The Range Rover Sport PHEV successfully completed the Dragon Challenge at Heaven’s Gate, on Tianmen Mountain, China. The challenge consisted of climbing 999 steps at a 45 degrees angle.
It began at the bottom of the Tianmen Mountain Road, which has a stairway and 99 dizzying turns. The hybrid SUV is the first vehicle to climb the stairs. Professional racing driver Ho-Pin Tung was behind the wheel.
To tackle the road the car was set to ‘Dynamic Mode' which sharpens the throttle, changes gears in high revs, and also engages dampeners so the car stays planted. The Range Rover Sport has a 300PS Ingenium petrol engine as well as a 116PS electric motor. Together they produce 404bhp and 500Nm of torque.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was one of the first entrepreneurs to realize the potential of selling products on the internet. This Bloomberg Profile looks into how Bezos built Amazon inside his garage and now has his sights set well beyond online commerce.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 12th April, 2019) London, Uk – –
Entertainment giant to take on Netflix with Disney+ platform, which will also stream The Simpsons in US
Disney has launched its own streaming service with the announcement of new productions, including a Marvel TV series starring Tom Hiddleston as Loki, a new Star Wars series with actors from Rogue One and US streaming rights to The Simpsons.
The entertainment behemoth has been planning its own streaming venture for years as a competitor to Netflix, but on Thursday in California, it announced new TV spin-offs and that it would stream The Simpsons, which Disney acquired when it bought 20th Century Fox last month. Disney already owned Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm.
The company intends to make any new film releases exclusive to its platform, and has already begun the process of pulling its content from other services like Netflix.
Disney Plus will launch in the US on 12 November, at a cost of US$6.99 a month. The company has not yet released details for any other markets.
On Thursday, Disney announced three original Marvel-based TV shows would be developed for the platform.
One will feature Hiddleston in the role of Loki from the Thor movies, one will follow the characters of Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) from the Avengers films, and one will feature the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) from the Captain America franchise.
It will also launch a TV series spin-off of the Star Wars film Rogue One. Titled The Mandalorian, it will be a spy series with Diego Luna reprising his character of Cassian Andor.
All of the original and prequel Star Wars films – as well as The Force Awakens – will be on the service at the launch, as well as the recent Captain Marvel movie.
All new Disney theatrical releases – including the upcoming Marvel and Star Wars movies – will be on the platform, and Disney plans to eventually move all existing Disney films on to the platform, once current deals expire.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 12th Apr, 2019) London, Uk – –
Jet Airways appears to have suspended all its international flights, raising fresh fears about the survival of India's largest private airline.
The airline, saddled with more than $1bn (£765m) of debt, is seeking a financial lifeline to avoid collapse.
The Indian government said steps were being taken to ensure passenger safety after flights were cancelled.
Carriers in India must maintain a fleet of least 20 aircraft to continue to operate international services.
On Thursday, the airline grounded 10 more planes over unpaid fees to leasing firms and several local media reported the airline is now operating 14 planes.
The airline has more than 100 aircraft in its fleet, and flies on 600 domestic and 380 international routes.
It did not respond to BBC requests for comment on the size of its current fleet or operations.
India's Aviation Minister, Suresh Prabhu, tweeted that his ministry would “review issues related to Jet Airways” and “take necessary steps to minimise passenger inconvenience and ensure their safety”.S
Various reports from India on Friday said that Jet Airways had cancelled all international flights, which include services to Europe and Asia.
In a statement on Thursday, Singapore's Changi Airport said Jet Airways had “suspended its services to and from Singapore until further notice”.
All Jet Airways' international flights scheduled to depart on Friday from Delhi – to Singapore, London, Amsterdam and two to Kathmandu – are cancelled, the airport's website says.
According to the official website for London's Heathrow airport, Jet Airways' Friday flights to Mumbai and Delhi will not operate.
