Uk employment pay growth slows to its weakest in six months

 

Tim Tabor/flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 17th July 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – British workers’ pay growth has slowed to its weakest in six months despite record employment, challenging the Bank of England as it considers whether to raise interest rates next month for only the second time since the financial crisis.

Average weekly earnings rose by 2.5 percent on the year in the three months to May, slowing from the previous three month period when they grew by 2.6 percent and the weakest since the three months to November, the Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday.

Pay growth excluding bonuses, which the BoE says sometimes gives a better picture of the underlying trend, slowed by a similar amount, to 2.7 percent. Both readings were in line with the average forecast in a Reuters poll of economists.

There was little immediate market reaction to the data, which economists said was unlikely to dissuade the majority of the BoE’s policymakers from raising rates on Aug. 2 after their next meeting.

“There’s next to nothing here that will make the BoE more cautious with regards to an August hike,” said David Cheetham, chief market analyst at brokerage XTB.

Britain’s economy appears to be picking up after a slow first three months of the year, when unusually heavy snow hurt demand, and the central bank worries it is bumping up against the speed limit that would start to push up inflation.

Tuesday’s data showed the unemployment rate remained at its joint-lowest since 1975 at 4.2 percent while the proportion of people in work rose to a record high of 75.7 percent after 137,000 jobs were created over the three months to May.

But economic growth since 2016’s Brexit vote has been weak by historic standards due to high inflation and business uncertainty, and on Monday the International Monetary Fund cut Britain’s growth forecast for 2018 to 1.4 percent.

BREXIT UNCERTAINTIES

Moreover, the BoE has been repeatedly surprised over the years as the labour market has tightened but wages have risen less than expected – a pattern seen to a slightly lesser degree in most other advanced economies in recent years.

Pay growth is one of the pieces of data the Bank of England looks at most closely for signs that domestic inflation pressures are rising strongly enough for inflation to be at risk of breaching its 2 percent target over the medium term if the BoE does not raise rates in the immediate future.

BoE Governor Mark Carney said at the start of the month that both the economy as a whole and pay were growing as the central bank had forecast in May, smoothing the way for an August rate rise.

But last week one of his deputies, Jon Cunliffe, who opposed November’s rate rise, said pay growth did not seem to be breaking out of its recent 2.5-3.0 percent range and heading towards the 3 percent growth rate that the BoE predicts for the end of the year.

Britain had seen numerous “false dawns” for pay growth in the past, and there could be more spare capacity in the labour market than the central bank thought, he added.

“Low unemployment is yet to generate serious wage pressures and Brexit uncertainties continue to reign,” said Ian Stewart, chief economist at accountants Deloitte. “The case for raising interest rates in August may have strengthened, but is hardly compelling.”

By David Milliken

 

 

Reborn British Steel to unveil £90m funding deal White Oak

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 17 July 2018) London, Uk – –

British Steel will unveil the deal with White Oak alongside fresh investment plans for the revitalised company, Sky News learns.

The reborn British Steel has secured almost £100m of new financing to spur its turnaround, delivering a shot in the arm to an industry shaken by uncertainty over Brexit and transatlantic trade conflict.

Sky News has learnt that the company, which owns the giant Scunthorpe steelworks in the north of England, has struck a deal to secure £90m of debt funding from US-based White Oak Global Advisors.

The new financing will be announced alongside British Steel's full-year ‎results, which are expected to show the second consecutive year of profitability since the company was acquired by Greybull Capital, a private investment firm.

A source close to the situation said that British Steel would reveal an ambitious future investment plan that would underline its board's confidence in the company's prospects.

Much of the additional funding is expected to be invested in modernising machinery and equipment at British Steel's plants in the UK, France and the Netherlands.

The announcement is expected to be made on Wednesday, with the plans disclosed during a period of continued turbulence for the wider industry.

Last month, President Trump imposed a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% levy on imported aluminium‎ products, one of a number of salvoes which have threatened to escalate into a full-blown global trade war.

The Government's ability to strike a united front with European Union counterparts has been hamstrung by the stuttering nature of Brexit negotiations.

While the UK exports roughly 350,000 tons of steel to the US annually, British Steel is a relatively lightweight exporter to the country.

The company, which was previously part of the Indian-owned Tata Steel, has won plaudits for its instant turnaround under Greybull's ownership.

It made a profit in its first full year ‎after the deal, aided by the devaluation of sterling after the EU referendum and an increase in steel prices.

Another announcement ‎with profound implications for the long-term future of the UK steel industry was made late last month, involving the merger of Tata Steel's European operations with those of German rival Thyssenkrupp.

That deal, which when completed will create the continent's second-biggest steel producer, was welcomed by trade unions‎ whose members include thousands of workers at the vast Port Talbot plant in Wales.

Tata Steel is now in the process of selling a number of other UK-based subsidiaries, including Cogent Power, which ‎supplies electrical steels.

The new financing for British Steel will come six months after its chief executive left the company – little more than six months after his appointment.

Its performance has, though, offered a ray of hope to an embattled industry, and brought welcome news for Greybull, which was the owner of Monarch Airlines when it went bust last autumn.

AlixPartners, the financial advisory firm, is understood to have advised British Steel on the new funding from White Oak.

Sources said it was likely to be followed by other new financing arrangements for the company in due course.

British Steel could not be reached for comment on Monday.

By Mark Kleinman

 

 

Boeing Strikes £3.6bn DHL 777 deal

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Mon, 16 July, 2018) London, Uk – –

Boeing has won a $4.7bn (£3.6bn) order for 14 777 Freighters, firing the opening salvo against rival Airbus SE in a contest for business on day one of the Farnborough Airshow.

The US planemaker said logistics group DHL had placed the order and acquired purchase rights for seven additional freighters.

The transaction is one of hundreds set to be at the annual aerospace jamboree in Hampshire, where deals worth up to £600bn are likely to be struck.

Boeing is expected to confirm demand for air transport is rising after Airbus lifted forecasts last week, citing strong economic growth in emerging markets and the need to replace older planes in Western markets.

The bullish outlook was underscored ahead of the show by forecasters Flightglobal Ascend.

The two giants will add to record orders for benchmark narrow-body jets, whose waiting lists underpin their near-record share prices, while seeking a recovery in sales of bigger jets.

After a lull, Boeing will be looking for a boost to its largest twinjet, the future 777X. Sources said recently it is in talks for an eye-catching deal with Saudi Arabia.

Airbus will hope to end uncertainty over AirAsia's support for its A330neo jet after a showdown on prices. That could also involve a deal for smaller planes, though doubts have been expressed over financial commitments to Airbus.

