Why Christian Louboutin’s Trademark Red-Bottomed Iconic Shoes Are So Expensive

 

Business Insider

Christian Louboutin's trademark red-bottomed shoes have become iconic. Beyoncé wore a custom pair of boots for her Coachella performance, and Cardi B slipped on a pair of “bloody shoes” for her “Bodak Yellow” music video. But why do these heels cost hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of dollars?

 

 

Will Renting Rather Than Buying Our Clothes Be The Future

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The BBC's Circular Economy series highlights the ways we are designing systems to reduce the waste modern society generates, by reusing and repurposing products. This week we look at whether we will be renting our clothes instead of buying them in future.

Earlier this year a rather surprising marketing video went viral in China. The film, fronted by a social media influencer called Jiang Chacha takes viewers on a tour, not of a trendy night spot or fashionable clothes store but an industrial-scale laundry operation.

The company behind the ad, Beijing start-up YCloset, isn't selling laundry services, however. Instead it will rent you the latest in women's fashions.

Doris Ke, who created the campaign, says some Chinese consumers are still unsure about wearing clothes that have been worn before. The aim was to reassure them by showing the steam cleaners, the microscopes and the banks of washing machines they use to clean garments between loans.

 

At the end of the film Jiang Chacha is offered a glass of water that has been through the washing machine – implying it would be clean enough to drink.

YCloset, like other fashion rental companies springing up around the globe, believes once it's ironed out wrinkles such as anxieties over cleanliness, the idea of fashion rental is ready to go mainstream.

And while its motives may be about building the business, if the idea does catch on, it could also disrupt the current trend towards ever more disposable fashion and help reduce the environmental impact of one of the most resource intensive industries.

While it's always been possible to rent a tuxedo, a ball-gown or a fancy-dress costume, rental firms are now chasing the market for everyday wear. They argue the time is ripe for a Netflix or a Spotify of fashion, that could see us all renting clothes as a matter of course.

So Doris Ke's next campaign for YCloset showed a young business woman, who rented her wardrobe for work and eventually became so successful she outdid her boss and made it into Forbes magazine – to persuade Chinese women take more care over what they wear to work.

In this respect, YCloset is following the same path as firms like New York-based Rent the Runway, which pioneered the rental concept back in 2009, as well as its San Francisco rival Le Tote, and in the UK, Girl Meets Dress.

As well as offering one-off rentals, they now offer customers subscription packages that allow them to have several garments at a time for a flat monthly fee.

Rent the Runway's CEO and co-founder Jennifer Hyman has been explicit about her ambition to “put H&M and Zara out of business”.

Likewise, YCloset's chief operating officer Michael Wang has said it is “targeting the fast fashion daily wear market, where people can wear our products to work, during the weekend and also to a party”.

The firm says 10 million Chinese women have registered with it, even if they don't all yet use it. Rent the Runway says nine million are “members” though that doesn't mean they all use the service.

In the UK, Girl Meets Dress's founder, Anna Bance, says the same shift towards a more everyday role for rentals is happening at her firm, which started out predominantly lending designer dresses.

“Already it's not just for special occasions,” says Ms Bance. Some customers may want one dress a year “for their husband's work do in the city” but others are changing their habits and hiring a couple of dresses a week.

She says increasingly customers view it as a “frictionless” service alongside shopping for new clothes, but one that gives them access to higher quality and designer items. She thinks we could eventually be spending half of our clothes budgets on renting rather than buying.

 

That is already the case for 29-year-old New York-based Mila Petrova. As a business consultant she dresses smartly every day. But as she “hates shopping” and was already fed up with her high dry cleaning bill, she has switched to renting four outfits a week from Rent the Runway.

She wears them Monday to Thursday, then returns them and picks out new outfits online for the following week.

“I use it purely for making my life easier at work,” she says. But she notes that most of her friends, though they've happily embraced other parts of the sharing economy, haven't followed suit.

“Some people really like new stuff,” she says, “buying and owning clothes” while others see it as an unnecessary extra expense.

It's our love of buying new stuff, that has made fashion one of the most environmentally damaging industries, says the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which launched a campaign earlier this year to encourage fashion firms to shift towards more “circular” patterns of resource use, reducing waste, and reusing resources more.

The trend amongst “generation Instagram” is to wear clothes on fewer occasions before they're thrown away or dumped in the back of a wardrobe, says Francois Souchet from the Foundation. They calculate that if you are able to double the number of times you wear a garment, you decrease its environmental footprint by 44%.

As rental firms make higher profits the more times they can rent out a garment; a shift to renting also implies a shift to products that are better made and longer wearing – another step towards a more sustainable fashion industry.

Moreover, firms like Le Tote, Girl Meets Dress, Rent the Runway and YCloset are applying the same kind of principles as their fast fashion rivals when it comes to using data analysis to track which styles are popular and which are most durable.

That in turn helps to avoid waste.

Mr Souchet says that while he doesn't see the rental model as a solution on its own to the challenges of fast fashion, he is hopeful that it will contribute to a change in the way we consume clothes.

That might rely in the long run on whether any big established players choose to back the model.

China's internet giant Alibaba, which has a track record of experimenting in the retail space, has already invested in both YCloset and Rent the Runway; while Amazon has been working hard at taking a large share of the US clothing retail market.

“It wouldn't be completely crazy” says Mr Souchet, to imagine both these online giants moving into rental fashion too, which would put a different perspective altogether on just how mainstream the idea could go.

By Lucy Hooker

 

Proposed new compensation rules for victims of bank transfer fraud

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(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri , 28th Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

Victims of bank transfer fraud could receive compensation under proposed new rules – though it remains unclear who will pay.

