TripAdvisor partners with Deliveroo to incorporate food ordering service

( via — via Reuters -– Tue, 11 July 2017) —

TripAdvisor Inc has partnered with Deliveroo to incorporate the delivery firm's food ordering service into the travel site's listings across 12 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, both companies said on Tuesday.

Consumers can use TripAdvisor smartphone or computer apps to order food from more than 20,000 restaurant partners of Deliveroo in some 140 cities from Britain to Germany to Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

U.S-based TripAdvisor combines listings for 7 million hotels, flights, attractions and restaurants with more than 500 million user reviews in 49 countries.

TripAdvisor had 390 million average monthly visitors across its network as of December, according to web audience measurement firm Comscore (Frankfurt: CSE.F – news) .

Deliveroo is a privately held London-based start-up which has raised $475 million in five venture capital rounds. It competes in the premium food delivery market with rivals such as Foodora, a unit of Berlin-based Delivery Hero.

Terms of the partnership were not disclosed.

By Eric Auchard

Uk firms limit investment plans, consumer slowdown deepens – surveys

London Skyline/Megan Trace/

( via — Mon, 10 July 2017) London, UK —

The chances of Britain's economy picking up steam diminished further on Monday as surveys showed major companies have curtailed their investment plans and that consumers spent less on their credit cards.

The reports added to a string of lacklustre economic data that has raised questions about the chances of the Bank of England raising interest rates this year.

Accountancy firm Deloitte said business optimism at large British companies fell sharply in the second quarter, dampened by the inconclusive outcome of last month's national election.

Deloitte's survey of chief financial officers showed 72 percent thought the overall business environment would be worse once Britain leaves the European Union, the largest proportion since Deloitte started asking the question a year ago.

Only 8 percent of respondents saw an improvement after Brexit.

“This underscores the importance of the Brexit negotiations producing a favourable environment for UK businesses, with access to the skills and markets they need for their future success,” said David Sproul, chief executive of Deloitte North West Europe.

The survey's findings have proven a good predictor for the BoE's own investment intentions survey which BoE officials watch closely as part of their monitoring of Britain's economy.

Businesses are pressing May and her government to negotiate a smooth Brexit in two years' time, saying an abrupt departure would deter investment.

Deloitte said investment intentions among CFOs deteriorated, probably disappointing some BoE policymakers who have been pushing for the first interest rate hike in a decade.

Rate-setter Michael Saunders said last week he was “reasonably confident” that an improvement in exports and investment would more or less offset the consumer slowdown.

A separate survey from credit card firm Visa showed consumer spending fell in June, capping the weakest quarter in nearly four years and adding to other signs that shoppers are reining in their spending due to rising inflation and weak pay growth.

Spending in the April-June period was 0.3 percent lower than in the same three months in 2016.

“June data provides further evidence that an increase in the cost of living, coupled with slowing wage growth, are beginning to squeeze household disposable income,” Visa managing director Kevin Jenkins said.

Survey compiler IHS Markit this year said the figures may add to calls for the BoE to keep interest rates on hold.

The strength of official data on wages, due on Wednesday, is likely to be critical for BoE policymakers as they mull whether to raise interest rates from their record low 0.25 percent.

By Andy Bruce and Sarah Mills

The remarkable Tyler Perry’s Top 10 Rules For Success


He's an American actor, filmmaker, television producer and songwriter, specializing in the gospel genre.

He wrote and produced many stage plays during the 1990s and early 2000s.

In 2011, Forbes named him the highest paid man in entertainment; he earned US$130 million between May 2010 and 2011.

He's Tyler Perry and here are his Top 10 Rules for Success.

McDonald’s announced a record annual turnover of $27bn

Mike Mozart/Flickr

( via – – Sat, 8 July 2017) London, Uk – –

McDonald's, the fast food chain, announced a record annual turnover of $27bn as it continued to win market share around the world and vowed to open 1,300 new outlets this year.

The company, which has enjoyed a stellar few years following the economic crisis, said that its turnover had increased by 12pc to $27bn, with net income increasing 11pc to $5.5bn.

