Currency rate at airports plummets to new low for Uk travellers


( via – – Thur, 31 Aug 2017) London, Uk – –

Travellers buying their currencies at UK airports are being offered as little as 86 euro cents to the pound.

Foreign exchange broker FairFx, which carried out a survey for the BBC, said this rate, from Moneycorp at Southampton airport, was the worst at any airport bureau de change.

The average euro rate across 16 big UK airports was higher, at 95 euro cents to the pound.

Ten months ago the average at these outlets stood at 99 euro cents.

James Hickman, chief commercial officer at FairFX, said the fact that airport rates are so low – much worse even than at High Street banks – shows that the bureaux de change firms are taking advantage.

“In reality they are ripping off the customer, who is effectively captive as they have nowhere else to buy their money at an airport,” he said.

“At most airports and terminals individual companies have a monopoly.

“They should be regulated as there is simply no justification for charging someone 14% [the average margin between the tourist and money market rates] to change their pounds to euros,” he added.


That margin is as high as 26% at Moneycorp's Southampton airport outlet.

Pauline Maguire, Moneycorp's retail director, said: “The reason for our higher airport rates is the significant cost associated with operating there – from ground rent and additional security, to the cost of staffing the bureaux for customers on early and late flights.”

“An easy and more cost-effective way for customers to buy travel money is to pre-order online and collect at the airport,” she said.

The best euro rate for tourists detected in the airport survey was 1.05 euros, from Travelex at Newcastle airport.

Wide variation

The average tourist rate for the pound against the US dollar is also very low.

Currently the average is $1.12 to the pound at UK airports, ranging from $1.05 at ICE at Norwich airport to $1.15 from Travelex at Heathrow Terminal 3.

Koko Sarkari, chief executive of ICE, which runs bureaux de change at Belfast, Birmingham, Heathrow and Luton airports, dismissed the idea his firm was exploiting a captive market.

“We work hard to keep our prices fair and competitive around the world,” he said.

“However, due to differences in distribution, costs of operation, regional competition and other factors such as ongoing volatility in the market, as we are experiencing now, online prices may not be the same as our ICE branch prices and prices may also vary between branches because of these factors.”

‘Brexit uncertainty'

One reason for the poor rates on offer to tourists is the continued decline of the pound on the foreign exchange markets, in the wake of last year's Brexit vote.

The pound's money market rate – the one at which banks buy and sell to each other – has dropped from $1.31 to $1.29 in the past 12 months.

Against the euro it has dropped much more in that time, from 1.18 euros to 1.08 euros.

Continuing Brexit uncertainty is feeding into sterling weakness, said Simon Derrick, a managing director at BNY Mellon.

Traders are looking to see what will happen over the next two months, with the attempted incorporation of EU law into UK legislation through the Great Repeal Bill, and EU negotiator Michel Barnier reporting back to the European Parliament on Brexit talks.

Sterling also hasn't done that well in August after the Bank of England monetary policy committee voted to keep rates on hold – investors see no prospect of a rates rise any time soon, he said.

However, there are two sides to the story. The euro is also getting stronger because “the eurozone economy is really starting to show some signs of life,” Mr Derrick said.

Eurozone consumer confidence seems to be picking up, and investors think the ECB will start to tighten monetary policy as inflationary pressures build.

Gambling firm 888 fined record £7.8m by Watchdog

( via – – Thur, 31 Aug 2017) London, Uk – –

Watchdog fines online bookmaker for failures in protecting problem gamblers, including one who staked more than £1.3m

The online bookmaker 888 has been fined a record £7.8m for “serious failings” in its handling of vulnerable customers.

The action from the Gambling Commission follows the discovery of “significant flaws” in 888’s social responsibility processes, which aim to protect consumers from gambling-related harm.

An investigation by the commission found that, due to a technical failure in 888’s systems, more than 7,000 customers who had chosen to self-exclude were still able to access their accounts.

It meant customers were able to deposit a total of £3.5m into their accounts and continue to gamble for more than 13 months.

The commission said 888’s procedures were “not robust enough” and failed to protect potentially vulnerable customers.

888 also failed to “recognise visible signs of problem gambling behaviour” displayed by an individual customer, which was so significant that it resulted in criminal activity, the commission said.

The customer staked more than £1.3m, including £55,000 stolen from their employer.

The commission said that during a 13-month gambling binge, the customer placed a large number of bets, gambling on average for three to four hours a day.

“The lack of interaction with the customer, given the frequency, duration and sums of money involved in the gambling, raised serious concerns about 888’s safeguarding of customers at risk of gambling harm,” it added.

