One in six people are estimated to be over the age of 65 by 2050. As the world’s aging population battles boredom and loneliness, some retirees are finding second careers to keep occupied. CNBC’s Uptin Saiidi met one couple in South Korea going back to work as Airbnb hosts.
As global beer sales have stalled, major brewers such as AB InBev and Carlsberg are flocking to China. WSJ's Steven Russolillo in Hong Kong tests their strategies, sipping the beers specially crafted to win over Chinese drinkers.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 13th 2019) London, Uk – –
Boss Tim Martin dismisses worst-case scenario document for no-deal Brexit as ‘bollocks’
The boss of JD Wetherspoon has claimed consumers are in a good mood despite political turmoil as he lauded rising sales at the pub chain and dismissed the government’s Yellowhammer papers as “bollocks”.
Tim Martin, an ardent Brexiter who has long supported a no-deal exit from the EU, said consumers were proving resilient in the current political environment as wage growth, low interest rates and rising employment levels have kept spirits high.
“About two or three years ago … the main anxiety was that consumers were overspending and credit card debt was going up and so on. I haven’t read those headlines so much recently,” he said.
“Household income is at or near record levels, there’s record employment and interest rates are low. So I think people are in a good mood. There’s a fair bit of political turmoil but I wouldn’t say it’s having a massive effect on people going out.”
It came as the pub chain reported a 7.4% rise in sales to £1.8bn for the year to July, compared with £1.7bn a year earlier. However, the same wage growth that underpinned consumer sentiment dragged on pre-tax profit, with a higher wage bill at Wetherspoon contributing to a 4.5% fall in profits to £102.5m. Pub improvements, involving kitchen upgrades, maintenance and the creation of new beer gardens, also increased costs.
Martin said the new financial year got off to a strong start, with like-for-like sales over the six weeks to 8 September up 5.9%. He insisted the pub chain would do well over the next year despite warnings over the impact of a no-deal Brexit.
Earlier this week, the government was forced to release documents outlining its worst-case scenario “planning assumptions” for a no-deal Brexit. The Operation Yellowhammer papers revealed that no deal could result in rising food and fuel prices, public disorder and disruptions to supplies of medicine.
“Yellowhammer is bollocks,” Martin told the Guardian.
“I’m hoping … that we leave on 31 October without a deal. I think that will be better for the country because we can eliminate tariffs on non-EU imports, which push up prices in the shops, so we can reduce shop prices, we can avoid the payment of £39bn [to the EU], or most of it, and can regain control of fishing. But most importantly we can increase the level of democracy – and I think democracy and prosperity are very closely linked.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 12th Sept 2019) London, Uk – –
The impact of a no-deal Brexit would be “significant and difficult to mitigate”, the company said.
John Lewis has posted losses of £25.9m for the first half of the year, blaming the shifting retail landscape and ongoing concerns over Brexit.
With trading conditions already less than favourable, John Lewis said in its half-year results that if the UK were to leave the EU without a deal, the effect would be “significant”, and it would “not be possible to mitigate that impact”.
John Lewis Partnership chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said that the UK's exit from the EU continued to “weigh on consumer sentiment at a crucial time for the sector as we enter the peak trading period”. He added that John Lewis had been preparing for Brexit by increasing its foreign currency hedging and stockpiling where possible.
Sir Charlie said that he expected retail conditions to remain tough throughout 2019 – although he said the second half of the year was typically stronger for the retailer.
Commenting on these difficult trading conditions, the chairman said that the face of UK retail was changing rapdily.
“The re-drawing of the UK retail landscape continues apace,” he said.
These headwinds drove the compnany's revenues down by 1.4%, from £4.8bn to £4.7bn, for the first half of the year to 27 July.
In March, John Lewis Partnership – which owns John Lewis and Waitrose – said that staff bonuses at the two companies had been slashed to the lowest level in 66 years after a “challenging” year in which underlying profits fell 45%.
At Waitrose, despite a weak grocery market, the company said it had a good trading performance, with only a “marginal decline in like-for-like sales”, and continued improvement in gross margins.
It also said it had seen strong online grocery sales growth of 10.7%, a figure “well ahead of the market”.
INSIDER's Emily Christian heads to the Plaza Hotel to find out why young professionals are seeking out etiquette classes. She meets with expert Myka Meier, the founder of Beaumont Etiquette, who teaches Emily the graces of a duchess and explains why etiquette is more important today than ever. Does Emily have what it takes to act like a royal for the day?
Volkswagen is one of the world’s largest automakers. It houses brands such as Audi, Porsche, and Bentley. But perhaps its best-known vehicle is the Volkswagen Beetle. Over its entire lifespan, Volkswagen sold over 22.5 million of all three versions of the Beetle. But in July of 2019, production one of the most iconic and important cars of all time came to an end.
