (4), Spain (3) and France (2).

Deloitte Football Money League

1. Real Madrid: 438.6m euros
2. Barcelona: 398.1m euros
3. Man Utd: 349.8m euros
4. Bayern Munich: 323m euros
5. Arsenal: 274.1m euros
6. Chelsea: 255.9m euros
7. AC Milan: 235.8.m euros
8. Liverpool: 225.3m euros
9. Inter Milan 224.8m euros
10. Juventus: 205m euros

Source: Deloitte: 2009/10

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

S3 Economics Oil Project

My S3 Economics class have been conducting a research project into the oil market in preparation for the next topic, Costs of Production. They had 3 periods to research the topic, prepare a presentation and report and deliver their findings in a 10-minute presentation to the rest of the class. Here is a sample of their work:

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Graduate unemployment at highest for over a decade

Figures released by The Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that ONE in FIVE university leavers who entered the labour market failed to find a job last year. Graduate unemployment is now at its highest level since 1995. While unemployment in the UK has risen from 5.2% to 7.9%, graduate unemployment - graduates available and looking for work but who can't get a job - has risen from 10.6% to 20%.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

UK economy suffers shock contraction

The UK economy suffered a shock 0.5% contraction in the final quarter of 2010. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) reported that although the bad weather had had an effect, growth would still have been flat if its effect had been excluded.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


Pressure mounted on the Bank of England to raise interest rates as inflation in December jumped from 3.3% to 3.7%, fuelled by an increase in the cost of air travel, fuel, utility bills and food costs.

The recent VAT increase from 17.5% to 20% raises the prospect of a further rise.

For further information on economics stories, click on either the Higher Economics or Interemediate Economics pages of the blog.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

The winners and losers on the High Street this Christmas

With the twin problems of terrible weather and the coalition's austerity cuts starting to bite, it has been a tough festive period for High Street retailers. Below is a link to a really cool interactive Monopoly board which shows the winners and losers as their Christmas results are announced this month.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Guardian Business Quiz

2010 Business Quiz
  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2
  3. Part 3
  4. Part 4

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Genuine complaint call...

OK, it's doubtful whether it's genuine or not but this is still a hilarious call.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Economic news


In the 3 months to July 2010, unemployment fell by 8,000 to 2.47 million. The overall UK unemployment rate remains at 7.8%. The worry amongst economists is that the unemployment rates will rise again later in the year as the effects of the government cuts begin to take effect.

Regional unemployment

Wales - fall from 8.4% to 8.3%
England - fall from 7.9% to 7.7%
Northern Ireland - fall from 7.1% to 6.8%
Scotland - rise from 8.9% to 9.1%


The CPI inflation rate remained at 3.1% in August, still well above the Bank of England 2% target and signalled the end of 3 consecutive months of falling inflation. The high rate was boosted by strong rises in air fares, clothing and food although fuel prices fell. RPI fell from 4.8% to 4.7%.

Points of note

  • CPI is used for the Bank of England's target
  • RPI, which includes housing costs, is important for wage negotiations and certain benefit negotiations.
  • A combination of record low interest rates and high rates of inflation mean the real value of savings is being weakened.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Climate change activitists invade book festival event!

At the Joseph Stiglitz event on Sunday - yes, I know I also attended it on Saturday but blame Edinburgh Book Festival for not making it clear that it was the same event! - his address was interrupted by four young climate change protesters who invaded the tent. As three of them started dropping newspapers entitled "Never Mind The Bankers", the young female spokesperson demanded two minutes to speak out against the sponsor of the event, the RBS. Needless to say, the audience were not entirely sympathetic to their viewpoint and booed and jeered the proetesters as they were escorted from the premises by Book Festival staff.

With the protests against RBS escalating in recent days, perhaps it was just as well that the protest was peaceful and they left with minimum fuss. There didn't appear to be adequate security to deal with the problem and the onus fell on the young, mainly female, staff to deal with a situation surely outwith their remit. There was also a sense of irony that the protesters should invade an event in which the speaker was berating the banks, including the RBS, for their role in the economic downturn and the need to change the way the finance sector works.

Thankfully, it made my second viewing of the event quite interesting!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Economics at the Edinburgh International Book Festival

This evening I had the pleasure of attending a talk by Joseph Stiglitz, an American economist and professor at Columbia University, at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. He was the Chief Economist at the World Bank and won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2001. Mr Stiglitz was at the festival to promote his new book Freefall – Free Markets and the Sinking of the Global Economy. During the hour, he talked about why the global economy is in the mess it is in, what the underlying causes are, who is to blame and why the current action by both the American and UK governments may not be the correct solution. He also took questions about the increasing financial power of China, the lack of competition in the banking sector and the lack of progress in developing an environmentally friendly economy. An hour well spent!


