{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"business","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/retail/mike-welch-set-to-drive-blackcircles-tyre-firm-into-asia-1-4344302","id":"1.4344302","articleHeadline": "Mike Welch set to drive Blackcircles tyre firm into Asia","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484956860000 ,"articleLead": "

Mike Welch, the founder of online tyre-fitter Blackcircles.com, is expanding the Borders business into Asia following its £50 million takeover by industry giant Michelin.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344301.1484913777!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mike Welch is embarking on a global expansion drive for the Blackcircles brand. Picture: Jane Barlow"} ,"articleBody": "

The Edinburgh-based entrepreneur, who last year moved into the fashion world by resurrecting the Atterley platform for independent boutiques, is flying out to Singapore in March to scope out the market as he eyes a potential global presence for Blackcircles, acquired by French group Michelin in 2015.

In an exclusive interview with The Scotsman, Welch said: “Part of the reason we sold the company to Michelin was because our objective over the coming ten years or so was to establish it globally.

“I was initially planning to do that with private equity money, but Michelin came along and said they could give us the investment as well as a platform to expand.”

READ MORE: Blackcircles bought by Michelin for £50m

Welch added: “Since they bought us we’ve working on how we internationalise.”

Peebles-based Blackcircles currently has a network of 2,500 independent garages across the UK, a figure that has almost doubled since the Michelin takeover, and Welch said he was aiming for a similar market presence in each of its new territories. The firm is targeting the entire Asia Pacific region, including Thailand and New Zealand, as part of its first foray overseas.

Welch said: “It’s early days, but the first phase is to go out to Asia to look at how we can develop the Blackcircles proposition over there. The timeframe from our visit in early March to actually seeing a Blackcircles in another geography will be about 12 months.

“I would expect it to be equivalent in coverage for each geography we enter. We’ve got an investment approach that gives us a fairly immediate coverage that represents what we’ve got in the UK.”

The entrepreneur left school at 16 to become a tyre fitter in Liverpool and launched his first tyre business in his teens before being headhunted by Kwik Fit and moving to Edinburgh to develop a website for the group. He also spent time in the US helping car giant Ford with its online strategy following its £1 billion acquisition of the Kwik Fit business.

READ MORE: Mike Welch resurrects fashion site Atterley

Last year he bought the intellectual property assets of Atterley after the online fashion brand fell into administration. The website aims to help small boutiques increase their sales in the face of tough competition on the high street and internet, where e-commerce giant Amazon has made a high-profile push into fashion.

Atterley had been backed by Sir Terry Leahy, the former Tesco boss who was also a major investor in Blackcircles.

When asked whether his expansion plans stop at Asia, Welch said: “We’ll just keep going. That’s the whole point. It’s going to be very exciting to be able to look back years down the line at a business that’s truly global.

“We’ll build it in a responsible way. The approach is quite smart because we’ll be working with partners in each region who know the local market to give us the best chance of success.”

Click here to ‘Like’ The Scotsman Business on Facebook

" ,"byline": {"email": "gareth.mackie@scotsman.com" ,"author": "GARETH MACKIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4344301.1484913777!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344301.1484913777!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Mike Welch is embarking on a global expansion drive for the Blackcircles brand. Picture: Jane Barlow","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mike Welch is embarking on a global expansion drive for the Blackcircles brand. Picture: Jane Barlow","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4344301.1484913777!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/personal-finance/that-midas-touch-can-prove-elusive-1-4344751","id":"1.4344751","articleHeadline": "That Midas touch can prove elusive","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484957116000 ,"articleLead": "

The fund management industry is coming under intense – and justifiable – scrutiny, says Gareth Shaw

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344750.1484934284!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Financial Conduct Authority says that small private investors are paying a high price for a service that does not result in higher returns. Picture: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

I’m talking about the fund management industry. When it comes to investing in funds you, broadly speaking, have two options: passive or tracker funds, which, as the name suggests, track markets for a low annual fee; and active funds, where you pay a premium price for an ‘investment expert’ to pick the stocks that will outperform the market.

Active fund managers justify their fees by saying they have the skill to pick tomorrow’s winning investments and secure you better returns. But their gleaming image of superior stock selection has been well and truly shattered by a damning report issued by the Financial Conduct Authority, which spent the last year investigating the industry.

The thrust of the FCA’s concerns was that a significant number of active fund managers are failing to beat the markets and, once you take into account the fees charged, investors are no better off than they would have been in tracker funds.

One of the reasons for this is an investment phenomenon known as “benchmark-hugging” or “closet tracking”. With many fund managers fearful that they’ll get their bets wrong amid particularly volatile markets, they are instead investing almost identically to a particular stock market benchmark. They settle for average returns rather than risking poor performance, but can get away with charging ten times the amount of a normal tracker fund because they’re still selecting funds. Apparently, there’s £109 billion sitting in these benchmark-hugging funds.

So how does it work in practice? If the stock market benchmark is, say, five per cent, some active managers might try and make ten per cent to justify their higher fees. However, chasing higher returns comes with risks, and in reality many managers aren’t taking those risks, instead opting for returns around the same level as the benchmark they’re trying to beat. The upshot for consumers – you’re paying for a service you’re not getting.

What’s more, despite more than 1800 companies offering investments to UK consumers, active funds don’t appear to offer investors much choice on price at all, as they all charge around one per cent a year, no matter if your investments rise or fall in value. The FCA says that small private investors are paying a high price that doesn’t result in higher returns.

The FCA’s report also said that fund managers have been enjoying consistently large profits over the years while their clients – you and I – have suffered disappointing investment performance.

In the next few months, the FCA could implement a number of new rules to get these companies to up their game – by making their costs clearer to consumers, ending hidden charges and imposing a stronger duty on fund managers to ensure they act in the best interests of clients. To me, that final point says it all – an industry that looks after trillions of pounds of our money has to be forced to act in our best interests.

Now I’m not saying investing is bad for your financial health, quite the opposite, in fact. At a time of record low returns on cash, taking a calculated risk over the long term provides far more potential for a bigger pot of savings than leaving your money sitting in a cash account. And, despite appearances, I don’t believe that all active funds, or their managers, are rotten. Some managers really do have that Midas touch to outperform the markets, and for certain styles of investing, such as generating an income, active funds may well be the best option.

The problem is that good active funds that consistently live up to their promises are rare, and it’s extremely difficult to know which ones will do it in the future. With the failures of this mammoth industry now under scrutiny and its reputation suffering an almighty dent, fund managers need to change – perhaps starting with a little less profit for them and a little more for us – or risk being labelled a rip-off forever.

Gareth Shaw is head of Which? Money Online

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4344750.1484934284!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344750.1484934284!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Financial Conduct Authority says that small private investors are paying a high price for a service that does not result in higher returns. Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Financial Conduct Authority says that small private investors are paying a high price for a service that does not result in higher returns. Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4344750.1484934284!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/sir-brian-souter-hits-out-over-airdrie-saving-bank-s-demise-1-4344856","id":"1.4344856","articleHeadline": "Sir Brian Souter hits out over Airdrie Saving Bank’s demise","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484952087000 ,"articleLead": "

TRANSPORT tycoon Sir Brian Souter has warned that other smaller financial businesses are under pressure in the wake of the news of the closure of Airdrie Savings Bank.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344855.1484952030!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sir Brian Souter is critical of financial regulators. Picture: contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

Souter, who provided funds of £1 million to the bank in 2010 to help it grow following the near collapse of RBS and Bank of Scotland, said he was “sad that a bank founded on old-fashioned family values is having to close its doors”.

“Along with a number of other Scottish business people, I believed Airdrie Savings Bank had a bright future serving the people of Scotland.

“Unfortunately our efforts to encourage the growth of Airdrie Savings Bank were defeated due to the intransigence of the Prudential Regulation Authority.

“I believe that credit unions and other small financial businesses are unfortunately facing similar challenges,” he added.

However, the Association of British Credit Unions Limited (ABCUL) yesterday said that a “thriving” credit union sector in Scotland was “evidence that local banking is still very much alive and well”.

Chief executive Mark Lyonette said almost 100 credit unions in Scotland are providing savings accounts and loans to more than 387,000 people. Last year, the sector’s deposits and lending grew by 8 per cent, and Scotland has the fourth highest level of credit union membership in Europe.

