{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"business","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/friday-market-close-weak-growth-data-takes-toll-on-ftse-100-1-4292657","id":"1.4292657","articleHeadline": "Friday market close: Weak growth data takes toll on FTSE 100","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493397872000 ,"articleLead": "

Shares in Royal Bank of Scotland soared after the embattled lender booked its first quarterly profit since 2015 in what chief executive Ross McEwan described as a “major milestone”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4413799.1491581066!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Trading screens in London. Picture: AFP/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The taxpayer-backed bank rose more than 4 per cent, or 12p, to 265.4p as it recorded a better-than-expected £259 million profit in the first three months of the year, compared with a £968m loss in the same quarter last year.

However, the wider FTSE 100 index struggled for momentum as the factors including weaker first quarter GDP figures took their toll. The latest update from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.3 per cent in its initial estimate for the first quarter of 2017, down from 0.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year. Barclays endured a torrid time as investors took a dim view of the lender’s first quarter results.

The banking giant said group pre-tax profit surged to £1.68 billion in the three months to 31 March, up from £793m during the same period last year.

However, the firm more than 5 per cent, or 11.7p, to 212.3p in response to a 4 per cent drop in income from its investment banking markets division to £1.35bn. Chief executive Jes Staley said the bank has nearly completed its overhaul, with only three more businesses to exit.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 included Antofagasta up 19.5p to 838p, Morrisons up 5.5p to 239.9p and International Consolidated Airlines Group up 11.5p to 560p. The biggest fallers included Mediclinic International down 38p to 821p, Royal Mail down 16.4p to 402.5p and Standard Chartered down 20.1p to 721.2p.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "businessdesk@scotsman.com" ,"author": "EMMA NEWLANDS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4413799.1491581066!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4413799.1491581066!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Trading screens in London. Picture: AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Trading screens in London. Picture: AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4413799.1491581066!/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/whisky-industry-plea-for-assurances-as-exports-rise-1-4432370","id":"1.4432370","articleHeadline": "Whisky industry plea for assurances as exports rise","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493386353000 ,"articleLead": "

Whisky industry bosses are hoping that Britain’s departure from the European Union will not result in a watering down of sales after cheering a rise in full-year exports.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432368.1493386348!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotch whisky exports rose by 4% last year. Picture: TSPL"} ,"articleBody": "

Figures revealed today that Scotch exports rose by 4 per cent to more than £4 billion last year, marking a return to growth for the sector. The value of single malts topped £1bn for the first time.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said the upturn meant it was “optimistic about the future” but industry leaders called for a sector deal for Scotland’s national drink in Brexit negotiations to help combat uncertainty.

• READ MORE: Scotch whisky faces stiff competition from international brands

Last year, Scotch remained the biggest net contributor to the UK’s balance of trade in goods and without its benefit the UK trade in goods deficit would have been 2.8 per cent larger at almost £139bn, the SWA noted.

The drink accounts for more a fifth of the UK’s total food and drink exports and 73 per cent of the sector in Scotland, with the EU remaining the top destination for exports, rising 3.6 per cent in value over the year to £1.24bn, followed by the US, which took exports worth more than £1bn.

Sales towards the second half of 2016, following June’s Brexit vote, are likely to have received a boost from the fall in the value of the pound, making UK exports cheaper.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

SWA acting chief executive Julie Hesketh-Laird said: “With Scotch whisky exports returning to growth and rising to more than £4bn, and single malts exceeding £1bn for the first time, we’re feeling optimistic about the future.

“Demand is rising in mature markets, such as the US, and newer markets, including China. This confidence is reflected in the number of new distilleries – 14 have been opened in the last few years and we know of about another 40 at various stages of planning.

“However, we have to be alert to the challenges, as well as the opportunities, of Brexit and political changes in the UK and across the globe.

“Industry success can’t be taken for granted and we need both the UK and Scottish governments to work in partnership with us to deliver a business environment – at home and overseas – that supports sustainable growth.

“At home, for example, we are calling for a ‘sector deal’ for Scotch as the new UK industrial strategy develops, recognising our economic significance to communities across the country.”

• READ MORE: Scotch whisky trade body appoints first female chief

The association’s 2016 export report found that overseas sales of Scotch whisky rose by £153 million from 2015 to £4,008,927,149 last year.

The number of bottles dispatched increased by 4.8 per cent between 2015 and 2016 to more than 1.2 billion, meaning almost 39 bottles worth a total of £127 were exported per second.

Both the value and volume of Scotch exports returned to annual growth rates for the first time since 2011.

Bottled blended versions of the drink remain the biggest export category, accounting for 69 per cent of value in 2016.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "sreid@scotsman.com" ,"author": "Scott Reid"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432368.1493386348!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432368.1493386348!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scotch whisky exports rose by 4% last year. Picture: TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotch whisky exports rose by 4% last year. Picture: TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432368.1493386348!/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/scotland-s-space-sector-lifts-off-thanks-to-funding-boost-1-4432270","id":"1.4432270","articleHeadline": "Scotland’s space sector lifts off thanks to funding boost","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493381723000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland’s space industry has received a boost after a research centre in Glasgow secured a major funding deal that will prolong its work by three years.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432269.1493381718!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon visits Clyde Space, Scotlands first micro satellite company. Glasgow is the hub of the country's growing space sector. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL"} ,"articleBody": "

Launched in 2014, the Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications (SoXSA), based at University of Strathclyde, focuses on the use of satellite-derived data to develop new concepts in the exploitation of space to improve life on earth.

Companies across the UK are increasingly looking to space data to inform their businesses – gaining insights into a wide range of areas including weather, transport networks, flooding, forestry, and even tracking icebergs.

The programme extension allows SoXSA to continue helping companies enter the space sector, supporting innovation and the use of satellite applications across industries.

SoXSA is one of five centres established by the Satellite Applications Catapult to create focal points of activity linking the science base with companies both large and small around the UK.

Since its launch, the centre has brokered relationships between academia and industry to win funding for research projects, expanded its network to include the Highlands and Islands, and grown the team from one full-time staff member to four.

READ MORE: Glasgow builds more satellites than any other European city

Dr Hina Khan, innovation lead at SoXSA, said: “Since its inception, the centre has played an important role supporting the growth of the Scottish space sector and we are incredibly grateful for the extension to our funding.

“Originally the sector in Scotland was relatively fragmented but SoXSA has since been able to provide a central base for industry and is now seen as the door to the wider industry.

“With increasing numbers of related businesses either setting up or relocating to Glasgow, we’re ideally placed at Strathclyde to help promote the sector to help create jobs, revenue and innovations which could have a huge impact on a variety of industries.”

Stuart Martin, CEO of the Satellite Applications Catapult, said: “The space sector is flourishing in Scotland.

“A growing number of companies connecting with our Scottish Centre of Excellence are interested in harnessing the potential of space applications or have bold ambitions to create new space-based ventures. The region is attracting international investment from space companies and we are delighted to extend the Centres funding to enable us to support increased demand for our business support services.”

Scotland is home to a growing number of internationally-recognised space companies developing both affordable satellite hardware, and the applications that harness the data satellites provide. Around 18 per cent of the UK’s space sector employment – the equivalent of around 7,000 jobs – is now based in Scotland, generating some £131 million in income.

An industry conference in Glasgow heard in February that the city now builds more satellites than any other European city.

Firms such as Clyde Space - Scotland’s first micro satellite company - specialise in building components for CubeSats - a type of miniaturized satellite for space research made up of multiples of cubic units no more than 1.33 kgs.

The company guaranteed its place at the forefront of developments following the successful launch in 2014 of UKube-1, the first satellite to be fully assembled in Scotland.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432269.1493381718!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432269.1493381718!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon visits Clyde Space, Scotlands first micro satellite company. Glasgow is the hub of the country's growing space sector. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon visits Clyde Space, Scotlands first micro satellite company. Glasgow is the hub of the country's growing space sector. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432269.1493381718!/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/bob-ruddiman-offshore-conference-vital-to-trade-ideas-1-4432106","id":"1.4432106","articleHeadline": "Bob Ruddiman: Offshore conference vital to trade ideas","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493374777000 ,"articleLead": "

At the end of May there will be an exodus from Aberdeen as an estimated 20,000 football fans head south to Hampden Park to hopefully watch the Dons lift the Scottish Cup for the first in 27 years.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432105.1493374773!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "OTC will be set against a backdrop of a 'lower for longer' oil price, writes Bob Ruddiman. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

For much of that last ­quarter decade I have joined hundreds of other Aberdonians as we make a ­similar, albeit much smaller, pilgrimage to Houston to take part in the world’s largest annual oil and gas conference.

