Sign up to be the first to know about blog features

All Posts By Cristina Diaconu

The Rolling Stones Rare Film Screening

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

There have been a lot of films and documentaries made about the Rolling Stones, but there is one in particular that is known as the most revealing one ever made. Cocksucker Blues never had an official release date, so two rare screenings will take place this Wednesday and Thursday at the Film Forum in New York.

Cocksucker Blues is a documentary by the photographer Robert Frank, who filmed the band during their American tour in 1972. For unknown reasons, the footage was thought to be to wild to be revealed, so the band and the director made a pact to only show the film several times a year with several warnings added to it. But the film was not intended to come out that way.

The Rolling Stones wanted to be filmed during their triumphant return to concert in the United States. Obviously there was someone filming them while on stage, but what Frank wanted was to show the least known part of a tour – the backstage, the waiting between the shows, the discussions between the members, the boredom and what they did to conquer it. One of the rules of filming Cocksucker Blues was that none of the members could say no while being shot. If that happened, then the director would leave.

The fact that they were so great even when doing their routines made the film such a unique cultural piece. The Stones’ creativity and charisma at that time, even if it’s shown through their usual conversations or actions, only proves what a cool and outrageous band they were back then. Seeing them as they once used to be – prominent cheekbones, full lips and skinny abdomens, feels like a throw back 70s.

Cocksucker blues shows what behind the scenes looked like in the 1970s and sends the public back to that period of ‘sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll’.

No tags

Share this article

Store Twenty One having to Shutdown Stores

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

The UK based discount clothing and homeware retailer Store Twenty One will close 77 stores across the country. More than 500 jobs are under threat because of their rescue deal with landlords.

The business has been generating huge losses as the rents are too expensive to keep up with the sales, so they had to invoke the Company Voluntary Arrangement. This deal allows the company to pay less rent for their branches, but it also means the closing of nearly 80 of them.

Store Twenty One owner, the Indian group Grabal Alok, said that having those outlets open was not reasonable for the company and they didn’t have “any prospect of being restored to viability even if a reduction in the amount of rent is obtained”. He also added that this measure had to be taken in order to save 1,200 full-time jobs from the other locations.

Documents about the company’s profits show that they’ve been in a loss every year since Alok bought it in 2007. If they didn’t pursue to the arrangement the company would have fallen into administration or liquidation. They blamed their issues on the economic downturn, and also on the increasing competition from online retailers, supermarkets, and discounters, including Primark.

The retailer was originally known as Quality Seconds, then QS, and recently turned into Store Twenty One after being acquired by the Indian company. They have started the business in 1932 as a manufacturer supplying retailers in the West End. Their rapid success led to the opening of a number of outlets of High Street in the 70s, and after that they just continued to flourish and open stores. In 2002, a group of private investors purchased the entire share capital, making it a private company.

The CVA is considered the latest hurdle for the High Street to save certain companies from collapse.

No tags

Share this article

Always Wash Your Veggies and Fruits

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

Public Health England would like to remember all the plant eaters that they have to wash their fruits and vegetables especially if they are going to be consumed raw. Salads can be the source of an E. coli outbreak that has infected more than 150 people and killed two in the UK.

The infection with the E. coli O157 bug will cause bloody diarrhoea and abdominal pain. It is a rare infection, compared with other food related diseases, but if not treated or looked at as a minor pain can even lead to death. It is thought to come from the rocket leaves transported from the Mediterranean.

Most of the cases registered were from the South West part of England, with 144 people in England, six in Wales, and one in Scotland. From those, 62 needed hospitalization.

People need to start protecting themselves by first washing their hands before handling food and then washing the fruits and vegetables they’ve bought from supermarkets or local stores. Unless a package has a label that says ‘washed and ready to eat’, they need to make sure no pollutants or bacteria from the plants will be brought into the organism.

Plants are not the only carers of E. coli, undercooked meat can also lead to the same infection. Symptoms usually occur after three to four days after being contaminated.

Avoiding the infection is really easy though. People are advised to wash their hands after using the toilet, before and after handling food, and after touching animals. Also, plants should be kept away from the meats, and a different knife and chopping board should be used when handling those two. Meat, especially minced meat need to be cooked thoroughly, so that the bacteria can die.

If all the health measures are taken into consideration before and after cooking or eating any kind of food, there shouldn’t be any worries of intestinal infections.

No tags

Share this article

L’orchidee London has Launched New Campaign

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

L’orchidee Boutique Patisserie has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £200k to open more go-to for French macaroons, luxury cakes, and desserts stores across London.

The company already has three profitable London outlets, which generated £800k revenue in the previous year, and an online store delivering across the capital. Their aim is to compete in the country’s £3.5bn bakery market.

L’orchidee was launched in 2010 by two former catering staff at a top hotel in London. Chef Daniel Garcia and Ellas Dayub discovered a common passion for fine desserts and took a major step in creating a broad range of handmade patisseries. Their selection includes multi flavoured French macaroons, cheesecakes, fantasy cakes (blood orange, Ferrero Rocher, red velvet, cookies and cream), classic cakes (carrot, chocolate, white chocolate), wedding cakes, tartelettes, gateaux, and even free from cakes.

