UK technology company Dyson to build electric car in Singapore

( via — Tue , 23rd  Oct 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – British technology company Dyson said on Tuesday it would build its electric car in Singapore, with a new site set for completion in 2020 ahead of the first vehicle launch a year later.

Dyson, founded by the billionaire British inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner James Dyson, announced its plans to build an electric car a little over a year ago.

It is designing the technology and building a test track in Wiltshire, western England, but said the decision to make the car in Singapore reflected the international nature of its operations.

Dyson already employs around 1,100 people in Singapore, where it makes electric motors. It said Singapore offered access to high-growth markets, an extensive supply chain and a highly skilled workforce.

“We will begin construction in December and it will be completed in 2020, meeting our project timeline,” Dyson Chief Executive Jim Rowan said.

Reporting by Paul Sandle



O2 to postpone £10bn flotation due ‘Brexit fears’

QLM Image

( via– Tue, 23 Oct 2018) London, Uk – –

Parent Telefonica explored a London listing for the mobile operator in 2016, after a merger with rival operator Three collapsed.

Telecom giant O2 is holding off its £10bn stock market flotation until after Brexit amid market uncertainty, according to reports.

The mobile operator had been expected to list on the London Stock Exchange this year following 4G and 5G spectrum auctions in April, but sources told the Press Association that those plans are now on hold.

Analysts have valued the operator, owned by Spanish parent Telefonica, at between £9bn and £10bn.

The decision to put off its initial public offering (IPO) comes at a time of market uncertainty, general fears around Brexit, and after a number of underwhelming UK launches on to the stock market.

Telefonica declined to comment.

Accountancy giant EY has previously said that Brexit uncertainty is casting a “shadow” over the London IPO market.

Telefonica first said it would explore a London listing for its mobile operator in 2016, after a merger with rival operator Three collapsed amid competition concerns.

Reports said it had been awaiting the outcome of April's radio spectrum sale, in which the biggest chunk went to O2, raising over £1bn for the government.

While the operator made no firm commitment to float this year, Telefonica had been looking to raise cash on O2 as a means of driving down debts of around €40bn (£35bn).

However, the need to float the British mobile network to generate funds is now less pressing, with the Spanish group seeing its cash flow strengthen, reports said.

In August, Telefonica chief executive Jose Maria Álvarez-Pallete told reporters that he was “under no pressure” to sell a part of O2 through an initial public offering, but would continue to monitor the stock market.

“It would be a sizeable IPO, [which] would need attractive conditions, but it doesn't look like the financial markets are ready,” he said at the time.

Since August, a number of high-profile and widely anticipated stock market debuts have been performed below expectation.

Luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin, which launched on the London market this month, saw its initial offer price fail to hit the top end of the £17.50 to £22.50 valuation range it put forward in September.

An offer at the top end would have seen the manufacturer – famous for making James Bond's cars – valued at more than £5bn.

On the same day, UK fintech company Funding Circle floated and saw the initial share price promptly plummet by almost a quarter, before regaining some ground to 17% below its 440p opening price.



Addison Lee aims for self-driving cars in London within three years

( via – – Mon, 22 Oct 2018) London, Uk – –

Tech pioneer Oxbotica to start mapping public roads as it calls deal with hire firm ‘huge leap’

Self-driving car services could be on the streets of London within three years under a partnership between the private hire firm Addison Lee and the British driverless car pioneers Oxbotica.

The companies have signed a deal to develop and deploy autonomous vehicles in the city by 2021.

Oxbotica will start mapping more than 250,000 miles of public roads in and around London from next month, using its technology to create a comprehensive map of every traffic feature.

While the link-up could eventually allow Addison Lee’s fleet of black Mercedes and Prius cabs to be driven autonomously, the 5,000 drivers in London will remain employed, the firm says. However, it could also offer a cheaper, autonomous ride-sharing version of its hire service. The first stage is likely to be in corporate shuttles, around airports or campuses.

Despite the ambitious time frame, London looks set to be at least a year behind other global cities. Tokyo launched an experimental driverless taxi in August, with a view to having a full service in place in time for the 2020 Olympics.

Toyota, meanwhile, is investing $500m (£388m) to develop an autonomous fleet for Uber, although Uber’s programme was set back when one of its self-driving cars was involved in a fatal collision with a pedestrian in the US in March.

Andy Boland, chief executive of Addison Lee, said that although technology could make an autonomous version of their current service feasible in London, “our 5,000 drivers in the UK are going to carry on doing what they are doing. For the foreseeable future I would draw that distinction between premium services, and technology opening those other sorts of services at a relevant price point.”