He said credit unions were working together to meet challanges and ensure a local banking option is open to Scottish consumers as part of a “healthy, diverse financial services sector”.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "PERRY GOURLEY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4344855.1484952030!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344855.1484952030!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Sir Brian Souter is critical of financial regulators. Picture: contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sir Brian Souter is critical of financial regulators. Picture: contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4344855.1484952030!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/retail/martin-flanagan-high-street-woes-a-portent-for-economy-1-4344832","id":"1.4344832","articleHeadline": "Martin Flanagan: High street woes a portent for economy","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484946837000 ,"articleLead": "

Terrible retail sales figures for December announced yesterday were a douche of cold water on an otherwise steady stream of largely positive economic data since the Brexit vote. The 1.9 per cent month-on-month slide in high street sales, far worse than the consensus City forecast for another 0.1 per cent fall after a 0.1 per cent fall in November, cannot be dressed up as anything other than bleak.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344831.1484946779!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "It was the biggest monthly retail sales fall in more than four and a half years. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

It was the biggest monthly retail sales fall in more than four and a half years, and could be a depressing foretaste of what many market bears feel willd be the story of 2017: higher prices and lack of real wage growth reducing disposable income and hitting consumer spending.

As consumer debt has largely kept the UK’s rickety economic show on the road in recent years it is a worrying portent. Extrapolating on the poor December performance, some soothsayers have also signed up could also play into the hands of those who believe in a situation of Brave New World Trumps Brexit, with a deeper future unfolding of robots doing our jobs and us all living and shopping online.

Shoppers spent merrily online last month – about £1bn a week, up 21 per cent on December 2015. One recent analysis estimated that click shopping will wipe out 50 per cent of town centre stores by 2030.

As forecasts go, that may prove a trifle apocalyptic, but the direction of travel for the high street seems clear and it is away from bricks and mortar.

Virtually every retailer these days brings out eye-catching online revenues alongside their main stores’ performance. Admittedly you can say that those double-digit, sometimes very high double-digit, are coming from much lower bases than the quaint historical stores’ business model.

But even when retail online gradually creates a rod for its own back via tougher comparator figures, it looks to be the future when viewed in decades rather than the five-to-ten year timespan of Brexit and Trumpism.

However, the short term is likely to see some bumps in the road as well.

The vacuous corporate phrase “best-in-class” really has reached its sell-by date as parroted by auto-pilot chief executives. The phrase has achieved the irritatingly empty status that “iconic” now has in other areas of life.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "MARTIN FLANAGAN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4344831.1484946779!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344831.1484946779!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "It was the biggest monthly retail sales fall in more than four and a half years. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "It was the biggest monthly retail sales fall in more than four and a half years. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4344831.1484946779!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/tech/scots-video-conferencing-firm-focuses-in-on-expansion-1-4344834","id":"1.4344834","articleHeadline": "Scots video conferencing firm focuses in on expansion","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484942765000 ,"articleLead": "

AN online video conferencing platform set up four years ago has been awarded a six-figure grant to help create up to 24 jobs over the next 18 months.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344833.1484942708!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "In September, the company moved from its base in Strathclyde Business Centre, Motherwell, to Glasgows Templeton Building, giving it additional space to facilitate its growth. Picture: Wikimedia"} ,"articleBody": "

Bosses at Odro, which has secured a regional selective assistance (RSA) award through Scottish Enterprise, also hope the investment will ramp up revenues and propel the current client base of about 30 businesses into the hundreds over the next year or so.

Director Bill Scouller, who set up the video conferencing and business collaboration platform from his home in West Lothian in 2012, said: “Our aim is to be turning over £2 million in two years’ time and the RSA grant helps us get into a position where that is going to be more than achievable.

“No matter how brilliant your idea, it is tough starting an IT business, and without advice from Business Gateway and the funding and support from Scottish Enterprise we would not have survived.”

Scouller, the former chief executive of Glasgow Solicitor’s Property Centre, initially designed the software to help with dispute resolution. Its full potential became clear after a law firm, which specialised in personal injury claims, asked to use it to hook up with clients unable to travel.

Clients, which include Cambridge University Press and accountancy practice French Duncan, use Odro’s technology to speak to clients and employees throughout the UK – and further afield – on a daily basis.

In September, the company moved from its base in Strathclyde Business Centre, Motherwell, to Glasgow’s Templeton Building, giving it additional space to facilitate its growth.

Paul McIlvenny of Business Gateway Lanarkshire, which has helped the business expand, said: “Bill has set up a company that is scalable, has international appeal and, as far as possible, aims to recruit young graduates to help drive the business forward.

“Over the past year, he has received website development support, assistance with intellectual property rights, advice on sources of funding and we have also signposted him to other oganisations that can help the business grow.”

Scouller added: “Unlike commercial video conferencing apps we are a business product. There is no plug-in or download, all people have to do is click on the virtual meeting room that is integrated on to our client’s website.”

Ryan McCabe become the firm’s managing director with Marc Beeby technical director.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4344833.1484942708!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344833.1484942708!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "In September, the company moved from its base in Strathclyde Business Centre, Motherwell, to Glasgows Templeton Building, giving it additional space to facilitate its growth. Picture: Wikimedia","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "In September, the company moved from its base in Strathclyde Business Centre, Motherwell, to Glasgows Templeton Building, giving it additional space to facilitate its growth. Picture: Wikimedia","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4344833.1484942708!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/glasgow-lays-foundations-for-15-000-new-homes-by-2022-1-4344423","id":"1.4344423","articleHeadline": "Glasgow lays foundations for 15,000 new homes by 2022","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484919155000 ,"articleLead": "

More than 15,000 homes will be built in Glasgow over the next five years as the city moves away from a legacy of depopulation.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344421.1484919098!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "More than 15,000 new homes will be built in Glasgow in the next five years. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL"} ,"articleBody": "

A housing strategy signed off this week by the local authority will see the continuation of individual area regeneration programmes as well as a commitment to maintain and improve existing stock.

Vacant land will be identified for future development as planned transport upgrades take effect, with 15 sites released for social housing.

Scotland’s largest city has underwent a significant transformation since the turn of the century, with numerous private developments in the city centre and west end, and significant regeneration projects in outlying estates such as Easterhouse, Oatlands and Dalmarnock.

More than 30 per cent of tower blocks in Glasgow have been demolished in the last 10 years, with new developments focused on low rise accommodation.

It was also announced this week that plans to build 1600 homes at Robroyston could now proceed after the council agreed a £10m funding deal for a new railway station in the area.

Due to open in 2019, the station will be the 60th in the city. Edinburgh has just eight in comparison.

READ MORE: Easterhouse the latest Glasgow district to be transformed

Council leader Frank McAveety said the housing strategy would deliver “affordable homes in sustainable communities”.

He added: “Our homes are undoubtedly one of the biggest contributors to our quality of life, and through this strategy, we aim to ensure that the people of Glasgow are able to find the best and most suitable housing they can.”

The most ambitious project in the city is a £250m plan to regenerate Sighthill, the estate recently profiled in a BBC documentary.

Signed off last year, it has been hailed as the biggest project of its kind outside of London.

The area previously struggled to attract new tenants despite being a short walk from Buchanan Street.

A mixture of high-quality private and affordable housing to rent, a new school campus, student accommodation and sports facilities will be built over the next four years.

“Sighthill has a great location, very close to the city centre and to Glasgow’s major road and rail networks,” said a spokesman for Glasgow City Council.

“However, despite this central location, the Forth and Clyde Canal, the railway infrastructure and the M8 serve as barriers to getting in and out of the city centre easily. The regeneration will reconnect Sighthill to the city centre and neighbouring communities.”

It was designated one of eight Transformational Regeneration Areas (TRAs) in the city, which the local authority, housing associations and Scottish Government identified as priorities for large-scale regeneration.

There are more than 297,000 households in Glasgow, according to council figures, of which 44 per cent are owner-occupied and 36 per cent are rented from housing associations. A further 20 per cent are rented privately.

Glasgow’s population rose to over 606,000 in 2015 and is expected to continue climbing, albeit at a slower pace than other major UK cities.

