Sports Direct Mike Ashley withdraws Patisserie Valerie bid

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 11th Feb 2019) London, Uk – –

Sports Direct pulls out of battle for beleaguered cake chain claiming to be at ‘disadvantage’

Sports Direct has pulled out of the bidding for Patisserie Valerie, just two days after emerging as a surprise suitor for the stricken cake chain.

Mike Ashley’s sportswear group walked away from talks on Sunday, ending the prospect that Patisserie Valerie could join House of Fraser, Evans Cycles and Sofa.com in the Sports Direct stable.

The approach, made last Friday, was an unexpected twist in the battle to rescue Patisserie Valerie, which fell into administration in January after a £40m black hole was uncovered in its finances.

It is understood that Ashley made a late bid reportedly worth more than £15m for Patisserie Valerie, but was told the offer was too low.

According to the Financial Times, Sports Direct was unhappy about being shut out of the bidding process, saying it “not been allowed access to a data room, any financial information or meetings with management” to allow it to improve its bid.

Sports Direct argued it was “at a serious disadvantage as a bidder” if it was left to rely on financial information in the public arena, which it claimed was “at best unreliable”.

It is understood Sports Direct was given access to the data room after tabling its first offer but the retailer nevertheless withdrew.

Sports Direct had bid for Patisserie Holdings – the parent company of Patisserie Valerie as well as the Druckers Vienna Patisserie, Philpotts, Baker & Spice and Flour Power City brands. The deadline for first-round bids was 1 February, a week before Ashley entered the fray.

Administrators at KPMG, which is running the company, has closed 71 of Patisserie Valerie’s nearly 200 stores and concessions, as it seeks a buyer for the company. Dozens of bids were received, either for the whole company or some of its stores. Around 900 jobs have been lost, with another 2,800 at risk if a buyer can’t be found.

Several parties are understood to be carrying out due diligence before submitting final-round bids to KPMG, but it is not clear when the bidding process will be concluded.

Coffee chain Costa, which is now owned by Coca-Cola, and a number of other parties are thought to have tabled offers for a parcel of stores but it is not clear if any parties want Patisserie Valerie as a going concern.

Patisserie Valerie blamed its financial plight on “very significant manipulation” of its balance sheet and “extensive” misstatement of its accounts. It suspended finance chief Chris Marsh, who subsequently resigned after being arrested and bailed by police.

The company was valued at £450m before the black hole was discovered. Its collapse into administration has wiped out shareholders, including chairman Luke Johnson.

By Sarah Butler

Sir Philip Green drops legal action against the Daily Telegraph

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 28th Jan 2019) London, Uk – –

Sir Philip Green has dropped legal action against the Daily Telegraph, which prevented the newspaper publishing details of allegations of sexual harassment and racist behaviour.

Last October, the Telegraph published a story saying a prominent businessman had been accused of harassment.

The Topshop boss was later named as the businessman in the House of Lords.

As a result, Sir Philip said he had been the subject of “vicious” and “untrue” personal attacks in the media.

The statement also said that Sir Philip is “not guilty of unlawful sexual or racist behaviour”.

Sir Philip's representative would not say why the businessman had dropped the legal action.

When the allegations first emerged, Sir Philip acknowledged there had “been some banter”, but said it had “never been offensive”.

At the heart of the issue are non-disclosure agreements signed by five individuals.

In his statement, Sir Philip said that the Telegraph had helped break those agreements and threatened to make the information public.

In doing so, the newspaper had exposed the individuals to “significant risk and future legal action”, the statement said.

It also said: “Due to the ongoing confidentiality obligations and injunction still in place, Arcadia and Sir Philip cannot comment on the detail of any allegations, but confirm that any grievances are treated with the utmost seriousness and are investigated thoroughly in accordance with best practice.”

Fortune

Sir Philip used to be known as the king of the High Street.

He built a fortune from a retail empire that included Topshop, BHS, Burton and Miss Selfridge.

