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Why complacency is almost always a prelude to failure

Plus, steakhouse Hawksmoor is up for sale, election investment boost pending and record cash injection into equity funds

Adorable tabby cat sleeping peacefully beside a computer on a wooden desk in warm sunlight

The country takes to the polls tomorrow as a six-week barrage of political ads and ­– in the case of the Lib Dems ­– bungee jumps and water-based shenanigans. Since Rishi Sunak’s great D-Day gaff a month ago, political analysts have warned that the assumption that a large Labour majority being inevitable is dangerous for the Labour party.

The last few days have seen Sir Keir Starmer deliver clear messaging that it is not a done deal, in an effort to stave off voter complacency. While tomorrow will hold the answer as to how real that threat is, complacency is something that people in the business world need to be very wary of, according to the CEO of one of the UK’s largest gym brands.

Former Intel CEO Andy Grove once said that: “Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.” And Humphrey Cobbold, chief executive of PureGym, has written an exclusive piece for Business Leader on this exact subject. After reporting great financial results for 2023, he opens up about how he is vehemently against letting those on his management team let the celebration get in the way of the bigger picture.

He says: “The question history asks of us, therefore, is quite clear: ‘What will stop PureGym from being the next in a lengthy line of former industry leaders?’ I annoy my team by asking this question regularly – and usually not long after we have done something good.

“I am not a killjoy, but my experience tells me it pays to maintain a sense of healthy paranoia. After all, my working assumption is that every operator out there is asking themselves how they are going to catch us. That means if we want to stay ahead, we had better be asking that exact question of ourselves.”

You can read the full article here.

Elsewhere, The Times is reporting that UK investors have pumped cash into equity funds at the fastest rate in a decade as they look towards potential interest rate cuts in the coming months. Fund flow data from data specialist Calastone found that a record £11bn was invested in equity funds in the first six months of the year, compared to £700m in the same period last year.

And finally, remember your voter ID tomorrow. Yes, you Mr Johnson.

Business Question

How many people globally use LinkedIn?

A. 654 million

B. 756 million

C. 830 million

D. 902 million

The answer can be found at the bottom of the page.

Business in Brief

Everything you need to know

1. The British special effects firm DNEG has been valued at $2bn (£1.6bn) in a fundraising round backed by the Abu Dhabi investor United AI Saqer Group. The firm has worked on blockbuster films including Dune: Part Two and Oppenheimer and won seven Academy Awards for best visual effects. You can read more here.

2. Hawksmoor has reportedly been put up for sale in a deal that could value the chain of steak restaurants for £100m. The Financial Times reports that the investment bank Stephens has been hired to run a sales process. Rare Restaurants, which owns Gaucho, is also reportedly considering a sale having appointed Clearwater M&A. You can read more here.

3. City investors believe that a landslide victory for Sir Keir Starmer could be a boost for investment in the UK, providing some stability at a time when other countries are facing political turmoil. The Guardian reports that Nuwan Goonetilleke, the head of shareholder assets at Phoenix Group, says money is already being invested in London-listed assets on the assumption that Labour will win the general election on Thursday. “The UK is really being seen not just as a safe haven, but the safest of havens – especially in Europe,” he says. You can read more here.

4. Average rents in the private sector have reached a record high, according to Rightmove, adding to the cost-of-living crisis. Typical advertised rent outside London was £1,316 a month in May, up 7 per cent year on year, with that figure rising to £2,652 in London. While the growth rate has come down from a peak of 18 per cent, it remains some way above the inflation rate of 2 per cent. You can read more here.

5. Google’s carbon emissions have risen by 13 per cent in the past year and by 48 per cent in the past five years as its increased use of AI to power its products and services means it has to rely on data centres, which consume huge amounts of energy. The firm admits in its annual environmental report that its “extremely ambitious” goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2030 “won’t be easy” and there is uncertainty around if it will, in part due to the unknown environmental impact of AI. You can read more here.

Business Quotes

Inspiration from leaders

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
– Steve Jobs

Business Thinker

Ideas on the future of business and leadership

1. 🏝️Americans and Japanese take far less time off — but Europeans say they’re more ‘vacation deprived’ 🏝️

2. 🚀British space companies look to the stars 🚀

3. 🔥Climate change is pushing up food prices and worrying central banks 🔥

And finally…

We send our best wishes to our columnist Niki Turner-Harding, who in May suffered from a heart attack. Niki has written a LinkedIn post describing her experience, in part because she had been feeling unwell for weeks but dismissed her symptoms. She hopes it will prompt anyone who feels unwell or like something isn’t right to get the medical help they need.

Her post ends with “our health must always come first” and that’s something it’s so important for us all to remember. We wish Niki a speedy recovery.

The answer to today’s Business Question is C. 830 million.

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