Ryanair report annual profits increase of 10% despite costly pilot schedule failure

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(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 21 May 2018) London, Uk – –

The no frills carrier says it is more cautious about its current financial year as a surge in costs could push profits lower.

Ryanair has reported a 10% rise in annual profits despite the impact of its costly pilot rota failure last autumn that hit the travel plans of 700,000 customers.

The no frills carrier said profits after tax came in at €1.45bn (£1.27bn) in the 12 months to 31 March aided, it said, by a 9% rise in passenger numbers to 130.3 million and its planes being 95% full on average.

However, its results statement showed the airline had become more cautious on the current financial year, with Ryanair cutting its profit guidance to between €1.25bn and €1.35bn as it prepared to book a surge in costs.

It warned they included a potential €400m rise in fuel bills as oil prices continue to climb despite the cost being 90% hedged.

Ryanair also pointed to rising staffing costs.

It has been forced to offer revised terms since its decision to cancel thousands of flights over the last winter schedule – blamed on a blunder over pilot rotas – that brought to the surface simmering tensions over pay.

Ryanair revealed the disruption alone had cost it €25m in compensation and another €25m in flight vouchers for those affected.

Ryanair has since started work on union recognition for the first time in its history – agreeing deals with pilots’ unions in the UK and Italy – and has agreed new five-year pay deals with pilots and cabin crew.

It said of the current financial year: “We expect staff costs to rise by almost €200m, half of which is higher pay for our front line people and half is additional headcount for growth.”

Chief executive Michael O’Leary said of the pressures ahead: “Our outlook for FY19 (full-year 2019) is on the pessimistic side of cautious.

“We expect to grow traffic by 7% to 139 million, at flat load factors of 95%.

“Unit costs this year will rise 9% due to higher staff and oil prices which will, when adjusted for volume growth, add more than €400m to our fuel bill.

“Ex-fuel unit cost will rise by up to 6% as we annualise pilot and cabin crew pay increases, and invest in our business and our systems to facilitate a six year growth plan to 600 aircraft and 200m guests per annum.”

He added: “Forward bookings are strong but pricing remains soft. Since only half of Easter fell in April, we expect a 5% fare decline in Q1 (quarter one) but a 4% rise in Q2 fares.

“While still too early to accurately forecast close-in summer bookings or H2 fares, we are cautiously guiding broadly flat average fares for FY19.”

Mr O’Leary said he expected revenue from passenger surcharges to continue growing but not by enough to offset higher costs.

Ahead of the market open Neil Wilson, chief markets analyst at Markets.com, said of thge results: ” Despite the impact of rostering-related cancellations and the grounding of aircraft, revenues rose 7% to more than €7bn on 9% higher traffic.

“Fares fell by 3% but costs were 1% and net margins remained steady at 20%.

“Great results but a very cautious outlook could weigh on the stock this morning.

“Ryanair has a habit of setting the bar rather low and then far exceeding it, so we must take this ‘pessimistic side of cautious’ outlook with a grain of salt.”

Shares fell on opening but soon recovered – up 1% in morning trade

By By James Sillars

 

 

Mobile app banking ‘to overtake online by 2019’ according to forecasts


(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 21 May 2018) London, Uk – –

More consumers will use apps on their smartphone than a computer to do their banking by as early as next year, according to forecasts.

Last year, 22 million people managed their current account on their phone, industry analyst CACI said.

It has predicted that 35 million people – or 72% of the UK adult population – will bank via a phone app by 2023.

By then, customers would typically visit a branch only twice a year, it said.

CACI added that rural areas and smaller coastal towns would see the biggest increase in mobile users between now and 2023, owing in part to frustration over broadband access pushing customers towards mobile networks.

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“With so much more functionality, mobile is rapidly becoming the digital channel of choice, and replacing traditional online banking for many customers,” said report author Jamie Morawiec.

“Whilst the number of internet log-ons is decreasing, so are the numbers of users. In fact, CACI predicts that 2019 will be the year in which mobile banking overtakes internet banking in terms of users.”

It would also mean banks might again review the location and number of branches.

Major UK banks have been closing hundreds of branches in recent years, with more plans announced recently.

Earlier this month, Royal Bank of Scotland announced it was to close 162 branches across England and Wales. Some 109 branches will close in late July and August 2018, while a further 53 branches will close in November 2018.

These branch closures follow existing plans to close 52 bank branches in Scotland that serve rural communities, and 197 NatWest branches.

Lloyds also announced recently that it was planning to close 49 branches.