This is the ninth consecutive year that sales have increased after it suffered from a crisis of confidence at the end of the 1990s.

In the US like-for-like sales increased by 7.1pc in the final quarter and 6pc for the year, its highest level of growth since 2006.

Its European restaurants continued to perform well as it won over consumers on a budget – both families trading down from pizza restaurants and commuters buying cheap coffee on the way into work. European sales jumped 10pc on a like-for-like basis, the company said.

Jim Skinner, the chief executive, said: “As we begin 2012, we are intensifying our efforts toward the global priorities that represent our greatest opportunities under the Plan to Win – optimising and evolving our menu, modernising the customer experience and broadening accessibility to our Brand.”

He said that the company would invest about $2.9bn of capital – roughly half dedicated to opening more than 1,300 new McDonald’s restaurants. It has about 33,000 restaurants already, just a small number fewer than Subway, the sandwich chain.

The financial results came as the company announced it would create 2,500 jobs this year in the UK, with about 30pc of them going to first-time workers.

Jill McDonald, chief executive officer of McDonald's UK, said: “Despite these difficult economic conditions, our continued emphasis on good quality food at affordable prices, and improving the experience for our customers and our people, has meant that we are able to continue to invest in the business and create jobs.”

By Harry Wallop

Samsung profits set to surpass Apple for the first time


Kārlis Dambrāns/Flickr

( via – – Fri, 7 July, 2017) London, Uk – –

Samsung's operating profits are set to surpass its rival Apple for the first time since the two became the world's dominant smartphone manufacturers.

The Korean electronics giant said operating profits in the second quarter of the year had hit a record 14 trillion won (£9.4bn).

This would make Samsung Electronics the world's most profitable non-financial company, a landmark moment after a tumultuous year.

Sales of Samsung handsets are believed to have improved despite last year's botched launch of the Galaxy Note 7 phone, with its well-received new S8 phone, supported by a huge marketing blitz, driving sales.

However, unlike Apple, Samsung does not make the majority of its profits from smartphones. Most of the increase is likely to have been driven by the company's mammoth display and microchip manufacturing division, with demand for electronics and computer servers surging.

Apple is not due to report results for the same period until next month but analysts expect operating profits of $10.5bn (£8.1bn), a slight increase on last year as iPhone growth slows down.

This would be the first time the US giant's operating profits have fallen behind Samsung Electronics since the two became the smartphone market's biggest players. Samsung and Apple account for more than a third of global sales between them.

Providing earnings guidance on Friday, Samsung said revenues had increased by 17.7pc to around 60 trillion won in the second quarter and operating profits were up 72pc from 8.1 trillion won a year ago.

Samsung's corporate reputation has taken a battering in recent months. The wider Samsung group, an empire that includes property, finance and healthcare companies, has been at the centre of a corruption scandal linked to Korea's recently-impeached president and its heir apparent Jay Y Lee has been charged with bribery and embezzlement.

By James Titcomb

Deliveroo willing to pay riders benefits if UK law is changed

( via – – Fri, 7 July, 2017) London, Uk – –



The food delivery firm Deliveroo has said it will pay sickness and injury benefits to its 15,000 riders in the UK if the law is changed.

In a submission to the government's review of the “on-demand” economy seen by the BBC, the firm says that at present the law prevents it from offering enhanced rights because it classifies its riders as self-employed.
Deliveroo says it uses that classification to provide its riders with the flexibility to work when they want.

It says employment rules should be changed so that people who work for companies like Deliveroo and Uber can receive enhanced benefits and not lose that flexibility.

Sources say that the firm is willing to look at enhanced payments to riders to cover things like sickness pay – and that the money would probably be administered under a government controlled scheme similar to national insurance or pensions contributions.

It may mean that Deliveroo riders and others working for similar on-demand firms like Uber are “reclassified” as gig workers.

The move comes after a slew of criticism and court cases against gig economy companies over how they treat people who work for them.
“Central to our popularity with riders and our success as a business is the flexible nature of the work that we offer,” the submission says.”We want to offer riders more security.