The Offshore Technology Conference, or OTC as its known throughout the energy-producing world, is a coming together of delegates from more than 100 countries, to exchange ideas and to advance ­scientific and technical knowledge for offshore resources and their sustainable development.

• READ MORE: North Sea oil and gas sector ‘a net drain on UK finances’

It is claimed that if you want to push a deal over the line, secure an important introduction or simply reinvigorate ­relationships with anyone who is anyone in the UK North Sea sector, then Houston is the only place to be in the first week of May.

As part of a five-strong Pinsent Masons team, who have been visiting OTC for more than 20 years in addition to more regular visits to Houston, we will be ­making the case to international delegates that the North Sea is open for business, hungry to do deals, and keen to protect our position as the foremost developers of new technologies which enhance hydrocarbon recoveries and improve safety.

OTC (1 to 4 May) will be set against a backdrop of coming to terms with what is now largely accepted as a “lower for longer” price of Brent crude, but there are encouraging signs that the oil and gas downturn appears to be levelling out. The UKCS will be competing against noise ­emanating from the States about significantly-increased levels of onshore fracking which has received a major boost from a new president adopting an America First approach.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

Not just in the North Sea, but globally, there appears to be a squeeze on the capacity of the supply chain which gets the oil and gas out of the ground and ultimately to our fuel pumps and homes, to keep the economic wheels turning.

Major operators and contractors have made great leaps forward in redefining how they can collaborate to benefit all, and much of the excess has been stripped out. But the concern at OTC for many will be to find a balance and ensure value is shared.

OTC over the last few years has been dominated by multi-billion dollar mega-projects being shelved, while those already partly committed were pushed through, often with some difficulties which led to costly overruns. With those projects now closed out and others on the backburner for the foreseeable future, there will be much more conversation around the need to bring through other strategic developments, or risk a potential situation where in two years we can’t meet global demand for oil and gas.

The optimistic delegates – many from Aberdeen – will be looking to hear more on smaller-scale projects heading to the planning and development stage.

• READ MORE: Less in reserve for North Sea as debate rages on

As a “veteran” of OTC, one of the biggest changes has been the rise and fall of nations as major energy suppliers. Prior to the oil price downturn for example, much attention was being focused on deepwater Brazil as the next big thing, but high development costs surrounding hard-to-reach oil and gas has dampened enthusiasm, while China – which 20 years ago was cloaked in mystery – is now a well-established energy player on its home turf and increasingly in basins like the UKCS.

Pinsent Masons’ Beijing office this week welcomed a delegation from the Scottish Chambers of Commerce on a mission to strengthen links with lucrative Chinese markets and we look forward to pushing the case in Houston next week, with our Chinese counterparts and other global producers that, post-Brexit, the UKCS will remain a basin worth investing in.

• Bob Ruddiman is head of energy at legal firm Pinsent Masons

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Bob Ruddiman"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432105.1493374773!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432105.1493374773!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "OTC will be set against a backdrop of a 'lower for longer' oil price, writes Bob Ruddiman. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "OTC will be set against a backdrop of a 'lower for longer' oil price, writes Bob Ruddiman. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432105.1493374773!/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/skyscanner-chief-honoured-at-digital-technology-awards-1-4431096","id":"1.4431096","articleHeadline": "Skyscanner chief honoured at digital technology awards","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493373051000 ,"articleLead": "

Gareth Williams, the chief executive of travel search engine Skyscanner, last night picked an accolade for “outstanding personal achievement” at an awards ceremony in Glasgow for Scotland’s digital technologies industry.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431095.1493372559!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Skyscanner chief Gareth Williams won the ScotlandIS award for 'outstanding personal achievement'. Picture: Esme Allen"} ,"articleBody": "

Edinburgh-based Skyscanner, which last year agreed to be bought by Chinese group Ctrip for £1.4 billion, also won the titles for investment deal of the year and best business-to-consumer service at the Digital Tech Awards, organised by trade body ScotlandIS.

• READ MORE: Chinese tech giant swoops on Skyscanner

ScotlandIS chief executive Polly Purvis said: “From small beginnings 14 years ago, Gareth Williams built an internationally successful company, not in the end markets that Scotland is famous for such as financial services or oil and gas but in the hugely competitive travel business.

“Growing the business from the ground up, Gareth worked to secure funding, staff and customers over the first few years before growing the company significantly to employ over 850 people with annual turnover of £120 million. Skyscanner has set the bar for Scotland’s future digital success so we wanted to take this opportunity to recognise Gareth’s achievements and his influence on the wider tech community.”

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

The awards ceremony, held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Glasgow, also saw Gillian Docherty of innovation centre Data Lab crowned CEO of the year, while Bellshill-based software tester Edge Testing won the large business award and Edinburgh document automation firm HotDocs was named both small-medium business of the year and international technology star.

The public sector award went to StormID for its work on the new ScotBlood website. The Leith firm also picked up the agency of the year title.

Software skills academy CodeClan took home the education service provider prize, its first accolade since opening in 2015.

Chief executive Harvey Wheaton said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won this award, especially when we were up against some great competition. It is a real honour and a fantastic endorsement of the work we have been doing to address the digital skills gap in Scotland.

“We would like to thank the industry for their continued support, which is crucial to ensuring we teach our students a curriculum that is current and relevant to the workplace.”

Meanwhile, Glasgow mobile marketing outfit Digitonic won in the marketing performance category, and Edinburgh financial wrap platform Nucleus was named best business-to-business technology product.

Edinburgh accounting software developer FreeAgent collected the prize for financial services, while Aggreko, the Glasgow-based temporary power provider, won the award for innovation through data.

• READ MORE: Powering up Scotland’s digital tech skills base

Purvis added that the awards, sponsored by Administrate, Atkinson Macleod Executive Search, Avaloq, Cathcart Associates, Data Lab, EY, Head Resourcing and Search Total Recruitment Solutions, were “a brilliant way to celebrate the growth and success of our industry over the last 12 months”.

“They recognise the hard graft and team work behind these exceptional businesses, and highlight the increasing importance of the digital technologies industry to Scotland.”

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" ,"byline": {"email": "gareth.mackie@scotsman.com" ,"author": "Gareth Mackie"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431095.1493372559!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431095.1493372559!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Skyscanner chief Gareth Williams won the ScotlandIS award for 'outstanding personal achievement'. Picture: Esme Allen","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Skyscanner chief Gareth Williams won the ScotlandIS award for 'outstanding personal achievement'. Picture: Esme Allen","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431095.1493372559!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432070.1493373042!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432070.1493373042!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Data Lab's Gillian Docherty was named CEO of the year. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Data Lab's Gillian Docherty was named CEO of the year. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432070.1493373042!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432067.1493373047!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432067.1493373047!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "CodeClan chief Harvey Wheaton with the software skills academy's award. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "CodeClan chief Harvey Wheaton with the software skills academy's award. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432067.1493373047!/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/uk-economy-slowdown-worse-than-feared-as-sales-fall-1-4432009","id":"1.4432009","articleHeadline": "UK economy slowdown worse than feared as sales fall","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493371330000 ,"articleLead": "

The UK economy endured a worse-than-expected slowdown in the first three months of the year as sliding retail sales and a jump in living costs took their toll on growth.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432008.1493370119!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Shoppers have been tightening their belts amid rising prices and weak wage growth. Picture: Ian Georgeson"} ,"articleBody": "

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.3 per cent in its initial estimate for the first quarter of 2017, down from 0.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year.

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said today’s figures, which represent the slowest expansion since the first quarter of 2016, when growth was 0.2 per cent, marked a “significant dent” to UK economy’s resilience.

• READ MORE: Cost of living fears mount as inflation hits 2.3%

He added: “Following the marked first-quarter slowdown, we suspect that 2017 will stay challenging for the UK economy – and particularly for consumers as their purchasing power is squeezed harder still.

“We expect GDP growth to be limited to 1.6 per cent in 2017 – this is a below consensus forecast, but the poor first-quarter performance reinforces our jaundiced view on the economy. We do not expect the snap general election on 8 June to materially change the economic outlook for this year, assuming that the Conservatives are re-elected with an increased majority.

Economists had been expecting the economy to cool as consumers tightened their belts in the face of rising inflation, but they had pencilled in a growth reading of 0.4 per cent.

The ONS said the main driver behind the slowdown was a sharp decline in the dominant services sector, which saw its growth more than halved to 0.3 per cent, down from 0.8 per cent in the final three months of last year.

It added: “There were falls in several important consumer-focused industries, such as retail sales and accommodation; this was due in part to prices increasing more than spending.”