By Kevin Peachey

 

 

How ‘all you can eat’ restaurants’ turn a profit despite offering endless food

 

With a few tricks, these restaurants still manage to turn a profit — despite offering endless food. All you can eat buffets,  are often the ones that wins at the end and makes you feel defeated and bloated when leaving the restaurant.

 

 

Royal wedding 2018: Who’s footing the bill?

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(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Sun, 20 May, 2018) London, Uk – –

From choosing the cake to the flowers and even the chair-covers, anyone who’s ever planned a wedding knows it can be eye-wateringly expensive.

But when it comes to royal weddings – with all the VIPs, security and extra extravagance – the bill runs into millions.

So what do we know about the expected cost of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, and how much will the taxpayer be paying towards it?

Security cost

The wedding will be held in Windsor. And crowds in excess of 100,000 people are expected to descend on the town.

Invitations have been sent to 600 guests, with a further 200 invited to the couple’s evening reception

On top of that, 1,200 members of the public will attend the grounds of Windsor Castle.

Managing these sorts of numbers requires substantial planning.

And security will almost certainly be the biggest single cost.

The Home Office wouldn’t comment when Reality Check contacted it, saying revealing policing costs could compromise “national security”.

Likewise, when we rang Thames Valley Police, it said: “We aren’t going to give you any data I’m afraid – even though we know you love numbers.”

However, we do know £6.35m was spent by the Metropolitan Police (ie the taxpayer) on security for Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding.

That’s based on a Freedom of Information request released to the Press Association.

But it’s difficult to draw a direct comparison with Prince Harry and Ms Markle’s wedding – the location and guest numbers are different.

Other costs

Kensington Palace hasn’t released any details of what it plans to spend on the wedding.

That’s not really a surprise given that the official cost of Prince William and Catherine’s wedding has never been revealed.

That leaves us with unofficial estimates and as such they need to be treated with some caution.

Bridebook.co.uk, a wedding planning service, says the total cost of the wedding could be £32m – including the cost of security.

It put the cost of the cake at £50,000, the florist at £110,000, the catering at £286,000, and so on and so on.

Reality Check contacted the company’s owner, Hamish Shephard, to ask about the methodology used to arrive at the estimate.

He said the £32m figure had been based on the assumption that the Royal Family had paid for everything at market rate.

But in the absence of any official data, this is still guesswork – however well informed.

For example, we don’t know if suppliers would offer a substantial discount for the privilege of providing their services for a royal wedding.

Who pays?

The cost of security for the wedding will be met by the taxpayer.

Initially, Thames Valley Police will have to absorb the cost itself.

But the force will be eligible to apply for special grant funding from the Home Office after the event in order to claim back some of the costs.

Special grant funding is a separate pool of money forces can apply for if they have to police events outside their usual remit.

As for the rest of the total, the Royal Family has said it will be paying for the private elements of the wedding.

Every year the Royal Family gets a chunk of money from the annual Sovereign Grant, paid directly by the Treasury.

The grant is calculated on a percentage of the profits from the Crown Estate portfolio, which includes much of London’s West End.

This year it’s worth £82m.

Some members of the Royal Family benefit from additional income.

For example, Prince Charles gets money from the Duchy of Cornwall estate, a portfolio of land, property and financial investments.

But it’s not clear which “pots” the palace will choose to fund the wedding from.

Republic, which campaigns for an elected head of state, and claims the overall cost of the monarchy is far higher than £82m, has submitted a petition against taxpayers’ money being spent on the wedding.

By Reality Check team

 

 

 

 

The UK business shining a light on retail stores

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Sat, 19 May 2018) London, Uk – –

With LEDs widely regarded as the modern lighting solution of choice, one family-run company is looking to enlighten the masses
How is the Internet of Things changing the way we shop? We might expect inventory or the supply chain to be affected by changes in technology, but there is one aspect of the shopscape that is hiding in plain sight: lighting.

Modern lighting systems have undergone a transformation. Incandescent bulbs are hot, wasteful, don’t last long and many countries have restricted their sale. Fluorescent lighting is cheaper but harsh, difficult to control and less attractive. Both types of lighting have given way to LEDs, which offer more flexible lighting solutions, but not all retailers have caught up yet.

Shoplight, founded in 2014 by Mark and Melanie Shortland, puts the power of LEDs into the hands of stores. “Shops have always been about creating an experience for the customer,” says Ms Shortland, “and with the threat from online shopping, customer experience is only becoming more important.”