Bank account holders who are tricked into transferring money to fraudsters could be entitled to reimbursement if they have acted with the “requisite level of care” under proposed new rules.

Latest figures show consumers lost £92.9m to authorised push payment (APP) scams in the first half of 2018 – but unlike victims of other types of fraud such as credit or debit card scams they are currently not entitled to be repaid by payment providers.

A body set up to address the issue has now proposed changing this, though it has yet to resolve who will pay for the compensation in cases where banks have also acted with due care.

It follows campaigns by consumer groups for banks to shoulder more of the burden in such cases.

A new voluntary code to address the issue has been drafted by a steering group set up by the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR).

It aims to make it harder for criminals to commit APP fraud, set out how consumers can be vigilant and give them greater protection and support from banks.

“Importantly, the code proposes the principle that where a consumer has met their requisite level of care, they should be reimbursed,” the group said.

However, the report has not been able to resolve who will pay for the compensation in cases where “no bank or other payment service provider involved in the payment journey has breached their own level of care”.

The steering group said it would work to consider and identify “a sustainable funding mechanism through which to reimburse consumers in such a scenario”.

It will also try to resolve other aspects of how the process will work, including how to settle disputes between banks and other payment service providers.

A final version of the code is expected by early next year.

Ruth Evans, independent chair of the steering group, said: “This is a unique initiative bringing together the industry and consumer groups to set out how best we can tackle this issue – and really help those people who've become victims of these devastating crimes.”

She said the report “marks an important step towards greater and more consistent protection for consumers and stronger standards for how banks and other payment service providers will prevent this type of fraud happening in the first place”.

The PSR said the report was a “positive step forward” and that in a further move it was planning to consult on new requirements for banks which would help to prevent APP scams.

Industry body UK Finance said it was committed to ensuring consumers were better protected from fraudsters and had invested millions in security systems as well as introducing new standards on helping victims and supporting law enforcement.

UK Finance chief executive Stephen Jones said: “It is vital that we get the right outcome for customers and prevent the UK from inadvertently becoming a magnet for fraudsters, while ensuring innocent victims and customers are not penalised for the criminal actions of others.”

He said it was clear that new regulation was needed rather than just a voluntary code.

“This will ensure that consumers and financial institutions can be certain in what circumstances victims will be compensated and how this compensation is funded in circumstances where all parties have acted reasonably in making the payment,” Mr Jones said.

“We are keen to work with regulators and government to put these measures in place as soon as possible.”

Figures published by UK Finance earlier this week showed £145.4m was lost due to APP scams, split between £92.9m for personal accounts and £52.5m for non-personal or business accounts.

By John-Paul Ford Rojas, business reporter

 

 

Elon Musk faces ban from Tesla board as SEC accuses him of fraud

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Fri, 28th Sept, 2018) London, Uk – –

Elon Musk faces a ban from the board of Tesla and any other public company after Wall Street watchdogs charged him last night with making “false and misleading” statements about plans to take the electric car maker private.

The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) accused Mr Musk of securities fraud over his infamous tweet that he had “funding secured” for a massive buyout of Tesla at $420 per share.

An initial tweet, sent on August 7, sparked a share frenzy with prices climbing as much as 11pc after the Tesla chief sent it for his 22m Twitter followers. By the close of play, Tesla's value had jumped by $6.3bn (£4.9bn) and Mr Musk was $1.2bn richer.

But the SEC claims that Musk knew that he had “never discussed a going-private transaction at $420 per share with any potential funding source” and that the tweets “caused significant confusion and disruption in the market for Tesla’s stock and resulting harm to investors”, according to documents filed in a court in Manhattan.

According to the SEC, Mr Musk had discussed a going-private deal with managers of Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund and with his board of directors on July 31 but, “in truth and fact, Musk had not even discussed, much less confirmed, key deal terms, including price, with any potential funding sources.”

“Unlike market participants reading his tweets,” it went on, “Musk knew that his ostensibly ‘secured' funding was based on a 30 to 45 minute conversation regarding a potential investment of an unspecified amount in the context of an undefined transaction structure.”

The watchdog also claimed that Mr Musk’s suggested price of $420 was inspired by “marijuana culture”. The documents claim he calculated that the shares might sell at $419 but rounded the price up because he thought his then girlfriend, musician Grimes, “would find it funny”.

Mr Musk was criticised for smoking the drug, which is legal in California, on a live show days after the scandal erupted.

“As a result of Musk's false and misleading statements and material omissions, investors who purchased Tesla stock in the period after the false and misleading statements but before accurate information was made known to the market were harmed,” read the document which was filed in the Southern New York District Court.

Shares in the company began to dip tumble within minutes of the filing.

The SEC is asking a judge to decide a financial penalty and consider whether Mr Musk should be barred from directorships in any public companies.

The Department of Justice launched a criminal probe into the matter on September 18.

Mr. Musk said: “This unjustified action by the SEC leaves me deeply saddened and disappointed. I have always taken action in the best interests of truth, transparency and investors. Integrity is the most important value in my life and the facts will show I never compromised this in any way.”

Mr Musk is also being sued for defamation by Vernon Unsworth, a British caving expert who led the rescue of 12 Thai children from a flooded cavern, whom Mr Musk had referred to as a “pedo”. The case was filed in California but Mr Unsworth’s lawyers said he planned to look for damages in London’s Supreme Court too.

 

Public companies planning to de-list typically make announcements of this kind through official channels, formally alerting shareholders to their plans.

Mr Musk has not tweeted since September 25 when he wrote: “Just wanted to say thanks to all the Tesla supporters. I damn well love you.”