Around the time of the Second World War there were 1.1 million living in the city. That had fallen to 578,000, a record low in the modern era, by 2001.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4344421.1484919098!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344421.1484919098!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "More than 15,000 new homes will be built in Glasgow in the next five years. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "More than 15,000 new homes will be built in Glasgow in the next five years. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4344421.1484919098!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4344422.1484919099!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344422.1484919099!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Easterhouse, in the east end of Glasgow, has been substantially rebuilt in the past 15 years. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Easterhouse, in the east end of Glasgow, has been substantially rebuilt in the past 15 years. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4344422.1484919099!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/markets-economy/retailers-suffer-terrible-december-as-sales-slump-1-4344438","id":"1.4344438","articleHeadline": "Retailers suffer ‘terrible’ December as sales slump","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484918609000 ,"articleLead": "

Retail sales fell at the fastest rate in nearly five years last month, as shoppers spent less on clothing, footwear and household goods in the run-up to Christmas.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344437.1484918690!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alan Clarke at Scotiabank described the sales figures as 'terrible'. Picture: Ian Georgeson"} ,"articleBody": "

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said sales fell 1.9 per cent month-on-month in December, compared to a 0.1 per cent fall in November. Economists had been forecasting a drop of just 0.1 per cent.

The fall marked the biggest monthly decline since April 2012, when sales also dropped by 1.9 per cent.

On an annual basis, the overall rate of retail sales growth was 4.3 per cent, but that still marked a slowdown from 5.7 per cent in November.

The pound tumbled on the news, falling 0.4 per cent against the dollar to $1.228, and 0.2 per cent against the euro to €1.154.

The statistics agency said the largest contribution to the monthly decline came from non-food stores, which covers department stores, clothing and household goods.

READ MORE: Inflation soars to 1.6% as weak pound pushes up prices

Alan Clarke, economist at Scotiabank, described the figures as “terrible”.

He added: “UK retail sales volumes were terrible in December... much worse than expected.

“We know from the CPI data earlier in the week that prices rose more than expected in December and now we also know that sales volumes fell. This is likely to be the theme for the rest of the year – higher prices will reduce disposable income and hurt consumer spending growth.”

It came as average store prices rose for the first time since June 2014, increasing 0.9 per cent year-on-year, and 0.1 per cent when excluding fuel.

Earlier this week, the ONS said the annual rate of inflation jumped to a two-and-a-half-year high of 1.6 per cent in December, squeezing families with higher price tags for food, petrol and air fares.

But the agency noted that the three-month trend was still showing underlying sales growth of 1.2 per cent compared to the preceding quarter.

ONS senior statistician Kate Davies said: “Retailers saw a strong end to 2016 with sales in the final quarter up 5.6 per cent on the same period last year, although the amount bought fell between November and December once the effects of Christmas are removed.

“There were some notably strong figures from smaller retailers, in particular butchers, who reported a significant boost in sales in the run-up to Christmas.”

Online retail sales also grew by a whopping 21.3 per cent compared with the same month in 2015, but dropped 5.3 per cent on a monthly basis.

It meant that online shopping accounted for about 15 per cent of all sales in December, with average weekly spending reaching £1 billion.

Ian Gilmartin, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays, said it was important not to focus “too heavily” on the monthly dip in retail sales.

“This partly reflects the industry’s evolving approach to Black Friday and the period after it, as Christmas spending is now spread over a longer period,” he said.

“It doesn’t really matter to a retailer whether they generate revenue in November or December. What they care about is their overall performance, and this data shows that the net result for the final quarter was much more impressive this year.”

Click here to ‘Like’ The Scotsman Business on Facebook

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "KALYEENA MAKORTOFF"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4344437.1484918690!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344437.1484918690!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alan Clarke at Scotiabank described the sales figures as 'terrible'. Picture: Ian Georgeson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alan Clarke at Scotiabank described the sales figures as 'terrible'. Picture: Ian Georgeson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4344437.1484918690!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/financial/hsbc-to-pay-4m-over-unreasonable-debt-collection-1-4344332","id":"1.4344332","articleHeadline": "HSBC to pay £4m over ‘unreasonable’ debt collection","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484914130000 ,"articleLead": "

HSBC has agreed to stump up £4 million to pay back customers subjected to “unreasonable” debt collection practices following a regulatory probe.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344331.1484914198!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "HSBC said it would be contacting customers who are due a refund. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said that the bank has voluntarily agreed to set up a redress scheme for customers who were left out of pocket after paying debt collection charges imposed by HFC Bank and John Lewis Financial Services (JLFS), both part of HSBC.

The regulator said that, between 2003 and 2009, customers of HFC and JLFS who fell into arrears were referred to the firms’ nominated solicitors. However, on referral, the solicitors added 16.4 per cent of the balance to the account as a “debt collection charge”.

This was deemed unreasonable by the Office of Fair Trading in 2010 as it did not reflect the actual costs of collecting the debt.

About 6,700 customers, the majority belonging to HFC, paid the additional charge prior to 2010 and are potentially entitled to redress.

The FCA also identified certain customers where HFC had miscalculated the interest payable on their loan. HSBC has identified about 350 customer accounts that were affected by this error and has committed to repay the overcharged interest back to them.

In total, HSBC will fork out £4m in redress and, for each group of customers, the lender will also pay 8 per cent interest per year.

The FCA added that the banking giant will proactively contact all affected customers with offers of redress.

A spokesman for HSBC said: “This is a historical issue, dating back to the period between 2003 and 2009.

“We have revisited the debt collection charge and as a result a small number of HFC and JLFS customers may be due a refund. We will be directly contacting these customers shortly.”

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "RAVENDER SEMBHY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4344331.1484914198!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344331.1484914198!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "HSBC said it would be contacting customers who are due a refund. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "HSBC said it would be contacting customers who are due a refund. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4344331.1484914198!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/markets-economy/steven-todd-how-will-brexit-affect-construction-1-4344069","id":"1.4344069","articleHeadline": "Steven Todd: How will Brexit affect construction?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484913600000 ,"articleLead": "

The forecasts for the construction industry over the next two years are a bit of a mixed bag, primarily as a result of the ongoing Brexit debate and forthcoming negotiations.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344067.1484902805!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Steven Todd says the commercial and industrial sectors are likely to 'bear the brunt' of Brexit uncertainty. Picture: Alan Richardson"} ,"articleBody": "

Construction activity in the UK is expected to remain broadly flat in 2017 and 2018, but drilling down in to the sector shows potential growth in infrastructure and education with reductions in sectors such as commercial offices and industrial factories.

Since the EU referendum last summer, the level of activity within the sector has remained positive, primarily due to projects being signed off 12 to 18 months before the referendum. As these projects all come on line, the level of activity during the early part of 2017 is likely to remain positive.

READ MORE: Builders encouraged by record for housing activity

However, as we go through to the second half of 2017, there is likely to be a significant difference in the activity levels within the sector, as commercial offices and industrial factories bear the brunt of the Brexit uncertainty. It is generally accepted that projects relating to infrastructure and education – which are either publicly funded or in regulated sectors – should fair better.

Private house building so far has not been affected by the effects of Brexit and is expected to have risen by 2 per cent in 2016 and remain flat in 2017 before a 1.5 to 2 per cent fall in 2018.

Forecasts of reductions in both UK economic growth and real wage growth both weigh on the sector. Recent falls in the value of sterling will also add a further strain to household incomes, which will add to the impact on the sector.

With the upcoming Brexit negotiations, it is vital that the government focuses on reducing uncertainty for the private sector, sustaining the housing sector and ensuring delivery of education construction and major infrastructure projects already in the pipeline.

As we keep hearing in the press, Britain is open for business, so it is vital that government policy continues to reassure and encourage investment.

• Steven Todd is a partner and construction sector expert at EQ Chartered Accountants

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "STEVEN TODD"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4344067.1484902805!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344067.1484902805!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Steven Todd says the commercial and industrial sectors are likely to 'bear the brunt' of Brexit uncertainty. Picture: Alan Richardson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Steven Todd says the commercial and industrial sectors are likely to 'bear the brunt' of Brexit uncertainty. Picture: Alan Richardson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4344067.1484902805!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/retail/mixed-numbers-at-fashion-chain-bonmarche-1-4344174","id":"1.4344174","articleHeadline": "Mixed numbers at fashion chain Bonmarche","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484909429000 ,"articleLead": "

Sales at womenswear retailer Bonmarche edged up in the third quarter as the retailer opted for fewer discounts over the festive trading period.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344173.1484909372!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Bonmarche figures cover the period until Christmas Eve. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

The retailer said like-for-like store sales rose 0.8 per cent in the 13 weeks to 24 December after the firm said it took a “less promotional stance” in the third quarter. Total sales over the period rose 3.3 per cent.