Thinking about the customer experience is what kickstarted the business in the first place, she notes: “Mark felt after 20 years of working with large manufacturers in the lighting business that there was a gap in the market. As the offer was getting more high-tech, old fashioned customer service was missing and that’s where we stepped in with Shoplight.”

Mr Shortland decided to differentiate the business by demonstrating to clients that the business understood the fast-paced nature of store opening programmes and the dynamic requirements of the retail sector that often drive down costs and force more nuanced competition through product and service.

“Early on, we secured an order from Skechers,” he says. “Although it was a small order it led to us supplying Skechers with their lighting solutions across the UK, Europe and in Africa and certainly allowed us to gain confidence and momentum with other clients.”

Today, their client list includes Moss Bros, Selfridges, T2, Waterstones, Jigsaw and Lush. Mr Shortland says: “Some of these clients have moved from long-established relationships with our larger competitors, which really reinforces our belief that great service matters now more than ever and that we are definitely doing many things right.”

Looking ahead, he predicts that flexible lighting will become more responsive to customers, with IoT-enabled luminaires allowing shopping environments to adapt to new moods and settings at the flick of a switch – or increasingly a tablet. “This will help retailers put the customer at the centre of retail experiences, encouraging people to visit, stay and buy,” he says, “and Shoplight are playing a leading part in this evolution.”

Parlez Media

 

 

Lloyds sells Irish mortgage portfoli to Barclays for 4 billion pounds

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(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Fri ,18 May 2018) London, UK — –

LONDON (Reuters) – Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L) has sold its Irish residential mortgage portfolio to Barclays (BARC.L) for around 4 billion pounds ($5.4 billion) in cash, as part of a plan to focus on its core British market.

The deal was the last action Lloyds needed to take to complete its exit from the Irish market, following its closure of its retail banking operation there in 2010.

Lloyds is left only with around 4 billion pounds worth of additional Irish mortgages that it will allow to expire over time.

Lloyds will now be able to focus on tackling an increasing threat to its dominant position in the British markets from new entrants eager to cut prices to win business.

Of the assets sold on Friday, 300 million pounds worth are impaired — meaning borrowers are struggling to pay them. They generated a pretax loss of around 40 million pounds last year, Lloyds said in a statement.

A year to the day after its return to private ownership following the British government’s last sale of its stake in Lloyds, Britain’s biggest lender faces a battle to maintain its grip on the mortgage market.

UNDER PRESSURE
Lloyds shares have fallen 7.6 percent in its first year free from government ownership after a bailout. That makes them the worst-performing stock among Britain’s four biggest banks with rivals RBS and HSBC climbing an average of 10 percent in the same period.

Investors fear that Lloyds as the biggest mortgage lender, with a market share of 20 percent, has most to fear from a low interest rate environment that makes finding profitable lending opportunities for banks difficult.

“We are concerned about the competition from the mortgage market from new entrants. We think Lloyds has the most to lose; it has the biggest share of the market,” said a U.S.-based hedge fund manager with about $1.2 billion in assets.

The fund manager is shorting Lloyds shares, meaning he will profit if the stock declines.

The threat to Lloyds’ position comes not just from so-called challenger mid-sized banks like Virgin Money (VM.L), CYBG (CYBGC.L) and Metro Bank (MTRO.L), but also from HSBC (HSBA.L) which has to grow its market share to meet profit goals in its newly separated UK banking unit.

The rules designed after the financial crisis to partition British banks’ core domestic deposit and savings franchises from their riskier and more internationally-focused investment banking units, have effectively created ‘new’ competitors in the market in the form of British-only lenders such as HSBC UK.

“I do think that Lloyds have some challenges. Competition is heating up. It’s not just an issue for Lloyds,” said Jerry Del Missier, founding partner and chief investment officer at Copper Street Capital, which has $162 million in assets.

“If you think about what’s happening to the UK banking market with ringfencing, you have a number of banks, including challenger banks chasing the same business,” he added.

By Lawrence White, Maiya Keidan

Additional reporting by Simon Jessop and Emma Rumney

 

 

FTSE 100 hits new record closing high

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 18 May 2018) London, Uk – –

The index defies predictions of a bleak year to secure a new record high, aided by renewed sterling weakness.

The FTSE 100 has registered a new record high – signalling some cheer for UK pension funds as the economy stagnates.

London’s premier share index closed Thursday’s session at 7787 points – a rise of 53 on the previous day as utility and retail stocks made some ground.

It beat the previous record close of 7778, which was recorded in January before a stock market wobble.