The Gambling Commission chief executive, Sarah Harrison, said: “Safeguarding consumers is not optional. This penalty package of just under £8m reflects the seriousness of 888’s failings to protect vulnerable customers.

“The 888 sanction package will ensure those affected don’t lose out, that the operator pays the price for its failings via a sum that will go to tackling gambling-related harm, and that independent assurance will be given to see that lessons are learned.”

The £7.8m includes repayment of the £3.5m deposits made by self-excluded customers and compensation of £62,000 to the employer from whom money was stolen.

A further £4.25m will be paid to a socially responsible cause to invest in measures to tackle gambling-related harm.

The commission has also ordered an independent audit of 888’s processes relating to customer protection.

M&S in talks to offload Hong Kong and Macau Franchises

Simon D/

( via – – Wed, 30 Aug 2017) London, Uk – –

Marks & Spencer is taking further steps to overhaul its overseas businesses by starting talks to sell its shops in Hong Kong and Macau to a Dubai-based conglomerate.

The British retailer has been in Hong Kong for almost three decades and now has 27 shops in the region and Macau.

Marks & Spencer said that the talks with Al-Futtaim follow its strategic review of its international businesses last year, which signalled a greater focus on franchise and joint ventures rather than wholly-owned stores.

Al-Futtaim, which already operates 43 M&S shops across seven markets in the Middle East, Singapore and Malaysia, is expected to purchase and enter into a franchise contract to continue running the Hong Kong and Macau stores.

The move follows Marks & Spencer's announcement last November that it would close 53 loss-making international stores and exit 10 markets, including mainland China, after boss Steve Rowe announced that he would be switching focus to a franchise overseas business.

Mr Rowe last year sought to soothe shoppers in Hong Kong, where there is a strong British expat community,who feared that shops in the region would be closed and commented on the regions “loyal” customer base. However, this year's annual report reveals that sales in Hong Kong were affected by its move to reduce the level of discounting while it had to invest heavily in refurbishing some stores .

 “In November we set out our plans to create a more sustainable, profitable and customer-centric international business for M&S by focussing on our established partnerships”, said Paul Friston, Marks & Spencer's international director.

r Friston said that Al-Futtaim was a “key partner to M&S”. In April the Dubai-based conglomerate which has retail, property, financial and automative investments, opened a giant flagship M&S store in Doha, which includes a table-waited cafe serving fish and chips and afternoon tea to Qatari customers.

“With significant scale and retail expertise in the region, we are looking forward to discussing the potential extension of our partnership to Hong Kong and Macau as we continue to grow and develop our business together”, he added.

Marks & Spencer currently has 454 international stores across 55 countries.

By Ashley Armstrong

Enterprise Ireland Fund Worth up to €750,000 Offered to Start-ups


( via – – Wed, 30 Aug, 2017) London, Uk – –

Competition open to agricultural, manufacturing, life sciences and renewables sectors

A fund worth up to €750,000 has been made available for start-ups by Enterprise Ireland.

The “competitive start fund competition” will open for applications to early stage companies in manufacturing and internationally traded services on September 13th.

The competition is open to all sectors with a focus on agricultural, manufacturing, life sciences and renewables subsectors.

Up to 15 successful applicants will receive high-level business development support and an investment of up to €50,000 each. The fund is designed to “accelerate the growth of start-ups and enable companies to reach key commercial and technical milestones”.

Joe Healy, divisional manager of high potential start-ups with Enterprise Ireland, said a key priority was “supporting start-ups with global ambition”.

“We do this through funding to help get businesses off the ground while also offering valuable business support and networking opportunities,” he said.

“The Enterprise Ireland start-up team is looking for applications from start-ups working in all sectors. In particular, the areas of agritech, agribusiness, agricultural machinery, eHealth, digital health, medical devices, diagnostics and cleantech.

“Since the start of the year, we’ve seen an increased number of applications to our competitive start funds and we are anticipating more great, innovative ideas with global market appeal in this call.”

Minister for Enterprise Frances Fitzgerald said start-ups offering innovative products and services were “the lifeblood of the economy”.

“Enterprise Ireland’s competitive start fund injects vital early stage funding into companies who have the potential to thrive in international markets,” he said.

“Now that the rates of early stage entrepreneurship in Ireland have returned to pre-recession levels, the success of start-up activity will depend on this kind of funding as well as the crucial advice, training and business introductions offered by Enterprise Ireland to successful CSF applicants.”

Applications are invited from companies that are active in the relevant industrial sectors or individuals who, prior to Enterprise Ireland’s investment, are based in the Republic and have a headquarters registered here.

In addition to written online applications, companies will be asked to prepare an online video pitch. The fund will close for applications at 3pm on September 27th.

