Dixons Carphone report £440m loss, as share price falls

QLM Image

(qlmbusinessnews.com via cnnmoney.com – – Wed, 12th Dec 2018) London, Uk – –

Dixons Carphone sank to a huge loss in its half-year result today, as a £500m writedown in its Carphone Warehouse division weighed the company and its share price down.

The figures

Dixons swung to a £440m loss for the six months to the end of October after paying out £490m in impairment charges for a restructure of its Carphone Warehouse arm, compared to a £54m profit before tax last year.

That compares to an underlying profit before tax of £50m for the firm, down from £73m in the same period of 2017.

Revenue grew one per cent year on year, or three per cent on a like-for-like basis, to £4.89bn.

Cash flow dropped by one third to £116m however as Dixons introduced new working capital phasing, while net debt piled up, from £206m last year to £274m now.

However, investors lost 39.7p per share, a far cry from their 4.5p earnings this time last year, while the dividend fell from 3.5p last year to 2.25p this year.

Shares fell by 10 per cent in early morning trading on the news.

Why it’s interesting

Dixons’ huge one-off loss relates to its restructure as it attempts to wean itself off its reliance on the troubled high street, which failed to benefit from November’s Black Friday spending spree.

The company is taking an impairment charge of £225m on its Carphone Warehouse business, along with £113m of charges for related assets and £6m against individual Carphone Warehouse stores.

Instead, new boss Alex Baldock wants to boost activity online, as well as introducing more flexible ways to pay for shoppers through credit plans.

“We're focusing on our core, and on four things that matter most: two big profitable growth opportunities in online and credit; revitalising our mobile business; and giving customers an easy experience,” Baldock said.

“We'll deliver these through capable and committed colleagues, working in one joined-up business, with strong infrastructure.

Dixons’ travails are evidence of further high street pain, according to Ed Monk, associate director of Fidelity Personal Investing’s share dealing service.

But he added that Dixons’ restructuring plan under new boss Alex Baldock could change its fortunes.

He also pointed to an employee share scheme Dixons announced, allowing staff with a year’s service to get up to £1,000 in company shares.

“That’s a sensible move as the company looks to differentiate itself from online rivals like Amazon, with better in-store service.”

What Dixons Carphone said

Alex Baldock, group chief executive, said:

“We believe that Dixons Carphone is now on the path to sustainable success. We have set a clear long-term direction that will deliver more engaged colleagues, more satisfied customers and a more valuable business for shareholders.

“We have powerful strengths, as a growing market leader with amazing people and capabilities no competitor can match. Our plan builds on those strengths. We're focusing on our core, and on four things that matter most: two big profitable growth opportunities in online and credit; revitalising our mobile business; and giving customers an easy experience. We'll deliver these through capable and committed colleagues, working in one joined-up business, with strong infrastructure.

“We're underway and investing in all of these, including giving our colleagues at least £1,000 of shares, making every colleague a shareholder. We strongly believe aligning and energising the business behind our strategy in this way will benefit customers and shareholders.

“There are headwinds and uncertainty facing any business serving the UK consumer, we've had our own challenges, and our plan will take time. But, with this plan, we can now see the way to unleashing the true potential of this business. We believe in our plan, are underway making early progress and determined to make it a lasting success.”

By Joe Curtis

Superdry coats and hoodie retailer warns on weaker than expected profits

QLm Image

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 12th Dec 2018) London, Uk – –

Superdry, best known for its coats and hoodies, has warned of weaker than expected profits, saying shoppers have not bought extra winter layers this year.

It now expects annual profits of between £55m and £70m – analysts had been expecting around £84m.

Superdry's shares plunged by as much as 30% after the announcement.

The company is considering closing stores as part of a cost cutting drive to save £50m by 2022.

“Superdry had a difficult first half, impacted by unseasonably warm weather across our major markets, a consumer economy that is increasingly discount driven and the issues we are addressing in product mix and range,” said Euan Sutherland, Superdry's chief executive officer.

Underlying profit before tax almost halved in the first half of the year, to £12.9m.

The retailer is a third of the way through an 18-month strategy to re-energise the brand which includes introducing childrenswear and 100% organic cotton products.

Mr Sutherland said the firm's “over-reliance” on jackets and sweatshirts was partly to blame for flagging sales.

He will oversee an efficiency drive which will include reviewing the number and size of their stores, and exploring renegotiating rents between now and March 2019.

Superdry's shares were down by as much as 30% on Wednesday. They have lost more than 70% of their value this year.

