DOU­BLE-DIP ROLLER­COASTER

The Herald Business - - Straight Talking -

It was a year in which al­most ev­ery whis­per of good news was cru­elly can­celled out by some­thing bad. A fluc­tu­at­ing, frus­trat­ing, but oc­ca­sion­ally joy­ous 12 months are de­scribed here by Colin Card­well, Ron Clark and Rob Stokes

BANK­ING & FI­NANCE

IF banks last year were like a boxer on the ropes, this year they re­sem­ble noth­ing more than an old rummy ek­ing out his life in the ring as a con­ve­nient punch bag who sim­ply has to con­tinue to take it.

The blows just keep coming. Left hooks from the Li­bor-rig­ging scan­dal, right jabs from money laun­der­ing, up­per­cuts from mis-sell­ing and a rain of blows from a pub­lic and a po­lit­i­cal class whose thirst for banker-bash­ing re­mains un­slaked. The year drew to a close with news that HSBC is to pay a record $1.9 bil­lion to set­tle US ac­cu­sa­tions of mon­ey­laun­der­ing on be­half of drugs lords and ter­ror­ists.

MPs ex­pressed their reser­va­tions last month about whether the pub­lic purse would ever re­cover the £66 bil­lion poured into RBS and Lloyds, fear­ing that UKFI, which man­ages the state’s stake, would be un­will­ing to crys­tallise an­other mas­sive loss fol­low­ing the fire sale of North­ern Rock.

And talk­ing of fire sales, RBS was backed into the cor­ner of the ring again, when San­tander un­ex­pect­edly pulled out of a £1.7bn deal to take on the 316-branch net­work which the Royal had been forced to dis­pose of un­der Euro­pean rules.

RBS is now ex­plor­ing op­tions in­clud­ing trade buy­ers, an IPO and pri­vate eq­uity-backed MBOs. But even though con­tenders are said to in­clude Vir­gin Money, Na­tion­wide, JC Flow­ers and Cor­sair – where ex-Stan­dard Char­tered chair­man Lord Davies is on the board – it will have to fight fast and hard to meet the EU dead­line of this time next year.

Lloyds man­aged to get its trou­ble­some as­sets away over the year, with back-to-fight­ing-trim An­to­nio Horta-Oso­rio of­fload­ing the 632 branches in Project Verde to the Co-op for a bargain base­ment price of £750 mil­lion, well be­low the an­tic­i­pated £2bn. But it was Li­bor-rig­ging which really landed the heavy punches on RBS, Lloyds, Bar­clays and a host of other US and Euro­pean in­sti­tu­tions, with claims in some cases that mar­ket ma­nip­u­la­tion was “in­sti­tu­tion­alised”.

The knock-out blow in the in­ter-bank rates scan­dal was landed in the sum­mer on fully paid-up Master of the Uni­verse Bob Di­a­mond, when the Bar­clays chief ex­ec­u­tive was hit by a sucker punch from Bank of Eng­land heavy­weight Mervin King and left the ring feet first.

Add to this mix rogue states such as Iran and Su­dan and the on­go­ing and fi­nan­cially de­bil­i­tat­ing PPI com­pen­sa­tion costs, and a pic­ture emerges of a sec­tor which ends 2012 in need of get­ting back in to the gym for a bit of se­ri­ous train­ing.

That may be a job for the new bruiser on the block Mark Car­ney, the Gov­er­nor of the Bank of Canada, who has just been named as the new Gov­er­nor of the Bank of Eng­land, tak­ing on one of the most pow­er­ful jobs in the coun­try at one of its tough­est times.

EN­GI­NEER­ING & MAN­U­FAC­TUR­ING

THIS will go down as the year when off­shore wind en­ergy started to live up to its prom­ise for Scot­tish en­gi­neer­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing. Off­shore wind tur­bine man­u­fac­tur­ing projects an­nounced in 2012

in­cluded: Spain’s Gamesa, £125m plant at Port of Leith, Ed­in­burgh, up to 800 jobs; France’s AREVA, to lo­cate in the East of Scot­land, up to 750 jobs; and Korea’s Sam­sung Heavy En­gi­neer­ing (SHI), at Methil, Fife, up to 500 jobs.

Steel En­gi­neer­ing, the Ren­frew-based fab­ri­ca­tor will make wind tur­bine jack­ets for SHI. The com­pany also opened a re­new­ables man­u­fac­tur­ing skills cen­tre for young­sters.