By Colin Gleeson

Uber Appoints Expedia Dara Khosrowshahi as its New CEO


In what has come as a surprise to some, sources report Uber is to appoint Expedia Inc CEO Dara Khosrowshahi as its chief executive.

The new head of the ride services company will be tasked with turning around its image and revenues after seven years of losses.

The 48-year-old would replace Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick. He was ousted as CEO in June amid rising concern over his behaviour and that of senior managers.

Uk Housing Market Shows Decline Amid Concerns over Cooling Economy

( via – – Tue, 29 Aug 2017) London, Uk – –

UK house prices dipped this month, dragging down the annual growth rate, in further evidence of a cooling market.

The average price of a home fell 0.1% between July and August to £210,495, according to Nationwide, Britain’s biggest building society. Prices rose in July and June but fell between March and May, the first time this had happened since the financial crisis.

The latest monthly price drop took the annual growth rate back down to 2.1%, a level last seen in May, which was the lowest rate in four years, from 2.9% in July.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “The slowdown in house price growth to the 2-3% range in recent months from the 4-5% prevailing in 2016 is consistent with signs of cooling in the housing market and the wider economy.”

He noted that economic growth had halved from last year to about 0.3% per quarter in the first half of this year and that the number of mortgages approved for house purchase hit a nine-month low in June, while surveyors had reported softening in the number of new buyer inquiries.

He said in some respects the slowdown in the housing market was surprising, given the strength of the labour market, while mortgage rates have remained close to all-time lows.

Household finances are under mounting pressure, with the cost of living rising steadily as the weak pound bites, and wage growth stagnating.

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at the consultancy Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the slowdown in house price growth reflected the squeeze on real wages (adjusted for inflation) and the slowdown in the pace that mortgage rates are falling.

“Prices likely will continue to struggle to rise much, given that inflation still has further to rise, consumer confidence has deteriorated sharply since June and lenders intend to reduce the supply of unsecured credit.

“From February, new lending also will not generate borrowing allowances from the Bank’s term funding scheme, raising the costs of credit significantly. Accordingly, we still think that prices will be up just 1.5% year-over-year in December.”

A shortage in the number of homes on the market is underpinning house price growth, with the number of properties on estate agents’ books close to 30-year lows. Nationwide expects prices to rise by 2% over 2017 as a whole. It says house prices across the country are still 12% above their 2007 peak.

After increases in stamp duty in spring 2016, revenues from the tax have reached all-time high highs, rising to £12.8bn in the 12 months to June, well above the £10.6bn peak recorded in late 2007.

By Julia Kollewe

Google Chrome to mark HTTP sites ‘Not Secure’ from October

( via – – Tue, 29 Aug 2017) London, Uk – –

Google says its Chrome browser will mark HTTP websites with input fields (such as contact forms or those that require login details) as not secure, starting later this year.

The search engine gave notice of this a few months ago but has now taken the step of formally notifying webmasters who will be affected as the change gets closer.

The notification said, “Beginning in October 2017, Chrome will show the ‘Not secure’ warning in two additional situations: when users enter data on an HTTP page, and on all HTTP pages visited in Incognito mode.”

The notifications were sent to webmasters via Google Search Console. Sites that are HTTP and have credit card fields and require passwords are already marked as not secure. The additional two scenarios represent a gradual increase of the security protocol, with Google saying in its official post that its efforts have already resulted in a 23% reduction in the “fractions of navigation to HTTP pages with passwords or credit card forms on desktop”.

When the new warning kicks in, HTTP sites will have a ‘Not Secure  label displayed in the address bar as shown below:

Emily Schechter from the Google Chrome Security Team said more actions should be expected in future, remarking, “Eventually, we plan to show the “Not Secure” warning for all HTTP pages, even outside Incognito mode. We will publish updates as we approach future releases, but don’t wait to get started moving to HTTPS! HTTPS is easier and cheaper than ever before, and it enables both the best performance the web offers and powerful new features that are too sensitive for HTTP.”

If your site is currently a HTTP domain, you will need to migrate to HTTPs before October to avoid your web traffic being warned off visiting your site.

You can find a full guide to migrating to HTTPs along with the benefits of doing so in our blog post The Essential Guide to Migrating Your Website To HTTPS.

By Rebecca Appleton

Wall Street’s oldest steakhouse ultra-decadent secret ‘billionaire menu’


Just a few short blocks from the New York Stock Exchange, another Wall Street institution sits at its centuries-long perch at the triangular intersection of William and Beaver streets.

Delmonico's is widely considered to be one of the very first sit down restaurants in America, born at a time when New York offered little more than taverns and oyster cellars. Culinary mainstays like eggs benedict and baked Alaska were invented in their kitchen.

