The process of a traditional Italian olive oil mill

Source: UK Business Insider

Business Insider UK was allowed inside a traditional olive mill in Italy, to see the process behind one of the world's most-used cooking ingredients. Olive oil comes in many varieties and flavours that change depending on soil, climate, age, and production. The most refined olive oil is called ‘extra virgin.' To be called so, the olives need to be crushed within 24 hours. They also need to be ‘cold pressed,' meaning the oil is extracted mechanically at room temperature without the use of heat or chemicals. While modern mills use steel drums to cold-press their olives, some smaller, often family-run mills are still making it the old-fashioned way with giant granite wheels. The mill we visited in Monopoli, south Italy, produces around 800 litres per day of extra virgin olive oil, crushing about 5,000 kg of olives. Harvested olives enter the mill on a conveyor belt, losing around 90% of the leaves. The last 10% is ground into a paste with olives and pits. The paste then moves into a kneading machine, which helps break the paste down into water and oil. It’s then spread over large fibre discs that are piled up and pressed for around 2.5 hours. Finally, the oil is separated from water and ready to be sold, or it can be filtered to give it a clearer appearance. Filtering is done through a funnel and cotton wool. While filtered oil has a longer shelf life, it has less flavour than the unfiltered product.

Facebook to launch ‘GlobalCoin’ cryptocurrency early in 2020

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 24th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Mark Zuckerberg met governor of Bank of England last month to discuss decision

Facebook is planning to launch its own cryptocurrency in early 2020, allowing users to make digital payments in a dozen countries.

The currency, dubbed GlobalCoin, would enable Facebook’s 2.4 billion monthly users to change dollars and other international currencies into its digital coins, which could then be used to make payments or transfer money without needing a bank account.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and chief executive of Facebook, last month met the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, to discuss the plans, according to the BBC.

Zuckerberg has also discussed the proposal, dubbed Project Libra, with US Treasury officials and is in talks with money transfer firms, including Western Union, to develop cheap, safe ways for people to send and receive money. A report last year said that Facebook is working on a cryptocurrency that will let users transfer money using WhatsApp, its encrypted mobile-messaging app.

In order to try to make the value of Facebook’s digital currency stable, the company is looking to peg its value to a basket of established currencies, including the US dollar, the euro and the Japanese yen.

Facebook has been long expected to make a move in financial services, having hired the former PayPal president David Marcus to run its messaging app in 2014. Marcus, a board member of crypto exchange Coinbase, runs Facebook’s blockchain initiatives, the technology on which cryptocurrencies run.

Earlier this month the US Senate committee on banking wrote an open letter to Zuckerberg questioning how the currency will work, what consumer protection will be offered and how data will be secured.

In February the JP Morgan became the first major US bank to create its own cryptocurrency, JPM Coin, as a way for its clients to settle payments.

by Mark Sweney

Mothercare sales plunged almost 9% as losses widen

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 24th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Sales in the UK arm of baby goods retailer Mothercare plunged almost 9% last year as its losses widened to £87.3m.

The firm said its sales had fallen following reduced consumer confidence after last year's restructuring.

That led to it closing almost a third of its stores. It is now left with 79 and will develop its online sales.

But boss Mark Newton-Jones said the firm was on a “sounder footing” after the sale of the Early Learning Centre.

The results for the year to 30 March – delayed from Thursday – detail the attempt by the retailer to rebound from what it describes as last year's “acute financial distress”.

It underwent a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), which allowed it to shut 55 shops in the space of a year, rather than the four it would taken without the CVA.

‘Text book recovery'

It also sold the ELC to the Entertainer for £11.5m and its Watford head office for £14.5m.

There was also a “fracture in the relationship” with the non-executive directors and directors, the company said.

“We remain determined to differentiate Mothercare as a textbook recovery case, in parallel demonstrating that boards can and should foster a greater alignment between their debt and equity providers,” said chairman Clive Whiley.

Even so, the results detail a worst-case scenario – of further falls in sales and margins – under which it could renegotiate its debt, which has been cut from £44m to £7m,

Mr Newton-Jones – who left last year, only to be rehired a little over a month later – said: “Whilst this major restructuring activity has resigned in significant headline losses for the year, the business is now on a sounder financial footing.”

‘Global brand'

The £87.3m of losses include £47.3m of costs associated with the restructuring, including store closures and 800 job losses, and the discontinued operations of the ELC. Losses in the previous financial year were £72.8m.