A Heathrow spokesperson said: “We are aware of this situation and our main priority is working with our passenger service teams to support those affected. We advise travellers to contact the airline for the latest information.”
Callers to the customer line in the UK receive an engaged tone while some frustrated customers were sending tweets to the airline which appeared to go unanswered.
As it typical in the airline industry, Jet Airways has a number of code sharing agreements, one of which is with Virgin Atlantic.
Virgin Atlantic said it was aware that a number of Jet Airways had been cancelled on Friday. “Any customers who have booked directly with Virgin Atlantic should check our website www.virginatlantic.com for the latest advice. All other customers on Jet operated flights should contact them directly,” it said.
The UK's Civil Aviation Authority said it was aware flights had been suspended.
Jet Airways owes money to employees and suppliers and in recent weeks it has grounded aircraft and cancelled thousands of flights – disrupting passengers locally and around the world – as its financial strains worsened.
The pilots union in India is planning a protest on Saturday and has written to the airline demanding that the employees are paid. Staff of the airline were pictured by Priyanka Iyer of Business Television India marching to the company's headquarters in Mumbai.
By Sameer Hashmi, India business correspondent
In March, when the crisis at Jet Airways led to thousands of flights getting cancelled. the government immediately stepped in and asked public sector banks to rescue the private carrier.
It was a rare move. With India holding a national election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government did not want the airline to be grounded as that would have affected 23,000 jobs.
The lenders which took control of the airline promised to provide a lifeline until a new investor came on board. But despite that assurance, the situation has become worse.
The lenders have only released a fraction of the amount they had promised so the airline has not been able to pay aircraft leasing companies. This means its already shrinking fleet has become even smaller.
At the start of this year, the airline had more than a 100 aircraft as part its fleet.
The lenders have started accepting bids from potential investors, but that process will take a couple of months to complete. And many analysts fear that Jet Airways will not survive even a week if immediate cash is not provided to keep the operations running.
The airline was founded by Naresh Goyal more than 25 years ago and he and his family currently own 52% of the airline, although that majority stake is expected to be lost as lenders' restructure the debt.
A consortium of investors led by the State Bank of India (SBI) took control of the airline in March.
The group is searching for a new investor to acquire a stake of up to 75% in Jet Airways. The deadline for bids had been extended to Friday, according to reports.
Ellis Taylor, deputy Asia editor of Flight Global, told the BBC the airline was in a “precarious position”.
“The interim lifeline that the carrier talked about two weeks ago looks like it won't materialise any time soon, and that really leaves its future looking bleak,” he said.
There were reports in local media that India's aviation ministry might review the regulations setting the fleet cap, which could allow the airline to resume international services.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 11th April 2019) London, UK —
(Reuters) – Britain’s audit watchdog said on Thursday it was investigating the audits by Grant Thornton UK of some financial statements of Interserve, the outsourcer that was taken over by lenders last month.
Scrutiny of Britain’s “Big Four” accounting firms has been spurred in the past year by a handful of investigations into listed company’s financial reporting as well as the collapse of Carillion and Poundworld, which led to an inquest in auditing industry standards.
One of the British government’s biggest contractors, and a peer of collapsed infrastructure and outsourcing group Carillion, Interserve was placed in administration in mid-March after shareholders rejected a rescue plan to deal with its debts.
The Financial Reporting Council said it was probing the audit of the company’s financial statements for 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Grant Thornton UK did not immediately respond to a request for comment outside of work hours.
The FRC is already investigating the accounting firm’s audit of cafe chain owner Patisserie’s financial statements for 2015-2017 after the discovery of a black hole in its finances led to the breakup and sale of the group.