Fauzia Abdur-Rahman has been serving Jamaican food in the South Bronx from her cart Fauzia's Heavenly Delights, right outside the courthouse, for the last 25 years. The menu changes every day, but there are always two meat options, a fish option and three vegetarian options.
With the help of her daughter and husband, Fauzia makes her famous jerk chicken three times a week, and finishes it with her homemade jerk sauce that she makes with pimiento and scotch bonnet peppers, plus a host of other ingredients.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 6th Sept 2019) London, Uk – –
TripAdvisor has hit back at allegations that it is failing to stop a flood of fake reviews that artificially boost hotel ratings.
The travel review site has come under fire from consumer group Which? over what it calls “hugely suspicious” patterns of comments from contributors.
But James Kay, a UK director of TripAdvisor, said the site went after fake reviews “very aggressively”.
“We are doing this more than any other platform out there,” he told the BBC.
Mr Kay was speaking in response to a Which? Travel survey that looked at 250,000 TripAdvisor reviews for the top 10 ranked hotels in 10 popular tourist destinations worldwide.
Which? said it had reported 15 of those 100 hotels to TripAdvisor as having “blatant hallmarks” of fake reviews.
It said that in the case of one hotel in Jordan, TripAdvisor subsequently removed 730 of its five-star reviews.
Naomi Leach of Which? Travel accused TripAdvisor of a “failure to stop fake reviews and take strong action against hotels that abuse the system”.
“Platforms like TripAdvisor should be more responsible for the information presented to consumers.”
But TripAdvisor's Mr Kay said the site had already taken action against the reviews in question, independently of the Which? investigation.
“This is something we do every day,” he said. “We have fraud detection tools that are far more sophisticated than those used by Which?”
Mr Kay said its investigators were always on the lookout for suspicious patterns of reviews.
In Italy, he added, TripAdvisor had assisted a prosecution that sent one fake reviewer to jail.
Under an EU directive that has been in force in the UK since 2008, hotel staff who post favourable reviews of their establishment on travel information websites such as TripAdvisor are committing a crime.
Any firm breaking the rules may face prosecution, stiff fines and possibly even jail terms for its staff.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 4th Sept 2019) London, Uk – –
Exit of founding member of top City share index is latest sign of retailer’s declining fortunes
Marks & Spencer is to be demoted from the FTSE 100 for the first time in the latest sign of the declining fortunes of the retailer, which was a founding member of the leading City share index.
Relegation to the FTSE 250 comes as the company is closing 120 stores as part of an overhaul designed to shore up profits.
M&S’s demotion reflects a share price at nearly a 20-year low as a long-running sales slump at the retailer’s clothing arm is compounded by the high street crisisaffecting rivals including Debenhams and House of Fraser.
The FTSE 100, which was established in 1984, contains the UK’s biggest listed companies by market value, with membership considered a mark of business prestige. The index is reshuffled four times a year according to share price movements, allowing a handful of companies to move up and down.Q&A
Marks & Spencer timeline
Tony Shiret, an analyst at the stockbroker Whitman Howard, said: “It is significant [for M&S] in the sense that it is a fairly objective measure of the diminished scale of the company.”Advertisement
M&S shares closed down 1.5% at 187p, valuing the company at £3.6bn.
A decade ago, M&S was making a £1bn annual profit but the latest figure was below £100m on the back of more than £400m of restructuring costs relating to the revamp being led by the company’s chair, Archie Norman, who is highly regarded for turnarounds during his career including at Asda and ITV.
Losing its FTSE 100 status means M&S shares will no longer be held by the investment funds that only track the index of Britain’s highest-value companies, forcing them to dump the stock. Norman has previously been sanguine on the matter, saying: “When I went to ITV we dropped out of the FTSE 100, the sky didn’t fall in.”
Last year, he told shareholders M&S had bigger problems because it was facing an existential threat as retail shopping moved online. “This business is on a burning platform. 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 warned.Q&A
What is the FTSE 100 and why does it matter?
Nick Bubb, a retail analyst, said M&S had been in the relegation zone for some time. “M&S has been declining remorselessly for many years, as a result of weak and arrogant management, and stronger, more focused competition [such as Primark]. The problems have mainly been on the clothing side, where M&S tries and fails to be all things to all people in the mid-market,” he said.
M&S – which was founded on a Leeds market stall in 1884 – was late to adapt to the rise in online shopping, hampered by its legacy of 300 clothing stores. Many of the chain’s shops predate the second world war and are no longer in the right place or are the wrong size for their local market.
Norman is putting the company through its biggest shake-up in a generation. He has paid £750m for a 50% share in Ocado’s retail arm and, from autumn next year, M&S products will replace Waitrose-branded goods in shoppers’ deliveries. But investors are split on the merits of the deal, with some arguing the company has taken an expensive route into the fast-growing online grocery market.