Aberdeen based Global En­ergy Group had ac­quired the moth­balled Nigg con­struc­tion yard in In­ver­ness-shire in hope of at­tract­ing oil, gas and off­shore wind com­pa­nies, and promptly set up a skills academy to start train­ing ap­pren­tices.

Scot­tish Re­new­ables, the in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tion, es­ti­mated that Scot­land’s re­new­able elec­tric­ity in­dus­try had de­liv­ered cap­i­tal in­vest­ment of some £2.8bn since the be­gin­ning of 2009, at a time when many other sec­tors were in re­ces­sion.

The United King­dom’s Green In­vest­ment Bank (UK GIB) opened in Ed­in­burgh and the Scot­tish Green In­vest­ment Ad­vi­sory Group (SGIAG) was set up to help Scot­tish green en­ergy projects se­cure fund­ing from UK GIB.

A num­ber of larger en­gi­neer­ing com­pa­nies did well, among them Wood Group, Weir Group, Bab­cock, Raytheon, Ag­greko, Alexan­der Dennis, SELEX Galileo, and MacTag­gart Scott. Ag­greko’s new, state-of-art fac­tory at Lomondgate, Dum­bar­ton sent por­ta­ble elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tors to clients in­clud­ing the Lon­don Olympics 2012.

In­dus­try-academia links were strength­ened. For ex­am­ple, Strath­clyde Univer­sity gained plan­ning per­mis­sion for devel­op­ment of its flag­ship Tech­nol­ogy & In­no­va­tion Cen­tre in Glas­gow, which is be­ing sup­ported by ma­jor com­pa­nies such as SSE, Scot­tishPower and Weir Group. Due to open in early 2014, it will house multi-dis­ci­plinary re­searchers equipped with state-ofthe-art fa­cil­i­ties for in­dus­try-led re­search.

In­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tion Scot­tish En­gi­neer­ing re­ported that its mem­bers had seen or­ders surge in the third quar­ter of the year and that op­ti­mism had risen but last week the Of­fice of Na­tional Statis­tics re­ported that out­put in Oc­to­ber had fallen at its fastest rate since June.

LIFE SCIENCES

Life Sciences made pos­i­tive head­lines around Scot­land. The Univer­sity of Dundee and the UK Med­i­cal Re­search Coun­cil won £14 mil­lion new fund­ing over four years from a con­sor­tium of drug com­pa­nies for con­tin­u­ing re­search into new treat­ments for dis­eases in­clud­ing can­cer, arthri­tis, lu­pus, hy­per­ten­sion and Parkin­son’s disease.

The Col­lege of Life Sciences at the Univer­sity is mean­while adding an­other 200 re­search jobs to its 1000-plus sci­en­tists, re­search stu­dents and sup­port staff. Firms show­ing faith in Dundee in­cluded Inte- grated Mag­netic Sys­tems Ltd, a biotech com­pany that an­nounced ex­pan­sion and the set­ting up of a Protein Pro­duc­tion Fa­cil­ity.

Ed­in­burgh Bio­Quar­ter, the joint ven­ture be­tween Alexan­dria Real Es­tate Eq­ui­ties, Inc, the NHS, Univer­sity of Ed­in­burgh and Scot­tish En­ter­prise – had seven ten­ants and an oc­cu­pancy rate of 40% in its in­cu­ba­tor within six months of the fa­cil­ity open­ing.

Bio­Quar­ter was one of five Life Sciences lo­ca­tions to gain En­ter­prise Area sta­tus in 2012 along­side Irvine, North Ayr­shire; For­res En­ter­prise Park and In­ver­ness Cam­pus, both High­land; and Bio­cam­pus, Mid­loth­ian.

Drugs gi­ant Glax­oSmithK­line an­nounced to­tal in­vest­ment of £100m in its sites at Irvine, Mon­trose and Tay­side. Bio-pharma com­pany Sigma Aldrich is de­vel­op­ing a new pow­der man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity at Irvine.

LifeS­can Scot­land, owned by US health­care gi­ant John­son & John­son, is safe­guard­ing more than 1,000 jobs at its In­ver­ness base through it be­com­ing the group’s base for R&D on blood glu­cose mon­i­tor­ing, while The Univer­sity of Aberdeen was awarded £5.1m from Well­come Trust to lead a ma­jor UK col­lab­o­ra­tion to tackle in­va­sive fun­gal in­fec­tions that kill 1.5 mil­lion glob­ally each year.

