Archive for January, 2019

Sofia City Council Approves Budget for 2019

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

The Sofia City Council approved the municipal budget for 2019 which exceeds BGN 1.7 billion, Focus News Agency reports. With BGN 447.9 million, transport is the biggest item in the budget. The sum includes BGN 306 million for the construction of the third metro line and over BGN 133 million for additional buses and trams, with a focus on new buses with natural gas engines. For education, the municipality has allocated the record-high BGN 75 million, including BGN 19 million for the construction of 15 new kindergartens. The remainder is earmarked for school and kindergarten reconstruction, modernisation and expansion, and sports activities. Over BGN 37 million is allocated for activities related to the environment. A mobile automatic air quality station will be purchased for BGN 800,000. Other activities relate to river beds, dams, rubbish, street washing, biomass transformation into wood pellets, parks reconstruction and the first public waterpark. New 5-year contracts are to be concluded for separate waste collection.

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Royal Dutch Shell: flashing its cash

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

The oil company will still have to keep a close eye on its finances

Stock rally sparked by Fed statement loses momentum

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

Renminbi hits 6-month high amid broad dollar weakening

Church of England and fund managers in dam safety call

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

Investors with assets of over ?1tn call for greater oversight following Brazil disaster

How To Retain and Attract Talented Employees

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

In recent years, workplace loyalty has taken a backseat as millennial workers constantly weigh up their options, moving jobs every two-three years. So, what can businesses do to make their organization a place that people want to work?

Of course, they can offer a good salary, paid holiday, medical insurance and a pension plan to start with, but they can also concentrate their efforts on creating a work environment that people enjoy being in. Job satisfaction is key to retaining staff and their talent. Job satisfaction occurs when staff feel:

  • Appreciated

  • Respected

  • Involved

Create a safe and comfortable work environment

So much time is spent working, that if you provide a safe and comfortable work environment, not only are employees more productive, but you are demonstrating that you respect them too.

You have a legal obligation to keep your employees safe and to have liability insurance for employers to recompense them in the worst-case scenario. Liability insurance is important for your employees’ protection, but also for yours too. As Hiscox point out, businesses without the right level of cover for their staff will face fines every day until the correct insurance is put in place.

Make employees feel valued

While employees are a company’s best asset, they don’t want to feel like one! Your employees should feel like they are valued within your business and not just an essential overhead. It can be as simple as greeting them by name, chatting to them about projects that they are working on, or asking their opinion on topics. Taking the time to be personable with your staff makes them feel valued and an important member of the team.

Develop an honest and open work environment

Praising employees for work well done makes them feel valued, but what is often overlooked is the ability for employees to be able to voice any concerns or issues that they want to raise. An open work environment makes communication a two-way street. There will be aspects of their roles that you do not have intimate knowledge of, and you may be impressed by what you hear! Be open to suggestions and ideas and take on board any recommendations and solutions that employees may propose.

Revisit the recruitment process

Growing the right team of employees to serve and grow your business takes time. If you have a high turnover of staff, you need to address the workplace culture that exists in your business, but you should also reconsider the focus of your recruitment process. Recruiting employees is not an easy task, you have set duties that they must be able to perform, but you should also think about how the candidate’s personality will fit in with your organization – skills can be taught, but personality is innate.

With the right team behind you, your business can thrive. While your employees are there to fulfil work obligations, they need to feel satisfied and valued while working for your organization. A happy workforce is a loyal workforce and one that works efficiently and productively to help you achieve your business goals.

 

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25 Signs of a Shoplifter in Your Store

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

25 Signs of a Shoplifter in Your Store

Retail businesses lose nearly $50 billion per year due to shoplifting and similar types of theft. Though you may not be able to eliminate theft completely, you can dramatically reduce the impact by knowing the signs and training your employees to be on the lookout.

Signs of a Shoplifter

Shoplifters can be any age, race, gender and social class. So you have to go beyond the basics and look for specific mannerisms and signs to minimize the effects of shoplifting on your business. Here are some of the top things to look for.

Familiar Faces

Shoplifters certainly don’t all fit into one category. But you may already be aware of some specific individuals who have shoplifted or tried shoplifting from your store. If you’ve caught someone, you can ask them not to return to your store. If you’re just suspicious of a frequent visitor, you might increase security measures or keep a closer eye on them.

In fact, new security systems that use facial recognition technology could help you identify previous shoplifters. According to Daniel Putterman, CEO of computer vision security provider Kogniz, his company’s system allows you to add a photo of a previous offender so you can get alerts if and when they try to enter your store again.