While Delmonico's is (rightly) renowned for its steak offerings, Executive Chef Billy Oliva tipped us off to several decadent items that aren't on the printed menu. Skip the dining room and head straight to the bar to ask the bartender for these secret items like a $100 grilled cheese or a $50 cookie.

Delmonico's is celebrating its 180th anniversary in September in style, offering a 180-day dry aged steak for a whopping $380.

25 of the Most Amazing Beaches to Add to Your Bucket List

25 places to add to your bucket list. Be sure to visit some of these amazing and beautiful beaches!

8- Navagio Beach, Greece – Also known as Smuggler’s Bay or Shipwreck Cove, this beach in Greece is picture perfect and has a very unique feel. That’s because, what is believed to be a shipwreck cigarette smuggling ship adorns the beach. This beach is very secluded, and you need to get a taxi-boat to get there.

7- Whitehaven Beach, Queensland, Australia – And speaking about secluded – this beach takes the cake. You can only access this pristine beach by registering with a tour guide, and even then you are only allowed entry for a few hours. The sand of Whitehaven Beach is really something special – it’s 98% pure silica, translation: you’d be hard-pressed to find a whiter beach.

6- Balos Beach, Greece – The colors of the water at Balos Beach are to die for. A swirl of pink, blues and turquoise make this beach’s waters some of the most beautiful in the world. Off the coast of Crete, this beach can get a bit smelly due to microorganisms in the muddy shallow water. But we would have to say that, for this kind of postcard perfection, it’s definitely worth it.

5- Rabbit Beach, Italy – When you look at Rabbit Beach, located in Lampedusa Italy, it’s hard to believe a place so beautiful actually exists. But, exist it does – and between the pure white cliffs, crystal clear waters and perfect weather – this beach is about as picture perfect as they come.

4- Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos Islands – The marine life at this beach is a must-see for any amateur Jacques Cousteau’s out there. A coral reef protects the beach and this is where many species of ocean life call home. If relaxing on the beach is more your speed, luckily it’s the perfect place for that, too.

3- Tulum, Mexico – This is definitely the perfect beach for anybody who likes a little something extra while on vacation. While visiting Tulum, you’ll be swimming in the shadow of ancient Mayan ruins. The beach is set right below a Mayan archeological ruin that hangs off the edge of a cliff. Talk about a view! And the smooth sand, blue-green waters and exceptional diving aren’t so bad either!

2- Anse de Grande Saline, St. Barths – This is the one and only nudist beach appearing on this list – although nudity is technically banned in St. Barth’s, this beach seems to be the exception to that rule. Although there’s little shade, the view from the beach of crystal clear waters and a perfect blue sky are totally worth it. There’s even an area behind the beach that is home to tropical birds.

1- Cabbage Beach, Paradise Island, Bahamas – Paradise Island is the perfect name – Cabbage Beach, not so much – but names aside, Cabbage Beach is definitely one of the most breathtaking beaches in the world. Because of its beauty, it does tend to get touristy, but take a quick walk down the beach and you can have that quiet moment you’ve been looking for.
What’s the most amazing beach you’ve ever been to? Let us know in the comments below! Don’t forget to like and subscribe to our channel for more videos like this one! Thanks for watching!

Farmstand Pop-up Health Food Business Taking London By Storm

“If you’re launching an online-only food business, you’re competing with hundreds of thousands of stores; if you want to create a high street chain, you’re up against Pret and McDonald’s,” says Steven Novick, founder of health food business Farmstand. Faced with this conundrum, Novick has eschewed more traditional business models.

After launching a restaurant in Covent Garden, London, Novick took a nimble approach to growth. Over the past 18 months, he’s opened 17 pop-ups across the capital in office canteens, a stand in Planet Organic and corporate catering and delivery services.

Due to London’s high commercial rents, and the doubling of business rates in some areas, it’s not economical for a small firm to rent lots of property, so Farmstand has streamlined operations. All of its food is prepared in a 2,000 sq ft kitchen in south London, from where it is delivered to pop-ups and business customers (around 30 subscribe to a daily delivery) across the city. Its deliveries are outsourced to an experienced courier.

Headcount is also kept to the minimum: 16 full-time staff, with 11 working in the central kitchen and five serving in the Covent Garden restaurant. Farmstand’s in-office pop-ups are staffed by the customer. With this approach, Farmstand’s revenue has grown by an average of 26% month-on-month since opening in February 2016.