Their stores are open in three locations: Westfield Stratford, Westfield London – Shepard’s Bush, and Canary Wharf. Earlier this spring they have announced the opening in a fourth location: “We are delighted to announce the opening of our 4th store in Bicester Village in around 4 weeks. We will be sending you some pictures of the Kiosk shortly. This opportunity will be an interesting trial as small kiosks like the one we are building for Bicester costs around 20k and could be another cost-effective way for expanding our concept. For those that invest with us within this 26 days will get the chance to find out the performance on the store in the coming months.”

The company raised £12k within 15 days, with the highest investment of £6,5k. Besides using the funds for expansions, they will also invest it in a marketing and driving wholesales growth. The initiative will close at the beginning of August, so if there is anyone who loves cakes and is willing to make a donation, there still are 14 day left.

No tags

Share this article

This Weekend Marked the World Emoji Day

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

This weekend marked the World Emoji Day and restaurants and hotels have been celebrating this universal language of the new generation in multiple ways.

Perhaps the most publicized of them all was Pizza Hut’s new menu. It is a limited edition emoji menu that will be on offer at six restaurants: The Strand London, Birmingham Bullring, Liverpool Paradise Street, Edinburgh Hanover Street, Manchester Fountain Street, and Cardiff Queens Street.

Even though it is easy to be read by the youths, it brought questions about how the others will cope with this new idea. The menu is an emoji only text, with no words, but pictures of mushrooms, pigs, or tomatoes that suggest what the pizza contains.

Pizza Hut asked for the help of emoji experts in creating the innovative menu: “We have a huge focus on menu innovation and having already launched a brand new menu recently, we hope customers enjoy decrypting the emoji version as much as we did creating it.”.

There are also new added items to the menu like Jalapeno Poppers, Hor Crisps, Frickles and Spicy BBQ ribs, but to order them first you need to decode the emojis.

Other business however did this even before the world emoji day. Aloft Hotels, for example, launched an emoji room service menu in the UK for guests with a hangover or sugar craving. There are six speciality kits which can be requested by texting the corresponding emojis to the staff. The kits include ‘The Hangover’ that comes with bottles of water, bananas, and painkillers, the ‘Surprise me’ option, ‘The Re:Fresh’ that comes with toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, ‘The Sightseer’ for people who need a map and a snack for a day of wandering around, ‘The Munchies’ for the ones with a sweet-tooth, and the ‘Phone Charger’.

These new concept turned out to be a success, and to be fair it is nice to see how the new trends make creative ideas for businesses.

No tags

Share this article

Revenues have Risen by 10% for American Toymaker’s Hasbro

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

Revenues for the American toymaker Hasbro have risen by 10% due to the sales of Disney princesses, Frozen dolls, and Star Wars action figures.

The strongest growth came from products made for girls, up with 39%. Hasbro took over the global rights to produce Disney dolls from rival Mattel from 1st of January 2016. Now, they are the proud makers of Elsa dolls, Cinderella, Snow White and Little Mermaid.

Sales of toys aimed at boys however, only rose by 6%, which is lower than the previous quarter. The fact that there weren’t many film releases didn’t help the business either. Transformers toys fell by 20% and items related to the dinosaur franchise Jurassic Park fell by more than that, so Hasbro decided to stop selling Jurassic Park toys starting with the end of 2017.

By far the most popular toys were the ones based on Star Wars and the Disney pricesses. They fueled the growth, and the company’s revenue jumped to $878.9mil. After Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be released, Hasbro will start making toys based on that film.

Europe was also the fastest-growing region, with sales that went up to 24%. UK also had a rise of 25% despite the country’s decision to leave the European Union. The news from Europe and UK were positive and had a good impact on the company’s sales.

Mobile gaming is another source of growth and games like Yahtzee with Buddies made the fans spend more money on it than last year. They are now developing a mobile game version of Pie Face, a game where you have to avoid being slapped din the face with whipped cream.

Hasbro has been trying during the years to create its own original content for both toys and online games. Hopefully later on next year we will be experiencing some of those in the stores or on our mobile phones.

No tags

Share this article

Price Rises in UK

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

Everyone knows that UK is a nation of shopkeepers, but what they love more than running a shop is shopping; and when it comes to shopping foreign is the option. From the nationally loved Primark and DIY Ikea furniture, to super expensive Apples and Samsungs and the American Ford Focus, the nation just loves things made abroad.

Until recent events, the prices for these items were widely known and people were, more or less, accepting them. However, imported goods are predicted to get pricier in the long term.

So in which areas are prices likely to rise?

Food in the UK is 40% imported. Even apples come from countries like Holland, Argentina, and Chile. Unless British farmers will start producing more crops, and the government will stop importing foods that can be locally produced, the prices will rise. And there is also the matter of production. EU immigrants usually pick the fruits and vegetables on low wages, but would British people do the same?