“We want to offer riders more security.

“We believe everyone – regardless of their type of contract – is entitled to certain benefits, but we are constrained in offering these at the moment.”

‘Gig economy' workers ‘should get minimum wage'

‘Pay self-employed minimum wage'
At the moment “self-employed” workers in the gig economy do not have the right to sickness pay, holiday pay or maternity and paternity leave.
They also are not covered by the minimum wage rules.

That has led to criticism that the people who ride or drive for gig companies are actually “workers” and should receive a wide range of benefits.

There are also concerns that companies are exploiting loopholes in employment law and lack of enforcement to run their businesses profitably.

Deliveroo says that if it did offer “worker” contracts, flexibility, which is very popular with its riders, would be lost.

Deliveroo riders, for example, are allowed to work for other on-demand economy businesses at the same time.

This makes it impossible, the firm argues, to guarantee the minimum wage which is based on working for a single employer.

Deliveroo says its riders earn on average £9.50 an hour, £2 more than the National Living Wage.

The firm says it is wrong that riders are at present involved in a “trade-off” between flexibility in the way they work, and the security of full employment benefits.

Company sources have told me that, following moves on sickness pay, Deliveroo would be willing to look at holiday pay, pension rights and maternity and paternity entitlements.

Those rights could be “earned” by riders after a certain number of deliveries have been achieved.

“At present, companies in the UK are forced to class the people they work with as either 'employees', ‘workers' or ‘self-employed',” the submission says.

“Our riders are ‘self-employed'. This gives them full flexibility – but the quid pro quo is that they are not entitled to certain benefits.

“In short, there is currently a trade-off between flexibility and security and we want to play our part in overcoming this divide.”Deliveroo is one of a new breed of “on-demand” firms which operate in what is known as the gig economy.

“Deliveroo is one of a new breed of “on-demand” firms which operate in what is known as the gig economy.

Riders for the firm – 60% of whom are under the age of 25 – log on to the company's digital platform and receive “jobs” delivering food, on a bike or a scooter.

Matthew Taylor, the head of the Royal Society of Arts, was asked by the government to review this new world of work, including the gig economy and zero hours contracts.

He is expected to publish his report imminently on how to reform employment law so that workers can be flexible without being exploited.
Update 10:30

Deliveroo's announcement today has received pretty short shrift from the TUC. Here's general secretary Frances O'Grady on my story this morning:

“This reads like special pleading. There's nothing stopping Deliveroo from paying their workforce the minimum wage and guaranteeing them basic rights like holiday and sick pay.

“Plenty of employers are able to provide genuine flexibility and security for their workforce. Deliveroo have no excuse for not following suit.

“The company's reluctance to offer benefits now is because they want to dodge wider employment and tax obligations by labelling staff as self-employed.”

Update: 13:04
Here's another update. The boss of Deliveroo, Will Shu, has told me that the company is willing to go further than offering its riders sick pay and injury insurance.

I put it to him that the benefits debate in the gig economy went far further than sickness benefits and injury insurance, and asked whether the company would look at issues like pension payments and holiday entitlements.

“This is the beginning of the debate,” Mr Shu told me.

“We sat down with – me personally – hundreds of riders and asked, what do you care most about today?

“It was sick pay and insurance for injury and that is what we are starting with. But we are open minded to different things.”
That sounds like a yes, the company is willing to look at further benefit areas.

It will be interesting to see how Matthew Taylor's report, expected next week, deals with the issue of broader rights for gig workers.

I asked Mr Shu for his response to critics who say that the only way firms like his make money is by not paying national insurance payments for their riders, pension contributions and other benefits.

“Not at all,” he answered.

“I understand [the criticism] – it is a new way of doing businesses.

“The on-demand economy in Britain is five or six years old and there are hundreds of thousands of people in it so the growth has been huge, and so it is understandable that people haven't understood the intricacies.

“At the end of the day though, let's take it back, it is a very different relationship than regular employment. People can come and go as they please.