But Norman, who is working closely with the company’s chief executive, Steve Rowe, has had his work cut out reviving the M&S clothing business, which remains the country’s biggest in sales terms despite seven years of decline.
In July, M&S sacked its clothing head Jill McDonald after she failed to get a grip on the biggest job in high street fashion. At the time, Rowe – who is now running the business – revealed buying errors meant key products such as jeans had sold out, resulting in the poorest stock levels “I have ever seen in my life”.
With FTSE 100 membership purely a function of market cap size, Bubb said: “Other companies have grown bigger and M&S has got smaller. Life will go on after the exit from the FTSE 100 and in some ways, a lower profile might help M&S.”
The headphone jack has a long legacy in the audio world. So when Apple decided to exclude it from the iPhone 7, consumers were up in arms. In the years since, Samsung has been a champion for those who still wanted the headphone jack Samsung even went so far as to run a headphone jack commercial mocking Apple. But with the release of the Galaxy Note 10, it too has forgotten the decades-old technology. Did Samsung prove Apple right by killing the headphone jack?
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Sat, 24th Aug 2019) London, Uk – –
In the Netherlands, where there are more bikes than people, serious money is being spent encouraging even more people to get on their bikes.
In a nation with more bikes than people, finding a space to park can be a problem. The Dutch city of Utrecht is unveiling an answer at its railway station on Monday morning: the world’s largest multistorey parking area for bicycles.
The concrete-and-glass structure holds three floors of gleaming double-decker racks with space for 12,500 bikes, from cargo bikes that hold a family to public transport bikes for rent.
‘We need more people to go by bike': meet Amsterdam's nine-year-old junior cycle mayor
It is part of a strategy in which hundreds of millions of euros are being devoted to enhancing cycling infrastructure across the Netherlands, a nation so fervent about its two-wheelers that it is applying to add cycling to its inventory of intangible heritage.
“We are striving to make it a cyclists’ paradise and there’s still much to be done,” said Stientje van Veldhoven, a junior infrastructure minister. “I’d like us to make better use of what I call this secret weapon against congestion, poor air quality in cities and climate change that is also good for your health and your wallet.”
She added: “If you want to get people out of their cars and into public transport, you need to make sure using public transport is easy and comfortable. It needs to be very easy to park your bike as close to the train as possible – and you don’t want to be looking for half an hour for a space.”
According to the Dutch Statistics Office, 60% of all trips to work in the Netherlands are made by car and just a quarter by cycling – although in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, (known as the Randstad region) cycling is more common.
Demand for public transport is growing, the main four cities are predicted to expand, and the Netherlands has been struggling to meet its climate crisis commitments, so encouraging more bike use is a political priority.
“In the next 10 years, 500,000 more people will come to urbanised areas, and if all of those people bring their car then we are going to have massive congestion,” said Van Veldhoven. “So investment in public transport, cycling lanes and cycle parking facilities is crucial to keep this area that’s essential for our national economy moving.”
The national railway service NS is investing tens of millions in bike parking, according to its spokesman, Geert Koolen. “We have over 1 million train passengers a day and in our bigger cities – like Utrecht – more than half arrive at the station by bike,” he said. “At Dutch stations there are some 490,000 parking spaces for bikes and we expect 5 million bicycle rides on OV-fiets [shared public transport bikes] in 2020.”
Utrecht is promoting cycling as part of a “healthy urban living” policy. “We are counting on biking as a healthy and sustainable form of transport for a growing city,” said the deputy mayor, Victor Everhardt. “Cycling is in the genes of people from Utrecht and in 1885 it built the Netherlands’ first bike lane. Every day, 125,000 cyclists go through the city centre to work, school and the station, and the world’s largest bike park sits perfectly in this global cycling city.”
The scale of Dutch investments shows cycling is about more than just the issue of transportation, according to BYCS, a social enterprise behind a network of international cycle mayors. “The bike park in Utrecht shows you need massive investments into cycling infrastructure parking, cycle lanes and great architecture, but we believe this is one of the most impactful things a city can do,” said its strategy director, Adam Stones. “If you look at it as transformation – how it addresses mental and physical health, brings communities together and addresses resource use and the environment – you put more weight behind it.”
But some experts sound a note of caution. Although the Fietsersbond, a Dutch cycling organisation, warmly welcomes the investment, it warns that it is irritatingand counterproductive when bike parks are combined with a no-tolerance policy to on-street parking – as in central Amsterdam, where “wild” parked bikes are confiscated.
“I am not a fan of this,” said its director, Saskia Kluit. “There’s a grey area growing where the government wants a clean appearance and wants to get rid of the bikes, but parked bikes give the street liveliness and movement, and if you want the benefit of the cyclist shopping, it’s better they can stop everywhere they want.”