The run of bad news has led to calls by lawmakers for the breakup of Britain’s “Big Four” accounting firms Ernst and Young, KPMG, Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi and Pushkala Aripaka
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Wed, 10th April 2019) London, UK —
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s economy unexpectedly grew in February, helped by clients of manufacturers rushing to stockpile goods ahead of Brexit, official data showed on Wednesday.FILE PHOTO: An employee looks up at goods at the Miniclipper Logistics warehouse in Leighton Buzzard, December 3, 2018 REUTERS/Simon Dawson
Gross domestic product grew by 0.2 percent from January, the Office for National Statistics said.
Economists taking part in a Reuters poll had expected zero growth.
Britain’s economy has held up better than many economists expected since the 2016 Brexit referendum although it has slowed ahead of its departure from the European Union and as the world economy loses momentum.
The International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday that Britain would grow by 1.2 percent in 2019 — as long as it avoids the shock of a no-deal Brexit. That would be faster than Germany’s 0.8 percent and only a touch slower than France’s 1.3 percent.
However, Britain still looks set for its weakest growth in a decade this year, according to forecasts from the IMF and the Bank of England which assume a Brexit deal will be done.
Prime Minister Theresa May will seek a new delay to Brexit when she meets EU leaders on Wednesday, just two days before Britain is due to leave the bloc without the cushion of a transition deal.
Wednesday’s data showed that over the three months to February, the economy grew by 0.3 percent, holding at the same pace as in January — which was revised up from a previous estimate — and stronger than a forecast of 0.2 percent in the Reuters poll.
Manufacturing output jumped by 0.9 percent in February from January, stronger than all forecasts in the Reuters poll and accounting for about half of the overall economic growth rate.
The ONS said it seen signs that clients of manufacturers were stockpiling goods to get ahead of any border delays in the event of a no-deal Brexit which was scheduled for March 29 but was subsequently delayed.
An ONS official said orders were being brought forward to beat the Brexit schedule, suggesting a likely drag on the numbers for coming months.
The statistics office said it could not quantify the impact of stockpiling on the data.
Britain’s dominant services sector grew by 0.1 percent in monthly terms in February, held back by the 12th fall in a row in the financial services sector – the longest such run on record — while construction rose by 0.4 percent.
There were signs that the slowdown in the global economy was also weighing on Britain’s economy.
Export volumes fell by 0.4 percent in the three months to February from the three months to November while imports jumped by 6.8 percent.
So far, Britain’s exporters have shown no sign of being helped by the fall in the value of the pound caused by the 2016 Brexit referendum.
The ONS said it could not say whether the increase in imports was driven by pre-Brexit stockpiling.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 10th April, 2019) London, Uk – –
Investors set aside concerns over Jamal Khashoggi murder to take up oil firm’s $10bn issue
Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, was massively oversubscribed for its multibillion dollar debut bond sale, in a further sign that investors have put aside concerns over doing business with Saudi Arabia following the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The state-owned firm is expected to raise more than $10bn (£8bn) through its first-ever bond issue. But a surge in demand meant the sale was oversubscribed, with orders exceeding $100bn.
It reportedly sets a record for emerging market bond demand, trumping orders worth $52bn for Qatar’s $12bn deal last year, $67bn bid for Saudi Arabia’s bond sale in 2016 and $69bn for Argentina’s $16.5bn trade that same year.
The stampede to pick up Aramco debt is seen as a vote of confidence by investors, just months after Khashoggi was killed in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October.
Saudi authorities spent weeks denying any knowledge of the journalist’s death before saying he was killed in an operation masterminded by former advisers to Mohammed bin Salman, but denying the crown prince’s involvement.
The journalist had written columns for the Washington Post criticising the crown prince before his death.
Some investors initially tried to distance themselves from the Gulf state amid global outrage, pulling out from a major finance conference in Riyadh in October.
Saudi Aramco last week emerged as the most profitable business in the world, with its 2018 profits of $111.1bn overtaking Apple at $59.5bn.
Documents from its bond offering revealed the company produced 10.3m barrels of crude oil per day, resulting in annual revenues of $355.9bn.