Frequent Visits

Kogniz is also capable of detecting unusual activity like an individual walking around your store multiple times. Even without such a security system, be on the lookout for people who visit your store regularly but don’t make purchases, or those who walk past your store multiple time while looking inside.

Oversized Clothing or Bags

Shoplifters often carry large purses or backpacks where they can easily conceal the items they steal. Or they might wear oversized clothing that could easily fit items inside. Of course, there are other reasons to carry purses or wear large coats, but it’s worth keeping an eye on anyone with a large, open bag.

Winter Gear in Summer

Jackets or large scarves can also be quite effective when attempting to conceal stolen goods. Of course, most people are likely to be wearing these items in the winter. But they should probably raise some red flags on warmer days.

Lumps in Clothing

Since there are plenty of legitimate reasons for people to wear jackets or oversized sweaters, you should also look out for additional signs. This could include awkward lumps under jackets, where the offender may be holding their stolen items.

Split-up Groups

Shoplifters often work in groups. To avoid drawing attention to themselves, they may split up so one can steal while the other distracts employees. Or they could simply take different parts of the store.

Distracting Staff Members

In fact, any sort of distraction or diversion may be a sign of a shoplifter. If anyone asks excessive questions or needs help in one specific part of the store, you may want to pay special attention.

Asking for Out-of-Stock Items

One common method for shoplifters to distract staff members is to ask for items that are not available in the main part of the store. If they can get you to go check the back stockroom, they can easily grab something and make their getaway.

Constantly Monitoring Employees

Shoplifters tend to pay more attention to employees than to the actual products in the store. If you notice someone looking at you constantly, you may want to pay special attention.

Examining Multiple Items

Shoplifters will often pick up items throughout the store and examine them so it won’t seem strange when they pick up an item to steal. This can also be a tactic to throw you off the scent, since you won’t necessarily know exactly what item was stolen.

Excessive Sweating

According to Dr. Lillian Glass, body language expert and author of “The Body Language of Liars,” excessive sweating, especially on the T-zone of the face, is common for those who are being deceptive. Of course, there are other reasons for excessive sweat, but it may be worth keeping an eye on someone who is especially flushed on a cold day.

Lack of Eye Contact

Those who are being deceptive also may have a difficult time making eye contact with people when they’re questioned. It’s not always a surefire sign of shoplifting, but may be something to look out for.

Looking Around Constantly

Shoplifters will also want to be sure that they’re not being watched when they actually go to steal something. If you notice someone with a swivel head, pay special attention.

Fidgeting

Fidgeting is another sign of nervous behavior. Be on the lookout for excessive scratching, face touching, or hair pulling.

Nervous Behavior When Questioned

A study from UCLA found that people who are lying tend to give short responses, over-justify their behavior and repeat questions when they’re approached by another person. If you believe someone may be shoplifting, simply asking if they need help with anything could give you clues about their intent.

Noticing Security Cameras

If you do have security cameras around your store, shoplifters are likely to take notice. They may also try to avoid those parts of your store and focus on back corners or areas that aren’t well monitored.

Loitering in One Spot

Shoplifters also tend to stand around for awhile in one particular part of the store. Pay attention to anyone spending an unusual amount of time in a back corner.

Filling Changing Rooms

In clothing stores, it’s common for shoplifters to take multiple items into a changing room so they can conceal items under their clothing without detection.

Multiple Guests in Changing Rooms

You should also be wary of groups entering changing rooms. They may be working together or trying to create some confusion among the staff.

Atypical Customers

Shoplifters do not have one specific profile. But your small business probably has a pretty consistent target customer. Those who don’t seem like your regular customers may be a bit more likely to shoplift.

Carrying Multiple Items

It is also common for shoplifters to carry around large piles of items so it won’t seem as unusual if one or two of them goes missing. In fact, some shoplifters may even purchase multiple items while also sneaking extras out of the store with them.

Shopping During Off-Hours

Shoplifters do not normally like to take things when there are a lot of people around. Even if staff members are busy, other shoppers may notice something. So pay special attention during slow times.

Loose Price Tags

Not all shoplifters simply take things without paying. Some may try softer tactics like switching price tags so they end up getting a very expensive item at a much lower price. Be on the lookout for any price tags that look like they were placed on a product haphazardly. And check prices on items that don’t have price tags at all.

Obstructed Faces

To avoid being identified, some shoplifters will wear hats, scarves, or sunglasses that cover up parts of their face.

