Business Diary: August 6

DIARY never ceases to be amazed by the innovative uses that can be found for the most humdrum items of clothing.

Graham Steele

The prize for most inventive press release of the week must go to

According to an email that thudded into Diary’s inbox, laptops and condoms top the list of the strangest items destroyed by pet dogs.

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Apparently, Ilkley resident Jonathan Ratcliffe has bought a sock subscription for his cocker spaniel Willow so she can chew socks to her heart’s content.

The tale inspired to poll its customers and find the most bizarre item that their dog had ever chewed or eaten.

“Willow’s story is a wonderful one of a dog being rewarded for her years of service to her master,” said Mark Hall, managing director of, “Unfortunately, we’ve also uncovered many, many tales of naughty canines that we just had to share.”

Never one to keep a good story out of the public eye, Diary can also reveal that found other shocking evidence of canine misbehaviour.

There’s the tale of one customer, known only as Toby, whose dog devoured his priceless vinyl collection of Northern Soul classics.

“He looked so pleased with himself, the musical philistine,’’ said Toby.

Back to his roots

AS relocations go, Graham Steele’s 10,500-mile move to Leeds from Australia is a significant one.

But Steele, KPMG’s new research and development tax director, is no stranger to Yorkshire. In fact, he is originally from the region and is returning after seven years in Australia working at the firm’s Sydney office.

He joins KPMG in Leeds in the role, leading the firm’s innovation reliefs and incentives group across the North.

‘Down under’ Steele advised on R&D across a large mix of industries, from financial services to software, and renewable energy to mining. His experiences included working at a remote mine site in the Northern Territories, conducting meetings in the mining town’s only pub.

Steele is now returning to his roots “to focus on the myriad of positive changes occurring in the UK tax landscape”.

He said: “This is an exciting time to be returning to the UK tax scene, notwithstanding tax being high on the news agenda, because great leaps are being made in innovation policy.

“Increasingly, the UK tax system is using new reliefs and incentives to foster innovation and promote the UK economy. The introduction of the new Patent Box regime, the R&D expenditure credit and the new creative sector reliefs are prime examples.

“They present a great opportunity for the region’s companies which have a rich history of innovation and technological bravery.”

Read all about it

ELMWOOD, which describes itself as the world’s most effective brand design consultancy, is branching out in a bold new direction – newspaper publishing.

The Leeds-based business has just produced the second issue of A Bunch of Stuff from Elmwood.

The marketing publication includes articles on new members of staff, the Chinese New Year and the agency’s office in Australia. How heartening to see a well-designed, quality print product in this increasingly digital world. It makes a refreshing change from all those never-read email newsletters and blogs clogging up Diary’s inbox and Twitter feed.

Cutting the waffle

Have you ever been stuck in a meeting that went on for hours and achieved nothing? Well, Yorkshire-based leadership coach Tilla Brook says she is on a mission to banish unproductive, boring meetings.

She claims she is the “first certified convenor in the UK” – convening, as defined by Brook, is “the art and science of gathering and holding people for the sake of the best possible outcome”.

Brook said: “In this time of great change, the quality of our communications and our relationships with fellow workers is crucial to the success of our lives, work and organisations.” She trained with Heartland, the United States-based convening company founded by Craig and Patricia Neal.

Presents of mind

It may be the hottest summer we’ve seen for years, but at Asda House they’re looking to Christmas already.

According to the supermarket chain’s latest Mumdex research, a third of mums (33 per cent) purchased presents for this Christmas in the January sales earlier this year and one in three mums won’t be buying presents for adults at all this year, opting instead to only spend on their children.