Another business with a canny growth strategy is Chester-based, AM Custom Clothing, which provides personalised, printed garments (from T-shirts to lanyards) to universities and businesses. Co-founder Alex Franklin says: “A lot of fashion companies will have have warehouses filled with stock, but we have a unique relationship with our suppliers.” Franklin doesn’t store stock. Instead he calls on his network of 15-20 suppliers of plain clothing when an order comes in. Altogether, Franklin’s suppliers have around 12m items in stock.

However, getting to this point has not come without difficulty. In the past, the business has experienced much greater demand than anticipated, which put pressure on its supply chain. “Since then we have adapted our business model, to make it as scalable as possible, most of this was achieved through automation,” Franklin says. While stock shortages can still occur, the amount of stock at hand now allows the business to find alternatives when needed.

Automating orders and deliveries, and using a computer bot to follow-up on customer enquires, has also smoothed operations. But, Franklin adds, all clients have a dedicated account manager to ensure strong customer service.

While some businesses can handle most operations online, others do require a physical space. So how can entrepreneurs in this situation cut costs? Market stalls and pop-ups, which have been made more accessible thanks to apps such as Appear Here, are one way to trial locations without committing to long-term leases. Meanwhile, some small food businesses might opt for a service such as Deliveroo’s purpose-built kitchens, called Deliveroo Editions. Initially designed as overflow kitchens for established companies, now smaller firms are using these spaces to reach customers outside of their delivery area.

“They are very cheap to set up, so we decided to use them to bring new types of cuisines to areas where we found a gap,” says Rohan Pradhan, vice president of Deliveroo. Deliveroo sometimes takes a higher commission from the sale of small firms using its kitchens. This, Pradhan says, is in order to buffer the risk of the businesses not working out.

Pradhan cites Crust Bros pizza company as a successful example of this relationship. Crust Bros’ founder, Joseph Moore, started his business in 2014 as a stall on Southbank market, originally named Dough Bros. Using Deliveroo’s kitchen service, he has doubled sales. Moore says: “It’s been a good testbed for opening our first restaurant this summer, there were some teething issues at the start [such as pizzas not arriving with customers piping hot]. But now we’ve got the process down.”

Rapid expansion can also occur when entrepreneurs add a subscription element to their businesses – and it can be overwhelming. Vanessa McDermott, founder of creative startup Vee McDee, which delivers craft sets to customers, discovered this while crowdfunding on Kickstarter.

McDermott was raising money to launch a creative studio in Bolton. Through Kickstarter’s crowdfunding model, backers of her idea were offered craft sets as a reward. The sets proved a hit, word spread and people were soon asking where they could buy the packs. Then orders mushroomed. “I [quickly] went from selling 30 packs a month to 700,” says McDermott. “It was hard because keeping the quality up is so important to me, I didn’t want to lose that [as custom grew].”

To avoid this, McDermott outsourced the delivery of the kits to a subscription service that works with startups. “My advice would be to anyone in this position to partner with people who have the infrastructure in place to help with the technical and logistical side [of a subscription service],” she says.

Expanding a business while keeping outgoings lean can be a challenge, but these approaches offer food for thought. Some might still argue that a physical space is key to building a business. However, a more flexible approach has its benefits, says Ian Roberts, an SME adviser with Business Doctors consultancy. “To me, high levels of service and product quality are still a better way to build a strong and positive brand identity, than physical presence.”

Peter Kelly, a senior finance partner with PwC’s small business service MyFinance, agrees. He says that one of the hardest things when expanding is finding the right people to work with and identifying gaps in your expertise. He adds: “It’s hard because [your business] is your baby, but to expand efficiently while keeping up quality you should outsource if you can […] Use spare to money to invest in the areas that will help make [your business] profitable.”

By Helen Lock

UK Supermarket Shares Slip As Amazon Unveil Wholefoods Price Cuts

( via – Fri, 25 Aug 2017) London, Uk – –

The online giant will complete its takeover of the upmarket chain on Monday and its plans have already hit shares of big grocers.

UK supermarket shares have taken a hit after Amazon said it was planning a round of price cuts when it completes its $13.7bn takeover of upmarket grocery chain Whole Foods.

Tesco was the biggest faller on London's FTSE 100 Index in early trading on Friday, slipping by nearly 2% – while rivals Morrisons and Sainsbury's dropped by more than 1%.

Marks & Spencer, which has its own high-end food division, fell by 1%.

Amazon's takeover of Whole Foods leaves supermarket chains around the world facing a new challenge from the world's biggest online retailer.

In France, Carrefour shares fell 2%. On Thursday, shares in Kroger, the biggest US supermarket operator, had closed 8% lower while Walmart – the world's biggest retailer – fell 2%.

Whole Foods, which has 460 stores, mainly in the US, will start offering lower prices on a range of products when its takeover by Amazon completes on Monday.