But the group added that like-for-like store sales dropped 3.4 per cent in the five weeks to Christmas Eve, while online revenue plummeted 14.3 per cent.

Boss Helen Connolly said the firm is on track to meet profit expectations for the full year of between £5 million and £7m.

However, she also flagged lacklustre online revenue and uncertain trading conditions.

She said: “Given the backdrop of the current trading environment, our third quarter store sales were satisfactory, particularly in light of the business still being in the early stages of its turnaround. The online performance was poor, and this continues to be a key area of focus.

“The product gross margin for the quarter was 2.2 per cent higher than for the corresponding period… due to a lower level of promotional activity than in the previous year.”

Connolly, who took up the role last year, added there remains a “degree of uncertainty” regarding trading conditions on the high street.

Nick Bubb, independent retailing analyst and consultant, said: “The update today from the struggling Bonmarche fashion chain for the 13 weeks to 24 Dec is a bit late in the day, but they would have said something by now if things were off course and investors will be relieved to see that there is no profit warning.”

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" ,"byline": {"email": "businessdesk@scotsman.com" ,"author": "RAVENDER SEMBHY and SCOTT REID"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4344173.1484909372!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344173.1484909372!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Bonmarche figures cover the period until Christmas Eve. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Bonmarche figures cover the period until Christmas Eve. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4344173.1484909372!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/search-on-for-most-entrepreneurially-minded-scot-1-4344162","id":"1.4344162","articleHeadline": "Search on for most entrepreneurially-minded Scot","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484908797000 ,"articleLead": "

LEARNING for Life Saltire Fellowship could be a game-changing opportunity.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344161.1484908740!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sandy Kennedy, Paul Reynolds, Mark Baird at Gin 71C"} ,"articleBody": "

The award-winning Diageo Learning for Life Saltire Fellowship programme with Entrepreneurial Scotland, has launched a search to find Scotland’s most ambitious and entrepreneurially-minded individual from the licensed trade to secure a fully-funded place on Entrepreneurial Scotland’s prestigious Saltire Fellowship Leadership Development Programme.

Widely-regarded as the premier international learning opportunity for ambitious individuals, the Saltire Fellowship is ideally-suited for someone who is ready to take the next step in their career and to transform the business they work in.

READ MORE: Scot aims to do first solo Jordan trail trek for charity

Established in 2010, The Saltire Fellowship has an enviable track record with more than 100 individuals successfully completing the rigorous programme. They include inspiring high potential individuals from a wide range of sectors including the drinks industry, tech, life sciences, Government and the third sector.

The value to the successful candidate is more than £30,000 worth of intensive leadership development in a dynamic learning environment in the USA and Scotland, including a programme of visits to leading businesses in Silicon Valley.

Led by Entrepreneurial Scotland in partnership with Babson College in Boston, USA – the top rated business US business school for entrepreneurship - and Strathclyde Business School at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, which was named UK Business School of the Year by the Times Higher Education.

The Saltire Fellowship will be fully-funded by the award-winning Diageo Learning for Life programme. The six month, world class leadership development programme is designed to grow and connect the talent driving the Scottish economy.

Mark Baird, Head of Alcohol in Society Diageo GB said; “At Diageo we understand the importance of giving high potential individuals the right opportunity at the right moment in their careers. This is a time of unprecedented change for the drinks industry so it has never been more important for the leaders in our sector to learn from the best and be equipped to grow their businesses.

“Entrepreneurial Scotland, through the Saltire Fellowship, offers candidates a truly world class experience to become more entrepreneurial and to build a highly prized international network of connections and support that will last a lifetime. I urge everyone who is passionate about working in the licensed trade in Scotland to explore this amazing once in a lifetime opportunity to take your career and your business to a new level.”

READ MORE: Top athletes promote positive coaching

Entrepreneurial Scotland’s Chief Executive, Sandy Kennedy said; “I know how transformative the Saltire Fellowship has been for both individuals and the businesses they work in. The food and drink sector is hugely important to Scotland and we are delighted to be working with Diageo Learning for Life to identify someone who can seize this opportunity to take the business they work in to another level.

“Our team is keen to hear from anyone who thinks it might be right for them. Get in touch – this could be the call or email that truly changes your life.”

Les Charm, Senior Lecturer, Academic Division: Entrepreneurship at Babson said: “At Babson we make you think big and this programme is designed to change people’s lives by helping them acquire new skills and mind steps in order that they and their companies move forward.”

Eleanor Shaw, Head of the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Vice Dean (External Engagement and Entrepreneurship) at Strathclyde Business School, said:

“At Strathclyde Business School, we understand the importance of supporting high potential individuals to identify and exploit the right opportunity at the right moment in their careers. The Saltire Fellowship offers candidates a truly world class experience to become more entrepreneurial and to build a highly prized international network of connections and support that will last a lifetime.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ALISTAIR MUNRO"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4344161.1484908740!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344161.1484908740!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Sandy Kennedy, Paul Reynolds, Mark Baird at Gin 71C","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sandy Kennedy, Paul Reynolds, Mark Baird at Gin 71C","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4344161.1484908740!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/farming/end-turf-wars-over-post-brexit-policy-urges-mike-rumbles-1-4344033","id":"1.4344033","articleHeadline": "End turf wars over post-Brexit policy, urges Mike Rumbles","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484900263000 ,"articleLead": "

An independent group of “relevant stakeholders” should be set up immediately to start planning how agricultural policy in Scotland should develop in the post-Brexit world, the Scottish Parliament decided yesterday.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344032.1484900207!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mike Rumbles urged Holyrood and Westminster to work together 'responsibly'. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

And a call was made for turf wars brewing over who controlled post-Brexit farm policy and levels of support funding to be set to one side – and not to hinder the serious business of drawing up the fundamental aims of such a future strategy.

Speaking at a debate on the future of funding for rural development, Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles said that it was crucial that there was cross-party co-operation to ensure that moves were taken to draw up a set of principles which were right for Scotland’s rural areas.

READ MORE: Farming industry anger after PM signals single market exit

Rumbles said: “I have spoken to many organisations concerned by the lack of preparation being done to secure this funding; many agree that this is the correct way to proceed. It is entirely up to the Scottish and UK governments to act responsibly, work together, and take this initiative forward as soon as possible.”

He added that having these core principles agreed in advance would allow any new policy to be introduced both speedily and appropriately when the time arose.

Rumbles said that while his party stood for Scotland in the UK and the UK in Europe, measures had to be put in place, adding: “Otherwise it will spell disaster for our rural communities who depend on this support.”

The parliament also voted to support a Labour amendment that called on the UK government to work with the devolved governments to ensure that the differing needs of all of devolved nations were met.

It also supported a call requesting that devolved powers over policy should not be centralised at Westminster and that powers repatriated from the EU should be devolved in line with the Scotland Act 1998 with the aim of creating a level playing field between all regions of the UK.

• Speaking earlier in the day at the launch of Scotland’s draft climate change plan in the parliament, environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham revealed she would press ahead with proposals to introduce measures to make soil testing compulsory for farmers. She also announced plans to restore 250,000 hectares of degraded peatlands.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "bhenderson@farming.co.uk" ,"author": "BRIAN HENDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4344032.1484900207!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344032.1484900207!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Mike Rumbles urged Holyrood and Westminster to work together 'responsibly'. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mike Rumbles urged Holyrood and Westminster to work together 'responsibly'. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4344032.1484900207!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/farming/holyrood-s-farming-loan-scheme-set-to-close-today-1-4344023","id":"1.4344023","articleHeadline": "Holyrood’s farming loan scheme set to close today","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484899394000 ,"articleLead": "

The 2016 National Basic Payment Support Scheme – the loan scheme underwritten by the Scottish Government that has paid out roughly 80 per cent of monies due to individual businesses under the main common agricultural policy farm support scheme – closes today.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344022.1484899534!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "NFU Scotland policy chief Jonnie Hall said farmers needed a clear timetable for outstanding payments. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

The scheme was introduced last November to ensure that funds reached producers in the face of on-going problems with the new IT system, following the near-collapse of the entire rural economy when 2015 funds were still not delivered in the spring of last year.

