How Covid Derailed The Cheesecake Factory’s Success

Source: CNBC

Americans love The Cheesecake Factory. The restaurant known for its massive 21-page menu, dozens of dessert options and ancient Egypt-inspired decor was ranked as one of the top casual dining restaurants in the U.S. in 2019. But the eatery popular with everyone from NBA stars to cheesecake aficionados has fallen on hard times as the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the restaurant industry. In October, The Cheesecake Factory reported third-quarter sales fell by 12% and same-stores sales were down 23% from a year earlier. So after 40 years in business will The Cheesecake Factory be able to regain its momentum and will the chain's takeout and delivery service be enough to offset the decline of the dine-in restaurant experience?

Holiday bookings surge as Covid vaccinations rollout

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 19th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –

People high on list for jabs in UK ready to make 2021 and 2022 plans

Abta says is it is hearing from members that the over-50s represent a much higher proportion of early bookers than normal.

Holiday companies have reported an increase in bookings as the UK’s coronavirus vaccine rollout gives people hope that they will soon be able to travel overseas again.

Despite a series of negative travel announcements in recent days, including the closure of air corridors and words of caution from ministers over foreign holidays, there are signs that those among the first in line for the vaccinations are starting to plan trips, and that consumers are hopeful about taking a break later this year.

The travel association Abta said it was hearing from members that the over-50s represented a much higher proportion of early bookers than normal.Matt Hancock cautions against booking holidays abroad.

Saga, which specialises in holidays for the over-50s, reported rising numbers of bookings for this year and next. Traffic to its bookings website was up by 16% in the first two weeks of this year, compared with the first two weeks of December, while sales made through Saga had doubled over the same period. The interest comes despite the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, saying it was too early to plan for summer holidays this year because of travel restrictions and Matt Hancock, the health secretary, suggesting on Monday that holidays abroad may not be a given.

Bookings for long-haul trips for 2022 have also surged, suggesting an appetite for “once-in-a-lifetime holidays”, Saga said, while people are booking for longer even for short-haul destinations.

Saga said 70% of short-haul-stay bookings between November 2021 and January 2022 were for 21 nights or longer.

Chris Simmonds, the chief executive of Saga Holidays, said: “Many of our guests are hopeful that they will be able to travel again soon, with the vaccine providing them the optimism they need to start planning ahead.

“Of course, given we cater exclusively for people aged over 50, many of our customers are near the top of the queue for a vaccine, which is giving them the confidence to start thinking about travelling again, as well as returning to other parts of normal life.”

The tour operator Tui said older travellers were making up more of its bookings than usual.

A spokesperson said: “We’re seeing more interest in holidays from an age group that wasn’t coming through before, with the over-50s starting to book, we assume, on the back of the positive vaccine news.

“Since the end of last year, bookings from this group have accounted for 50% of all our web bookings, as customers long for a sunshine break later in summer, in particular in Greece, Turkey or the Balearics.”

It also reported customers booking longer breaks than previously, with many opting for 10, 11 or 14 nights instead of seven. It suggested this was to make up for not having had a holiday in 2020.

The airline easyJet said its holiday bookings for the summer were 250% higher than they had been at this point last year.

Its chief executive, Johan Lundgren, said: “We have seen easyJet holidays bookings from our over-50s customers increase over the last few weeks in comparison to pre-Christmas, which suggests a further confidence boost from the vaccine rollout.”

Lundgren said there was “pent-up demand”, adding: ”We have seen that every time restrictions have been relaxed and so we know that people want to go on holiday as soon as they can.”

Skyscanner, which offers flights and hotels via its website, said searches and bookings remained lower than normal for the time of year but there were signs that activity was picking up.

Searches were up by 12% over the week and bookings by 7%, with July 2021 the most searched for month.

Other firms reported bookings were higher for this September and October, suggesting consumers were hopeful that vaccines may have been delivered and travel restrictions lifted by the autumn.