However, he said a driverless vehicle should eventually prove cheaper to run for the firm: “There are cost savings in the medium term, from maximising asset utilisation.”

The traditional London taxi and private hire trade has been disrupted by Uber offering lower fares, but industry observers have questioned whether Uber could continue to keep prices down in the long term by continuing to use drivers.

Boland said that while plenty of tech firms had eyed the market in a sector that could be worth £28bn a year by 2035, practically implementing autonomous or car-sharing services would still require the kind of fleet, maintenance and customer base his firm already had.

Graeme Smith, chief executive of Oxbotica, said: “This represents a huge leap towards bringing autonomous vehicles into mainstream use on the streets of London, and eventually in cities across the United Kingdom and beyond.”

New York is the next city it will target.

Transport for London said it was committed to engaging with firms using autonomous vehicle technology at the earliest opportunity. Michael Hurwitz, director of transport innovation, said it had the potential to change travel significantly: “All cities across the UK, including London, need to understand the opportunities, risks and challenges they face when considering how transport will operate in the future.”

Addison Lee and Oxbotica were part of the consortium carrying out government-funded studies in Greenwich, south-east London, to investigate whether the public transport network could be complemented with people ride-sharing in driverless pods.

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent



Tobacco giant Philip Morris accused of hypocrisy over anti-smoking ad

Pexels/Sera Cocora

( via – – Mon, 22 Oct 2018) London, Uk – –

One of the world's biggest tobacco firms, Philip Morris, has been accused of “staggering hypocrisy” over its new ad campaign that urges smokers to quit.

The Marlboro maker said the move was “an important next step” in its aim to “ultimately stop selling cigarettes”.

But Cancer Research said the firm was simply trying to promote its smoking alternatives, such as heated tobacco.

“This is a staggering hypocrisy,” it said, pointing out the firm still promotes smoking outside the UK.

“The best way Philip Morris could help people to stop smoking is to stop making cigarettes,” George Butterworth, Cancer Research UK's tobacco policy manager said.

The charity said smoking was the leading preventable cause of cancer and it encouraged people to switch away completely from smoking, including through the use of e-cigarettes.

Health charity Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) also criticised the campaign – which is called Hold My Light and has been launched in a four-page wraparound on Monday's Daily Mirror – saying it was a way for Philip Morris to get around the UK's anti-tobacco advertising rules.

There is also a campaign video, which shows a young woman negotiating a Mission Impossible-style room in order to hand her cigarette lighter over to a group of friends, who are supporting her in a bid to give up smoking.

Most forms of tobacco advertising and promotion in the UK are banned, and rules introduced last year mean cigarettes and tobacco must be sold in plain green packets.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Ash, said Philip Morris was still advertising its Marlboro brand wherever globally it was legal to do so.

“The fact of the matter is that it can no longer do that in the UK, we're a dark market where all advertising, promotion and sponsorship is banned, and cigarettes are in plain packs.

“So instead Philip Morris is promoting the company name which is inextricably linked with Marlboro,” she said.



Philip Morris has said previously that it wants to achieve a “smoke-free” future.

Like many tobacco firms, Philip Morris is moving towards a focus on new products to replace cigarettes as the number of smokers in the UK continues to decline.

In the UK, it markets several alternatives to cigarettes, including a heated tobacco product, Iqos.

It also owns the Nicocig, Vivid and Mesh e-cigarette brands.

‘It takes time'
The firm's managing director Peter Nixon said its new advertising campaign was “about supporting smokers in finding alternatives”.

Asked why, if Philip Morris was so keen for smokers to quit, it did not simply stop making cigarettes and focus entirely on alternative products, he said it was because smokers would just switch to a rival product.

“Cigarettes still generate 87% of our business. We want to get to [smoke-free] as soon as possible, and we want to be selling alternatives, but it does take time,” he said.

Mr Nixon said the firm had invested over £4bn in developing alternative products to cigarettes.

The campaign suggests four ways to give up cigarettes, including going cold turkey, using nicotine patches, vaping and using heated tobacco products.

In an unusual move, the Daily Mirror made a reference in its editorial column to the advertising feature which envelops the paper. It said it was “pleased to back the campaign”.

It added: “Yes, we were surprised too that this is a campaign created by Philip Morris Ltd. But it can only be a good thing that they are now trying to encourage people to quit cigarettes.”

In July last year, the government set out a plan to make England, in effect, smoke-free in the next few decades.

The new Tobacco Control Plan aimed to cut smoking rates from 15.5% to 12% of the population by 2022.



