It has been an unusual week in the life of a business journalist. Yesterday, I was on set to film Babylon – a police comedy/drama pilot for Channel Four. My role was “female TV reporter”. The best bit about this foray into television drama was that the director was none other than cinematic legend Danny Boyle! We tweaked the scripts together and then I did my thing – pretending to report, but not quite acting either.
I doubt Bafta will come calling just yet. I might end up on a muted TV screen in the back of an office scene, in a five second news-flash that pops up on someone’s smartphone – or, unfortunately, on the cutting-room floor. Regardless, I had a fantastic time working with a great team, not to mention big-screen hero Danny Boyle. What a treat. The pilot will air in January 2014 and the series has been commissioned for January 2015.
Next stop, Paris and the World Retail Congress. The event is in its 7th year and brings together the global retail industry’s most influential business leaders and decision makers to challenge current thinking, unveil the latest innovations and shape the direction of the global retail industry. I will be moderating sessions on customer service and bricks n’ clicks (how retailers gel their bricks and mortar stores with what they have to offer online), as well as introducing all the keynoters, including Martha Stewart, Sir Philip Green and speakers from Coca Cola, Adidas, Vente-Privee, Burberry and even the queen of muffin-top and bottom-drop, Laurie Ann Goldman of Spanx.
As well as talking global trends, new growth markets and opportunity alerts, I’m interested to hear more about the explosion over the last couple of years in companies offering retail bonds. It is a young market that is growing fast. But that of course means there are teething issues. Household names – John Lewis for examply – have offered investors generous income payouts in exchange for investment.
Since banks offer such low savings rates, I don’t blame investors for pumping thousands into these high-yielding investments. But the risks are high. Retail bonds are not the same as fixed-term savings bonds issued by banks. A key difference is that they are not underwritten by the deposit protection scheme, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. So if the company that issued the bonds goes bust, so does your investment.