On Monday, tough new testing rules came into effect that require all those arriving in the UK to show a negative Covid-19 test or face a potential £500 fine. The UK has also closed all its travel corridors, meaning people arriving will be required to quarantine.

Meanwhile, an official close to the Australian government has warned that tourists could face “substantial border restrictions” for most of 2021. Returning Australian travellers must pay about AU$3,000 (£1,700) to quarantine inside a hotel room for 14 days.

By Miles Brignall and Gwyn Topham

Next Fashion chain reported to be the frontrunner to buy Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia retail empire

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 18th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –

Fashion chain Next is reported to be the frontrunner to buy Sir Philip Green's Arcadia retail empire out of administration as a deadline for bids comes due on Monday.

The Sunday Times said a consortium including the chain and US hedge fund Davidson Kempner has overtaken Mike Ashley's Frasers Group among others to buy the company, which owns Topshop.

Some 13,000 jobs were put at risk when Arcadia went bust in November.

Next declined to comment on the claims.

The retailer, which has 550 UK stores, has weathered the pandemic well, with its Christmas sales matching last year's figures despite temporary store closures.

By contrast, sales at Acadia, which also owns Burton and Dorothy Perkins, slumped during the crisis triggering its collapse.

Since November, administrators Deloitte have been looking for buyers for some or all of the group, which had 444 stores in the UK and 22 overseas at the time.

Frasers Group, which owns House of Fraser and Sports Direct, and has a track record of buying up failed brands, has expressed an interest.

According to reports, Authentic Brands, the US owner of the Barneys department store, and JD Sports have tabled a joint offer, while online retailer Boohoo is also said to be circling.

Deloitte and Arcadia declined to comment on the reports.

Experts expect Arcadia to be broken up, with bidders taking on different parts of the business, and brands potentially hived off from their stores.

In December, Australian collective City Chic said it would buy Arcadia's Evans brand, commerce and wholesale business for £23m but not its store network.

Next boss Simon Wolfson has said it will take a minority stake in Arcadia, with Davidson Kempner holding the majority, if the consortium's bid succeeds.

‘More pain to come'

Last year was the worst for the High Street in more than 25 years as the coronavirus accelerated the move towards online shopping, according to the Centre for Retail Research (CRR).

Nearly 180,000 retail jobs were lost in the UK, up by almost a quarter on the previous year, as shops faced strict curbs and prolonged closures.

CRR warned there will be more pain for the sector in 2021 as retailers face a cash flow crisis and rent payments.

It has predicted up to 200,000 more retail jobs will be at risk in 2021.

The Electric Pickup Truck War Is Here

Source: Bloomberg

The electrification of the pickup truck, America's most beloved automobile, could finally jolt EVs fully into the U.S. mainstream. It also promises a huge payday for the companies that can make them affordable. The players in this potentially lucrative market aren't just the traditional, deep-pocketed automakers, mind you: there's a batch of well-funded startups going head-to-head in the coming fight

15 Powerful Goals to Set for 2021

Source: Alux

This Alux.com video we will be answering the following questions: What are you plans for 2021? What are your goals for 2021? What should you achieve in 2021? What are the best goals for 2021? What are the best new year's resolutions for 2021? How should you set up your goals? How to plan for your goals? How to make this year better? How to set personal goals? What are the best personal goals? What are the most powerful personal goals for 2021? How to make the most out of 2021?

Primark warns of £1bn loss in sales if lockdowns continue to end of February

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 15th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –

The owner of Primark has warned it faces losing over £1bn in sales if coronavirus lockdowns force the majority of its stores to remain closed through February.

The store-only discount fashion retailer, which has traded well from pent-up demand during the COVID-19 crisis to date when restrictions have allowed, said it was clearly facing a “significant” financial hit.

Parent firm Associated British Foods (ABF) has steadfastly refused to trade the Primark business online despite the disruption.