In the UK, where it has nine stores, there will be reductions on organic lines such as avocados, eggs, salmon and kale.

Jeff Wilke, chief executive of Amazon Worldwide Consumer, said: “We're determined to make healthy and organic food affordable for everyone.”

Amazon also said it would start selling Whole Foods brand products on its website, a move that hit shares in packaged food sellers such as Kellogg.

That move will also affect the UK, where AmazonFresh delivers to 302 postcodes across London and the South East.

The S&P 500's food retail index fell 5%, wiping more than $10bn off the value of big food sellers.

Experts said the price cuts were in line with Amazon's broader strategy of sacrificing short-term profits for long-term market dominance.

But Roger Davidson, president of consulting firm Oakton Advisory Group, said: “It does not look like they will go kamikaze on pricing.

“They will lower prices on consequential items to drive traffic and sales but not do a whole store price reduction which could really damage gross margin.”

By  John-Paul Ford Rojas

Spotify Closer to IPO as it Strikes Deal With Warner Music

( via – – Fri, 25 Aug 2017) London, Uk – –

Spotify has taken a major step towards a public listing after agreeing a long-term licensing deal with Warner Music Group.

The music streaming service’s agreement with Warner, one of the world’s biggest record labels, follows more than two years of negotiations.

“It has taken a while to get here,” said Warner’s chief digital officer Ole Obermann. “But it has been worth it, as we have arrived at a balanced set of future-focused deal terms”.

Spotify has now struck deals with leading record labels Sony, Universal and Warner, and could float on the New York Stock Exchange by the end of the year. It has been reported that the company will not have an initial public offering when it does go public.

Spotify continues to grow ahead of rivals Amazon and Apple, and last month reached 60m paying customers.

However, its net losses more than doubled last year, despite a 50pc increase in revenues, due to a rise in royalty and distribution fees.

The nature of the deal with Warner was not outlined, but it is likely to include concessions from Spotify that allow the labels to restrict certain songs from the service for a limited amount of time.

“Our partnership with Warner Music Group will help grow the new music economy where millions of artists can instantly connect with fans, and millions of fans can instantly connect with artists,” Stefan Blom, Spotify’s chief content officer, told the BBC.

Earlier this year, Spotify bolstered its board by recruiting four new directors ahead of the long-awaited float.

The appointments included former Walt Disney chief operating officer Tom Staggs, who was widely tipped as a future Disney chief executive.

By Sam Dean

Home Grown Produce Threatened by Brexit Workforce Shortage

( via – – Thur, 24 Aug 2017) London, Uk – –

The UK food industry has warned that a Brexit workforce shortage could leave a third of its businesses unviable.

The Food and Drink Federation said: “Our sector faces a rapidly approaching workforce shortage and skills gap.”

Its survey of the “farm-to-fork” supply chain said 31% of businesses had already seen EU workers leave the UK.

The FDA's survey was conducted across a wide range of respected trade bodies, including the British Retail Consortium and the National Famers Union.

It added that almost half of those businesses surveyed said EU nationals working in the UK were considering leaving.

Big net migration fall since Brexit vote, latest estimates show

The federation is calling on the government to guarantee the rights of nationals from across the European Economic Area.

Ian Wright, its director-general, said: “It is only a matter of time before the uncertainty reported by businesses results in an irreversible exit of EU workers from these shores.

“Without our dedicated and valued workforce we would be unable to feed the nation.”

In April a report by the Commons Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee said: “Evidence… suggests the current problem is in danger of becoming a crisis if urgent measures are not taken to fill the gaps in labour supply.”

A government spokesperson said: “In June we published our offer to protect the rights of EU citizens in the UK, confirming no-one living here lawfully will be asked to leave when we exit the EU and they will have a grace period to regularise their status.”

The federation said it had welcomed the government's announcement. However, of the businesses it surveyed:

47% said EU nationals were considering leaving the UK
36% said they would become unviable if they had no access to EU workers
31% reported EU nationals leaving since the referendum
17% said they may relocate overseas if they had no access to EU nationals
The federation is calling on the government to ensure there is no abrupt reduction in the number of EU workers in the UK the day the country leaves the EU.

Mr Wright told the BBC: “What we don't want is a sudden switch-off of the availability of EU workers who are part of the lifeblood of our industry.”

He added that there were a lot of practicalities in the government's plans for EU workers “that we don't know yet”.

“We don't know how much it's going to cost. We don't know how dependents will be treated,” he told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme.

“And crucially, in order to believe the scheme is going to work, you have to believe the Home Office can register two and a half million Europeans in a year. That defies some level of belief.”