Quick Exits

Once a shoplifter has grabbed their items, they are likely to try and make a fairly quick exit. They won’t necessarily bolt out of the store, though that should raise some red flags as well. But they may walk a little more briskly than other customers. So it could be worth checking security footage.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “25 Signs of a Shoplifter in Your Store” was first published on Small Business Trends

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BBC: Bulgarians Decry ‘Eco Vandalism’ on Coast

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

It may not be the holiday season, but Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast has been the focus of a lot of media attention in recent weeks.  

After pictures emerged on social media earlier this month of a giant sand dune being bulldozed, there’s been an angry reaction among eco activists and the general public.

On 12 January, Bulgarian musician and activist Vasil Gyurov posted pictures on Facebook with the caption: “This is what the protected dunes look like at the Smokiniya campsite. How convenient – in January. Scum!”

The post prompted disbelief on social media. Stefani Pavlova wrote: There’ll be nothing left of this country… it’s our fault that we put up with it. Lawlessness, anarchy… Our future looks black…”

‘Act of vandalism’

The coastal sand dunes are home to rare plants and enjoy protection under Bulgaria’s environmental protection laws. Destroying a sand dune is illegal, even if it happens to be on private land.

“We were shaken after what we saw,” said Tonka Atanasova, the head of the environmental inspectorate in the city of Burgas. “A giant dune being completely destroyed. It’s an act of vandalism.”

The photographs led to prosecutors and environmental authorities to start investigations, which resulted in the arrest of three men.

Soon, pictures of other building sites along the coast appeared, showing heavy machinery hard at work right next to beaches.

Bulgaria’s coastline has been transformed by a construction boom over the last couple of decades and this is not the first time authorities have been accused of allowing acts of environmental “vandalism”.

The pressure to exploit the coastline commercially has often been compared to the construction fever along Spain’s Costa Brava coast during the 1960s.

Recent news headlines have suggested that Brexit will bring a boost for the Bulgarian tourist industry. Tour operators have reported a surge in bookings from Brits seeking cheaper holiday destinations as the value of the pound has fallen against some other currencies.

Work temporarily halted

On 25 January, after weeks of media pressure, Bulgaria’s National Construction Control Directorate said that it had ordered the suspension of construction at three sites on the country’s southern Black Sea coast: at Gradina campsite near Sozopol, at the Arapiya area, and at Alepu.

On 28 January, the directorate announced an inspection at another building site – at St Konstantin and Elena in the north.

It was widely reported that all that construction work had been approved at both ministerial and local levels, but authorities are conducting further inspections this week.

The coastal area forms a unique habitat for migrating birds and many rare plant species. There had been concerns that construction work would endanger the nesting site of the bee-eater bird.

One of the building sites is 500m away from the Alepu mud lake and falls on two protected areas, reports Kapital daily.

Sozopil mayor Panayot Reyzy explained to Nova TV that the documents that came with the building application were “according to all requirements”.

“Private investment is the development of humankind,” he said in defence of the project.

‘It’s all legal!’

Media outlets have run editorials and opinion pieces questioning the laws and regulations around construction on the coastline.

More than 70 per cent of the country’s sand dunes are said to be on private land. This seems to be down in part to land being given agricultural status during the process of re-nationalisation after the fall of communism. Investigative journalists blame it on corruption in local councils.

At a protest in Sofia on 28 January, there were calls for changes in the law that allows commercial development “to spoil the sea coast” and for the resignation of two ministers.

Vasil Gyurov, the activist who posted the first pictures, wrote sarcastically on Facebook: “It’s all legal! Thank you, lawmakers!”

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Bulgarian President: Bulgaria-Portugal Relationship a Symbol of Europe’s Future

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

(Xinhua) — The relationship between Bulgaria and Portugal is a symbol of the future of Europe as the two countries can cooperate and hold dialogue while seeking common ground on the basis of European values, visiting Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said here Wednesday.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Portuguese counterpart Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Radev said that he was pleased to find that Portugal has many similar positions with Bulgaria regarding the future and stability of Europe, Brexit and Western populism.

Asked about Britain’s exit from the European Union, the Bulgarian president said that the most important thing about Brexit is to preserve a united European position for problem-solving, although different countries have different sensitivities.

For his part, Rebelo de Sousa said that Portugal is fully committed to maintaining the agreement reached between Britain and the EU and it is impossible to restart Brexit negotiations.

The EU has already adopted a unified position and this position must be defended and adhered to, he emphasized.

Radev began a two-day state visit to Portugal on Wednesday, during which he will also hold talks with Prime Minister Antonio Costa and Parliament President Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues.

