Porsche shares rise on first trading day in €75bn stock market float

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 29th Sept 2022) London, Uk – –

UK’s Next warns sterling plunge may cause second cost of living crisis

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 29th Sept 2022) London, UK —

The plunge in the value of the pound looks set to create a second cost of living crisis for Britons, clothing retailer Next (NXT.L) warned on Thursday, cutting its sales and profit forecasts.

Shares the company tumbled more than 7% after it said August trading had been below expectations and pressure on household budgets was set to intensify in the coming months.

“It looks like we may be set to have two cost of living crises: this year, a supply side-led squeeze, next year a currency led price hike as devaluation takes effect,” said CEO Simon Wolfson.


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Next, which trades from about 500 stores and online and is often considered a gauge of how British consumers are faring, said it now expected full price sales in the second half of its financial year to fall 1.5%, and a full year pretax profit of 840 million pounds ($905 million), up 2.1% versus 2021-22.

It previously forecast second-half full price sales growth of 1% and a full year pretax profit of 860 million pounds.

The company said cutting its guidance was a difficult call, given sales in September had improved and the company may see benefits from recent government measures, such as an energy price cap. Sales to date in August and September are down 0.3%.

The group reported a pretax profit of 401 million pounds for the six months to July, up 16%, with full price sales up 12.4%.

TURMOIL

Confidence levels among Britain's consumers sank to a record low this month as they struggle with the accelerating cost of living, even before the government's mini-budget on Friday sowed turmoil in the mortgage market, leading to warnings of a sharp drop in house prices.

Wages are failing to keep pace with inflation that was 9.9% in August and Next's rivals Primark(ABF.L), ASOS (ASOS.L) and Boohoo (BOOH.L) have all warned on profit this month.

The government has announced a raft of tax cuts and help on energy costs for consumers and businesses, but the pound/U.S. dollar exchange rate has fallen to almost parity, raising the price of imports.

Wolfson said that while it seemed inevitable that clothing and homeware sales would slow, healthy employment and savings levels provided some comfort.


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He said it was too early to tell what impact government help would have, though it was likely the scale of the measures would support spending.

Looking to the 2023-24 year, he said if the weakness of the pound continued, it would likely inflate selling prices, particularly in the second half.

Separately on Thursday, H&M, the world's No.2 fashion retailer, launched a cost savings drive after reporting weaker-than-expected profits.

Reporting by James Davey

 

How Amazon Changed Whole Foods, With New High-Tech Shopping

Source: CNBC

Five years ago, Amazon bought Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. Since then, there’s been a lot of changes, including a new CEO starting Sept. 1. It added a palm-scanning payment option, hundreds of cameras and sensors to enable checkout-free shopping, and a “dark store” devoted entirely to online orders. Take a look at how the new high-tech shopping, prices and product selection have changed since Amazon took over the specialty grocer in 2017.

 

The Ethereum Merge Is Done, Opening a New Era for the Second-Biggest Blockchain

(qlmbusinessnews.com via coindesk.com — Thur, 22nd Sept 2022) London, Uk – –

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By Sam Kessler

The historic upgrade casts aside the miners who had previously driven the blockchain, with promises of massive environmental benefits.

The massive overhaul of Ethereum known as the Merge has finally happened, moving the digital machinery at the core of the second-largest cryptocurrency by market value to a vastly more energy-efficient system after years of development and delay.

It was no small feat swapping out one way of running a blockchain, known as proof-of-work, for another, called proof-of-stake. “The metaphor that I use is this idea of switching out an engine from a running car,” said Justin Drake, a researcher at the non-profit Ethereum Foundation who spoke to CoinDesk before the Merge happened.


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The payoff is potentially gigantic. Ethereum should now consume 99.9% or so less energy. It's like Finland has suddenly shut off its power grid, according to one estimate.

Ethereum’s developers say the upgrade will make the network – which houses a $60 billion ecosystem of cryptocurrency exchanges, lending companies, non-fungible token (NFT) marketplaces and other apps – more secure and scalable, too.

When the Merge officially kicked in at 6:43 a.m. UTC, more than 41,000 people were tuned in on YouTube to an “Ethereum Mainnet Merge Viewing Party.” They watched with bated breath as key metrics trickled in suggesting that Ethereum's core systems had remained intact. After about 15 long minutes the Merge officially finalized, meaning it could be declared a success. The price of ETH – whose current market value near $200 billion makes it the second-largest cryptocurrency after bitcoin (BTC) – was largely flat after the Merge.

The update, which ends the network’s reliance on the energy-intensive process of cryptocurrency mining, has been closely watched by crypto investors, enthusiasts and skeptics for the impact it is expected to have on the wider blockchain industry.

Mark Cuban, investor and billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, told CoinDesk he would be “watching [the Merge] with interest like everyone else,” pointing out that it might make ETH, the network's native token, deflationary.

The idea was there from the start that Ethereum would eventually make the switch to proof-of-stake. But the transition was a complicated technical effort – an endeavor so risky that many doubted it would happen at all.

