Colors: Purple Color

The Overwatch League and social video service Twitch announced a historic esports media-rights partnership, ensuring that every match of the world’s first major global city-based esports league will be readily available to fans across the globe. The first match of the Overwatch League’s inaugural season goes live on Twitch this Wednesday, January 10, on

Fans of professional Overwatch have been eagerly anticipating a seamless Overwatch League viewing experience. This two-year deal, which encompasses the entirety of the league’s first two seasons, makes that a reality. With the exception of China, Twitch will be the exclusive worldwide third-party digital provider for Overwatch League regular-season, playoffs, and championship matches, with streams in English, Korean, and French.

The Overwatch League and Twitch also are developing innovative rewards for fans, which will bestow the league’s most steadfast viewers with Overwatch League in-game items. More details about exclusive content and additional rewards for the biggest fans, as well as Cheering with Overwatch League Cheermotes, will be announced as they become available.

“Our fans love to engage with content on Twitch, and we wanted to drive significant viewership of the Overwatch League in its inaugural season and beyond,” said Armin Zerza, COO of Blizzard Entertainment. “That’s why this historic and ground-breaking partnership is perfectly suited for Activision Blizzard, for Twitch, and—most importantly—for our growing global fanbase.”

“The Overwatch League is making a major impact on esports by reshaping the industry with city-based teams,” said Kevin Lin, COO of Twitch. “Given Overwatch’s consistent reign as a top-viewed game by our community, we look forward to offering their pioneering style of league play to a large and passionate fanbase that will be able to bond over not only their favorite plays, but hometown pride.”

The first season of the Overwatch League will run until June, with playoffs and finals scheduled for July. For the inaugural season, all games will take place at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles, a state-of-the-art live-event venue in Burbank, California, custom-renovated for Blizzard Entertainment esports events.

Move over ITB and WTM – for travel brands serious about capturing lucrative Japanese outbound market share, JATA’s Tourism Expo Japan is now the world’s premier exhibiting event. This powerful platform to cost-effectively raise awareness, and engage and conduct meaningful business with qualified buyers, has opened 2018 exhibitor and buyer registration.

Hiromo Tagawa, Chairman of the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA), notes a shift for Japan to not only set global per diem spending standards with outbound tourism, but he also sees his country as a nation based on tourism exchange, citing more than 50 million inbound visitors to Japan annually.

All of which makes Japan one of the most important global players for both inbound and outbound tourism, and Tourism Expo Japan a crucial trade event to attend in 2018.

Without fanfare, the Tourism Expo Japan, organized by JATA, has quietly emerged as the leading global travel/tourism show event for brands to capture inbound and outbound market share. This year’s Expo is being staged at Tokyo Big Sight, September 20-23, 2018.

The buy-to-let market will continue to offer landlords fabulous opportunities in 2018, but identifying locations in which the largest returns are likely to be on offer will once again be the key to a great investment.

Property specialist Leaders has picked out the top five towns and cities it expects to deliver the greatest returns on investment over the next year.


5) Nottingham

The East Midlands is likely to be one of the hotspots when it comes to the buy-to-let market in 2018, with affordable purchase prices and sky-high tenant demand combining to form ideal conditions for investors. Nottingham is one of the UK’s largest cities, has a huge student population and is set to benefit from the HS2 development. West Bridgford and Bingham are set to remain popular with students and families alike.


4) Croydon

Croydon has already witnessed significant house price rises in recent years, but average property values remain some way behind London as a whole and with new developments and investment continuing at pace the borough is expected to narrow the gap in 2018 and beyond. The introduction of Boxpark and potential arrival of a Westfield shopping centre will add value. While purchase prices may be large for some landlords, tenant demand is fierce and capital growth will ensure a highly successful investment.


3) Loughborough

Leaders believes house prices in Leicestershire are likely to grow by more than ten per cent in the next five years, meaning an investment in property in the county is sure to lead to a great return. Loughborough is well placed to capitalise on this trend, with a good range of housing available, a large local student population and high demand from all types of tenants.


