Opinion: Six stories to keep an eye on in 2013
Making predictions for the year ahead is always a dangerous game in an uncertain economic climate, writes Business Editor Ian Griffin. It is quite likely many of your forecasts will turn out to be almost entirely wrong.
But, nevertheless, a crystal ball-style offering is always required to kick off the new year in this column, and I never like to disappoint. Here are six things to look out for in 2013:
Despite an upbeat outlook for industry in 2013 according to some leading surveys, there will be at least one major casualty in Leicestershire this year and a significant number of job cuts. It is widely known a number of companies are currently treading water.
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Whether these firms end up collapsing will depend on whether banks bite the bullet the decide they want to disclose major losses on their balance sheets. Consolidation of a major national manufacturer, such as what happened last year with defence contractor Thales in Leicester, could also mean county job losses in the sector.
House building firms are thriving, while commercial developers are in the doldrums. However, the industry on a whole is still down by a fifth compared to 2008. The sudden collapse of Hallam Contracts, of Oadby, in November, sent shock waves through the commercial sector in the region. Expect at least three other significant failures in the county within Hallam's supply chain. Another construction company failure is not beyond the realms of possibilities.
The accounts for the 2011-12 season, due to be released in the next few weeks, will make very interesting reading given the Football League's implementation of the financial fair play programme.
The scale of last season's losses (the club made a £15.2 million loss in 2010-11), the amount of debt recorded on the balance sheet and whether City's Thai owners have provided further loans on top of the £50-odd million already lent over the past two years will all come under scrutiny.
Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership has helped bring in millions of pounds to the county economy over the past 18 months.
However, many business people are still unsure about the organisation's role and how it is assisting companies. Further major investment wins for the area are only going to boost the profile of public-private partnership body and help to reassure firms.
Last year saw the disappearance of the 73-year-old Leicestershire camera chain Cecil Jacobs, with many more smaller stores also going under, as well as outlets closing as a result of national firms collapsing. Insolvency experts are predicting more than 100 retail failures nationally this year. If this is the case, it is likely there will be closures in the city.
The Blue Tower
Also known as St George's Central, in St George's Way in the city, the huge and garish building has been at least three-quarters empty for more than a decade. I'll stick my neck out and say some kind of deal will be secured with a major occupier by the body which controls the building.