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The Coolest Promotional Products for Your Business

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

The Coolest Promotional Products for Your Business in 2019

This month, Promotional Products Association International hosted its annual Expo in Las Vegas. The event features more than 12,000 distributors of promotional products aimed at helping businesses advertise their products and services.

You’ve likely seen plenty of promotional products through the years, from logo t-shirts to pens and keychains. But the industry is adapting to offer more personalized items that you can use for corporate gifting, employee engagement, or unique visitor experiences.

Paul Bellantone, CAE, PPAI President and CEO said in an email interview with Small Business Trends, “For most, the first things that come to mind when they hear the term promotional product are generally a branded pen or keychain. However, in recent years the promotional products industry has expanded that train of thought to include a variety of new product offerings and uses.”

Coolest Promotional Products

Here are some of the most popular promotional product categories of the moment, from classic gift items to high tech assets you can use to really stand out.

Personalized Corporate Gifts

According to Bellantone, corporate gifting is one of the most popular categories for promotional products today. When creating items for specific clients, you might go beyond the basic logo goods and also include a monogram or some kind of personalization that’s specific to the recipient. This can include clothing, mugs, or basically any gifts you might buy for a client or partner.

Employee Awards

Bellantone says that employee engagement is another major area where promotional products can help. A simple award or token that is personalized to specific members of your team can let them know that their work is appreciated and help to promote engagement company-wide.

Practical Desk Accessories

Practical items are also popular, especially B2B type items that could work for both employees or business clients. Desk accessories, calendars, USB drives or briefcases fall into this category. You could also opt for industry-specific items like medical bags or first aid kits.

Trade Show Bags

If you’re giving away items at trade shows, it doesn’t get more practical than a bag. This may not be the most innovative item, but its utility is fairly timeless. People need places to carry all of their other items. And a bag also ensures that more people will see your logo as you walk around the venue.

NFC Assets

Not all promotional products need to be physical in nature. Promotional product providers are also finding ways to integrate NFC (near-field communication) technology into promotions. For example, you could design custom stickers or labels that customers can access on their devices when they’re in your store or at your trade show booth. They can then use those items on photos or social media posts to share their experience with others and spread the word about your brand.

AR Games

According to Bellantone, some providers are also finding ways to work AR (augmented reality) technology into their promotions. With this, you could create a Pokemon Go-style trade show game or allow visitors to create branded augmented images using your technology. For example, if you’re at a home goods trade show, you could use the technology to create a virtual showroom that will create the illusion they’re not at a tiny trade show booth.

This article, “The Coolest Promotional Products for Your Business” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Bulgarian Fresh Produce Exports Grew in 2018

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

From January to October 2018, Bulgaria exported 46,000 tons of fresh vegetables and 43,400 tons of fresh fruit. This is 41.8% and 39.9% more, respectively, than in 2017, according to the latest operational analysis of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, reports Fresh Plaza

The biggest contribution to the growth of vegetable exports was made by potatoes (3.3 thousand tons; up 15 times), legumes (3 thousand tons; +23.8%) and tomatoes (2.9 thousand tons; +61.6%). 

Growth was also recorded in the exports of mushrooms, cucumbers, peppers and sweet corn. The reverse trend was observed for aubergines (-25.6%) and cabbage (-47.3%). 

The growth of fresh fruit exports over the 10-month period is mainly due to the re-export of citrus fruits (14,000 tons; up by over 200%). As for the fruits grown domestically, the most noteworthy exports were those of watermelons (5.5 thousand tonnes; up by over 200 %), cherries (+27.1%) and apples.

Drops were reported in the export of grapes, apricots, nuts, peaches, strawberries and sour cherries.

With regard to imports, there were no significant changes compared to the first ten months of 2018, according to preliminary data of the National Statistical Institute, which show that fresh vegetable imports increased by 11.7%, to 226.7 thousand tons, while fresh fruit imports grew by 9.4%, to 255.3 thousand tons.

Of the vegetables Bulgaria imported, the most notable increases were recorded by tomatoes (8.9 thousand tons; +13.7%), peppers (7.4 thousand tons; +36.4%) and cucumbers (6.2 thousand tons; +43.7%). Greater imports were also recorded for carrots and turnips (+18%), cabbage (+8.8%), onions (+9.2%) and pumpkins (+26.8%). 

Meanwhile, potato imports were reduced by 6 thousand tons, or 16.1% compared to the previous year, while those of mushrooms, eggplants and garlic shrank by between 6.6% and 18.1%.

About half of the fresh fruit imports in the first ten months of 2018 correspond to citrus fruits and bananas (33.6%, or 128 thousand tons).

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