Superdry became popular with teenagers by providing high quality sweatshirts and other casual wear with a Japanese-style branding. However it has been losing ground and was dubbed recently by the Financial Times as a brand “for cool dads”.

According to fashion retail analyst, Kate Hardcastle, the brand has saturated the market and has suffered from discount retailers producing copycat versions,

“To stay fashionable and engage with a buyer a brand has to have an air of exclusivity about it,” she said.

Superdry's founder Julian Dunkerton left the board in March. Since then he has criticised the retailer's strategy.

He said the company should focus on its core jackets and hoodies and offer a far wider range of variations online: “Superdry is a series of core products – stick with them and tweak them,” he said.

As part of its new strategy Superdry has launched a “fast-fashion” range aimed at a “younger, more fashion-driven” customer. The range mimics online retailers in going from design to delivery to consumers in six weeks and is being marketed via social media.

British workers get biggest pay rise in a decade in the three months to October

QLM Image

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 11th Dec 2018) London, UK —

LONDON, Dec 11 (Reuters) – British workers had their biggest pay rise in a decade in the three months to October as the country’s strong labour market showed no sign of weakening ahead of Brexit, official figures showed on Tuesday.

Average weekly earnings, including bonuses, rose by 3.3 percent on the year, their biggest rise since the three months to July 2008 and comfortably beating a median forecast of 3.0 percent in a Reuters poll of economists

The Bank of England, which has said it will need to raise interest rates gradually to offset inflation pressures from the labour market, has forecast slower wage growth for the end of 2018 than Tuesday’s official figures suggest.

Total earnings, excluding bonuses, also rose by an annual 3.3 percent in the three months to October, the Office for National Statistics said, the biggest rise since the end of 2008.

With unemployment at close to its lowest level since the 1970s — 4.1 percent in the three months to October — employers have begun raising pay for staff more quickly.

The pace of wage rises remains slower than the 4 percent increases seen before the financial crisis but real earnings, adjusted for inflation, rose nonetheless by the fastest since the end of 2016, up 1.1 percent.

The number of people in work rose by 79,000 in the three months to October, more than any forecast in the Reuters poll.

 By William Schomberg and David Milliken

WPP advertising group £300m restructuring puts 3,500 jobs at risk

QLM Image

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 11th Dec 2018) London, Uk – –

WPP is to cut 3,500 jobs worldwide and shut or merge almost 200 offices as the embattled advertising group seeks to restructure after a torrid year that included the exit of its founder and chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell.

The restructuring, which will be revealed in full at a lengthy analyst and investor presentation on Tuesday, will include shutting 80 offices globally and combining operations of a further 100 in locations where business is slow.

The company is to cut nearly 4,000 of its 134,000 global workforce but would not say how many roles or offices would be affected in the UK. It has 400 ad businesses in more than 3,000 offices in 112 countries.

said it would hire 1,000 creative staff as part of a refocus on the group’s roots, meaning the net job losses would total 2,500.

Pushing through the changes, which are aimed at simplifying the business, will incur a £300m restructuring charge over the next three years. WPP said it would ultimately save £275m annually by the end of 2021, half of which would be reinvested in the business.

The WPP chief executive, Mark Read, who took over after Sorrell was ousted in April, said the company had become “unwieldy with too much duplication” to operate efficiently in the digital age.

“We are fundamentally repositioning WPP as a creative transformation company with a simpler offer that allows us to meet the present and future needs of clients,” he said. “The restructuring of our business will enable increased investment in creativity, technology and talent, enhancing our capabilities in the categories with the greatest potential for future growth.”

WPP shares have tumbled by 40% this year as it cut sales and profits forecasts and lost a number of key clients, most notably a swathe of longstanding client Ford’s business, which is its biggest account globally.

Read has already moved to merge some of the grandest names in traditional advertising with newer more digital and data-led WPP operations. JWT, the world’s oldest advertising agency, is being combined with Wunderman, and Y&R is merging with VML.

WPP also said it has received numerous approaches for its research arm Kantar, which is valued at about £3.5bn and which the company wants to sell but also retain a stake.

The company said so far this year it has disposed of 16 non-core investments, such data business Globant and a stake in the ad tech operation AppNexus, raising £704m to reduce debt. WPP continues to hold stakes in businesses including Vice Media.

Organic net sales, the metric most closely watched by analysts and investors, were likely to decline by 0.5% this year, WPP said, which was better than the 1% drop it predicted in October.