Its shares rose 19% to 24p, although they traded at 245p in 2015.

Like-for-like sales – stripping out the impact of store changes – fell 8.9% in the UK. Online sales were down 8% and store sales down 15.8% because of what Mothercare described as declining footfall and nervousness from suppliers during the restructuring.

International sales, largely in China, India, Indonesia, the Middle East and Russia, fell 4.7% – less than the 5.9% a year earlier.

Operations are also being expanded in Vietnam, where there are six stores, with three more to open.

Competition

“The next phase of our strategic transformation plan is to develop Mothercare as a global brand, maximising the opportunities we see across many international markets,” said Mr Newton-Jones.

Maureen Hinton, retail research director at GlobalData, said that sales would have fallen because of the store closures, but added that Mothercare was a “me-too” type of business, with similar products to rivals.

“There are so many better competitors for baby care and children's clothes. Supermarkets are so strong, Next has got very strong children's range and on the nursery side, there is JoJo Maman Bebe and John Lewis,” she said.

Added to that are the second-hand sales through online forums such as eBay, she said.

Natura to buy cosmetics firm Avon in £1.6bn deal

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Thur, 23rd May,2019) London, Uk – –

Avon sees the tie-up as boosting its online offering at a time when direct selling is under pressure from internet sales.

The owner of The Body Shop, Natura, is snapping up direct-selling cosmetics firm Avon in a deal that values the UK company at £1.6bn.

Brazil-based Natura, which also has the Aesop brand in its stable, said the agreement would create the world's fourth-largest beauty company and boost its direct sales offer at a time when both are grappling competition from internet sales.

Natura is primarily a physical space retailer with 3,200 stores worldwide.

Under the terms of the share swap deal, Natura will hold 76% of the combined business.

Investors in 133-year-old Avon Products will get 0.3 Natura share for each Avon share – a premium of 28% on the value seen on Tuesday.

Shares in both companies had ended over 9% higher on Wednesday as speculation mounted that a deal was imminent.

The takeover will give them a commanding market share of almost 47% in Brazil – their largest single market – where Natura has a 31% share currently, according to research group Euromonitor.

While such a dominant position could concern regulators, who must approve the deal, analysts said both currently offer each other's products so competition concerns were likely to be limited.

Natura said it expected the deal to be concluded by early next year – a consequence of the requirement for shareholders of both firms and competition authorities in several countries to approve the tie-up.

Jan Zijderveld, Avon's chief executive, said: “This combination is the start of an exciting new chapter in Avon's 130-year history.

“It stands as a testament to the progress of our efforts to ‘Open Up Avon', and we believe it will allow us to significantly accelerate our strategy and further expand into the online channel.

“Over the past year, we have started a transformation to strengthen Avon's competitiveness by renewing our focus on Her, simplifying our operations, and modernising and digitising our brand.

“Together with Natura, we will have broader access to innovation and a portfolio of products, a stronger e-commerce
and digital platform, and improved data and tools for Representatives to drive growth and enhance value for shareholders.”

Thomas Cook downgraded by credit rating agencies Fitch and S&P

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 23rd May 2019) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Credit rating agencies Fitch and S&P have downgraded Thomas Cook after the travel firm’s latest profit warning, saying the indebted company could struggle this summer in the face of weak demand.

Thomas Cook issued its third profit warning in less than a year last week, saying subdued demand had led to increased promotions and earlier discounting than usual. The profit warning led Citi to cut its price target for the stock to zero.

The company has put its airline up for sale and also agreed a 300 million pound ($379 million) bank facility to provide more liquidity for the 2019/20 winter season.

“The downgrade reflects the tight liquidity we expect TCG (Thomas Cook Group) to face toward the end of 2019 should it not sell its airline division or be able to draw on the planned GBP300 million senior secured facility,” Fitch said as it cut Thomas Cook’s rating to CCC+ from B.

“We expect EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) and profitability to be lower than our previous forecasts as the company faces lower bookings in its main markets, continuing fierce competition and Brexit uncertainty.”

S&P downgraded its rating on Thomas Cook to CCC+ from B-, citing risks from the soft market conditions and uncertainty over the sale price of the airline unit.

Last week Thomas Cook said it had received multiple bids to take over all or parts of its airline business. The company declined to comment on the credit ratings downgrades.

Shares in Thomas Cook were down 6% at 0854 GMT, with other travel and leisure stocks also lower.