“The issue is this – if we offer benefits to people the courts may reclassify self-employed people as workers thus robbing them of the flexibility they ultimately signed up for, for the job.

“What that practically means is that you would work on a shift pattern, you wouldn't log in and out as you please. It is a very different work relationship.”

And would mean that Deliveroo wouldn't be, well, Deliveroo.

By Kamal Ahmed

Primark reports “stellar” clothing sales as shoppers snap up low-cost summer fashions


( via – – Thur, 6 July, 2017) London, Uk – –

Retailer’s inexpensive take on latest trends triggers bumper sales of embroidered tops, ripped jeans – and inflatable flamingos

Primark has reported “stellar” clothing sales as the warm weather encouraged shoppers to snap up its low-cost summer fashions.

Last year investors were worried the stock market darling was running out of steam after sales at UK stores open more than one year turned negative for the first time.

But John Bason, finance director at Primark’s parent company, AB Foods, said the fashion chain had returned to form over the past three months. He said the retailer’s success was helped by the recent good weather and its “value” fashion appealing to increasingly hard-up Britons as inflation bites.

“Trading in the third quarter was very strong indeed,” said Bason, although he pointed out that the numbers were flattered by poor figures from a year ago when “unpredictable weather patterns” dented sales. “We had easy comparatives … but I don’t think our stores or merchandise have ever looked better.”

Credit Suisse analyst Charlie Mills estimated that like-for-like sales in the UK had risen 6% in the third quarter. “Primark looks to have had a stellar third quarter,” he said. “This is partly due to a soft comparative, but also very strong footfall and transactions leading to record market share gains.”

Bason said in recent months the number of shoppers visiting its stores had increased and that when they got to the till they were buying more items.

That is in sharp contrast with larger rivals Next and Marks & Spencer, which are battling falling clothing sales as Britons spend less cash on wardrobe updates and when they do look to trade down to cheaper stores.

“We’ve got the best clothing prices on the high street and are selling it at full price because we have got what people want,” said Bason. The industry data showed the return of inflation was having an impact on disposable incomes, he said, adding: “I think we are seeing the start of some tougher times for UK consumers.”

Shoppers, however, were keen on Primark’s inexpensive take on catwalk trends, with the retailer reporting strong sales of embroidered tops and ripped jeans. There was also huge demand for novelty items such as inflatable flamingos and unicorns as Britons basked in paddling pools or packed them to take on holiday.

Primark, the Britain’s third largest clothing retailer by sales value behind M&S and Next, gained market share in the 40 weeks to 24 June. Total UK sales rose 9% thanks to a store opening spree that included Llandudno and Uxbridge.

Primark said group sales were up 15% at constant currencies in the third quarter. The retailer has successfully established a chain in Spain and has launched a global push, opening shops in Staten Island and New York in the US as well as Florence in Italy.

The retailer had previously warned investors that its profit margins would face greater pressure in the second half of the year, but Bason said they would now be no lower than in the first half after it struck improved deals with its suppliers.

Primark shares closed up more than 2% on Thursday, making it the second biggest riser in the FTSE 100.

By Zoe Wood

Online takeaway Just Eat hires former Moneysupermarket boss as CEO

( via – – Thu, 6 July 2017) London, Uk – –

Online takeaway business Just Eat is hoping to draw a line under recent upheaval at the top by hiring Peter Plumb, the former boss of, as its new chief executive.

Mr Plumb, who ran the price comparison for nine years until he stepped down in May, arrives after Just Eat suffered a number of forced senior management changes while also seeking to convince competition authorities to pass its £240m takeover of rival Hungry House.

Former chief executive David Buttress stood down in March because of “urgent family matters”.

His duties were taken up by John Hughes, who became executive chairman. But Mr Hughes, who had been the company's chairman for six years, took a medical leave of absence in April and subsequently died last month.

Paul Harrison, the chief financial officer, has been acting as interim chief executive since the end of April and has had to deal with the ongoing investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority into the Hungry House deal.

The CMA in May decided to enter a deeper ‘Phase 2’ investigation into the transaction based on its view that restaurants could end up with a worse deal after the merger between the two online takeaway services.