2) Manchester

Manchester is one of the UK’s fastest growing cities as a result of a number of regeneration projects. With a thriving city centre, the digital zone of the Northern Quarter and the brand new tech hub at Salford Quays, it is now home to a huge number of companies that are bringing jobs and professional tenants to the area. What’s more, the city boasts a six-figure student population, so there is no shortage of demand for rental properties. Yields are incredibly high – often above six per cent – in areas such as Fallowfield and Chorlton.


1) Birmingham

A lack of supply and high demand has pushed rental prices up in Birmingham and this is expected to continue in 2018 and beyond, making the city a lucrative place to invest. From stylish city centre apartments to large family homes in suburbs like Edgbaston, there is something for all types of landlord in the area. With more than a million people calling Birmingham home, landlords can invest with confidence in the local rental market and returns will continue to be great in the new year.

If your list of New Year’s resolutions is similar to many others, it probably includes saving more money. But, like vowing to get fit, this one is easy to fail at, especially if the plan of action is a little vague.

Success is much easier if you have a plan to follow. So, to help you get on the right track, here are seven ways to change your financial situation in 2018.

Split your income and outgoings into percentages It sounds simple, but going back to basics and actually sitting down and working out what income you have coming in, and what is going out, will give you a clear picture of what is left over to enjoy or save.

Consider all your bills, including rent or a mortgage and utilities; this may eat up around 50% of your income. Then there is your mobile phone, petrol, broadband, food and other subscriptions to think about, which for a lot of us comes to around another 20%. That would leave you with close to a third left over. If you chose to save a half of this remaining income, you could build a very useful rainy day or emergency fund. For example, for someone earning the UK average annual salary of £27,6001 this would add up to over £3,000 per year.

Tackle any debt This one always tops the list, and for good reason. Loans and credit cards often have high-interest rates, making them incredibly expensive. Reducing or even clearing monthly repayments can feel like a huge weight lifted. Plus, it means you have extra money at your disposable and the really savvy thing to do is to put some or all of this cash into savings and investments.

Quick and effective ways to help you clear debts faster include consolidating multiple debts, reducing your interest rate by switching to a different provider, and avoiding making the minimum payments only.


Put money away straight after you have been paid If you earn £10 an hour, every £10 you spend is one more hour that you have to work before you can retire. That’s a pretty big incentive to save! 

Many people try and save at the end of the month, hoping there is enough left after bills and spending. The problem is there usually isn’t money left – when we consider it available, it will be spent!

To overcome this, pay yourself first. You can put the money into an easy-access account so you can use some of it is absolutely necessary, until you adjust to having less to spend

To really make the most of savings you will want to get the highest interest rate possible and not lose the growth to tax, so high-interest accounts and ISAs should be considered.


Don’t forget about your pension Pensions are one of the most efficient savings vehicles at your disposal, offering tax-free growth, and tax relief on all your personal contributions. Plus, if you have a workplace scheme then most of the time your employer will also make contributions, which is effectively free money.

For example, from April 2018 a person on the UK average annual salary will be required to contribute £55.20 per month to their workplace pension. If they are a basic rate taxpayer then this contribution rises to £115 once tax relief and the employer’s contribution have been taken into account2.

This supercharges your saving efforts and can make a huge difference to the eventual size of your fund. Better yet, thanks to the new pension rules the money can be accessed in full from the age of 55. 

Considering switching service providers In this age of digital banking and direct debits, much of our spending is automated and it is easy to overlook where money is going. Looking into switching utility, mobile phone contract and broadband providers could save you considerable sums across the year.

There are often good deals in the new year but do check renewal dates as some providers charge an exit fee.

Plan ahead for bigger expenses Some expenses in life are unexpected, but there are others that we know are coming. Christmas happens at the same time every year, as do birthdays, anniversaries and even renewal dates for car tax and insurance. Yet, even with a full 12 months’ notice on these, it’s easy to leave it until the last minute to plan for these events and then panic about the expenditure. 