The yield on Thomas Cook euro-denominated bonds that mature in 2022 rose <, but remained below Monday’s all-time high.

The stock is up 37% since hitting 8.33 pence on Monday, its lowest since November 2011, as the company has sought to reassure travelers that their holidays are safe in the wake of the profit warning.

Reporting by Alistair Smout; Additional reporting by Josephine Mason and Helen Reid

Cadent hit with record £44m penalty over gas supply failures

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 22nd May 2019) London, Uk – –

 company which left customers without gas for months has received the largest-ever enforcement action, of £44m, from the energy regulator.

Ofgem said Cadent also had no records of 775 high-rise blocks of flats.

That discovery was in part prompted by an information request from a council in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

The company offered an “unreserved apology” to customers who were without supplies for 19 days on average.

“We aim to put customers' needs at the heart of everything we do, and we acknowledge that in the past, we have fallen short of customers expectations and the higher standards we have now set ourselves; for this, we are sorry,” said Steve Hurrell, chief executive of Cadent.

Cadent, previously known as National Grid Gas Distribution, is involved in the final leg of piping gas into people's homes.

‘Unacceptable'

It owns four of England's eight regional distribution networks – north London, the West Midlands, the North West of England and eastern England. It did not supply Grenfell, but received an information request from a council following the tragedy.

Many of the customers affected by the gas outage were in north London. Some had their gas cut off for more than five months

Jonathan Brearley of Ofgem told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “When they were making repairs, people had their gas cut off for far too long.

“So in London, people in tower blocks were off for an average of 19 days and some were off for several months. We think this is unacceptable.

“If they do not look after their customers in totality, then absolutely they will either lose their licence or indeed they will suffer further financial penalties.”

Three failings

The penalty takes two parts: £24m for improvements and compensation and £20m for a community fund, which will receive 1.25% of Cadent's after tax profits. The firm's operating profit last year was £724m.

The company admitted that its regulatory data supplied to Ofgem showed that it was leaving residents in blocks of flats without gas for longer than necessary.

It also reported to Ofgem that it failed, over a six-year period, to compensate up to 12,000 residents left without gas for more than 24 hours.

It also reported to the regulator that it did not have records of gas pipes – or risers – in many tower blocks in its London network.

As part of the penalty, Cadent – which supplies gas to 11 million properties and 3,347 blocks of at least six storeys – will double compensation payments to customers who experience an unplanned disruption of longer than 24 hours, at a cost of £6.7m.

It will also pay £300,000 – double the amount first envisaged – to 2,140 customers who faced delayed compensation in 2018 and 2019.

The Health and Safety Executive is investigating the record-keeping issue and will publish its findings in due course.

EE stops selling new Huawei phones over concerns about Android updates

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 22nd May 2019) London, Uk – –

Firm is concerned about selling Android devices which won't receive updates and is waiting for clarifications on new phones.

EE will not be selling the next generation of Huawei phones due to concerns about whether the devices could receive operating system updates from Google.

It follows the news that Huawei's access to Android updates has been revoked by Google in accordance with sanctions issued by the White House.

A spokesperson for EE, which is the UK's largest mobile network, has confirmed to Sky News that existing Huawei customers are not affected and devices that are still in stock will still be sold.

But they added that the company won't be selling new Huawei smartphones as part of its 5G push until it has clarification on the situation with Android as it could leave customers without security updates.

The announcement was made as the company launched the first phase of its 5G roll-out, which will launch properly on 30 May in six cities around the UK: London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester.

The non-standalone 5G service still uses the 4G system's core network, although its radio antennas are the latest technology and are expected to provide a considerable boost to connectivity.

New phones which can support 5G connections from Samsung, OnePlus, LG, and Oppo are also going on pre-order, although the company has paused the sale of Huawei devices.

EE expects that its standalone 5G network will be working in 2022.

British Steel on brink of collapse unless the Uk government agrees to emergency £30M loan – source

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 21st May 2019) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – British Steel, the country’s second largest steel producer, is on the brink of collapse unless the government agrees to provide an emergency 30 million pound loan by later on Tuesday, a source close to the situation said.

The steelmaker, owned by investment firm Greybull Capital, employs around 5,000 people, mostly in Scunthorpe, in the north of England, while 20,000 more depend on in its supply chain.

Greybull, which specialises in turning around distressed businesses, paid former owners Tata Steel a nominal one pound in 2016 for the loss-making company which they renamed British Steel.