It reported that 305 of its 389 stores – 76% of its shops – were currently closed.

The company disclosed a 30% slump in sales in the 16 weeks to 2 January.

It said Primark's underlying half-year profits to the end of February were now forecast to break even on the previous year as a result.

Just weeks ago it had predicted £650m of lost sales in the six-month period.

Under a scenario that growing restrictions could force its entire estate across Europe to shut until the end of March, ABF said the total sales loss would increase above £1.8bn.

However, ABF said Primark had offset some of the impact on trading through a 25% reduction in usual operating costs.

Shares opened almost 2% down but later recovered to end 1.5% higher on Thursday.

By James Sillars

Lidl and food courier Just Eat sales surged by lockdown living

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 14th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –

Restaurant and pub closures fuel trading boom over Christmas period

Lockdown living has driven a surge in demand at Lidl and the food courier Just Eat, with both companies posting strong sales for the final weeks of 2020.

With restaurants and cafes closed to diners, the boom in home eating led Just Eat Takeaway.com to report a 57% spike in orders across Europe during the final three months of last year, compared with a year earlier.

The leap in trade reported by the continent’s biggest food delivery service was a further acceleration in growth from the 46% jump in the third quarter.

In the UK, delivery orders surged by almost 400% in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared with the same period of 2019, as many consumers were once again asked by the government to stay indoors.

Just Eat Takeaway, based in the Netherlands and one of the world’s largest online food delivery firms, said it had put “tremendous effort” into improving its British business, including a doubling of its UK sales force.

In 2021, we will continue to invest in price leadership, improving our service levels and expanding our offering to restaurants and consumers,” said Jitse Groen, the chief executive.

Lidl also reported a record Christmas, as customers celebrated with panettone and pink prosecco.

Sales at the chain rose by 17.9% in the four weeks to 27 December, compared with the same period a year earlier. The increase was larger than those at the UK’s four biggest supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons – and Aldi.

British supermarkets notched up their biggest month on record in December, with consumers spending £11.7bn on take-home groceries, according to analysts at the research group Kantar, as coronavirus restrictions led to the closure of many restaurants, pubs and cafes during the key trading period.

Lidl said shoppers bought more goods – with basket size increasing by almost 25% year on year – and British households switched £34.7m of spend to Lidl from other supermarkets.

Customers’ taste for premium food and drink over the Christmas period boosted their spend, and sales of Lidl’s Deluxe range climbed by 22%.

Lidl shoppers bought more than 1m bottles of pink prosecco during the festive period, as well as 2.7m panettones. An average of 17,000 Deluxe mince pies an hour were sold during December.

Christian Härtnagel, chief executive of Lidl GB, said its record sales and basket size growth demonstrated the strength of the chain’s appeal.

And the store’s first branded Christmas jumper, featuring the logo as part of a festive design, appears to have topped the charts, with one sold every minute in the month to 27 December.

“Despite this Christmas being a difficult time for many across the country, we are pleased to have been able to help our customers enjoy themselves by offering high-quality food at the lowest prices on the market,” he said.

John Lewis suspends click-and-collect in latest tightening rules for shoppers

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 13th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –

The retailer said it was responding to a “clear change in tone” from governments on the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

John Lewis has suspended click-and-collect services at its department stores in the latest tightening of rules for shoppers as the coronavirus crisis intensifies.

The department store chain said it was responding to a “clear change in tone and emphasis” from governments across the UK urging the public to stay at home.

It came as Britain's major supermarket chains said they would deny entry to customers not wearing face coverings unless they had a medical excuse.COVID vaccine tracker

Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Asda – which unlike non-essential retailers have remained open throughout the pandemic – set out their rules after vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi expressed concerns about the behaviour of store customers.

Two other supermarkets, Aldi and Waitrose – the latter which is also part of the John Lewis Partnership – also said they would enforce the policy.Advertisement

Meanwhile Kingfisher, owner of DIY chain B&Q, revealed that while stores remain open as it is classed as an essential retailer, it has had to close its kitchen and bathroom showrooms.

