Business Diary

Charles Dent
Charles Dent
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YORKSHIRE and Clydesdale Banks will need to impress when their parent company reports its half-year results this week if they are to find favour with Australian analysts.

National Australia Bank’s UK unit, which includes Yorkshire and Clydesdale, was described as having “just been a noose around the bank’s neck” by Simon Burge, chief investment officer at Sydney-based Above the Index Asset Management Pty, which owns NAB shares.

He was quoted on the website of Australian newspaper The Age, which pointed out that NAB is the worst performer since the end of 2008 among Australia’s four biggest banks.

“In the last few years, they have materially underperformed their peers,” said Mr Burge, while The Age reported that shares have been weighed down by NAB’s UK operations. It also reported that, under CEO Cameron Clyne’s stewardship, NAB shares have climbed 62 per cent.

Mr Burge is not the first to voice concerns over Yorkshire and Clydesdale with Australian commentators previously having described the banks as “a major blight”, “a nightmare”, “a complete waste of space”, “sub-standard” and “an albatross around NAB’s neck”.

The group has been under pressure to retreat from the UK by selling Yorkshire and Clydesdale banks.

But NAB said earlier this year it was right to hold on to its UK arm, where a restructure is “well advanced”. “The UK is clearly a problem asset,” said Mr Clyne to analysts. “But there have been very, very limited options that we could have undertaken.”

Yorkshire and Clydesdale made a pre-tax loss of £183m for the year to the end of September 2012, but said this would have been a profit of £148m if the commercial property arm had been offloaded earlier.

The banks saw their bad debt charge more than double to £631m due to commercial property losses, which wiped out underlying profits of £448m.

Here’s hoping Yorkshire and Clydesdale manage to show evidence of a better performance on Thursday and avoid the wrath of the analysts down under.

Tweet taste of success

ONE of Yorkshire’s most traditional businesses is embracing the digital age.

Timothy Taylor, brewer of Landlord, has set up a Twitter account and Facebook page, as well as an online shop.

A spokesman said the 155-year-old business has long held the belief that its beers “speak for themselves” and receive extensive publicity driven by loyal publicans and their customers through word of mouth.

But with the explosion of social media the company has seen demand from customers for more information and interaction, he added.

Marc Craddock, operations manager, said: “Twitter is proving to be great for us. It enables us to see where Landlord, for example, has been receiving coverage all over the world from Texas to Australia.

“The instant nature of Twitter has 
also allowed us to give our customers 
a photographic insight into the 
brewing process at Knowle Spring 
and the quality of the ingredients we use.”

Fortunately, there is no digital replacement for Keighley-brewed ale, brewed For Men of the North.

Jubilee celebrations

IT has been a month of milestones for accountancy firm Clough & Company.

The West Yorkshire-based business launched its 60th anniversary celebrations, while its founder Harry Clough marked his 90th birthday with a visit to the firm’s offices.

The launch of the jubilee celebrations saw the firm bury a time capsule, enjoy a fish and chip lunch and present Mr Clough with national newspapers from the day he was born.

Further events taking place throughout 2013 will include a charity ball, a Three Peaks Challenge, a triathlon, a trip to York Races and internal competitions that will raise money for Bradford Cancer Support and Marie Curie.

Mr Clough said: “It’s fantastic to 
see Clough & Company is going 
from strength to strength and I can’t believe 60 years has passed since I started the company from a small 
office in the Majestic Hotel in Manchester Road, Bradford, at the 
age of 30.

“The company has successfully diversified and now has specialist departments offering all accountancy disciplines, as well as expanding into several other related areas, which should stand the firm in good stead for the next 60 years.”

Steven Gash, practice chairman at Clough & Company, says: “2013 is an exciting year for us and it’s fantastic to be supporting two very deserving charities as well as celebrating this anniversary.”