Kamal Ahmed

Kamal Ahmed Business editor

Welcome to the Business Blog – my latest take on the major business stories and analysis of the facts behind the headlines

High Street branches are still important for Lloyds

  • 28 October 2014
  • From the section Business
Lloyds sign outside bank branch

Lloyds has announced that it is closing up to 7% of its bank branch network. With figures showing that transactions in branches across the sector are down as much as 30% since 2010, many judge that is a relatively low number.

The reason the number is not higher is simple. With threats approaching from digital payment systems such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet, traditional banks know that a presence in bricks-and-mortar is one advantage they have over their future internet rivals.

Lloyds has over 2,200 branches in the UK. It will close 200 branches and, interestingly, open 50.

It doesn't want to get out of branch banking. It wants a new type of branch, complete with iPads and facilitated internet discussion screens, enabling chats with staff who may not be physically in the same branch as the customer.

Seeing a customer face-to-face or via Skype makes "up-selling" easier - that is, encouraging someone to take on an insurance product or open a savings account. For that, branches are important.

Read full article High Street branches are still important for Lloyds

Asda faces mass legal action over equal pay for women

  • 24 October 2014
  • From the section Business
shopping trolley in front of Asda

Asda, the UK's second largest retailer, is facing a mass legal action by women who work in their stores.

The women claim they are not paid the same as male workers in the distribution warehouses - despite their jobs being of "equivalent value".

Read full article Asda faces mass legal action over equal pay for women

Tesco, what went wrong?

  • 22 October 2014
  • From the section Business
tesco

Apologies, but this is going to be a longer blog. Maybe "mega-blog" would be a better description.

I have spent the last few weeks speaking to many people who are closely involved in Tesco - or were.

Read full article Tesco, what went wrong?

Osborne cleared of interference in Co-op bank shambles

  • 20 October 2014
  • From the section Business
Co-op Bank sign

After many months of testy hearings - and many months of delay - I am told that the Treasury Select Committee is close to finalising its report on the shambolic attempt by Co-op Bank to take over 632 branches of Lloyds.

This £750m deal soon descended into chaos after it was revealed that the Co-op Bank was carrying a £1.5bn capital shortfall. The sorry tale became a byword for all that was wrong in the UK's financial services sector - hubris mixed with ignorance mixed with rank incompetence.

Read full article Osborne cleared of interference in Co-op bank shambles

Irish clampdown on tax avoidance will be followed by the UK

  • 14 October 2014
  • From the section Business
Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan holding the 2015 budget

Today the Irish government announced something very significant. The closure of the notorious "Double Irish" tax loophole.

The reason it's important is not because it is changing Ireland's tax regime, which it is.

Read full article Irish clampdown on tax avoidance will be followed by the UK

Eurostar sale could be last privatisation before the general election

  • 13 October 2014
  • From the section Business
Eurostar

This morning, George Osborne officially started the process for the sale of the government's 40% stake in Eurostar.

Now, it might be a criticism too far to suggest that the Treasury is hunting down the back of the sofa to see what loose change it can find.

Read full article Eurostar sale could be last privatisation before the general election

Farewell payday lenders, welcome loan sharks?

  • 9 October 2014
  • From the section Business
pounds and coins

This morning, the screw that is being slowly tightened on the payday loan industry was given another couple of swift turns.

The Competition and Markets Authority, the regulator that took over from the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission, has announced proposals to force payday loan companies to be more transparent about how they charge for short term credit.

Read full article Farewell payday lenders, welcome loan sharks?

Tesco: At last, some retail experience

  • 6 October 2014
  • From the section Business
Tesco sign

To what is likely to be at least a partial sigh of relief among investors, Tesco announced today two new members of its board.

One, at least, has retail experience (though of a most particular type).

Read full article Tesco: At last, some retail experience

Demis Hassabis - the artificial intelligence guru worth £400m to Google

  • 2 October 2014
  • From the section Business
Demis Hassabis

Chess-playing Londoner reveals his plans for computers "that think"

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending a few hours in the company of a man who, though not at the moment a household name, is likely to be one of the most important figures in the way the world of computer technology develops in the next 20 years.

Read full article Demis Hassabis - the artificial intelligence guru worth £400m to Google

Tesco, Sainsbury’s – the bad news just keeps coming

  • 1 October 2014
  • From the section Business
Tesco sign

Another morning, another slug of red ink on the stock market listings of Tesco and Sainsbury's. Both share prices are down as investors digest yet more bad news.

For Tesco, the mis-statement of its August profit forecast by as much as £250m just became a whole lot more serious.

Read full article Tesco, Sainsbury’s – the bad news just keeps coming

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About Kamal

Kamal joined the BBC after four and a half years as business editor of the Sunday Telegraph's award-winning team. He also helped launch the Telegraph's annual festival of business, the major conference for small and medium sized enterprises. Before that, Kamal worked at The Observer as head of news and earlier, as its political editor.

His love of journalism started at Leeds Student, Leeds University's student newspaper, where he first tasted life as a reporter in a basement office with no windows. Essential workplace furniture included half-drunk pints of beer with cigarettes stubbed out in them. In those days, you needed a strong constitution to be a volunteer hack.

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