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

Nancy Curtin, chief investment officer at Close Brothers Asset Management, said: “Rising inflation and slow wage growth have dampened consumer demand and reduced retail spending, which were helping drive growth last year after Britain’s vote to leave the EU. On the other hand though, the increased attractiveness of sterling in the wake of the referendum has boosted manufacturing and international exports, making headway in rebalancing the UK economy.

“With the general election just around the corner and Brexit negotiations afoot, any dip in the economy risks bringing further caution and uncertainty to businesses, which has a knock-on effect when it comes to investment and employment. However the Chancellor, with better-than-expected Budget tax receipts in his pocket, has room for manoeuvre and should be able to pre-empt any further slowdown, which should help with business confidence.”

GDP comment from Royal Bank of Scotland

The UK economy grew by just 0.3 per cent in the first three months of 2017, writes RBS senior economist Sebastian Burnside. What should we make of this slowdown?

It’s certainly slow. Slower than the 0.5 per cent expected by the Bank of England. Slower than the 0.7 per cent the UK managed at the end of last year. But it also might just herald a more sustainable pace, given the challenges facing the economy.

In the nine months since the Brexit vote, the economy is now 1.5 per cent bigger. That growth has been uneven. The strength seen in Q4’s 0.7 per cent expansion has been offset by the 0.3 per cent recorded at the start of this year. So overall, growing at an average pace of 0.5 per cent a quarter is very respectable.

But a slowdown is already with us. Inflation is now matching wage growth, meaning the purchasing power of people’s pay packets has stopped growing.

The most obvious sign of this weakness is on the high street. Spending by shoppers has stagnated after an especially strong final three months of 2016. Rising prices have meant they’re actually taking even less home in real terms than they were before Christmas. The ONS thinks that this alone knocked 0.1 per cent off GDP growth.

Slower consumer spending might actually a good thing. Borrowing through personal loans and credit cards is rising at around 10 per cent a year.

Households actually spent £5.8 billion more than they earned in Q4 last year. Neither of these trends can last forever. A bit of belt tightening would put growth on a more sustainable footing.

Click here to ‘Like’ The Scotsman Business on Facebook

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Gareth Mackie and Ben Woods"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432008.1493370119!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432008.1493370119!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Shoppers have been tightening their belts amid rising prices and weak wage growth. Picture: Ian Georgeson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Shoppers have been tightening their belts amid rising prices and weak wage growth. Picture: Ian Georgeson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432008.1493370119!/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/colin-hamilton-robust-laws-needed-to-keep-lights-on-1-4431978","id":"1.4431978","articleHeadline": "Colin Hamilton: Robust laws needed to keep lights on","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493368768000 ,"articleLead": "

Modern life depends on reliable electricity supplies. But as the balance between supply and demand gets increasingly complicated to juggle significant investment is required to secure that reliability in the future.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431977.1493368763!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Robust legal foundations are needed for the development of green energy, says Gillespie Macandrew partner Colin Hamilton. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Even with the continued development of renewable energy, we cannot be certain that renewables will generate energy when it is needed most. What’s more, renewable energy sources tend to be located far away from where demand is greatest in our cities.

• READ MORE: Number of Scots working in renewable energy on the rise

Building storage capacity together with smart use of transmission and distribution systems are therefore now a priority for both Scottish and UK governments. Westminster’s modern industrial strategy puts energy efficiency and storage at its heart, seeing new technological development key to the country’s ambitions in global markets. Holyrood, meanwhile, is looking at large-scale energy storage, including pumped hydro storage, as part of its energy strategy.

But while the ambition cannot be faulted, the questions from a legal perspective are mounting. Currently, onshore wind is recognised as one of the most developed renewable energy technologies available; but it is limited to producing power when the wind is blowing. This means that power generated by wind cannot currently be managed in order to match peak demand on the grid.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

As a solicitor working in the energy sector, the matters that need to be addressed include: should storage be co-located with production or located close to demand? What about revenues when storage is not called upon? What are the environmental consequences of storage facilities?

If there is to be on-site storage of renewable energy at generation sites, to be delivered to the grid in accordance with demand, developers should be taking account of future possible storage infrastructure and site layout. This too needs a legal basis to ensure the appropriate rights can be included whatever the future holds.

The development of new energy technology is moving forward at pace. It’s needed. But, crucially, we need to have full and rounded discussions about the impacts of its implementation. Ultimately, for this to happen we need to ensure a robust legal foundation.

Colin Hamilton is a partner at law firm Gillespie Macandrew

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Colin Hamilton"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431977.1493368763!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431977.1493368763!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Robust legal foundations are needed for the development of green energy, says Gillespie Macandrew partner Colin Hamilton. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Robust legal foundations are needed for the development of green energy, says Gillespie Macandrew partner Colin Hamilton. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431977.1493368763!/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/scdi-names-mark-bevan-as-its-new-chief-executive-1-4431996","id":"1.4431996","articleHeadline": "SCDI names Mark Bevan as its new chief executive","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493368468000 ,"articleLead": "

The Scottish Council for Development & Industry (SCDI) has appointed Mark Bevan as its new chief executive.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431997.1493368464!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mark Bevan is a former director at Keep Scotland Beautiful. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Bevan, currently director for Business in the Community Scotland, is due to join the SCDI on 22 May and replaces Ross Martin, who stood down earlier this year.

“Scotland – in common with the rest of the UK and indeed the global economy – faces many challenges in the next few years, including changing labour markets, digitalisation and low carbon driving an accelerating transformation of the economy,” said Bevan, a former director of environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

He added: “When you put all of that in the context of a fast-moving political environment, SCDI has a unique role to play in supporting and influencing Scotland’s position as a more competitive, inclusive and growing economy. I look forward to leading that work with our members and team throughout Scotland and beyond.”

SCDI chairman Brendan Dick, who is director for Scotland at telecoms giant BT, said: “Mark’s most recent experience of running a business membership organisation, along with his track record of significant policy work, made him a standout candidate for this crucial role.”

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "GARETH MACKIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431997.1493368464!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431997.1493368464!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Mark Bevan is a former director at Keep Scotland Beautiful. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mark Bevan is a former director at Keep Scotland Beautiful. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431997.1493368464!/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/transport/peter-vardy-gears-up-to-launch-dundee-car-superstore-1-4431980","id":"1.4431980","articleHeadline": "Peter Vardy gears up to launch Dundee car superstore","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493366761000 ,"articleLead": "

Car retailer Peter Vardy is gearing up for the official opening of one of the biggest dealerships in Scotland.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431979.1493366755!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Peter Vardy's CarStore is on the site of Dundee's former Valentines card factory. Picture: Keith Hunter"} ,"articleBody": "

The 8.5-acre brownfield site, where the Valentines card factory in Dundee used to stand will, incorporate “state-of-the-art technology” and space for more than 500 vehicles.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

The venture is scheduled to open on 13 May and will be the Scottish car firm’s 12th retail site north of the Border. Peter Vardy already runs a CarStore site at Braehead on the outskirts of Glasgow.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SCOTT REID"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431979.1493366755!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431979.1493366755!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Peter Vardy's CarStore is on the site of Dundee's former Valentines card factory. Picture: Keith Hunter","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Peter Vardy's CarStore is on the site of Dundee's former Valentines card factory. Picture: Keith Hunter","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431979.1493366755!/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/sensors-firm-pyreos-wins-first-large-scale-chip-order-1-4431929","id":"1.4431929","articleHeadline": "Sensors firm Pyreos wins first large-scale chip order","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493364665000 ,"articleLead": "

Pyreos, the Edinburgh-based infra-red sensor developer, has secured its first volume order for its ezPyro chip.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431928.1493364662!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pyreos chief Andrew Wallace said the order was a 'real validation' of the firm's technology. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

The order was secured from a South Korean customer, which is deploying the design – incorporating both a sensor and a processing unit – in two of its products.

• READ MORE: Tech firm Pyreos plugs into £1.8m of funding

The new component has been designed into a standalone fire-detection device and a standard closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera, adding a flame-detection feature to the system.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

Pyreos already has a well-established customer base in South Korea, mainly in gas detection and fire detection. Exports account for almost four-fifths of the company’s total revenues, with 44 per cent of sales coming from Asia.

Chief executive Andrew Wallace said: “Winning our first volume order for ezPyro so soon after launching the sensor is a real validation of the how our customers value this new product.”