By  Mark Sweney

High Street retail shopping fall under pressure from online competition in the run-up to Christmas

QLM Image

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 10th Dec, 2018) London, Uk – –

The figures come after Mike Ashley warned that the high street was facing extinction thanks to the growth of internet retail.

Shopping visits fell last month at their sharpest rate since the recession as stores face Brexit uncertainty and sustained pressure from online competition in the run-up to Christmas.

The 3.2% decline in footfall compared to the same month last year was the biggest for November, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard.

It comes after Sports Direct and House of Fraser tycoon Mike Ashley warned recently that without radical action the high street would face extinction.

Springboard also predicted a 4.2% decline in December.

The footfall figures measure shopping visits across high streets, retail parks and shopping centres.

November's data pointed to further pressure on bricks and mortar stores from internet retail as Black Friday – which a few years ago saw huge crowds flock to the shops in search of bargains – becomes an increasingly online event.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Footfall continued to decline as consumers stayed away from the high street in November.

“With one-in-every-three-pounds of non-food purchases made online last month, Black Friday accelerated the movement from in-store to online in the lead-up to Christmas.

“The Black Friday discounting period also began earlier for a large number of retailers negatively impacting footfall across a longer period over the month.

“It has been a difficult year for many retailers and the outlook remains challenging as Brexit uncertainty grows.”

Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, said: “As we head into the zenith of the retail trading calendar, both retailers and consumers alike are in the midst of the greatest degree of uncertainty in recent times.”

By John-Paul Ford Rojas

O2 ‘to seek millions’ in damages over data outage from supplier Ericsson

QLM Image

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 10th Dec 2018) London, Uk – –

Mobile operator O2 is understood to be seeking millions in damages from supplier Ericsson after last week's day-long data network collapse.

The total bill could be up to £100m, according to The Telegraph.

O2 smartphone users were unable to use their mobile phone data last Thursday. Ericsson blamed expired software certification for the problem.

Both firms have apologised for the issue and O2 has already set out how it plans to compensate customers.

Customers with a monthly subscription will be refunded the cost of two days' service by the end of January.

Pay As You Go customers will get 10% extra when they top up their phone in the new year or 10% off when they buy data for mobile broadband devices.

O2 said voice calls were not affected by the problem, but some customers said they could not make calls or send texts either.

The mobile phone operator is owned by Spain's Telefonica and has the UK's second-largest mobile network after EE, which is part of BT. It is the company that bills customers, so it holds the responsibility for compensation.

O2 has 25 million users and also provides services for the Sky, Tesco, Giffgaff and Lycamobile networks, which have another seven million users.

Services such as bus timetable information were also affected by last week's outage, while many businesses also faced disruption.

Telefonica's UK chief executive Mark Evans told the BBC last week it planned a “full audit” of the problem.

“What we will now do is a full audit, a thorough audit, across both organisations to ensure whatever steps can be taken will be taken to provide the continuous service that our customers expect and deserve.”

Ericsson said last week that “an initial root cause analysis” had indicated that the “main issue was an expired certificate in the software versions installed with these customers”.

“The faulty software that has caused these issues is being decommissioned,” Marielle Lindgren, chief executive of Ericsson UK & Ireland, said at the time.

Why Millennials Love Gucci and how it played a huge part of popular culture in 2018

Source: Business Insider

Gucci is a huge part of popular culture in 2018. The iconic logo is displayed across celebrity instagram accounts and featured in popular songs like Lil Pump's “Gucci Gang.” As millennials continue to make up a large portion of the consumer market, the way they spend their money has an impact. Millennials and teens might be destroying everything from Applebee’s to the napkin industry, but they are definitely willing to spend money on a Gucci fanny pack.

Brexit approach see UK house prices rise at slowest pace in six years

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Fri, 7th Dec 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – British house prices rose at their slowest pace in six years in the three months to November, mortgage lender Halifax said on Friday, the latest sign of weakness in the housing market as Brexit approaches.

Annual house price growth slowed sharply to 0.3 percent from 1.5 percent in the three months to October, Halifax said.

Halifax’s house price index was rising by nearly 10 percent a year at the time of the 2016 Brexit vote.

In November alone, house prices fell by a monthly 1.4 percent, the third decline in the last four months and the biggest fall since April.

Halifax Managing Director Russell Galley said the slowdown in annual price growth remained within the lender’s forecast range for 2018 of zero to an increase of 3 percent.