To break the cycle, spread the cost over the year. Decide how much everything may cost you across the year, and divide that number by 12 to see how much you need to set aside each month. This way you will always have the money ready, removing one of the main temptations to spend on a credit card. It’s far better to set aside £50 a month for everything than have to raid the savings for several hundreds of pounds when times are tight! 

Jamie Smith-Thompson, managing director at Portafina, concludes: “Sorting out the finances is on so many new year lists for a very good reason, it’s massively important! And to make it work, the best bit of advice to follow is: set realistic targets.

“If you aim sky high and fall at the first hurdle it can be thoroughly demoralising. And that’s when it’s easy to slip into ‘I’ll put it off again until next year’ mode. If you are realistic about what you can do with your finances you will generally meet your goals. This means a double-whammy of feeling good about yourself now and setting up a more secure future for you and your family.”

Applications to host an event in the Black Country Business Festival are being accepted until 22 February 2018.

The Business Festival, led by the Black Country Chamber of Commerce and supported by the University of Wolverhampton and Talbots Law, is a new two-week ‘festival’ of business events that will exclusively be staged in the Black Country between 23 April and 4 May 2018.

The Festival is largely ‘business to business’ with events put on by local companies to help other Black Country businesses and individuals to learn from each other, share and grow.

The programme will be made up of a diverse range of events that will also draw attention to the Black Country, showing investors what this area has to offer and what a fantastic place it is to live, work and do business.

Anyone can apply to run an event in the Business Festival – which can take any shape from a seminar or workshop through to a trade show or major conference. A short application form is available on the Business Festival website until 22 February.

Around 100 events are expected to take place over the fortnight. Already, nearly 50 expressions of interest and almost 20 formal applications have been received with many more expected in the New Year.

A list of venues offering free or heavily discounted rates to those organising an event in the Business Festival are available on the website at

Corin Crane, chief executive of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce said, “The Black Country Business Festival is going to be the biggest business event that has ever taken place in our region and everyone needs to get involved whether this is supporting the Festival as an partner, hosting an event or offering free venues where other Black Country organisations can hold their events.

“We are incredibly proud of our area, our heritage, our businesses and the can-do attitude of our people. Now is the time to stand on a national stage and show the rest of the country what a brilliant place the Black Country is to be.

“The event application process is only open until 22 February so I would encourage everyone to get their applications in as soon as possible”

To get involved including hosting an event, sponsoring or offering venues for use during the Business Festival, visit the website at or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

More information about how to host an amazing event in the Black Country Business Festival is also available on the website at


The Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), supported by the European Regional Development Fund, is officially open for business, with the first loans being awarded to growing businesses across the Midlands. The MEIF is delivered by the British Business Bank and the Fund is investing £120 million of debt finance and small business loans to eligible firms. This initial tranche of funding is part of a wider £250 million of resource targeted towards the region’s start-ups, scale-ups and SME community.

Loans have been made across the Midlands with four companies benefitting from finance to date to support their growth aspirations:

Direct Digital Controls, in Brierley Hill, West Midlands is a business that specialises in the installation and maintenance of energy and environmental control systems. With the MEIF investment, the firm is poised to take on four new employees, train an additional apprentice and expand its growing wired and lighting controls divisions.

Leicester-based BCME, owner of specialist education provider Echo Factory has received finance from MEIF, which will be deployed to market its degree-level music courses, maximising student numbers and empowering the institution to become self-sustaining.

Nottingham-based medical devices company Olberon, has produced a cannulation device that is used in the medical industry. The funding will have a significant impact on commercial sales globally, by allowing them to develop existing links with distributors, and by helping them market more effectively.

Milton Keynes’ Renewable ON Ltd, a clean energy specialist supplies and installs quality bespoke solar powered LED outdoor and street lighting solutions to both public and private sector.  Primarily the loan funds are required for cash flow including stock, wages and marketing to fulfil initial orders.

Nick Pulley, Chair of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund’s Strategic Oversight Board, said: “It is heartening to see the first businesses tap into the opportunities presented by the Midlands Engine Investment Fund and having built a strong pipeline of deals, the fund is well set to accelerate this progress. SMEs that are in the market for external finance and have growth aspirations should check the website and seek out fund managers to find out how the MEIF could take their business to the next level.”