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Scott Reid"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431928.1493364662!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431928.1493364662!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Pyreos chief Andrew Wallace said the order was a 'real validation' of the firm's technology. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pyreos chief Andrew Wallace said the order was a 'real validation' of the firm's technology. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431928.1493364662!/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/taxpayer-stake-in-lloyds-banking-group-cut-below-1-1-4431915","id":"1.4431915","articleHeadline": "Taxpayer stake in Lloyds Banking Group cut below 1%","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493363946000 ,"articleLead": "

The taxpayer’s stake in Lloyds Banking Group has been cut to below 1 per cent as the government edges closer to fully privatising the lender.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431914.1493363941!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The taxpayer now owns just 0.89% of Lloyds Banking Group. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

UK Financial Investments, which manages the stake in the Bank of Scotland and Halifax owner, cut its holding by about one percentage point to 0.89 per cent.

• READ MORE: Lloyds defies ‘challenging’ market to double profit

Last week, Chancellor Philip Hammond said the government has recouped the £20.3 billion used to bail out Lloyds during the financial crisis.

At its peak, Lloyds was 43 per cent owned by the state.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

More than £20.4bn has now been returned to government coffers since the lender’s bailout. This includes about £500 million in payouts to shareholders since the bank resumed paying dividends in 2014 as it has returned to profit growth in recent years.

• READ MORE: Royal Bank of Scotland posts first profit since 2015

The taxpayer’s final stake in Lloyds is expected to be sold off in the coming weeks, with any profits being used to pay down the deficit.

The announcement comes a week after the Chancellor admitted that the government is prepared to sell its 72 per cent stake in Royal Bank of Scotland at a loss to the public purse.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ravender Sembhy"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431914.1493363941!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431914.1493363941!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The taxpayer now owns just 0.89% of Lloyds Banking Group. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The taxpayer now owns just 0.89% of Lloyds Banking Group. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431914.1493363941!/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/royal-bank-of-scotland-posts-first-profit-since-2015-1-4431899","id":"1.4431899","articleHeadline": "Royal Bank of Scotland posts first profit since 2015","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493362379000 ,"articleLead": "

Royal Bank of Scotland has swung back into the black, reporting its first quarterly profit since 2015.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431898.1493361824!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "RBS, 72% owned by the taxpayer, has made its first profit since the third quarter of 2015. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

The taxpayer-owned lender booked a £259 million profit in the first three months of the year, compared with a £968m loss in the same quarter last year.

It is the first time since the third quarter of 2015 that Edinburgh-based RBS, which is 72 per cent owned by the UK government, has turned a quarterly profit.

• READ MORE: RBS announces 30 branch closures across Scotland

The numbers will come as welcome relief to chief executive Ross McEwan, who has presided over a string of recent poor results, which tally up to a staggering £58 billion of losses since RBS was bailed out by the government at the height of the financial crisis.

McEwan said: “These results reflect very much what we talked about at full year.

“This bank has a very strong core with great potential, and we believe that, by going further on cost reduction and faster on digital transformation, we will deliver a simpler, safer and even more customer-focused bank, with a compelling investment case.”

The core bank’s adjusted operating profit also rose in the quarter, from £303m to £1.3bn. Today’s figures also show that RBS booked £577m in restructuring costs.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

Today’s first-quarter results come the day after RBS said it had moved a step closer to reaching a settlement with all five shareholder groups that brought compensation claims against it in connection with its 2008 rights issue.

The bank said it had reached a “full and final settlement” with a further 9 per cent of total claimants, which represent part of the fifth and final shareholder group that has yet to resolve the dispute. Those claimants are estimated to have received about £80m of the £800m pot that was put aside by the bank to cover the claims.

RBS, which reached settlements with four of the shareholder groups in December 2016, stressed it made the payments “without any admission of liability”.

But the bank is not out of the woods yet, and could now face a parliamentary inquiry into spiralling legal costs – set to hit £125m – used to defend itself, disgraced former boss Fred Goodwin and three former directors in the rights issue case.

Members of the the RBS Shareholder Action Group who have not reached a settlement with the bank will be taking their case to trial next month, in what is becoming one of the most costly civil defences in British history.

The legal action is linked to a rights issue overseen by Goodwin. In April 2008, RBS asked existing shareholders to inject £12bn into the firm to strengthen its reserves after it had spent £49bn to acquire Dutch bank ABN Amro.

The deal proved toxic and, just months later, the value of RBS shares plunged 90 per cent and the government had to step in.

In February, RBS reported a £7bn annual loss and McEwan ordered a £2bn four-year cost-cutting drive, expected to result in significant job losses and branch closures. To this end, the bank took £278m in costs out of the business in the period.

Last week, Chancellor Philip Hammond made the stark admission that the government is prepared to sell its stake at a loss to the public purse.

The government bought its stake in the bank for £45bn in 2008, at 502p a share, as part of a bailout at the height of the financial crisis. But shares in the troubled lender are now trading at around half that price.

It is understood that only once RBS’s legacy issues – such as fines in the US and state aid obligations – are dealt with, will the government begin selling down the taxpayers’ stake.

Meanwhile, Barclays cheered a strong start to the new year, with profits more than doubling in the first quarter as it edged closer to the end of a major restructuring programme.

• READ MORE: Barclays tops table for financial service complaints

The lender said group pre-tax profit surged to £1.68bn in the three months to the end of March, up from £793m in the same period last year.

Chief executive Jes Staley, who has been offloading unwanted businesses to focus on UK and US operations, said the bank has nearly completed its overhaul.

“This has been another quarter of strong progress towards the completion of the restructuring of Barclays. Group profit before tax more than doubled compared to Q1 of 2016, and our core businesses continued to perform very well.”

He added: “We are now just two months away from completing the restructuring of Barclays as a transatlantic consumer, corporate and investment bank, and there is further good reason in this quarter’s performance to feel optimistic for our prospects.”

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ravender Sembhy and Kalyeena Makortoff"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431898.1493361824!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431898.1493361824!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "RBS, 72% owned by the taxpayer, has made its first profit since the third quarter of 2015. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "RBS, 72% owned by the taxpayer, has made its first profit since the third quarter of 2015. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431898.1493361824!/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/farm-incomes-slashed-by-almost-50-in-one-year-1-4431889","id":"1.4431889","articleHeadline": "Farm incomes slashed by almost 50% in one year","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493360156000 ,"articleLead": "

Farm incomes plummeted by almost 50 per cent during 2015-16, leaving almost two thirds of farmers earning well below the legal minimum wage.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431887.1493360151!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Farmers saw their incomes slashed again last year. Picture: Neil Hanna"} ,"articleBody": "

And following five years of continuing decline, the latest official government figures released yesterday for the average farm business income for commercial farms across the country showed that incomes had fallen by 75 per cent since 2010-11.

• READ MORE: Farming news

The figures, drawn up by Scotland’s Chief Statistician for the 2015 harvest year, showed that the average business income for farmers and their families was only £12,600 – back more than £11,500 on the year.

Well over a third of business made an overall loss during the year – however, if farm support payments were removed from the equation, the average farm was plunged into the red, making losses of over £25,500.

Although there has been a change in how the statistics are interpreted in recent years, the figures are the lowest since 1999-2000 in real terms – and they confirmed that the fall over the past five years was the most severe since the BSE food scare in the mid-90s.

• READ MORE: Farm income boost likely after sterling fall helps prices

While some input costs fell in 2015-16 compared to the previous year, the report highlighted the fact that there had been a far bigger decrease in the farmgate prices of all crop and livestock products.

The official figures showed that, between 2014-15 and 2015-16, all eight farm types experienced a decrease in overall FBI, with dairy farms and mixed farms showing the biggest cuts – at 97 per cent and 81 per cent respectively.

While the basic payment scheme replaced the single farm payment scheme in 2015 as the method of allocating funding through direct payments, the average value of all grants and subsidies in 2015-16 was £38,100, a fall of 6 per cent on the previous year.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

‘Whole sector must support producers’

Describing yesterday’s figures as an “income shocker”, NFU Scotland called on the country’s booming food and drink sector to take immediate action to address the huge imbalance between the growth and profitability being enjoyed by retailers and processors and the returns being made by those producing the raw materials at the farm gate.

The union’s policy director, Jonnie Hall, said that the farm business income figures put a clear onus on those further up the food and drink chain to address the underlying disparity in returns.

“Scotland’s food and drink sector, lauded for its ongoing success and ambitious targets, must start to deliver for those at the farmgate and who have seen their incomes fall by more than 75 per cent since the start of the decade,” he said.

Stating that that the steep, downward spiral in farm incomes was placing huge financial pressure on Scotland’s farmers, Hall also said that the low level of returns brought into sharp focus the over-riding need for post-Brexit farm policy and support structures which would secure profitability and stability at farm level.