Property analysts say the main factor preventing prices from actually falling is a shortage of homes on the market although prices in London have fallen, according to some measures.

Howard Archer, an economist with EY Item Club, said prices would probably slip modesty on a nationwide basis if Britain leaves the European Union in March without a Brexit deal.

Earlier on Friday, home-builder Berkeley Group (BKGH.L) announced a 26 percent fall in profit and it warned about uncertainty in the short term as people put off house purchases ahead of Britain’s exit from the EU.

By William Schomberg

Former GCHQ boss: Facebook could threaten democracy

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 7th Dec 2018) London, Uk – –

Facebook could become a threat to democracy without tougher regulation, the former head of intelligence agency GCHQ has said.

Robert Hannigan told the BBC the social media giant was more interested in profiting from user data than “protecting your privacy”.

It comes after MPs this week accused Facebook of striking secret deals over user data.

The firm has also been criticised for its handling of fake news.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Hannigan said: “This isn't a kind of fluffy charity providing free services. It's is a very hard-headed international business and these big tech companies are essentially the world's biggest global advertisers, that's where they make their billions.

“So in return for the service that you find useful they take your data… and squeeze every drop of profit out of it.”

Asked if Facebook was a threat to democracy, Mr Hannigan said: “Potentially yes. I think it is if it isn't controlled and regulated.

“But these big companies, particularly where there are monopolies, can't frankly reform themselves. It will have to come from outside.”

Document cache

Emails written by Facebook's chief and his deputies show the firm struck secret deals to give some developers special access to user data while refusing others, MPs said earlier this week.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee published the cache of internal documents online as part of its inquiry into fake news.

It said the files also showed Facebook had deliberately made it “as hard as possible” for users to be aware of privacy changes to its Android app.

But Facebook said the documents had been presented in a “very misleading manner” and required additional context.

Mr Hannigan also downplayed concern about the Chinese telecoms company Huawei after its chief financial officer was arrested in Canada this week.

The charges have not been made public but are believed to relate to the company's violation of Iran sanctions.

However, there are concerns that China uses Huawei technology for spying and some countries have barred its equipment from their 5G mobile networks.

Mr Hannigan said: “My worry is there is a sort of hysteria growing at the moment about Chinese technology in general, and Huawei in particular, which is driven by all sorts of things but not by understanding the technology or the possible threat. And we do need a calmer and more dispassionate approach here.”

He said no “malicious backdoors” had been found in Huawei's systems, although there were concerns about the firm's approach to cyber security and engineering.

“We all know what that leads to but that is incompetence not malice,” he said.

He added: “The idea… that we can cut ourselves off from all Chinese technology in the future, which is not just going to be the cheapest – which it has been in the past – but in many areas the best, is frankly crazy.”

Huawei CFO arrested in Canada amid telecoms giant spying row

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Thu, 6th Dec 2018) London, Uk – –

Canada has arrested the chief financial officer of Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant at the centre of a spying row, as US authorities seek to extradite her.

Meng  Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver on Saturday, it emerged on Wednesday night. American prosecutors are seeking to have her moved to the US as it investigates whether the company broke trade sanctions against Iran.

It comes amid deepening suspicions of Huawei in the UK and elsewhere. On Wednesday, BT said it would remove the company’s equipment from its networks within two years, after more than a decade using it.

Huawei was founded by Ren Zhengfei, a former member of China’s People’s Liberation Army, and has been consistently met with suspicion in the West. Its equipment is banned in the US and Australia and in the UK it is rigorously tested by the Government at a guarded facility.

Ms Meng is one of Huawei’s top executives and its deputy chairman, as well as Mr Ren's daughter.

Beijing on Wednesday protested the arrest of the Chinese national and urged her immediate release.

“The Chinese side firmly opposes and strongly protests over such kind of actions which seriously harmed the human rights of the victim,” a statement said.

“The Chinese side has lodged stern representations with the US and Canadian side, and urged them to immediately correct the wrongdoing and restore the personal freedom of Ms. Meng Wanzhou.”

A spokesman for Canada's Justice Department said : “Wanzhou Meng was arrested in Vancouver on December 1. She is sought for extradition by the United States, and a bail hearing has been set for Friday.”

“As there is a publication ban in effect, we cannot provide any further detail at this time.”

Earlier this week, the head of MI6 Alex Younger raised concerns about the company, saying Britain would have to make a decision about whether it was willing to have Huawei equipment in the next generation of mobile internet networks.