The food industry relies on imports even more than the food one. Retailers like Primark, New Look, Marks and Spencer, sell clothes, shoes, and accessories that are most likely to come from Bangladesh, South East Asia, or Eastern European Countries. The prices are thought to increase as soon as the next summer.

Not even your house will be safe anymore as some companies have already started to raise their prices for electricals. Dell, a computer maker company from the U.S. has raised it by 10% this month. Meanwhile 70% of the cars bought in the UK are imported, and so are the 60% of the components used to make cars in the country.

We are talking about big companies here, so they will have a bigger flexibility over their products and prices. There is still time, and the price might not fall, but maybe they will find a way to leave it as it is.

No tags

Share this article

Food’s Journey Across the World

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

Have you ever wondered how the food that is in your local supermarket, in your fridge, and ultimately in your plate has arrived there? Studies show that worldwide, around 69% of the supplied and produced food has foreign blood.

Every country and region is connected to each other somehow through the history and origins of the foods that we eat every day. Tomatoes for example, have always thought to come from Italy, but in reality they originated in the Americas; and so did the potatoes.

All countries rely on foreign crops, but the extent to which they do depends from one nation to the other. North America, Australia, New Zealand, and some regions of Africa, Europe and the Caribbean, were found the most dependent, mainly because of their location that makes certain crops hardly to be produced. In the United States, nearly 90% of the food can be considered foreign.

At the opposite pole, there are the regions that are home to the greatest number of popular crops. From those ones we count Asia, south-eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, and tropical South America. Due to their climate, they have managed not only to grow and harvest their own crops, but also to introduce the world to apples, olives, cabbage, cocoa beans, and pineapple.

A scientific research published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, analysed more than 100 crops in 177 countries. The study aimed to make a comparison between the countries where the crops originated and the ones where they are eaten the most. The outcome shows how important it is to protect their diversity, especially in cases of climate change, habitat destruction, invasive species, and other environmental threats.

The research also suggests that these issues should be given an increased focus in the coming decades. Nations should come together and collaborate to make sure that the food resources are protected and accessible to everyone in the future.

No tags

Share this article

Chipmaker ARM Holdings Sold for £24bn

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

ARM Holdings, a British chip designer company, is going to be bought by Softbank Group, a Japanese telecommunications giant, for £24bn.

ARM was founded in 1990, and it has been designing microchips used in smartphones, including Apple and Samsung. It employs more than 3000 people, and the chances are that the number will double after they will merge with Softbank.

Softbank is one of the biggest technology companies and it has previously acquired Vodafone’s Japanese operations and the US telecoms company Sprint. It intents to keep the UK firm’s organisation as it is, so there would be no changes in the managerial structure.

ARM is a really important company for the technology sector in UK. It was the only hope of building a British global technology giant after Autonomy got absorbed by HP and CSR was bought by Qualcomm. However, the Japanese firm seems to be a good parent for smaller companies, and maybe ARM will raise its global profile through this purchase.

Masayoshi Son, the chairman of Softbank, thinks that ARM is one of their most important acquisitions: “We have long admired ARM as a world renowned and highly respected technology company that is by some distance the market leader in its field.”

Chancellor Philip Hammond reacts to this news by saying that this is not a loss for the UK, on the contrary, it shows that UK is still open for business with international investors: “Britain is open for business – and open to foreign investment. Softbank’s decision confirms that Britain remains one of the most attractive destinations globally for investors to create jobs and wealth.”

Due to this change, ARM might meet some new potential. Their microchip design has been mostly used for mobile phones, but now they might see their microchips embedded in whole new categories of household and business devices.

So far, it looks like a good investment for the ARM Holdings, and hopefully things are going in the right direction for the company.

No tags

Share this article

Scotland’s Fishing Industry after EU Referendum

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 2 m read

Scotland’s fishermen strongly agree with the come out of the Brexit, saying that they can finally be in charge of the industry.

Although Scotland’s turnout was 67.2% in favour of remaining, the fishermen think that UK leaving the EU is good news for the 5,000 strong fleet. They can now have their own exclusive economic zones and believe they can overcome the past of overfishing and incoherent regulation.

Bertie Armstrong, the chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, says that politicians should embrace the result of the Brexit and use it for the benefit of the fishing industry. His main examples come from Iceland and Norway, countries that are not part of the European Union, but share many key North Sea fishing grounds with the UK.

If UK decides to join the EEA (European Economic Area), as Norways and Iceland did, they will still face complex regulations on how to manage the fish stock. Fishermen will need to follow strict rules, and will not be left to come up with their own laws.

The SNP MP Paul Monaghan disagrees with the Scottish fishermen. He thinks leaving the EU will not help the industry in any way and that they will not see any significant change within the next two years, until the Government chooses to progress Article 50.

He even says that remaining in the EU would have helped the fishermen, because the fisheries policies were due to be renegotiated in 2020, when UK could have finally had a chance to make a difference for its industry.

Dealing with the consequences of the turnout will take some time, but if Scotland is to come up with a new plan for their industry then they have to take into consideration a way to maintain and conserve the marine environment as well.

No tags

Share this article