He sold BHS in March 2015 for £1, but it went into administration a year later, leaving a £571m hole in its pension fund.

He later agreed a £363m cash settlement with the Pensions Regulator to plug the gap.

In a report into the collapse of BHS, MPs called the episode “the unacceptable face of capitalism”.

He and his wife Cristina are estimated by Forbes to be worth £3.8bn.

Google Drones Already Making Coffee Delivery In Australia

Source: WSJ

Alphabet's Project Wing is delivering hot coffee and food, hardware supplies and drugstore items via drone near Australia’s capital. Some residents say it’s the future, while others want the drones to shut up.

How Black Sheep Coffee Created Their Unique Blend To “leave the herd behind”

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Sat, 19th Jan 2019) London, Uk – –

Gabriel Shohet and Eirik Holth can empathise with the blue back-to-workers who returned to their desks last week; five years ago, they too were uninspired by their careers.

But the duo did something about it, quitting their jobs to start a coffee chain.

The co-founders used to be university flatmates before graduating and joining private equity firms. They lost touch, but caught up on the phone one day about wanting to strike out on their own. “We were used to managing companies from the board, so never got stuck in or started anything from scratch,” explains Shohet. “Getting our hands dirty was very appealing.”

Inspiration struck: why not go into business together? “Coffee was our passion; we were always micro-roasting and experimenting with new blends at the flat,” recalls the entrepreneur. “We agreed to pack in our jobs, set a date and did it.”

From the beginning, they wanted their brand to stand out from the crowd. It inspired the name, Black Sheep Coffee (and its tagline, “leave the herd behind”).

They launched with a different brew: a 100pc speciality-grade robusta coffee that, unlike its commonly used arabica counterpart, has more caffeine and protein, and is higher on the PH scale. It makes for a smoother, frothier drink that’s easier to digest on an empty stomach.

Another difference is its work with homeless people, says Shohet. “We care deeply about doing good, but we wanted to do it directlyand not just donate to a big charity like everyone else.”

The Black Sheep owners introduced an initiative that enables customers to donate a discounted brew or completed loyalty card by sticking it or a note to a board in store. Those who can't afford a coffee can simply come in and grab one. “So many warned us against it, predicting drunks and thieves who would turn new business away,” recalls the co-founder. “They were wrong, of course – people have been polite and often help us to open in the morning.

“It's a neat way to fight social exclusion and break down barriers.”

The duo spent most of a start-up loan on kit, inventory and flights to meet suppliers. They carried out product tests and customer research by popping up at London markets and stations. “We had no salary and very little money,” recalls Shohet. “The first two years were really difficult, but we slowly built up [a positive] cash flow and enough landlord credibility that one eventually bought into our idea.”

A proper shop was a big turning point, but Shohet doesn't regret the financial struggle. “We had discipline and became very creative in terms of making things happen,” he says, giving the example of a stall in Urban Outfitters on Oxford Street. “We only sought out that partnership because we needed someone who would fit out our kiosk and wouldn't charge rent.”

The heavy footfall and prominent window branding was priceless, he thinks. “Not having any cash forces you to come up with cool concepts and different ways of getting things done.”

A £23,000 Kickstarter campaign helped the founders to kit out their first café in Charlotte Street, but they've otherwise shunned investment. “We've tried to grow without calling on institutions that may be looking for a quick return,” he says. “Short-term targets force you to compromise and limit your scope – it can kill the soul of a business.”

Black Sheep has been anything but limited, having grown to £10m in annual turnover and 28 shops across London, Manchester and Manila. “We're scaling very fast, which means we have to hire a lot of new people,” says Shohet, who leads 216 employees.

The biggest challenge has been finding and retaining that talent, he adds. Paying above market rate helps with the former (“if you want the best people, you have to be comfortable with the fact that they will be expensive”), while “clear” and “visible” career progression helps with the latter. “We have a strong training programme through which people can work their way up to head of coffee and gain industry-recognised qualifications.”