“We need to decide the extent to which we are going to be comfortable with Chinese ownership of these technologies and these platforms in an environment where some of our allies have taken a very definite position,” he said.

A Huawei spokesman said: “Recently, our corporate CFO, Ms. Meng Wanzhou, was provisionally detained by the Canadian Authorities on behalf of the United States of America, which seeks the extradition of Ms. Meng Wanzhou to face unspecified charges in the Eastern District of New York, when she was transferring flights in Canada.

“The company has been provided very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng. The company believes the Canadian and US legal systems will ultimately reach a just conclusion.

“Huawei complies with all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations of the UN, US and EU.”

By James Titcomb

O2 mobile operator investigating reports customers facing data and voice service issues across the UK

(qlmbusinessnews.com via cityam.com – – Thur, 6th Dec 2018) London, Uk – –

(Reuters) – British mobile operator O2, which is owned by Spain’s Telefonica (TEF.MC), said on Thursday it was investigating reports of customers facing issues while using some services.

Britain's second-largest mobile operator initially said here in a tweet that it was looking into issues with data and voice service usage. It later said in a separate tweet that voice calls were working properly.

O2’s data network is down across the UK this morning, the mobile operator said, owing to a “global software issue”.

O2 is investigating reports of issues when using 3G or 4G data, adding that “voice calls are working OK”.

“We apologise for any inconvenience,” the firm said, after problems were first reported at around 5.30am.

It blamed a software problem with a third-party supplier for the issue, but gave no estimate for when engineers would resolve the outage.

“We’re aware that our customers are unable to use data this morning. One of our third-party suppliers has identified a global software issue in their system which has impacted us,” an O2 spokesperson said.

“We believe other mobile operators around the world are also affected. Our technical teams are working with their teams to ensure this is fixed as quickly as possible. We’d encourage our customers to use Wi-Fi wherever they can and we apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

Downdetector, a website that tracks digital outages, said 1,662 complaints had been made before 7am, with the outages affecting London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds and many other towns and cities.

The outage had knock-on effects for systems reliant on O2's network, such as Transport for London's electronic bus timetable, which was not working this morning.

As one of the UK's biggest mobile operators, O2 could count affected customers in the millions, with 25m relying on its own network and 32m when considering the various networks it underpins, such as Giffgaff.

Angry users took to Twitter to look for answers or to simply vent their anger.

O2 directed users to a status checker to see whether their local network was affected.

Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at Uswitch.com, advised affected users to keep checking O2's network status tracker, and to download Google Maps on Wi-Fi in order to get around.

“O2 users affected by this mobile data outage will understandably be concerned and frustrated,” he said.

“While it's positive that voice calls are still up and running, without a projected timeframe for a fix, this is likely a worrying situation for a large proportion of O2's some 32m UK customers.

“For the millions of users who are out and about and rely on smartphone maps to get around, it's worth considering that apps like Google Maps allow customers to download maps on WIFI and view them offline.

“With little idea of when this problem will be sorted, it's worth preparing before heading out to make sure you're not caught out by this data downtime.”

It comes as BT Mobile customers also suffered a network outage. BT Mobile customers said they couldn't send or receive text messages, after first reporting problems yesterday.

By Joe Curtis


The Civil Aviation Authority takes legal action against Ryanair over compensation claims

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 5th Dec 2018) London, Uk – –

The Civil Aviation Authority has said it is taking legal action against Ryanair over its refusal to compensate thousands of UK-based customers.

Their flights were cancelled or delayed over the summer because of strikes by Ryanair pilots and cabin crew.

The CAA says they are entitled to compensation under EU law.

However, Ryanair argues the strike action amounts to “extraordinary circumstances” and that therefore, it does not have to pay.

More Ryanair passengers have put in compensation claims for cancellations or delays to arbitration this year than any other airline.

Figures from the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service showed the airline accounted for the largest proportion – 30% – of all appeals.

In the first nine months of 2018, it received 22,159 complaints, but only processed 1,347 of 6,653 Ryanair cases.

According to the CAA, under EU legislation, passengers are allowed to make an EU261 claim when flights are delayed by three hours or more, cancelled or when they are denied boarding.

Ryanair, like other airlines, was signed up to abide by ADR decisions.

Ryanair has now told the CAA that it has terminated its agreement with ADR.

“As a result of Ryanair's action, passengers with an existing claim will now have to await the outcome of the Civil Aviation Authority's enforcement action,” the CAA said.

