You’d be surprised that just two companies dominate the global eyewear market

In The Guardian’s Long Read article on, The spectacular power of the Big Lens, it’s hugely informative on an industry that most of us rely on, eyewear. [My spare glasses in photo]

In the article I learned from the article’s author that,

The lenses in my glasses – and yours too, most likely – are made by Essilor, a French multinational that controls almost half of the world’s prescription lens business and has acquired more than 250 other companies in the past 20 years.

and,

There is a good chance, meanwhile, that your frames are made by Luxottica, an Italian company with an unparalleled combination of factories, designer labels and retail outlets ……. such as Ray-Ban, Vogue, Prada, Oliver Peoples, and Oakley all owned by Luxottica, and John Lewis Opticians run by Luxottica, or Sunglass Hut also owned by Luxottica.

and, now they are becoming one company.

On 1 March 2018, regulators in the EU and the US gave permission for the world’s largest optical companies to form a single corporation, which will be known as EssilorLuxottica. The new firm will not technically be a monopoly: Essilor currently has around 45% of the prescription lenses market, and Luxottica 25% of the frames.

I’d imagine that the majority of us would have imagined that there’s as much a multiplicity of manufactures as their opticians in the country. Not so, which is what I learned from the article.

I started wearing glasses in my early thirties, and have subsequently had numerous different frames and lenses. Currently, my lenses are Varifocal, an Essilor brand, in a Silhoutte frame, which is an independent Austrian company, and jolly expensive they are too. I only moved away from Specsavers as their range of rimless frames was limited.

It wasn’t long ago that we collected all our many spectacle cases and specs, and recycled them. They’d built up on drawers through our house. Now I’ve only kept the last two prescriptions. The photo is of one of them.

West End only Surrey Heath location for Heathrow consultation events

Delivered, yesterday, by our ‘postie’, is Heathrow’s leaflet on the upcoming Public Consultations on it’s preferred expansion scheme for airport capacity in the South East.

The website on the consultation will be live from tommorrow morning – bet you can’t wait to visit.

Of the forty locations for consultation events, just one is in Surrey Heath, and that’ll be at Tringham Hall, Benner Lane, West End, GU24 9JP, on Saturday March 10th, between 10am to 4.0pm.

Here’s the middle pages of the Heathrow Consultation leaflet, [Click on images to expand].

The U.K. Tops Forbes’ Best Countries For Business 2018

Forbes is an American business magazine and website. They are well known for publishing lists and rankings.

In their annual ranking of the Best Countries For Business 2018, the United Kingdom is ranked top of the 153 countries analysed. The opening paragraph of the article says,

After the United Kingdom narrowly voted last year to leave the European Union, predictions swirled that the British economy would collapse. Yes, the pound plummeted 9% versus the dollar the day after the surprise result and remains down, but the economy as a whole has held up relatively well. Gross domestic product grew 1.8% in 2016, a tick behind only Germany’s 1.9% growth among the Group of Seven industrialized nations. Economic growth has continued in 2017, home prices are up and unemployment has sunk to a 42-year low at 4.3%.

The ranking table has the Top Ten Best Countries for Business 2018 as,

  1. UK
  2. New Zealand
  3. Netherlands
  4. Sweden
  5. Canada
  6. Hong Kong
  7. Denmark
  8. Ireland
  9. Singapore
  10. Switzerland

The USA are ranked 12th, Germany 13th, Japan 21st, and France 22nd, with China coming a lowly 66th in the table of 153 countries.

UK maintains its ranking in Legatum Prosperity Index 2017

In the 11th edition of the Legatum Prosperity Index, the world’s leading global measure of economic and social wellbeing, Britain remains in 10th place in the the rankings of 149 countries [See image of top 20. Click on image to link to the Rankings Table]. Much to delve into.

Britain’s position is driven by a Business Environment which is the best in Europe and fifth best in the world. Our Economic Quality has also begun to recover since the financial crash, and now sits ahead of both Canada and the US.

Overall, the Index finds a number of surprising global, regional and national trends in economic and social wellbeing, including an alarming deterioration in global security and a widening gap between the most and least prosperous nations.