“The CMA has found that the companies are close competitors because of the similarity of their service and their broad geographical coverage,” the CMA said at the time.

In documents sent to the CMA, Just Eat and Hungry House both criticised the decision by the watchdog to delve deeper into the deal.

Hungryhouse said that the CMA had adopted an “unduly narrow frame of reference” in terms of which type of businesses it considered to be rivals and claimed this was “driven by an overly cautious approach”.

Just Eat and Hungryhouse allow customers to request food from local takeaways but orders are delivered by staff from the individual restaurants, unlike rivals including Deliveroo and UberEats, whose drivers ferry food to consumers.

The CMA considered this a key distinction and therefore ruled in its initial assessment of the proposed deal that Just Eat and Hungryhouse could not be considered rivals to the delivery businesses.

The watchdog has until November 2 to make a decision about whether to permit the proposed merger while Mr Plumb joins in September.

During his time with Moneysupermarket, Mr Plumb oversaw a six-fold increase in its share price. Before that he was a managing director at Tesco-owned data business Dunnhumby.

Andrew Griffith, interim chairman of Just Eat, said: “Peter has an excellent track record of creating value for shareholders in high-growth consumer digital businesses.”

By Bradley Gerrard

Volvo signal the end of internal combustion engines with electric motors cars from 2019

( via – – Wed, 5 July 2017) London, Uk – –

Carmaker Volvo has said all new models will have an electric motor from 2019.

The Chinese-owned firm, best known for its emphasis on driver safety, has become the first traditional carmaker to signal the end of the internal combustion engine.

It plans to launch five fully electric models between 2019 and 2021 and a range of hybrid models.

But it will still be manufacturing earlier models that have pure combustion engines.

Geely, Volvo's Chinese owner, has been quietly pushing ahead with electric car development for more than a decade.

It now aims to sell one million electric cars by 2025.
‘PR coup'

“This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car,” said Hakan Samuelsson, chief executive of Volvo's carmaking division.

“People increasingly demand electrified cars, and we want to respond to our customers' current and future needs,” he said.

Tim Urquhart, principal analyst at IHS Automotive, said the move was a “clever sort of PR coup – it is a headline grabber”.

“It is not something that moves the goalposts hugely,” he said.

“Cars launched before that date [of 2019] will still have traditional combustion engines.

“The announcement is significant, and quite impressive, but only in a small way. The hybrids they are promising to make might be mild hybrids, anything as basic as a stop-start system.”

A stop-start system is one where electricity from batteries restart a car's petrol engine, after it has shut down when the car has come to rest at a junction, or in stationary traffic.

“However, Volvo are probably looking at something more sophisticated than that, but we don't know what as yet.”

Tesla targets
It comes after US-based electric car firm Tesla announced on Sunday that it will start deliveries of its first mass-market car, the Model 3, at the end of the month.

Elon Musk, Tesla's founder, said the company was on track to make 20,000 Model 3 cars a month by December.
His company's rise has upset the traditional power balance of the US car industry.

Tesla, which makes no profits, now has a stock market value of $58bn, nearly one-quarter higher than that of Ford, one of the Detroit giants that has dominated the automotive scene for more than a century.

Policy makers warn UK to prepare for first rate increase in a decade

James Stringer/Flickr

( via — Wed, 5 July 2017) London, Uk —

Ten years since the Bank of England last raised interest rates, policy makers are warning Britons to prepare for the next one.

“Our foot is pretty much on the floor with the accelerator,” Michael Saunders, a member of the rate-setting Monetary Policy Committee, told The Guardian in an interview published late on Tuesday. “Households should prepare for interest rates to go higher at some point.”

The comments came on the same day that the central bank told lenders to prove they’re not underestimating the risks of rapidly growing consumer credit given the current “benign economic environment.” With BOE interest rates at a record low, shoppers have borrowed and run down the rate at which they save to fuel spending and prop up the economy since the Brexit vote, with many first-time borrowers never having experienced an increase in official borrowing costs.