Trade tensions between the United States and both China and Europe, disputes over the consequences of Britain's exit from the European Union and an increase in global protectionist rhetoric have barely dented a prolonged industry boom.

“The overall environment will reflect industry health, despite the dark clouds of Brexit and other global trade setbacks in the background,” said analyst Richard Aboulafia of Teal Group.

“In short, we'll see more of what we've seen for years: aviation remaining a strangely protected and happy corner of a turbulent world.”

Farnborough is the first such event since Airbus and Boeing shook up the industry by agreeing to absorb key commercial programmes of smaller rivals Canada's Bombardier and Brazil's Embraer as they prepare for future competition from China.

The result should be a fierce contest for sales in the 100-150-seat sector even before Boeing closes its Embraer deal.

A new airline, Moxy, is expected to confirm a large order for the rebranded Airbus A220, the former Bombardier CSeries.

The event is also expected to provide new evidence of strong demand for freight planes as e-commerce drives up shippers' profits despite global trade tensions.

Analyst predictions for total commercial orders and commitments vary from last year's 900 to about half that.

While high fuel prices make efficient new planes attractive, they hurt the bottom line of buyers, delaying some decisions.

“We are not blind: there are things that need to remain on watch,” the head of major engine-maker CFM said on Saturday.

Farnborough will also be an opportunity for aerospace firms to plot next moves on civil and defence for decades to come.

The show, which runs from today until Sunday, is not only about order headlines but also about sending signals to investors, keeping competitors guessing and keeping potential buyers interested.

Boeing will want to maintain interest in a potential new mid-market plane, while giving itself until next year to decide whether to launch the new 220-270-seat jet.

While it is further ahead in pre-development than at the same stage on earlier programmes, it must convince airlines it can be ready in 2025, the deadline for many fleet overhauls.

Airbus may talk up its possible new A321XLR, designed to address a shortfall in transatlantic performance of its longest-range single-aisle jet and targeted at US majors.

The aircraft, with an improved take-off weight of 100 tonnes and 4,500 nautical miles range, has already had an unannounced commercial launch in a bid to head off Boeing's proposed new jet from 2021, industry sources said.

US sources doubt it will do everything Airbus claims.

Both planemakers are likely to widen a push into high-margin services, announcing maintenance and operational deals in competition with airlines and parts providers. It is part of a tug of war for profits between planemakers and their partners.

Suppliers will be trying to gauge how far the manufacturers are prepared to go in buying up parts of their supply chain. And many in Europe will be discussing how to prepare for a possible ‘hard Brexit' or a disorderly UK exit form the European Union.

Sensitive UK choices over international partnerships are also expected to loom large in the defence side of the show.

The UK government will set out a combat air strategy with potential repercussions for defence suppliers around the world.

It could ignite efforts to develop a successor to the four-nation Eurofighter but is expected to leave open whether Britain would seek to enter a project already under way between France and Germany, or risk a repeat of costly procurement splits.

For now, Sweden is shaping up as the most likely partner and South Korea, Japan and Turkey or Gulf arms-buying countries like Saudi Arabia could be drawn in, arms analyst Francis Tusa said.

“It is a game of industrial poker,” he told Reuters.

By Telegraph Reporters

 

 

Edward Enninful Interviews Oprah Winfrey about life as a global powerhouse

 

youtube/vogue

Editor-in-chief Edward Enninful sits down with British Vogue August cover star Oprah Winfrey to discuss what life is really like for the global powerhouse, her proudest achievements and most valuable advice.

 

Kylie Jenner: On track to become a cosmetics Billionaire

 

Youtube/Forbes

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Sat, 14 July 2018) London, Uk – –

Kylie Jenner was just 10 years old when she made her debut on her family's reality television series Keeping up with the Kardashians. A decade on, the show is still going strong and its youngest star is now the famous family's highest earner.

It emerged this week just how vast a chunk of the family's wealth belongs to the 20-year-old. Despite Kim's initial eclipsing fame, Forbes magazine says Kylie is now worth almost three times as much as her sister at an estimated $900m (£680m).

The magazine lauded her for heading towards becoming one of the youngest “self-made” billionaires ever. Given her background, many online scoffed at the title, but the impressiveness of the speed of her business success is harder to mock.

Kylie Cosmetics is by far her biggest earner. It's not sold in stores and does not advertise traditionally, because unlike other competitors it doesn't seem to need it.

After all, Kylie is a social media powerhouse. When she tweeted that she was “sooo over” Snapchat earlier this year, its shares tumbled.

The vast majority of her 110 million-strong Instagram following are young and female, fitting firmly within the brand's target market.

Her success can be viewed squarely within larger trends in the global beauty industry, which has undergone a huge shift as social media influencers and vloggers become more important to a brand's success.

Kylie launched her first set of own-brand lip kits in November 2015. The product choice was not incidental, as the internet had spent much of the previous two years speculating on the teen's noticeably larger lips.

At first the reality star alleged the change was achieved using clever make-up tricks (over-lining the lips and filling in with a natural-looking matte base).

Some mocked and sparked a viral, and painful, challenge to plump their own lips, but beauty bloggers avidly recreated her look. The products she was rumoured to use sold out at MAC outlets across the world.

Kylie and “momager” Kris saw an opportunity to go it alone. She spent months trailing an initial three-shade launch of lip kits – a combination of nude lip liner and matte lip cream combos – on Instagram and Snapchat.

The initial stock launch sold out in less than a minute, crashing the website.

Bloggers offered suggestions of “dupe” options for those not lucky enough to grab their own, and the $29 (£22) dollar sets were bootlegged online for hundreds of dollars.

After launching the debut kits, she relabelled her business Kylie Cosmetics and sales continue to soar, making a reported $19m in one day in late 2016.

In just a couple of years she has amassed a reported $630m (£470m) in sales, diversifying from lip kit duos to other products such as glosses, highlighters and eye-shadows.

The brand has kept people hooked by maintaining the initial FOMO (fear of missing out) exclusivity – using countdowns to reveal products and selling them on limited release, often in collaboration with her famous siblings.

Kylie Cosmetics is not alone; a host of grassroots brands such as Huda beauty and Anastasia Beverley Hills have soared in popularity in recent years. YouTube endorsements in particular have the power to make a product a “must have”.

 

 

A seismic change
Stephanie Saltzman, beauty editor at Fashionista, says it cannot be overstated how significant influencers and online marketing have been.

She describes the recent change as a “democratisation” within an industry that she believed had gone stale in its approach.

“Maybe historically consumers would use what their Mom used, or would go explore a beauty counter in a department store. Now it's in the palm of their hands through social media,” she says.