Announcing today’s closure, the Scottish Government said that the move would allow resources to be focused on completing the task of processing the full 2016 basic payment scheme (BPS) and greening claims.

READ MORE: Fresh fiasco as farm loan offers use wrong information

The loan scheme was hailed at its launch as a “hugely valuable and welcome” injection of cash into the country’s rural economy by NFU Scotland.

However, the union said yesterday that while it welcomed the news that the focus would now be on processing full payments, farmers urgently required a clear statement on when that process would be completed.

“For those who have taken up the loan scheme, it would give them a realistic expectation of when the balance payments [worth approximately 20 percent of their claim] will be made,” said the union’s policy chief, Jonnie Hall.

He added that movement on actual payments would also be of huge significance to those who, for whatever reason, had not taken advantage of the loan.

“For them, the full value of their BPS and greening payment is outstanding, making a clear timetable invaluable to their business,” Hall said.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BRIAN HENDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4344022.1484899534!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344022.1484899534!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "NFU Scotland policy chief Jonnie Hall said farmers needed a clear timetable for outstanding payments. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "NFU Scotland policy chief Jonnie Hall said farmers needed a clear timetable for outstanding payments. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4344022.1484899534!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/media-leisure/cameron-house-reveals-plans-for-lochside-terrace-revamp-1-4344017","id":"1.4344017","articleHeadline": "Cameron House reveals plans for lochside terrace revamp","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484898019000 ,"articleLead": "

Five-star resort Cameron House has revealed plans for phase two of its ongoing multi-million-pound renovation, including a major new terrace overlooking Loch Lomond.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344016.1484898478!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The revamp at Cameron House is due for completion in May. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

Architecture firm 3DReid has been appointed to manage the design and build of the terrace, which will act as both an alfresco bar area and an outdoor events space.

READ MORE: Cameron House hotel sold for second time in a year

The terrace is being created as part of a £1 million refurbishment of the resort, which recently invested £3m in phase one of its revamp, focusing on its food and drink offering.

Resort director Andy Roger said: “The terrace will bring an exciting new dimension to our offering.”

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SCOTT REID"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4344016.1484898478!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344016.1484898478!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The revamp at Cameron House is due for completion in May. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The revamp at Cameron House is due for completion in May. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4344016.1484898478!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/management/small-firms-in-scotland-wary-over-donald-trump-s-impact-1-4344013","id":"1.4344013","articleHeadline": "Small firms in Scotland wary over Donald Trump’s impact","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484897208000 ,"articleLead": "

Scottish SME leaders have taken a much more negative view of key political events than the rest of the UK, emphasising existing contrasts with the rest of the country, a new study has revealed.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344012.1484897818!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Almost a third of small firms in Scotland fear Donald Trump will have a negative effect on their business. Picture: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Serviced office operator Citibase said its latest business confidence index, which covers 1,100 decision-makers in the SME sector, found that 18 per cent of the UK total believed Donald Trump becoming US president, with his inauguration scheduled for today, would have a negative effect on their business. However, the figure jumped to 29 per cent among the Scottish cohort.

READ MORE: Donald Trump lands in Washington DC ahead of being sworn in

The divide was also clear regarding Brexit, with only 6 per cent of Scottish SMEs believing the vote to leave Europe would have a positive effect on staff morale, as opposed to nearly three times that amount in the rest of the UK.

It comes after it was revealed earlier this week that Scotland’s economic growth is still falling behind the UK’s, with a GDP increase of 0.2 per cent in the third quarter of 2016 just a third of that experienced by the UK in the same period.

READ MORE: Scots economy ‘lags behind UK’ in latest economic data

Additionally, the number of people in Scotland out of work jumped by 11,000 to 139,000 in the three months to November last year, while falling to a ten-year low across the rest of the UK.

Citibase chief executive Steve Jude described 2016 as “a year of significant political change with the UK Brexit vote followed by a Donald Trump US election win”.

He added: “No one can predict the future, however with all this political uncertainty, it is unlikely a business would sign up to an office for the long term. These SMEs crave agility to help manage risk and costs, allowing them to scale up and down easily in these fascinating times.”

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "EMMA NEWLANDS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4344012.1484897818!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344012.1484897818!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Almost a third of small firms in Scotland fear Donald Trump will have a negative effect on their business. Picture: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Almost a third of small firms in Scotland fear Donald Trump will have a negative effect on their business. Picture: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4344012.1484897818!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/financial/martin-flanagan-others-set-to-follow-hsbc-in-eu-migration-1-4344009","id":"1.4344009","articleHeadline": "Martin Flanagan: Others set to follow HSBC in EU migration","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484896447000 ,"articleLead": "

The problem with second-guessing bankers is that conscious inscrutability is in the DNA.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344008.1484896557!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Martin Flanagan believes other banks will follow HSBC in shipping significant numbers of workers to the EU following Theresa May's 'hard Brexit'. Picture: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Even if they are worried about something, they cannot fully let on in case it translates as uncertainty, and uncertainty and people’s money are not natural bedmates.

But my guess is that HSBC boss Stuart Gulliver will not be the only one breaking cover soon with plans to ship a relatively significant number of workers to the EU following Theresa May’s clear outline of her Brexit plans for Britain: no membership of the single market, no jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and no freedom of movement.

READ MORE: Brexit: Warning of 232,000 finance sector job losses

The PM does not seek for Britain to become a member of the so-called European Economic Area (like Norway) because it comes with the prerequisite of freedom of movement. She does not want us to be a member of the European customs union (like Turkey) because although it would give us control of our borders we would not have the freedom to conclude trade deals of our own with other parts of the world in an unlikely new imperial Britannica.

That would suggest May would like to have some sort of associate membership of the customs union – the a la carte menu as the Europeans dismiss it or having our gateau and eating it if you prefer Boris Johnson’s language.

Bankers could be forgiven for thinking it is looking like a nebulous dog’s breakfast, and decide to make their plans like HSBC accordingly. It took the EU more than seven years to conclude a trade deal with Canada, and there was goodwill on both sides. And Britain is going to conclude one in two years from when Article 50 is launched this March, plus another two years, say, of transitional arrangements to smooth the way? Looks a long-shot.

READ MORE: HSBC opts to retain head office in UK

Banks might just decide too long a shot, and shift jobs to ensure at least a goodly proportion of their business survives in the EU whatever the upshot of talks.

It will be particularly interesting to see what the big US banks in the City of London do. I don’t believe they can take the chance on a stunningly good trade deal for the UK with the EU. It might happen. But bankers are conservative creatures and operate as a herd (sub-prime lending, Libor-rigging etc). They might feel Gulliver at HSBC has it right.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "mflanagan@scotsman.com" ,"author": "MARTIN FLANAGAN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4344008.1484896557!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344008.1484896557!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Martin Flanagan believes other banks will follow HSBC in shipping significant numbers of workers to the EU following Theresa May's 'hard Brexit'. Picture: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Martin Flanagan believes other banks will follow HSBC in shipping significant numbers of workers to the EU following Theresa May's 'hard Brexit'. Picture: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4344008.1484896557!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/financial/aviva-merges-uk-insurance-operations-in-new-shake-up-1-4344005","id":"1.4344005","articleHeadline": "Aviva merges UK insurance operations in new shake-up","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484895611000 ,"articleLead": "

Life and pensions heavyweight Aviva is bringing together its UK life and general insurance businesses in a shake-up that also sees the departure of its European boss.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344004.1484895769!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Aviva chief Mark Wilson insisted the group was 'growing in the UK'. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

The group revealed that Andy Briggs will be promoted from head of its UK life operations to chief executive of the merged insurance division, covering life, general and health insurance. Briggs was formerly chief executive of Friends Life, which Aviva acquired in 2015.

The restructure will also see Maurice Tulloch – currently executive chairman of global general insurance – become chief executive of international insurance, heading up the group’s insurance operations in France, Canada, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Poland, Turkey and India.

As a result of the changes, European boss David McMillan, who is also chairman of the global health insurance division, has chosen to leave the group.

READ MORE: Aviva hikes dividend as first-half profits rise

Aviva Investors, Aviva Asia and the firm’s digital businesses will remain unchanged under the overhaul, which comes as Aviva is making a digital push to offer a range of life and general insurance products online. It has also been pulling out of some overseas markets in recent years.