“There’s a part of me which hasn’t completely realized that this is actually happening,” Drake said. “I’m somewhat in denial, you know, because I’ve trained myself to just expect it to happen in the future.”

The update’s complexity was compounded by the fact that it may have been one of the largest open-source software endeavors in history, requiring coordination across dozens of teams and scores of individual researchers, developers and volunteers.

Tim Beiko, an Ethereum Foundation developer who played a key role in coordinating the update, said to CoinDesk, “I think the Merge can genuinely get those people who were interested in Ethereum, but skeptical of the environmental impacts, to come and experiment with it.”

Goodbye, miners

In 2008, Bitcoin introduced the world to the idea of a decentralized ledger – a single, immutable record of transactions that computers around the world could view, alter and trust without the need for intermediaries.

Ethereum, introduced in 2015, expanded upon the core concepts of Bitcoin with smart contracts – or computer programs that effectively use the blockchain as a global supercomputer, recording data onto its network. That innovation was the essential ingredient behind decentralized finance (DeFi) and NFTs – the main catalysts of the most recent crypto boom.

The Merge retires Ethereum’s proof-of-work system, where crypto miners competed to write transactions to its ledger – and earn rewards for doing so – by solving cryptographic puzzles.

Most crypto mining today happens in “farms,” though they may be more aptly described as factories. Picture massive warehouses lined with rows of computers stacked on top of one another like shelves of books at a university library – each computer hot to the touch as it strains to pump out cryptocurrency.

This system, which was pioneered by Bitcoin, is what caused Ethereum to guzzle so much energy and is responsible for fueling the blockchain sector’s reputation as an environmental menace.

“My daughter and I spoke about NFTs a few months ago,” recalled Ben Edgington, a product leader at the Ethereum research and development firm ConsenSys. “At the dinner table I rather foolishly mentioned some NFT projects, and she was yelling at me, ‘How can you boil the oceans with this nonsense? This is terrible. I can't believe that you do this for a living.’”

Edgington, who began his career researching climate science before eventually landing in crypto, understood where his daughter was coming from. “Rightly or wrongly, she'd absorbed a very toxic environmental narrative,” he said. “I mean, it's kind of hard to defend ‘stickers for grownups’ that emit, by some estimates, a megaton of [carbon dioxide] a week.”

Hello, stakers

Ethereum’s new system, proof-of-stake, does away with mining entirely.

Miners are replaced by validators – people who “stake” at least 32 ETH by sending them to an address on the Ethereum network where they cannot be bought or sold.

These staked ETH tokens act like lottery tickets: The more ETH a validator stakes, the more likely one of its tickets will be drawn, granting it the ability to write a “block” of transactions to Ethereum's digital ledger.

Ethereum introduced a proof-of-stake network in 2020 called the Beacon Chain, but until the Merge it was just a staging area for validators to get set up for the switch. Ethereum’s transition to proof-of-stake involved merging the Beacon Chain with Ethereum’s main network.

According to Beiko, the energy consumption of proof-of-stake is “not even a rounding error in terms of environmental impact.”

“Proof-of-stake is like running an app on your MacBook,” he said. “It's like running Slack. It's like running Google Chrome or running Netflix. Obviously, your MacBook plugs into the wall and uses electricity to run. But no one thinks about the environmental impact of running Slack, right?”

Edgington pointed to the environmental impact of the Merge upgrade as the benefit he is personally the most excited about. “I feel very proud, you know, that I'll be able to look back and say I've had a role to play in removing a megaton of carbon from the atmosphere every week. That's something that meaningfully affects my family and others,” he said.

New incentives

Rather than a single piece of open-source software, the Ethereum network is better understood as a nation-state – a kind of living organism that comes together when a bunch of computers talk to one another in the same language, all following an identical set of rules.

Ethereum’s new system introduces a new set of incentives for the people operating these computers to follow the rules as written, thereby securing the ledger from any unwanted tampering.

“Proof-of-work is a mechanism by which you take physical resources and you convert them into security for the network. If you want your network to be more secure, you need more of those physical resources,” Beiko explained. “On proof-of-stake, what we do is we use financial resources to convert to security.”

Although Ethereum had thousands of individual miners operating and securing its proof-of-work network, computers from just three mining pools dominated a majority of the network’s hashrate, a measure of the collective computing power of all miners.

If a few of Ethereum’s big mining firms colluded to amass a majority of the network’s hashrate, they would have been able to execute a so-called 51% attack, making it difficult or impossible for anyone else to update the ledger.

In proof-of-stake, the amount of ETH one stakes – not the amount of energy one expends – dictates control over the network. Proof-of-stake boosters say this makes attacks more expensive and self-defeating: attackers can have their staked ETH slashed, or reduced, as punishment for trying to harm the network.

Not everyone buys into the proof-of-stake hype. There are no signs that Bitcoin, for instance, will ever abandon proof-of-work – which proponents insist remains the more battle-tested and secure system.

