Court Guinness resurrects an old column he used to write in which he takes an opinionated and sometimes irreverent view of what he sees in the market place.
In this issue he looks back on 2018 and looks forwards to 2019 as a whole and shares his thoughts with us.
To say that 2018 has been a challenging year is one big understatement, many readers of Market Comment and other writings oof mine will know of the wholesale changes I have made in 2018 including a number of changes to this magazine. I know that many readers do appecreciate them though.
2018 has however been an excellent year for our business and generally speaking our businesses what 2019 will bring especially with regards to Brexit is anyone’s guess
The first thing to talk about this month is retail. Physical retail is going so badly wrong on so many levels. I blame some landlords for intransigent and not helping their tenants by sticking to the letter of the contract, some flexibility will go along a way. I blame some landlords for being too quick to go for a residential conversation. At the end of the day if a high street goes so does a community. Now that is a shame. I have written elsewhere about making retail an experience. I think retail as a business wants to do this however I do not believe they have buy in from the property people or the finance people! If retail can change for the better then it is better for everyone. I do see interesting opportunities for forward thinking retailers in 2019. 2018 has been a torrid time for retail and I year I think the sector would like to forget. Onwards and upwards!
While we talk about getting people through doors, pub landlords must stand up and take some stick from me this month. News has been reaching me of some hideous and in some cases unjustifiable rent increases recently. Again a pub is a part of a community as much as a retail unit. Pubs have had a tough time in recent years we can see this by the number of closures of pubs. Give your tenants a break! It will be worth it in the long run! The odd percentage point here or there, yes but 20% +? Computer says no!
I now move on to freelancers and independent contractors who are foaming at the mouth after the budget announcement that the tax system of off payroll working (IR35) will not be extended to the private sector just yet.
For many years IT contracting was my trade. That aside this industry has had since 1999 to clean up its act, to change its modus operandi and to move with the times. Writing this one day after the Autumn 2018 budget I have already seen so many contractors bleating on email and social media about this. The problem is that the industry does not want to change. This is a bad thing for projects up and down the country and some need to shape up or ship out!
Businesses have started to be affected by Brexit already and not just the headline grabbers that are prevalent especially in the automotive sector in the West Midlands but smaller businesses too. The Trade House had its own run in with Brexit and new rules in august that meant a complete technology migration on an exceedingly time frame! Examples of these events I predict will pick up pace and all businesses I believe will be affected. I have seen a drop in values of small foreign businesses owned by British ex-patriates large enough to make Manchester United football club’s fall from grace seem like a minor glitch! I predict that business values and deal values will soften in the next 12 months, especially if inward investment chains and supply chains are unduly compromised.
All however will not be lost if a keen marketplace with a can-do attitude to deal making emerges from Brexit. I look forward to seeing the application of intelligence and ingenuity assisting this. There is more than enough oof both qualities out there in the market place to make this feasible.
Aside of this negativity this September has been a lovely month aside of the negativity above. Its lovely to see the property development guys being so active in the run up to the festive season, deals regularly being struck and plans made revitalise properties previously unusable. I note a great deal valour going into these projects too with some developers clearly unafraid to push the boundaries—in a good way! I hope we see more this sense of adventure in years to come. It is actually a good thing for business as a whole and an excellent thing for the sector itself.
In spite of daylight hours drawing in November does look like it will be an excellent month for dealmaking with many people looking to get a large number of deal before the Christmas party and festive season starts with aplomb.
Please note that I am delighted to hear readers views about this column or any other aspect of this magazine.
I look forward to speaking with you all again on a regular basis in 2019
I should like to close by taking this opportunity to wish all our readers a very happy Christmas and a very happy and prosperous 2019.
Happy dealmaking !