A smart benefit also enables staff to pursue their passions; the company will pay any employee to teach a free class to colleagues. “We don't want them to have to choose between Black Sheep and yoga or acting, for example,” says Shohet. “It's all about making sure that people have a good time working for us.”

Having a worse time is the high street, with more casualties expected this year. But the entrepreneur isn't worried. “Coffee is still very much about the experience,” he says. “People want to see it being made and drink it straight away; they want to use the Wi-Fi and hang out or host a meeting.”

In terms of what next for the brand, he wants to continue to focus on its two main mission statements: source the best coffee in the world and hire the best baristas in town. “Get those right and we can't really go wrong,” says Shohet, whose beans are currently sourced from India, Peru, Ethiopia and Papua New Guinea.

It will also keep on in its fight against plastic. Front of house, the business stocks paper straws and 100pc compostable cups and lids, explains the co-founder, who isn't a fan of offering discounts to clients who provide their own reusable cups. “We want to tackle the issue head-on, instead of making people pick between convenience and the environment.

“It's not the their responsibility to bring a cup or recycle another; it's ours.”

While there's still work to be done on the supplier side, Black Sheep has otherwise been plastic-free for three and a half years. “It's not that difficult,” says Shohet. “If we can do it, so can the big chains.”

By  Matthew Caines 

Uk businesses express impatience, anger and frustration over Brexit

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 16th Jan 2019) London, Uk – –

The PM's commons defeat has angered business leaders who fear they are looking “down the barrel” of a no deal Brexit.

Business leaders have expressed their “frustration” over the political turmoil and lack of a Brexit deal after Prime Minister Theresa May's defeat in the Commons.

Sky's City editor Mark Kleinman reported executives from some of the biggest companies rounded on cabinet ministers after they refused to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

Here's the response to Mrs May's defeat from some of UK's leading business groups.

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“There are no more words to describe the frustration, impatience, and growing anger amongst business after two and a half years on a high-stakes political rollercoaster ride that shows no sign of stopping.

“Basic questions on real-world operational issues remain unanswered, and firms now find themselves facing the unwelcome prospect of a messy and disorderly exit from the EU on March 29th.”

Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, said:

“It is the collective failure of our political leaders that, with only a few weeks to go, we are staring down the barrel of no deal.

“As things stand, UK law says we will leave on 29th March, with or without a withdrawal agreement, and yet MPs are behaving as though they have all the time in the world – how are businesses meant to prepare in this fog of confusion?

“The clock is still ticking, and whatever the outcome of tomorrow's no confidence vote, the reality is that MPs will still need to find a way to put aside their differences and come to an agreement.”

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, said:

“Every business will feel no deal is hurtling closer. A new plan is needed immediately. This is now a time for our politicians to make history as leaders. All MPs need to reflect on the need for compromise and to act at speed to protect the UK's economy.”

Miles Celic, chief executive of TheCityUK, said:

“The outcome of today's vote prolongs uncertainty and will continue to depress business confidence.

“The lack of clarity on the path to an orderly Brexit risks disruption and financial instability on both sides of the Channel. We urge the government and MPs to carefully consider the options without delay and put forward an economically sensible way ahead.

“A no deal outcome is not in the best interests of customers in the UK or the EU.”

Catherine McGuinness, policy chair at the City of London Corporation, said:

“Parliament's decision to reject the Government's deal means businesses across the UK will continue to face uncertainty regarding our relationship with the European Union.

“The Government must now urgently set out its ‘Plan B' to ensure we can secure a deal locking in a legally binding transition before 29 March.

“Financial stability must not be jeopardised in a game of high-stakes political poker. Politicians across all parties should work together pragmatically to avoid a no-deal Brexit, which would be a hugely damaging outcome for households and businesses on both sides of the Channel.”

