Business Diary: November 9

Asda falls in love with crooner Chris

No-one can accuse Asda of getting ideas above its station when it comes to being cool.

The supermarket chain that brought you Coleen Rooney as the muse for its George clothing range is over the moon about its new exclusive Christmas album tie-up – yep, that King of Cool –Chris de Burgh.

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Tesco may get an exclusive Nadine Coyle from Girls Aloud album tie-up, but Leeds-based Asda reckons that despite Chris's ahem, rather more sedate image, it's on to a winner.

There is already a big social networking campaign revving up sales of the new album Moonfleet and Other Stories and Chris has over 32,0000 friends on Facebook raving about it.

All Asda needs to do now is put the album on near the red party dress section in George and it really could have a hit on its hands.

Altogether now... "The lady in red is dancing with me, cheek to cheek."

University life

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IT'S a complaint among some business leaders that many university courses appear to be a waste of time. One HR director of a well-known Yorkshire plc added to grumbles by saying that many recent graduates lack the "oomph" displayed by those in the past.

Diary put this complaint to John Hayes, the Minister for Skills, in an interview to follow up the Irwin Mitchell-sponsored Yorkshire Post debate about the skills and training gap.

He said: "Part of going to university is about doing a degree, part of it is about growing up."

He said the experience should be "about maturing and getting that kind of innovative and go-getting attitude". He issued a challenge to universities to "think about people's whole education and not narrowly about the curriculum".

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And in a post-script comment to Diary, the Conservative MP for South Holland and The Deepings said: "I'm never without a copy of the Yorkshire Post."

What Katy did for us

SOME website design projects are more exciting than others. Diary admires designers who can make prosaic clients seem edgy.

One Yorkshire-based digital agency has signed up one of the most colourful clients on the planet. Sheffield-based Quba has added US singer Katy Perry to a growing list of international clients after winning a contract to create a website for her new fragrance, Purr. will be a one-stop shop and information point for UK customers who want to find out about the American singer's life and times. With the site due to be live next week, Quba is hoping to create a real buzz around the project.

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Quba already runs international sites for luxury motorboat group Sealine, the UK's biggest bed retailer Sleepmasters and solicitors group Irwin Mitchell. This new project has generated a great deal of excitement within the Quba office with many members of staff avid fans of the 26-year-old diva who married comedian Russell Brand last month.

Epic verse

PROFESSIONAL services firms rarely inspire poetry. The major poets have tended to give human resources and risk management a wide berth.

However, poetry was very much on the menu when Towers Watson decided to mark its 20th anniversary in Leeds at a swish reception in the city's Corn Exchange.

Diary was on hand, along with hundreds of the great and the good of Yorkshire, to hear Slavica Sedlan, the managing consultant for Towers Watson's Leeds office, recite a 20-line poem about the last two decades.

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The Towers Watson name is a relatively new one – it came about through the merger earlier this year of Watson Wyatt and Towers Perrin. As Ms Sedlan's poem recounted: "A bigger home was needed to serve our client base. And we finally moved into 1 Wellington Place. For our growing business we have our clients to thank. It also means we can have a fish tank."

Diary believes this is the first time that fish and human resources have appeared in the same poem.

White van, new man

A long-established part of British small business may be changing.

The white van man in Yorkshire is now fitter, better-read and more technologically-savvy than ever before.

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That's according to Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, which commissioned the research to mark the launch of a new edition of its Transporter van and the 60th year of production.

Nearly two-thirds of drivers (63 per cent) now take regular exercise and

and 72 per cent use a laptop.

It also showed that the white van driver is changing in one other vital way – today one in six of them are women.