Aquarius Eq­uity Part­ners, a spe­cial­ist UK life sci­ence in­vestor, made ‘a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment’ in GTBi­o­log­ics, an Aberdeen com­pany de­vel­op­ing new drugs from gut bac­te­ria. Con­tract re­search or­gan­i­sa­tion Quin­tiles ap­pointed Scot­land as a Prime Site for its re­search glob­ally in a strate­gic part­ner­ship with the four Scot­tish teach­ing health boards.

Se­lect Pharma Group moved test­ing lab­o­ra­tory ser­vices on to the BioCity Scot­land busi­ness in­cu­ba­tor site at Ne­w­house, La­nark­shire

All told, there will be plenty to en­thuse about at the May 2013 BioDundee Con­fer­ence, Scot­land’s largest event ex­plor­ing cur­rent trends, strate­gies and busi­ness models in ad­vanc­ing R&D in­no­va­tion in the Life Sciences sec­tor.

RE­TAIL

ANY hopes that Christ­mas would come early for Scot­land’s em­bat­tled re­tail­ers were dashed as the ap­par­ent fes­tive frenzy was not un­der­pinned by sales, whose value in Novem­ber was down 1.2% on a year ear­lier. The sur­vey, from the Scot­tish Re­tail Con­sor­tium (SRC), also demon­strates that the sec­tor re­mains sig­nif­i­cantly weaker north of the Bor­der than in other parts of the UK with the high street hit once again in 2012 by a con­tin­ued con­sumer spend­ing slump and a seem­ingly in­ex­orable mi­gra­tion to in­ter­net shop­ping.

Coun­try­wide, more large stores closed than opened with the net de­crease ris­ing to 1.4%, against 0.25% last year, as large chains con­sol­i­dated their port­fo­lios and con­cen­trated on big­ger foot­fall out­lets in more pop­u­lous ar­eas.

The 2012 down­turn has claimed some house­hold name scalps, in­clud­ing leisure group Blacks, video games chain Game Group, Clin­ton Cards, fash­ion re­tailer Pea­cocks, gift com­pany Past Times and JJB Sports – although parts of some com­pa­nies have been sal­vaged.

The clo­sure rate – a net loss of 953 town cen­tre chain stores in the UK in the first half of the year – added to fears that shop­pers are in­creas­ingly fall­ing out of love with the High Street shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence and be­ing se­duced by the ease of the in­ter­net pur­chas­ing, backed by fast, re­li­able de­liv­ery. The government, who last year ap­pointed re­tail guru and TV pre­sen­ter Mary Por­tas to in­ves­ti­gate rein­vig­o­ra­tion of town cen­tres ac­cepted “vir­tu­ally” all her pro­pos­als in March, in­clud­ing es­tab­lish­ing ded­i­cated “town teams” and mak­ing park­ing more af­ford­able.

But the longer term threat to re­tail­ing as we know it was ar­tic­u­lated by John Lewis, the suc­cess­ful, em­ployee-owned de­part­ment store chain, in the wake of the row over com­pa­nies such as Ama­zon, Star­bucks and Google di­vert­ing prof­its through other coun­tries, thus paying min­i­mal or no UK cor­po­ra­tion tax.

Af­ter the Pub­lic Ac­counts Com­mit­tee blasted Ama­zon as “im­moral” for off­shoring prof­its to Lux­em­bourg, John Lewis warned that UK-based bricks and mor­tar com­pa­nies wouldbe “out-in­vested” and “out-traded” if on­line com­pa­nies were not taxed in the coun­try in which their money was earned.

The chain’s Andy Street forecast that if the prob­lem was not ad­dressed it would ul­ti­mately erode the core of the UK’s tax base.

PROP­ERTY

WITH a few no­table ex­cep­tions, the com­mer­cial devel­op­ment pipe­line in Scot­land re­mains at a stand­still and the queue of shiny new Glas­gow of­fice build­ings with plan­ning per­mis­sion con­tinue to wait in the wings for a pre-let or a fun­der bold enough to take the risk.

