Luke's Columns

Buying is a vital but unglamorous discipline in almost every business. These days it is known by the slightly posher title of procurement, but the nature of the job remains the same: to source goods and services used by a company. Buying spend can represent up to 70% of…

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A book called Exit, Voice, and Loyalty by Albert Hirschman sums up the choices we each face during this incredibly difficult time. We can speak up and attempt to resist the awful mistakes being inflicted on society by the authorities; we can remain “loyal” citizens and passively comply with…

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Covid-19 and lockdown have affected businesses in many ways. Some have been forced to suspend trading, furlough staff and rely on government handouts to survive. Some have remained operational but face higher costs and lower productivity thanks to social distancing, absenteeism and other frictions caused by regulations and fear….

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For many people in business, the past six months have demonstrated the advantages of government lobbying. Certain industries have benefited from state subsidies, tax breaks and assorted support. And although schemes such as the government- backed emergency loans and furlough have been universal, others have left out some sectors….

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Who will save our beloved London? The great city has been laid low by Covid-19 and lockdown, and needs a hero to rescue it from devastation. Closed shops, desolate Tube stations, abandoned restaurants, empty theatres, deserted offices: a stroll across the capital can be a depressing experience. The energy,…

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I have enjoyed an extended love affair with America since I first went there 40 years ago. It is not just the world’s richest and most powerful nation; in many respects, it is also the most free and friendly. But I am more fearful about its future than I…

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The Hong Kong influenza epidemic of 1968-9 was much more deadly overall than Covid-19. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, between one million and four million died worldwide. The global population was then 3.6 billion, less than half today’s 7.8 billion. I believe the coronavirus is unlikely to kill more than…

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Certain businesses do not require external capital: they use customers’ money to fund their operations. Examples include tour operators and travel agents, insurance underwriters and brokers, construction companies and membership clubs. These types of business models fall into two categories: one where the client pays in advance — for…

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There is a trite saying — you can be right or you can be happy. A variation of this might be: you can be successful or you can be happy. Many high achievers I have known are not conventionally happy. Being content with their lot is simply not part…

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This is my 40th year in the food and drink trade — and it’s easily the worst. Covid-19 and, more significantly, an extended lockdown, have crippled the industry like no previous downturn. One restaurant company I backed threw in the towel last week. An insolvency practitioner sent me a…

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