“These bleak income figures provide hard evidence of the sustained financial damage to farm businesses across a range of sectors,” said Hall. “Anecdotal comments and suspicion around how difficult it has been for farms and crofts to make a profit in recent times are now backed by fact.

“The viability, let alone profitability, of every Scottish farming business relies on three cogs working together – costs, markets and support.”

He said that given the deterioration in farm incomes, the evidence was now clear that no part of the equation was currently working.

“Whether producing livestock, crops, milk, poultry, pigs, fruit or veg, farmers and crofters continue to face rising input and compliance costs, declining market returns and an erosion of support payments, conspiring to threaten the very existence of many,” he added.

“These figures highlight the absolute requirement to drive down all costs, ensure a much fairer share of the margins in the supply chain to the primary producer, and the vital need for governments to commit to ongoing support targeted at active farm businesses.

He said that as the industry entered a period of even greater uncertainty, “with the potential to further undermine confidence”, it was essential that producers were given unequivocal signals that new trading deals and support arrangements would put the prosperity of farming businesses top of the agenda.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "bhenderson@farming.co.uk" ,"author": "Brian Henderson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431887.1493360151!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431887.1493360151!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Farmers saw their incomes slashed again last year. Picture: Neil Hanna","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Farmers saw their incomes slashed again last year. Picture: Neil Hanna","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431887.1493360151!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431888.1493360153!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431888.1493360153!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "NFU Scotland policy director Jonnie Hall said the country's food and drink sector 'must start to deliver' for farmers. Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "NFU Scotland policy director Jonnie Hall said the country's food and drink sector 'must start to deliver' for farmers. Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431888.1493360153!/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/companies/law/law-firm-thorntons-targets-further-growth-in-edinburgh-1-4431885","id":"1.4431885","articleHeadline": "Law firm Thorntons targets further growth in Edinburgh","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493359150000 ,"articleLead": "

Tayside-headquartered legal firm Thorntons has outlined plans to further grow its footprint in Edinburgh as fee income from the capital operation spirals well into seven figures.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431884.1493359546!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "'There is a real buzz within the firm,' said Thorntons joint managing partner Craig Nicol. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

Since 2011, the firm has grown from six members of staff in its Edinburgh office to in excess of 40, including a number of new partners.

It has now launched plans for a fresh recruitment drive that will swell the ranks of its commercial team further, and create senior level positions within employment, banking, intellectual property, agriculture and commercial property.

• READ MORE: Legal sector news

The firm, which can trace its roots back to 1857 when Sir Thomas Thornton began a legal practice in Dundee, predicted that the Edinburgh operation would generate £2.5 million fee income in the current financial year, compared with the £300,000 or so booked in 2011.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

Thorntons, which expanded into the Scottish capital in 2004, said the office had enjoyed a period of rapid expansion with a number of senior lateral hires. The most recent appointment has been Alec Stewart, former head of Anderson Strathern Asset Management, as a partner. Eight partners and their teams now operate out of Thorntons’ Melville Street base.

Clients of the firm include SMEs, start-ups, entrepreneurs, charities, universities and other public bodies. A number of tender wins has seen the firm represent a growing number of clients in the Central Belt including the main clearing banks, surveying practice J&E Shepherd, Glasgow School of Art, the People’s Postcode Lottery and several University of Edinburgh spin-out ventures.

• READ MORE: Monday interview: Thorntons Solicitors chairman Colin Graham

Across the business, Thorntons operates a network of 12 offices, employs some 400 staff and has 46 partners.

Craig Nicol, joint managing partner, said: “As we see the benefit of our mergers being delivered alongside a clearly defined strategy for the coming years, there is a real buzz within the firm.

“We will keep building on our strong national and global links, but remain committed to the Scottish market and look forward to growing our successful business model further in Edinburgh.”

He added: “Throughout our expansion, the focus has remained the same – to provide our clients with the highest quality legal advice and strong client service.”

Nicol was recently named as managing partner of the year at the Scottish Legal Awards. In 2016, the firm was awarded the title of best large Scottish employer.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "sreid@scotsman.com" ,"author": "Scott Reid"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431884.1493359546!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431884.1493359546!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "'There is a real buzz within the firm,' said Thorntons joint managing partner Craig Nicol. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "'There is a real buzz within the firm,' said Thorntons joint managing partner Craig Nicol. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431884.1493359546!/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/5-year-plan-aims-to-return-prestwick-airport-to-private-sector-1-4432261","id":"1.4432261","articleHeadline": "5-year plan aims to return Prestwick airport to private sector","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493381254000 ,"articleLead": "

Management at Prestwick Airport plan to return it to private ownership within the next five years, a report has revealed.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432260.1493381249!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A flight arrives at Prestwick Airport."} ,"articleBody": "

The Scottish Government stepped in to save the South Ayrshire airport from closure in November 2013, buying it for £1.

Initial estimates proposed £21.3 million of loans would be needed to keep the airport - officially known as Glasgow Prestwick Airport - going.

READ MORE: Prestwick earns £1m in a year from military flights

The figure rose to £39.6 million in a revised business plan published the following year.

The executive team has published its five-year strategic plan to 2022, stating it believes passenger numbers have “bottomed out” and are now rising, and losses are less severe than predicted.

The document was drawn up following the appointment of Ron Smith as chief executive officer in May 2016 and states the aim in the next five years is to “return the business to private ownership with a sustainable future as an airport”.

Mr Smith said: “The picture for Glasgow Prestwick Airport is a positive one - we believe our passenger numbers have bottomed out and are on the up again, cargo income is consistent in spite of changes in the wider market, military income is growing, property occupancy are at an all-time high and early indications for the last financial year show that our losses are less than predicted.

“The turnaround will be challenging and will take time, but it has started and this plan will build upon this.

“The Scottish Government has always stated that they would like to return the business to the private sector and this is a fundamental pillar of our plan.

READ MORE: Tory ministers considered extending Prestwick monopoly

“We are working to make the business an attractive prospect for a private investor to come in and build upon this strategy - someone that can bring in additional funds to upgrade our infrastructure and facilities and attract even more business.

“If we are able to do this, we could speed up our turnaround.”

Airport chairman Andrew Miller said the plan sets out how to make Prestwick a “profitable and sustainable airport for generations to come”.

He added: “There has been a significant amount of analysis and research in establishing a sustainable business plan that has been challenged and improved throughout its development, and as a result we now have something that is realistic and realisable.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "LAURA PATERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432260.1493381249!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432260.1493381249!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A flight arrives at Prestwick Airport.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A flight arrives at Prestwick Airport.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432260.1493381249!/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/brexit-could-trigger-worst-slump-since-2008-vince-cable-1-4432020","id":"1.4432020","articleHeadline": "Brexit could trigger worst slump since 2008- Vince Cable","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493370488000 ,"articleLead": "

Brexit could trigger a bigger slump than the 2008 financial crash, former Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister Sir Vince Cable has predicted.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432019.1493370484!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sir Vince Cable has predicted that Brexit could trigger a bigger slump than the 2008 financial crash. Picture; PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The ex-business secretary warned that a combination of falling consumer confidence, job losses, and inflation has the potential to outstrip the credit crunch storm if Prime Minister Theresa May pushes through a hard Brexit withdrawal from the EU.

READ MORE: UK economy slowdown worse than feared as sales fall

Sir Vince, who hopes take back his old seat of Twickenham for the Lib Dems in the General Election, said: “For Britain, the economic weather is arguably worse than it was before the credit crunch. The pound has plummeted, which is driving up prices and trapping consumers in a vicious Brexit squeeze.

“Consumer confidence was all that kept the storm clouds away. But with job losses at everywhere from Deutsche Bank to Nestle, that confidence is going to drain away further.

“The chancellor clearly has no confidence in the economic strategy of the Government, because he knows that leaving the single market and customs union has the potential to devastate the UK economy.

“If Britain enters a second economic storm, it will be Theresa May’s economic storm. You can’t have a hard Brexit and a strong economy.