“It feels more authentic coming from a person and Kylie Jenner is a person as opposed to a blanket, faceless corporation.”

Traditional make-up brands are adjusting, though. Some have collaborated with influencers and beauty vloggers on limited-edition lines or have enlisted to use Generation Z celebrities such as Lily-Rose Depp to be their public face.

Charlotte Libby, a colour cosmetics expert at analyst group Mintel, says young consumers are rejecting traditional advertising, instead being drawn to brand transparency, and especially “personality, belief and ethics”.

“Crowdfunding campaigns and social media have brought down some of the barriers for new brands and levelled the playing field,” she tells the BBC.

“Social media and the success of influencers has proved that personality sells, and partnering with real people, rather than traditional media, offers brand the opportunity to show more personality.”

The Forbes cover profile points out that the overhead size of Kylie's company is exceptionally small.

It has only 12 employees, and only seven are full-time. Most of the company's operations and production needs are outsourced to specialist firms.

“As ultra light start ups go, Jenner's operation is essentially air. And because of those miniscule overhead and marketing costs, the profits are outsize and go right into Jenner's pocket,” journalist Natalie Robehmed writes.

Kylie's self-driven success and huge profits haven't been lost on sister Kim, who has followed suit by launching a new beauty line of her own and a range of new fragrances.

After a social-media-heavy marketing campaign that involved sending elaborately packaged perfumes to celebrities and influencers, Kim's initial fragrance offering sold out rapidly, raking in $10m (£7.5m) before a single paying customer had even smelt the products.

“I think that was definitely a wake-up call for a lot of others in the industry, and the same can be said with Kylie and everything she has accomplished,” says Fashionista editor Saltzman.

“I think they feel threatened and also feel inspired. I interviewed Kim right after that fragrance launch and she was saying some big corporations had come to her for advice.”

In the beauty industry in particular then, it seems that the Kardashians might actually be the ones to keep up with.

By Kelly-Leigh Cooper

 

 

Donald Trump: Brexit plan ‘will probably kill’ US trade deal

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 13th July 2018) London, Uk – –

Donald Trump has said the UK will “probably not” get a trade deal with the US, if the prime minister's Brexit plan goes ahead.

He told The Sun the PM's plan would “probably kill the deal” as it would mean the US “would be dealing with the European Union” instead of with the UK.

Downing Street has not yet reacted to Mr Trump's remarks.

Theresa May has been making the case for a US free trade deal with Mr Trump, on his first UK visit as president.

She said Brexit was an “opportunity” to create growth in the UK and US.

Mr Trump also said that former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson – who disagrees with the PM on Brexit and resigned this week – would make a “great prime minister”, adding “I think he's got what it takes”.

In his interview, he renewed his criticism of London Mayor Sadiq Khan over last year's terror attacks in the capital, saying he had done “a terrible job”.

The president and his wife were given a red carpet reception at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire on Thursday evening.

They were at a black-tie dinner with Mrs May as news broke of his interview with the newspaper, which said it was conducted while he was in Brussels.

After it was published, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the president “likes and respects Prime Minister May very much”, adding that he had “never said anything bad about her”.

Mr Trump – who has been a long-time supporter of Brexit – told The Sun newspaper that the UK's blueprint for its post-Brexit relations with the EU was “a much different deal than the people voted on”.

He said the Brexit proposals Mrs May and her cabinet thrashed out at the PM's country house Chequers last week “would probably end a major trade relationship with the United States.”

 

 

“We have enough difficulty with the European Union,” he said, saying the US was “cracking down” on the EU because “they have not treated the United States fairly on trading”.

‘I told May how to do it'
He also said he had told Mrs May how to do a Brexit deal, but: “She didn't agree, she didn't listen to me.”

“I told her how to do it. That will be up to her to say. She wanted to go a different route,” he said.

Tom Newton Dunn, the Sun journalist who interviewed Mr Trump, said the US president seemed “sensitive” and knew about the “Trump baby” inflatable.

“He's really quite stung by the criticism he's been getting,” said Mr Newton Dunn. “He knew all about the baby blimp. I think it hurt him.”

The BBC's political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, said Mr Trump's interview had “driven a bulldozer” through Mrs May's claim that the UK would be able to get decent trade deals with the wider world, while sticking to the EU rules.

Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan said things had “moved on” since Mr Trump's interview – which was carried out before he arrived in the UK – and it was “very early days for the detailed negotiations of any trade deal”.

He said the mood at Thursday night's Blenheim Palace dinner was “fantastically positive and it did indeed focus a lot on trade”.

The government does not see Mr Trump's behaviour as “rude”, Sir Alan said, adding: “Donald Trump is a controversialist. That's his style.”

Responding to Mr Trump's criticism of his response to terrorism, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said it was “interesting” that the US president “is not criticising the mayors of other cities” which have also experienced terror attacks.

He defended his decision to allow the giant Trump baby inflatable to fly over London, saying: “The idea that we limit the right to protest because it might cause offence to a foreign leader is a slippery slope”.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said the PM had done “everything she could to be nice to him and he has slagged her off in the press”.

“This is not the way to behave and then what does she do, she holds his hand again,” she said, adding: “She should be standing up to him.”

Mr Trump's comments came on the same day the UK government published its proposal for its long-term relationship with the EU.

 

 

The plan is aimed at ensuring trade co-operation, with no hard border for Northern Ireland, and global trade deals for the UK.

But leading Brexiteers Boris Johnson and David Davis resigned from the cabinet days after ministers reached agreement on the plan at Chequers a week ago. Mrs May said the plan “absolutely delivers on the Brexit we voted for”.

At Thursday's dinner, Mrs May said that more than one million Americans work for UK-owned firms, telling Mr Trump there was an unprecedented opportunity for a trade deal which creates jobs and growth in the UK and US.

As Mr Trump arrived in the UK, protesters gathered outside the US ambassador's residence in Regent's Park, London, and an estimated 1,000 of them demonstrated near Blenheim Palace itself, the birthplace of wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

On Friday, Mrs May and Mr Trump are due to watch a joint counter-terrorism exercise by British and US special forces at a military base.

The pair will then travel to Chequers – the PM's country residence in Buckinghamshire – for talks with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Extra security is in place to police protests planned for the second day of Mr Trump's visit.

The president and first lady will travel to Windsor on Friday afternoon to meet the Queen, before flying to Scotland to spend the weekend at Mr Trump's Turnberry golf resort. This part of the visit is being considered private.

 

DFS Furniture Retailer Blames Recent Heatwave for Decline in Orders

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 12th July 2018) London, Uk – –

Furniture retailer DFS blamed the recent heatwave for a big fall in orders, as it warned that profits this year would be below expectations.