And although control of the Ethereum network will no longer be concentrated in the hands of a few publicly traded mining syndicates, critics insist that old power players will just be replaced by new ones. Lido, a kind of community-run validator collective, controls over 30% of the stake on Ethereum’s proof-of-stake chain. Coinbase, Kraken and Binance – three of the largest crypto exchanges – own another 30% of the network’s stake.

Skepticism around proof-of-stake fueled Chandler Guo, a prominent crypto miner, to announce in the lead-up to the Merge that he would launch a fork of Ethereum’s old proof-of-work chain – a clone of Ethereum’s blockchain that hums along using the old miner-based mechanism.

Ethereum’s core developers have generally derided proof-of-work forks as sideshows and scams, but Guo’s “ETHPOW” effort and others like it have gained modest traction in certain corners of the crypto community.

Trading the Merge

In crypto markets, the Merge had become an object of speculation since at least mid-July, with traders initially viewing the event as a catalyst for a steep rally in the price of ETH. The market for ETH options started pricing in post-Merge gains, a welcome respite following the crash in digital-asset markets earlier in the year.

The prospect of a fork of the Ethereum blockchain by irate crypto miners spurred a wave of new activity, this time as traders tried to lock in value from the theoretical airdrop of a new “ETHPOW” token.

In general, it is impossible to predict with certainty how the markets will react to a successful Merge. The upgrade has been on Ethereum’s roadmap since its inception, so there’s the possibility that it has already, by-and-large, been priced in by the market.

“I think if you asked me maybe about three weeks ago, I would say that not only is it priced in, it’s overly priced in,” said Kevin Zhou of Galois Capital. “Now the market is roughly 70/30 in favor of this being a positive event for ETH.”

What’s next?

“This is the first step in Ethereum's big journey towards being a very mature system, but there are still steps left to go,” said Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum's co-creator, as he reflected on the Merge during Thursday's viewing party. He went on to mention Ethereum's relatively high fees and slow speeds, which were not addressed by the update, but remain as much a barrier to growing the network's user base as environmental concerns ever was.

Buterin, Ethereum's most visible figurehead, previously outlined a set of next steps for the network that includes “sharding” – a method that should help address the network’s sluggish transaction times and high fees by spreading transactions across “shards,” like adding lanes to a highway.


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That upgrade was initially slated to accompany the transition to proof-of-stake, but it was deprioritized given the success that third-party solutions – called rollups – have had in solving some of the same issues.

Rollups foreshadow the likely future for Ethereum development, where community solutions – rather than updates to Ethereum’s core code – play the primary role in expanding the chain’s capabilities.

For Buterin, the Merge is just the beginning. “To me, the Merge just symbolizes the difference between early stage Ethereum, and the Ethereum we've always wanted … to become,” he said on Thursday's live stream. “So let's go build out all of the other parts of this ecosystem and turn Ethereum into what we want it to be.”

By Sam Kessler

 

Mike Ashley Sports Direct retail tycoon to step down from Frasers Group board

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 20th Sept 2022) London, Uk – –

PepsiCo ends Pepsi, 7UP production in Russia months after promising halt over Ukraine

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 20th Sept, 2022) London, UK —

PepsiCo Inc (PEP.O) has stopped making Pepsi, 7UP and Mountain Dew in Russia nearly six months after the U.S. company said it would suspend sales and production after Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine.

Pepsi's announcement came after Reuters visited dozens of supermarkets, retailers and gyms in Moscow and beyond and found cans and bottles of Pepsi printed with July and August production dates from factories within Russia.

The most recent date on a Pepsi product was Aug. 17.


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In a statement to Reuters, the U.S. company said it had stopped making concentrates for PepsiCola, Mirinda, 7Up and Mountain Dew in Russia.

“All concentrates have subsequently been exhausted in Russia and production has ended,” a PepsiCo spokesperson said on Sept. 8, the first public comments on the matter since the company announced in early March it was suspending production, sales, promotional activities and advertising in Russia.

The spokesperson said this was “in line with the announcement we made in March 2022” but declined to comment when asked for an update on sales and whether they had been halted.

The continued production means sodas are still widely available in Moscow and also in Vladivostok in the far east and Krasnoyarsk in Siberia, according to a review by Reuters.

A gym owner in Moscow said it had placed an order with Pepsi as recently as mid-August.

The West has not sanctioned food and drink as part of sweeping measures aimed at punishing Russia over its actions in Ukraine.

But the continued availability highlights the complexity of withdrawing from one of the world's largest countries. In 2021, Russia was New York-based Pepsi's third-biggest market, after the United States and Mexico.

Earlier in the summer, shops in the capital were still selling off stockpiles of foreign beers, months after the brewers said they would halt production.

Atlanta-based rival Coca-Cola Co's (KO.N) production in Russia also continued after it said in March it would suspend operations.


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The company said in June its bottler, Coca-Cola HBC AG (CCH.L), a separate company, and existing customers in Russia were depleting stock, after which production and sales of Coke and other brands would stop in Russia.