Patrick Magee, Chief Commercial Officer at the British Business Bank, commented: “Our aim is to make finance markets work better for smaller businesses and address regional inequalities in funding. Through our work with the MEIF, we’re poised to support investment, growth and job creation throughout the Midlands.”

Ajay Naik, Director at BCME, said: “At this stage of the business cycle, it is often challenging to engage with mainstream lenders, we were surprised by how straightforward and logical the MEIF’s lending process was. It’s been hugely refreshing to speak to fund managers, in person, to explain the merits, strengths and aspirations of Echo Factory and via the support provided unlock the next step in our growth. We’re now poised to significantly bolster our 2018 student intake and further expand the range of courses available to those looking to enrol.”

Bob Taylor, Director at Direct Digital Controls, added:

“Securing finance from MEIF is a pivotal step in the future of our business growth, giving us the backing we need to expand and reach out to new customers UK-wide. Meaningful expansion requires extra talent and an investment in new business, we’re now ready to take the next step.”

The MEIF will invest in debt finance and small business loans, ranging from £25,000 to £1.5m, through appointed Fund Managers – Enterprise Loans East Midlands, BCRS Business Loans and Maven Capital Partners. For more information on the funding available, please visit

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.

More regional companies experienced export growth to Europe than market shrinkage in the past 12 months, a survey has shown.

The collective results of the six Midlands based Chambers of Commerce, which together represent over 15,000 companies, highlight some crucial implications for businesses currently exporting and looking to grow export sales post Brexit.

According to the British Chambers of Commerce International Trade Survey, 25% of Midlands firms that took part in the survey reported that they’d seen growth in sales to Western Europe compared with 18% that reported a decline.

And 19% of firms reported growth in sales to Central and Eastern Europe compared with 12% that said sales had fallen.

Net export sales growth was also recorded for China (8%), India (5%), Australasia (10%), Middle East & North Africa (3%) and North America (14%).

But for many of the 388 Midlands firms that completed the survey, of which 186 were exporters, the outcome of Brexit talks was seen as a potential risk to continuing to trade with the EU, with 43% saying they were concerned about tariffs and 36% worrying about customs barriers.

A similar picture emerged when it came to import purchases.

Work permits and visas were a worry for 11% of respondents and 8% were concerned about having access to foreign workers.

Over a quarter (27%) of firms said they did not foresee any significant barriers to international trade while 38% said they had already started or planned in the future to revise growth strategies.

However, 41% of respondents said they expected their costs to slightly increase in the next 12 months as a result of the devaluation in sterling, with 27% saying they expected significant increases.

The survey also found that many businesses trading abroad are leaving themselves exposed to currency fluctuations, with under half (45%) of Midlands firms not taking proactive steps to manage currency risk.

The findings of the survey highlight the extent to which the depreciation in sterling is expected to compound the price pressures on firms, underlining the need to ease the domestic cost of doing business.

Only 5% of firms expected their costs to slightly decrease, with 2% expecting a significant decrease.

Sophia Haywood, Midlands Chambers’ Policy Group Coordinator said: “The findings highlight the extent to which the depreciation in sterling is expected to compound the price pressures on firms, underlining the need to ease the domestic cost of doing business.”

“There is also a clear need for more support and information for exporting businesses on the importance of managing currency risk.”

“April marks the start of the financial year in which we are due to formally leave the EU and we know that many businesses have not yet made any provision or plans for trading post-Brexit. This may be because there has been so little information about what sort of deal we’ll have, but firms shouldn’t just sit back and wait for Brexit to happen to them, they need to have contingency plans and they need to start pulling them together now.”

A British refuse and recycling company has become the first in the world to accept Bitcoin.

National company, which is based in York, England are now accepting payment in virtual currencies for its commercial waste contracts.

With Bitcoin now moving into the mainstream, it's logical that British companies should move into the 21st Century and process payments in whatever form that's offered, officials say.