A spokesman for the company said there is “no news on jobs today” following the decision to merge its three insurance arms in the UK.

Aviva’s general insurance division has major call centres in Perth, Norwich and York, while the life business has key sites in Bristol, Norwich, Sheffield and York. The health insurance arm has call centres in Eastleigh and Sheffield.

Group chief executive Mark Wilson insisted the firm was “growing in the UK”.

He said: “Aviva is entering a new phase in its transformation. We have fixed the balance sheet, focused the business, and turned the operating performance around. The business is developing rapidly.

“We see significant opportunities to differentiate our business in the UK post-Brexit. We like the UK, we are investing in the UK, and we are growing in the UK.

“Our priorities are to continue to deepen our position in our home UK market with our 16 million customers, and to continue to grow in our core international markets to diversify and strengthen Aviva.”

Briggs’ previous roles have included acting as chief executive of Scottish Widows, heading Lloyds Banking Group’s life arm and leading Prudential’s retirement income unit.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "sreid@scotsman.com" ,"author": "SCOTT REID"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4344004.1484895769!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4344004.1484895769!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Aviva chief Mark Wilson insisted the group was 'growing in the UK'. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Aviva chief Mark Wilson insisted the group was 'growing in the UK'. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4344004.1484895769!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/royal-mail-letters-arm-feels-impact-of-brexit-concerns-1-4342630","id":"1.4342630","articleHeadline": "Royal Mail letters arm feels impact of Brexit concerns","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484895105000 ,"articleLead": "

Business worries over Brexit sharply dented letter mailing in the nine months to Christmas as companies pulled a lot of their marketing post, Royal Mail revealed yesterday.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4342629.1484814236!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A drop in letter volumes offset a stronger performance from Royal Mail's parcels business. Picture: Julie Bull"} ,"articleBody": "

The privatised former state-owned monopoly said the number of addressed letters, excluding political parties’ election mailings, tumbled 6 per cent, while total letter revenues slid 5 per cent.

Royal Mail said: “We are seeing the impact of overall business uncertainty in the UK on letter volumes, in particular advertising and business letters.”

The group first signalled an impact on its letters arm amid Brexit fears in its half-year results in November, when revenues from advertising mail slumped 8 per cent. It said yesterday the trend for marketing mail revenues had remained broadly similar in the third quarter.

READ MORE: Royal Mail earnings down as Brexit vote hits marketing mail

On the fall in total letter revenue, Royal Mail said: “We have seen the impact of low inflation on pricing and we continue to be affected by ongoing trends in downtrading.”

The poor outturn for the letters business was offset by a better performance from its parcels business, where revenues rose 3 per cent and the number of parcels delivered was up 2 per cent. Combined parcels and letters revenues fell 2 per cent.

However, Royal Mail said its European parcels business, General Logistics Systems (GLS), saw a strong festive quarter and that the division’s revenues climbed 9 per cent over the nine-month period. It helped overall group-wide revenues to hold firm on a year earlier.

Moya Greene, chief executive of Royal Mail, said: “Our postmen and women delivered a great service at Christmas, even better than last year, with 138 million parcels handled in December alone.

“Our comprehensive planning, which started much earlier this year, enabled us to deliver this service for our customers right across the UK.”

While letter mailings have been in decline for some time, Royal Mail said the third quarter was hit particularly hard as it also came up against an “unusually strong” Christmas a year earlier.

Its Parcelforce Worldwide business saw parcel numbers dip 1 per cent. Royal Mail said there was no decision yet over controversial changes to its pension scheme announced earlier this month, which sparked union threats of potential strike action.

The group said it had launched a consultation with 90,000 staff over plans to switch workers in its final salary pension scheme to a less lucrative defined contribution plan.

Nicholas Hyett, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Letters are in terminal decline and the parcels industry is looking increasingly crowded. Combined with uncertainty around the health of the wider UK economy, which has resulted in steadily falling business mailings, this makes for a pretty unpleasant background in which to be doing business.”

Royal Mail’s shares ended the day 26.9p lower at 422.5p.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "mflanagan@scotsman.com" ,"author": "MARTIN FLANAGAN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4342629.1484814236!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4342629.1484814236!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A drop in letter volumes offset a stronger performance from Royal Mail's parcels business. Picture: Julie Bull","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A drop in letter volumes offset a stronger performance from Royal Mail's parcels business. Picture: Julie Bull","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4342629.1484814236!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/future-scotland/tech/small-pools-offer-big-advantage-to-scotland-s-oil-industry-1-4343594","id":"1.4343594","articleHeadline": "Small pools offer big advantage to Scotland’s oil industry","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484870401000 ,"articleLead": "

Learning to exploit the potential of untapped ‘small pools’ of oil and gas could offer a lifeline to Scotland’s offshore industry, experts predict.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4343592.1484840006!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Cromarty Firth has long been used for anchorage when oil prices fall and the need for rigs is diminished. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

The sector has been rocked by a sharp fall in the price of oil since 2015, with more than 100,000 job losses across the UK.

Although the price has since marginally recovered, the North Sea industry is under pressure to find economically viable ways to develop more marginal oil fields.

Small pools, defined as oil and gas reserves as less than 50 million boe, are often overlooked due to reduced profit margins.

Now, the National Subsea Research Initiative (NSRI) is looking to help the industry adopt “a collaborative and integrated approach” to unlock the potential of small pools.

Peter Blake, chairman of NSRI, said: “Often conventional solutions prove too costly or unsuitable for marginal fields, so smarter engineering combined with better ways to manage technical and economic risk is required.

“If the subsea industry can rise to this challenge of economically tapping into these pools, the North Sea could have a whole new lease of life.”

The NSRI will host a workshop at the 2017 Subsea Expo, the world’s biggest conference on underwater technology, which takes place in Aberdeen next month.

The event will welcome a host of industry experts to the stage to showcase their involvement and provide a platform to discuss the next steps, looking at what is required to unlock reserves that have previously been deemed uneconomic.

The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) recently announced that approximately 350 unsanctioned discoveries, containing more than three billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) remain in the UK continental shelf.

While the majority of small pools are in close proximity to existing infrastructure, some are stranded and would require a more novel approach.

Blake added: “These discoveries, while economically challenged, represent a significant potential to extend the economic life of the basin.

“There are a myriad of challenges; from stranded pools distant from infrastructure, to fluids incompatible with potential hosts and complex ownership structures.

“However, what is common to them all is that they need new ways of thinking, the application of new technologies and greater collaboration to develop economic solutions. To safeguard our industry we need to kick-start these developments.”

“We need the industry to embrace the size of the prize and come up with modern, cost-effective approaches to safely exploit marginal and stranded fields.

“We hope to help to break down some of the barriers and identify ways to help speed up the development of fit-for-purpose solutions which will go some way in securing the long-term future of the industry in the North Sea.”

Carlo Procaccini, head of technology at the OGA, said: “Following an extensive mapping exercise, we now know exactly where these small pools are located and we are working with NSRI and others to change the existing industry paradigms to unlock their potential.

“Technology development is key to small pools cost reduction, from reducing the cost of development wells to designing optimised subsea infrastructure.

“The recoverable oil and gas held in small pools could represent a new chapter for the UK continental shelf.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4343592.1484840006!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4343592.1484840006!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Cromarty Firth has long been used for anchorage when oil prices fall and the need for rigs is diminished. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Cromarty Firth has long been used for anchorage when oil prices fall and the need for rigs is diminished. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4343592.1484840006!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4343593.1484840010!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4343593.1484840010!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Offshore workers have faced widespread lay-offs since 2015. Picture: Hamish Campbell/TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Offshore workers have faced widespread lay-offs since 2015. Picture: Hamish Campbell/TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4343593.1484840010!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/number-of-european-tourists-to-scotland-plummets-after-brexit-1-4343957","id":"1.4343957","articleHeadline": "Number of European tourists to Scotland plummets after Brexit","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484867466000 ,"articleLead": "

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4343956.1484867409!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Fewer visitors are coming to Scotland in the wake of the vote to leave the EU although numbers from North America are up. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The number of tourists visiting Scotland from Europe has dropped by 7 per cent in the three months since the Brexit vote, according to the latest official figures.

The majority of international visits to Scotland still come from Europe, the ONS statistics for June to September revealed, but experts said that fears over terrorism, coupled with sports events overseas, had driven away some travellers in the weeks following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

VisitScotland claimed that security fears – such as recent terror attacks in France and Germany – had prompted would-be tourists in Europe to stay closer to home.