Values sank across the world amid fears of a US-inspired trade war, that pushed the FTSE below the 7000-point barrier at one stage in March.

Its fortunes have been largely governed by the pound since the Brexit vote – with weakness in the currency boosting the earnings of its dollar-earning constituents.

Sterling has bled value in recent weeks versus the dollar, partly because of continued concern about the state of the EU divorce talks.

But mostly it has been put down to a slowing economy pushing back the likelihood of a Bank of England interest rate hike.

:: Bank of England keeps interest rates on hold

The pound, trading at $1.35 to the greenback on Thursday, had been at post-referendum highs before it became clear UK growth had almost ground to a halt in the first quarter of the year.

A Reuters poll of market experts in February found a consensus view that the FTSE was unlikely to hit record levels again for two years – given jitters about Brexit and market volatility.

After the new record was set Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The death of the bull market has been greatly exaggerated, not for the first time in recent history.

“The Footsie did endure a shaky start to the year, but after two months of steady climbing, has now regained and surpassed its previous high.

“A stronger dollar, a rising oil price and the postponement of an interest rate rise can all claim some credit for the recent strong showing from the stock market.

“Investing is of course a long term game, and the twists and turns along the way are less important than the final destination.

“There will come a time when the stock market will tumble again, at which point investors should take it in their stride and look beyond the immediate situation,” he concluded.

By James Sillars, business reporter

 

 

Bookies fixed-odds betting terminals stakes cut to £2

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Thur, 17 May 2018) London, Uk – –

The maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) will be reduced to £2 under new rules unveiled by the government.

Currently, people can bet up to £100 every 20 seconds on electronic casino games such as roulette.

Sports Minister Tracey Crouch said reducing the stake to £2 “will reduce harm for the most vulnerable”.

But bookmakers have warned it could lead to thousands of outlets closing.

William Hill, which generates just over half its retail revenues from FOBTs, described the government’s decision as “unprecedented” and warned that 900 of its shops could become loss-making, potentially leading to job losses.

It said its full-year operating profit could fall by between £70m and £100m.

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GVC Holdings, which owns Ladbrokes, said it expected profit to be cut by about £160m in the first full year that the £2 limit is in force.

Shares in William Hill and GVC Holding both fell following the news.

Ms Crouch said: “We recognise the potential impact of this change for betting shops which depend on (FOBT) revenues, but also that this is an industry that is innovative and able to adapt to changes.”

Tom Watson, the shadow culture secretary, told the BBC: “The great tragedy of this is [that] for five years now pretty much everyone in Westminster, Whitehall and in the country has known that these machines have had a very detrimental effect in communities up and down the land.

“The bookmakers have chosen to take a defiant approach, trying to face down parliament, really, with a very aggressive campaign.”

The Church of England praised ministers for “admirable moral leadership” for reducing the maximum stake.

However, Betfred’s managing director Mark Stebbings claimed the government had “played politics with people’s jobs”. and the move was “clearly not evidence based but a political decision”.

“This decision will result in unintended consequences including direct and indirect job losses, empty shops on the High Street, and a massive funding hit for the horseracing industry.”

The government said the stake limit would come into effect some time next year, but would not set an exact timetable.

In taking the most drastic of the options available to them on FOBTs, the government has indicated that gambling is on a journey much like nicotine a generation ago.

Many addictive behaviours chart the same course. First, they are commonly accepted, then victims speak out and a campaign is launched. Finally, new laws catch up with a shift in public sentiment.

Industry figures argue that what is at stake is not only jobs and revenues for the Exchequer, but the principle that in a free society fully informed adults should be free to spend their money as they choose, so long as it doesn’t harm others.

Campaigners have successfully argued that the harm to communities and individuals is severe enough to warrant a major change.

It’s vital to remember that, while FOBTs understandably grab the headlines, this review also looks at the radical shift of the industry online.

There many addicts who find there is no respite, and children with smartphones are potentially exposed.

Tighter regulation of online gambling is the next battle campaigners intend to win.

Reducing harm
The government’s consultation into gambling machines found consistently high rates of problem gamblers among players of FOBTs “and a high proportion of those seeking treatment for gambling addiction identify these machines as their main form of gambling”.

Anti-gambling campaigners have condemned the machines, saying they let players lose money too quickly, leading to addiction and social, mental and financial problems.

Ms Crouch said the £2 limit on FOBTs would “substantially” reduce harm and protect the most vulnerable players.

Matt Zarb-Cousin is now a spokesman for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling but was previously addicted to FOBTs.