The tweets prompted a flurry of incredulous messages from reporters and between Tesla employees. But the company's head of investor relations backed them up, telling a research analyst that he “assumed” the offer was “as firm as it gets”.

Mr Musk later sent a letter to employees in which he revealed the strain of being a public listed company, taking aim at short-sellers that bet against its share price falling. In his letter to employees, Mr Musk said being public had meant “there are large numbers of people who have the incentive to attack the company”.

Mr Musk officially abandoned the purported deal two weeks later in a blog post on Tesla's website.

Mr Musk's tweets followed months of speculation that Tesla would miss production targets, which led some investors to short-sell its stock. Mr Musk had lashed out against such speculators, claiming they would soon be “burned”.

 

Ofgem orders improvement of complaints handling by energy firms

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Energy regulator Ofgem has ordered 11 of the UK's biggest suppliers to improve how they deal with complaints.

The regulator said it had “compliance cases” open against four companies over customer dissatisfaction with how they handled complaints.

It has also asked another seven to improve their procedures.

However, the chief executive of industry body Energy UK said suppliers' overall performance in dealing with consumers' problems was improving.

Lawrence Slade pointed to Ofgem's own figures which showed that the number of complaints received by suppliers had nearly halved since 2014.

However, when the regulator last carried out its complaint handling survey in 2016 only two firms were singled out for their performance.

Following its latest survey, Ofgem has opened compliance cases into First Utility, Ovo Energy and Utilita over their poor handling of customers' grievances.

It has also expanded a customer service compliance case against ScottishPower to include how they handled complaints.

‘Unacceptably low'
During the compliance process Ofgem works with the energy suppliers to achieve improvements. If that does not work the regulator could then open an enforcement case, which could result in the supplier having to pay a fine.

Ofgem has also required all the other domestic suppliers included in its survey – British Gas, Npower, Utility Warehouse, SSE, EDF Energy, E.On and Co-operative Energy – to come up with plans to improve how they deal with complaints.

Dermot Nolan, chief executive of Ofgem, said: “Although the level of satisfaction about complaint handling has increased over the past two years, it is still unacceptably low.

“Some suppliers need to be doing considerably more to get the basics right and provide a service their customers deserve.”

Ofgem's customer complaints survey is carried out every two years. This year it found that of more than 3,000 domestic customers who had complained about their energy companies, 32% were satisfied with how their complaint was dealt with, up from 27% in 2016.

But 57% of respondents said they were dissatisfied.

The main causes of their dissatisfaction were the time taken to resolve the issue, not being kept up to date on the progress of the complaint, and suppliers not giving complainants a clear idea of how long the issue will take to be resolved.

Energy UK's Lawrence Slade said his organisation was working with the industry and Ofgem to see if the rules governing the complaints handling process could be improved.

“Also, given that the majority of complaints arise from billing issues, the continuing roll-out of smart meters, which ensure accurate and up-to-date bills, will help reduce this number further still,” he added.

 

US Federal Reserve raises short-term interest rates again on Wednesday

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 27th Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

Move is the eighth since 2015 as the central bank aims to unwind years of historically low rates

The US Federal Reserve raised short-term interest rates again on Wednesday, the eighth such move since 2015 as the central bank moves to unwind years of historically low rates.

After a two-day meeting the Fed announced a quarter percentage point rise in its benchmark rate to a range of 2% to 2.25%. The rate is used to set credit card, mortgage and loan rates and will trigger rises across the board for consumers.

The increase is the third rate rise this year and comes as US unemployment has hit new lows. In August the US added 201,000 new jobs – a record-breaking 95th consecutive month of jobs growth – as the unemployment rate remained steady at 3.9%.

The rise pushed the Fed’s rate above 2% for the first time since 2008, when the central bank stepped in and cut rates to close to zero as it sought to tackle the recession triggered by the last financial crisis.

 

 

In a statement the Fed signaled more rate hikes were imminent. “The committee expects that further gradual increases in the target range for the federal funds rate will be consistent with sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near the Committee’s symmetric 2% objective over the medium term. Risks to the economic outlook appear roughly balanced,” the statement read.

The rate hike came despite Donald Trump’s explicit – and unprecedented – criticism of the Fed’s decision to increase interest rates. “I’m not thrilled with his raising of interest rates, no. I’m not thrilled,” Trump said in an interview with Reuters last month.

Due to the independence of the Fed, it is highly unusual for a sitting president to criticize its decisions. The Fed chair, Jerome Powell, defended the policy at a meeting of central bank heads in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, last month.

At a press conference on Wednesday Powell once again defended the Fed’s independence. Asked about Trump’s criticisms, Powell said: “We’ve been given a really important job to do. We’re focused exclusively on carrying out that mission.” He said the Fed’s mission was “to set monetary policy to achieve maximum employment in the context of price stability. That’s what we do. We don’t consider political factors.”

Powell said the Fed had heard a “rising chorus on concerns” about the Trump administration’s trade disputes from businesses but added that it was “hard to see much happening at this point”.

By Dominic Rushe

 

AA blames snow and potholes for slump in half-year profits

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The roadside recovery firm says the worst winter for breakdowns in more than a decade contributed to a slump in half-year profits.

The AA has blamed a 65% fall in pre-tax profits on a surge in demand for roadside help during the winter, with call-outs hitting a 15-year high.

It said the number of breakdowns had sharply increased as a result of freezing conditions during the so-called “Beast from the East”.

The AA said vehicle failures ramped up costs in the first half of its financial year, as over 1,900 stranded members sought help.

It said a “pothole epidemic” had contributed to call-outs – with the poor state of roads in many areas a top complaint among UK businesses.

Profits came in at £28m from the six months to July – down from £80m in the same period last year.

