Posts Tagged ‘business’

Shangri La refugees, part 2

December 1, 2008
This morning we met our host at the Shangri La, Rosemarie Wee, area director of communications.

She told us the political situation in Thailand was causing a significant blow for the group: the Shangri La in Chiang Mai was due be official host of the 2008 ASEAN Summit, with hundreds of politico/economic VVIP attendees from across the region. It’s now been postponed.

This high-profile event is The Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ annual meeting discussing the region’s economic and cultural development. Global strategic and security issues are also covered.

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Global economic crisis forces Zoombak to close its UK business

November 19, 2008

Another sad chapter in the global money meltdown story: Zoombak – which provides lightweight cheap personal GPSs – is closing its UK consumer business. zoombak-pic1

I went to the product launch a month ago at London’s Haymarket hotel.

These things are the size of a match box and you can (or could until now) attach them to your dog’s collar, kid’s bike or you car while you’re away.

We watched as the team live-tracked a fleet of taxis around the south-east on google maps. There were a couple of cute dogs in attendance at the champagne reception – they were mostly interested in the canapés – and we tracked their walkies around Pall Mall. It was good fun and the team talked up a storm.

One chap told me how he had one on his young daughters bicycle, and set up an ‘inclusion’ zone around her school – so he knew when she arrived safely each morning, and when she had set off for home.

The range of potential business and personal usage was vast. Estate agents, hauliers and taxi/fleet firms were among the sectors interested in the product.

You could monitor your car’s security from the other side of the world – especially if your teenage kids are tempted to go for a spin while you’re away. Beloved or valuable dogs were also kept under close satellite surveillance. There were hopes that one day a model would be small enough for cats.

I thought the whole concept had great potential, so it’s sad to hear today that the UK operation is being closed down.

Zoombak‘s European vice-president, Barry Wilson, said: “When your product category is effectively a new market area, major investment is required to create and develop this market.

“At some point there has to be a return on that investment. Given these difficult trading times and low overall consumer confidence, it is almost certain we will not be able to generate a return on the proposed UK investment within an acceptable timescale.

“We’ve therefore had to make the very difficult decision to withdraw from the UK consumer market.”

Current customers will get full purchase refunds. More at www.zoombak.co.uk

An airport for the 21st century?

November 6, 2008

It is disheartening to hear the politicos bickering, agonising and tying themselves in knots over Heathrow expansion.

In all those tiger economies of the east, they’ve not dithered for years about tacking extensions onto a creaking 70-year-old airport in the middle of town. They’ve just gone ahead and built a brand new multibillion-dollar showpiece somewhere else.

Why can’t we do that? Why does everything we do have to be so shoddy and ‘make do’?

What is so outlandish about building a new airport in the Thames estuary? It’s the kind of thing they do everywhere else in the world.

The business travel community tends to view situations from a global outlook. The tussling over ‘slots’ and the extraordinary levels of congestion in the sky and on the ground looks terribly rickety and old-fashioned compared to what’s going on in the near and far east.

Then there’s all the talk of closing Heathrow and putting the thousands of people – who live in the area and service the airport – out of work. Why? With the steady growth of air travel – which seems to continue despite economic cycles and fuel price fluctuations – there’s enough planes wanting to fly in and out of London to justify both the airports.
Perhaps the pressure could be eased on Heathrow – less early morning/late night flights, less CO2-spewing stacking in the skies, less queues, less delays. Does this really sound so terrible?

I know there’ll be a million good eco-arguments against building in the Thames estuary, but if not out to sea, then where? There are an equal number of arguments against Heathrow expansion, and I don’t see how a new train link to Manchester or wherever is going to solve the problems of the world’s busiest hub.