“It’s no exaggeration to call FOBTs the crack cocaine of gambling,” he has told the BBC.

“If we had a gambling product classification, similar to that of drugs, FOBTs would be class A.”

William Hill chief executive Philip Bowcock, said: “The government has handed us a tough challenge today and it will take some time for the full impact to be understood.”

Peter Jackson, chief executive at Paddy Power Betfair welcomed the government intervention, saying his company had been concerned that FOBTs were damaging the reputation of the gambling industry.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA), which receives millions of pounds from bookmakers through a levy, said it would work closely with the government to respond the decision.

 

 

Ocado’s shares soar in landmark deal with American supermarket giant Kroger

Ocado Van/10 10/Flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Thu, 17 May 2018) London, Uk – –

Ocado’s shares soared by almost a third to an all-time high after the online supermarket announced it will build as many as 20 robotic warehouses in the US as part of a landmark deal with American supermarket giant Kroger that will significantly accelerate its plans to become a global supplier of white-label online shopping technology.

Kroger, which is second only to Walmart in terms of US market share, with revenues last year of $122bn (£90bn), will also take a 5pc stake in the FTSE 250 firm at a value of £183m.

The two companies said they were already looking for sites for their first three warehouses and planned to identify up to 20 within the first three years of their deal. Ocado will also allow Kroger to use its online shopping and logistics technology.

Tim Steiner, Ocado’s chief executive, said the deal would be “transformational” and “reshape the food retailing industry in the US in the years to come.”

 

 

Deliveroo British food courier employees to receive share equity totalling 10 million pounds

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(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Wed, 16 May 2018) London, UK —

 

LONDON (Reuters) – Employees at British food courier Deliveroo will become shareholders in the company and a share of equity totalling nearly 10 million pounds, the firm said, although the programme will not extend to its riders.

Deliveroo riders, who are self-employed, have become a familiar sight on British streets since the company began operating in 2013. It now has more than 15,000 riders in the UK.

Founder and Chief Executive Will Shu said on Wednesday he wanted to reward with share options the nearly 2,000 permanent staff at the firm, which is valued at around $2 billion.

“Our phenomenal growth and success has been made possible thanks to the hard work, commitment and passion of the people who make this company what it is, and that deserves recognition which is why I want all employees to be owners in Deliveroo and to have a real stake in the company’s future as we expand and grow,” he said.

Deliveroo is embroiled in legal action with some of its British riders who are seeking more rights such as the minimum wage, as tech firms, who cite the flexibility of their operating model, battle unions and regulators around the world, some of whom say their working practices are exploitative.

British media have reported that Deliveroo, which has subsequently expanded abroad and now operates in 12 countries, is considering a stock market flotation.

A company source told Reuters: “Talk of an IPO is speculation. It’s not what we are focused on right now.”

By Costas Pitas

 

 

EasyJet to beef up loyalty scheme to boost customer numbers

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(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Tue, 15 May 2018) London, Uk – –

EasyJet is planning to beef up its loyalty scheme, package holidays business and services for business travellers in a bid to boost customer numbers.

The low-cost airline has appointed a new head of its holidays business, Garry Wilson, who will sit on the management board and report directly to chief executive Johan Lundgren as it attempts the increase the proportion of its customers who book a hotel through its website from its current level of just 2.5pc.

It also hopes to decrease the number of its customers who fly with it only once per year from 46pc by improving the “rewards and recognition” offered by its loyalty programme and bolster business passenger levels by making it easier for enterprise customers to book flights and generate invoices.

Mr Lundgren said: “All of these initiatives will provide higher profit per seat and higher returns for our shareholders.”

The news came alongside EasyJet’s half-year results, which revealed a 20pc surge in revenues to £2.2bn as passenger numbers grew 8.8pc and the airline’s load factor – an industry measure of how full its planes were – crept up 0.9 percentage points to 91.1pc.

That helped the company to narrow losses for the six months to March by 70pc to £68m.

Shares in EasyJet were up 2.6pc at £17.29 in early trade.

By Jack Torrance

 

 

 

Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao Steps down as company swings into profit

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 15 May 2018) London, Uk – –

Chief executive announces decision to leave as Vodafone swings into profit.

Vodafone’s chief executive Vittorio Colao will step down on October 1 after more than 10 years in charge of the world’s second-largest mobile phone company.

Nick Read, group chief financial officer, who will become chief executive designate from July 27, will replace Mr Colao.

Under Mr Colao’s tenure, Vodafone sold its joint venture with Verizon for $130bn and merged its business in India with Idea Cellular.