Danielle Ishak : The woman making robot companions for seniors



For decades, we've dreamed of robots that can be our companions. Now, Danielle Ishak is trying to build one. Named ElliQ, this robot is aimed at the elderly who live alone, and it's in the homes of about a dozen beta testers in the Bay Area. Ishak's task is to study these seniors' interactions with ElliQ to make sure the robot is something they actually want



Starbucks opened their first Italian chain : How well did it go down with the established coffee culture?


CBS This Morning

Since its start in Seattle in the early 1970s, the Starbucks coffee chain has opened shops all over the country and the world, including European nations where coffee culture was already well established. One place they dared not tread was Italy, the coffee-centric land that helped founder Howard Schultz shape the chain's character in the first place.

Seth Doane reports.



View a more eclectic side of London where locals enjoy spending time


Source: Youtube/Love and London

Forget London Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square… those areas are super-touristy, crowded, and don't show the character of London. In this video takes you to three areas in London where Londoners enjoy spending time, which shows you the side of the city that is full of character and diverse.

Diesel and petrol ban should be brought forward by 8 years, say MPs

( via – – Fri, 19th Oct 2018) London, Uk – –

A ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars should be brought forward by eight years to 2032, MPs have said.

The government's current plans to ensure all new cars are “effectively zero emission” by 2040 were “vague and unambitious”, a report by Parliament's business select committee said.

It also criticised cuts to subsidies and the lack of charging points.

The government said it aimed to make the UK “the best place in the world” to own an electric vehicle.

However, the report from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee said the government's deeds did not match the ambitions of its words.

The committee's chairwoman, Rachel Reeves MP, said the government's targets gave “little clarity or incentive to industry or the consumer to invest in electric cars.”

‘Zero means zero'
Earlier this year the prime minister said that all new cars and vans should be “effectively zero emission” by 2040.

The government's Road to Zero Strategy said it wanted “almost every car and van” in the UK to be zero emission by 2050. However it was unclear which, if any, hybrid models were being included.

The committee said “zero should mean zero” and called for the government to bring forward “a clear, precise target for new sales of cars and vans to be truly zero emission by 2032”.

Car industry condemns ‘green' car change
Why you have (probably) already bought your last car
Electric cars: What if you live in a flat?
The UK was among the top 10 countries for electric vehicle sales in 2017, and has around 14,500 public charging points. However, in its report the committee said the country was far from electric vehicle ready.



MPs say the government's targets are “vague and unambitious”; but are they?

Vague may well be a fair criticism. When the 2040 target was first announced, the government was initially unable even to say whether or not hybrid cars would be covered. It later confirmed it had “no plans to ban any particular technology – like hybrids – as part of its strategy” – but insisted it wanted all cars to be “effectively zero emission” by that date. It could certainly have been clearer.

Unambitious? The car industry thinks not – the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders says it would be “nigh on impossible” to bring the ban forward by eight years. Ah, but they would say that wouldn't they?

Nevertheless, it's a fact that electric cars currently make up 0.6% of all cars sold in the UK, and plug-in hybrids just 1.6%. Overall, they make up a tiny proportion of the 31.5 million registered cars on our roads.

Yes, sales are expected to grow rapidly over the next few years, and yes some countries are planning to move more quickly. But with so many unknown factors ahead – such as whether or not enough batteries can be made to support rapid growth of electric vehicles – you could argue that it's already a pretty challenging target.

Subsidy cuts ‘perverse'
The MPs said the UK's charging infrastructure was still inadequate, and gave rise to “range anxiety” – potential buyers of electric vehicles worrying whether they will be able to reach the next charging station.

The report said the government had left delivery of charging points to councils and private companies when a “shared approach” was needed.

In addition, it called plans announced last week to slash subsidies for less-polluting vehicles “perverse”. The government will end grants for new plug-in hybrids in November and the subsidy for cars that are purely electric is being reduced from £4,500 to £3,500.

The purchase costs of electric vehicles remain very high relative to internal combustion engine vehicles, the report said, and therefore “incentives are required to encourage motorists to make the switch”.

Some European countries, including Denmark, Germany and Ireland, plan to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, ten years ahead of the UK.

But Mike Hawes, head of the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT), said calls to shift to entirely electric-powered cars by 2032 were “unrealistic”.

“Zero emission vehicles make up just 0.6% of the market, meaning consumer appetite would have to grow by some 17,000% in just over a decade,” he said.