Prosecco House the first bar in London dedicated to only serving the Italian bubbly

Source: BI

Prosecco House is the first bar in London that serves the Italian bubbly only.

They have 28 different types of Prosecco, which they get from five vineyards in Italy and three distributors in London.

“From every single brand, there are different types because we do Brut, Extra Brut, Dry, Extra Dry but as well crisp, delicate, fruity… You name it,” owner Kristina Issa told Business Insider.

“We can accommodate every different taste.” Drinks are sold by the glass or by the bottle.

Prices for a glass range from £7.50 to £13.50, while bottles start at £37. The Rivalta Nero is the only exception.

This Prosecco is sold by the bottle only, for £68. Prosecco House is located a few seconds walk away from Tower Bridge, in the luxury complex One Tower Bridge.

Sneakernomics: How Allbirds took a crazy leap of faith against the big players making sneakers

Source: CNN Business

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Sat, 5th Jan 2019) London, Uk – –

Four years ago Joey Zwillinger was an executive at a “hot” biotech company and making good money.

So when he decided to leave to join a start-up making trainers out of wool, friends and family were bemused.

“They naturally said I was quite dumb,” he says. And that was among the more polite reactions.

Why would anyone want to go into an industry where giants like Nike and Adidas deploy vast marketing budgets and roll out thousands of designs a year?

But for Mr Zwillinger and his co-founder Tim Brown, the creation of Allbirds was not quite the crazy leap of faith that it seemed back in 2014.

The economics of making and selling trainers (or sneakers to many outside the UK) had been changing.

How much?

Making trainers is not as profitable as you might think.

Rahul Cee trained as a footwear designer and had a long career in the industry, working for Nike and Vans in India. He now runs his own website, Sole Review, which – as the name suggests – reviews running shoes.

Using publicly available data he estimated how the costs break down for a typical pair of trainers.

According to his calculations, the final sale price is made up of:

  • manufacturing costs: 22%
  • staff, warehousing, office rents and patents: 11%
  • marketing and advertising: 5%
  • freight and insurance: 5%
  • taxes: 2%
  • shoemaker's profit: 5%
  • retailer's share: 50%

Newcomers like Allbirds can skip the last part of the process.

“We decided early on that we were only going to do direct-to-consumer, not sell our shoes through the wholesale channel – through retailers,” says Mr Zwillinger. “We didn't quite realise how smart a move that was at the time.”

So Allbirds sold shoes online and has only recently opened its own stores.

“Other shoemakers are giving away so much margin to the stores that sell their shoes and they are not able to invest in quality material for their product.

“They're also on discount all the time. So then that forces them to go quick with speed and style changes.”

he big shoemakers are not blind to the cost of retailing their wares.

In 2017 Nike announced it was radically cutting back on the number of retailers it uses and set a target to generate 30% of its sales online by 2022.

Changing tastes

It is not just the way shoes are sold that has changed. Customers are demanding different sorts of shoes.

“Shoes that are meant for performance, like running or basketball, are really out of fashion and people are buying shoes that are athletically inspired but not intended for a particular sport,” says Matt Powell, senior industry adviser for sports at the NPD group, a retail consultancy firm.

Mr Powell dates the emergence of so-called athleisure shoes to mid-2015.

“Now that we are in this athleisure phase, where we're not really requiring that the shoes have technology in them for cushioning or whatever, it's easier for smaller brands to break into the market.”

Allbirds, which has just opened a store in London's Covent Garden, has been one of the companies that has benefitted from that trend.

“The fact that no-one's tethered to a desk means that their wardrobes are not tethered to an office environment and that's driven a change in wardrobe that makes everyone less formal,” Joey Zwillinger says.

“Shoes need to aesthetically work for a number of different activities – when you're at work and also at dinner. They also need to be comfortable for a longer period of time.”

Marketing

And that shift away from shoes used for sport to everyday activities has helped save money on marketing.

