A couple of weeks ago I found myself on four flights in as many days. That gave me time to dig around in the business sections of the newspapers and so I stumbled across a very interesting chart on the state of retailers in the UK. The Times ran a small chart of the Britain’s ‘Top Ten fastest-growing retailers’. At number one was Aldi, but we’ve all heard about the rise and rise of this discount retailer. Number two was Waitrose, probably Britain’s premier supermarket, where the prices match the quality. At number three and four were Sports Direct and Primark, two other highly successful discount retailers. And here’s the odd thing. The fifth and sixth fastest growing retailers were Burberry and John Lewis. Both are upmarket operations, operating at the higher end of their respective markets. Indeed, British Home Stores – a classic middle market operation – has just been sold for £1. The inescapable conclusion is that the retail … [Read more...] about The death of the middle market could trigger a premium re-birth
Polish your sovereigns and break out the Burberry: the new Ford Focus ST has landed. And it’s angry. Set for a Paris Motor Show unveil, the newest iteration of Essex’s perennial supermarket donuting tool will now come with low-fat Beef, courtesy of a downsized 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but packing 250bhp. See more pics of the Ford Focus ST Ford hasn’t released performance stats, but we reckon that four-pot should be good for a 0-62mph time of just over six seconds - any less and it will irritate the Focus RS. A car you wouldn’t want to irritate… Still, with the ‘Tangerine Scream’ bronze body paint, the ST is, in the magnificently boorish history of fast Fords, no shrinking violet. You will notice it gets a loud, shouty face, with loud, shouty pointy bits and loud, shouty seats slathered with ST badges. This ST is just the icing on Ford’s Paris cake actually - it’s debuting the all-new … [Read more...] about New Ford Focus ST news – Official: new Ford Focus ST – 2010
Sometimes, you just want to run around the fields, screaming. We’ve got the Green Party hosting its annual conference in the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, not because it’s convenient or because it’s an especially eco-friendly building. But because it’s got the word ‘African’ in the title. And the Greens want a law which forces television companies to screen their party political broadcasts. Give me strength. Honestly, I’d rather watch Hollyoaks than this lot with their chunky jumpers and their fair-trade teeth. Then you’ve got the government. Did you know that since the Labour Party came to power in 1997, it has introduced 3,605 new laws? That’s nearly one a day. As a result, you are no longer able to disturb a pack of eggs unless instructed to do so by an authorised officer. Nor may you sell a game bird killed on Christmas Day. But while they are very good at bossing us about, they plainly … [Read more...] about Jeremy Clarkson on mopeds
Not so long ago, driving a Ferrari or a Porsche would have invited myriad accusations of being ‘a right tosser’. This was possibly fair enough, since the culture of the time said that anyone who took cars that seriously was probably a bit of a ‘saddo’. Porsche and Ferrari have always taken themselves terribly seriously. Porsche bangs on about ‘excellence’ and Ferrari about ‘passion’, as if they’re the guardians of the proper expression of these conceits of the human condition. But it’s all cant, really. Excellence is more important in the manufacture of synthetic heart valves, and passion manifests itself more properly in the bedroom. Attempting to express these things through one’s choice of car was perhaps indicative of a few problems in the trouser department. And how unimaginative was it, if you suddenly found yourself a bit flush, to go and buy a 911 or an F360? The 911 was like the Hugo Boss suit of the … [Read more...] about James May on people taking cars seriously
Bentley is one of those legendary manufacturers which manages to appeal to two extremes of the age spectrum – the young, hip, trendy urbanites and the older, discerning, traditional nobility. Think Soho and Sandringham, or Bangsar and Bukit Tunku, if you like. It’s trickier than you think, for you’re talking about a whole generation gap spanning several decades. How do you pander to both tastes, without losing the loyalty of either? Of course, prominent figures of Hollywood, MTV and the Premier League have collectively helped to put the marque on the map for the younger generation, although so few of the young can ever afford these cars. Those who can are right up there with royalty, the landed gentry and the old rich, and just as important where the market is concerned, because the two share a common factor – money. Lots and lots of it. The Crewe crew recognises this, and has duly responded. Its Continental series, comprising the GT, GTC and four-door Flying … [Read more...] about Bridging the generation gap: Bentley Continental GTC V8 and Mulsanne taken for a highway spin!