Questions about the petrol and diesel car ban
Diesel car ban approved for German cities
Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at the RAC, said he understood the rationale for wanting to bring forward the end of conventionally-fuelled vehicles, but said to achieve that it “would have to be matched with bold and decisive action from the government”.

The Department for Transport said its green car strategy was one of the most comprehensive in the world. A statement said it was consulting on legislation to make all new homes “electric vehicle ready”.

“We want between 50% and 70% of new car sales to be ultra low emission by 2030, and for all new cars and vans to be effectively zero emission by 2040,” a spokeswoman said.

“And we also outlined measures to bring forward a major uplift in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, paving the way for the widespread adoption of ultra-low emission vehicles.”



Amazon announce plans to create 1,000 more technology jobs in the UK


( via – – Fri, 19th Oct 2018) London, Uk – –

Online retailer to expand R&D operations in the city as well as in Edinburgh and Cambridge

Amazon has said the UK will be “taking a leading role in global innovation” as it announced plans to hire 1,000 more technology, research and other skilled workers by next year.

The US online retailer is to open its first office in Manchester, with room for 600 new jobs in the Hanover Building in the city’s Northern Quarter – once the headquarters of the Co-operative Group.

Doug Gurr, the UK manager for Amazon, said the UK was “taking a leading role in our global innovation”.

“These are Silicon Valley jobs in Britain, and further cement our long-term commitment to the UK,” he said.

Amazon said the new Manchester team would work on research and development, including software development and machine learning.

Gurr said: “Manchester was at the heart of the industrial revolution and has a fantastic history of innovation. The city offers an incredibly talented workforce and a budding tech scene with some of the most exciting, fast-growing tech companies in the UK situated here.”

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “Amazon opening their new office in Manchester is another vote of confidence in our city-region as a global digital leader.”

In the latest phase of Amazon’s UK expansion, the firm said it was also creating space for 250 more high-skilled roles in Edinburgh, where it is taking three floors of the Waverley Gate building.

The company is also expanding its offices in Cambridge, where technicians work on the group’s Alexa digital personal assistant system, drone development and other Amazon devices. Amazon is making room for 180 new roles in Cambridge.

Amazon’s rapid global growth has spurred it to hire thousands of workers in Britain in recent years, most of whom are based at its warehouses.

The company this month responded to criticism of poor pay and conditions for its warehouse workers with the announcement of a pay rise to £10.50 an hour in London and £9.50 across the rest of the country.

However, it later emerged that the company had slashed share bonuses for those workers, offsetting at least half of the pay rise.

By Sarah Butler



Gatwick to bring standby runway into routine use by mid-2020s

( via– Thur, 18th Oct 2018) London, Uk – –

Gatwick has set out plans to bring its standby runway into routine use for departing flights by the mid-2020s.

Britain's second busiest airport said the move would meet all international safety requirements and could be delivered without increasing its noise footprint.

Under its current planning agreement, the standby runway can only be used when the main runway is closed for maintenance or emergencies, but the 40-year agreement comes to an end in 2019, Gatwick said.

It said it was exploring the “innovative” scheme as part of its master plan which “sets out how Gatwick can grow and do more for Britain”.

The master plan will be the subject of a 12-week consultation and the airport said it was keen to listen to the views of “local communities and stakeholders”. Local campaigners have already expressed opposition.

Gatwick said the development would help meet future aviation demand and ensure strong connections between Britain and global markets.



Jollibee Asian Rival to KFC Launches in Britain

( via – – Thu, 18th Oct 2018) London, Uk – –

A multibillion-dollar Asian rival to KFC will make its first foray into the UK on Thursday, opening in London’s Earl’s Court.

Jollibee, which offers single plates combining fried chicken, tomato spaghetti, beef with gravy and rice, has plans for rapid expansion across Europe.

Global chief executive Ernesto Tanmantiong told The Daily Telegraph that Jollibee is targeting 25 stores in Britain and 50 across Europe over the next five years.

Jollibee Foods Corporation is a $5.2bn market cap company headquartered in Manila. It operates 14 brands across 4,300 outlets worldwide. It is the sixth biggest food service company in the US by virtue of its controlling stake in the Smashburger chain. In September last year it was reportedly teeing up a $1bn approach for Pret a Manger.

The company’s flagship brand is Jollibee itself, which boasts 1,200 stores and whose eclectic menu has been particularly successful in Vietnam and China.

Mr Tanmantiong explained he started out “with two ice cream parlours in 1975”.

“We see that the UK has a very big fried chicken market,” he said, adding that he expects the company’s trademark Chickenjoy to quickly gain popularity.