Last week, Topps Tiles said it had been advised to close its tile aisles to prevent browsing under tightened restrictions designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In its latest update on Tuesday, John Lewis Partnership said it was “conscious of the increased need to remove reasons for non-essential travel during the current lockdown”.

Click-and-collect orders from department stores were being “switched off to new orders” from the close of business on Tuesday, the company said.

However click-and-collect will still be available from sister retailer Waitrose.

JLP also said new bookings for in-home services such as appliance installation and bathroom fittings would be paused when “not essential to the health and wellbeing of customers and their families”.

At Waitrose, it will station marshals at entrances with disposable masks available to anyone who has not brought their own.

Admission will be denied to anyone refusing to comply and marshals will also ensure that only one member of each household is allowed to shop.

Meanwhile, staff at the supermarket will have to wear face coverings even when behind protective screens or when working at the back of the store away from customers, in addition to the areas where the rule currently applies.

Andrew Murphy, executive director of operations at JLP, said: “We are acutely aware that the country is at a critical point in the pandemic.

“We've listened carefully to the clear change in tone and emphasis of the views and information shared by the UK's governments in recent days.

“While we recognise that the detail of formal guidance has not changed, we feel it is right for us – and in the best interests of our partners and customers – to take proactive steps to further enhance our COVID security and related operational policies.”

By John-Paul Ford Rojas

Ocado warns customers of missing items and substitutions over the next few weeks

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 11th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –

Online supermarket Ocado has become the first big retailer to warn of shortages of some products.

It told customers in an email that there may be “an increase of missing items and substitutions over the next few weeks”.

Staff sickness and self-isolation means some food producers are cutting the number of product lines they offer.

While customers might not get their exact product choice, plenty of food should be available, Ocado said.

“Staff absences across the supply chain may lead to an increase in product substitutions for a small number of customers as some suppliers consolidate their offering to maintain output,” a spokesperson said.

The news comes after a rush of online food orders for supermarkets, as shoppers try to stay at home after the new lockdown started.

Within a couple of hours of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's speech to the nation on Monday, shoppers reported problems with Sainsbury's and Tesco, while Ocado customers were placed in a virtual queue.

Ocado told its customers that from Friday “changes to the UK supply chain have affected some of our suppliers and may result in an increase of missing items and substitutions over the next few weeks.”

It added: “We apologise for any inconvenience caused and we are working hard to mitigate any impact.”

Food suppliers are grappling with staffing problems, hospitality clients who have closed their doors and delays at the border with the EU.

Wholesalers the BBC spoke to this week said they faced throwing away thousands of pounds worth of food because of cancelled orders following new restrictions.

The UK meat industry has called for the early vaccination of its workers to keep food supplies running smoothly during the coronavirus crisis.

It warned earlier this week that absences during the pandemic, coupled with disruption at ports, could hit food supply chains.

An early vaccination call for supermarket staff was also made by the boss of Sainsbury's on Thursday.

The government said the food industry remains “well-prepared” to make sure people have the food they need.

The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) said coronavirus and disruption at ports due to new systems brought in after the Brexit transition period were “a severe challenge to the industry and to the smooth running of the nation's food supply chain”.

Neil Young sells half of the rights to his song catalogue to Hipgnosis

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 6th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –

Publishing house makes third major deal in a week, following acquisition of catalogues by Jimmy Iovine and Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsay Buckingham

Neil Young has sold half of the rights to his song catalogue to Hipgnosis, in the same week the publishing house has acquired catalogues by former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsay Buckingham and super-producer Jimmy Iovine.

The deal comprises Young’s entire song catalogue of 1,180 compositions, with Hipgnosis taking on 50% of the worldwide copyright and income from the catalogue in exchange for an undisclosed cash sum that will certainly run into nine figures.