Hard-working families
In response to the CAA's announcement, a Ryanair spokesperson said: “Courts in Germany, Spain and Italy have already ruled that strikes are an ‘exceptional circumstance' and EU261 compensation does not apply. We expect the UK CAA and courts will follow this precedent.”

Consumer rights organisations have welcomed the CAA's move.

Rory Boland, Which? travel editor, said: “Customers would have been outraged that Ryanair attempted to shirk its responsibilities by refusing to pay out compensation for cancelling services during the summer – which left hard-working families stranded with holiday plans stalled.

“It is right that the CAA is now taking legal action against Ryanair on the basis that such strikes were not ‘extraordinary circumstances' and should not be exempt, to ensure that the airline must finally do the right thing by its customers and pay the compensation owed.”

Uk to face Post-Brexit skills shortage in manufacturing as employers report difficulty in recruiting workers

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 5th Dec, 2018) London, Uk – –

The sector is looking ahead to a future with too few trained workers and not enough youngsters wanting to learn.

British manufacturing is facing a post-Brexit skills shortage with too few trained workers and not enough youngsters wanting to learn, according to a survey.

Only 6% of 16 to 23-year-olds surveyed for Barclays Corporate Banking are considering a career in manufacturing, which spans the economy from food to chemicals.

And 47% of the 2,000 young people asked said they are not interested in the industry because it does not appeal to them, while 35% thought they lacked the required skills.

The survey also revealed that half of the sector's employers are reporting difficulties in recruiting workers.

More than a third of firms reported that too many job applicants do not have the right skills, particularly in science, technology, engineering and maths.

But despite the problems, a quarter of employers said they had no intention of investing more in recruitment.

Helena Sans, head of manufacturing at Barclays, said it showed a “mismatch” between perceptions of the industry and the careers on offer.

She said: “The skills most desired by young people include decision-making, complex problem-solving and technical skills.

“These match the skills that manufacturers say employees gain from working in the industry and highlight the need for businesses to engage and inspire the younger generation.”

Neville Kildunne, works manager at chemicals and services firm Christeyns in Bradford, told Sky News he hoped foreign workers will still be able to apply for jobs in the sector after Brexit.

He added that a shortage now means some jobs can now only be filled if the salary on offer is increased by 20%.

He added: “There's not a pool of these people out there and available, sat down on park benches waiting to be offered employment. They're already employed, so you have to become an employer of choice.”

Christeyns describes its expanded apprenticeship scheme and outreach work in local schools as “essential”.

The manufacturing sector survey carried out for Barclays is published as a separate study by the left-wing think tank IPPR North, which says imbalance in the economy is getting worse.

The report says the North-South divide is getting wider, with pay, public spending, household wealth, poverty and life expectancy all worse in the North.

It calls on the government to commit to “a more comprehensive approach to transforming the North's economy”.

By Gerard Tubb


Bank of England Governor Mark Carney defend warnings of Brexit scenarios

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 4th Dec 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Bank of England Governor Mark Carney defended the central bank’s warnings of a potentially major economic hit from Brexit which angered lawmakers opposed to Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans for leaving the European Union.

The BoE said last week that under a worst-case exit from the European Union, Britain could suffer greater damage to its economy than during the global financial crisis.

Carney told lawmakers on Tuesday that the scenarios set out by the BoE were based on detailed preparatory work to ensure banks and other lenders were ready for Brexit, and were not off-the-cuff forecasts.

“There’s no exam crisis. We didn’t just stay up all night and write a letter to the Treasury Committee,” Carney said at a committee hearing in parliament. “You asked for something that we had, and we brought it, and we gave it to you.”

Less than four months before Brexit, it remains unclear whether Britain will leave the EU with a transition deal to smooth the shock for the economy.

May agreed a plan with EU leaders last month but it faces deep opposition in parliament including from within May’s own Conservative Party. The plan faces a key vote on Dec. 11.

Pro-Brexit critics of Carney, who have long accused him of political meddling in the debate about Britain’s relationship with the EU, dismissed last week’s BoE report as scare-mongering.

Former BoE Governor Mervyn King joined the criticism on Tuesday when he lamented the central bank’s involvement in what he said was an attempt to frighten the country about Brexit.

“It saddens me to see the Bank of England unnecessarily drawn into this project,” King said in an article published on Bloomberg.

Carney stressed the worst-case scenarios were “low-probability events in the context of Brexit” which the central bank needed to consider to make sure Britain’s banking system could withstand any Brexit shocks.