However, the negative effect of Brexit on the pound has driven North American tourists to the UK, with the number of visitors from that region growing by 36 per cent in trips and 57 per cent in expenditure compared to the same period in 2015. Similarly, the number of visitors from eastern European countries – where wages are generally lower, traditionally making a holiday to the UK expensive – rose by nearly half.

VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead claimed visitors from western Europe had taken more self-drive holidays amid terrorism fears, which may have affected travel to Scotland. However, Iceland and Scandinavia, which VisitScotland said were its “direct competitors”, attracted more European tourists.

He said: “It is disappointing to see a slight dip in European visits from core markets such as France and Germany, but with uncertainty over safety and security during 2016 in these countries, it is perhaps understandable. However, it’s interesting to see a significant rise of 48 per cent from our Eastern European markets.”

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said that the increase in business rates, as well as the rising costs of goods and services, insurance, licensing, the Apprenticeship Levy and increases in the National Living Wage, were all putting pressure on tourism businesses.

He said: “Tourism businesses in Scotland are currently facing numerous challenges in their ability to deliver that quality, authentic and memorable experience, which is at the heart of the Tourism Scotland 2020.While we continue to navigate our way through this period of change, uncertainty and unknowns, we cannot make any assumptions about how these figures might look in the future.”

Overall, the number of overseas visits to Scotland increased by 4.5 per cent, while expenditure had increased by 14 per cent over the three-month period.

VisitScotland added that an increase in airline capacity between Scotland and North America may have had an impact on tourism numbers from the US.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Jane Bradley"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4343956.1484867409!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4343956.1484867409!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Fewer visitors are coming to Scotland in the wake of the vote to leave the EU although numbers from North America are up. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Fewer visitors are coming to Scotland in the wake of the vote to leave the EU although numbers from North America are up. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4343956.1484867409!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/markets-economy/thursday-market-close-stamp-sales-and-sterling-drag-footsie-1-4292657","id":"1.4292657","articleHeadline": "Thursday market close: Stamp sales and sterling drag Footsie","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484850067000 ,"articleLead": "

The FTSE 100 continued its slide as a stronger pound and disappointing Royal Mail earnings dragged on the index.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4323496.1482430580!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "London traders keep an eye on the markets. Picture: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

London’s top tier fell 0.5 per cent or 39.17 points to close at 7,208.44, hit in part by a 0.5 per cent rise in sterling versus the dollar to $1.232.

The pound rose more than 0.4 per cent to €1.158 against the euro, which was under pressure after the European Central Bank kept interest rates on hold and played down signs of inflation across the eurozone. Multinational stocks on the blue-chip index tend to benefit when international currencies are stronger.

Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said the FTSE was not helped by the sharp drop in Royal Mail shares after “disappointing” results. The firm’s shares were down 26.9p to 422.5p, after it revealed a 6 per cent drop in letter mailing in the nine months to 25 December, while business worries over Brexit hit marketing post.

In UK stocks, Aviva shares fell 2.4p to 476.3p after it announced that it was merging its UK insurance businesses as part of a shake-up that has sparked the departure of its European boss.

Barratt Development shares dropped 11p to 505.5p as the firm unexpectedly announced that chief financial officer Neil Cooper would step down “by mutual agreement” with immediate affect, after just over a year in the job.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 included Pearson up 15.5p to 588.5p, British American Tobacco up 100p to 4,734p and London Stock Exchange Group up 57p to 3,010p. The biggest fallers included British Land Company down 22.5p to 595.5p, Fresnillo down 49p to 1,398p, and Anglo American down 41p to 1,302p.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "businessdesk@scotsman.com" ,"author": "EMMA NEWLANDS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4323496.1482430580!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4323496.1482430580!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "London traders keep an eye on the markets. Picture: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "London traders keep an eye on the markets. Picture: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4323496.1482430580!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/10-of-the-best-indian-restaurants-in-edinburgh-1-4343536","id":"1.4343536","articleHeadline": "10 of the best Indian restaurants in Edinburgh","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484847852000 ,"articleLead": "

As a country, Scotland has had a love affair with great Indian food stretching back hundreds of years.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4343534.1484847741!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mother India Cafe, Infirmary St, Edinburgh."} ,"articleBody": "

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However, while Glasgow is often categorised as the curry-mad capital of Scotland, Edinburgh’s own flavour for authentic Indian cuisine is often disregarded.

But as our list below proves, the capital has more than a few quality eateries on offer to satisfy your Indian craving:

Navadhanya

(88 Haymarket Terrace, Edinburgh EH12 5LQ, 0131 281 7187)

Branching out from their original premises in Cambridge, Navadhanya has brought with it a quality slice of authentic Indian cuisine to the capital.

A relative newcomer on the scene - it opened its doors in late 2015 - the restaurant has quickly established itself as one of the best in the city thanks in part to a team of award winning chefs, one of whom was previously on the books of michelin-starred London favourite Tamarind.

With a varied menu, including a highly recommended railway lamb curry, and distinctly artistic decor, Navadhanya brings a touch of class to Edinburgh’s Indian offering.

Read our review of Navadhanya here

Tuk Tuk

(1 Leven Street, Edinburgh EH3 9LH, 0131 228 3322)

Serving up a vibrant and colourful homage to Indian street food, Tuk Tuk has been a firm favourite since first opening its doors in 2012.

With dishes arranged in tapas-style portions - which rarely cost more than around a fiver each - diners are encouraged to order four or five at a time, but trust us, it’s well worth it.

A delectable combination of authentic indian dishes and locally sourced ingredients creates an irresistible menu with plenty to suit all palates.

The quality is so good that it would be easy to say every dish is a standout, but in particular, we loved the gholgappa as well as the railway lamb curry.

Kismot

(29 St. Leonard’s St, Edinburgh EH8 9QN, 0131 667 0123)

Proudly boasting to be the home of Scotland’s hottest curry, known as “The Kismot Killer,” this family owned Indian/Bangladeshi fusion restaurant has earned national media attention.

Diners will be awarded their meal for free if they can finish the entire dish, which contains five of the hottest chillies in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Be warned though, as anyone attempting the challenge must sign a disclaimer exempting the restaurant from responsibility for “bodily functions.”

For those of us who can’t handle the nuclear heat though, the restaurant offers a fantastically diverse menu including a curry made with Irn Bru.

Mother India

(3-5 Infirmary St, Old Town, Edinburgh EH1 1LT, 0131 524 9801)

Mother India first made its name on the fanatical Glasgow curry scene, before expanding its offering to the capital with similar results.

Their tapas-style offering places heavy emphasis on sharing, making sure everyone at the table has a quality dining experience.

Dishes are usually slightly bigger than tapas, but don’t cost that much more, meaning Mother India can add superb value to its welcoming atmosphere and friendly staff.

Dine in a group and you’ll get close to experiencing the whole menu, with the Lamb Saag and Keema Samosa impressing on our visit here.

Kalpna

(2-3 St Patrick Square, Edinburgh EH8 9EZ, 0131 667 9890)

Offering up a unique take on Indian cuisine by only serving vegetarian dishes, Kalpna became a quick favourite after opening 1982.

The restaurant’s logo is an elephant said to symbolise the idea that not eating meat can still lead to growing up big and strong and with a selection of hearty dishes that will appease even the most carnivorous of diners, we find it hard to disagree.

The menu takes inspiration from Punjabi, Gujrati and South Indian cooking with the signature dish Dam Aloo Kashmeri – Potato barrels filled with mixed vegetables, paneer and nuts – and Shahi Sabzi among the highlights.

Khushi’s

(10 Antigua St, Edinburgh EH1 3NH, 0131 558 1947)

Khushi’s has existed in the capital in one form or another since 1947, claiming to be the first Indian restaurant in the capital. Originally known under the slightly drab title of “The Lothian Restaurant,” it rebranded in 1974 and has been a firm favourite with the city’s diners ever since.

The menu is extensive and often deliciously prepared using locally sourced ingredients, however the price tag more accurately reflects the traditional and homely style of the restaurant.

There are few bad options to choose from the hugely varied menu, but our pick of the bunch was the fantastic South Indian style Kodambakkam Curry.