PepsiCo in March said it would continue to sell daily essentials, such as milk and other dairy offerings, baby formula and baby food, in Russia. The company has operated in Russia for more than 60 years and its colas were one of the few Western products allowed in the Soviet Union prior to its collapse.

Reporting by Alexander Marrow in Moscow and Jessica DiNapoli

John Lewis reports loss for the first half of the year as cost of living crisis weighs

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 15th Sept 2022) London, UK —

Britain's John Lewis Partnership reported a loss for the first half of the year and warned that the outlook for the rest of 2022 was highly uncertain due to the impact of the cost of living crisis on discretionary spending.

The employee-owned group, which runs John Lewis department stores and the upmarket Waitrose supermarket chain, on Thursday logged a loss before tax and exceptional items of 92 million pounds ($106 million) in the six months to July 30. That compares with a profit of 69 million pounds in the same period last year.


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It said that while department store sales were up 3% on a like-for-like basis to 2.1 billion pounds, Waitrose sales dropped 5% to 3.6 billion pounds.

Britons are seeking savings in the face of soaring inflation, which was 9.9% in August and is expected to rise further this year.

Last week industry data showed the slowest growth in retail sales since the end of COVID-19 lockdowns last year

UK fashion retailers Primark (ABF.L), ASOS (ASOS.L) and online supermarket Ocado Retail (OCDO.L), (MKS.L) have all warned on profit this month.

The partnership attributed the loss to higher costs not being fully passed on to customers, the slide in demand, the unwinding of pandemic shopping patterns as well as greater investment in the business.

Despite the loss, the partnership did announce a one-off cost of living support payment of 500 pounds for full-time employees known as “partners”.


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Sharon White, a former Treasury official who chairs the partnership, said a successful Christmas would now be key for the business.

“We will need a substantial strengthening of performance, beyond what we usually achieve in the second half, to generate sufficient profit to share a Partnership Bonus,” she said.

With the partnership hit hard by the pandemic, White set out a five-year recovery plan in October 2020 that included store closures and job cuts but also investment in its online operations.

By James Davey

 

 

Center Parcs U-turns over asking guests to leave on day of Queen’s funeral

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 14th Sept 2022) London, Uk – –

The company had emailed all customers who were to be affected by its initial plans, but reversed the decision after many people on social media said it had only landed them with additional stress at a time of national mourning.

Center Parcs has U-turned on plans to ask customers to leave just for the day when it closes its five UK sites for the Queen's funeral after a backlash.

Complaints started to flood in via its social media pages after the company said it would shut sites from 10am on the day to allow staff “to support our Queen on her final journey”.


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It said that all holidaymakers who would be affected would receive an email on Tuesday to explain their options.

They included a full refund if guests wanted to cancel their breaks.

However, it had emerged that those partway through seven-day holidays – which generally cost more than £1,000 for a family of four at this time of year – would be forced to leave and spend the night elsewhere or go home early. They could leave belongings in their living accommodation if they wished, an initial statement said.

Anger quickly set in, with customers accusing the company of leaving them out in the cold. Some complained of long phone queues, while others claimed emails were bouncing back.

Now, the company has changed its decision, saying it will no longer require guests who are not due to depart on Monday to leave.

It said: “The vast majority of our guests are either due to arrive or depart on Monday 19th September.

“We have however, reviewed our position regarding the very small number of guests who are not due to depart on Monday, and we will be allowing them to stay on our villages rather than having to leave and return on Tuesday.

“The villages will still remain closed on Monday, and we will be offering a discount for the lack of facilities available on that day.”

One post on the company's Facebook page read: “We were five related families getting together for our annual family holiday – with two small children and two dogs, three hours from home!

“Where the hell are we supposed to go for one night?! It's that or cancel some or all of the much-anticipated holiday!

“Sorry, but this is an awful, awful decision that has left us devastated.

“By all means close the restaurants and activities, but let us stay on the park!!”

The company's Twitter account contained similar messages.

The company has five UK sites: Elveden Forest, Suffolk; Longleat Forest, Wiltshire; Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire; Woburn Forest, Bedfordshire; and Whinfell Forest, Cumbria.

In its initial statement, Center Parcs said: “We have made the decision to close all our UK villages on Monday 19 September as a mark of respect and to allow as many of our colleagues as possible to be part of this historic moment.

“Guests who were due to arrive on Monday 19 September should not travel on this day, though we will reopen on Tuesday 20 September and be ready to welcome our guests then.

“We hope our guests will understand our decision to support our Queen on her final journey”.


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Rival Butlin's said its holiday resorts would remain open on Monday, but new arrivals would be asked to arrive two hours later than normal, from 3pm.

Mourning guidance from the Cabinet Office states: “Depending on the nature and location of their business and the tone of planned events, some businesses may wish to consider closing or postponing events, especially on the day of the state funeral, however this is at the discretion of individual businesses.”