The AA said total Roadside revenues held up despite an anticipated drop in business and personal memberships due to stronger promotional activity among rivals. Revenue at its insurance division was flat.

Shares – down more than 30% in the year to date – fell a further 8% in early trading on Wednesday.

Chief executive Simon Breakwell said: “The first half of FY19 (full year 2019) has seen exceptional weather conditions, from extreme cold and snow in February and March to the hottest summer in recent memory, with the severe winter also creating a pothole ‘epidemic' on the UK's roads.

“All this led to a 15-year-high in the number of breakdowns we serviced.

“Against this backdrop, I am extremely proud of our achievements and to be reporting results in line with our guidance as we continue to build resilience throughout the business.

“We are making good operational progress across our Roadside and Insurance businesses and firmly believe that we have the people and strategy in place to unlock the full potential of the AA and crystallise long term value for our shareholders.

“We remain on-track to meet our Trading EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) guidance for FY19 and to return to growth thereafter.”

By James Sillars, business reporter

 

Haidilao Hotpot chain shares climb 10% in Hong Kong debut

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 26th Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

Beijing-based international hotpot chain Haidilao saw its shares climb as much as 10% in early trade, as it made its debut in Hong Kong.

The firm's retail shares were oversubscribed by more than five times, highlighting the intense interest from investors.

The restaurant is famous for offering free manicures and snacks while you wait up to two hours for a table.

It is one of several high-profile debuts in Hong Kong this year.

Haidilao's shares, which were priced at 17.80 Hong Kong dollars ($2.27; £1.73) – the top end of the indicated range – opened at HK$18.80, and rose to as much as HK$19.56 in early trade.

However, by the close of trade they were at HK$17.82.

Haidilao International Holding, the hotpot restaurant's owner, said it was aiming to raise $HK7.3bn ($935m; £711m) via its listing, with some 60% of the proceeds already destined to finance part of its global expansion plan.

The company has 363 restaurants in total – the bulk of which are on mainland China.

It operates 31 restaurants in Taiwan, and Hong Kong, and has international outlets in Singapore, South Korea, Japan and the US.

Research firm Frost and Sullivan has said it is the fastest-growing major Chinese cuisine restaurant brand on mainland China, and globally, with revenues jumping 36% between 2016 and 2017.

Despite the chain's infamous waiting times, Haidilao reckons it still seats more than 100 million guests a year around the world.

 

Instagram co-founders step down from the photo sharing app

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Tue, 25th Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

The co-founders of Instagram have stepped down from the photo sharing app, six years after it was acquired by Facebook for $1bn (£760m).

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger informed Facebook's bosses of their resignation on Monday and plan to leave in the coming weeks, according to the New York Times.

The two have continued to run the app as chief executive and chief technology officer respectively as Instagram has ballooned from a hipster iPhone app to a giant with more than one billion users.

Their departure means that the founders of Facebook's three biggest acquisitions – WhatsApp, Oculus and now Instagram – have left since being bought by the social media giant. WhatsApp founder Jan Koum left Facebook earlier this year while Oculus Rift inventor Palmer Luckey departed last year amid a political row.

Reports of disagreements between Systrom and Krieger and Facebook's leadership have emerged in recent months. Mark Zuckerberg reportedly forced through the introduction of Instagram's Stories feature, a concept cloned from Snapchat, which has become wildly successful.

On Monday night Kevin Systrom posted a statement confirming the news:

“Mike and I are grateful for the last eight years at Instagram and six years with the Facebook team. We’ve grown from 13 people to over a thousand with offices around the world, all while building products used and loved by a community of over one billion. We’re now ready for our next chapter.

“We’re planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again. Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do.

“We remain excited for the future of Instagram and Facebook in the coming years as we transition from leaders to two users in a billion. We look forward to watching what these innovative and extraordinary companies do next.

Instagram has been one of Facebook's main bright spots as its owner has been beset by crises this year. The app had just 27m users when Facebook bought it in April 2012 but reached 1bn monthly users this summer. It has also offset a perceived exodus of younger users from the main Facebook social network.

News of their departure sparked speculation that Facebook had demanded a change to Instagram that Mr Systrom and Mr Krieger disagreed with.

Some reports have suggested the app is considering a “regram” button that would allow users to post other user's photos, similar to a Twitter retweet. The reports have been denied by Instagram.

A Facebook spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

 

Unilever defend plan to base a new single headquarters in the Netherlands

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 25th Sept, 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Unilever (ULVR.L) (UNc.AS) executives took to the British press and airwaves on Tuesday to defend their plan to base a new single headquarters in the Netherlands, as opposition to it grows.

Unilever is fending off shareholder criticism about the move in Britain, where it has become entangled in the debate over Brexit and its impact on the economy.

In a coordinated charm offensive, Chairman Marijn Dekkers wrote an op-ed in the Daily Telegraph, while Chief Financial Officer Graeme Pitkethly appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today program.

Both stressed that the maker of Dove soap and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream remained committed to Britain, with over 60 percent of its business run from London, and repeated arguments for why the move will benefit the company and its shareholders.

“The benefits we get, which accrue to all shareholders, are the ability to manage our portfolio of brands and businesses more dynamically in many ways,” Pitkethly said.

David Cumming, chief investment officer of equities at Aviva Investors, a top-20 Unilever shareholder, told BBC Radio that it looked like Unilever was moving to the Netherlands for better takeover protection in the wake of last year’s failed $143 billion takeover approach by Kraft Heinz (KHC.O).

In response, Pitkethly said “the best form of protectionism is great performance”.

The move is due for shareholder votes in late October, and so far, four top-20 shareholders, including Aviva, have voiced concern or disapproval. Together, they control about 5.5 percent of the British entity’s shares, according to Thomson Reuters data.

