TakingStock – Enlightened penny-pinching.

Come the downturn accountants start pointing to the obvious places a company can save a pretty penny – or perhaps a million quid in fact.

TS was amazed to see the astonishing amount of cash that can, apparently, be saved by cutting indirect costs, according to American Express.

Speaking at the recent CFO summit the Amex chaps said ridding one company of bowls of fresh fruit for the workers saved an amazing #1.6m. Let that sink in. What would you do with a million?

But that’s not all. An airline saved #67,900 by removing just one olive from salads served to each of its first class passengers. Another group saved #25,800 by cancelling birthday cakes for its workers. It all sounds a bit heartless and sadly it’s mostly perks for employees that bite the dust when times are hard.

But just how low will companies stoop to save a penny? Pretty low is the answer. As if outlawing free biscuits wasn’t enough, TS heard of one company which, to save electricity, forces cleaning staff to work in the dark wearing miners’ head lamps!

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