“That is why it is vital that the General Election produces a large increase in MPs who understand why it is essential to remain in the single market and customs union.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432019.1493370484!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432019.1493370484!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Sir Vince Cable has predicted that Brexit could trigger a bigger slump than the 2008 financial crash. Picture; PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sir Vince Cable has predicted that Brexit could trigger a bigger slump than the 2008 financial crash. Picture; PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432019.1493370484!/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/opinion/jim-duffy-cracking-the-code-gives-access-to-a-new-world-of-opportunity-1-4431783","id":"1.4431783","articleHeadline": "Jim Duffy: Cracking the code gives access to a new world of opportunity","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493362800000 ,"articleLead": "

Big demand for the latest technology skills opens doors for both employers and employees says Jim Duffy

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431782.1493323988!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "As an international trading city, with a big Scottish diaspora, New York is a real target for Scottish business and Scottish entrepreneurs says Jim Duffy."} ,"articleBody": "

New York City is an amazing place. So good they named it twice, right? There is no doubt that as an international trading city, with a big Scottish diaspora in and around it, it’s a real target for Scottish business and Scottish entrepreneurs. There is huge potential with a larger population than Scotland and only six hours away on a plane. A while back I visited the Big Apple on a fact-finding tour. As the co-founder at Entrepreneurial Spark, I always wanted to ensure that the business start-up accelerator we were building was properly benchmarked with global players. I came across General Assembly and it blew me away.

General Assembly was started as a business accelerator, but quickly realised that big business as well as start-up was looking for coding skills. ‘Coding’ meaning computer coding in various languages. When I was at school it was just BBC C+. So, General Assembly morphed into a coding academy and it is massively successful at churning hundreds of early stage and junior coders out each month to join the ever-growing army of new business startups and the needy big corporates who require these skills. It’s always great to have a willing and paying customer for your products, right? Wouldn’t it be great if Scotland had this, I mused? Maybe someone will see the opportunity and start something similar? Well, they have and it is going great guns. It’s called Codeclan.

Scotland has its very own coding academy grounded in Edinburgh, but now opened in Glasgow, with more to follow I am sure. Codeclan is pretty unique also in that while many ventures start are for profit, it has popped up as a social enterprise. Ostensibly, this means that it has no shareholders and is a company limited by guarantee. Many get social enterprise wrong. A social enterprise is a business. It has to get on its feet as quick as it can with commercial customers and it has to make a profit or surplus. So, while a social enterprise can access some grants etc to get kicked off, it has to ‘get real’ fast or die. There is no doubt that the team running Codeclan, led by Harvey Wheaton, has big plans for long term sustainability. So what does it do and how is it doing?

I’ve been pretty clear before that I maths and physics are not my strong points. These are subjects that I always thought were a pre-requisite for learning how to be a coder or techie. But the ethos at Codeclan is not one of intellectual elitism, in that if you’re poor academically at these subjects you’re not cut out for the coding life. Essentially, if you have an inquisitive mind, you are curious and have a thirst for solving problems, you can learn to be a coder. And that’s great news. This gives access to the jobs market for so many who may not have wanted or been ready for a computer sciences degree at university.

In short, it opens up a whole new world for those of us who thought that coding was for a select few. And with a 16-week course costing only £4,500 this is arguably a great way to enter the jobs market. Who is paying this? Well in only 18 months, Codeclan has had 238 new coders through its doors. With cohorts of twenty at a time, Codeclan is now on its 12th cohort. And guess what - 95 per cent of its students complete the course, while an astounding 90 per cent are in employment as junior coders. Wow!

Under Wheaton’s leadership, Codeclan is not resting on its laurels with this great start. The business is looking at how it expands its offerings to open up the world of coding for so many others. Like me, you may not be able to commit to a full-time 16-week programme, so Codeclan have put in place evening classes. These ensure that a wider audience can be reached and give flexibility to those with jobs and family - a smart move. As a social entrepreneurial company, Codeclan is on the march and I would suspect will be in big demand in other Scottish cities, not to mention the UK and beyond.

Malcolm Gladwell, the journalist, author and speaker, wrote a fabulous book called The Tipping Point. In short, the book defines the Tipping Point as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.” It’s when projects and ideas start to take hold in a decent way and the tide then carries them along. Codeclan is about to hit its Tipping Point. The need for coding skills is enormous as the rise in startups and pre-scale businesses keeps on growing. Add to this, the big corporates who need to constantly refresh their own gene pool in the tech and development department, and Codeclan has a huge tailwind pushing it along.

This is a Scottish company that has looked overseas, but is doing it its own way, constantly learning and adapting each course to get better and remain relevant in a fast-paced world where language and platforms are changing almost daily. No need to jump on a plane to New York if you want learn to code. Look up Codeclan and enter new territory where the world is your oyster…

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "JIM DUFFY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431782.1493323988!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431782.1493323988!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "As an international trading city, with a big Scottish diaspora, New York is a real target for Scottish business and Scottish entrepreneurs says Jim Duffy.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "As an international trading city, with a big Scottish diaspora, New York is a real target for Scottish business and Scottish entrepreneurs says Jim Duffy.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431782.1493323988!/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/opinion/daryl-teague-we-must-act-to-avoid-construction-skills-drain-1-4431253","id":"1.4431253","articleHeadline": "Daryl Teague: We must act to avoid construction skills drain","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493359214000 ,"articleLead": "

The ripples of Brexit are far reaching, especially when it comes to the impact on the economy and labour ­market.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431252.1493295065!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Germanys scheme to train youngsters shows different mindset"} ,"articleBody": "

It extends to every ­industry, from the medical profession to skilled manual labour, with the UK standing to lose 8 per cent of its construction workforce, according to the Royal Institution of Surveyors.

Indeed, it warned that 176,500 workers could be lost as a result of the EU ­referendum, jeopardising a construction pipeline worth more than £500 billion.

So how do we deal with the possibility of both current and future labour shortages, exasperated by Brexit? In my opinion it needs to be tackled at industry and UK-wide level.

The construction industry continues to shrink due to the ageing population and lack of new entrants. If we add the less European workers, then we could have a serious ­problem to meet demand.

Earlier this year, planning consultancy Arcadis revealed that the UK could need more than 400,000 workers every year for the next five years to meet potential building and infrastructure projects.

It’s crucial that industry plans to open new routes to apprentices, safeguarding the future of the industry, the UK’s infrastructure and housing. As more school leavers go to university, now is the time to try and redirect the flow back into modern apprenticeships.

In Germany, there is an extremely successful dual training vocational system, where 60 per cent of school leavers enter workplace and train on the job. This approach feeds into the highly productive workforce which Germany is able to obtain.

There is definitely a ­cultural belief in Germany when it comes to a career in the construction industry and national pride that has been ingrained over many years. I believe the educational ­system in Scotland is geared to ­pushing people towards ­higher education and not the workplace. As we exit the EU, mindsets need to change. We will be going it alone and we need to have the right skills to succeed.

The construction industry and apprenticeships need to become a viable choice for a wider range of people. This can only help to alleviate skills shortages and create a professional and productive construction sector in Scotland.

Skills Development Scotland are doing some great work in this area with the Scottish Government pledging to have 30,000 Modern Apprenticeships per year by 2020. They are currently falling short of this. ­However, I believe if the government aligns with the majority of the country and creates a position of stability and focus ­during these uncertain times, we can tackle the problem.

The full effects of Brexit are not known. Only time will tell. I believe in ­never being unprepared and having a plan to manage what can happen in the next few years can only be a good thing.

If we set the right plans for training and apprenticeships today it can only help in ­keeping pace with our expanding construction industry.

Daryl Teague is director of Edinburgh-based Glencairn Properties.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431252.1493295065!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431252.1493295065!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Germanys scheme to train youngsters shows different mindset","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Germanys scheme to train youngsters shows different mindset","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431252.1493295065!/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/politics/fear-of-brexit-impact-sparked-panic-election-says-snp-1-4431251","id":"1.4431251","articleHeadline": "Fear of Brexit impact sparked ‘panic election’, says SNP","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493311874000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland’s economy secretary Keith Brown has blamed the “desperate panic” for a General Election on a fear of Brexit damaging the economy.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4407026.1493295433!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Economy Secretary Keith Brown says Brexit will hit the economy. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Speaking at leading industry figures at the Sunday Times/Brodies business breakfast in Edinburgh, Mr Brown said there is a “clear consensus” that leaving the European Union (EU) would hit the economy.

He said: “I think the UK Government is seeing what is coming down the track and that’s why there is a desperate panic General Election that’s happening.

“Many people in the business community have said to me that the approach of the UK Government has been utterly shambolic if you think about the lead ministers involved in this.

“There is a clear consensus that leaving the EU is going to be damaging to the UK economy.”

READ MORE: Poll: ‘More people think Brexit is wrong than right’

He said the Fraser of Allander Institute predicted Brexit would cost the economy £11 billion a year by 2030 and lead to the loss of 80,000 jobs.

Mr Brown said Scotland should have a separate immigration policy and stressed freedom of movement was crucial to the economy.