Commenting on the publication of this year’s edition of the Prosperity Index, the Legatum Institute’s CEO, Philippa Stroud, said:

“It is encouraging to see the UK’s ranking unchanged since the momentous referendum last year. This year’s Index demonstrates that Britain has built the best Business Environment in Europe, and the fifth best in the world. Combined with world-class Governance, it suggests that the UK’s prosperity has been built on solid foundations, as it prepares for a future outside of the EU.”

2017 Prosperity Index – Key Findings

  • Norway has regained the number one spot from New Zealand
  • The UK has maintained its tenth place in the rankings
  • The world has become less safe and secure
  • The greatest gains in prosperity have come from the Asia-Pacific region
  • Governance improved in every region in 2017, with Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa rising fastest
  • Western European prosperity overtook North America for the first time in the Index
  • India is catching up with China
  • Latin America is showing the most concentrated declines in prosperity
  • The Nordic and Anglosphere nations have enjoyed the highest overall prosperity in the world.

Gas provides 60% of UK electricity generation needs

It being a foggy day today, with no wind where I am in Surrey, thought I might check the Gridwatch website to check on our sources of electricity. There’s another Gridwatch website you can look at – confusingly with the same name.

Here’s the status of the National Grid from Gridwatch at 10.15 on 3rd November 2017, which shows that CCGT comprises almost 60% of our electricity generation needs – Combined Cycle Gas Turbines [Natural gas used to power turbines and the exhaust gases used to create steam to generate more electricity, hence combined cycle]. Click on image to enlarge.

Views on UK car manufacturing: 3 of 3

The concluding article of three on UK car manufacturing looks the the health of the industry, which currently looks buoyant.

On Thursday April 27th 2017, figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders [SMMT], showed exports continued to drive British car manufacturing in March, as demand rose 10.6% in the month. 170,691 cars were built in the UK in March, up 7.3%, with overseas buyers ordering more than 76% of output.

Overseas demand also helped push overall production to a 17-year high in Q1, to 471,695 units – an increase of 7.6%. This helped offset a decline at home, with demand down -4.3% in the quarter. Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

UK car manufacturing is accelerating thanks to billions of pounds of investment committed over the past few years. A large proportion are the latest low emission diesels and it’s essential for future growth and employment that we encourage these newer, cleaner diesels onto UK roads and avoid penalising consumers who choose diesel for its fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions. Much of our output goes to Europe and it’s vital we maintain free trade between the UK and EU or we risk destroying this success story.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, also announced that March delivered an all-round high for engine manufacturing  in the UK, as Q1 output surpasses 700,000 for first time.

Some highlights for the UK car manufacturing industry are,

Views on UK car manufacturing: 2 of 3

Following up on the previous article about UK made cars. Here’s the list of such cars. The AA’s list of January this year contains only the volume car manufacturers, while British Built Cars gives a more comprehensive list of 80 manufactures. Here’s the AA’s list, where the first three are British owned manufacturers, while the remainder are all made in Britain. [Photo of 2017 Honda Civic from Wikipedia]

  • Morgan Motor Company Ltd (Aero 8, Plus 8, Roadster, Plus 4, 4/4, 3 wheeler)
  • Caterham Cars Ltd  (Seven)
  • Mclaren Automotive  (570S, 540C, 570GT, 650S, 675LT and P1)
  • MINI – MINI, MINI Clubman and MINI Countryman, in Cowley, Oxford
  • Honda – Civic and CR-V in Swindon
  • Toyota – Auris, Auris hybrid and Avensis in Burnaston, Derbyshire
  • Nissan – Juke, Qashqai, Note and Leaf and Infiniti Q30 in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear
  • Lotus – Elise, Evora and Exige in Norfolk
  • Aston Martin – DB9, Vantage, Rapide, Vanquish, and DB11 in Gaydon, Warwickshire
  • Bentley Motors – Continental, Flying Spur and Mulsanne in Crewe, Cheshire
  • Rolls Royce – Ghost and Wraith in Goodwood, West Sussex
  • Jaguar – F-Pace and XE in Solihull, and F-type, XJ, XF and XE in Castle Bromwich, Birmingham
  • Land Rover – Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque in Halewood, Merseyside, and Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Land Rover Defender in Solihull, West Midlands
  • Vauxhall – Astra at Ellesmere Port and Vivaro van in Luton