Seeing red

6 August 2013
Saint Homobonus, patron saint of procurementThe patron saint of purchasers takes a look at the month’s more unlikely business tales. Seeing red I always thought I picked out the red tunic you see me wearing on this page each month because it complemented my brown eyes. But research published by Saïd Business School (SBS) this month has made me question myself. The academics found men’s and women’s perception of price is affected by colour. Due to the way men read advertising, they perceive prices printed in red offer greater value than those printed in black. “Men can be easily convinced that they are getting a bargain, just by printing the price in red. This is useful for retailers to know, of course, and rather confirms the myth that men, in general, just aren’t very good at shopping,” said SBS’s Nancy Puccinelli. Sitting ducks It isn’t just civil servants who find themselves exasperated by PFI deals. At a Parliamentary press lunch, reported by the Daily Telegraph, chancellor George Osborne detailed hurdles involved in removing some ducks that made themselves at home in the courtyard fountain of the Treasury. He cited a series of entries in 
the Treasury log book, where an operative was rebuffed by both the RSPCA and Royal Parks when trying to remove the fowl. Eventually, the operative was advised to put a sign up telling people not to feed them and to frighten them frequently instead. These instructions were later retracted. In the end, the ducks left on their own – apparently fed up with such indecision. Getting heated I’m sure many readers are off on a summer holiday, although if the Institute of Leadership & Management is to be believed, many won’t get much of a break. 
A survey of 1,200 managers found 54 per cent work while on holiday, seven out of 10 feel more stressed in the run up to a break, and 17 per cent feel more stressed when they return. Meanwhile, as a heatwave spread across the UK, it questioned staff on appropriate clothing for the office. According to the responses vests and flip-flops are out for men, while hot pants and strapless tops are no-nos for ladies. Luggage lessons The average Briton now takes £2,500 worth of luggage when 
they travel according to insurer LV=. The plethora of smartphones and tablets, clothes, jewellery and toiletries makes up the value. But more than half a million Brits report their luggage being stolen while travelling, and almost one in five had to pay an excess baggage charge. Fortunately, my little brown case never leaves my side. Clooney boons I’m pleased to see Hollywood heart throb George Clooney taking his job as the face of fancy coffee firm Nespresso seriously. He is seen on TV looking suave holding a dainty cup, and was also on hand last month to launch the company’s sustainability advisory board. This promises initiatives in farmer welfare and environmental stewardship. But I fear Mrs Homobonus didn’t see past George’s dreamy coffee-hued eyes, rivalling even my own. Earn your spurs If you’ve had a hard day in the saddle I’ve got just the place for 
you, pardner. Head on down to the Supply Chain Cowboy blog. Dedicated to “taming the Wild West of the supply chain” it offers tips to small firms. “With a scan gun in your holster and your compadres at your side, you head out on the long trail ahead,” drawls the website. “Each day brings containers to be herded, pallets to be wrangled, inventory to be branded, and promises to be fulfilled.” Yee hah! Fast living As our professional lives only get busier, 
the opportunity to grab a bite to eat 
during the day grows ever smaller (see last month’s diary entry on skipping breakfast). It might appear the height of bad manners, but time-poor purchasers might be better off munching through a negotiation. An experiment conducted by Lakshmi Balachandra, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College, Massachusetts, found parties negotiating a joint venture deal created profits that were 11 per cent higher if food was present. And profits were 12 per cent greater for those who did the deal in a restaurant. While Balachandra is unsure of the precise reason why, she suggested it could be down 
to increased trust, shared behaviour or 
even increased glucose levels in the body. Just don’t get ketchup on the contract. Tweet of the month “Entry level position! 10 years experience required!” – 
Every life sciences supply 
chain job, ever. @NotSoNiceville
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