Speaking at the same event, Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said predictions the UK economy would struggle following the Brexit vote had not come to pass, adding Scotland is the only area in the UK where the economy is struggling.

“I think going on and on and on about a second independence referendum is the most damaging thing for economic recovery in Scotland,” he added.

Meanwhile, cconomists are expecting a marked dent in Britain’s gross domestic product (GDP) when official figures are released tomorrow, with growth slowing to 0.4 per cent from 0.7 per cent in the fourth quarter, as consumers tighten their belts in the face of rising living costs.

READ MORE: Tom Peterkin: Tory focus on indyref2 to distract from rape clause

The bleak outlook has been compounded by dismal retail sales, which recorded their biggest fall for seven years in the three months to March.

Consumers are feeling the pinch, with inflation sitting at its joint highest level for more than three years at 2.3% last month.

While falling flight and fuel prices kept a lid on the overall cost of living, price tags on food and clothing kept climbing in March.

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist for IHS Markit, said the predicted first-quarter slowdown was “primarily the consequence” of consumers reining in their spending.

“Additionally, we expect businesses to become more cautious over investment, as the economy shows mounting signs of slowing and uncertainties over the outlook are magnified by Brexit negotiations coming increasingly to the forefront now that the Government has triggered Article 50,” he said.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Laura Paterson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4407026.1493295433!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4407026.1493295433!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Economy Secretary Keith Brown says Brexit will hit the economy. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Economy Secretary Keith Brown says Brexit will hit the economy. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4407026.1493295433!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4420460.1493295434!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420460.1493295434!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said talk of indyref2 is damaging the economy. Picture: JP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said talk of indyref2 is damaging the economy. Picture: JP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4420460.1493295434!/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/future-scotland/tech/edinburgh-best-city-in-the-uk-to-launch-a-start-up-1-4431591","id":"1.4431591","articleHeadline": "Edinburgh ‘best city in the UK to launch a start-up’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493307859000 ,"articleLead": "

Edinburgh has been named as the best city in the UK to launch a start-up - ahead of London, Bristol and Glasgow, a survey has found.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431589.1493308466!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Edinburgh is highly rated as a base for tech start-ups. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor"} ,"articleBody": "

The capital was rated favourably by judges for its “speedy internet connections, reasonable office rent and host of university graduates to employ”.

It was enough to secure first place in a top 20 list compiled by Expert Market.

Glasgow was the next top rated Scottish city, finishing 10th overall.

London, although home to more tech firm than any other UK city, was marked down by its soaring cost of living.

Analysis of local authorities found Bristol and Edinburgh both have a more promising start-up community than London which ranked third, and Liverpool and Brighton then came in 4th and 5th respectively.

READ MORE: ‘Majestic pull’ of Edinburgh is attracting tech start-ups

“Entrepreneurship is reaching all corners of the country” said Adelle Kehoe, head of research at Expert Market.

“It is great to see places like Edinburgh being championed as business hubs and this hopefully gives budding business owners a few more options for where to base their start-up.

“As costs in London continue to soar, naturally we will see other cities come to the fore and with fast internet, good office spaces, connections to the city and access to talented staff it’s clear to see why Edinburgh has been the city of choice for thousands of start-up businesses in the last year.”

To create the index of the top cities for enterprise across the entire UK, researchers gathered data from a

range of official sources released over the last 12 months.

It included 10 different data points - including business survival rates, transport links to other UK cities, number of graduates and commercial rent prices.

Last year, Edinburgh was named the best city in Europe to locate a tech business by readers of European Business Magazine, an honour dubbed “not surprising” by city 

The capital’s technology sector has been going from strength to strength in recent years, buoyed by the phenomenal success of companies such as Skyscanner and FanDuel.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431589.1493308466!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431589.1493308466!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Edinburgh is highly rated as a base for tech start-ups. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Edinburgh is highly rated as a base for tech start-ups. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431589.1493308466!/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/economy-s-resilience-gives-housebuilders-a-boost-1-4431281","id":"1.4431281","articleHeadline": "Economy’s ‘resilience’ gives housebuilders a boost","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493297129000 ,"articleLead": "

Two of Britain’s biggest housebuilders have reported solid progress as the industry attempts to close the gap between supply and demand.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431280.1493297126!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The resilient economy is helping builders Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey. Picture: Cate Gillon/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Persimmon thanked the “resilience of the UK economy” for helping drive an 11 per cent leap in forward home sales since the start of the year.

The owner of the Charles Church brand said total forward sales, including legal completions, had jumped to £2.6 billion in the year so far, up from £2.3bn a year earlier.

• READ MORE: Construction sector brushes off fears over Brexit

Its weekly private sales rate is running 12 per cent higher since the end of February, bringing the total of homes sold so far in 2017 to 8,928 at an average selling price of around £229,500.

The figures came as rival Taylor Wimpey hailed a “good start” to 2017, with “positive customer demand” and steady mortgage availability supporting a strong sales performance.

In a trading update, it said the market had remained positive in the first four months of the year, with its total order book currently standing at 9,219 homes, up from 8,811 a year earlier. By value, the order book has risen 2 per cent, year-on-year, to just over £2.2 billion.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

In its statement, Persimmon said: “[Our] operational performance continues to be excellent, with the group delivering higher volumes of newly built homes in local communities across all our regional markets, supported by the resilience of the UK economy.

“The prevailing disciplined approach to mortgage lending is enabling customers to buy newly built homes on attractive but sustainable terms.”

Meanwhile, Taylor Wimpey is to set aside £130 million as part of plans to help customers trapped in onerous leasehold contracts drawn up by the housebuilder.

Following a review of lease agreements struck over the past decade, the company also issued an apology for the “unintended financial consequence and concern” for what MPs dubbed the “PPI of the housebuilding industry”.

Leaseholders were forced to stomach ground rents that doubled every ten years and the freeholds to their houses were able to be sold to third-party private firms, making many homes unsaleable.

It said: “We acknowledge that the introduction of these doubling clauses was not consistent with our high standards of customer service.”

Click here to ‘Like’ The Scotsman Business on Facebook

" ,"byline": {"email": "sreid@scotsman.com" ,"author": "Scott Reid"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431280.1493297126!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431280.1493297126!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The resilient economy is helping builders Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey. Picture: Cate Gillon/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The resilient economy is helping builders Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey. Picture: Cate Gillon/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431280.1493297126!/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/comms-agency-perceptive-lands-trio-of-fresh-clients-1-4431257","id":"1.4431257","articleHeadline": "Comms agency Perceptive lands trio of fresh clients","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493295309000 ,"articleLead": "

Public relations consultancy Perceptive Communicators, which recently marked its tenth anniversary, has added three new clients to its books.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431256.1493295558!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Perceptive Communicators has secured three new clients. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

The Glasgow-based agency, founded by managing director Julie McLauchlan, has secured contracts with Perth & Kinross Council, student accommodation provider true Student and Wavegarden Scotland, the firm planning to turn a disused Edinburgh quarry into a surf park.

• READ MORE: Perceptive rounds off tenth year with PR client wins

McLauchlan said: “Our exclusively expert team, who have all been clients themselves, means that we deliver not only higher quality client results, but also achieve these results more quickly. We’re glad this shone through in our proposals to Perth & Kinross Council, Wavegarden Scotland and true Student.”

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

In addition to the new deals, existing client Construction Scotland Innovation Centre has extended its relationship with Perceptive in a move that will see the agency’s team provide support while the centre recruits its own marketing staff.

Click here to ‘Like’ The Scotsman Business on Facebook

" ,"byline": {"email": "gareth.mackie@scotsman.com" ,"author": "GARETH MACKIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431256.1493295558!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431256.1493295558!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Perceptive Communicators has secured three new clients. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Perceptive Communicators has secured three new clients. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431256.1493295558!/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/pret-a-manger-hunts-for-british-staff-to-plug-brexit-gap-1-4431165","id":"1.4431165","articleHeadline": "Pret A Manger hunts for British staff to plug Brexit gap","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493292454000 ,"articleLead": "

The chief executive of sandwich chain Pret A Manger has said the group is “reaching out” to British applicants as it looks to plug a looming recruitment gap caused by Brexit.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431164.1493293069!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pret boss Clive Schlee is 'reaching out' to British workers. Picture: Pret A Manger/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

Clive Schlee said the group is taking a proactive approach to tackling fears that the UK’s exit from the European Union will leave it struggling to staff its cafes, by advertising on social media and working with job centres.

Pret’s head of human resources last month revealed fears of a recruitment crisis because just one in 50 of its job applicants is British. The chain has 14 shops in Scotland, employing nearly 230 people.