Hipgnosis Songs Fund was founded in 2018 by Merck Mercuriadis, who has previously managed artists including Elton John, Guns N’ Roses and Beyoncé. In December, after floating the company on the London Stock Exchange in 2018, he announced the company’s market value had reached £1.25bn. In the first six months of 2020, the company generated £50m in revenue, twice the amount for the same period in 2019.

Part of that growing Hipgnosis income is from use of its song catalogue in film and television, as well as advertising. Young is famously resistant to his music being used on adverts, singing in 1988 on This Note’s for You: “Ain’t singing for Pepsi / Ain’t singing for Coke / I don’t sing for nobody / Makes me look like a joke.”

Mercuriadis acknowledged Young’s stance, saying: “We have a common integrity, ethos and passion born out of a belief in music and these important songs. There will never be a ‘Burger of Gold’ but we will work together to make sure everyone gets to hear them on Neil’s terms.”

“Burger of Gold” is a reference to a 1973 Neil Young concert, where he revealed he’d been asked by an unnamed company to use hit song Heart of Gold on an advert, and joked he would have had to rename the song Burger of Gold if he’d agreed.

Mercuriadis said he had been a Young fan since the age of seven when he bought the album Harvest. He referred to his albums as “part of who I am, they’re in many ways responsible for who I’ve become and they’re most certainly in my DNA”.

Earlier this week, Hipgnosis also acquired 100% of Lindsay Buckingham’s 161-song catalogue, including hits he wrote for Fleetwood Mac such as Go Your Own Way, plus 50% of any as-yet unreleased songs. Mercuriadis hailed him as “one of the greatest guitarists, songwriters and producers of all time yet is still so underrated”.

He also acquired the worldwide producer royalties from 259 songs by Jimmy Iovine, who produced artists including Bruce Springsteen, U2 and Patti Smith before founding the Beats Electronics technology firm that was bought out by Apple for $3bn in 2014. Iovine said his work had found “the right home”, and that he would use the proceeds to fund the building of a high school in Los Angeles.

Hipgnosis started out buying the catalogues of star songwriters and producers such as Timbaland, The-Dream, TMS and Rodney Jerkins, before acquiring artist catalogues including Mark Ronson, Barry Manilow, Steve Winwood and Blondie.

Stars selling their catalogues has become a major music industry trend in recent years, including Buckingham’s former bandmate Stevie Nicks, who sold 80% of her song publishing rights to a rival publishing house, Primary Wave, in December.

Later that month came the most eye-catching deal of all: Bob Dylan selling his entire catalogue to Universal Music Group for a sum believed to be over $300m (£225m). Universal called it “the most significant music publishing agreement this century and one of the most important of all time”.

By Ben Beaumont-Thomas

How The Air Force 1 Became Nike’s Top-Selling sneaker of all time

Source: CNBC

Air Force 1’s are Nike's top-selling sneaker of all time. And that isn’t surprising. Everyone from Jay Z to Kendall Jenner has a relationship with the classic shoe. But the Air Force 1 had a different fate when Nike released it in 1982. In fact, Nike planned to cancel the shoe altogether in 1984. That is until a trio of retailers in Baltimore banned together to extend the life of the beloved basketball sneaker. Through inventive color of the month shoe drops, the Baltimore retailers not only saved the Air Force 1, but they influenced Nike’s distribution strategy forever.

UK Shoppers splurge on luxury food and drink to see out dismal 2020 in style

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 28th Dec 2020) London, Uk – –

Shoppers splurge on champagne, gold-flecked smoked salmon and posh New Year’s Eve takeaways

After years of decline, champagne sales are starting to pick up.

From champagne to gold-flecked smoked salmon and even posh New Year’s Eve takeaways, Britons in lockdown are popping more premium corks and splashing out on luxury food treats to help them see out a miserable year in style.