By

Google facing lawsuit of €25 billion over digital advertising in UK and EU

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 13th Sept 2022) London, Uk – –

Tech company accused of abusing its power in the ad tech market

Google faces a €25bn (£21.6bn) lawsuit in the UK and EU that accuses the tech firm of anticompetitive conduct in the digital advertising market.

The company, which is a key player in the online ad market as well as being a dominant force in search, is accused of abusing its power in the ad tech market, which coordinates the sale of online advertising space between publishers and advertisers.


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“Publishers, including local and national news media who play a vital role in our society, have long been harmed by Google’s anticompetitive conduct,” said Damien Geradin, of the Belgian law firm Geradin Partners, which is involved in the EU case.

“It is time that Google owns up to its responsibilities and pays back the damages it has caused to this important industry. That is why today we are announcing these actions across two jurisdictions to obtain compensation for EU and UK publishers.”

The UK law firm Humphries Kerstetter is planning to bring a case to the competition appeal tribunal over the next month, although the process could take years to reach a conclusion. The UK competition watchdog is also investigating Google’s power in the digital advertising technology market.

Toby Starr, a partner at Humphries Kerstetter, said the claim, which aims to recover advertising revenue lost due to Google’s allegedly anticompetitive behaviour over a period of years, would not just be aimed at benefiting news sites.

“This important claim will represent a class of victims of Google’s anti-competitive conduct in ad tech who have collectively lost an estimated £7bn. This includes news websites up and down the country with large daily readerships as well as the thousands of small business owners who depend on advertising revenue – be it from their fishing website, food blog, football fanzine or other online content they have spent time creating and publishing.”

The UK claim will be “opt out”, meaning that affected parties will be automatically treated as part of the claim, while the EU claim will be lodged in the Netherlands will be “opt in”, meaning would-be claimants need to apply to join the suit. Starr said he expected “many thousands” of parties in the UK to be part of the claim.

The combined suits are seeking total compensation that, according to estimates from legal representatives, could reach €25bn. The suits are being financed by litigation funding firms in the UK and the Netherlands, which take a cut of any proceeds from a successful case.


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Contacted for comment, Google referred the Guardian to its statement on the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigation, which said: “Advertising tools from Google and many competitors help websites and apps fund their content, and help businesses of all sizes effectively reach their customers. Google’s tools alone have supported an estimated £55bn in economic activity for more than 700,000 businesses in the UK and when publishers choose to use our advertising services, they keep the majority of revenue.

“We will continue to work with the CMA to answer their questions and share the details on how our systems work.”

By Dan Milmo

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group bids for stricken Savile Row tailor Gieves & Hawkes

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 12th Sept 2022) London, Uk – –

Mike Ashley's Frasers Group is one of the remaining bidders for the centuries-old brand whose founders have dressed royals, prime ministers and military chiefs, Sky News learns.

Sky News has learnt that Mr Ashley's Frasers Group is among a handful of bidders vying for control of the brand, which is being sold after its Hong Kong-based owner collapsed into liquidation.

Retail industry sources said this weekend that Frasers and a small number of other parties were expected to lodge revised bids for Gieves & Hawkes this week.

Formed in its current guise in 1974, the respective histories of the Gieves and Hawkes tailoring labels date back to 1785 and 1771 respectively.

Savile Row, which for centuries has been synonymous with high-quality men's formalwear, has endured a tough period, with the pandemic's impact on working habits impacting demand for bespoke suits.

Gieves & Hawkes has held royal warrants for the late Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, as well as King Charles III and the Duke of Edinburgh.

It has dressed some of the most important figures in English history, including Sir Winston Churchill and Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

Based at 1 Savile Row, the brand has been part of Trinity Group – which is in turn owned by the collapsed Shandong Ruyi Technology Group – since 2012.

For the previous decade, it was owned by a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Wing Tai Properties.

Mr Ashley's presence in the auction of Gieves & Hawkes is unsurprising given his propensity to explore bids for many of the UK retail assets which get put up for sale.

In recent years Frasers – previously known as Sports Direct International – has swallowed high street brands including Jack Wills, Evans Cycles and Agent Provocateur.

In June, it snapped up Missguided, the troubled online fashion retailer, in a £20m deal.

FTI Consulting, is handling Shandong Ruyi's liquidation and the sale of Gieves & Hawkes.

Daniel Chow, one of the liquidators, was quoted in July as saying: ‘Gieves has a solid foundation and a reputable name.


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“We are confident we will find the right partner who can bring its expertise and resources to help drive future growth, maximise its value and take it to the next level.”

The identities of the other bidders for Gieves & Hawkes was unclear on Sunday.

Frasers Group declined to comment.

 

Why Iconic American Stetson Cowboy Hats Are So Expensive

Source: BI

Stetson cowboy hats are an iconic American accessory. The popular Skyline style will cost you $245, while other premium varieties can set you back $5,000. Over the years, famous figures like President Ronald Reagan and Beyonce have worn Stetsons, further solidifying the brand's image as the premier American cowboy hat. It's one of the few hat brands that have reached icon status. So what made Stetson so iconic? And is that why these hats are so expensive?