Shares in DFS tumbled 10% in early trading after it told the City that earnings in the current financial year would be lower than in 2017.

While other companies have benefited from the hot weather which has brought shoppers back to the embattled high street, boosting beer, barbecue and big-screen TV sales in particular, it has damaged DFS’s business.

The group, which recently bought Sofology and also owns Dwell and Sofa Workshop, said: “In the fourth quarter to date, exceptionally hot weather, including over key trading weekends, has led to significantly lower than expected order intake.”

The company has also suffered disruption to ships bringing made-to-order products from the far east. This means like-for-like revenues are 3% down from last year over the 23 weeks to 7 July, and 4% lower over the 49 weeks to 7 July.

DFS warned that profits for the year to the end of July would fall below last year’s £82.4m on an Ebitda basis (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation). Until today, City analysts had been forecasting a small rise in profits to £84.5m.

The company expects the furniture retail market to remain challenging over the next 12 months, pointing to weaker consumer confidence. Analysts say that big-ticket items tend to be the first things consumers cut back on when they feel the pinch.

DFS shares dropped 20p to 178.6p.

By Julia Kollewe

 

 

21st Century Fox increases UK Sky bid to £24.5bn in takeover battle

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 11 July 2018) London, Uk – –

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox has increased its offer for UK broadcaster Sky to £24.5bn, topping a previous offer from rival bidder Comcast.

US media giant Comcast made a £22bn offer for Sky in February, trumping a previous offer from Fox, which valued Sky at £18.5bn.

Fox is expecting to get regulatory approval from Britain this week for the deal.

Fox said Sky's independent committee had agreed the deal.

What have been the stumbling blocks for Fox's Sky deal?
Rupert Murdoch's Fox has been trying to get approval from UK regulators since 2016 to buy the 61% of Sky it does not own already.

The bid was held up by fears that it could give Mr Murdoch too much power over UK media.

Fox has been trying to address those concerns through concessions, including selling Sky News to Disney once the deal is complete.

In June, the then Culture Secretary, Matt Hancock, said the Fox deal could go ahead if it sold Sky News, with certain provisos.

At the time, Mr Hancock said he needed to be confident that the deal ensured the long-term financial viability of the channel.

Sky News would need to continue to be a major UK-based news broadcaster. It would also need to be able to make editorial decisions independent from the control of the Murdochs.

Mr Hancock said in June that there would be no public interest concerns with a Comcast takeover of Sky.

How do Sky shareholders feel?
Analysis: BBC business editor Simon Jack

There is nothing better for an owner than watching an auction between two rich buyers who really want what you are selling.

That is how Sky shareholders feel as Murdoch-controlled 21st Century Fox raised the bidding once again for Sky.

The new bid is a whopping 80% more than the market thought Sky was worth before the bidding war started.

A source close to the deal said: “It's absolutely unbelievable – they are way overpaying.”

And I'm told it's not done yet. “I think Comcast want it more – and will be back.”

This is sweet music to the 61% of Sky shareholders who aren't part of the Murdoch family and they will be happy with the independent directors on the Sky board.

The big question may be for Disney, which, if the price goes any higher, may start to think that the company they want to buy – Fox – is overpaying for Sky – which in turn means they are getting a worse deal.

As one source at Sky told me: “If you can figure out what the strategy is here, then let me know.”

Is there also a battle for Fox?
Yes. Separately, Disney wants to buy Fox's entertainment assets, including its stake in Sky.

In June, Disney increased its offer for 21st Century Fox to $71.3bn (£54bn) in cash and shares, up from an earlier $52bn offer.

Comcast also wants to buy Fox. The US media conglomerate is locked in a battle with Disney over Fox's entertainment assets, which include movie studios, cable channels, National Geographic and a 30% stake in video website Hulu, as well as Indian network Star.

Fox would keep hold of some successful assets, including Fox Sports, Fox News and Fox Television Stations, and make them into a new company called “New Fox”.

 

 

Marks & Spencer Chair Gives Stark Warning to Shareholders on Store’s Future

Wikimedia/Mtaylor848

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 11th July 2018) London, Uk – –

Archie Norman refuses to guarantee that no more than 100 stores will close

The chairman of Marks & Spencer has given his starkest warning yet about existential threat faced by the high street giant as he refused to rule out further store closures and job losses.

“This business is on a burning platform,” said Archie Norman, who took over as M&S’s chairman last year. “We don’t have a God-given right to exist and unless we change and develop this company the way we want to, in decades to come there will be no M&S.”

Norman’s language echoed that of Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop in 2011, when the mobile phone firm was facing annihilation by smartphones. He said the retailer is in the first phase of a five-year turnaround that involves first getting the company to acknowledge the serial management failings that have resulted in years of falling clothing sales and declining profits.

In May M&S reported a 62% fall in annual profits to £66.8m after a £514.1m bill for restructuring that included £321m to pay for the first phase of a programme to close 100 stores. Norman told the annual shareholder meeting that unlike its arch rival, Next, M&S had not been as ruthless at closing older stores as shopping habits changed. A shareholder asked for reassurance that there would no further job losses but did not receive it.

“We have old stores in locations where people are not spending anymore and it’s a drag on our performance,” Norman said. “We are grasping a nettle that should have been grasped many, many years ago. We have said it’s going to be 100 stores but I can’t tell you that it’s going to end there. We have got to get to the point where we have a modern estate and we have to go through the pain barrier to get there.”

Norman’s comments came as Poundworld, the discount retailer that went into administration last month, said 25 shops would shut by the weekend, with the loss of nearly 250 jobs. The closures come after administrators at Deloitte failed to find a buyer for the whole business, which employs more than 5,000 people in 335 stores across the UK.

Poundworld is one of a string of retailers and restaurant chains that have collapsed or shrunk against a backdrop of higher costs and the consumer spending squeeze that is also making life difficult for M&S.

Steve Rowe, M&S’s chief executive of two years, said: “It was not a great year. We exceeded the expectations of the City but didn’t do so in a way I can be pleased or proud of.”

Rowe was particularly critical of its web operation. The pages on its website still take 50% longer to load than its slickest rivals despite a £150m revamp while its purpose built warehouse in Castle Donington, Leicestershire could not support its stated ambition to have 30% of its clothing sales online in five years time. “We are not digital in an age where most retail starts with a mobile phone,” said Rowe.

A rare bright spot amid the gloom was the success of M&S’s longstanding role as the official tailor of the England football team and purveyor of Gareth Southgate’s now legendary waistcoat, which has become a social media sensation.