“We’re already sleeping soundly at night, because we have the financial sector, the core of the financial sector, in a position that it needs to be for a tough scenario.”

But he told lawmakers that the price of food could go up by 10 percent if Britain left the EU with no deal and no mitigating arrangements to avoid chaos at the country’s ports.

He said Britain’s ports were not ready for even a managed shift to World Trade Organization rules for the country’s exports and imports with the EU.

“Don’t assert what is not correct,” he snapped at one lawmaker who said the BoE had not considered the possibility of substituting trade with the EU for other markets.

Carney reiterated his opposition to ceding decision-making over rules for the banking sector to the EU after Brexit, given the scale of Britain’s financial services sector.

US, China offer differing takes on trade ceasefire
“We would not be comfortable…outsourcing supervision of this incredibly complex, incredibly important financial sector,” he said.

Deputy Governor Jon Cunliffe said a Norway-style Brexit — in which Britain would stay in the EU’s single market and follow the bloc’s rules without any say on them — was undesirable given Britain’s finance industry was 20 times the size of Norway’s.

Some lawmakers have suggested a Norway-style Brexit could be a temporary solution for Britain as it struggles to find a way to strike a new long-term relationship with the EU.

Additional reporting by Sarah Young, Andy Bruce and Amy O'Brien,; Writing by William Schomberg, editing by Ed Osmond

By David Milliken and Huw Jones



Govia Thameslink to pay out £15m over timetable chaos

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 4th Dec 2018) London, Uk – –

Department for Transport also caps profit Go-Ahead Group can make from its contract

The introduction of new timetables in May led to cancellations and disruptions of of thousands of Thameslink services.

Govia Thameslink Railway will hold on to Britain’s biggest rail franchise but must spend £15m on passenger improvements after its “unacceptable performance” during the botched timetabling roll-out in May.

GTR will make no profit from the franchise in this financial year, and future profits will be capped until September 2021 when the franchise expires, the Department for Transport (DfT) said.

By striking a deal with GTR, the DfT has ignored calls to remove the franchise after the chaotic introduction of new timetables on 20 May, which led to cancellations and disruptions of of thousands of train services.

In a statement on Tuesday, the department said “a termination of the franchise would cause further and undue disruption for passengers and is not an appropriate course of action”.

GTR, which includes Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express, will contribute £15m towards “tangible improvements for passengers”, on top of the £15m the operator has spent on compensation for passengers since the May timetable disruption.

The DfT said GTR had agreed to work with the rail user groups representing Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern passengers, who will determine what improvements the new package will fund.

The deal comes after a scathing report by MPs on the transport select committee, who are demanding rail fares should be frozen for those passengers who were most affected by the disruption. On the first working day of the new timetable there were 423 cancellations.

The transport department said it would continue to monitor GTR’s performance closely, particularly during the timetable changes due to be introduced next week. “These measures do not make GTR immune from further sanctions in the event of any subsequent failure to perform,” the department added.

The GTR chief executive, Charles Horton, quit over the timetable chaos, and Network Rail executives forfeited annual bonuses for their role in the fiasco.

By Julia Kollewe



Christmas shoppers warned over danger of counterfeit products

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 3rd Dec, 2018) London, Uk – –

Police warn of counterfeit product danger with online customers most at risk

Christmas shoppers are being urged to be wary of counterfeit products following a rise in cases involving fake goods.

According to KPMG, over the past two years, 39 cases involving a total of £116m of counterfeit and pirated goods – which can range from hair straighteners and perfume to ebooks – have been prosecuted in the UK. The firm said the number of cases reaching court “continues to rise”.

The figures come days after the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (Pipcu) launched a campaign using the hashtag #shockingfakes to highlight the dangers of buying counterfeit electrical goods.

Pipcu said that as well as the potential health and safety risks, such as electric shocks and house fires, shoppers who bought such items online could unwittingly find themselves becoming victims of identity theft.

KPMG said pirated digital media – such as music, ebooks, video games and computer software – accounted for a sizeable chunk of the total it had identified. Other popular counterfeited items included tickets to concerts and other events, and branded goods such as football shirts.

It claimed some consumers “are seemingly driven by a hunger to maintain a designer lifestyle on a low-key budget”.

James Maycock, a forensic partner at the accountants, said: “Consumers may often turn a blind eye or consider this a victimless crime, but this shadow economy activity often directly promotes money laundering and tax evasion. It can also help to fund other more serious organised criminal enterprises, including human trafficking, drug smuggling and terrorism.”