By Martinne Geller

 

 

Thomas Cook blames summer heatwave for drop in annual profit forecast

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Thomas Cook shares have plunged 23% after it blamed the summer heatwave for a drop in its annual profit forecast.

“Many customers” had put off booking holidays abroad, instead staying at home in June and July to enjoy the sunshine, the holiday firm said.

The company said this had led to “higher than usual levels of discounting” in August and September.

It now expects full-year earnings of £280m, below its earlier forecast of around £323m, which it made in July.

In a separate statement, Thomas Cook also said it would replace its chief financial officer.

Thomas Cook's shares plunged 23% after the warning to 60p. The share price has halved in value since the start of the year.

 

Thomas Cook usually makes all of its annual profits during the summer.

But it also warned that the impact of the heatwave “is continuing to be felt into winter trading”.

“A downgrade of this size in 2018 is going to have some impact on 2019,” chief executive Peter Fankhauser told investors.

Thomas Cook said a return in popularity of holidays to Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia and Greece meant that total group bookings for the summer period were 12% higher than the same period last year.

However, average selling prices were 5% lower than last year.

Mr Fankhauser admitted its trading performance was “disappointing”, but said the firm had made “good strategic progress which positions us well to driver further performance improvement”.

The firm warned in July that annual earnings would be at the lower end of market expectations due to more people staying at home rather than booking last-minute holidays.

Shore Capital analyst Greg Johnson said assuming a normal trading environment going forward he expected “some of this year's shortfall to be recovered, although the winter is likely to be tougher”.

He downgraded his rating on the shares from “buy” to “hold” “until we get greater clarity over trading for Summer 2019”.

Patricia Yates, the director of Visit Britain, told the BBC earlier this year that there was a growing trend towards more late bookings, with nearly 80% of all trips being booked within three months of the travel date.

The hot weather in the UK therefore acts as a “timely reminder” to people who are “making a late-call on where to go on holiday”, she said.

In August, Thomas Cook's bigger rival Tui Group reiterated its full-year profit forecast, but said the heatwave meant it was unlikely to exceed its profit prediction.

Meanwhile, Thomas Cook's chief financial officer Bill Scott will leave the company at the end of November, and be replaced on an interim basis by Sten Daugaard, a board member of the company's German business.

A search for a permanent successor would start immediately, the company added.

Comcast Triumphed Over Fox In Auction For Sky


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(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 24th Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

Comcast's dramatic shoot-out with the US entertainment giant ends 21 months of uncertainty for Sky over its ownership.

Comcast has triumphed in the auction to buy Sky plc, the owner of Sky News, for £29.7bn in the biggest takeover ever seen in Europe's media industry.

Comcast's offer of £17.28 per share was £1.61 ahead of Fox's offer of £15.67.

The US giant's victory follows a dramatic shoot-out with US entertainment giant 21st Century Fox in a rare three-round auction overseen by the Takeover Panel.

The result ends 21 months of uncertainty for Sky over its ownership after the company's independent committee unanimously recommended the offer to shareholders.

In a statement Sky plc said: “As the price of the final Comcast Offer is materially superior, it is in the best interests of all Sky shareholders to accept the Comcast offer.

“Accordingly, the Independent Committee unanimously recommends that Sky shareholders accept the Comcast offer, and in order to ensure the successful closing of the Comcast offer, urges shareholders to accept immediately.”

Both companies want Sky to help them compete more effectively with the new wave of online entertainment providers, including streaming services provided by the likes of Netflix and Amazon Video, who sell their content directly to viewers.

Comcast in particular wants Sky to give it a presence in Europe and reduce its dependence on the US and has also made clear its admiration for Sky's technological know-how.

Disney, meanwhile, has been looking for a way to make its content available directly to viewers without having to go via a third party like a cable company.

Sky agreed to be taken over by Fox, its biggest shareholder, in December 2016. Since then, Fox has agreed to sell most of its entertainment assets to Disney, including its Hollywood film studio and its 39.1% stake in Sky.

However, the bid was held up by a lengthy series of investigations by the Competition & Markets Authority and by Ofcom, the broadcasting and telecoms regulator.

That opened the door for Comcast to make a counter-bid for Sky. In July, it tabled a £14.75-a-share offer for Sky, valuing the company at £26bn.

That was the highest offer going into today's auction and compared with Friday night's closing price of £15.85.

Under the contest, Fox – as the lower bidder – was entitled to raise its offer first.

In the second round, only Comcast was allowed to raise its offer.

This meant the two sides went into a final “sudden death” round of bidding.

Such auctions are exceptionally rare. There have been only four since the rules were changed in 2002 and the most recent of these was in April 2008 when Enodis, a maker of kitchen equipment for McDonald's and Burger King, was acquired by the US company Manitowoc for £948m.

 

 

Brian Roberts, chairman and chief executive officer of Comcast, said it was a “great day”.

He added: “Sky is a wonderful company with a great platform, tremendous brand, and accomplished management team.

“This acquisition will allow us to quickly, efficiently and meaningfully increase our customer base and expand internationally.

“We couldn't be more excited by the opportunities in front of us.

“We now encourage Sky shareholders to accept our offer, which we look forward to completing before the end of October 2018.”

Jeremy Darroch, group chief executive for Sky, said: “This is the beginning of the next exciting chapter for Sky.

“Brian and his team have built a great business and we are looking forward to bringing our two companies together for the benefit of our customers and colleagues.

“As part of a broader Comcast we believe we will be able to continue to grow and strengthen our position as Europe's leading direct to consumer media company.