"Individuals and companies are trading in Bitcoin and other virtual currencies all over the world," says Business Waste spokesperson Mark Hall, "so of course we're going to accept it from our customers."

It's not a publicity stunt, and it's not taking advantage of the current surge in Bitcoin value, says – it's a logical business decision.

"To us, it's just another way to pay for our services. It's just money," Hall says. We're also accepting Litecoin and Ehereum

What kind of customer pays in Bitcoin? deals with commercial waste, and collects from all sorts of companies and institutions. But it's not just tech companies who would pay in Bitcoin or virtual currencies such as Litecoin.

"You'll be amazed", he says. "Ordinary people are now both mining and trading virtual currencies, and they're keen to use them to purchase goods and services.

"And we're the first in this business sector in the world to accept them. So the answer is 'every kind of company'. Bitcoin is mainstream now."

Old-fashioned money still accepted

Hall is at pains to point out that will still trade in good, old-fashioned payment types for the huge majority of their customers.

"Bank transfers, bank and credit cards, direct debit it's all good," he says. "But in a fast-moving world, you've got to be flexible."

"This is just another way we can be flexible with our customers."

Black Country businesses and organisations with conference or meeting facilities are being asked to get involved in the new, two-week Black Country Business Festival starting on 23 April 2018.

The Business Festival, in association with the Black Country Chamber of Commerce and supported by the University of Wolverhampton and Talbots Law, is a brand new ‘festival’ of business events running throughout the Black Country between 23 April and 4 May 2018.

Events will be put on by local companies for the benefit of other businesses and individuals.  As they will largely be free to attend, venues across the Black Country are currently being sought for use by event hosts during the Festival.

Corin Crane, chief executive of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce said, “We are keen to hear from any Black Country business or venue with meeting space or conference facilities that would be willing to offer their venue to other organisations for free, or at a heavily discounted rate in the fortnight.

“This could be a fantastic promotional opportunity for businesses or conference venues to showcase what they have to offer - and could quite possibly lead to lots of repeat business in the future.

“Bookings would be made on an individual basis directly by the event organiser and would of course, be subject to availability at the discretion of the venue."

Anyone can apply to run an event in the Business Festival, by completing a short form on the website. The application process closes on 22 February 2018.

As well as bringing about learning, sharing and collaboration opportunities, the Business Festival aims to draw attention to the Black Country, showcasing the region to investors and businesses which might be relocating.

Property, like us, can develop creaks and groans so it’s important to keep on top of minor issues particularly when selling your home.

If there are aspects of your property that require attention or work, be open about them. Trying to hide problems is likely to cause issues in the long run. The buyers will find out at some point, through surveys, searches or asking questions, and there is also legislation that requires disclosure. Be upfront and honest, it will save a lot of time for you and the potential buyers making the process much easier.

“It’s tempting to hope that those issues you know about will never be spotted, so be upfront” explains Antony Gibson, Romans Sales Managing Director. “We have been able to successfully sell many properties where there would appear to be ‘significant issues’. The success has come from letting potential buyers know from the outset.”


You are selling your house - de-clutter! Do not leave the washing out, or leave the bathroom with towels across the floor. If you have children, make sure their toys are put away, as the last thing you want is a prospective buyer falling over a toy car.

Think about showcasing your house at its best; put flowers out and make sure the house smells pleasant, and the best features are on display. Nobody expects to walk into a show house, but clean and de-cluttered houses have been proven to sell better.


You want buyers to buy your house, so it’s important that you are as flexible as possible and try and accommodate the viewing process. Antony comments: “We understand that most people have hectic lifestyles, so we are able to take on all the viewings on your behalf."

Marketing your home

A very common mistake when choosing an estate agency to help you sell your home is not checking what marketing is available to you. Make sure you are asking the right questions, your property is normally the most valuable asset you have; getting the sale wrong could prove costly. Do not be restrictive when asking your estate agent questions, based on what you want to achieve, such as:

  • You want to sell your house in an achievable timescale for the best price
  • You want to appoint a professional experienced team to handle it
  • You want them to have access to a wide register of potential buyers
  • You want them to use both the very best traditional methods and the best online exposure
  • At the same time you want to know you will receive good customer service

InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong has again triumphed at the World Travel Awards (WTA) Grand Final Gala Ceremony 2017 held in Vietnam, garnering the biggest recognition as World’s Leading Luxury Business Hotel.