British Steel had asked the British government for a 75 million pound loan but has since reduced its demand to 30 million pounds after Greybull agreed to put up more money, according to the source close to the negotiations.

If the loan is not approved by Tuesday afternoon, administrators EY could be appointed for British Steel as early as Wednesday, the source said.

“The UK steel industry is critical to our manufacturing base and is strategically important to UK industry. The government must intervene,” said Gill Furniss, Labour’s spokeswoman for steel.

“Administration would be devastating for the thousands of workers and their families who rely on this key industry in a part of the country which has not had enough support and investment from government over decades,” Labour said.

If British Steel goes under it would mark the demise of one of the key parts of what was once a national champion of the British economy.

Unions demanded the government give the loan.

“They must now put their money where their mouth is,” said Ross Murdoch, national officer for the GMB union for steelworkers.

“GMB calls on the Government and Greybull to redouble efforts to save this proud steelworks and the highly skilled jobs,” Murdoch said.

A spokeswoman for Britain’s business ministry declined to comment on the details of British Steel but said: “We are in regular conversation with a wide range of companies.”

British Steel secured a government loan of around 120 million pounds in May to enable it to comply with the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) rules.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge

Cryptocurrency scams cost victims £27m in 2018-19 say FCA

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 21st May 2019) London, Uk – –

Fraudsters use professional-looking websites and promise high returns

Investment scams involving cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and foreign currency trading have tripled in a year, with the average victim losing £14,600, according to the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The regulator and the police-run body Action Fraud are warning the public to be wary, with the scams typically promising high returns and carried out via bogus online trading platforms. More than £27m was lost to frauds involving so-called crypto-assets and forex investments in 2018-19, said the FCA.

Crypto-assets is a broad term covering many different types of products. The most popular include tokens such as bitcoin and litecoin. The FCA calls these “exchange tokens,” though they are often referred to as cryptocurrencies, cryptocoins or payment tokens.

The number of such scams reported more than tripled last year to 1,834, from 530 in 2017-18.

Fraudsters often used social media to promote their “get rich quick” online trading platforms, the FCA said. Posts often used fake celebrity endorsements and images of luxury items such as expensive watches and cars, that link to professional-looking websites where consumers are persuaded to invest.

Investors will often be led to believe that their first investment has successfully made a profit. The fraudster will then contact the victim to urge them to invest more money or introduce friends and family, but eventually the returns stop, the customer’s account is closed and the scammer disappears with no further contact.

Reporting by Rupert Jones

Google restricts Huawei’s use of Android operating system

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 20th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Google has barred the world's second biggest smartphone maker, Huawei, from some updates to the Android operating system, dealing a blow to the Chinese company.

New designs of Huawei smartphones are set to lose access to some Google apps.

The move comes after the Trump administration added Huawei to a list of companies that American firms cannot trade with unless they have a licence.

Google said it was “complying with the order and reviewing the implications”.

Huawei said it would continue to provide security updates and after sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products covering those have been sold or still in stock globally.

“We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally,” it added.

What does this mean for Huawei users?

Existing Huawei smartphone users will be able to update apps and push through security fixes, as well as update Google Play services.

But when Google launches the next version of Android later this year, it may not be available on Huawei devices.

Future Huawei devices may no longer have apps such as YouTube and Maps.

Huawei can still use the version of the Android operating system available through an open source licence.

Ben Wood, from the CCS Insight consultancy, said the move by Google would have “big implications for Huawei's consumer business”.

What can Huawei do about this?

Last Wednesday, the Trump administration added Huawei to its “entity list”, which bans the company from acquiring technology from US firms without government approval.

In his first comments since the firm was placed on the list, Huawei chief executive Ren Zhengfei told Japanese media on Saturday: “We have already been preparing for this.”

He said the firm, which buys about $67bn (£52.6bn) worth of components each year according to the Nikkei business newspaper, would push ahead with developing its own parts.

Huawei faces a growing backlash from Western countries, led by the US, over possible risks posed by using its products in next-generation 5G mobile networks.

Several countries have raised concerns that Huawei equipment could be used by China for surveillance, allegations the company has vehemently denied.

Huawei has said its work does not pose any threats and that it is independent from the Chinese government.

However, some countries have blocked telecoms companies from using Huawei products in 5G mobile networks.

So far the UK has held back from any formal ban.

