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The maturing green shoots of growth

Plus, the leader behind the company that aids global expansion, Nvidia more valuable than Apple and McDonald's loses Big Mac trademark

Plant with Union Jack in the background

A total of 147,678 new cars were sold in the UK in May, according to new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. This figure is down by about a fifth compared to the same month in 2019, before the Covid-19 crisis. However, sales were up 1.7 per cent compared to the same month last year and this is the 22nd month in a row that new car sales have risen year-on-year.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “As Britain prepares for next month’s general election, the new car market continues to hold steady as large fleets sustain growth, offsetting weakened private retail demand.”

The upbeat tone from the SMMT is not the only piece of promising economic news today.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has released their quarterly economic forecast today and has upgraded their growth projections for 2024 and 2025. The economy is set to expand by 0.8 per cent this year and 1 per cent next year, according to the BCC. This compares to a previous forecast of 0.5 per cent and 0.7 per cent.

However, this does come with a caveat. The BCC says that “a poor outlook for exports acts as a drag anchor and high interest rates continue to limit investment”.

Martha Lane Fox, President of the British Chambers of Commerce
Martha Lane Fox, President of the British Chambers of Commerce (Image credit: Leon Neal)

Vicky Pryce, the chair of the BCC’s economic advisory council, also had a word for the next government:

As we enter the final weeks of the general election campaign, businesses will be watching for politicians to show they have sustainable long-term economic plans. These must play to the UK’s strengths and give companies confidence.  

The update from the BCC comes days after the business lobby group released their five-point plan for the incoming administration:

  • An industrial strategy with green innovation at its heart
  • Better skills planning, bringing businesses and training providers together
  • Business rates reform to encourage growth and investment
  • Improved relations with the European Union to cut the costs for business
  • A government-appointed AI champion for SMEs to spearhead the uptake of new technology

BCC president Baroness Martha Lane Fox laid down the gauntlet:

The stakes for business for the next government could not be higher. Firms of all sizes and sectors crave certainty on which to base their investment and growth plans; to make decisions on hiring staff, creating new products or selling in fresh markets. It is crucial that politicians listen to their concerns and that our new government –  of whatever party – hits the ground running with meaningful action.

The economic news today comes after S&P Global released their composite purchasing managers’ index yesterday, which is a measure of private sector activity. It showed a slight slip from 54.1 points in April to 53 in May, but still ahead of City analysts’ expectation of 52.8.

These fertile economic conditions will maintain hopes of an interest rate cut in August.

Business Question

Guess the company

  • It was founded in 1941
  • It was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1988
  • It’s in the FTSE 100
  • It hires over 550,000 people
  • Its headquarters is in Chertsey
  • It is a food and beverage services company

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

Business in Brief

Everything you need to know

1. Nvidia has overtaken Apple to become the world’s second most valuable company. The AI chipmaker’s share value ticked over the $3trn (£2.3trn) mark only slightly behind Microsoft, whose market cap is $3.15trn (£2.4trn). Read more here.

2. ESG concerns could put a dampener on Shein’s potential blockbuster London IPO. The FT has spoken to fund managers who say that concerns about its alleged treatment of workers and fast fashion churn could be a risk for the London Stock Exchange’s brand. You can read more here.

3. McDonald’s has lost the EU trademark for use of the term “Big Mac”…in relation to its chicken burgers. A Court has ruled that the evidence was not sufficient to prove McDonald’s had used the contested trademark enough in relation to poultry products Read more here

4. The prime minister has reportedly recommended some surprise candidates for UK honours. Rishi Sunak has put forward JPMorgan Chase boss Jamie Dimon and former Google chair Eric Schmidt. Both are US citizens. Read more here

5. Stateside basketball could be on the verge of changing the sports and media landscape. With the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks squaring off in the NBA finals tonight, the league is on the verge of agreeing to an 11-year $76bn (£59.4bn) deal with NBC, ESPN and Amazon. Read the full story here.

Business Quotes

Inspiration from leaders

“One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done.”

Marie Curie

Business Thinker

Ideas on the future of business and leadership

1. The workers who do everything on their phones — except answer calls

2. Could AI put an end to animal testing?

3. GB Energy: can Labour’s plan to become a ‘superpower’ pay off?

And finally…

Bill Gates has announced his latest book and it’s an interesting one. The billionaire founder of Microsoft has penned a memoir covering his childhood through to his decision to leave university and start Microsoft with Paul Allen.

He explains further:

In the book, I share some of the tougher parts of my early life, including feeling like a misfit as a kid, butting heads with my parents as a rebellious teen, grappling with the sudden loss of someone close to me, and nearly getting kicked out of college. 

I cover the challenges of dropping out of school to make a bet on an industry that didn’t really exist yet. But throughout it, you’ll also find the stories of the many people who believed in me, pushed me to grow, and helped me turn my quirks into strengths. And I reflect on the luck I had to be born to a great family in a time of historic technological change and optimism, and to come of age just as the personal computer revolution was taking off.

The book is available for pre-order here.

The answer to today’s Business Question is the Compass Group.

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