Last week, Vodafone agreed to buy Liberty Global’s cable operations in four European countries for £16.1bn as the mobile phone operator extends its reach to 110 million homes and businesses by offering fixed-line and TV services.

Vodafone group chairman Gerard Kleisterlee said: “I would like to express our gratitude to Vittorio for an outstanding tenure.

“He has been an exemplary leader and strategic visionary who has overseen a dramatic transformation of Vodafone into a global pacesetter in converged communications, ready for the Gigabit future.

Colao’s decision to step down from the top job came as the company reported a profit of 2.8bn euros (£2.5bn) for the year to March 31.

A year ago, it made a loss of 6.1bn euros (£5.4bn) after taking a 4.5 bn euro charge for merging its India operations with Idea.

Mr Colao said: “We have made good progress in securing approvals for the merger with Idea Cellular in India – which is expected to close imminently – and appointed the new management team, who will focus immediately on capturing the sizeable cost synergies.

“In addition, we agreed the merger of Indus Towers and Bharti Infratel, allowing Vodafone to own a significant cocontrolling stake in India’s largest listed tower company. ”

He added: “And we announced last week the acquisition of Liberty Global’s cable assets in Germany and Central and Eastern Europe, transforming the Group into Europe’s leading next generation network owner and a truly converged challenger to dominant incumbents.”

Following the announcement, Vodafone’s stock fell 3.2% in early London trading.

“Standing down after a decade at the helm, Vodafone’s chief executive Vittorio Colao has struggled to do much for the share price under his leadership,” Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said.

“For all the tributes from the mobile telecoms firm for his ‘outstanding tenure’ the share price is up just 23% over that time against a 45.2% advance for the FTSE 100.”

Mr. Mould added: “Of course, this ignores the significant sums returned to shareholders through dividends and share buybacks and the performance of the shares under Colao may not reflect any failings on his part.

“After all, Vodafone is an established player in a mature market and has few levers to pull for growth. This is reflected in the guidance alongside full-year results for low-to-mid single digit organic growth for the year ahead.

“Ultimately Colao’s successor, current chief financial officer Nick Read, could also be running to stand still.”

 

 

Centrica loses 110,000 energy supply accounts due to “high levels of competitive intensity”

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 14 May 2018) London, Uk – –

British Gas owner Centrica lost 110,000 energy supply accounts in the first four months of the year.

That is roughly equivalent to 70,000 customers as many households buy their gas and electricity from British Gas, so will have two accounts.

Last year, the company lost 1.3 million energy accounts.

Centrica said there had been “high levels of competitive intensity”, but said the rate at which it has been losing customers had been slowing.

The company has almost 13 million energy supply accounts in the UK.

How to switch energy supplier
Many of those used more energy during the spell of extreme cold weather earlier this year, which was branded the Beast from the East.

Centrica said it had seen “increased energy demand” during that period. However, the weather also caused an “exceptionally” high number of boiler breakdowns.

In one week Centrica fixed 145,000 breakdowns – more than twice the normal weekly number.

It said the cost of those extra callouts was expected to hit results at its service unit in the first half of the year.

Energy switching
In April, British Gas announced a 5.5% increase in both gas and electricity bills, which comes into effect at the end of the this month.

It blamed the rising wholesale cost of energy and the cost of meeting emissions targets and introducing smart meters.

Other big energy firms have also announced price increases this year, including Npower, EDF and Scottish Power.

Rising energy prices have spurred record numbers of customers to switch suppliers.

In the first three months of the year, 1.3 million customers switched energy supplier – a record quarter, according to Energy UK.

That intense competition was partly behind 4,000 job cuts announced by Centrica in February. It also blamed the planned introduction of an energy price cap.

About 12 million households are on some form of uncapped default tariff, which can cost hundreds of pounds a year more than the cheapest deals.

The government wants to cap those tariffs and legislation to do that is currently working its way through Parliament.

 

Royal wedding sales: tourism and retail businesses most likely to benefit

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 14 May 2018) London, Uk – –

Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle may have bells ringing but it won’t keep UK tills ringing, an economic forecasting group has found.

The overall benefits to the UK economy from the nuptials will be “limited”, says the EY ITEM Club.

It predicts tourism and retail businesses as the most likely to benefit from the occasion next weekend.

A Saturday ceremony means fewer workers may be distracted on the job, leaving productivity largely unchanged.

Howard Archer, chief economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club, said it would be “wary of over-egging the potential impact or seeking to put a hard figure on the potential gains”.