“We’re proud to be supporting England and the boys as they progress through the World Cup,” Rowe said. “I finish here because of the relevance of the transformation of the England football team and the hard work that’s gone into changing something we didn’t rate … we are committed to continue the transformation of your business and to make M&S special again.”

By Zoe Wood

 

 

Airbus CEO Tom Enders calls on Brussels to be ‘pragmatic and fair’ on Brexit

Wikimedia

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 10 July 2018) London, Uk – –

CEO Tom Enders' comments come after the cabinet agreed to the prime minister's plan for a free trade area for goods

The chief executive of Airbus has said the government is “going in the right direction” on Brexit – days after he claimed it had “no clue”.

Tom Enders welcomed news of Theresa May's plan for a UK-EU free trade area for goods, agreed at Friday's crunch meeting of the cabinet at Chequers.

Although the proposal has precipitated the resignations of Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, it has been welcomed as a sign of progress by businesses worried about the impact of the UK's exit from the bloc.

Mr Enders tweeted: “The Chequers statement appears to show that HM Government are going in the right direction. We are not shy to request that Brussels & our other home countries are similarly pragmatic & fair.”

Before Friday's agreement, Mr Enders said Airbus had a duty to its shareholders to voice its concerns about Brexit.

In a briefing ahead of the Farnborough Airshow, he said: “The sun is shining brightly on the UK, the English team is progressing towards the final, the RAF is preparing to celebrate its centenary and HMG (Her Majesty's Government) still has no clue, no consensus on how to execute Brexit without severe harm.

Airbus has been joined by a chorus of other companies that have warned jobs are at risk if Britain crashes out of the European Union without an agreement on trade.

Jaguar Land Rover, Britain's biggest carmaker, warned a no-deal would see its costs rise by £1.2bn because of tariffs. It would need to reconsider £80bn of planned investment, putting 40,000 jobs at risk.

BMW also weighed in, with its customs manager Stephan Freismuth warning the company “cannot” manufacture its products in the UK if Brexit means its supply chain is disrupted.

The intervention by big business in the Brexit debate has strained relations with the government.

Newly appointed Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the perceived threats were “completely inappropriate”, while Mr Johnson has been quoted as saying “f*** business”.

 

 

 

British economy picked up slightly as Bank of England nears rate decision

 

Flickr/James Stringer

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 10th July 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’ economy picked up a bit of speed in May after slowing in early 2018, according to official figures that are likely to give the Bank of England more confidence about raising interest rates next month.

A new monthly reading of gross domestic product showed the world’s fifth-biggest economy grew by 0.3 percent in May from April.

That was up from growth of 0.2 percent in April and in line with the forecast in a Reuters poll of economists, marking the strongest growth since November, the Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday.

Sterling fell against the dollar after the data, which showed a mixed picture of the economy. Growth came mostly from the dominant services sector while factory output disappointed.

But Cathal Kennedy, an economist at RBC Capital Markets, said the figures should support expectations that the BoE would raise rates in August.

“The gradual momentum into May really backs up what the Bank has been saying of late. We have seen a bounceback from the first quarter,” he said.

 

 

BoE Governor Mark Carney and other top officials at the central bank opted not to raise rates in May because of the early 2018 slowdown.

Instead, they decided to wait for signs the weakness was temporary and caused by unusually cold winter weather rather than a sign of broader problems before Britain’s exit from the European Union next year.

However, upheaval in the government of Prime Minister Theresa May — battling to keep her grip on the ruling Conservative Party, which is split over Brexit — could yet affect confidence among employers, a potential new hurdle for the BoE.

Britain’ economy grew by 0.2 percent in the three months to May, as expected, after stagnating in the three months to April.

In annual terms, the economy was 1.5 percent bigger than in May last year, the ONS said.

The BoE’ rate-setting committee is expected to raise rates by 25 basis points to 0.75 percent — only its second rate increase in more than a decade — on Aug. 2, according to a Reuters poll of economists.

SERVICES-LED GROWTH

The ONS said the warm weather and spending around the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle helped the economy.

Britain’s services industry grew 0.3 percent month-on-month in May, slowing from an upwardly revised 0.4 percent in April.

Over the three months to May, growth in services — which makes up 80 percent of economic output — picked up speed to 0.4 percent from 0.2 percent.

But industrial output fell unexpectedly in May by 0.4 percent on the month, hit by the shutdown of the Sullom Voe oil and gas terminal.

Manufacturing growth also disappointed, rising only 0.4 percent on the month — less than half the growth rate expected in the Reuters poll.

May capped the weakest three months for British factories since December 2012.

There was better news from construction, which had struggled in the bad weather of early 2018. Output jumped 2.9 percent in May, far exceeding expectations and marking the first growth in the sector since December.

Separate data showed Britain’s deficit in goods trade during May was broadly unchanged from April at 12.362 billion pounds ($16.37 billion).

By Andy Bruce, William Schomberg
Editing by Larry King

 

 

Nissan Admits Falsification of Emissions Data on Cars Built in Japan

Flickr/Mad African

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Mon, 9th July 2018) London, Uk – –

Nissan admitted Monday that data on exhaust emissions and fuel economy had been deliberately “altered”, dealing a blow to the Japanese car giant's efforts to recover from an inspection scandal last year.

The company did not say how many cars were affected by the falsifications, which were uncovered during voluntary tests of all parts of Nissan's operations conducted in the wake of last year's scandal.

It said that tests on exhaust emissions and fuel economy had “deviated from the prescribed testing environment”.

In addition, it said inspection reports had been drawn up “based on altered measurement values”.

Nissan's share price dropped 4.56pc to 1,003.5 yen after it said it would make a statement on exhaust measurements following a report of falsification.

The firm vowed a “full and comprehensive investigation” into its latest fake data scandal.

By Agence France-Presse

 

Mothercare to close 60 outlets with 900 jobs at risk

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 9th July 2018) London, Uk – –

Struggling mother and baby products retailer Mothercare says it will shut 60 stores by June 2019, instead of the 50 previously earmarked for closure.

The extra closures mainly come from its Childrens World division, which will go into administration.

The closures will put 900 jobs at risk, up from the 800 previously stated.

Mothercare also confirmed that it would be raising another £32.5m from its existing shareholders by issuing new shares.

Although Childrens World is being wound up, 13 of its 22 stores, mainly in out-of-town locations, will transfer to other Mothercare group companies and stay open.

The company has not yet given details about which stores will stay open.

Mothercare's chief executive, Mark Newton-Jones, told the BBC's Today programme that its UK business had suffered from a lack of investment and “hadn't had a lick of paint” in recent years.

