It is tough shifting expensive products when money is tight. Motor dealers have had a grim couple of years with very few signs that next year will be any better. Indeed insolvency specialists tell me there are renewed signs of financial distress in the sector.
Holiday companies have been similarly troubled and none more so than Thomas Cook, which is only with us still thanks to some prompt action last month when its bankers – led by Royal Bank of Scotland – pumped in tens of millions of additional funds.
Thomas Cook in this country is in fact a joint venture with the Co-op after a merger a couple of years back when the Co-op’s travel business was injected. That means there will be greater than usual interest next week when the travel company announces its figures. Indeed if these are accompanied by a widely expected announcement of staff cuts and branch closures it could prove more than a little embarrassing for the mutual giant.
This is not just because it prides itself on putting customers and employees first – though it does – but also because its negotiations to buy 600 Lloyds Bank branches are now at a delicate stage if, as expected, contracts are to be signed next summer.