Mr Tanmantiong said when Jollibee Foods Corporation launches in a new country ex-pat Filipinos dominate the customer base initially.

However, he insisted that more than half of customers in countries outside of the Philippines are now “locals”.

Considered a national treasure in the Philippines, fans in the US have reportedly waited for hours when new stores have opened. The first Manhattan store was opened earlier this week.

Meanwhile, the Jollibee boss shrugged off growing concerns over healthy eating. “We are looking into that as well,” he said. “But customers come to Jollibee for the Chickenjoy.”

By Oliver Gill



Canada officially legalise recreational marijuana

( via – – Wed, 17th Oct 2018) London, Uk – –
The first recreational cannabis to be legally bought in Canada was purchased at midnight on Wednesday (02:30 GMT) on the eastern island of Newfoundland amid queues of hundreds of people.

Canada has become the second country after Uruguay to legalise possession and use of recreational cannabis.

Medical marijuana has been legal in the country since 2001.

But concerns remain, including about the readiness for police forces to tackle drug impaired driving.

Information has been sent to 15m households about the new laws and there are public awareness campaigns.

Ian Power, from the town of St John's began queuing at 20:00 local time so he could “make history”. Newfoundland is half an hour ahead of the next province to the west.

“It's been my dream to be the first person to buy the first legal gram of cannabis in Canada, and here I finally am,” he said.

Canadian provinces and municipalities have been preparing for months for the end of cannabis prohibition. They are responsible for setting out where cannabis can be bought and consumed.

This has created a patchwork of more or less restrictive legislation across the country.



Customers queued outside Tweed in St John's in Newfoundland as midnight approached
How ready is Canada for legal cannabis?
There remain unanswered questions on some key issues around how legal cannabis will work in Canada.

A number of analysts are predicting a shortage of recreational marijuana in the first year of legalisation as production and licensing continues to ramp up to meet demand.

And the marketplace itself is still in its infancy.

Media captionAs Canada makes cannabis legal, what happens to those with past convictions for possession?
Ontario, Canada's most populous province, will only begin opening retail stores next spring, though residents will be able to order cannabis online.

British Columbia, one of the provinces with the highest rates of cannabis use, will only have one legal store open on Wednesday.

Until retail locations are more widely available, some unlicensed cannabis retailers, which have flourished in the years since the law was first proposed, may stay open.

It is unclear if police will crack down on them immediately, or if they will turn a blind eye.

What's at stake?
Jessica Murphy, BBC News, Vancouver

Legal pot has been an inescapable topic for months in Canada, as governments and companies prepared in earnest for 17 October.

That day is finally here, and Canadians will learn just how much – or how little – the new framework will change the country. But this is not just a domestic affair.

With global trends shifting away from a strict prohibition of cannabis, the world will be watching this national experiment in drug liberalisation.

A measure of success – whether legalisation will be a win for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ahead of the 2019 federal election – will depend on whether it meets his stated goals: restricting access of the drug to youth – who are among the heaviest users in Canada – reducing the burden of cannabis laws on the justice system, and undercutting the illicit market for the drug.

And if the outcomes are positive, other countries might just be more willing to follow suit.

Why is Canada legalising cannabis?
Legalisation fulfils a 2015 campaign promise by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the leader of the governing Liberal Party.

The prime minister has argued that Canada's nearly century-old laws criminalising use of the drug have been ineffective, given that Canadians are still among the world's heaviest users.

He said the new law is designed to keep drugs out of the hands of minors and profits out of the hands of criminals.

Who wins and who loses under new law
Canada cannabis legalisation: ‘We know the world is watching'
Canada legalises recreational cannabis use
The federal government also predicts it will raise $400m a year in tax revenues on the sale of cannabis.

Cannabis possession first became a crime in Canada in 1923 but medical use has been legal since 2001.

What is the situation elsewhere?
Canada follows in the footsteps of Uruguay, which became the first country in the world to legalise the sale of cannabis for recreational use in 2013. A number of US states have also voted to end prohibition.

Medical marijuana is also gaining ground in many European countries. Portugal and the Netherlands have decriminalised the drug.

South Africa's highest court legalised the use of cannabis by adults in private places in September, though the sale of the drug remains a crime.

In April, Zimbabwe became the second country in Africa, after Lesotho, to legalise the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Eight US states – Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and California – have legalised recreational and medicinal marijuana.

What are the new rules around cannabis?
Adults will be able buy cannabis oil, seeds and plants and dried cannabis from licensed producers and retailers and to possess up to 30 grams (one ounce) of dried cannabis in public, or its equivalent.