In 2015 Nike signed a lifetime endorsement deal with basketball superstar Lebron James, reported to be worth $1bn (£800m). But those big deals are becoming less important.

“Earlier, things like athletic endorsement were the focus – like signature shoe models based on basketball players,” says Rahul Cee.

“While that still exists today, this approach matters less to the consumers. Now marketing is more fragmented, targeting smaller segments of consumers more effectively. Brands now focus on data and also the consumer experience.”

Knitted shoes

If you are wearing trainers now, take a look at them. Are they made of several pieces of fabric stitched together? That's the traditional way of making the upper part of a shoe and it's labour-intensive.

Shoemakers have been introducing upper parts that can be knitted as one piece and then joined to the sole. Half of Allbirds' shoes are made this way.

The big shoemakers have also been moving in that direction. Nike introduced its Flyknit Racer in 2012 and has been automating more of its production.

And this year Adidas opened its second highly automated plant, in the US state of Georgia.

Despite the innovation, shoemakers should keep it simple, says Mr Cee.

His best-selling shoe while working in the Indian trainer business? A Nike-branded sandal.

By Ben Morris

British workers switch to new jobs in record numbers in show of strength for economy

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

Britons are switching jobs in record numbers, analysis of official figures shows, as the tight labour market helps workers secure higher pay.

More than one in every 40 workers moved to a new job in the three months to September, amounting to 860,000 people giving up one position to take another role.

The highest number in the Office for National Statistics’ records going back to 2004, it signals how employers are struggling to find and keep staff.

The number of people in work overall has climbed over that period to a record high of more than 32m, but even as a proportion of those in employment the number of job-switchers is at its highest since before the financial crisis.

This is an important indicator of the strength of the economy as it shows workers are prepared to take a risk by moving to a new job.

Such big steps are typically rewarded with a bigger pay packet. Job movers receive an average pay rise of 7pc, which is similar to the amount gained in a promotion. Even those who do not move are starting to see faster pay growth as employers have to offer higher wages to keep them in post.

Unemployment is at just 4.1pc, one of the lowest rates in decades, which is forcing employers to increase pay ­offers. The average pay settlement across a company’s workforce is 2.5pc to 3.5pc, according to the Bank of ­England’s agents around the country, up from 2pc to 3pc in 2017.

It is starting to affect pay across the economy as a whole. Economist George Buckley at Nomura expects average earnings to rise by 3.5pc in 2019, up from 2.9pc in 2018.

At the same time he predicts inflation will fall from 2.5pc to 2pc as oil prices and so fuel and energy costs fall, so real wages will rise by 1.5pc.

“The wage numbers have already been quite strong,” he said, which gave workers a boost in the run-up to ­Christmas.

Falling inflation could knock workers’ ability to ask for more money in cash terms, however, moderating the improvement.

“Inflation is slowing down so there will be less ability for workers to claim for higher wages,” he said. “Even so we have real wages going up quite strongly.”

Employers are also trying to find ways to keep staff without offering more cash.

“Despite the tightening labour market, many contacts managed to contain pay-bill growth by targeting pay awards at key skills or staff,” the Bank of England’s agents found.

Recruiters are reporting a similar pattern. “One of the big shifts is that more employers are making it very, very clear that from day one they are happy to discuss flexible working arrangements,” said Tom Hadley at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation.

“Candidates are looking for pay, but it is not often top of the list. It is more often about the workplace culture and flexible working which is definitely coming to the fore. It creates a real ‘stickiness’ for people not leaving organisations.”

By  Tim Wallace 

Local councils to bid on £675m fund to reinvigorate struggling high streets

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 26th Dec 2018) London, Uk – –

The fund comes at the end of a terrible year for high street retailers, with mass store closures, job losses and profit warnings.

Local councils are being invited to bid for a share in a government fund set up to help reinvigorate the country's struggling high streets.