Proceeds from Saudi Aramco’s bond sale are expected to help fund its takeover of rival Sabic in a deal worth $69.1bn.Topics
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Tue, 9th Apr 2019) London, Uk – –
Control of Debenhams has fallen into the hands of its lenders as part of a pre-pack administration process.
Debenhams has 166 stores, which will initially continue to trade, although about 50 branches had already been earmarked for closure in the future.
The department store rejected last-ditch rescue offers from Mike Ashley's Sports Direct, which has been locked in an acrimonious battle for control.
Its lenders are made up of High Street banks and US hedge funds.
These include Barclays and Bank of Ireland, as well as Silver Point and GoldenTree.
The administrators said: “The transaction included provisions to ensure that the Group is immediately marketed for onward sale.”
What happens now?
A pre-pack administration lets a company sell itself, or its assets, as a going concern, without affecting the operation of the business. Administrators take over the running of the business to protect creditors and shareholders lose their investments.
It means that Mr Ashley's near 30% stake in the company, which cost about £150m to build up, will be wiped out.
Debenhams employs about 25,000 people. As well as the planned closures, it has also been renegotiating rents with landlords to tackle its funding problems.
It has not released a list of which shops may be shut.
In February, it was revealed that the closure of 20 of those stores could be brought forward if the retailer took out a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), a form of insolvency that can enable firms to seek rent cuts and close unwanted stores.
Why is Debenhams in trouble?
Debenhams has been struggling for a while and issued three profit warnings in 2018. It also has a debt pile of £622m.
Last year, it reported a record pre-tax loss of £491.5m and later reported that its sales had fallen sharply over Christmas.
The company floated on the stock market in 2006 with a share price of £1.95, and its share price peaked at £2.07 the following day.
Its highest pre-tax profit since then was £160.3m in 2011, but last year it lost £491.5m.
On Monday, it rejected a £150m rescue offer from Mike Ashley's Sports Direct, which was increased to £200m in the early hours of Tuesday.
The higher offer was rejected because Mr Ashley wanted to be chief executive.
What do the experts say?
Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “As an investment, Debenhams is a tale of woe from start to finish.
“The strategy since float was out of kilter with the changing habits of consumers. But even before the float, its private equity owners had put the department store under financial pressure, by selling off a number of freeholds in favour of leasing them back.
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but the road to Debenhams' ruin has been paved with poor decisions, as well as a dramatic shift towards digital shopping.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 9th April 2019) London, Uk – –
Products from swordfish and stilton to motorcycles and large commercial aircraft could be targeted by the new import duties.
By John-Paul Ford Rojas, business reporter
The Trump administration has opened up fresh trade tensions with the EU after threatening to impose tariffs worth $11bn on goods ranging from helicopters to wine and cheese.
US trade representative (USTR) Robert Lightizer said the move was in retaliation for subsidies to European aeroplane manufacturer Airbus said to have caused “adverse effects” to the US.
The list of EU products that could face new levies runs from swordfish, stilton and wine to motorcycles and large commercial aircraft.
But Airbus said it saw no legal basis for the US move while EU sources told the Reuters news agency that it was preparing for possible retaliation.
The EU and US have been battling for more than a decade over parallel claims over billions in illegal subsidies to aviation giants Airbus and America's Boeing.
The latest move by the USTR marks an escalation of tensions, though Mr Lightizer said the ultimate goal was to reach an agreement with the EU to end all subsidies to large civil aircraft that do not comply with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.
“When the EU ends these harmful subsidies, the additional US duties imposed in response can be lifted,” he said.
The WTO said last year that it would evaluate a US request to slap billions of dollars worth of sanctions on European products, in response to a ruling on illegal subsidies.
The US has estimated the value of those subsidies as worth $11bn (£8.4bn) in trade, though that figure has been challenged by the EU.
The USTR said it would announce a final product list once the WTO had evaluated its claims, which it is expected to have done by this summer.
