Business briefing: Brexit sends the economy in Germany into reverse


BREXIT, conflicts in global trade and car industry troubles have caused the German economy to stall.

It shrank by 0.1 per cent between April and June, compared to growth of 0.4 per cent in the same period last year, according to official figures.

The state statistics agency Destatis said falling exports had held back output, but demand from consumers and government spending at home had supported the economy.

Germany’s auto industry, a key employer and pillar of growth, faces challenges adjusting to tougher emissions standards in Europe and China, and to technological change.

US president Donald Trump has imposed new tariffs on Chinese goods while seeking a broader trade agreement and has indicated he may impose import tariffs on vehicles that would hit European manufacturers. Uncertainty over the outcome of those talks — and what the future trading regime will look like between the US, China and Europe — has led to businesses holding back spending and investment.

Concerns over the terms of Britain’s planned exit from the EU on October 31 have also hit confidence. Carsten Brzeski, an analyst at ING, said ‘increased uncertainty has dented sentiment and hence economic activity’.

Germany continues to enjoy low unemployment of 3.1 per cent but that figure is expected to rise.

This week Angela Merkel said she saw ‘no need for a stimulus package’. Instead the German chancellor pointed to plans to remove a tax aimed at covering costs associated with rebuilding the former East Germany.

Battery power! E-car charging hits a new high

Charging on: A Nissan LEAF at an electric vehicle station. New figures show the sites now outnumber fuel stations PICTURE: SWNS

DRIVERS now have more charging points for electric cars than petrol stations — overtaking the number of traditional forecourts for the first time.

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There are 9,300 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations across the UK, compared with 8,400 fuel forecourts, figures from charging platform Zap-Map show.

Numbers of EV sites have soared from a few hundred in 2011, when Nissan launched its LEAF electric car in the UK.

‘The next challenge is for charging infrastructure to keep pace with the number of EVs on the road,’ said Nissan Motor (GB) chief Kalyana Sivagnanam.

It comes as sales of pure EVs are up by 70 per cent as buyers make use of road tax exemption and government grants.

High tea at Harrods is rowed out to Henley

EXCLUSIVE department store Harrods is to open its first stand-alone cafe.

H Cafe, an offshoot of the one inside the Knightsbridge store, will open in the centre of Henley, Oxfordshire, in October. It will offer a menu featuring both eat-in and take-away options. Customers will also be able to pick up purchases made on the Harrods website.

The announcement comes during a period of large-scale investment in the Harrods food and beverage operation. In June, it opened a new dining hall, featuring six bars and restaurants.

BUSINESS BITES

■ DRUG company Aspen has agreed an £8million settlement after an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority, which suspected it broke the law by paying two rivals not to supply a drug to the NHS.

■ CAR dealership Lookers has seen its first-half profits slump by 39.7 per cent to £24.9million. Boss Andy Bruce said it came amid ‘challenging UK market conditions’, as new car sales dropped by 1.2 per cent.

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■ HALF of British business owners do not set an out of office email to go on holiday, and 64 per cent of those with small businesses check work emails every day of their trip, a poll for American Express found.

■ RENTOKIL has received a record £27,000 fine from the competition watchdog. It failed to hand over documents on its takeover of rival Mitie’s pest control arm, said the Competition and Markets Authority.

■ GRANT THORNTON is quitting as auditor of Sports Direct — leaving Mike Ashley’s business struggling to replace it. PWC said its ‘ownership structure’ is a worry and KPMG, EY and Deloitte cited conflicts due to other clients.





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