Figures show that many shoppers have traded up to premium fizz – spending nearly a quarter more in the last three months than the same time last year – to tide them over Christmas and celebrate the new year.

Overall, sales of champagne in supermarkets and shops were up 16% by volume and 22% by value in the last 12 weeks, equivalent to 2.3m bottles worth £63m, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association reported on Monday.

“This has been an incredibly difficult year, so it’s great that we can end on a positive note that champagne sales, after years of decline, are starting to pick up,” said Miles Beale, the WSTA’s chief executive. “There is no better way to celebrate than with a bottle of fizz, and our numbers show that, even with everything that has gone on this year, many of us are still looking to celebrate or bring a little extra sparkle with a bottle of bubbly. Many will consider it a little luxury for a festive period when we are having to celebrate at home.”

Similarly, sales of luxury foods such as smoked salmon, patés, fine cheeses and chocolates soared in the run-up to Christmas as Britons indulged in pick-me-up “treats”.

The East End-based smoked salmon specialist H Forman & Son, whose supplies of its award-winning London Cure smoked salmon to top restaurants collapsed following lockdown in March, has enjoyed record sales through its Forman & Field home delivery arm, more than double those of last year. Shoppers stocked up on smoked salmon and paté, British artisan cheeses and its sellout “ultimate care package” hamper, aimed at elderly relatives and student offspring.

Its owner, Lance Forman, said: “Forman’s has been around a long time – since 1905 – and we’ve seen a few recessions. When times are tough, people still need a touch of luxury to lighten those darker days. They may not be able to travel as much or may have to hold back on large purchases, but a little taste of luxury doesn’t need to break the bank.”

Waitrose said sales of deluxe salmon, including its gin-infused smoked salmon adorned with gold lustre, were up 18% on last year, and those of its premium own-brand No 1 cheeses and Christmas confectionery up 55% and 19%.

“The holiday period is the perfect time to indulge in a little luxury, and despite no celebratory events this year, shoppers are still embracing the sheer decadence of a glass of fizz,” said Rebecca Hull, the supermarket’s champagne and sparkling wine buyer. “While champagne remains a popular choice, it’s fantastic to see shoppers broadening their sparkling horizons as the popularity of our English sparkling wine continues to grow.”

At the Co-op, sales of champagne doubled over Christmas, with alternatives such as pink prosecco also popular. Simon Cairns, the retailer’s head of drinks, said: “Champagne sales have been bubbling over this year as shoppers have been choosing more premium bottles of wine to make the most of more at-home drinking occasions.”

Top UK hotels forced by lockdown restrictions to switch to takeaway services have been striving to offer the full New Year’s Eve restaurant experience in the comfort of diners’ homes. In London, the Savoy’s celebration meal for two comprises five courses for an eye-watering £350. Homemade foie gras terrine or chilled lobster, beef wellington or Scottish salmon, a selection of British cheeses and chocolate fondant can be washed down with the bottle of Louis Roederer champagne included in the price.

The Michelin-starred L’Enclume in Cartmel, Cumbria, has sold out of its £95 five-course meal for one, although three-course options are still available for delivery nationwide.

By Rebecca Smithers

What will happen to mobile roaming charges after Brexit?

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 28th Dec 2020) London, Uk – –

Travellers heading for European Union countries should check their mobile phone provider's roaming charges, government minister Michael Gove has said.

That's because the UK's trade deal with the EU does not rule out additional costs when heading abroad in future.

Can I use my mobile in the EU?

Since 2017, UK consumers have, within reason, been able to use the minutes, texts and data included on their mobile phone tariffs when travelling in the EU.

The same is true for consumers from other EU countries visiting the UK.

There are fair use limits, which mean you can use your mobile phone while travelling in another EU country, but you could not, for example, get a mobile phone contract from Greece and then use it all year round in the UK.

Before the rules changed, using a mobile phone in Europe was expensive, with cases of people returning from trips to find bills for hundreds or even thousands of pounds waiting for them.