Edibles, or cannabis-infused foods, will not be immediately available for purchase but will be within a year of the bill coming into force. The delay is meant to give the government time to set out regulations specific to those products.

It will be illegal to possess more than 30 grams in public, grow more than four plants per household and to buy from an unlicensed dealer.

Legalising cannabis: What you need to know

Penalties for some infraction will be severe. Someone caught selling the drug to a minor could be jailed for up to 14 years.

Some critics say the penalties are too harsh and not proportional to similar laws like those around selling alcohol to minors.



Unauthorised dispensaries have cropped up in cities across Canada in the run-up to legalisation

On Monday, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published an editorial calling legalisation “a national, uncontrolled experiment in which the profits of cannabis producers and tax revenues are squarely pitched against the health of Canadians”.

There are also still some legal wrinkles to be worked out.

Canada has brought in new drug impaired driving offences, but doubts remain about the reliability of screening technology and the potential for drugged driving cases to clog up the courts.

Federal statistics indicate that about half of all cannabis users do not believe their driving is impaired after taking marijuana.

Government officials told reporters on Tuesday that they are currently considering a fast-track process to allow people who have been convicted of possession to apply for legal pardons. There are currently some 500,000 Canadians with existing criminal records for possession.

The change in national drug policy has also created headaches with the US, where the drug remains federally a controlled substance.

On Tuesday, the US Customs Border Protection Agency said border guards will have “broad latitude” to determine who is admissible to the country.

Border guards may ask Canadians if they smoke cannabis, and deny them entry if they believe they intend to do so in the US.

Canada has also been rolling out signs at all airports and border crossings to warn travellers that crossing international borders with the drug remains illegal.


John Lewis to launch after-hours service for big spenders

Mankind 2k

( via – – Wed, 17th Oct 2018) London, Uk – –

New Cheltenham store will offer after-hours service for those willing to spend big

John Lewis is offering big spenders the opportunity to get its new Cheltenham shop all to themselves for the evening – as long as they’re prepared to put £10,000 into the tills.

The “private shopping” service, where staff will be available after normal shopping hours specifically to serve individuals, groups of friends or a family, is a step into the territory of luxury boutiques and Bond Street stores such as Louis Vuitton and Hermès.

It is one of 20 different services being offered at the department store’s latest outlet, which opens on Thursday. Another new service is called the Shopping List, under which a member of John Lewis’s team can be booked free of charge to gather either a specific basket of items or to help pick out gifts for specific people.

Peter Cross, director of customer experience, said: “Previously the reserve of exclusive boutiques for the famous few, this autumn in Cheltenham, with the help of our army of expertly trained partners, we are bringing the intimacy, luxury and magic of personal shopping to the high street.”

John Lewis – which is owned by its staff, known as partners – is trying to fight the flight to online shopping by offering a growing array of services that can’t be delivered via the internet.

The managing director, Paula Nickolds, has said its stores needed to sell experiences to fight for a slice of discretionary consumer spending against mini-breaks, gym classes and nights out.

She has brought in experience desks where a concierge helps book appointments for blowdrys, manicures and personal shopping services, which are now hosted in an increasing number of stores.

Cheltenham will also have a personal shopping suite, including the group’s first lounge dedicated to men.

The chain also recently rebranded to add “& Partners” to its name, in a bid to emphasise the importance of the service offered by its staff, who all get a bonus based on profits at the end of the year.

All department stores are under pressure because their large premises and typically lengthy rent deals with landlords have made it difficult to adapt to a fall in the number of shoppers visiting the high street.

House of Fraser is closing stores after being rescued from administration by Sports Direct, while the Debenhams share price has slumped after a string of profit warnings.

John Lewis’s profits have also taken a battering as it has been forced to match its ailing rivals’ discounts under its “never knowingly undersold” policy. It has also spent millions of pounds on improving its home delivery infrastructure and IT systems to cater to demand for online shopping.

By Sarah Butler


Chancellor Philip Hammond needs at least £19bn to ‘end austerity’ – IFS

( via– Tue, 16th Oct 2018) London, Uk – –

The only way the chancellor can end austerity is to borrow substantial sums or raise Britain's tax burden to the highest level for nearly 70 years, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned.

In its closely-watched green budget, a survey of the UK economy and public finances, the IFS said that even the mildest version of “ending austerity” would cost a minimum of £19bn – the equivalent of a penny on income tax, National Insurance and on VAT.

The IFS added that there was effectively no prospect of a “Brexit dividend” for the public finances and warned that UK economic growth would remain weak for another two years.