Airbus spokesman Rainer Ohler said the amount announced by the US was “largely exaggerated”.
He said a ruling last week by the WTO against tax breaks for Boeing should allow the EU to seek “even greater counter-measures”.
Mr Ohler added: “All this is leading to unnecessary trade tensions and shows the only reasonable solution in this long trade dispute is a settlement.”
The latest announcement comes after the US last year imposed tariffs on the EU's steel and aluminium products.
Europe has hit back with levies on American products such as bourbon whiskey, motorcycles and jeans.
Mr Trump has ramped up the use of tariffs or the threat of tariffs in relations with Washington's trade partners, including Europe, Mexico and China – a tactic that has left global markets jumpy about the impact on global growth.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 8th Apr, 2019) London, Uk – –
UK’s four main manufacturing sites, employing 18,500 people, closed from Monday to Friday
Jaguar Land Rover has begun its week-long factory shutdown as part of its plans for Brexit, on the day the company posted lower sales in Europe and China.
JLR’s four main UK manufacturing sites – at Castle Bromwich, Solihull and Wolverhampton in the West Midlands, and Halewood in Merseyside – which employ 18,500 people, are closed from Monday until Friday.
The production shutdown at Britain’s biggest carmaker is in addition to its usual Easter closure, which runs from next week until 23 April. The extension was agreed with staff in January to prepare for potential Brexit disruption, when the UK’s scheduled departure date from the EU was 29 March.
Theresa May is locked in talks with Labour to come up with a plan she can take to an emergency European council summit on Wednesday, at which EU members will decide whether to grant the UK a further extension. Otherwise, the country will crash out of the EU without a deal on Friday.
Workers at JLR’s UK factories will be paid during the production shutdowns but will have to make up the hours at a later date. The company has also started cutting 4,500 jobs from its 40,000 global workforce, affecting mainly management roles in the UK.
Mick Graham, Unite’s plant convenor at Solihull, said: “We had to make some plans to protect the business as best we could and we started talking about this in January.
“We knew we had to take reactive action to mitigate the potential effect of a bad Brexit or no-deal Brexit. Suppliers need notice to get their parts across to us. It was a prudent thing to do.”
The factory shutdown began as JLR, which is owned by the Indian conglomerate Tata, released full-year results. JLR sold 578,915 vehicles globally in the year to March, down 5.8%. In March alone, sales fell 8.2%, mainly because of an 11.4% decline at Land Rover, while Jaguar recorded a 0.2% dip.
The carmaker blamed weaker demand in China, whose economy has slowed sharply. JLR sales in China slumped 34%, while sales in Europe were down 4.5% because of uncertainty around the future of diesel vehicles and regulatory changes.
10 Rejected Shark Tank Pitches That Made Millions… For that reason… I’m out. Shark tank statement is something no entrepreneur wants to hear on the show Shark Tank. But it does come with regret on the dealing end as well. The Sharks have passed on many deals, but they are some that made it big that didn't need them. The Sharks on Shark Tank are famous for their robust negotiating skills, and that extends to their salaries as well. Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John, and Kevin O’Leary but they are human, and they will miss a business opportunity here and there. The show that gives entrepreneurs a chance to pitch celebrity investors depicts some business owners walking away with life-changing deals, and some are not so lucky. But for these people they didn't end up too bad.
Livestream shopping in China is a multi-billion dollar industry, with a reported 425 million users as of July 2018. Some hosts feature well known luxury brands, but you can buy just about anything. Alice met up with a top livestream host in China, as well her biggest fan, to learn what makes this experience so addictive. Alice and Sophia also look into how the US is starting to catch on.
Take a look inside America's first private terminal for the 1 percent. Popular among celebrities and millionaires, the Private Suite at LAX has its own TSA check, 12 luxury suites, and a fleet of BMWs that drive up to the planes.