However, its rescue plan would now allow it to modernise as a retailer.

He said: “We will really be able to speed up the transformation, and by God we need to speed up the transformation, because the retail landscape is pretty brutal at the moment.”

Mr Newton-Jones added that Mothercare had “grown prolifically” outside the UK, with two-thirds of the retailer's turnover now coming from overseas.

The restructuring of Mothercare comes after creditors backed a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), which allows companies to shut loss-making shops and reduce rents.

However, the plans for Childrens World were not approved by the necessary 75% majority, prompting the decision to close the division down.

Mothercare said it would have 77 UK stores by June 2019 and 73 stores by the end of the 2021-22 financial year.

Retailers on UK High Streets have been hit by weak sales, online competition and rising costs, affecting 22,000 jobs this year.

High-profile failures include Maplin and Toys R Us, while other High Street chains announcing store closures include Marks & Spencer, House of Fraser, Carphone Warehouse, New Look and Carpetright.

 

 

Secret Millionaire Star Kavita Oberoi Discusses her Success Journey

 

Youtube/Kavita Oberoi

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Sun, 8th July, 2018) London, Uk – –

Here the businesswoman discusses her journey and how giving back to society should always be part of an entrepreneur’s gameplan

People question whether entrepreneurs are born or made. For me, it was in my DNA. I grew up above my father’s plumbing shop in Bradford. He had moved to the UK from India with the intention of starting his own business and always said I brought him luck because he started to experience success when I came along. I have memories of being locked in the car with a bottle of milk while he went to business meetings. It wouldn’t happen today! Sadly, my father passed away when I was 15.

But my family didn’t want me to have an education and go out to work. They were very traditional and there was a lot of pressure – particularly from my extended family – to get married and stay at home. Some of those cultural expectations can still hold black and minority ethnic women back today. But from a young age, I have always fought against those barriers. I was never going to do what I was supposed to do. My mother is my biggest champion – when I was a child, she used to sneak me out of the house to go to ballet or tap lessons. She has always said: “I will support you, but don’t let me down.”

People question whether entrepreneurs are born or made. For me, it was in my DNA. I grew up above my father’s plumbing shop in Bradford. He had moved to the UK from India with the intention of starting his own business and always said I brought him luck because he started to experience success when I came along. I have memories of being locked in the car with a bottle of milk while he went to business meetings. It wouldn’t happen today! Sadly, my father passed away when I was 15.

But my family didn’t want me to have an education and go out to work. They were very traditional and there was a lot of pressure – particularly from my extended family – to get married and stay at home. Some of those cultural expectations can still hold black and minority ethnic women back today. But from a young age, I have always fought against those barriers. I was never going to do what I was supposed to do. My mother is my biggest champion – when I was a child, she used to sneak me out of the house to go to ballet or tap lessons. She has always said: “I will support you, but don’t let me down.”

 

 

It’s about being a driver for change and making the necessary compromises along the way. I did go to university (although I still lived at home and had to travel in every day) and I went on to develop a successful career in pharmaceutical sales with Bayer. By this time, I had probably been introduced to 10 potential husbands, all of whom I had rejected. But I did eventually marry a man my family approved of. His family were also very traditional, but I carried on working.

The turning point for me was when I didn’t get the promotion I wanted at work. I was looking to move into management at Bayer. I’d set a goal, as I always do, and I expected to reach it. When that didn’t happen, I sat there and thought: do I really want to go and work for somebody else for eight years, only to be told I’m not good enough? The answer was no. I set up my own healthcare and IT consultancy business, Oberoi Consulting, in 2001. I would later start the Oberoi Business Hub in 2012 to provide back-office support to small businesses, and received an OBE for services to entrepreneurship and startups in 2014.

One of my biggest challenges was learning to trust other people. It wasn’t a natural thing for me. Entrepreneurs are naturally very controlling individuals and I’d never had any people management experience when I was first starting out. I had to learn the hard way about creating and motivating high-performing teams. While mistakes can be frustrating for a perfectionist like me, it’s important to let staff learn from them, without a fear of failure or consequences. I am still learning every day about great leadership.

Giving something back should always be part of an entrepreneur’s game plan. In 2016, I got involved with an initiative to provide breakfast to primary school children in Derby, and funded it for a year to get it off the ground. We now have 16 schools involved, Kellogg’s is providing the cereal, and local businesses and Derby College are raising money. There’s already been an improvement in the children’s attendance, behaviour and attainment in class.

My biggest ambition is to inspire others, so they can achieve their potential. Self-belief is key for any business owner – you have to communicate the passion you have for your business, stay focused and be dedicated to your cause. Finding a mentor can help, as can spending time surrounded by like-minded, motivated individuals to keep your energy levels up. Above all, be prepared to sacrifice a lot. Failure is not an option.

Interview by Emma Sheppard

 

 

Meet The Founder of Halo Top a $2bn Low-calorie Ice Cream Success Story

Source: Youtube/CBS

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

Just a few years ago Justin Woolverton was pleading with US supermarkets to keep his reduced calorie ice cream tubs in their freezer cabinets.

Sales of his low fat, low sugar brand Halo Top were flat-lining, and stores were continually threatening to stop stocking it.

“We were hanging on by the skin of our teeth,” says the 38-year-old, who launched the business in 2012. “We'd tell them ‘leave us up there, things are going to turn around'.”

In his wildest dreams Mr Woolverton couldn't have predicted just how dramatic the turnaround would be. Just six years after starting, his ice cream is now the best-selling brand in the US.

With very little money for marketing, the LA-based start-up had been trying to inch up sales by working hard to promote itself on social media.

Then in 2016 a journalist for GQ magazine wrote a very witty article about how he ate only Halo Top ice cream for 10 straight days.

The story went viral, and Halo Top's sales went through the roof.

In 2016 it was reported to have sold 28.8 million tubs, generating $132.4m (£101m) in revenues becoming the best-selling pint of ice cream in the US, beating iconic industry leaders such as Ben & Jerry's and Häagen-Dazs.

Not bad for a small independent business that has no outside investors, other than the family and friends of Mr Woolverton and his co-founder Doug Bouton.

Yet despite the brand's success, some critics have questioned the claimed health credentials of the “guilt free” ice cream. While others wonder if it should be allowed to call itself ice cream at all.

Before founding Halo Top, Mr Woolverton was working in Los Angeles as a corporate lawyer, a job with which he'd become disenchanted.

The idea for the ice cream came about because of restrictions he made to his diet to manage his blood sugar levels.

At home, instead of sugary treats, he'd have a bowl of Greek yogurt with fruit, to which he would add the sweetener stevia.