After two excellent years at St Ninian’s High School, I am leaving for a new role as a Teacher of Economics and Business Management at Stewart’s Melville College in Edinburgh. During my time at St Ninian’s, I have worked with some wonderful people who have supported me, offered me invaluable advice and helped develop me further as a teacher. I have also had the pleasure of teaching some fantastic pupils and I wish all of them all the best for their future education – I know you are in safe hands! Both teachers and pupils alike will be greatly missed.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Are Facebook friends really friends?

On Sunday, I attended "Are Friends Electric", an event at the Edinburgh Book Festival which looked at the rise of social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Twitter etc. The speakers were Jason Bradbury from Channel 5's "The Gadget Show" and Dr Mariann Hardey, a social media researcher who writes a blog on social networking etiquette.

The event raised some really interesting questions about the rise of social networking sites in general and I was very interested in the impact they have on young people. Both speakers were understandably enthusiastic about the potential of a much more connected world but what is the greater impact? Eric Schmidt, the boss of Google, today warned that young people lack an understanding of the consequences of posting so much personal information online and may have to change their names to escape their online history in the future.

Scaremongering? Possibly. Cynical? Maybe.

But real issues remain.....
  • Stories already exist of employees being caught for insulting employees, benefit cheats defrauding the system, people being sacked for using social networking sites while off sick and even one girl who was sacked for branding work "boring" on her first day at work - forgetting that she had added her new boss as a friend!

  • Rumours abound of employers using social networking sites as part of their recruitment process - could an inappropriate picture of you posted on a site affect your employment opportunities in the years to come?

  • You may be careful about what you publish - but what about what others put on about you?

  • What about the concerns regarding cyber bullying?

  • If the information is in the public domain, is it fair game for large businesses to use it to market products and services to you?

As a Business Studies teacher, I need to look at the rise of social networking sites from two sides - the costs and benefits from a business perspective as it changes the way businesses operate, and the impact it has on the young people I teach. With no sign of a downturn in their popularity, their impact on both in the future will be very interesting to monitor.

And for me, one of the main questions is: is an electric friend truly a real friend? If I have 500 friends on Facebook, do I truly have 500 friends?

I would be interested to hear any views from my readers.

Fall in rise of inflation - but still well above MPC target!

The rate of inflation in the UK dropped slightly from 3.2% to 3.1% in July but still remains well above the Bank of England's 2% target.

Mervyn King, the governer of the Bank of England, said that the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) believed the recent strength of inflation was down to "temporary" factors including the recent increase in the rate of VAT to 17.5%, past oil price rises and more expensive imports due to depreciation in the pound since 2007. The Bank expect inflation to fall below the 2% target in 2012.

The slight fall in the rise of inflation was due to a fall in transport costs (price of second hand cars and fuel) as well as a fall in the price of clothing and footwear, which managed to offset rises in food and non-alcoholic drinks.

Consumer Price Index (CPI) - Measure of changes in the purchasing-power of a currency and the rate of inflation. CPI expresses the current prices of a 'basket' of goods and services in terms of the prices during the same period in a previous year, to show effect of inflation on purchasing power.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

£650m bar of chocolate

A hedge fund manager has bought 240,000 tonnes of cocoa beans in a £650m investment which would enable him to make more than 5 billion small chocolate bars. The hedge fund, Armajaro, has taken the unusual step of taking delivery of the cocoa beans and will store them in warehouses in England and the Netherlands.

  • The price of cocoa has risen sharply in recent years due to increased demand - a 16% increase in the last year alone due to decreased production of cocoa beans in Africa.
  • By having a degree of control over the supply, you can squeeze the market and push the price up. When you feel the price has gone up sufficiently, release the supply and make a massive profit.
This type of market speculation is common in food markets, coffee and wheat where speculators push up prices. Farmers, seeing the increased prices, could end up growing the wrong crops only to make a loss when withheld supplies are released and prices start to fall.

Monday, 19 July 2010

S@S Kilmarnock Questionnaires

This years Business Challenge at the S@S Summer Academy involves the young people rebranding Kilmarnock. As part of the project, they need your help to answer a short questionnaire , the results of which they will use in their 10 minute presentation to a panel of business people on Friday.

Please click on the links below and complete the simple questionnaires. Your help is greatly appreciated!

  1. Questionnaire 1
  2. Questionnaire 2
  3. Questionnaire 3
  4. Questionnaire 4
  5. Questionnaire 5

S@S Kilmarnock Questionnnaire

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Marketing research figures don't add up.....