“Huawei has been working hard on developing its own App Gallery and other software assets in a similar manner to its work on chipset solutions. There is little doubt these efforts are part of its desire to control its own destiny,” said Mr Wood.

Short-term damage for Huawei?

By Leo Kelion, BBC Technology desk editor

In the short term, this could be very damaging for Huawei in the West.

Smartphone shoppers would not want an Android phone that lacked access to Google's Play Store, its virtual assistant or security updates, assuming these are among the services that would be pulled.

In the longer term, though, this might give smartphone vendors in general a reason to seriously consider the need for a viable alternative to Google's operating system, particularly at a time that the search giant is trying to push its own Pixel brand at their expense.

As far as Huawei is concerned, it appears to have prepared for the eventuality of being cut off from American know-how.

Its smartphones are already powered by its own proprietary processors, and earlier this year its consumer devices chief told German newspaper Die Welt that “we have prepared our own operating systems – that's our plan B”.

Even so, this move could knock its ambition to overtake Samsung and become the bestselling smartphone brand in 2020 seriously off course.


What about the US-China trade war?

The latest move against Huawei marks an escalation in tensions between the firm and the US.

The company is facing almost two dozen criminal charges filed by US authorities. Washington is also seeking the extradition of Huawei executive Meng Wangzou from Canada, where she was arrested in December at the behest of American officials.

It comes as trade tensions between the US and China also appear to be rising.

The world's two largest economies have been locked in a bruising trade battle for the past year that has seen tariffs imposed on billions of dollars worth of one another's goods.

Earlier this month, Washington more than doubled tariffs on $200bn of Chinese goods, prompting Beijing to retaliate with its own tariff hikes on US products.

The move surprised some – and rattled global markets – as the situation had seemed to be nearing a conclusion.

The US-China trade war has weighed on the global economy over the past year and created uncertainty for businesses and consumers.

Post Office closure of 2,500 in a year, “would be a catastrophic loss to communities.” Warns – NFSP

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 20th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Subpostmasters have seen their income reduced as more government services move online and many are now struggling to stay afloat.

The Post Office network is at “tipping point” and 2,500 branches could close in a year, the subpostmasters' federation has warned.

It says the effect on communities – where sometimes the post office is the only shop – could be catastrophic.

The National Federation of Subpostmasters (NFSP) told the government's business committee its members' morale and the viability of post offices had been “eroded to the extent that the network's resilience is extremely limited”.

“We believe a tipping point has been passed and the consequences of this are now being realised,” it said.

“Subpostmasters are resigning in high numbers because it is increasingly difficult to make a decent living. The closure of 2,500 post offices in a year would be a catastrophic loss to communities.”

The NFSP says more than a fifth of postmasters – who run their branches as private businesses – are thinking of shutting up shop, downsizing or trying to get someone to take over.

Three-quarters of them end up earning less per hour than the National Living Wage, according to a recent poll by the federation.

One in five also say they or their partner have to do another job to make ends meet.

As of March 2018 there were around 11,500 post offices in operation.

As the move to online continues, the money post offices make from providing government services has plunged from £576m in 2005 to £99m in 2018.

The NFSP says its members feel “relegated to the bottom of the food chain” by the government and Royal Mail and it wants the subsidy of post offices – due to end in 2021 – to be extended.

The number of post offices has been relatively stable since 2009, though the overall network size has declined since the 1980s. The Post Office was separated from Royal Mail in 2012.

The business, energy and industrial strategy committee is investigating the state of the Post Office network and on Tuesday will hear evidence from the NFSP, as well as the Communication Workers Union, WH Smith and other groups.

Palm Beach: America’s first “gated community.”

Source: CBS

The first thing you should know about Palm Beach is that it's an island (unto itself) – the most exclusive town in America, and (according to writer Laurence Leamer) America's first “gated community.” Mo Rocca takes a tour of the city that rose from Florida's tropical wilderness, which today features one of the richest commercial strips in America, and is home to Mar-a-Lago, the “Winter White House” resort of President Donald Trump.



Why Amazon Associates Are Acquisitioning Failed Malls

Source: WSJ

As the decline of brick and mortar retail rolls on, commercial real estate developers are left with massive abandoned properties. Who will fill that underutilized space? A series of recent acquisitions by associates of Amazon in Northeastern Ohio provides some clues.