After buying a $20 ice cream maker he put the mixture through it to see what it would taste like. “It was delicious. So from there, it was like: ‘Holy cow, if I like this why wouldn't other people like it?'.”

Mr Woolverton then started experimenting with ingredients, including replacing the yogurt with milk, to make the concoction behave more like ice cream when frozen and enable it to be produced on a mass scale.

 

“It honestly took a year of complete failure at the beginning,” he says.

With friend Doug Bouton, another former lawyer on board, they launched the business with money borrowed from family and friends, student loans and £150,000 of credit card debt.

Mr Woolverton says that not having any private equity investors has given him and Mr Bouton more freedom. “We don't have suits telling us what to do,” he says.

To promote the brand on social media in its early days, Mr Woolverton came up with a novel idea. He hired local college students to send Halo Top coupons to people with large followings on YouTube and Instagram who were posting about health and fitness.

“That was a really big marketing strategy,” he explains. “We thought if they can buy it that's great; if they can't, we're on their radar anyway.”

Alex Beckett, global food and drink associate director at research group Mintel, says that Halo Top's continuing strong use of social media has been a key component behind its success.

“It enhanced its appeal as a cool, plucky alternative to global ice cream brands with larger advertising budgets,” Mr Beckett says.

And then there was the GQ article.

“That [Halo Top diet] is not something we recommend, to be clear, but it was a really fun article,” says Mr Woolverton. “It made the brand catch fire.”

After the story went viral, Halo Top enjoyed a rise in sales so meteoric that the business struggled to keep up with demand.

“[Supermarkets] didn't know how to deal with it either,” says Mr Woolverton. “For the first time people were buying three, four or five pints at a time. It had become the first lifestyle ice cream that people could eat daily.”

But should people really be eating Halo Top on a daily basis?

The ice cream contains two sweeteners – erythritol and stevia – in place of much of the sugar. While these are widely used across the food industry, and given a clean bill of health by food authorities, they do have their sceptics who say they may cause side-effects, such as exacerbating irritable bowel syndrome.

Other critics claim that Halo Top and its rival reduced-calorie ice creams could actually contribute to people putting on weight. And some question whether Halo Top should be allowed to call itself an ice cream, because it contains so little milk fat.

Mr Woolverton says the brand's success “is a recognition of how much smarter consumers are than a lot of companies think”.

Halo Top's success has also led to the launch of numerous other reduced-calorie ice cream brands. These include Unilever's Breyers Delight, Ben & Jerry's “Moo-phoria” range, and UK start-up Oppo.

Mr Woolverton has also been inundated with takeover proposals, including a reported $2bn offer from Unilever. He has rejected all of them, and instead has his eyes on global domination.

The company launched in the UK last year, and exports to countries including Australia and Singapore. Halo Top ice cream parlours, called Scoop Shops, have also opened in the US.

Mr Woolverton is confident that within five years Halo Top will be one of the biggest ice creams brands globally. “We'll be as well known as Ben & Jerry's,” he says.

By Anne Cassidy

 

 

China blames U.S. for ‘largest-scale trade war’ in month long conflict

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Fri, 6th July 2018) London, UK —

BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and China slapped tit-for-tat duties on $34 billion worth of the other’s imports on Friday, with Beijing accusing Washington of triggering the “largest-scale trade war” ever in a sharp escalation of their months-long conflict.

Hours before Washington’s deadline for the tariffs to take effect, U.S. President Donald Trump upped the ante, warning that the United States may ultimately target over $500 billion worth of Chinese goods, or roughly the total amount of U.S. imports from China last year.

China’s commerce ministry, in a statement shortly after the U.S. deadline passed at 0401 GMT on Friday, said that it was forced to retaliate, meaning $34 billion worth of imported U.S. goods including autos and agricultural products also faced 25 percent tariffs.

However, an ensuing three-plus hour delay before Beijing confirmed that it had implemented retaliatory tariffs sowed confusion in markets.

“After the United States unfairly raised tariffs against China, China immediately put into effect raised tariffs on some U.S. goods,” foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a daily media briefing on Friday afternoon.

China’s soymeal futures fell more than 2 percent on Friday afternoon before recovering most of those losses, amid market uncertainty over whether China had implemented tariffs on a list of U.S. goods, including soybeans.

Some Chinese ports had delayed clearing goods from the United States, four sources said on Friday. There did not appear to be any direct instructions to hold up cargoes, but some customs departments were waiting for official guidance on imposing added tariffs, the sources said.

Ford Motor Co said on Thursday that for now, it will not hike prices of imported Ford and higher-margin luxury Lincoln models in China.

An analysis of over four dozen imported U.S products facing higher duties showed that prices were little changed on Friday afternoon versus earlier in the week. The products, all sold on Chinese e-commerce platforms, ranged from pet food to mixed nuts and whiskey.

While Chinese state media have slammed Trump’s protectionism and on Friday likened his administration to a “gang of hoodlums,” the trade conflict has gained little traction on China’s tightly controlled social media, not cracking the 50 top-searched topics on the Twitter-like Weibo platform.

The dispute has roiled financial markets including stocks, currencies and the global trade of commodities from soybeans to coal in recent weeks.

Chinese shares, which have been battered in the run-up to the tariff deadline, reversed earlier losses to close higher, but the yuan remained weaker against the dollar. Asian equities wobbled but also managed to end up.

In the run-up to Friday’s tariff implementation, there was no sign of renewed negotiations between U.S. and Chinese officials, business sources in Washington and Beijing said.

“We can probably say that the trade war has officially started,” said Chen Feixiang, professor of applied economics at Shanghai Jiaotong University’s Antai Colege of Economics and Management.

“If this ends at $34 billion, it will have a marginal effect on both economies, but if it escalates to $500 billion like Trump said then it’s going to have a big impact for both countries,” Chen said.

‘GANG OF HOODLUMS’
China’s commerce ministry called the U.S. actions “a violation of world trade rules” and said that it had “initiated the largest-scale trade war in economic history.”

Trump has railed against Beijing for intellectual property theft and barriers to entry for U.S. businesses and a $375 billion U.S. trade deficit with China.

“You have another 16 (billion dollars) in two weeks, and then, as you know, we have $200 billion in abeyance and then after the $200 billion, we have $300 billion in abeyance. Ok? So we have 50 plus 200 plus almost 300,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Thursday.

Throughout the escalating conflict, China has sought to take the high road, positioning itself as a champion of free trade, but state media ramped-up criticism of Trump on Friday.

“In effect, the Trump administration is behaving like a gang of hoodlums with its shakedown of other countries, particularly China,” the state-run China Daily newspaper said in an English language editorial on Friday.