Apple iPhone 14: Launches new smartphone with longer battery life and camera upgrades

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 9th Sept 2022) London, Uk – –

The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus come with an upgraded 12 megapixel main camera, featuring a brighter flash, wide angle capability, and an action mode for video that adjusts to shaking, motion and vibrations.

Apple has launched the iPhone 14 as its “most advanced” smartphone yet – with longer battery life and a series of camera upgrades.


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Its four new models are between 6.1 and 6.7 inches in length, meaning they have larger screens than the iPhone 13.

They can also last all day on a single charge.

However, one expert noted that Apple had reserved the “biggest leaps” – such as a more powerful processor – for the Pro, its more expensive handset.

The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus come with an upgraded 12 megapixel main camera, featuring a brighter flash, wide angle capability, and an action mode for video that adjusts to shaking, motion and vibrations.

The more expensive Pro and Pro Max handsets have a 48 megapixel camera.

All four phones are equipped with a larger light sensor which can produce low-light photographs twice the previous generation's quality.

“Low-light photography has always been a challenge given the sensor size in mobile phones,” Ru Bhikha, mobiles expert at the prime comparison site Uswitch.com said.

“So any sort of improvements there, given the amount of pictures we take on a daily basis, will definitely be seen as a worthy upgrade compared to the iPhone 13.”

However, while the standard iPhone 14 uses its predecessor's A15 bionic chip, the Pro will be equipped with the faster A16 chip.

“Apple has stuck to its guns and reserved its biggest leaps in innovation for its most premium handsets, despite the economic challenges facing many consumers,” Mr Bikha noted.

Similarly, the Pro versions boast an “Always-On Display”, meaning users can see basic notifications while the screen is locked.

Unveiling the feature at a virtual event, Apple executive Greg Joswiack said: “It's easy to see the time and other core information without raising your iPhone or tapping the display.

“This keeps the central information available for the moments where all you need is just a glance… this is the most advanced display we've ever shipped.”

Mr Joswiack added that it was made possible by the Pro's “incredibly power-efficient” display, which operates with a refresh rate as low as 1Hz.

Apple has ditched the iPhone mini seen in previous generations – the “cheapest and most pocket-friendly phone from the main series”, Mr Bikha said.

The new phones have also left behind the SIM card tray of previous models, enabling users to connect to networks and swap SIM cards digitally.

Meanwhile, the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus will also have an “Emergency SOS” feature which will mean users can still get help by phone if they are out of range of a mobile signal.

Apple said the feature will show a user where to point their phone to connect to a satellite.

They will be guided through a questionnaire and follow-up messages which will be sent to centres staffed by Apple-trained specialists who can call for help on their behalf.

Users will also be able to manually share their location over satellite with “Find My” when there is no mobile or wi-fi connection.

Emergency SOS via satellite will be available to users in the US and Canada in November, and will be free for two years.

There were no details given on when or if the service would be available to users in the UK.

The iPhone 14 will be available for £849 on September 16, while the Plus will appear on shelves for £949 on 7 October.


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The Pro and Pro Max retail for £1,099 and £1,199 on 16 and 23 September.

The virtual event also saw the unveiling of the Apple Watch Ultra, which the company's chief operating officer Jeff Williams labelled “the most rugged and capable Apple Watch yet”.

It is aimed at those taking part in extreme sports – such as deep-sea diving – and is fortified by titanium casing and a sapphire crystal display protector.

 

Banking hubs earmarked to open in 13 additional locations

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 7th Sept 2022) London, Uk – –

Another 13 locations have been earmarked for shared banking hubs in areas where the last branch has closed.

A swathe of branch closures have raised concerns about access to cash for those who need it, and difficulties for small businesses trying to deposit takings.

Ten other areas were previously identified, but the doors have yet to open on any of their new hubs.


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Ministers have prepared legislation to ensure people can access cash locally, while experts say hubs are not enough.

“Cash is disappearing at a frightening rate, and so are ATMs and branches and it is not acceptable to leave communities without access to cash,” John Howells, chief executive of Link – which is the biggest interbank network in the UK – told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

“There is real investment and effort going in by the banks now…But now that pace needs to be picked up,” he added.

At these hubs, customers of any bank can access their accounts, deposit cash and cheques, and withdraw money at any time. Trickier enquiries are dealt with by a representative from one of each of the major banks who each visit once a week.

Among the 13 new proposed banking hub sites, four are in Scotland and, for the first time, one is in Northern Ireland, in Kilkeel.

They will be in Brechin in Angus, Forres in Moray, Carluke in Lanarkshire, Kirkcudbright in Dumfries and Galloway, Axminster in Devon, Barton-upon-Humber in Lincolnshire, Lutterworth in Leicestershire, Royal Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire, Cheadle in Staffordshire, Belper in Derbyshire, Maryport in Cumbria, Hornsea in Yorkshire, and also in Kilkeel.