Why The U.S. Continues To Fail With High-Speed Trains

Source: CNBC


China has the world’s fastest and largest high-speed rail network — more than 19,000 miles, the vast majority of which was built in the past decade. Japan’s bullet trains can reach nearly 200 miles per hour and date to the 1960s. They have moved more than 9 billion people without a single passenger causality. casualty France began service of the high-speed TGV train in 1981 and the rest of Europe quickly followed. But the U.S. has no true high-speed trains, aside from sections of Amtrak’s Acela line in the Northeast Corridor. The Acela can reach 150 mph for only 34 miles of its 457-mile span. Its average speed between New York and Boston is about 65 mph. California’s high-speed rail system is under construction, but whether it will ever get completed as intended is uncertain. Watch the video to see why the U.S. continues to fail with high-speed trains, and some companies that are trying to fix that.

Amazon announce big investment in food courier Deliveroo

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 17th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Online giant Amazon has announced a big investment in food courier Deliveroo.

The exact figure was not given, but Amazon is the biggest investor in Deliveroo's latest round of fund raising, which in total raised $575m (£450m).

Deliveroo said it would use the money for international expansion, improving its service and to grow its delivery-only kitchens business.

Several existing US investors also contributed to the fund raising.

The amount of capital invested in Deliveroo since it was founded in 2013 now totals more than $1.5bn, and the firm is one of Europe's fastest growing technology companies.

Deliveroo founder and chief executive Will Shu said he was looking forward to working with “such a customer-obsessed organisation” like Amazon.

Amazon said it was attracted by Deliveroo's “innovative technology service”.

The backing from Amazon gives Deliveroo a boost against rivals such as JustEat and Uber Eats.

The online retailer briefly had its own UK food delivery venture, Amazon Restaurants UK, which it started in 2016 but closed just two years later.

“They [Amazon] weren't able to compete within the market so they've gone for the buying option instead. They've got the money behind them to do that,” Louise Dudley, fund manager at investment firm Hermes, told the BBC's Today programme.

“It [Deliveroo] is not just a food delivery company it's very much a tech company. They have this tech platform that is seen is very attractive. They are able to expand into new areas and think about how people's tastes are evolving and be able to predict what stores will be successful. That predictive growth is very attractive to Amazon”.

Amazon had previously been reported to have made approaches to buy Deliveroo outright. Uber also reportedly had talks with Deliveroo over buying it.

Analysis

Rory Cellan-Jones
Technology correspondent

It was already a fierce contest – now the battle to dominate the food delivery business in the UK just moved to a whole new level.

In a rare failure Amazon decided last year to pull its Restaurants food service out of a UK market where Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats were scrapping to be top dog. Now it's put its firepower behind Deliveroo, which was already confident that its technology platform gave it the edge.

The company will now use some of its extra cash to build more of its “super kitchens” expanding its offering beyond traditional restaurants and invest more in machine learning to speed up delivery times.

Whether the market for food deliveries is quite as big as all the firms believe – and whether it stretches far beyond London twenty-somethings – remains to be seen but they all seem prepared to spend big money to win the lion's share.

The question is why did Amazon not just buy the whole business? Perhaps the ecommerce giant wanted to sample a starter before swallowing the whole three course meal.

Deliveroo now operates in more than 100 towns and cities across the UK, but has a much smaller share of the market than rival Just Eat which dominates the food delivery sector.

Just Eat's shares fell 8% in early trading, but analysts at Liberum said that despite the extra funding, Deliveroo was unlikely to become a serious competitor.

“Just Eat's market leading position will be incredibly difficult to overcome, especially given its strength in smaller towns.

“In the UK, it has an estimated 3-4 times greater share than Uber Eats and Deliveroo combined and, crucially, 60%+ of its customers are in small towns where it is effectively the only option for restaurants and where the Uber Eats/Deliveroo model just doesn't work because of the economics,” Liberum said.

Mr Shu came up with the idea for the firm after he moved from New York to London as a banking analyst. He was working long hours and was frustrated by the fact so few restaurants delivered, a service he had used daily in the US.

In the firm's early days, Mr Shu delivered all the food himself on a motorbike, while Greg Orlowski, his co-founder who has since left the business, developed the booking technology from his home in the US. Mr Shu still claims to get on his bike once a week to deliver an order to customers in London, as a way of staying in touch with riders.

As well as the UK, Deliveroo now operates in Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, the United Arab Emirates and Taiwan.

Global sales at the firm more than doubled in 2017, jumping to £277m, but its losses continued to increase, doubling to nearly £185m as it invested in global expansion.

