Sky-high costs prompt 20% of pubs to ditch Sky sports
The soaring cost of Sky satellite subscriptions has prompted 20% of pubs to abandon screening Sky sports over the past five years, claims the Association of Licensed Multiple RetailersRead the full article in the Observer >>
Scotish hotels buck economic chill The Scottish hotel sector has remained relatively buoyant despite the worsening economy and continues to attract new investors, according to property agency and consultancy Knight Frank. Its latest hotel review reveals that hotels in the £1m to £20m brackets are selling well in Scotland, with townhouses performing especially strongly. "Small boutique hotels in Scotland are attracting a lot of interest at present due to their lower operating costs and change-of-use potential," said partner David Reid. "Cities such as Edinburgh have really exploited this, with many townhouse properties now marketing their potential as both a hotel business and residential use. Scotland's hotel sector is still very active and there are many investors with cash reserves who are looking to capitalise on these opportunities." Notable sales from 2007 included Simpsons hotel in Aberdeen for more than £10m and the Glasgow Radisson SAS hotel in Edinburgh for around £68m. 16 August, Read the full article in The Herald >>
BAA sells airport properties to Arora Family Trust for £309m The British Airports Authority (BAA) yesterday sold a clutch of airport property interests to the Arora Family Trust for £309m. The portfolio was held by BAA's joint venture with Morley, the fund manager. BAA has meanwhile been approached by a number of potential bidders - including Britain's Manchester Airport Group - to buy Gatwick for up to £3b. The moves come in advance of a report from the Competition Commission due this week that could force the sale of at least one of BAA's three London airports and perhaps also one of its larger Scottish airports. BAA currently owns seven of the UK's airports. - 17 August, Read the full article in the Sunday Times >>
Scottish pub trade doubts Government's rising pub figures The pub trade is taking cold comfort from new government figures showing that Scotland now has more pubs than before the smoking ban of 2006. The Scottish government claims that the number of pub licences has risen by nine to 5,186 in 2007, roughly one for every 1000 people. But trade bodies say the figures obscure the fact that traditional locals are closing, especially in rural areas, and being replaced by urban bars. "There are whole villages where there are no pubs," said Paul Waterstone of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association. They also point out that some counted licences may be phantoms, as they are only renewed every three years and publicans retain licences after they shut up shop. Industry research suggests that 450 pubs have closed since the smoking ban, but there are no figures on new openings. Competition is also rising: off-licence numbers have soared to 6,232 and supermarkets now account for nearly half of all alcohol sales. Bar beer sales, on the other hand, are at their lowest level since the Depression of the 1930s. - 16 August, Read the full article in The Herald >>
Farmers fight pesticides ban they fear will boost food prices by 50% The UK government is backing the National Farmers' Union in Scotland and England in its fight to prevent a Europe-wide ban on up to 50 pesticides, or 15% of the chemicals used by British farmers. They warn that the ban on the pesticides - believed by the European Commission to be human and environmental health hazards - could add up to 50% to the cost of staple foods such as cereals, potatoes and fruit at a time when food inflation is at its highest for almost 30 years. Farmers fear that reduced yields will add 50% to the cost of grain, leading to increases of 15% on bread; 19% on milk, cheese and eggs; and 16% on meat. The proposals - agreed in June and due a second reading this autumn - were agreed by a majority of European Union farm ministers keen to move towards more organic production methods. The European Commission disputed farmers fears of reduced yields and increased costs and promised they would have time to adapt as any ban would not take effect for several years. - 17 August, Read the full article in Scotland on Sunday >>
By Angela Frewin
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