Last month the National Farmers Union deputy president Minette Batters said: “The NFU cannot emphasise enough the urgent need for clarity and certainty on access to a competent and reliable workforce and all other issues relating to Brexit.

“The industry needs commitments that there will be sufficient numbers of permanent and seasonal workers from outside the UK post-Brexit.”


The government said in a statement: “After we leave the EU we must have an immigration system which works in the best interests of the UK.

“Crucial to the development of this will be the views from a range of businesses, including the agricultural, food, drink and manufacturing sectors.

“We will be setting out our initial proposals for this system in the autumn but we have already been clear there will be an implementation period after we leave the EU to avoid a cliff edge for businesses.”

In the longer term, the federation accepts it will have to adjust to the reduction in the number of EU workers.

“Over time [training local workers] is something that will have to happen as a result of the Brexit vote. We recognise that immigration was a big factor in the Brexit vote,” Mr Wright said.

To deal with fewer foreign workers, the federation will have a strong emphasis on building skills through apprenticeships and investment in technology to support automation, it said.

The survey was co-ordinated by the FDA, and as well as the BRC and the NFU, it gathered results from trade bodies the Association of Labour Providers, the British Beer and Pub Association, the British Hospitality Association, the Food and Drink Federation, and the Fresh Produce Consortium.

It said that across the various workforce surveys there were 627 responses, collectively representing almost a quarter of the food chain's total employment of four million people.

Dixons Carphone shares plunge 30% after shock profit warning

( via — Thur, 24 Aug 2017) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Shares in Britain's Dixons Carphone dived as much as 30 percent after the retailer cut its full-year profit forecast on Thursday, blaming tougher conditions in the mobile market as customers keep their handsets longer.

Dixons Carphone, which trades as Currys, PC World and Carphone Warehouse in Britain and Ireland, said the weakness of the pound was also making new devices more expensive at a time when technical innovation has been limited.

A market leader in both the electricals and mobile phone market, Dixons Carphone said headline pretax profit for the year was expected to be in a broad range of 360 million pounds to 440 million pounds.

The group reported profit of 501 million pounds in the year to 29 April, and analysts had expected a similar number this year. On average they had forecast 495 million pounds, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Chief Executive Seb James said that customers were taking their time before upgrading their phones to the latest model.

“The cause of that really is that people are holding on to handsets longer, on average we are seeing four to five months longer,” he said.

The shares traded 24 percent lower at 179p at 0945 GMT. They had already fallen by a third this year as investors feared Britain's biggest electricals retailer would suffer from the growing inflationary pressures on consumers.

Analysts said the fact the group was trading well in its electricals business, which sells more expensive items, suggested the problem had its roots in a lack of innovation in the mobile phone market.

“Unfortunately that's not something Carphone Warehouse can do a great deal about,” said Nicholas Hyett, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“The forthcoming generation of Samsung Galaxy and iPhone handsets claim to make big steps forward, but recent history hasn't delivered much that's revolutionary. Seb James will be hoping (Apple boss) Tim Cook has something big up his sleeve.”

The share fall was the latest in a series of dramatic declines this week with WPP and Provident Financial tumbling after company statements.


James said he believed there was a group of phone owners who were ready for an upgrade.

But he said the company was assuming that the longer upgrade cycle, which has lengthened to 29 months from 23 months, was here to stay.

New phones coming to the market include Samsung Electronics Galaxy Note 8 “phablet”, and a widely expected 10th anniversary iPhone from U.S. rival Apple Inc, set to be unveiled next month.

“We know that for half of the premium market, which is the bit that we like, the Apple base more or less rejected the iPhone 7,” he said.

“We are optimistic, without betting the farm in anyway, that iPhone 8 will be a good release for Apple, significantly better than 7.”

“Demand is very much there and we think it will come back,” he told analysts, adding that most customers would choose to buy the devices with a long-term contract with an operator.

The group has also been hit by the removal of roaming fees in Europe.

It shares the lifetime value of a customer contract with the mobile operator, and so it will lose some of the revenue it previously received from customers using their phones abroad.

It expects this to have a negative impact of between 10 and 40 million pounds this year.

By Paul Sandle


UK Identity Theft Escalates to Epidemic Levels

( via – – Wed, 23 Aug 2017) London, Uk – –

Fraud prevention service Cifas says there were a record 89,000 cases of identity theft in the first half of this year

Identity theft has reached epidemic levels in the UK, with incidents of this type of fraud running at almost 500 a day, according to the latest figures.

During the first six months of this year there were a record 89,000 cases of identity fraud, which typically involves criminals pretending to be an individual in order to steal their money, buy items or take out a loan or car insurance in their name.