Decline in cash use eases after pandemic slump
‘A customer said we'd changed her life with bank hub'
The BBC visited a prototype shared banking hub in Rochford, Essex, and was told it had been “a lifeline” for many people living in the area after the last branch in town closed.

Running costs are the same as a small branch, but are shared between different banking groups that use it.

Natalie Ceeney, who chairs the Cash Action Group which is overseeing the project, said: “Cash still matters hugely to millions of people across the UK and with the cost-of-living crisis biting, more and more people are turning to cash as a way of budgeting effectively. Banking Hubs are an important part of the solution.”

Wait to open
Each time a core banking service such as a cash machine or bank branch is closed, an assessment is carried out by Link – the organisation which currently oversees the UK's ATM network.

The review studies the cash needs of the community, such as how easy it is to travel to the nearest alternative service, as well as the demographics and vulnerability of local residents. The criteria are set by a group of banks and consumer representatives.

The latest locations have been identified as part of that work.

However, it can take months for these new hubs to open. As well as finding a suitable premise, often changes are needed to ensure it is fully accessible and secure enough for banking services.

There has been some criticism that services have not yet started in any of the previously-announced locations for banking hubs, apart from the two trial premises in Rochford and Cambuslang, in Scotland.

Ron Delnevo, a business consultant with years of experience in the ATM industry, said that “the promised hubs don't even scratch the surface in terms of satisfying the banking needs of the UK”.

Mark Aldred, of banking technology company Auriga, said: “As we go into a cost of living crisis that's hitting households and businesses alike, these shared hubs are good on paper but could go further and faster.”

A Financial Conduct Authority spokesperson said: “Firms need to pick up the pace and deliver more banking hubs. We expect this to be done as a priority.

“Banks and building societies must treat their customers fairly and provide alternatives to branches where needed. Banking hubs are one of a range of tools they can use to ensure communities have easy access to bank services and cash.”

In addition to the hubs, withdrawal and deposit machines – which are unstaffed but can allow businesses to cash in their takings – will be placed in libraries and community centres and available during their opening hours.


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They will be in Swanley and Faversham, both in Kent, Holywood in County Down, Shanklin on the Isle of Wight, Atherstone in Warwickshire, Billericay and Dunmow, both in Essex, Bourne in Lincolnshire, Holyhead on Anglesey, llfracombe in Devon, Swanage in Dorset, and Wallingford in Oxfordshire.

The government has been planning to bring in new laws to ensure people only have to travel a relatively short distance to access cash withdrawal and deposit services.

This is seen as vital to the future of cash, and particularly for its acceptance by businesses in rural communities who currently find they are shutting and travelling miles for their nearest banking services.

 

By Kevin Peachey

 

Instagram owner Meta fined €405m over handling of teens’ data

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 6th Sept 2022) London, Uk – –

Penalty follows investigation into Instagram setting that allowed teenagers to set up accounts that displayed contact details

Instagram owner Meta has been fined €405m (£349m) by the Irish data watchdog for letting teenagers set up accounts that publicly displayed their phone numbers and email addresses.


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The Data Protection Commission confirmed the penalty after a two-year investigation into potential breaches of the European Union’s general data protection regulation (GDPR).

Instagram had allowed users aged between 13 and 17 to operate business accounts on the platform, which showed the users’ phone numbers and email addresses. The DPC also found the platform had operated a user registration system whereby the accounts of 13-to-17-year-old users were set to “public” by default.

The DPC regulates Meta – which is also the owner of Facebook and WhatsApp – on behalf of the entire EU because the company’s European headquarters are in Ireland.

The penalty is the highest imposed on Meta by the watchdog, after a €225m fine imposed in September 2021 for “severe” and “serious” infringements of GDPR at WhatsApp and a €17m fine in March this year.

The fine is the second largest under GDPR, behind the €746m levied on Amazon in July 2021.

A DPC spokesperson said: “We adopted our final decision last Friday and it does contain a fine of €405m. Full details of the decision will be published next week.”

Caroline Carruthers, a UK data consultancy owner, said Instagram had not thought through its privacy responsibilities when letting teenagers set up business accounts and had shown an “obvious lack of care” in users’ privacy settings.

“GDPR has special provisions to make sure any service which targets children are living up to a high standard of transparency. Instagram fell foul of this when accounts of children were set to open by default rather than private.”

Last year Meta suspended work on a version of Instagram for children following revelations about the app’s impact on teen mental health.

Instagram said it was “pausing” work to address concerns raised by parents, experts and regulators. The move followed revelations from a whistleblower, Frances Haugen, that Facebook’s own research showed Instagram could affect girls’ mental health on issues such as body image and self-esteem.

Instagram has said that prior to September 2019, it had put user contact details on business accounts and had informed users during the setup process. Under-18s now have their account set to private automatically when they join the platform.

Andy Burrows, head of child safety online policy at NSPCC, said: “This was a major breach that had significant safeguarding implications and the potential to cause real harm to children using Instagram.