“Its unruliness looks set to have a profoundly damaging impact on the global economic landscape in the coming decades, unless countries stand together to oppose it.”

While the initial volley of tariffs was not expected to have major immediate economic impact, the fear is that a prolonged battle would disrupt makers and importers of affected goods in a blow to global trade, investment and growth.

“For companies with supply exposure to tariffs, they will move sourcing country of origin if they can; if they can’t, they’ll pass on as much of the tariff cost as they can, or see a cut in margins,” said Jacob Parker, vice president of China operations at the U.S.-China Business Council in Beijing.

A China central bank adviser said the planned U.S. import tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods – $34 billion plus a planned follow-on list worth $16 billion – will cut China’s economic growth by 0.2 percentage points, although the overall impact would be limited, the official Xinhua news agency reported Friday.

“This is not economic Armageddon. We will not have to hunt our food with pointy sticks. But it is applying the brakes to a global economy that has less durable momentum than appears to be the case,” Rob Carnell, chief economist at ING, said in a note.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials were due to collect 25 percent duties on a range of products including motor vehicles, computer disk drives, parts of pumps, valves and printers and many other industrial components.

China’s tariffs on hundreds of U.S. goods include top exports such as soybeans, sorghum and cotton, threatening U.S. farmers in states that backed Trump in the 2016 U.S. election, such as Texas and Iowa.

By Adam Jourdan in SHANGHAI, Michael Martina, Christian Shepherd, Dominique Patton and Elias Glenn in BEIJING, David Lawder and Jeff Mason WASHINGTON; Writing by Tony Munroe;

 

 

Elon Musk offered his services to rescue 12 boys and coach trapped in cave

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 6th July 2018) London, Uk – –

Billionaire space adventurer and carmaker Elon Musk has offered his services to the Thai government to rescue 12 boys and their football coach trapped in a flooded cave.

In a series of tweets, Mr Musk explored how his businesses could help the team.

He suggested that The Boring Company is “pretty good at digging holes”.

He also mused about inserting a nylon tube into the cave and inflating it “like a bouncy castle” to create an underwater tunnel.

A spokesman for The Boring Company, said: “We are speaking with the Thai government to see how we can help, and we are sending SpaceX/Boring Company people from the US to Thailand today to offer support on the ground.

“Once we confirm what exactly will be helpful to send or do, we will. We are getting feedback and guidance from the people on the ground in Chiang Rai to determine the best way for us to assist their efforts.”

How risky is the Thai boys' rescue?
Thai cave rescuers in ‘race against the rain'
Overnight it emerged that a former Thai navy diver had died while returning from delivering oxygen to the 12 boys and their football coach trapped in the Tham Luang cave complex in Northern Thailand.

Mr Musk initially explored whether The Boring Company, which he founded in 2016, could help rescue efforts using its “advanced ground penetrating radar”.

He added that it could supply “fully charged Powerpacks and pumps” to aid authorities.

He then considered that it was “maybe worth trying” inserting a nylon tube into the cave network to create an air tunnel underwater.

James Yenbamroong, founder and chief executive of Thai satellite communications business Mu Space Corp, said that SpaceX, Mr Musk's aerospace and transportation business, had “reached out to us today to help connect to Thai govt”.

It has been a high-profile week for Mr Musk. On Sunday, his car company, Tesla, finally produced 5,000 of its Model 3 electric cars in a week after missing a number of deadlines to hit the target.

Mr Musk, who is the co-founder, chairman, product architect and chief executive of Tesla, declared that the firm was finally “a real car company” after reaching the goal.

Mr Musk has also been engaged in a Twitter spat over media coverage of Tesla, in particular with CNBC and Business Insider.

By Dearbail Jordan

 

 

World Cup and hot weather give supermarkets sales a boost

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 5th July 2018) London, Uk – –

Celebratory mood reflected in sales of beer, barbecue food and ice-cream

England’s progress in the world cup – combined with an uninterrupted run of hot weather – is giving UK supermarkets a multimillion pound sales fillip as shoppers stock up with beer, barbecue food and ice-cream.

Retailers said their sales reflected the wider celebratory mood, with fans watching the games from home shelling out for football parties and al fresco gatherings before games.

Over the last week sales of BBQ foods, salads, ice-cream, beer, and wine have been the most popular items bought at Tesco, which predicted a further sales uplift in the run-up to England’s quarter-final game with Sweden on Saturday afternoon.

Demand for beer at the UK’s largest retailer last week was the strongest this year, and it predicted sales would be higher this week. It also reported the best summer barbecue meat sales for several years.

By the end of this week Tesco expects to have sold more than 1m burgers and,1m hot dog rolls, 6m ice lollies, around 1m tubs of ice-cream, almost 50m bottles or cans of beer and close to 1m bottles of wine.

“Fantastic weather and the world’s biggest sporting event are creating a real carnival atmosphere across Britain this week,” said Tesco barbecue meats buyer, Natalie Bastow.

 

 

“The mere mention of a heatwave is enough to change shopping plans and judging by sales many people are enjoying al fresco dining right now.”

The British Retail Consortium predicted consumers would embark on a £90bn spending spree over the summer – which includes TVs and barbecues – as a buoyant mood swept the UK.

At Waitrose sales of Pimm’s had risen by 21% compared with the same week in 2017, sales of sparkling wine were up by 45%, beer rose by 70%, burgers and sausages were up 55% and 20% respectively. Sales of crisps and nuts rose by 13%, and ice 125%.

The hot weather also triggered a week of record sales of ice lollies at Waitrose – up 188%, while sales of ice-cream cones doubled.

Iceland said it set a new ice lolly sales record on the hottest day of the year so far, last Wednesday, up 340% compared with the same day in 2017.

Sales of Iceland’s barbecue range shot up 74%, with one of its best-selling products, a BBQ Selection Pack (£5, 1.8kg) soaring by 447% on the same day.

“The fantastic temperatures – and the World Cup – have meant that shoppers have been coming in their droves this week to buy frozen food and drink,” said Nigel Broadhurst, Iceland’s managing director.

In the run-up to Saturday’s crunch game, Sainsbury’s is predicting a 40% increase in sales of pizza, crisps and dips, party food and snacks, compared with an average week, and a 50% uplift in beer sales. Argos expects a 80% increase in sales of barbecue sets and accessories, compared to the same period last year.

In an unexpected sales increase, Marks & Spencer – the official suit supplier to the England team since 2007 – said demand for waistcoats had risen 35% because of what the retailer described as “the Gareth Southgate effect”.

By Rebecca Smithers