The fraud prevention service Cifas, which issued the data, said these crimes were taking place almost exclusively online, and that the vast amount of personal data available on the internet and as a result of data breaches “is only making it easier for the fraudster”.

Simon Dukes, the Cifas chief executive, said: “We have seen identity fraud attempts increase year on year, now reaching epidemic levels, with identities being stolen at a rate of almost 500 a day … Criminals are relentlessly targeting consumers and businesses, and we must all be alert to the threat and do more to protect personal information.”

Identity fraud is one of the fastest-growing types of cybercrime, and experts say criminals are using increasingly sophisticated tactics. Fraudsters have increasingly been hacking into email accounts and then posing as a builder, solicitor or other tradesperson that the consumer has legitimately employed. Some customers have lost considerable sums after being duped into sending money to the bank accounts of criminals.

In many cases, victims do not even realise they have been targeted until a bill arrives for something they did not buy, or they experience problems with their credit rating when applying for a mortgage or loan.

To carry out this kind of crime successfully, fraudsters need access to their victim’s personal information such as name, date of birth, address and bank. Fraudsters get hold of this in a variety of ways, from stealing letters and hacking emails to obtaining data on the “dark web”, and exploiting some people’s willingness to share every detail of their life on social media.

There have been cases of people being targeted after posting a photo of their new debit or credit card on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – which means their 16-digit number, expiry date, cardholder name, account number and sort code are all on display, giving a fraudster much of what they need to steal that individual’s identity.

The 89,000 identity frauds recorded – which may underestimate the true situation, as some people are too embarrassed to report incidents and may decide to write off any loss – is up 5% on the same period last year.

While more than half of all identity fraud cases involve bank accounts and plastic cards, the latest figures show a sharp rise in incidents involving motor insurance: 2,070 during the latest six months, compared with 20 during the same period in 2016.

The Insurance Fraud Bureau said it believed most of these cases were likely to involve people taking out fake motor policies – typically bought online from illegal “ghost brokers” – in order to avoid having to buy a genuine policy.

Cifas data is included in official crime statistics, and every day it sends about 800 fraud cases to the City of London police for potential investigation.

Its advice to consumers includes:

 Set privacy settings across all social media channels, and think twice before sharing details such as full date of birth.

 Password protect devices. Keep passwords complex by picking three random words, such as “roverducklemon,” and add or split them with symbols, numbers and capitals.

 Install anti-virus software on laptops and any other personal devices and keep it up to date.

 Download updates to software when prompted to – they often add enhanced security features.

Google and Wal-Mart Teaming up to Beat Amazon at its own game


It's more Battle of the Titans than David and Goliath: Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, and internet giant Google are teaming up in an attempt to beat Amazon at its own game.

Amazon has long dominated global e-commerce across multiple sectors, and recently muscled in on the online groceries market, “paying 12.5 billion euros” for organic food retailer Whole Foods.

Lidl overtakes Waitrose as UK’s seventh biggest supermarket

( via – – Tue, 22 Aug 2017) London, Uk – –

Lidl has overtaken Waitrose as the nation’s seventh biggest supermarket after proving a hit with family shoppers, new figures show.

Lidl increased its market share to a record 5.2pc in the 12 weeks to August 14, according to research from Kantar Worldpanel.

The discount retailer has gained 0.7 percentage points of share in the last year, taking it above Waitrose and into the UK’s top seven supermarkets, as consumers turn further towards discount retailers.

During the three weels, Lidl sales grew by 18.9pc overall as it was boosted by families buying bigger baskets.

“Lidl is growing sales 40pc faster with families than with households without children,” said Fraser McKevitt, the head of retailer and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel.

“Families tend to buy more items each time they shop, so strong growth with this demographic has helped Lidl to increase its average basket size year on year.”

Fellow discounter Aldi, the fifth biggest chain, also enjoyed strong growth as sales jumped 17.2pc.

Overall, supermarket sales grew 4pc in the three months, although disappointing weather meant that sales of ice creams and burgers fell by 9pc and 25pc respectively.

Sales grew at the ‘big four’ supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons – for the fifth consecutive period, but their collective grip on the market continued to slip.

“This welcome period of sustained growth has not been enough to entirely offset pressure from the discounters,” said Mr McKevitt. “The big four now account for just 69.3pc of the UK grocery market – down from 76.3pc five years ago – and that looks set to fall further in the coming months.”

Meanwhile, like-for-like grocery inflation picked up as it increased slightly to 3.3pc, which equates to an additional £138 on the average household’s annual grocery bill. UK-wide, inflation stood at 2.6pc in July, according to the Office for National Statistics.

By Sam Dean