“Today's outcome is down to the hard work of tens of thousands of people who have built and developed this business together over the last 30 years. Sky has never stood still, and with Comcast our momentum will only increase.”

21st Century Fox said in a statement that it was “considering its options regarding its own 39% shareholding in Sky and will make a further announcement in due course”.

It added: “Sky is a remarkable story and we are proud to have played such a significant role in building the incredible value reflected today in Comcast's offer.”

 

 

Other companies whose fates have been decided by an auction overseen by the Panel include Corus, the owner of British Steel and Canary Wharf, the commercial property company.

However, in terms of the amount of money being paid, this auction is by far the biggest yet.

Sky, which was founded in 1989, is Europe's biggest pay television broadcaster.

It has 23 million household customers in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy, while it has recently launched “over the top” services in Spain and Switzerland.

It floated on the stock market in 1994 and, since flotation, has been a remarkably stable business, having had just five chief executives in the intervening 24 years – the late Sam Chisholm, Mark Booth, Tony Ball, James Murdoch – who is the current chairman of Sky and current chief executive of Fox – and Mr Darroch, the current incumbent.

 

 

By Ian King, Sky News business presenter

The Undercover Life Of A Female Bodyguard

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Sun, 23rd Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

Jacquie Davis, who says she was the first woman to become a bodyguard in the UK, has protected royals and celebrities, rescued hostages and carried out undercover surveillance in her 30 years in the industry. Now her own life has inspired a Netflix thriller starring Noomi Rapace.

“When I came into the industry it was a very he-man attitude,” says Jacquie. “They just always wanted me to look after the female principal or the children which was ironic – as most of them were fathers and I wasn't even a mother!”

Having initially joined the police, Jacquie decided to move into private security in 1980 because it would give her more variety. “I wanted to do close protection, I wanted to do surveillance and wanted to do investigations,” she says.

Being a bodyguard is particularly high-profile at the moment thanks to Bodyguard, the BBC One drama starring Keeley Hawes as the UK's Home Secretary and Richard Madden as her personal protection officer. Writer Jed Mercurio's script is full of plot twists, guns – and a steamy relationship between the two lead characters.

“Technically it's been fine – it is a good drama,” says Jacquie, but while such relationships do occasionally happen “you'll get sacked immediately, no question”.

In her career she's travelled the world staying in five- and six-star hotels, but says “after 12 to 16 hours of thinking on your feet, it's not glamorous”. In addition to this, there is the toll on a bodyguard's private life. “You might not go home for eight to 10 weeks.”

Jacquie also specialises in the more dangerous end of the business – surveillance and rescue. Once she found herself begging on the streets of Iraq, disguised in a burka, as part of a mission to rescue oil workers.

While the job is about preventing danger to the client by planning ahead to avoid potential risks, sometimes real life can be as dramatic as any film or TV script.

 

 

“We were being chased by the Pakistan army and wandered into Kashmir,” she told BBC World Service's Business Daily programme. “The Kashmiri rebels were firing at the Pakistan army and we got caught in the crossfire.”

She and her team had gone undercover in a rescue mission to free a 23-year-old British woman who'd been tricked into going to Pakistan with her new husband.

Instead the woman was imprisoned, but eventually got a message to her mother telling her she was being held hostage and asking for help. Her mother contacted Jacquie.

One night, Jacquie broke into the villa where the woman was being held, handcuffed to an iron bedstead. “She said she was three months pregnant and was being raped, starved and beaten. I told her, ‘We will come back and get you out.'”

But suddenly they got a phone call telling them their cover was blown. “Benazir Bhutto, who I'd worked for [previously], had recognised me and thought she knew why I was there – to rescue somebody,” says Jacquie.

It meant they had to rethink their plans and act fast.

“We had to storm the villa by paying a taxi driver to ram the gates,” she says. They freed the woman and headed for India with the Pakistani army in pursuit. Going as far as they could in a vehicle they then walked across the mountains.

 

 

“We were trained and quite fit, but I've got a pregnant woman who's been beaten, starved and has a pair of flip-flops on. To me she was the real hero.”

Happily, they managed to dodge the gunfire in Kashmir and were able to bring the woman home.

Jacquie says there have been two big changes over her three decades in the industry.

More women are now signing up, though they still make up only one in 10 bodyguards in the UK.

The business also has a much higher public profile now. “Because of terrorism, security is in people's minds,” she says.

This political instability, coupled with an upsurge in the super-rich in the Middle East, China and elsewhere has driven the growth of the sector in recent years.

Figures from the Confederation of European Security Services show there are more than 230,000 people employed in the security services industry in the UK – and 1.9 million in the EU, with 44,000 security companies operating in the sector in Europe alone. Though only a fraction of these will actually be working as bodyguards.

 

 

In the UK, the Security Industry Authority (SIA) is the industry regulatory body responsible for personal licensing and private security regulations, and all newcomers need to do a training course first.

Which is fine as far as it goes, says Jacquie, but points out that “you're never going to come off a course and be a bodyguard or close protection operative immediately”.

Anybody working in personal protection needs to remember that they are not the client's friend. “You just have to maintain that slight apartness so you can be there when they need it and pull back when they don't,” she says.

Jacquie herself is now the subject of an upcoming Netflix film, Close. The action-thriller starring Noomi Rapace was inspired by Jacquie's life as a bodyguard and she was a consultant on the film.

Director Vicky Jewson has said that working with Jacquie “allowed us to bring an authenticity to the action scenes which was very important to me”.

XXXXXXXXXX

Despite the stereotype of burly security men in dark glasses, the essence of being a bodyguard is brains not brawn, Jacquie insists.