“The ruling demonstrates how effective enforcement can protect children on social media and underlines how regulation is already making children safer online.”

A Meta spokesperson said: “This inquiry focused on old settings that we updated over a year ago, and we’ve since released many new features to help keep teens safe and their information private.


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“Anyone under 18 automatically has their account set to private when they join Instagram, so only people they know can see what they post, and adults can’t message teens who don’t follow them.

“While we’ve engaged fully with the DPC throughout their inquiry, we disagree with how this fine was calculated and intend to appeal it. We’re continuing to carefully review the rest of the decision.”

By Dan Milmo

Australia liquor store Dan Murphy’s hiring in 10-minute interview slots

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 5th Sept 2022) London, Uk – –

Australian liquor store Dan Murphy's is offering on-the-spot job interviews in 10-minute slots to fill roles amid a staff shortage ahead of Christmas.

During the hiring week from Monday until Sunday, the business aims to hire more than 2,200 casual workers.

The country is seeing one of its tightest jobs markets in nearly 50 years with the unemployment rate at a record low of 3.5%.


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Last week, Australia raised its cap on permanent migration to help fill jobs.

“We wanted to make it as easy as possible for people who are interested in a career with Dan Murphy's to get a foot in the door,” according to Dan Murphy's incoming Managing Director Agi Pfeiffer-Smith.

“Hiring week is also a great way for applicants to engage directly with the store manager and to see for themselves if they think they would enjoy working in the store and with the team,” she added.

According the store, many of the positions offer immediate starts and many of the roles require a commitment of minimum 20 hours per week. The company said it will pay for training and the cost of obtaining required certification that verifies workers are familiar with the country's alcohol laws.

“We are encouraging people from all walks of life to consider spending a summer with Dan; from university students to retirees who are looking to fill in a few hours a day or a few days a week, and everyone in between!” said Ms Pfeiffer-Smith.

Australia's acute worker shortage – the second-worst after Canada in the OECD group of advanced countries – was caused by the pandemic and Australia's tough border policies have exacerbated staffing gaps across all sectors, including hospitality and retail.


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The government announced last week it will take up to 195,000 people this financial year – an increase of 35,000 as it tries to fill almost a half a million job vacancies.

Workers from countries including China, India and the UK – Australia's top sources of migration – are needed to fill them, the government said.

By Monica Miller

 

 

Twitter complies with user demands for an edit button

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 2nd Sept 2022) London, Uk – –

Twitter is finally giving its users the new feature they have most requested – an edit button.

“If you see an edited Tweet, it's because we're testing the edit button. This is happening and you'll be OK,” the company tweeted.

It is currently testing the feature and will roll it out in the coming weeks to subscribers of Twitter Blue, which costs $4.99 (£4.33) per month.


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Tweets will be available to edit a few times in the 30 minutes after posting.

Twitter Blue is currently available in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand – but initial tests will be limited to just one country.

Edited tweets will appear with an icon, timestamp and link to their “Edit History” to “protect the integrity of the conversation and create a publicly accessible record of what was said,” the company blogged.

“Tweeting will feel more approachable and less stressful,” Twitter said.

“You should be able to participate in the conversation in a way that makes sense to you and we'll keep working on ways that make it feel effortless to do just that.”

The company's co-founder and former chief executive had said it would probably never provide an edit button.


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But in April, Elon Musk, then planning to buy the company, posted a Twitter poll, in which 73.6% of the 4.4 million respondents said they wanted one.

Some maintain it is unnecessary or contrary to the spirit of the platform, however.

 

Starbucks executives being sued by think for supporting diversity in the US

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 2nd Sept 2022) London, Uk – –

Starbucks is among many US companies seeking to become more diverse, but its policies are being criticised by the National Center for Public Policy Research.

Starbucks bosses are being sued by a conservative think tank over the company's diversity policies.


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In a complaint filed at the Spokane County Superior Court on Tuesday, the National Center for Public Policy Research said it objects to the diversity goals covering hiring, contracts, and executive pay.

The plaintiff, a Starbucks shareholder, said this requires decisions about race that benefit minorities and violate federal and state civil rights laws.

It “benefits (the bosses) personally to pose as virtuous advocates of ‘inclusion, diversity, and equity', even as it harms the company and its owners”, the NCPPR said.

Thirty-five current and former Starbucks executives and directors, including interim chief executive Howard Schultz, are among the defendants.

Seattle-based Starbucks, which has more than 17,000 stores in North America, has not commented on the case.

In 2020, it announced a push for black, indigenous and other people of colour to hold at least 30% of US corporate jobs and 40% of US retail jobs by 2025.

It also vowed to link executive pay to these efforts.


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In January this year, Starbucks said it would double spending with diverse suppliers, also allocating 15% of the year's advertising budget to minority-owned and “targeted” media companies.

The NCPPR wants all of these policies axed and for the defendants or their insurers to pay damages to the company.