Its report comes a fortnight ahead of the chancellor's winter budget, in which he will unveil his latest plans for borrowing and spending.

But the IFS said that Philip Hammond can only end austerity – in other words cancel major planned spending cuts – through significant tax rises or by borrowing so much that he breaks his commitment to eliminate the deficit by the middle of next decade.

It added that the sum – which it put at a provisional £19bn – would be bigger still if Mr Hammond abolished the benefits freeze and increased the generosity of other payouts.

Paul Johnson, director of the IFS, said that these decisions, which will form key parts of the budget, will “probably be the biggest non-Brexit related decision this chancellor will make”.

“He has a big choice,” he added. “He could end austerity, as the prime minister has suggested.

“But even on a limited definition of what that might mean would imply spending £19bn a year more than currently planned by the end of the parliament. An increase of that size is highly unlikely to be compatible with his desire to get the deficit down towards zero.

“Alternatively, the chancellor could stick to his guns on the deficit and leave many public services to struggle under the strain of a decade and more of cuts.

“He could reconcile these demands by raising taxes, and in principle there are plenty of good options, but the overall tax burden is already high by UK historical standards and he could be constrained by the lack of a parliamentary majority. This is going to be the toughest of circles to square.”

An increase in the tax burden of that scale would lift it to the highest level since the late 1940s and early 1950s – though it would still leave it in the middle of the pack of other developed economies.

But Mr Johnson said that it was far more likely that the government would simply borrow more. “Increasing borrowing is clearly the line of least resistance,” he said. “If I had to guess I would guess borrowing will be higher than the number in the spring statement.”

The IFS said that the extra money was significantly higher because of the extra commitments the chancellor had already made to spend more on the NHS and on international aid.

And it calculated that even if the UK enjoys an economic bump if it seals a deal to leave the European Union, the scale of the so-called “Brexit dividend” – the money the Treasury might save on contributions to the EU – might only be around £1bn a year by 2022/23 – a rounding error in fiscal terms.

John McDonnell, Labour's shadow chancellor, said: “This heaps yet more pressure on the chancellor to explain how he is going to deliver on the Tory promise of ending austerity.

“With billions of cuts in the form of Universal Credit still to come, and public services at breaking point, tinkering around the edges is not enough. It's time the chancellor finally came clean about where the additional funding for the NHS is coming from.”

A Treasury spokesperson said: “Our balanced approach is getting debt falling and supporting our vital public services, while keeping taxes as low as possible. This year, we have already committed an extra £20.5bn a year to the NHS, scrapped the public sector pay cap, and frozen fuel duty for the ninth year in a row.”

By Ed Conway


UK employees see fastest growth in basic wage in almost a decade


( via — Tue, 16th Oct, 2018) London, UK —

LONDON, Oct 16 (Reuters) – Workers in Britain saw their basic wages rise at the fastest pace in nearly a decade over the summer months, backing up the Bank of England’s view that a long period of weak pay rises is ending.

Earnings, excluding bonuses, rose by an annual 3.1 percent in the three months to August, the Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday.

That was higher than all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists.

Including bonuses, total earnings rose by 2.7 percent in the period, slightly above the poll’s median forecast of 2.6 percent.

The Bank of England’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, said last week that he saw signs of a “new dawn” for British wage growth.

Economists have been puzzled why wages were growing so slowly even as unemployment fell sharply.

Pay growth for Britain’s workers slowed to as low as 0.5 percent in 2014. Despite the recent improvement it remains stuck below the 4 percent increases that were the norm before the global financial crisis.

The unemployment rate held at its four-decade low of 4.0 percent in the three months to August, the ONS said.

But the number of people in work fell by 5,000, the first fall in nearly a year. The Reuters poll of economists had pointed to a rise of 11,000.

British households – whose spending is the main driver of the country’s economy – have struggled for much of the past decade as their wages grew more slowly than inflation.

Data due on Wednesday is expected to show Britain’s consumer price inflation stood at 2.6 percent in September, below a peak of 3.1 percent in November last year but still offering only modest improvement in spending power for workers.

The BoE said in August that it expected growth in total pay of 2.5 percent a year by the end of 2018, rising to 3.5 percent by the end of 2020, enough to justify the central bank’s plan to gradually raise interest rates over the period.

Reporting by William Schomberg and David Milliken


UK start-up Bombay Sour to launch new video streaming platform

British entertainment start-up Bombay Sour will launch a new video streaming platform this week on which subscribers will be able to buy shares in upcoming content.