While watching the TV tonight, an advert came on for Gillette or L'Oreal men with the claim that it was the best product a man could get. At the end of the advert, the words "85% of 68 men agree" appeared to back up the adverts bold claim. Two things struck me.....
  • Firstly, it seems a very small sample of men to use on which to claim that the product is the best a man could get and.....
  • Secondly, when I worked out 85% of 68, the answer was 57.8!! Does this mean that 57 full men and 4/5 of a further man agreed?
If anyone can explain this strange mathematical equation, I would be keen to hear from you.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Posterous in the classroom!

During this year and following the departure of another teacher, myself and a colleague, Kenny O'Donnell, were given an S1 ICT class to share between us. Since joining St Ninian's High School, Kenny has been an inspirational exponent of the use of technology in the classroom and a great source of support and advice to me. At times, when I questioned the purpose or the value of technology in teaching and learning, Kenny often gave me examples of other ways to use it and opened up new, innovative opportunities for me and my classes.

A prime example of this was in the use of Posterous as a method of pupils creating a portfolio or record of work which they could then share with their friends and family outside the classroom. Kenny has written a fantastic review of our experiences on his blog and if the use of technology in the classroom is something of interest to you, I recommend you read it.

Please feel free to post any comments.

VAT explained.....

VAT (Value Added Tax) is the tax you pay on goods and services that you buy. Some items do not include VAT - food, childrens clothing, newspapers and magazines. Some things only include VAT of 5% - domestic gas, domestic electricity and wind turbines. The coalition government are believed to be looking at raising VAT as a way of raising extra cash - raising it from the current rate of 17.5% to 18.5% would raise about £4.65 billion. As VAT is not generally charged on necessities, the government would be able to argue that a rise wouldn't affect the more vulnerable people in society although with the government finances in such a terrible state, it is something that could be considered. The current rate of 17.5% is one of the lowest rates in Europe with Denmark, Hungary and Sweden charging 25%.

The effect of a VAT increase on the customer

Cuddly Toy

17.5% - £9.99
18.5% - £10.07
20% - £10.20

Flat Screen Television

17.5% - £500.00
18.5% - £504.25
20% - £510.64

New Car

17.5% - £15,000.00
18.5% - £15,127.66
20% - £15,319.15

The effect of a VAT increase on government finances
  • £700 million for every 1% increase if it decides to charge VAT on food.

  • £1 billion if it decided to charge the current rate of 17.5% on clothes and small shoes for children.

  • £1.3 billion if it chose to charge the full 17.5% on newspapers, books and magazines.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Intermediate Admin - Commnd Word Help

For those doing the Intermediate Admin Theory S3 Exam on Monday, I have posted examples of command word answers on the Intermediate Admin page of the blog. Hopefully these will help you with the structure expected in the exam.

If you have any questions, please post a comment and I will get back to you.

Mr Alexander

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Tesco chief executive to retire in March 2011

Tesco shares dropped by 2.3% on the stock market when it was announced that Sir Terry Leahy is to retire early next year. He has been in charge of the supermarket for the last 13 years and will be replaced by the current international and IT director Philip Clarke.

When he took over, Tesco was roughly the same size as Sainsbury with just over 20% of the market share - it now has over 30%, making it easily the UK's biggest supermarket chain.

Some interesting facts and figures about his time in charge:
  • The number of Tesco stores has risen from 568 in 1997 to 2482 in 2010
  • Tesco has stores in China, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Japan, Malaysia, Poland, the Republic of Ireland, Slovakia, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey and the US.
  • Pre-tax profits have risen from £750 million in 1997 to £3176 million in 2010 - up 10% on the previous year.
  • Sales
  • It now offers a lot more than just groceries - it now offers insurance, broadband internet, credit cards and even Child Trust funds.
  • Tesco's employs approximately 500,000 people worldwide with about 250,000 employed in the UK alone.
  • Tesco now has 20 million active members of its Clubcard customer loyalty scheme.

However, Tesco has come under fire from campaign groups who have become increasingly concerned about its dominant position in the UK marketplace. It has been investigated by the Office of Fair Trading on accusations of squeezing suppliers and buying up land to stop rivals building on it. These have on occasions been referred to the Competition Commission. Concern has also been raised about the growth in "Tesco Towns" where in relatively small cities, Tesco has a huge percentage of the market.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Big business news.......