Mr. Alexander O. Wassermann, General Manager of InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong, said: “It gives us tremendous pleasure to have been recognized with such a significant award for two consecutive years. This is truly a testament to our commitment to providing guests with memorable and exceptional experiences. We have recently completed a US$43 million renovation project and unveiled a rejuvenating look of 572 refurbished guestrooms. We will be entering into a partnership with award-acclaimed UK celebrity chef Theo Randall and introduce a new and exciting dining concept into the Hong Kong restaurant scene. This demonstrates our vision of delivering excellence to our guests by constantly innovating our services to meet and even exceed guest expectations now and in the years to come.”

“We are elated that our 36-year establishment has again received this invaluable recognition, being recognized as a leader amongst luxury business hotels worldwide. The award is a great affirmation of the collective efforts of my team to consistently deliver authentic hospitality, which I am very proud of.” Ms. Paddy Lui, Managing Director of Stanford Hotels International, owning company of InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong added.

The WTA was launched in 1993 to acknowledge excellence in the travel and tourism industry and is now in its 24th year. Heralded as the “travel industry’s equivalent to the Oscar’s”, the awards are decided based on votes by the public and travel professionals worldwide.

Legendary Black Country developer and philanthropist Dr Roy Richardson was today made an Honorary Freeman of Sandwell.
And he immediately took the opportunity to 'drive sheep' through the borough as is one of his ceremonial rights as a Freeman.
Dr Richardson, who is 87, received the rare accolade in a ceremony at the Council House in Oldbury.
Members of his family, business representatives, councillors and dignitaries gave Roy a standing ovation at the ceremony after being introduced by Town Crier Adrian Holmes.
The Mayor of Sandwell Councillor Ahmadul Haque MBE presented Roy with a scroll and badge. It is the first time a business person has been awarded the freedom of Sandwell.
Roy has had a relationship with Sandwell since the age of 14 when he and his brother Don joined their father in his business based in Oldbury. Sadly Don passed away in 2007.
The premises in Dudley Road is still in the possession of the business which is family owned and run by Roy's three sons.
Roy said: "I feel very proud and privileged to be here today. I left school at 14 and went to work for my father, I learnt the lesson of how much money was worth. We've had our ups and downs and more successes than failures.
"I am proud to be a Black Country businessman. I want to thank councillors for unanimously voting me to be the first businessman to have this award."
Roy said this meant a lot to him because the award was from the local community. He added that it was good for the business community and also for teenagers today to see what can be achieved and what a private businessman can do.
Roy thanked his family for their support. He added: "I am sorry my brother Don is not here today, he played a very big part in making the business a success."
Leader of Sandwell Council Steve Eling described Roy as an "exceptional person" who had never forgotten his roots in the Black Country and Sandwell.
He said Roy and Don Richardson had got "stuck in" to redeveloping sites that other people didn't want to develop and that people in Sandwell and the Black Country had a lot to be thankful for from their developments.
Councillor Eling added: "Roy has changed the face of not only the Black Country but the wider West Midlands and further afield thanks to his success in the development industry. Not only is he a great businessman, he’s a real philanthropist. We proudly welcome him as an honorary freeman of Sandwell."
Successfully selling second-hand and new commercial vehicles, Roy with his brother Don built a strong business that enabled them to diversify their interests into commercial development during the 1980s.
With over a million square feet of development within the greater Birmingham area, schemes like the Merry Hill Shopping Centre, the Fort Shopping Centre and Star City are landmark projects that carry the Richardson footprint which are testament to the entrepreneurial endeavour and ability that has set Roy apart from others.
Roy acts as an ambassador and patron of the family-owned and run multi-million pound investment business with interests in a number of countries around the world which is still based in Oldbury.
Not forgetting their roots, the company also supports many charities and causes. The Richardson Brothers Foundation supports local and national causes, including Macmillan Care and Support, Guide Dogs, Alzheimer’s Society, the Save the Children Fund and many other charities and sports clubs.
Given that seven members of the family have had an attachment to the military, it is not surprising that military charities have been beneficiaries over several decades.