Tesco is the biggest retailer in the United Kingdom. It also has a strong international presence, with more than 6,500 stores worldwide. But there is one country where the British retailer failed to take off: the United States. Tesco announced its entry into the U.S. market in 2006. At the time, Tesco was the third-biggest retailer on the planet, according to Euromonitor International. The company went by the banner name “Fresh & Easy,” but the brand didn't click with American consumers. Tesco ultimately exited the U.S. market in 2013 when it sold off its remaining stores to Yucaipa Companies.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 5th Apr 2019) London, Uk – –
Fewer than half the UK's biggest employers have succeeded in narrowing their gender pay gap, analysis by the BBC has found.
Across 45% of firms the discrepancy in pay increased in favour of men, while at a further 7% there was no change.
Overall, 78% of companies had a pay gap in favour of men, 14% favoured women and the rest reported no difference.
Firms had until midnight to file pay comparison data – by which time 10,428 had done so – or face legal action.
The total is roughly the same as last year, but it is unclear how many firms have failed to respond, since the government has no definitive list of companies required to file figures.
Overall, the median pay gap in favour of men lowered slightly from 9.7% last year to 9.6% this year.
The median pay gap is calculated by comparing the difference in pay between the middle-ranking woman and middle-ranking man in the same companies.
By law, all companies, charities and public sector departments of 250 employees or more must publish their gender pay gap figures.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has said it would take enforcement action against all firms that missed the deadline.
It was unclear exactly how many companies had not reported, although it is thought about a quarter did so in the last 36 hours before the deadline.
Anaylsis: Dharshini David
Ask gender pay specialists and they'll tell you there are many initiatives that companies can take – tackling unconscious bias, offering more flexible working and encouraging shared parental leave.
But the issue doesn't end at the office door. The experts say society needs to change.
Schools could encourage girls to take more STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and maths. There should be more flexible, affordable childcare options. And men could take on more of the household chores.
But gender pay gap reporting may not be enough: the government may need to get tougher.
Among firms reporting the biggest increases in pay gaps were garage chain Kwik Fit, Interserve FS (part of the Interserve Group), and car retailer Inchcape.
Firms reporting the biggest improvement in narrowing the gap were Newsquest Media Group, Mitie, and DFDS Logistics.
The three companies with the biggest gaps were Countrywide Services at 60.6%, which was nevertheless down from 63.4%; Independent Vetcare at 48.3% (50.5%); Easyjet at 47.9% (45.5%).
A spokesman for Interserve Group said: “We are committed to addressing the issues on gender pay and through the leadership of our chief executive, Debbie White, we are making good progress.”
A spokeswoman for Kwik Fit said it was committed to narrowing the gap and both recruit more female staff and promote from within.
Easyjet said in March that the gap had widened from 45.5% as more female cabin crew had been recruited since the last pay snapshot.
Most of the airline's pilots are male, and are more highly paid than cabin crew. The firm is making efforts to recruit more female pilots.
The Fawcett Society, which campaigns for gender equality, described the figures as “disappointing, but not surprising”.
Sam Smethers, Fawcett Society chief executive, said: “The regulations are not tough enough. It's time for action plans, not excuses.
“Employers need to set out a five-year strategy for how they will close their gender pay gaps, monitoring progress and results.
“Government needs to require employers to publish action plans that we can hold them accountable to, with meaningful sanctions in place for those who do not comply.”
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: “Big employers clearly aren't doing enough to tackle the root causes of pay inequality and working women are paying the price.
“Government needs to crank up the pressure.
“Companies shouldn't just be made to publish their gender pay gaps, they should be legally required to explain how they'll close them. And bosses who flout the law should be fined.
“We can't allow another generation of women to spend their whole working lives waiting to be paid the same as men.”
Understanding the terminology
Median pay gap
The median pay gap is the difference in pay between the middle-ranking woman and the middle-ranking man.