“We suspect there will be a very limited, temporary boost to the economy focused on some sectors, notably retail, tourism and, possibly, catering and pubs.”

However, the economist also suggested that some celebrating the royal marriage will simply bring forward spending in shops, pubs and supermarkets or switch from spending on other items.

“The retail sector will benefit from people buying royal wedding souvenirs, such as plates, cups and magazines”.

Happy Brits holding festive street parties would also temporarily boost the retail and catering sectors, the economist suggested, as food and drink sales would rise.

“Pubs should also benefit as they have been given permission to stay open for longer. However, it should be kept in mind that some of the retail spending may just be switched from spending on other items,” Mr Archer said.

However the British Retail Consortium struck a more celebratory tone, predicting the day may bring a similar economic uplift as the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.

Rachel Lund, head of retail insight at the BRC, said the combination of the royal wedding alongside an FA Cup final was likely to be positive for UK retailers.

“Clothing and footwear was a big winner from the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, setting a record for growth that month, as people sought to replicate the style of the newest addition to the royal family,” she said.

“With the country in the mood to celebrate, food and drink sales were also exceptional. We expect to see a similar pattern around 19 May.”

 

 

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella discusses what’s next for the future of windows

 

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella sits down with Dieter Bohn to discuss the future of Windows and what’s next for his company. Just because Microsoft isn’t making a phone doesn’t mean it’s not relevant, but it does mean that the company is focusing on new things like AI, cloud computing, and the enterprise.

 

Midtown Manhattan where old New York charm joins Williamsburg cool

 

If when you think of Midtown Manhattan you think of traffic congestion and tourist traps, then it might be time for a re-visit. This part of New York has seen a boom in new restaurants and bars, especially from Brooklyn. Welcome to Midtown, where old New York charm is being joined by Williamsburg cool.

 

 

Hotter footwear the UK brand delivering shoes of quality and style to the global market

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Sat, 12 May 2018) London, Uk – –

Producing a pair of hand-finished shoes every 20 seconds and boasting more than three million customers worldwide, this British footwear brand reveals the secrets to its success
Footwear brand Hotter continues to step up its global expansion, investing in product development, omni-channel retail infrastructure and international talent.

“The Hotter brand is a fantastic proposition, delivering stylish, comfortable and quality footwear to the 50-plus customer,” said Hotter CEO Sara Prowse. “This sector is growing globally and we are developing a strategy which will deliver an increased share across several key international markets.

“We have a unique business model. We manufacture our shoes in our own factory – in fact we are the UK’s biggest shoe maker – and we have omni-channel sales platforms in UK, US and Euro territories. Over the past few years we have launched our successful direct model into the US and in the past 12 months alone have introduced a website into the eurozone countries and brought in new wholesale partners in the US, Australia and Hong Kong. These global initiatives continue to deliver both results and learnings upon which we intend to capitalise.”

Hotter is a leading British footwear brand based in Lancashire. Founded in 1959 as a slipper manufacturer, Hotter now offers a collection of stylish women’s and men’s shoes with hidden features including super soft and breathable leathers, lightweight and flexible soles and underfoot cushioning.

The company employs more than 1,200 people and has over three million customers globally. Hotter’s multi-channel sales platforms enable customers to shop online and through mail-order catalogues in the UK and US, at more than 75 UK stores and in the eurozone. Its state-of-the-art factory produces a pair of hand-finished shoes every 20 seconds which, according to the British Footwear Association, makes it the UK’s largest shoe manufacturer.

Showcasing British business
The Great British Business campaign is giving the country’s most exciting growing businesses a share of the limelight. Here, we met Sara Prowse of Hotter.

By Parlez Media

 

 

Npower gas and electricity supplier to increase a million customers energy bills

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 11 May 2018) London, Uk – –

Gas and electricity supplier Npower is raising energy bills by an average of £64 a year for a million customers.

The average 5.3% dual fuel price hike comes into effect on 17 June and follows earlier rises announced last month by its “Big Six” rivals.

British Gas is increasing prices by 5.5% from 29 May, while Scottish Power is raising prices by 5.5% on 1 June.

German-owned Npower blamed increases wholesale energy costs and government policy changes for the rise.

Simon Stacey, managing director, domestic markets at Npower, said: “Announcing this price change today isn’t a decision we’ve taken lightly.”

He said the costs energy suppliers are facing – “particularly wholesale and policy costs which are largely outside our control” – have been on the rise for some time “and we need to reflect these in our prices”.