The firm uses more than 60,000 couriers – mostly using bikes or moped – to deliver food from restaurants to customers.

Deliveroo does not employ its riders directly, but pays them per delivery.

Last year, a group of 50 UK Deliveroo couriers won a six-figure payout after claiming they had been unlawfully denied holiday and minimum wages.

Boeing completes 737 Max planes software update

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 17th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Jets have been grounded since March after being involved in two fatal crashes

Boeing has completed a software update for its 737 Max jets, which have been grounded worldwide since March after they were involved in two fatal crashes.

The planemaker said it was in the process of submitting a pilot training plan to the US Federal Aviation Administration and would work with the regulator to schedule its certification test flight.

The FAA is planning a meeting on 23 May in Fort Worth, Texas, with regulators from around the world to update them on reviews of Boeing’s software fix and on pilot training.

Aviation regulators from other countries will have to assess Boeing’s proposed fixes and clear the aircraft to fly in regions independently of the FAA.

It is unclear when the 737 Max aircraft will return to service but US airlines have said they hope the jets will fly this summer.

Southwest Airlines and American Airlines, the two largest US operators of the Max, pulled the planes from their schedules until 5 August and 19 August respectively.

The airlines, which must still decide on pilot training, have said they would use the jets as spare planes if they are approved for flight before those dates.

The FAA said on Thursday that Boeing had not yet submitted its final software package for approval.

The 737 Max was grounded after an Ethiopian Airlines crash in March killed all 157 on board. It happened five months after a similar crash of a Lion Air flightkilled 189 people.

Boeing said it hoped the software upgrade and associated pilot training would add layers of protection to prevent erroneous data triggering a system called MCAS, which was activated in both the planes before they crashed.

It said it had completed simulator testing and engineering test flights as well as developed training and education materials, which were being reviewed by the FAA, global regulators and airline customers.

To date, Boeing had flown the 737 Max with the updated software for more than 360 hours on 207 flights, the company said.

EU antitrus regulators fine top banks 1.07B euros for forex rigging

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com –Thur, 16th May 2019) London, UK —

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU antitrust regulators on Thursday fined Barclays, Citigroup, JPMorgan, MUFG and Royal Bank of Scotland a total of 1.07 billion euros ($1.2 billion) for rigging the spot foreign exchange market for 11 currencies.

Swiss peer UBS was not fined as it alerted the two cartels to the European Commission. The financial industry has been hit with billion euro fines worldwide in the last decade for rigging key benchmarks.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee

Just Group shares fall after a reported drop in sales

(qlmbusinessnews.com via cityam.com – – Thur, 16th May, 2019) London, Uk – –

Just Group shares fell more than seven per cent this morning after it revealed a plunge in sales.

The retirement group said retirement income sales for the three months to 31 March were 59 per cent lower than for the previous quarter, which it said was a result of a lower level of completed defined benefit de-risking sales.

Defined benefit sales were down 90 per cent year-on-year to £26m which it said was due to a temporary reduction in activity levels in its target segment.

The company said that in the second quarter so far it had completed a series of transactions with a value in excess of £300m and said its run rate is returning to that of the second half of 2018.

“The pipeline remains full and market pricing is attractive,” it added.

Guaranteed income for life (Gifl) sales were down 23 per cent year-on-year to £145m.

Lifetime Mortgage advances of £79m were down 47 per cent, which it said was a result of a focus on capital efficiency.

Interim chief executive David Richardson said: “Today’s update reflects our disciplined approach to the management of our capital in the new regulatory regime. Our GIfL price increases and DB pricing standards have been implemented rigorously, ensuring that we deliver to shareholders a new business internal rate of return in line with our targeted mid-teen levels. The continued growth in our markets gives us confidence that there remains a considerable opportunity to deploy capital in a disciplined and profitable manner.”

The company said it would close its US business as it aimed to bolster its capital position.

“Our capital position has been much improved by the £375m raised in March, and we are absolutely focused on achieving capital neutrality by 2022. We have a plan in place to ensure we achieve this target, which includes a number of actions we will be taking over the course of this year. These include a renewed focus on cost control, the closure of loss making operations such as the US, reductions in new business LTM backing ratios and a shift towards more capital efficient assets,” Richardson said.

At the end of April chief executive Rodney Cook resigned following a turbulent year that included cancelling its dividend and raising £375m in fresh capital in March.

By James Booth