The long sought af­ter prize of a new 200,000 sq ft HQ for Scot­tish Power fi­nally landed, not as ex­pected in the city’s waterfront, but in the sur­prise lo­ca­tion of the former El­phin­stone site along­side the mo­tor­way in St Vin­cent Street, where its pro­posed 14 storey build­ing can give it the pro­file it seeks. Ab­stract Se­cu­ri­ties hope to build a spec­u­la­tive block di­rectly op­po­site.

In­vest­ment spe­cial­ists Brewin Dol­phin will be the first ten­ants of Ed­in­burgh Coun­cil’s Atria of­fice scheme in Mor­ri­son Street, due for com­ple­tion in the spring, tak­ing the prime ren­tal be­yond the £30 per sq ft mark, too much for ri­val Black­rock who opted in­stead for 80,000 sq ft at SWIP’s Ex­change Place. But with few ri­vals, the lo­cal author­ity backed project is ex­pected to do well. With Tesco bank, Vir­gin Money and the new Green In­ves­ment Bank HQ, the cap­i­tal is re­cov­er­ing the dam­age to its fi­nan­cial rep­u­ta­tion.

Aberdeen is ev­ery­body’s dar­ling and rightly so, DrumProp­erty Group de­liv­er­ing the stuff of dreams at its £100m Prime Four busi­ness park four miles west of the city at Kingswells, where three oil re­lated firms signed up for 100,000 sq ft head­quar­ters even be­fore the scheme got off the ground. Not sur­pris­ingly this prospect started a fund­ing bat­tle, won by F&C Reit As­set Man­age­ment. Lon­don cer­tainly now has the Gran­ite City on its in­vest­ment radar.

Boosted by the pro­posed V& Aout­post in Dundee, di­rec­tor of devel­op­ment Mike Gal­loway toured Scot­land to pro­mote op­por­tu­ni­ties in the city, where the re­de­vel­op­ment aims to re­con­nect peo­ple with their waterfront. Deep water ac­cess means it re­mains a strong con­tender for off­shore wind projects.

Newspec­u­la­tive in­dus­trial schemes don’t stack up fi­nan­cially at present, but the ones which sur­vived have done well. Muse at­tracted Ed­die Sto­bart, ACS and Sta­ple­ton to its gi­ant sheds at Euro­cen­tral (with EZ re­lated ad­van­tages) and MEPC/SCOT Sheri­dan have oc­cu­piers for two of the three units at Clyde Gate­way East (as­sisted by lo­cal URC).

High street shops re­main vul­ner­a­ble to su­per­mar­kets and on­line sales but Land Se­cu­ri­ties is com­plet­ing a 115,000 sq ft scheme in Buchanan Street, with nine, fash­ion driven stores. Shop­ping parks are all ex­pand­ing their leisure of­fer with new cin­ema and restau­rant com­plexes be­ing lined up for Fort Kin­naird, Glas­gow Fort, Sil­ver­burn and Brae­head. The East­gate Cen­tre in In­ver­ness is about to change hands as part of a port­fo­lio.

BUSI­NESS TOURISM

LOSE one, win a lot. Glas­gow suf­fered a small set­back when a busi­ness con­fer­ence sched­uled for 2013 switched to Lon­don be­cause reg­is­trants – mainly from South­ern Eng­land – ob­jected to the

cost of get­ting to Scot­land. Scot­land is nev­er­the­less cited in in­ter­na­tional sur­veys as pro­vid­ing value-for-money, par­tic­u­larly to in­ter­na­tional as­so­ci­a­tions at­tracted by fa­cil­i­ties, at­trac­tions and the ster­ling ex­change rate.

Busi­ness tourism gen­er­ated nearly £900m for the Scot­tish econ­omy in 2011/12 when Glas­gow won more than £120 mil­lion of con­fer­ence busi­ness. This was 10% higher than in 2010/11 and more than the Lon­don’s Con­ven­tion Bureau’s fig­ure of £103m for Lon­don, ac­cord­ing to the Glas­gow City Mar­ket­ing Bureau. At the last count, more than 1,100 ho­tel rooms and lux­ury ser­viced apart­ments are be­ing built or are sched­uled be­fore the Com­mon­wealth Games in Glas­gow in 2014.

Devel­op­ment of the new 12,000 seat Scot­tish Hy­dro Arena, as part of the Scot­tish Ex­hi­bi­tion and Con­fer­ence Cen­tre (SECC), re­mained on course for a late 2013 open­ing. VisitS­cot­land in­tro­duced a £2m na­tional bid fund to sub­sidise con­fer­ence bids over three years and this is al­ready hav­ing an ef­fect, ac­cord­ing to the Scot­tish Government.