Governor Mark Carney said last week that “some removal of monetary stimulus is likely to become necessary,” tweaking his previous remark that it’s not yet time to start making that adjustment.

“I don’t think the economy needs as much stimulus” as it currently has, said Saunders, who voted for tighter policy in June. “But if rates do go up, it will be in the context of the economy doing OK and unemployment being low and probably falling.”

August Meeting

Members of the MPC are weighing up the risks of faster inflation against the need to support growth ahead of their next announcement on Aug. 3. They have publicly split in recent weeks, with three of eight officials in June dissenting for tighter policy and a fourth subsequently suggesting he might follow suit.

One risk of raising rates too soon is that highly indebted households curtail their spending, putting the brakes on an expansion not getting enough of a boost from exports. However, officials have also warned about the potential threats posed by leaving policy too loose for too long, which include losing control of inflation expectations and fueling consumer credit.

“To me this is the time when you don’t take the punch bowl away fully but you just start to edge it away,” Saunders said. “The risk that you run with maximum stimulus is that the jobless rate keeps falling then at some point if pay growth picks up you have to reverse course very sharply. It would then be much harder for tightening to be limited and gradual.”

The BOE, which kept its benchmark interest rate at 0.25 percent in June, last increased borrowing costs 10 years ago on Wednesday — to 5.75 percent. Policy makers subsequently cut rates in response to the financial crisis, recession and the threat of deflation.

Fragile Recovery

A report showing services growth slowed in June indicated that the U.K. recovery may still be uneven as the government starts talks to leave the European Union. IHS Markit said that while GDP growth probably improved to 0.4 percent in the second quarter, it is likely to cool again in the three months through September.

The BOE isn’t alone in contemplating lifting policy from emergency levels. The U.S. Federal Reserve starting increasing rates in December 2015. Investors see Canada raising rates next week for the first time since 2010, and European Central Bank officials have started talking about how to signal winding down stimulus.

In the U.K., Saunders and Ian McCafferty have called for tighter policy, while Chief Economist Andy Haldane has said he’s considering it. On the other side of the debate, BOE official Jon Cunliffe said last week that officials have time to see how domestic inflation pressures evolve before they need to act, while his colleague Ben Broadbent has not made his stance public since voting to keep policy unchanged at last month’s meeting.

The balance for the August decision is difficult to predict, not least because the rate-setting panel may have two new voters without a track record. Kristin Forbes, the leading advocate of higher rates, is being replaced by economics professor Silvana Tenreyro. A successor for former deputy governor Charlotte Hogg is also due to be appointed to the nine-member MPC.

By Scott Hamilton

Sainsbury’s see accelerated sales growth with revamped food range

Elliott Brown/Flickr

( via — Tue, 4 June 2017) London, UK —

Sainsbury's (SBRY.L), Britain's second biggest supermarket group, saw sales growth accelerate in its latest quarter, as it benefited from revamped food ranges and held down prices of staple goods despite rising inflation.

The group, which purchased Argos-owner Home Retail last year, cautioned trading conditions remained tough, however.

Sainsbury's and major rivals – market leader Tesco (TSCO.L), Asda (WMT.N) and Morrisons (MRW.L) – are grappling with the rapid growth of discounters Aldi and Lidl and having to cope with more expensive food imports due to a fall in the value of sterling since Britain voted to leave the European Union.

“The market is competitive and we continue to manage cost price pressures closely,” CEO Mike Coupe said on Tuesday.

But he said Sainsbury's strategy of building a distinctive food offer ranging from own-brand “basics” to specialist “free from” and organic lines; growing its general merchandise and clothing businesses; and bearing down on costs, was working.

“Our strategy is delivering and we are well placed to navigate the external environment.”

Shares in Sainsbury's rose up to 3 percent.

“Sainsbury's has improved volume growth while improving their price position in the quarter,” said Bernstein analyst Bruno Monteyne, who has an “outperform” rating on the stock.

The group's retail like-for-like sales rose 2.3 percent, excluding fuel, in the 16 weeks to July 1, its fiscal first quarter – ahead of analysts' average forecast for a rise of 2 percent, and growth of 0.3 percent in the previous quarter.