Tanjore

(6-8 Clerk St, Edinburgh EH8 9HX, 0131 478 6518)

With its Tamil inspired menu and homely, cafe like setting, Tanjore is hidden gem amongst a clutter of more formal options.

The family owned and operated restaurant is a staunch believer in its family setting, meaning eating a meal there feels like being welcomed into someone’s home.

The authentic and wholesome menu has been created from a range of family recipes specialising in cuisine from the Tamil region of Southern India, while the healthy portion sizes means it’s also great for money.

Shezan

(25 Union Pl, Edinburgh EH1 3NQ, 0131 557 5098)

The family-run restaurant has been a staple of the capital’s Indian offering for more than 30 years and has a string of awards to show for it.

Serving up a fine range of Indian and Punjabi cuisine, the restaurant was named the best in Edinburgh two years running in 2014 and 2015 by the Scottish Curry Awards.

Considering its location opposite The Playhouse, an excellent pre-theatre menu is on offer. Expect generous portion sizes and a warm, friendly atmosphere without breaking the bank at this Edinburgh favourite.

Bombay Bicycle Club

(6 Brougham Pl, Edinburgh EH3 9HW, 0131 229 3839)

Specialising in traditional Indian fayre, Bombay Bicycle Club changed hands in November 2016 and has received rave reviews ever since.

A favourite with Tollcross locals, as well as the theatre crowd heading to the nearby King’s or Usher Hall, BBC has a reputation for good, hearty food at affordable prices.

While the classics - jalfrezi, vindaloo, madras etc. - are all well prepared here, it’s worth casting an eye over a few of the lesser-known dishes on the menu.

A trout masala may sound like an odd combination, but trust us, it’s well worth trying out.

Pataka

(190 Causewayside, Edinburgh EH9 1PN, 0131 668 1167)

With its small interior and short menu, Pataka has a much more local feel than many of the larger restaurants on this list.

However, stumbling across this hidden gem tucked away from the bustling nearby area of Newington is well worth your time.

The unique Rennie Mackintosh-esque interior adds to the fusion of Scottish and Bengali culture and the menu, while not extensive, is expertly prepared in what is one of the city’s best kept secrets.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4343534.1484847741!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4343534.1484847741!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Mother India Cafe, Infirmary St, Edinburgh.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mother India Cafe, Infirmary St, Edinburgh.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4343534.1484847741!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4343535.1484847742!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4343535.1484847742!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Shezan Edinburgh","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Shezan Edinburgh","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4343535.1484847742!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/transport/robroyston-station-opening-will-be-glasgow-s-60th-1-4343335","id":"1.4343335","articleHeadline": "Robroyston station opening will be Glasgow’s 60th","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484846204000 ,"articleLead": "

Glasgow is set to open its 60th railway station after the local authority today approved £10 million worth of funding for a project that will also deliver 1600 new homes.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4343334.1484829916!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A number of new stations have opened in Glasgow in recent decades. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

A halt will be built at Robroyston, a suburb in the north-east of the city, on the existing line from Queen Street to Cumbernauld.

Glasgow has witnessed a spate of station openings over the past 30 years, with the city boasting the largest suburban rail network in the UK outside of London.

The station at Robroyston is expected to open in late 2019, will offer two Park & Ride facilities and a drop-off lane for commuters.

It is the first to be funded through the £30m Scottish Stations Fund, which was first announced in 2014 by Keith Brown, the then transport minister.

The £18.9million scheme will accelerate the building of almost 1600 homes in the areas, for which planning permission in principle has already been agreed.

It is estimated that the completion of the development will bring an extra £14.2m to the economy every year.

The £10million of forward funding from the council will be repaid upon the completion of the houses through a Section 75 legal agreement.

Council leader Frank McAveety said: “This is fantastic news for Glasgow, providing a new rail station for the people of Robroyston and Millerston and helping to bring almost 1600 much-needed new homes to this part of the city.”

Strathclyde Passenger Transport chairman Jonathan Findlay said the new station was “a vital factor in ensuring the long-term success of the redevelopment of the area as a whole”.

In addition to the £10m provided by Glasgow City Council, Transport Scotland will contribute £7.13m, SPT £1.25m and developers will contribute the remaining £485,000.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4343334.1484829916!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4343334.1484829916!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A number of new stations have opened in Glasgow in recent decades. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A number of new stations have opened in Glasgow in recent decades. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4343334.1484829916!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/car-hire-agency-atlas-choice-taken-into-hands-of-administrators-1-4343772","id":"1.4343772","articleHeadline": "Car hire agency Atlas Choice taken into hands of administrators","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484846083723 ,"articleLead": "

Car hire agency Atlas Choice has gone into administration, just weeks after customers complained that they had turned up to foreign airports to be told their bookings would not be honoured unless they paid again.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4343771.1484846203!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Care hire agency Atlas Choice has gone into administration."} ,"articleBody": "

The company, which appears on search engines for tourists looking for the best car hire deals, was accused of failing to pay partner car hire companies, leaving the firms out of pocket unless they charged customers directly for a second time.

The firm was an agency for other car hire companies, including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Europcar and Hertz.

Deloitte said it had been appointed as administrator of Atlas Choice's parent firm Evershine Travel Ltd, which also trades as Atlasoption, QuantRez and VacAuto.

It said: \"We will make every effort to ensure that members of the public who have hired cars in advance are fully appraised of the situation and their rights and will be reporting to creditors at the earliest opportunity.\"

" ,"byline": {"email": "jane.bradley@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Jane Bradley"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4343771.1484846203!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4343771.1484846203!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Care hire agency Atlas Choice has gone into administration.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Care hire agency Atlas Choice has gone into administration.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4343771.1484846203!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/entrepreneurial-scotland-opens-to-new-intake-1-4343610","id":"1.4343610","articleHeadline": "Entrepreneurial Scotland opens to new intake","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1484840231939 ,"articleLead": "

Entrepreneurial Scotland’s Saltire Fellowship has opened applications for its latest programme.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4343609.1484840489!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Left to right are Sandy Kennedy, chief executive of Entrepreneurial Scotland; Paul Reynolds, Saltire Fellow and creator of Cup Tea Rooms and Gin 71; and Mark Baird. Picture: Robert Perry"} ,"articleBody": "

The programme is billed as an \"intensive leadership development opportunity for Scotland’s most ambitious and entrepreneurially-minded individuals\". It is led by Entrepreneurial Scotland in partnership with Babson College in Boston, in the US.

The six-month programme is designed to immerse participants, who are known as Saltire Fellows, in entrepreneurial thinking and strategic leadership and provide them with the skills to scale a business and gain an understanding of global business.

The new 2017/18 programme now includes a further two weeks of residential learning in Scotland, led by Strathclyde Business School at the University of Strathclyde, which is home to the Hunter Centre of Entrepreneurship, the Strathclyde Entrepreneurial Network and Entrepreneurial Scotland.

More than 100 people are said to have already registered interest for the 2017-18 Fellowship programme. The Diageo Learning for Life programme will be funding a place for a candidate from within the licensed trade in Scotland.

Set up in 2010, the Saltire Fellowship has established a strong track record. Over six consecutive years, 107 individuals have successfully completed the rigorous programme, creating 26 enterprises, more than 280 jobs and contributing an estimated £48 million to Scotland’s economy.

Chief executive Sandy Kennedy said: \"The current landscape is changing both nationally and internationally. This is reason, more than ever, to have people working in our businesses that have a global outlook, a first class network and the knowledge and confidence to scale companies in Scotland and ultimately give Scotland a competitive edge.\"

Les Charm, senior lecturer of entrepreneurship at Babson College, said: \"At Babson we make you think big and this programme is designed to change people’s lives by helping them acquire new skills and mind steps in order that they and their companies move forward.\"

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" ,"byline": {"email": "scott.reid@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "SCOTT REID"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4343609.1484840489!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4343609.1484840489!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Left to right are Sandy Kennedy, chief executive of Entrepreneurial Scotland; Paul Reynolds, Saltire Fellow and creator of Cup Tea Rooms and Gin 71; and Mark Baird. Picture: Robert Perry","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Left to right are Sandy Kennedy, chief executive of Entrepreneurial Scotland; Paul Reynolds, Saltire Fellow and creator of Cup Tea Rooms and Gin 71; and Mark Baird. Picture: Robert Perry","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4343609.1484840489!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}