The City of London Police unit pointed to a June 2018 report from consumer protection charity Electrical Safety First, which found that 30% of those surveyed had been duped by a counterfeit electrical item bought online but advertised as genuine.

The charity also claimed websites sites such as Amazon and eBay were being misused by third-party sellers to exploit online shoppers and sell fake and potentially dangerous goods.

Products highlighted included tumble dryers, so-called Kodi boxes (a type of set-top box for TVs), kettles, travel adapters and hair straighteners.

In April this year, a Guardian investigation found that Amazon’s Marketplace platform was rife with potentially dangerous counterfeits and other knockoff goods despite years of cracking down on mis-selling.

Police said the “true cost” of such items was shown by a fire that broke out at a flat in St John’s Wood, north-west London, in May this year, leading to around 20 people being evacuated. The London Fire Brigade said it believed an unbranded mobile phone charger caused the blaze.

Meanwhile, last Tuesday, Pipcu said it had this year suspended more than 31,000 websites as part of an operation coordinated by Europol, the EU’s agency for police cooperation, aimed at clamping down on counterfeit and pirated items sold online.

Pipcu said it was asking people to “trust their instincts – if an offer looks too good to be true, then it probably is”. It said consumers should check the spelling and grammar on websites, and the URL, because often the people behind these sites did not pay a lot of attention to this detail.

Fraudsters may try to deceive shoppers by slightly changing the spelling of a well-known brand or shop in the website address.

“Just because a web address ends with “.co.uk” does not mean the seller is based in the UK. If there is no address supplied or there is just a PO Box or email, consumers should be wary,” it added.

While counterfeit products may be financially enticing, some fake items such as perfumes, batteries and alcohol “may seriously damage your health”, said Maycock.

He highlighted a September 2016 court case that led to a father and son being jailed for selling unsafe DIY teeth-whitening kits which left some users with chemical burns. Advertising claimed the product was “used by leading dentists throughout the UK and Europe”, but tests showed it contained up to 110 times the allowable level of hydrogen peroxide, a bleaching agent.

Anyone who has bought an item they believed to be genuine but which they now suspect to be fake can report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040.



Qatar to pull out of Opec oil producers’ cartel

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 3rd Dec 2018) London, Uk – –

Qatar has announced it is pulling out of the Opec oil producers' cartel, just days before the group meets in Vienna.

The Gulf state, which joined Opec in 1961, said it would leave the cartel in January and would focus on gas production.

Qatar, the world's biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, has been boycotted by some Arab neighbours over allegations that it funds terrorism.

Opec is expected to cut oil supply at this week's meeting.

Explaining Qatar's decision, Energy Minister Saad al-Kaabi said: “We don't have great potential (in oil), we are very realistic. Our potential is gas.”

Qatar crisis: What you need to know
He said geopolitics was not factor in the decision.

Since June 2017, Qatar has been cut off by some of its powerful Arab neighbours, particularly Saudi Arabia, over its alleged support for terrorism.

Qatar's withdrawal from Opec may not have any lasting impact on the price of oil as it a relatively small producer.

But this week's meeting of Opec is being closely watched by markets for any agreement over cuts to production after the oil price fell sharply in November.

Analysis: Qatar grows apart from its Gulf neighbours
By Paul Blake, Middle East business reporter

Qatar is Opec's 11th biggest oil producer – which is to say it's one of the smallest producers in the cartel, clocking in at less than 2% of the group's output.

While its departure might not mean much for Opec's influence over the oil market, it is important to see the decision within the broader geopolitical climate here in the Middle East.

Opec's de facto leader Saudi Arabia has been leading a regional blockade on Qatar that has seen trade and travel links severed since June 2017.

While Qatar's energy minister insists that the decision was not political, the withdrawal from Opec after 57 years in the club is just another way that Qatar and its Gulf Arab cousins are growing further apart as relations deteriorate.

Price pressures
Expectations are high that Opec will reach an agreement on output this week after Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the weekend that he and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “have agreed to extend our agreement” to limit production.

Russia is not a member of Opec, but is one of the biggest oil producers outside the group.

Mr Putin's comments pushed oil prices higher. In early trading on Monday, Brent crude was $2.60 higher at $62.06 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate oil rose $2.42 to $53.35 a barrel.

However, prices are down sharply from September – when Brent crude was at $81.16 a barrel – because of concerns about over supply.

Qatar produces around 650,000 of barrels of oil a day, compared with Russia's 11.37 million barrels a day.