If you place all the men and women working at a company into two lines in order of salary, the median pay gap will be the difference in salary between the woman in the middle of her line and the man in the middle of his.
Mean pay gap
The mean pay gap is the difference between a company's total wage spend-per-woman and its total spend-per-man.
The number is calculated by taking the total wage bill for each and dividing it by the number of men and women employed by the organisation.
Pay gap v equal pay
The gender pay gap is not the same as unequal pay.
Unequal pay is giving women less than men for the same work. That has been against the law since the Equal Pay Act was introduced in 1970.
A company's gender pay gap can also be caused by other things, for example fewer women in senior or highly-paid roles or more women in part-time jobs.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Fri, 5th April 2019) London, UK —
LONDON (Reuters) – Uber will add an additional pound to the cost of journeys in central London from next week after the city’s transport authority said private hire taxi operators will no longer be exempt from the congestion charge.
Most drivers entering London’s central zone, spanning King’s Cross in the north, the City in the east, the Imperial War Museum in the south and Buckingham Palace in the west, pay 11.50 pounds Monday to Friday during the day.
Private hire firms had been exempt from the charge but regulator Transport for London (TfL) is seeking to cut the number of vehicles on the British capital city’s roads, which has surged partly due to burgeoning taxi apps.
TfL said in December that private hire taxi operators such as Uber and Addison Lee would have to pay the levy from April 8.
“To help ease the impact on driver earnings, Uber trips that start, finish or pass within that Zone will include a 1-pound Central London Fee,” said Uber.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Thur, 4th April 2019) London, Uk – –
The company has warned of ‘increasing challenges' and slashed its dividend as it forecast another tough year ahead.
By John-Paul Ford Rojas, business reporter
Shares in over-50s travel and insurance specialist Saga have plunged after it slumped to a full-year loss of £135m and blamed a fall in holiday bookings on Brexit uncertainty.
Saga said it was facing “increasing challenges”, especially in the competitive car and home insurance markets and that it was launching a “fundamental change” to its strategy.
The stock was down by 37% in early trading after it also slashed its dividend and warned on profits for the current financial year.
Chief executive Lance Batchelor said: “Over recent years Saga has faced increasing challenges from the commoditisation of the markets in which we operate, especially in insurance.
“This has had an impact on both customer numbers and profitability.”
Saga reported a 5% fall in underlying profits to £180m for the year to the end of January but a £310m accounting charge relating to the value of its insurance business pushed it into the red.
It added that factors including a squeeze on margins in its insurance business – where it has become increasingly reliant on price comparison websites – and investment in new products meant it now expected an even bigger fall in underlying profits for the current year to £105m-£120m.
Saga said tour bookings for the 2019/20 financial year were down amid “recent market weaknesses particularly in short haul holidays”.
It said: “Brexit uncertainty has been a significant contributor to this shortfall.”
Booked revenues were 7.6% down in the 12 weeks to 23 March.
It comes days after airline easyJet warned that “unanswered questions surrounding Brexit” were holding back holiday bookings.
Mr Batchelor said Saga had grown successful through offering products “specifically designed for our demographic, that were competitively priced and built great brand loyalty” but that it had since then been “focused overly on the short term”.
At the same time, customers have increasingly been able to buy cheap rival products online.
“The end result has been a steady decline in the number of customers over a period in which our demographic has grown,” Mr Batchelor added.
He said Saga was now moving away from competing to offer the lowest price on insurance to trying to offer a “differentiated” product with unique features.
Mr Batchelor also wants to shake up its tour operations business in a way that sees it become a better “niche provider” – not necessarily growing sales volumes, but boosting profit margins.
Nicholas Hyett, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the changes being made by Mr Batchelor “might all be too little too late”.
“While the speed of deterioration has taken the market, and us, by surprise, there have been worries for some time that the Saga brand was losing its appeal at the lower end of its ‘over 50s' customer base,” he said.
“Without brand loyalty, Saga is just another insurer.”