This was the first quarter following the Home Retail purchase for which the group did not issue separate like-for-like sales data for Sainsbury's and Argos.


“Our performance is really driven by own label (food)products and the fact that we’ve invested a lot over the last few years,” Coupe told reporters, highlighting 430 new and improved products in the quarter, including over 250 new Summer eating lines.

He said that while overall grocery inflation had trended upwards in the quarter, Sainsbury's prices versus competitors were better.

“We’ve done a great job with our suppliers within our own (label) business to hold our costs down which means our price position has improved in the quarter,” said Coupe.

He noted that prices of staples, such as broccoli, milk, apples, chicken breasts and eggs were cheaper than they were three years ago.

Sainsbury's said total grocery sales rose 3.0 percent, while transactions at supermarkets were up 1.9 percent. General merchandise sales increased 1.0 percent. Online grocery sales increased 8 percent, while sales at convenience stores were up 10 percent.

Finance chief Kevin O'Byrne said he was comfortable with analysts' average profit forecast of 572 million pounds for 2017-18, down from 581 million in 2016-17. Such an outcome would represent a fourth straight year of profit decline.

Sainsbury's has held takeover talks with franchised convenience chain Nisa, according to two industry sources, and is also reportedly considering a move for wholesaler Palmer & Harvey.

Coupe, however, wouldn't be drawn on possible deals.

“A business like Sainsbury’s is always looking at potential opportunities … We talk to lots of people,” he said.

“Most of these conversations come to nothing,” added O'Byrne.

Sainsbury's said it remained confident of delivering 160 million pounds of earnings synergies from the Argos purchase by 2019 and was on track to achieve 145 million pounds of other cost savings this year.

By James Davey

UK skills shortage cause employers to paying top rate to recruit new staff

( via – – Mon, 3 July 2017) London, Uk – –

Many UK employers have had to pay “well above market rate” to attract employees over the past year as a skills shortage intensifies, a survey suggests.

Almost all firms in a survey of 400 by the Open University said it had been difficult to find workers with the skills they needed.

The distance learning university calculated the problem was costing companies more than £2bn a year.

It said uncertainty surrounding Brexit was exacerbating the skills gap.
It found people already in work were reluctant to move employer, while some EU nationals did not want to take a UK role because of the lack of clarity over future immigration rules.

Recruitment delays
The number of EU workers in the UK fell by 50,000 to 2.3 million in the last three months of last year, according to official statistics.
Meanwhile, unemployment is at its lowest rate since records began in 1975.

This means that it is taking firms more time than usual to recruit new staff.

As a result, many firms are having to hire temporary staff and pay additional recruitment fees, as well as higher salaries, the survey found.
Some 56% of the firms surveyed said they had had to increase the salary on an advertised role to get the skills they needed over the past year.
For small and medium-sized firms, the average increase was £4,150, while for larger firms it was £5,575, according to the survey.

‘Invest in development'
The Open University is urging firms to help solve the issue by training staff internally via apprenticeships.

From May, employers have been able to draw vouchers from a new fund aimed at creating three million new apprenticeships.

The vouchers are being funded from a 0.5% levy on company payrolls of larger firms with an annual wage bill of £3m and above.

Around 59% of the firms surveyed are planning to offer apprenticeships over the next year, almost double the number that currently offer them, probably as a result of the new funding, the survey suggested.

The Open University's external engagement director Steve Hill said firms needed to look at recruitment and retention “differently”.

“Now faced with a shrinking talent pool, exacerbated by the uncertainties of Brexit, it is more important that employers invest in developing their workforce,” he added.

British Hospitality Association expects a decline in the sector workforce by 2021

aJ Gazmen/Flickr

( via — Mon, 3 July 2017) London, Uk —

The hospitality industry’s stellar growth since the financial crisis could be halted and start to fall by 2021 if the Government continues to overlook it, a new report has suggested.