Ef­forts to at­tract more de­ci­sion mak­ers to Scot­land bore fruit. The Pro­fes­sional Con­ven­tion Man­agers As­so­ci­a­tion (PCMA), whose del­e­gates con­trol £600-plus mil­lion of event spend­ing held its first global cor­po­rate sum­mit in Glas­gow. Trailblazers, North Amer­ica’s lead­ing meet­ings and in­cen­tive or­gan­is­ers, chose to visit Scot­land for the first time and the city’s air­port last week recorded its busiest Novem­ber in four years.

Ed­in­burgh Tourism Ac­tion Group un­veiled a strat­egy to un­der­pin cre­ation of 6,500 more full­time jobs in tourism by 2020 to com­ple­ment 32,000 cur­rently sup­ported by the sec­tor. In­vest­ments in Ed­in­burgh in­cluded: the re­vi­talised Sher­a­ton Grand Ho­tel and Spa; the re­fur­bished Cale­do­nian, re­branded as a Wal­dorf As­to­ria; the new Ho­tel Indigo; the £30m Len­nox Suite at Ed­in­burgh In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence Cen­tre and the newly re­opened Ed­in­burgh As­sem­bly Rooms.

The job of pro­mot­ing busi­ness tourism in Aberdeen and its shire was taken up by the newly cre­ated Visit Aberdeen with sup­port from Aberdeen City Coun­cil and VisitS­cot­land. The open­ing of the £100m Trump In­ter­na­tional Gold Links north of the city was a high­light of the year in terms of new at­trac­tions.

Busi­ness tourism in the High­lands was boosted when The High­land Coun­cil al­lo­cated £40,000 to sup­port con­fer­ence bids.

PRO­FES­SIONAL SER­VICES

GE­ORGE Washington was re-elected as US pres­i­dent, the King of Swe­den was shot and France de­clared war on Sar­dinia in 1792, the year that Alexan­der B McGrigor com­menced the prac­tice of law in Scot­land.

This year, 220 years later, the ven­er­a­ble firm that bore his name dis­ap­peared in a merger with Pin­sent Ma­sons in what was prob­a­bly the most sig­nif­i­cant deal of the year in pro­fes­sional ser­vices.

In a slug­gish mar­ket, for­tunes among the lead­ing play­ers in the le­gal pro­fes­sion were dis­tinctly mixed. Among the win­ners was Brodies, which broke into the Big Four with 10% growth to £400,000 profit per eq­uity part­ner af­ter fo­cus­ing on its core Scot­tish mar­ket, in­clud­ing ex­pan­sion in Aberdeen.

Shep­herd & Wed­der­burn, Ma­clay Mur­ray Spens and Dun­das & Wil­son turned in more pedes­trian per­for­mances. Dun­das con­sid­ered merg­ing with an­other Lon­don firm, but reined back and posted a sig­nif­i­cant turnover slide. Merg­ers were also the theme out­side of the Big Four, with an­other pres­ti­gious Scot­tish brand dis­ap­pear­ing as Fyfe Ire­land was hoovered up by Tods Mur­ray. An­der­son Strath­ern’s turnover ben­e­fited from its di­ges­tion of prop­erty firm Bell & Scott last year.

Con­sol­i­da­tion was the or­der of the day in ac­count- ancy as well, with BDO, the UK’s sixth largest firm, and PKF, the 12th largest, an­nounc­ing last month that they were se­ri­ously dis­cussing ty­ing the knot. The merger will cre­ate a sig­nif­i­cant new force in the sec­tor, with 3500 staff and £400m in rev­enues.

The Scot­tish mid-tier joined in what many in the pro­fes­sion re­gard as the “in­evitable” process of co­a­lesc­ing, with French Dun­can merg­ing with Macfarlane Gray to cre­ate a £10 mil­lion, 200 staff com­bi­na­tion which will re­tain both brand names.

The 90-year-old name of Rit­son Smith of Aberdeen also dis­ap­peared in the au­tumn as a re­sult of a merger with John­ston Carmichael, mak­ing the new en­tity the 20th big­gest ac­coun­tancy firm in the UK, with rev­enues in ex­cess of £30m.