Recruits need to learn the softer skills of the business to work with clients. For instance, which knife and fork to use in a Michelin restaurant and how to have afternoon tea at the Ritz while blending into the background.

You also need to keep up with current affairs, she advises. “You have to be able to talk about the Nasdaq, not The Only Way Is Essex.”

She's not dismissive of the personal risks that are occasionally involved but says you can't worry going into a job.

“You do the job you're trained to do. When you come out, that's when you go, ‘Oh my God, what have I just done?'”

Listen to the whole interview with Jacquie Davis on Business Daily.

By Tim Bowler

 

 

The Art Of Becoming A killer Negotiator in Nine Steps

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Sat, 22 Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

Negotiating is something we do on a daily basis, be it at work or at home, and is key to ensuring that you always get the best outcome.

According to the late soul singer Marvin Gaye, “Negotiation means getting the best of your opponent”. But negotiation is an art form that is hard to learn and even harder to master.

We've cherry-picked the most powerful tips for becoming a killer negotiator from Quora, the global question and answer network, to find the secret to getting what you want, every time.

1. Always be prepared
“You need to know as much as you can about the other party/topic/project”, explains Sebastian Amieva, a Quora poster who studied negotiation at Harvard Law School.

Fellow Quora poster Margaret Weiss agrees: “Negotiation is about the other party. It's not about you. You can be the best orator in the world – concise, convincing, eloquent – but if the other party cannot relate to you, regardless of your skills, all of those efforts will be in vain.

“The first thing that negotiators do is research their target audience – and based on the information gathered they adjust their pitch to the exact expectations of the other party. This research is what makes a person a good negotiator: the ability to connect to the needs of the other party, and the ability to speak on the same level.”

2. Remain objective
“A mediator must remain objective in discussing issues, even if they dislike some or all of the parties to the negotiation,” says Shane Dempsey, a professional mediator.

Even if you don't like the other parties involved, they should still receive professionalism and courtesy, Ms Dempsey added.

3. Use open-ended questions

According to behavioural science expert Craig Dos Santos, asking open-ended questions is key to negotiating, as it gets the other party talking, “so you can learn more, listen more, and figure out what is driving their thought process”.

“Don't ask questions that start with verbs. “Is that okay?” or “Is the budget proposal correct?” Instead try, “How can we improve this?” or “What changes are needed in the budget proposal?”

4. Don't talk too much
By listening more and talking less, negotiators are able to develop a detailed understanding of the needs of the other person.

“The best negotiator that I've known really didn't talk much,” says Yishan Wong, a former chief executive of Reddit whose Quora post on this topic received almost 2,000 upvotes (or “likes”). “He would just ask you questions about what you wanted and listen really carefully.

“People like to talk about what they want and how they feel about it, so they will tend to go on about things if you let them, and he would just let them do that, all the while listening really carefully.

“He would then go away and figure out how to structure the right deal given the resources/abilities at his (or his company's) disposal, and then present them with a deal,” adds Mr Wong. “He didn't need to talk them into it very much, the key seemed to be all about getting into their heads to find out what kind of deal would be most appealing to them.”

5. Force a ‘no' out of your opponent
Mr Dos Santos has a contrarian approach to negotiation. “When you get a ‘no' you have a real answer,” he says. “Being open to (or even inviting) ‘no' is respecting the other side's ability to make a choice. Often yes answers are actually maybes, and they also don't give you information about the boundaries.

“A simple example: someone offers you £95,000, and you ask for £100,000. They say yes. What did you learn? Could you have asked for more? Should you have asked for something else instead?”

Mr Dos Santos claims that the key to asking the harder questions is being able to bring the person back after ‘no'. “Hard questions introduce tension, and your ability to ask them is gated by your ability to reduce that tension by making the other party feel okay/better,” he says. “Notice the focus on emotion.”

6. Give them options
“Humans have a basic need for autonomy. If our ability to choose is restricted, we rebel,” claims Quora poster Brandon Villano.

“Come up with a few options that are favorable to you, and give them the opportunity to select which one they want. This is very powerful because it makes them feel much more in control (while still satisfying your requirements).

“All in all remember it's a win/win situation you are looking to achieve. You want the other party to feel good about the decision they made and happy that they got what they wanted. If you always come out on top with others feeling cheated, you build a bad reputation and this will make others wary of attempting a transaction with you.”

7. Fake empathy
“The other day a friend pinged me because he wanted a discount on an Airbnb rental,” writes Mr Dos Santos. “It was £2,700 and he wanted it for £2,000. Instead of just offering £2,000, which would mean the owner would have to fight an internal battle over what the place was actually worth, I helped him over-empathise with her.”

The friend drafted an email that read: “The place is gorgeous. I loved the photos and I would love to stay there. It's probably worth more than £2,700 and your price is a steal. However, I'm on a company budget, and I can only pay £2,000.”

This is a counter-intuitive approach: this individual has admitted that the asking price is fair and even said that it might be worth more. However, by using emotional manipulation, he got his deal. “He didn't fight her on valuation, and he made her feel good about the place,” says Mr Dos Santos. “He got the discount. £700 in 10 minutes with one email.”

8. Fix a deadline for negotiations to end

Rather than allowing negotiations to go on interminably, fix a reasonable deadline to get the deal done.

“It is very helpful to have some deadline/expiration date to create a forcing function for the negotiators,” says entrepreneur Kacy Qua. “If you are negotiating on behalf of an organisation and you come out of the negotiation too quickly, your side will think you didn't put up a strong enough fight.

“Having a deadline also provides a point from which you can work backward, so that you can time the flow of agreements/proposal rejections.”