The proportion of households privately renting in the UK has ballooned over the past 20 years.  A recent report by PWC predicted that by 2025 7.2 million UK households will be occupied by private renters. In order to keep up with the increasing demand, the industry must continue to innovate.

Technology is disrupting UK industries, and in recent years traditional property companies are witnessing increasing competition from PropTech players, such as the need to provide immediate services for digitally savvy individuals. The majority of property searches begin online, however most activity continues to take place face-to-face. The rental sector is ripe for change, with firms and individuals increasingly utilising technology as a way to reduce costs and save time.

Alejandro Artacho, CEO of Spotahome, comments: “As the industry begins to embrace technology, we will see the offerings available to tenants increase. In our ‘always on, always connected’ society, the scale of digital disruption that we have seen affect the finance and even the building industry, seems to have not yet had the same effect on the rental industry.

“For instance, the traditional rental model requires in-person viewings, which is a large investment of time and money for both tenants and landlords. But aspects such as costly agent fees and lengthy wait times can be wiped out of the equation through the use of online rental platforms."

Spotahome enables potential landlords and prospective tenants to easily connect without the hassle of having to spend days organising viewings, making the rental process less time consuming.

Alejandro continues: “Technology is going to change the way the property sector operates and is already having an effect on the way traditional agencies interact with their customers. Proptech offers an element of ease that is for the most part missing from the sector. Digitising the rental process simplifies transactions and makes property management more straight-forward, making it a win-win scenario for both tenant and landlord.”

The Ooni of Ife continued his worldwide mission to attract international businesses to invest in Nigeria and take advantage of the importance country, in particular, and Africa as a whole, on a global scale.

The Ooni, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, was on a week-lond visit to California, in the USA, meeting government officials and prominent business partners, to highlight the value of the continent today and for future investments.

In meeting with major stakeholders of Silicon Valley at the Senate chamber of the Capitol in the State capitol, Sacramento, His Imperial Magesty met, for one, Silicon Valley Nigeria Economic Development SV-NED Inc and African Technology Foundation Mr Stephen Ozoigbo, as he and his entourage; which included some of  his Yoruba Kingdom’s leading light, who stood side-by-side with representatives of Stanford University, Cisco, IBM, Tesla Motors Intel and private investors.

Chief Temitope Ajayi, CEO of Silicon Valley NED, described The Ooni as an uncommon leader who pays little attention to his fame but more focused on the unification and economic progress of Yoruba race, Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

"Fame and fortune is just an illusion it's not the solution,” he said during the round-table debate. “The Ooni is our number one monarch in the Kingdom with millions of followers worldwide and a beacon for all – no matter what their circumstances; man, woman, or child – rich, poor, or indifferent. He is a true representative of all Yoruba people."

In his speech, the Co-Chair of Nigeria Council of Traditional Rulers, The Ajero of Ijero-Ekiti, HRM Oba Joseph Adewole, explained the importance of State of California as the sixth biggest economy in the world with the Silicon Valley which is the 8th technology wonder of the world as reason for his visit aimed at strengthening the capacity of the youth and economic development of the African continent.

"California is the world's sixth largest economy and as such, we must reach and not miss the joint opportunities for us both.

Africa offers great potentials,” he said. “Nigeria is the nucleus of the continent while Yoruba region is the economic centre of Nigeria and as the Spiritual leader of Yorubaland, I have decided to mobilise my brother kings for an economic revolution that will meaningfully utilize our untapped resources especially human capital.

We are look to collaborate in helping our teeming population most of whom are youths capable of being great human capital assets if well productively empowered through Agriculture, Science and technology so that their generation will not be wasted."

The Ooni explained: "The vast natural resources we have at our disposal can be of immense benefit to the State of California CA as we nurture a mutual benefit relationship.”