• READ MORE: Paris Gourtsoyannis: UK should see migration differently

Schlee said: “We used to wait for people to come to us, but we’re reaching out to more British labour applicants through social media and job centres.”

Pret, which last year created 839 full-time jobs, recently revealed it is launching a programme this summer to offer 500 week-long paid work experience placements to UK school students.

Schlee said he was “encouraged” by UK government plans to head off recruitment woes for the hospitality industry with a new “barista visa” mooted to allow young European citizens to continue coming to the UK to work in coffee shops and pubs.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

His comments came as the group posted a record set of full-year results, with worldwide sales rising 15 per cent to £776.2 million in 2016, while operating profit grew 11 per cent to £93.2m. Like-for-like sales rose 4.8 per cent.

Schlee said the pound’s fall since the Brexit vote had been a double-edged sword, helping boost trade as it has driven tourists to the UK while also sending up costs of many ingredients.

Many of Pret’s 250 UK shops are based at major transport hubs, such as airports and railway stations, which have been benefiting from tourist trade.

• READ MORE: Sandwich chain Pret rings up record sales

He pledged to keep price rises below inflation despite seeing costs of imported ingredients rise, with salmon, avocados and crayfish particularly impacted as supply issues have also taken their toll.

The group, majority-owned by private equity firm Bridgepoint, hailed sales of its dairy-free coconut porridge, which accounts for one in five porridge sales in the UK.

The firm also opened its first vegetarian-only pop-up shop in London’s Soho last year, which will now be made permanent, with a second Veggie Pret opened earlier this month in Shoreditch.

Its overseas trade was boosted by a strong showing in the US, where sales broke the $200 million mark for the first time in 2016.

Bridgepoint is reportedly considering a stock market flotation within the next 18 months, with speculation that bosses are eyeing New York rather than London.

But Schlee remained tight-lipped on any potential listing, saying it was a “matter for the shareholders”.

Pret opened 50 new shops during 2016 – including 31 in the UK – taking its total to 444, and Schlee said the 500th branch is set to open over the next 12 months.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Holly Williams and Ravender Sembhy"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431164.1493293069!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431164.1493293069!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Pret boss Clive Schlee is 'reaching out' to British workers. Picture: Pret A Manger/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pret boss Clive Schlee is 'reaching out' to British workers. Picture: Pret A Manger/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431164.1493293069!/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/uk/british-brands-lose-value-after-brexit-vote-1-4431087","id":"1.4431087","articleHeadline": "British brands lose value after Brexit vote","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493290332000 ,"articleLead": "

Most of Britain’s biggest brands have lost value in the wake of the Brexit vote, a report reveals today.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431086.1493290650!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "BP: Britain's fourth most valuable brand. Picture Michael Gillen"} ,"articleBody": "

Shell retained its position as the most valuable brand in the UK, rising by 16 per cent to £28.5 billion as it benefited from a surge in oil prices, in the latest Brand Finance UK 150 report.

Vodafone and HSBC were second and third respectively, despite a “very difficult” year that saw them losing 22 per cent and 14 per cent of their value respectively, the figures show.

Oil and gas, telecoms and banking accounted for eight of the top 10 most valuable brands in the UK.

Accounting and professional services firm EY came top of the list of the most powerful UK brands, beating ITV and Lynx.

Unilever had a particularly positive year with eight brands in the UK 150, led by Dove whose brand value rose by 17 per cent to £3.7bn.

However, 88 of the 150 most valuable brands decreased in value over the year, with the falls in sterling making them vulnerable to takeovers, the report said.

READ MORE: Engineer Weir buoyed by jump in oil and gas orders

The UK 150 ranks brands by monetary value and also calculates the most powerful brands. Brand Finance considered marketing investment, familiarity, loyalty, staff satisfaction and corporate reputation to determine the “strength” or “power” of a brand.

Brand Finance chief executive David Haigh said: “While the impact of Brexit on the broader economy has not lived up to the doomsday scenarios espoused by remainers with the domestic performance of brands holding strong, on an international scale the majority of Britain’s biggest brands have clearly suffered.

“If foreign exchange rates stay at current levels, British companies could well be vulnerable to takeover from international buyers.

“There are a number of companies whose woes extend far beyond Brexit, including Thomas Cook which has continued to lose value following its poor handling of a number of scandals to detriment of its corporate reputation and customer loyalty.”

READ MORE: Barclays tops table for financial service complaints

The Brand Finance UK 150 top 10 most valuable brands are:

1. Shell

2. Vodafone


4. BP

5. EY

6. Barclays

7. BT

8. Tesco

9. Sky

10. O2

The top 10 most powerful brands are:

1. EY

2. ITV

3. Lynx

4. Holiday Inn

5. The Body Shop

6. Dove

7. Dettol

8. Rolls Royce

9. Costa Coffee

10. British Gas

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Josie Clarke"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431086.1493290650!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431086.1493290650!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "BP: Britain's fourth most valuable brand. Picture Michael Gillen","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "BP: Britain's fourth most valuable brand. Picture Michael Gillen","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431086.1493290650!/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/how-to-make-your-money-work-by-investing-in-scottish-tech-1-4430817","id":"1.4430817","articleHeadline": "How to make your money work by investing in Scottish tech","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493289332000 ,"articleLead": "

Ahead of the 2017 Engage Invest Exploit (EIE) investor showcase at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, three industry experts explain why the time is right to back the growing tech sector.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4430816.1493280072!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dr Colin Adams, director of commercialisation at Edinburgh Universitys school of informatics from 2006-2016"} ,"articleBody": "

With the likes of FanDuel and Skyscanner having won headlines in the past year for winning major international investment, it could be claimed Scotland’s tech sector has never appeared more attractive to potential investors.

But whether you’re an industry veteran or a relative newcomer, there are a few important pointers to remember before taking the plunge.

“Don’t just invest in one firm - the best strategy is to spread your investment over several companies,” said Dr Colin Adams, director of commercialisation at Edinburgh University’s school of informatics from 2006-2016.

“That way, you might have a couple of losers but also a couple of good winners.”

Speaking to others can be key. There’s no need to fly solo. “There are lots of people who can advise you, and lots of others to invest alongside,” Dr Adams continued.

Angel syndicates offer the best bet for first-time investors. Scotland has the advantage of a thriving business angel community, with investors pumping a record £26 million into 31 start-up companies in 2014, helping to push the total amount of risk capital invested in Scotland up to £244m.

“Small scale investors should definitely look to join an angel syndicate,” said Ian Ritchie, a serial technology entrepreneur based in Edinburgh.

“There’s a lot of them around - they can introduce you to many different people.

“These are the guys that do know more about the industry and have a track record of success. They offer a better chance of winning.

“If you don’t know your way around the technology industry, the best thing to do is to be involved with an angel syndicate.”

But what about if you’re an experienced investor with more capital available?

“My advice is to back the team,” said Ritchie. “A team is much more important than the technology. If the team is good, they can usually make it work. Starting up tech companies in a new market is very difficult. You are starting from scratch. Many tech people come from those backgrounds - they don’t know the commercial market.

“But we’ve got a number of fast-growing tech companies, a lot of them based in CodeBase in Edinburgh. Compared to 10 years ago the sector is unrecognisble.

“We have companies in Edinburgh that are worth well over a billion pounds - that was unheard of in the past.

Austin Flynn, partner and head of the corporate team at Morton Fraser, said the market was looking buoyant for large-scale investments in Scotland.

“In the last month alone we have advised on seven different investments into high growth technology companies,” he said. “These have ranged from a first round of £120,000 to a fourth round of £2m, covering businesses from leading edge IT and software to biotech.

“With the likes of Skyscanner leading the way, it’s no surprise that Edinburgh has just been named as the best city in the UK to start a business by Expert Market based on factors such as speed of internet connection and the availability of tech savvy university graduates.”

But it’s important to remember, especially for those starting out, that investment comes with a degree of risk.

“You certainly wouldn’t want to invest unless you are getting enterprise investment relief,” added Ritchie. “No angel invests unless they are getting tax breaks going in and tax-free gains coming out.

“It has to be said that investing in early stage companies is a high risk venture. I have done it around 50 times - I’m up on the deal, but I did lose a company last week. You can definitely lose as well.”

To book tickets for EIE17 click here.

" ,"byline": {"email": "chris.mcall@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Chris McCall"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4430816.1493280072!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4430816.1493280072!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Dr Colin Adams, director of commercialisation at Edinburgh Universitys school of informatics from 2006-2016","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dr Colin Adams, director of commercialisation at Edinburgh Universitys school of informatics from 2006-2016","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4430816.1493280072!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}