GLOBAL

PEACE and good­will are com­modi­ties that are un­likely to be traded in sig­nif­i­cant vol­umes this Christ­mas, her­alded in­aus­pi­ciously by Is­rael’s an­nounce­ment of in­tent to build more set­tle­ments in the oc­cu­pied Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries. This was a blow for coun­tries sym­pa­thetic to the Jewish state that in­clude the UK, which had hoped that the cease­fire, how­ever ill-na­tured, af­ter the lat­est Gaza con­flict was the fore­run­ner of com­pro­mise.

Con­fla­gra­tion in the Mid­dle East dom­i­nated the news again for much of the year, with the over­throw of a dis­parate gang of di­cata­tors fail­ing to de­liver a route-map to last­ing sta­bil­ity in the re­gion. Mean­while, vi­o­lence spilled on to the streets of Athens as Greek pro­tes­tors – in­censed at the EU’s (and es­pe­cially Ger­many’s) in­sis­tence on sackcloth and ashes as a penance for pre­vi­ous profli­gacy – staged ri­ots.

In the US elec­tion, the pop­u­lace re­sisted the blan­dish­ments of Gov­er­nor Rom­ney, sto­ically ac­cept­ing that Pres­i­dent Obama, de­spite a per­for­mance less stel­lar than an­tic­i­pated, but who had rescued a huge tranche of the na­tion’s man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try and han­dled the fall­out of su­per­storm Sandy in an im­pres­sively states­man­like man­ner, was the safer pair of hands in a cri­sis.

The nat­u­ral dis­as­ter was a boost at least for the north-east’s slump­ing con­struc­tion sec­tor and as the coun­try moves to be­come a net ex­porter of en­ergy, largely fu­elled by shale oil and gas frack­ing, it will re­new its clout in the world eco­nomic or­der. In France, Fran­cois Hol­lande was a much less os­ten­ta­tious pres­ence in the Elysée Palace than his now legally-em­bat­tled pre­de­ces­sor but the old one-up­man­ship with Ger­many as to who is the EU’s most in­flu­en­tial part­ner looks set to con­tinue.

In Scot­land and the rest of the UK, ex­porters were look­ing be­yond the trou­bled EU to fur­ther hori­zons, in­clud­ing China, with its im­pla­ca­bly de­pend­able growth (al­beit at a slower rate), Turkey and even Brazil.

In June, The Her­ald re­ported that Scot­land had gen­er­ated more jobs through di­rect in­ward in­vest­ment than any other part of the UK, with 5,926 jobs cre­ated dur­ing 2011, the high­est fig­ure since 2011.

Scot­tish Devel­op­ment In­ter­na­tional an­nounced it was open­ing an of­fice in Brazil, while in the US, Scot­land’s sin­gle big­gest ex­port mar­ket, the agency em­pha­sised the success of high-value Scot­tish food and drink as well as point­ing out that the coun­try pro­vided an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant ser­vice for US as­set man­age­ment com­pa­nies.

The di­verse and in­creas­ingly pros­per­ous na­tions of South East Asia re­tained their ap­petite for Scot­tish ex­ports, with the sub­sea sec­tor well rep­re­sented by com­pa­nies such as Wood Group and Sub­sea 7 – while the en­ergy syn­er­gies be­tween Scot­land and Nor­way con­tinue to of­fer big op­por­tu­ni­ties for part­ner­ships.

Mean­while, in In­dia, there has been an in in­ter­est­ing re­ver­sal in some trends as the coun­try, once a ma­jor lo­ca­tion for con­tact cen­tres used by Scot­tish com­pa­nies is now look­ing to Scot­land as a lo­ca­tion for some of its com­pa­nies’ own Busi­ness Process Out­sourc­ing.

Greg Hem­phill and Sean Big­ger­staff in The Wickerman af­ter the Ed­in­burgh As­sem­bly Room’s £9.3m makeover

The Government recog­nised ‘vir­tu­ally’ all of re­tail guru Mary Por­tas’ rec­om­men­da­tions on im­prov­ing shop­ping in town cen­tres

Mervyn King, Gov­er­nor of the Bank of Eng­land and scathing critic of the sec­tor as it sought bailouts, an­nounced he would step down

MON­TAGE BY IAN COR­CO­RAN

Con­struc­tion was the only sec­tor to ben­e­fit from the eco­nomic mis­ery that su­per­storm Sandy wreaked in the US

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