The £675m fund was announced by chancellor Philip Hammond in October's Budget but the bidding process opens today.

It comes after the report of a panel led by Sir John Timpson, which called for a community-driven approach to transforming the high streets into “community hubs”.

Communities minister Jake Berry said: “We all know high streets are changing, we can't hide from this reality.

“But we're determined to ensure they continue to sit at the heart of our communities for generations to come.

“To do this we have to support investment in infrastructure, boosting local economies and ensuring people are able to get the most out of their local high streets.”

One of the main challenges for high streets is online shopping: in 2000, it accounted for less than 1% of retail sales while in August 2018 almost a fifth of all retail sales took place online.

Projects for those using the fund could include supporting regeneration, reconfiguring space, increasing the number of homes for young and old people, more work space and reducing vehicle congestion.

It caps off a terrible year for retailers, with Poundworld and Maplin among those entering administration, Marks & Spencer and Debenhams deciding to close stores and Superdry, Carpetright and Card Factory among those issuing profit warnings.

Nearly 150,000 jobs have been axed from the sector this year and, with shoppers spooked by Brexit uncertainty, there are fears next year may not be much better.

Worried retailers even launched Boxing Day sales early this year, with Debenhams offering up to 50% off some items before its traditional Boxing Day sale and John Lewis starting its clearance online for some products at 5pm on Christmas Eve.

Boxing Day deals at Marks & Spencer were online at midnight on Christmas Day and supermarkets were also in early, with Sainsbury's, for example, reducing electrical items from 23 December.

Figures show footfall was up in the last few days before Christmas, with 27.4% more trips made to non-food stores in the UK on Christmas Eve this year compared to last, according to Ipsos Retail Performance.Dying high street ‘not my fault'Mike Ashley of Sports Direct tells MPs he is not to blame

Sportswear and outdoor leisure stores saw the largest gain on last year, up 44.1%, followed by department and general variety stores, up 30.4%.

Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, said: “The surge in shoppers to stores seen over the final few days before Christmas will give some solace to those in the sector, when they sit down to enjoy their roast turkeys today, after such a torrid year.”

But, of course, an increase in the number of shoppers does not necessarily mean an increase in the amount spent – for those figures, we will have to wait for the various stores' financial results at various times next year.

Jim Rohn – “True Happiness is not contained in what you get, happiness is contained in what you become”

Source: Habits of the wealthy


About Jim Rohn : Emanuel James Jim Rohn (September 17, 1930 – December 5, 2009) was an American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker. Jim Rohn's rags to riches story played a large part in Jim Rohn's work, which influenced others in the personal development industry. Emanuel James Jim Rohn was born in Yakima, Washington, to Emanuel and Clara Rohn. Jim Rohn's owned and worked a farm in Caldwell, Idaho, where Jim Rohn grew up as an only child. Jim Rohn started Jim Rohn's professional life by working as a stock clerk for department store Sears. Around this time, a friend invited Jim Rohn's to a lecture given by entrepreneur John Earl Shoaff. In 1955, Jim Rohn joined Shoaff's direct selling business AbundaVita as a distributor. In 1957, Jim Rohn resigned Jim Rohn's distributorship with AbundaVita and joined Nutri-Bio, another direct selling company. It was at this point that the company's founders, including Shoaff, started to mentor Jim Rohn. After this mentorship, Jim Rohn built one of the largest organizations in the company. In 1960 when Nutri-Bio expanded into Canada, Shoaff and the other founders selected Jim Rohn as a vice president for the organization.

The billionaire who turned a small business in a shed into the biggest electronics operation on the planet

Source: Bloomberg

Foxconn is known for being the biggest assembler of iPhones. Terry Gou is the chairman and largest shareholder of Foxconn. He's also one of Taiwan's richest men. This is the story of how Gou turned a small operation in a shed into the biggest electronics operation on the planet. Now he's building a $14.5 billion factory in Wisconsin.