The Flintstone House is an eccentric house in Hillsborough, California. It was designed in 1976 by William Nicholson and most recently purchased by Florence Fang in 2017 for $2.8 million. Large dinosaur statues and other Flintstone-themed artwork cover the front and back yards. Town officials from Hillsborough sued Florence Fang, stating that her property doesn't comply with the community's code.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 15th Aug 2019) London, Uk – –
Challenger bank offers short-term loans but says it is not targeting customers who use payday lenders
Digital bank Monzo is dipping its toes into the short-term loans market a year after Wonga’s collapse, but insists it will not target customers who usually turn to payday lenders.
The challenger bank formally launched loans for its 2.5 million customers on Thursday, following a trial with around 4,000 of its users. Those who qualify will be able to borrow as much as £15,000 for up to 60 months, or take loans as small as £200 for as little as 90 days.
That kind of wage top-up has been the hallmark of short-term or payday lenders, whose customers borrow an average of £300 over three months.
But while payday lenders usually hit customers with interest charges equal to an annual percentage rate (APR) of 1,000%, Monzo is charging a maximum 24% APR on loans up to £7,500. Loans worth between £7,500 and £15,000 are charged as low as 3.7% APR.
Founder and chief executive Tom Blomfield said Monzo, which is favoured by young customers especially in the south-east, is not trying to appeal to those with low credit scores. “These aren’t targeted at the sub-prime end of the market at all. You have to pass a relatively stringent credit check.”
Last year Blomfield told the Telegraph that Monzo was considering launching loans targeting “the Wonga segment” of the market. He said he didn’t want to expand into that area solely for profit, and suggested there could be a more ethical approach to payday loans.
He was forced to backtrack on those comments and days later said Monzo was “categorically not working on a high-cost credit product.” But he said that helping people with spiralling debt and poor credit scores was an area the company still planned to move into.
Blomfield explained Monzo’s new smaller loans will appeal to customers who, for example, need an emergency boiler repair but don’t want to charge it to their existing credit card or dip into expensive overdrafts.
“I don’t think you should force people to borrow thousands of pounds if they don’t need thousands of pounds. They just need £200 for a short-term need for three months and it’s a flexible tool. I don’t think it’s for everyone.”
Monzo recently doubled its value to £2bn after closing a fresh round of investor funding. The bank raised £113m from a group of investors led by Y Combinator, a US-based investment firm best known for backing holiday letting platform Airbnb, file hosting service Dropbox and online forum Reddit.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 12th Aug 2019) London, Uk – –
Travel operator, which had already asked for £750m, wants to stave off winter cash crunch
Shares in Thomas Cook have slumped after the troubled travel operator said it was seeking to raise another £150m from investors – after already asking for £750m – to stave off a Christmas cash crunch.
Thomas Cook said it was in advanced discussions with its banks and Fosun, the Chinese conglomerate and its biggest shareholder, over the “substantial new capital investment”.
The British travel company, which traces its history to 1841, has struggled in recent years due to a large debt pile, intense competition and structural change to a travel industry lumbered with large branch networks. In recent months unseasonable weather and the impact of Brexit on consumers’ travel plans have added to its woes, pushing it to a £1.5bn loss for the six months to 31 March.Quick guide
Thomas Cook shares fell by a fifth on Monday to 6.2p amid questions of whether the company would survive. The price was a far cry from highs of 140p reached as recently as May 2018. The former FTSE 100 blue chip company was worth only £147.9m before the latest fall in its value.
The latest cash injection comes a month after Thomas Cook revealed it was in talks over a £750m rescue deal with Fosun, a Shanghai-based company with diverse interests that include Wolverhampton Wanderers football club, insurance and property businesses and the Club Med tourism brand.
Thomas Cook said the extra £150m would provide it with liquidity headroom during the winter months, when travel operators generally ran low on cash after bulk buying hotel space before a surge of bookings for the next summer. It expects the bailout to be concluded in early October.
Those shareholders who have remained with Thomas Cook are expected to have the value of their shares “significantly diluted” by the bailout, which will result in about £1.7bn in debt converted to equity alongside the £900m cash injection.
The plans would also involve splitting its profitable airline from the tour operator business, which Fosun would essentially take over. Fosun would then have to decide on any reorganisation, prompting concern about the future of the 21,000-member workforce. The company has 563 high street branches in the UK.
Sneaker Con co-founder Yu-Ming Wu and Hayden Sharitt, a 21-year-old resale business owner, take us inside the industry where some sellers make millions of dollars on pre-owned shoes, as they attend a sneaker trading show in Cleveland.
Cambridge may be home to one of the world’s most revered universities but there's much more to this historic English town. With the picturesque River Cam running through its centre, Cambridge is as beautiful and it is fascinating. New restaurants and bars have invigorated its food scene, offering a blend of creativity and tradition. Welcome to Cambridge