The energy giants all partly blame government policy, such as the introduction of smart meters and emissions targets, for higher bills.

‘Chunky rise’
The 5.3% average price hike is made up of a 4.4% rise in gas prices and a 6.2% increase in electricity. It will see a typical dual fuel gas and electricity annual bill climb to £1,230.

Mr Stacey pointed out that the price rise would not affect existing customers on a fixed deal, those with a prepayment meter, or customers on the Safeguard tariff.

Stephen Murray, energy expert at MoneySuperMarket, said: “This is a chunky rise from Npower – all we need now is something from SSE and it’s a full house from the Big Six.

“Npower says 60% of its customers won’t be affected but that still means 40% – or one million people – will.”

Mark Todd, co-founder of switching service Energyhelpline, said: “The most expensive standard tariff just got more expensive.”

When are energy prices rising?
Some 4.1 million British Gas customers face a 5.5% hike from 29 May, adding an average of £60 to bills. The move was branded as “unjustified” by the government when it was announced.

Scottish Power is increasing prices by 5.5% – or £63 on average – for nearly one million people from 1 June.

EDF has a 2.7% – or £16 – electricity price rise coming into effect on 7 June for 1.2 million customers.

Npower’s 5.3% increase – an average of £64 – will hit one million people from 17 June.

 

 

Zoopla snapped up by US private equity firm in £2.2bn deal

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Fri, 11 May 2018) London, Uk – –

US private equity firm is to snap up the company behind property portal Zoopla in a £2.2bn deal.

Silver Lake Management – through its Zephyr Bidco subsidiary – is offering 490p in cash per share, representing a 31pc premium on ZPG’s closing share price on May 10.

The deal has received the backing of ZPG’s largest shareholder, the Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), which held a 55pc stake in the business after its own online property business merged with Zoopla in 2012. It now has a 29.8pc stae after the company floated on the London market in 2014, putting it in line for a potential windfall of around £650m.

ZPG shares surged nearly 30pc to 111p on news of the offer at the start of trading.

The deal, which is still subject to shareholder approval, is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.

Simon Patterson, managing director of Silver Lake, said: “ZPG is a great growth technology company. It has established strong positions in property classifieds, home and financial services markets by innovating in product and marketing.

“We are delighted to partner with (ZPG founder and chief executive) Alex Chesterman, one of Europe’s leading and most accomplished technology entrepreneurs, to invest in ZPG’s continued growth.”

ZPG, which was founded in 2007, is also behind property portal PrimeLocation, as well as cloud-based estate agency and property management software systems including Alto, Jupix and ExpertAgent.

The company is also involved in consumer comparison sites uSwitch and Money.

By Press Association

 

Royal Bank of Scotland agree to pay $4.9bn settlement with US over mortgage probe


QLM

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Thur, 10 May, 2018) London, Uk – –

The settlement may enable the Chancellor Philip Hammond to sell a stake in the state-owned bank.

Royal Bank of Scotland has agreed to pay $4.9bn (£3.62bn) to settle a US Department of Justice probe into its packaging and sale of mortgage-backed securities before the 2008 financial crisis

The tentative agreement means the government-owned bank would need to take a $1.44bn charge in the second quarter to pay the penalty. The rest will come from money it has already set aside.

It moves the bank a step closer to shaking off government ownership. The government, which owns 71% of the RBS, paid $45.5bn to bail out the bank after the financial crisis.

RBS chief executive Ross McEwan said this was a “milestone moment for the bank”.

He said: “Reaching this settlement in principle with the US Department of Justice will, when finalised, allow us to deal with this significant remaining legacy issue and is the price we have to pay for the global ambitions pursued by this bank before the crisis.”

The bank warned that the agreement was subject to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and RBS entering into a legally binding agreement.

RBS is the latest bank to settle claims of mis-selling in the run-up to the financial crisis. Barclays agreed to a $2bn (£1.4bn) settlement with the DOJ in March.

“Removing the uncertainty over the scale of this settlement means that the investment case for this bank is much clearer,” Mr McEwan said.

With the penalty paid, RBS can now open talks with UK regulators about the resumption of dividend payments.

It may also allow the UK Chancellor Philip Hammond to sell a stake in the bank.

“I welcome the agreement in principle to resolve this long-standing issue which will, when finalised, remove a major uncertainty for the UK taxpayer,” Mr Hammond said in a statement.

“It marks another significant milestone in RBS’s work to resolve its legacy issues, and will help pave the way to a sale of taxpayer-owned shares.”

The company’s stock rose 4% in early trading.