9. Volunteer for The Samaritans
“The FBI often trains hostage negotiators by sending them to crisis/suicide hotlines for a year,” says Mr Dos Santos. “This is a process I'm currently going through myself. Why? Because it's the ultimate training ground for focusing on someone's emotions, and moving them from A to B. And it's hugely rewarding work.”

By Sophie Christie

 

 

RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank customers unable to access online banking and app platforms

Flickr/Morebyless

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 21st Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

Customers of RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank are currently unable to access their accounts through the banking group's online and app platforms.

Since around 5am on Friday morning, account holders have been reporting problems with the services.

Many have taken to social media today to complain in an echo of problems at rival Barclays yesterday.

An RBS spokesman said “We are aware that customers are experiencing issues and are working to fix it”.

He added that: “Customers can still use ATMs and telephone banking or visit their local branch.”

According to the group's latest annual report it has 19 million customers in the UK and Republic of Ireland with 5.5 million active mobile app users.

Many of them have been sharing their frustration on social media, with a number pointing out that the problems have arrived at a terrible time – payday.

Customer Paul Murphy told the BBC: “This is just what you need as the weekend approaches and bills to pay.”

Jess Cochrane said: “It's payday, I can't transfer my wage to the joint account all the bills come out of, I have no card and no branch near me.”

The banks had a similar problem in April last year, when their banking apps stopped working.

This year has proven to be a terrible one for banking customers with a number being locked out of accounts after their bank has been hit by technical issues.

Barclays customers were locked out of their accounts online for several hours on Thursday.

Meanwhile customers of online challenger bank Cashplus – which targets people with poor credit histories – were unable to access their accounts, make cash withdrawals, or make or receive payments earlier this week.

Earlier this year TSB's huge IT meltdown led to weeks of pain for customers and the eventual resignation of chief executive Paul Pester.

Hannah Maundrell, editor of money.co.uk said: “Banks really need to pull their socks up because this keeps happening. It's really not good enough when so many customers are being encouraged to bank online.”

 

Sky ownership battle to be settled in auction with media heavyweights Fox, Disney and Comcast at the weekend

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Fri, 21st Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

The protracted battle over ownership of Sky will be all but settled over 24 hours this weekend in a rare auction in which three global media heavyweights will go three rounds.

Comcast will take on the tag team of 21st Century Fox and Disney, with investors expecting the winning side to value Sky at at least £27bn.

The Takeover Panel, the City’s regulator of merger processes, will act as referee between the Murdoch family, who contol Fox and will line up alongside Disney chairman Bob Iger, and Brian Roberts, the Comcast chief.

The rules of engagement have been drawn up by the Takeover Panel after negotiations with both sides. The auction will formally begin at 5pm on Friday and conclude at the same time on Saturday.

There will be three rounds of bidding. In the first round, only the contender with the lowest offer going into the auction, currently Disney and Fox, will be able to bid. Comcast has offered £14.75 per share for Sky, ahead of Disney and Fox on £14.

In the second round Comcast will be able to respond. If the US cable giant, which also owns Universal, the Hollywood studio behind Jurassic World, does not bid then the auction will conclude with Disney and Fox the winner.

However, if Comcast does hit back with a better offer, then there will be a final round in which both sides will be able to make their best and final offers.

 

The Takeover Panel is expected to publish the final offers as they are handed over to Sky’s independent directors, who are led by deputy chairman Martin Gilbert, the joint-chief executive of Standard Life Aberdeen. Sky’s chief executive Jeremy Darroch and chief operating officer Andrew Griffith will also assess the bids, alongside the other directors not appointed by Fox.

The Sky board will then recommend which offer Sky shareholders should accept.

In a note to Sky staff, Mr Darroch said: “Having three of the world’s best and largest media companies seeking to own Sky is a major and positive endorsement of our strategy and the execution of our plans.

“A process like the one announced today doesn’t happen very often and is therefore likely to generate coverage and speculation in the media over the coming days. It is also likely to wrap up sometime over the weekend or early Monday morning and could therefore be outside of normal business hours.”

Disney and Fox go into the process at a potential advantage, as Fox already owns 39pc of Sky. If the final offers are similar in price, that could prove decisive, as Sky’s independent directors will be obliged to consider the likelihood of each buyer passing the 50pc shareholder approval threshold required to complete a deal.

While Fox will be on the front lines of the auction, its bidding strategy will effectively be controlled by Disney, which has agreed to buy most of its assets, including its Sky stake, for $71bn following another bid battle with Comcast in the United States. The Murdoch family rocked the media world last year by selling out of global TV and film to focus on US news and sport.

 

If Comcast is defeated in the UK, Sky will be owned by Fox for several months before being taken over again by Disney next year.

The dramatic finale of a takeover saga that has run for almost two years ranks as the biggest ever such auction. PTT won control of Cove Energy after Shell dropped out of a head-to-head in 2012. Tata paid £6.2bn in an auction of Corus steel in 2007 against CSN of Brazil.

The competition to buy Sky means it is likely to change hands for more than double its valuation before Fox originally bid £10.75 per share in December 2016, which at the time was a 40pc premium on the market price.

Sky’s operating performance also markedly improved as Fox faced a series regulatory hurdles that delayed its plans and opened the door for Comcast to gatecrash.

It secured a cheaper deal for Premier League rights after the end of fierce competition with BT and signed a deal to bring Netflix onto its set-top boxes, neutralising what had been viewed as a threat. Meanwhile its Italian operation prevailed in a long football rights war with rival Mediaset Premium.

Both Disney and Comcast want control of Sky partly as a defence against incursions by the tech giants into entertainment. Its direct relationships with 26 million consumers across Europe are viewed as valuable, along with its technology, brand and customer service operations.

By Christopher Williams