Research by Ignite Economics, carried out for the British Hospitality Association, has predicted the sector’s workforce could begin to drop by 2021 with the contribution it makes to the economy also falling as cost pressures from wages and business rates bite alongside a potential labour squeeze once the UK leaves the EU.

The report’s least optimistic ‘bear case’ scenario suggests a 1pc fall in the number of people directly employed in the sector compared to 2016 to 3.17m, with the economic contribution the sector makes also starting to fall from its current level of £73bn.

While the estimated drop is small, any weakness in the industry would be a concern given it employs almost 10pc of the entire UK workforce and has grown its contribution to the economy faster than any other sector since the economic crisis.

“The hospitality sector has been largely overlooked by successive Governments, and was notable in its absence in party manifestos ahead of the General Election, as well as its absence from the Government’s Industrial Strategy,” the report said.

Ufi Ibrahim, the chief executive of the BHA, said hospitality’s growth outlook was “highly uncertain”.

“We need the Government to step up and support our industry by reducing tourism VAT, working with us to reduce the dependence on EU workers and increase the number of UK workers joining the hospitality industry, allowing the Low Pay Commission to set the National Living Wage and to bring forward a fundamental review of Business Rates,” Ms Ibrahim said.

The bear case in the report assumes the 65,000 jobs per annum that come from EU workers are no longer able to be filled and that labour productivity ceases to improve and stays at 2016 levels.

A far rosier scenario is also offered by the report, suggesting employment could grow by 15pc to 3.69m and that the sector’s economic contribution could rise 30pc compared to 2016 to £95bn. A base case predicts a 7pc growth in employment to hit 3.43m and a 22pc rise in the sector’s economic contribution compared to 2016 to £89bn.

Ed Birkin, founder of Ignite Economics, said it was “more important than ever” to promote industries with strong economic fundamentals such as the hospitality sector.

“However, there are a number of potential headwinds facing the sector, and the extent of these will determine whether the industry can continue to be a key driver of growth for the UK economy.”

By Bradley Gerrard


Watch this inspiring motivational interview with Founder of SunLife Organics


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Starbucks profits surge with expansion into new markets


( via – – Fri, 30 June 2017) London, Uk – –

Profits rose by nearly 75pc in Starbucks’s European, Middle Eastern and African division last year as the coffee giant continued its expansion into new markets.

The unit opened branches in South Africa and Slovenia in the last financial year as it boosted its Emea store count to more than 2,600.

The surge came despite a 60pc fall in profits in the UK, the arm’s largest market, where it said earlier this year that Brexit and weaker consumer confidence had weighed on sales.

On a statutory level, the division posted pre-tax profits of $219m (£169m) in the year to October 2, down from $682m in the previous year. However, the sharp drop follows an internal reallocation of company funds in 2015 following the relocation of its European headquarters to the UK.

Operating profit rose to $56.5m from $24m, though, with Emea president Martin Brok saying growth has been driven by “expansion into new markets and focus on decreasing costs”.

Starbucks enjoyed particular success in Turkey, and opened its first stores in South Africa and Slovenia last year, while it also has plans to launch in Italy.

The company, which faced criticism in 2012 over the amount of tax it was paying in the UK, added that it shelled out nearly $22m in corporation tax last year from the Emea unit, an increase of 44pc.

“These results demonstrate the work we have undertaken to bring our company structure in line with the way we run our business today and enhance transparency,” Mr Brok said.

“The growth we experienced during the period has been driven by expansion into new markets and focus on decreasing costs as we continue to invest in growing our presence across the region.”

By Grace Palmer Sam Dean

Lloyds Bank to stop trading Qatari Riyals

Elliott Brown/

( via — Fri, 30 June 2017) London, UK —

Britain's Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L) said on Friday that it has stopped trading Qatari Riyals and that the currency is no longer available for sale or buy-back at its high-street banks.

A spokeswoman for the bank said a “third-party supplier” that fulfils its foreign exchange service had ceased trading in the currency from June 21.

“This currency is no longer available for sale or buy-back across our high street banks including Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland and Halifax,” the spokeswoman said.

By Andrew MacAskill