The Prudential has failed in an attempt to but AIA, the Asian insurance business of US group AIG, after shareholders opposed the agreed $24.6 billion price. Although a deal had been agreed last week, a number of shareholders said it was paying too much and vowed to vote against the deal if the price couldn't be lowered. The attempted takeover could cost the Prudential around £150 million in compensation fees to AIG as well as money to banks, lawyers, public-relations firms and advice. It is also expected that the Prudential's chief executive Tidjane Thiam may have to resign following the collapse of the takeover.

BP's continuing failure to stop the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico continues to cost them - their share price today closed down 13%, wiping £12 billion off its stock market value. . The total clean-up costs so far stand at £684m and there are worries that the leak could continue for another 2 months. The BBC's Business Editor said that the cost of the clean up "could wipe out at least an entire year's profit".

BP Share Price Tuesday 1 June 2010

BP intraday chart

Source: BBC Business

And some positive business news.............

Ryanair is back in profit after suffering its first annual loss this time last year. The budget airline announced pre-tax profits of £289 million for the year to March, benefitting from lower oil prices with fuel 29% lower than last year. It also plans to raise baggage fees from £15 to £20 a bag in July and August.

Travelling up and down to Kilmarnock every day, it is usual to see important messages about the dangers of drink driving, driving while tired or simply a warning about roadworks. However, I didn't think I would ever see this message on my daily commute!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Flexible working practices for all?

The new coalition government today announced plans to allow all employees the right to request flexible working hours. At the moment, parents of children up to 16 (or 18 if they are disabled) and carers for disabled adults are allowed to request flexible working patterns. Employers must give serious consideration to any requests but can turn them down for sound business reasons.

Ultimately, following consultation with business, the government would like to extend the right to all workers. The plans, unlikely to come into law during this parliament, have been met with a mixed response - negatively from the British Chambers of Commerce and positively from the TUC.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Best of luck S4 Business Management!

Best of luck to my S4 Business Management class who are sitting their Intermediate exams tomorrow. You have been a pleasure to teach over the last two years and have worked really hard for these exams. Make sure you go in and do yourself proud!

Couple of last minute tips!
  • Read the question carefully!
  • Remember the command words
  • Make your writing readable
  • And remember to bring a couple of pens!!!

Monday, 3 May 2010

US Airlines & Continental Airlines merge

United Airlines and Continental Airlines have agreed a merger which will create the world's biggest airline. It will be called United Airlines but the new branding will be a combination of both airline's current colours.

Both companies are currently making losses but expect to make savings of more than $1 billion a year following the $3.2 billion deal. The merger has been described as a "merger of equals" although United Airlines will be seen as the dominant partner. Between them, they fly to 370 destinations and fly 144 million passengers a year. They currently employ a total of 86,000 people and experts believe redundancies will be inevitable as the new company aim to cut costs. Shared IT and maximising the use of the fleet are also expected to deliver cost-savings.

The merger has to be agreed by shareholders and competition regulators and unions will also need to agree to the deal.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

How are taxes raised and spent?

One of the main policy differences between the three big parties in this years election is that of taxation and cuts. All parties agree that cuts need to be made and the chances are that taxes will rise in the coming years.

So how are taxes raised and spent?
  • In this years Budget, the current Labour Government said that would spend £704 billion during the year up to the end of March 2011.
  • The Government expect to raise £541 billion through taxation, with most coming from Income Tax (£146 billion), National Insurance (£97 billion) and VAT (£78 billion).
  • They would need to borrow £163 billion to make up the difference between taxes and spending.
  • Most money raised will be spent on health (£122 billion), education (£89 billion) and social protection e.g. benefits (£196 billion).
  • Other key spending includes Public Order (£36 billion), International Development (£6 billion) and defence, social services, housing, transport, industry etc. (£210 billion).
  • Interest on the debts the government has built up will come to £43 billion.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Tesco announce huge pre-tax profits!

Tesco continue to to flourish despite the global economic crisis as they announced pre-tax profits of £3.176bn for 2009, up 10% on the previous year. Some interesting information from the news:
  • International sales account fro £17.5bn of its £56.9bn annual revenue.
  • It plans to create 16,000 jobs this year, 9,000 in the UK.
  • It expects non-food and international sales to grow fastest in the recovery.
  • Toy sales were up 25% - helped by the clothes like Woolworths closing down.
  • Sales of clothes reached £1bn for the first time.
  • Tesco finance profits were up 13% at £250m
It also said it had been getting round the disruption caused by flights being grounded by getting their Kenyan suppliers to fly fruit and flowers to Spain and picking them up by truck to transport to the UK.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Eyjafjallajökull - Who wins and who loses?

Airlines - LOSERS!

Obviously the main casualty is the airline industry. The industry is estimated to be losing £130 million a day and could hardly come at a worse time, considering it is already expected to lose £1.4 billion this year. Travel companies are also being hit hard - TUI who own First Choice & Thomson claim they are losing between £5m and £6m a day.