( via – – Mon, 15th Oct 2018) London, Uk – –

The platform, which Bombay Sour describes as “crowdfunded Netflix”, uses blockchain technology to allow subscribers to take a stake in pilot content before it breaks onto TV, film or streaming services.

Since being founded in May, Bombay Sour already has a slate of more than 200 TV pilots and short films from directors including Eric Kissack, who directed The Dictator and  Phil Sheerin, who won Best UK Short at the Raindance Film Festival in 2015. The company said it would be ramping up production operations through to the end of the year.

At the MIPCOM trade show in Cannes this week, Bombay Sour will also reveal it is bolstering its management team, adding Simon Egan, the producer of The King's Speech, and the co-founder of Jukin Media, Josh Entman, to its advisory board.

The launch of Bombay Sour's service, which will focus on mobile viewing and be called Zest, comes as more consumers shift away from traditional TV and watch content online instead.

Just under a third of people in the UK said they had used Netflix in the last month, and a recent survey revealed that, among 12 to 15-year-olds in Britain, Netflix was better known than BBC One.

With growing viewer numbers, streaming services, which also include Amazon Prime Video and Now TV, have been allocating increasing amounts of cash to original content in recent years.

Netflix is planning to spend between $7bn and $8bn on content next year while analysts estimate Amazon's budget for Prime Video is around $4.5bn and new entrant Apple's is thought to be around $1bn.

However, Bombay Sour's founder and chief executive Piotr Kocel said his company believes that premium entertainment has “a decentralized future where content is democratically co-created with audiences and value is fairly distributed through private smart contracts”.



Sears US retail giant files for bankruptcy


( via – – Mon, 15th Oct 2018) London, Uk – –

Sears, the US retailer that that once dominated America's shopping malls, has filed for bankruptcy.

Sears Holdings – which also owns Kmart – filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday.

The company has suffered, along with many other traditional retailers, from rising online competition from firms such as Amazon.

Sears has been closing stores and selling properties as it grapples with debts of more than $5bn.

The company employs nearly 90,000 people in the US, although that is down from 246,000 five years ago, and in its heyday it had more than 3,000 stores.

It became America's largest retailer before being overtaken by Walmart in the 1980s.

Who will the ‘retail apocalypse' claim in 2018?
The firm filed for bankruptcy petition after it reportedly could not meet a $134m repayment due on Monday.

Chapter 11 protection postpones a US company's obligations to its creditors, giving it time to reorganise its debts or sell parts of the business.

Eddie Lampert – who is the company's chief executive, biggest investor and landlord – had attempted to restructure its debts to avoid bankruptcy.

In a statement, he said: “Over the last several years, we have worked hard to transform our business and unlock the value of our assets.

“While we have made progress, the plan has yet to deliver the results we have desired.”

Announcing its bankruptcy filing, Sears also said it would close 142 unprofitable stores by the end of the year, on top of the previously announced closure of 46 stores by November.

Sears was founded by Richard Warren Sears and Alvah Curtis Roebuck in 1886 as a mail order catalogue company, and opened its first retail locations in 1925.
It was America's largest retailer by revenue until 1989, when Walmart overtook it, but remains one of America's biggest department store groups.
The company also owns Kmart as well as a range of other brands.
Its revenues were $16.7bn in 2017, almost half the $31.2bn posted in 2014.
‘Tarnished' brand
Some analysts say Sears' problems were exacerbated by a lack of investment in stores.

Neil Saunders of GlobalData Retail said Sears' troubles began in the 1980s when it became “too diversified and lost the deftness that had once made it the world's largest and most innovative retailer”.

“That a storied retailer, once at the pinnacle of the industry, should collapse in such a shabby state of disarray is both terrible and scandalous,” he said.

“The brand is now tarnished just as the economics of its model are firmly stacked against its future success.”

Sears was founded in 1886 as a mail order catalogue business and later expanded into bricks-and-mortar stores to become a fixture in shopping malls across the US.

But its fortunes took a turn for the worse in the 1990s amid competition from low-cost chains such as Walmart.

Mr Lampert's hedge fund, ESL Investments, took a stake in Sears in 2004, later combining it with Kmart with the aim of restoring its profitability.

He and his affiliates now own about 49% of Sears.

Despite the investment, Sears never regained its footing. It wracked up more than $6bn in losses between 2013 and 2017, while annual revenues more than halved.

As of August, the retailer had more than 860 stores in the US, down from 1,700 at the end of 2014.

Sears Canada, which was spun-off from the main company in 2012, filed for bankruptcy last year, with the loss of thousands of jobs.


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