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Members of our police force often (allegedly) refer to burglars and other criminals as 'slippery customers' but the term took on a whole new meaning this week when an intruder was rescued from a Californian restaurant's grease vent, in which he'd been stuck for two days. This picture, courtesy of the BBC, shows how dirty these vents can become and the fact that when clogged with grease they become a fire hazard, means they should be regularly cleaned. Also, being seen to have a vent in such a state as this, can't be that good for business! If you're involved in this type of cleaning and don't normally show potential new clients images of dirty vents, this one could be a good conversation starter!
Elsewhere this week the conversation has been about huge UK-based contractor Interserve, which seems to be handling its predicament sensibly with the help of a new scheme set up by Government to prevent a repeat of the chaos caused by Carillion's collapse early this year. The scheme requires public services suppliers to draw up plans to ensure continuity of services when things go wrong - and, where necessary, to enable another provider to step in and do the work.
On Monday, when Interserve revealed that it was in negotiations with lenders to give them shares in the business, which has debts of c.£650 - £700m, its share price plummeted, making the business worth just £10m. It's reportedly also trying to sell a business in the Middle East.
The Government is confident Interserve can turn things around, saying the company is taking the action early on that Carillion should have taken to restructure its balance sheet and improve its robustness, and that, unlike Carillion, it does not need new money; it simply needs to turn its debt into equity. One Minister told the Financial Times though that unlike Carillion, many of Interserve's contracts are "straightforward facilities management contracts, cleaning offices and staffing reception areas so easy to take in-house". Little does the Minister concerned know about cleaning and FM then! It's not just so the Minister doesn't have a rude awakening though, that I say I wish Interserve well and hope it's able to quickly return to its former position as one of the UK's leading contractors.
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13th December 2018