Other Transport - WINNERS!

Eurostar, P&O ferries and train services across Europe and the UK have recorded huge surges in passenger numbers as people find alternative methods to get home.

Tourism - MMMMM?

The effect will be small if the disruption doesn't last too long, particularly as this is not the main peak time for tourism in Europe. Customers stranded and spending more will make up for the expected loss from those unable to make the trip. However, if the disruption continues, it would have a much greater impact if it lasts into the busy summer months.

Imports & Exports - DEPENDS

The disruption has businesses who deal in perishable goods generally transported by air - e.g. food and flowers. Africa and South America, producers of much fresh food transported to Europe are experiencing serious losses. However, most international trade uses road, rail and sea freight - only 1% of UK's trade is carried by air.

Other Business Costs - LOSERS!

Staff being stranded, air mail being delayed and meetings being cancelled are likely to result in lost money for businesses and productivity is expected to suffer as staff can't get back to work.

Economic Growth - MMMMMMM?

If it is short-term, the economic impact is expected to be minimal - however, an extended period without air transport could be very damaging, particularly as the economy is just recovering from recession. A possible drop of 1% and 2% for some European countries could result in no growth for this year.

Friday, 2 April 2010

How have supermarkets continued to make profit in the recession?

I watched a really interesting programme by the ITV Tonight team on how supermarkets have continued to make huge profits despite the worst financial crisis in over 60 years. Well worth half an hour of your time!

Monday, 29 March 2010

Teaching S3 Business Management using homemade tomato ketchup!

In a previous life before I became a teacher, I used to work as a commis chef in various restaurants. I was actually going to train to be a chef before I decided to head off to University to do my Business degree. However, every now and again I still think I have the knack and so it was on Sunday afternoon, that with the sun shining, I opened the windows to let in the first fresh air of spring and set about making my own tomato ketchup courtesy of one of Jamie Oliver's recipes. This followed on from a successful attempt at making chilli-pepper chutney the previous week.

I headed off to Tescos and came back with the following:
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1/2 bulb of fennel
  • 1 stick of celery
  • Ginger
  • 1/2 fresh red chilli
  • Fresh basil
  • 1kg of red tomatoes
  • Red wine vinegar
I already had the olive oil, garlic, salt, cloves, black pepper and brown sugar that was needed to complete the masterpiece. 3 hours of cooking later and the picture at the top is what I had to show for my efforts. Approximately 350ml of homemade tomato ketchup!

And why do I tell you this.....

Today with my S3 Business Management, I was discussing different methods of production - Job, Batch and Flow. My attempt at homemade tomato ketchup was an obvious example of job production. The raw materials were good quality but expensive, I had to do all the tasks myself which took time and effort but the final product met with my exact requirements. Unfortunately, I don't have my receipt handy but the tomatoes themselves were £2.24. I imagine, everything included (minus my labour costs), the tomato ketchup probably cost me close to £4 to make. Products created by job production are expensive due to the labour intensive, unique aspects of them.

We discussed how much I would need to sell this individual bottle at to make a profit. £5, £6, £7 was shouted out. When asked who would pay that, no one offered and it was pointed out that a bottle of 350g Heinz Tomato Ketchup costs £1 to buy in Tesco.

So, if I decided to use the wonder of the internet and start selling my homemade tomato ketchup or chilli-pepper chutney online, how would I get my costs down to a level which would enable me to sell it at a reasonable price and start to make a profit. My brilliant S3 Business Management class immediately identified the need to make it in enough quantity to be able to buy my raw materials in bulk and thus bring the cost of them down by negotiating a discount with the suppliers.

Top Trivia from Heinz Ketchup website

Did you know that we use enough tomatoes to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool – EVERY day – to make enough tomato ketchup for all our fans?

So we started to look at Batch production - making batches of tomato ketchup using batches of red tomatoes or yellow tomatoes, chilli-pepper chutney using red chillis, green chillis, orange chillis etc.

We then looked at how we could manufacture the tomato ketchup using Flow production with everyone having a specific job, utilising technology to do much of the work e.g. blenders, and how this would enable us to drive down the costs of each individual jar of chilli-pepper chutney or tomato ketchup until we could make a decent profit.

We then used this to discuss the disadvantages of each of these methods - the obvious cost element of the Job Production but also the high initial costs of the machinery for Flow Production and the monotonous jobs of both Batch and Flow Production.

And that is how my Sunday afternoon making home made tomato-ketchup impacted on my S3 Business Management lesson the next day.