Directed to HRM Oba Joseph Adewole, His Imperial Majesty said: “I am delighted that you can be occupying such an exalted position at this world renowned big financial institution.

I can see in you the joy of origination which is the greatest joy. When you get connected to your root from where you have been disconnected long ago, it is naturally a day of great joy."

Abraham Carons said the visit of Ooni is a major impact in his life as he always felt at one with this homeland promised to always make the Nigeria and African people proud.

"Your Majesty, I can't tell you the emotions passing through us right now,” he said. “It is a great spiritual connection with our ancestral home. We love you for your selfless service of connecting the mother continent Africa to the African Americans and other Black people around the world. You truly are an inspiration."

voestalpine Metsec plc has appointed five new apprentices as part of the company’s commitment to bridging the skills gap in the industry.

The award-winning training scheme offers the next generation a proven route to development and has seen more than 100 engineering apprentices join Metsec over the last two decades.

This year Metsec has also hired two advanced apprentices, one male and one female, bringing additional experience and knowledge to the team. This gives the apprentices the opportunity to fast track by entering at a higher level.

All Metsec apprentices have access to the latest technology in its state-of-the-art training facility, providing hands-on experience as well as a thorough understanding of each area of the business.

Stephen Giles, environmental, safety and training manager at Metsec, said: “We’re delighted to have these promising new recruits on board and look forward to watching them progress and develop throughout their careers at Metsec.

“To ensure we keep ahead and maintain our rate of growth, it is important that we nurture apprentices within the industry and provide high-quality training to ensure they are fully prepared to step into the ever-evolving industry and have a positive influence on Metsec’s future.”

The apprenticeship scheme has been successful since its inception in 1998, with employees rising through the ranks to managerial and even director level roles.

The entry-level apprentices will learn basic metal working skills in the first year, with the opportunity to continue onto an advanced apprenticeship to obtain an NVQ Level 3.

Metsec is one of the few engineering companies to run an in-house apprenticeship scheme and has previously been named Express & Star’s ‘Apprentice Employer of the Year’ and ‘Business of the Year’ at the Business is Good for the Black Country Awards. Stephen Giles was also awarded Apprentice Ambassador by Incomm Training and Business Services, in recognition of his work promoting apprenticeships.

A combination of factors – including the loss of most final salary pensions, a lack of confidence in some investment markets and diminishing returns from pension pots when taking a lump sum – have left many people aged between 30 and 50 concerned about their future retirement income.

As a result, many have turned to the buy-to-let market, which continues to offer far greater returns than the majority of other investment options.

While a 2016 study by Barclays found shares offer a 2.3 per cent return over 10 years after inflation is taken into account, government bonds provide three per cent, corporate bonds achieve 1.8 per cent and cash in a savings account actually loses 1.1 per cent of its value, investing in property has become increasingly more profitable.

In comparison, figures from Sequre Property Investment earlier this year showed a landlord who buys a property for £100,000 with a £30,000 deposit will achieve a return in excess of five per cent each year by 2023.

Allison Thompson, managing director at property specialist Leaders, says: “Incredibly high tenant demand and a lack of housing supply in many parts of the country has pushed rents up and provided buy-to-let investors with a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a significant return.

“Landlords can expect to achieve a yield of between four and five per cent, although in some cases this can be as high as eight per cent, underlining the extent to which the buy-to-let market outperforms almost all other investment types.

“In addition to substantial rental income, investors will benefit from capital growth over the medium to long term. Over the last five years, house prices in the UK have risen by almost 28 per cent, which shows just how committed investors also stand to gain through capital appreciation.

“All of this makes property the perfect option for those looking ahead to their future retirement income. Landlords will benefit from a reliable and regular income stream that can be used initially to pay off a mortgage and then to fund their post-work life, while they always have the option of selling up and taking a lump sum to enjoy in later years.

“However, as with any investment there are risks associated with buying to let, which is why working with an experienced local letting agents is the only way to be confident of picking the right property in the right place at the right time and using it to ensure a safe and comfortable retirement.”