Will roaming charges return?

After leaving the EU on 31 January 2020, the UK entered a transition period during which virtually all EU rules and regulations – including on mobile phone roaming – still apply.

The transition will end on 31 December 2020.

The UK's trade deal with the EU does not say that the ban on additional roaming charges will continue.

It says that both sides will encourage operators to have “transparent and reasonable rates” for roaming.

That means that mobile operators will be able to implement roaming charges after the end of the transition period if they want to.

The government's guidance says: “Check with your phone operator to find out about any roaming charges you might get from 1 January 2021.”

It has already passed legislation that would provide some safeguards for consumers:

  • A £45-a-month limit on the amount that customers could be charged for using mobile data abroad before having to opt into further use
  • Requirements for customers to be informed when they have reached 80% and 100% of their data allowance
  • Operators would have to take “reasonable steps” to avoid customers being charged for accidental roaming in Northern Ireland, which would happen if a phone in Northern Ireland locked onto the mobile signal coming from the Republic of Ireland.

What are mobile companies planning?

Of course, just because the operators might be allowed to reintroduce roaming charges, it does not necessarily mean that they would do so.

The problem is that without the EU rules in place, the charges would depend on agreements between UK operators and their counterparts in EU countries.

While they may have such deals in place to prevent charges increasing straight away at the start of 2021, there is no guarantee that they would be able to maintain them indefinitely.

There are three factors that mean there is a reasonable chance of UK operators being able to continue to offer inclusive roaming:

  • Bilateral deals – so a UK operator would make an agreement with a French operator, for example, to allow inclusive roaming for UK customers visiting France and for French customers visiting the UK
  • Each EU country has more than one operator, so UK operators will have a choice of companies to deal with
  • Some of the UK operators are parts of groups that also operate in EU countries.

The four main operators in the UK declined to comment on the specifics of the commercial deals they have done with other operators, but said they did not plan to reintroduce roaming charges.

Three said it “already offers roaming at no extra cost for its customers in over 70 destinations including the US, Australia and New Zealand. We will retain this great customer benefit regardless of Brexit negotiations.”

Vodafone said it had no plans to reintroduce roaming charges.

EE said: “Our customers enjoy inclusive roaming in Europe and beyond, and we don't have any plans to change this based on the Brexit outcome. So our customers going on holiday and travelling in the EU will continue to enjoy inclusive roaming.”

And O2 said: “We're committed to providing our customers with great connectivity and value when they travel outside the UK. We currently have no plans to change our roaming services across Europe.”

By Anthony Reuben

Laptops, desktop sales see ‘renaissance;’ backlog won’t ease until 2022

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thu, 24th Dec 2020) London, UK —

OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) – The world stocked up on laptop and desktop computers in 2020 at a level not seen since the iPhone debuted in 2007, and manufacturers still are months away from fulfilling outstanding orders, hardware industry executives and analysts said.

“The whole supply chain has been strained like never before,” said Gregg Prendergast, Pan-America president at hardware maker Acer Inc.

Annual global shipments of PCs, the industry’s collective term for laptops and desktops, topped out at about 300 million in 2008 and recently were sinking toward 250 million. Few expected a resurgence.

But some analysts now expect 2020 will close at about 300 million shipments, up roughly 15% from a year ago. Tablets are experiencing even faster growth.

By the end of 2021, installed PCs and tablets will reach 1.77 billion, up from 1.64 billion in 2019, according to research company Canalys. The virus pressed families into expanding from one PC for the house to one for each student, video gamer or homebound worker.

To meet the sudden demand, the world’s handful of big PC vendors added suppliers, sped up shipping and teased better models launching next year. It has not been enough.

Prendergast said Acer has been absorbing the cost to fly laptops directly to its education customers, ditching boats and trains to cut a month off shipping. Yet with assembly lines behind, some customers must wait four months to get shipments.

Components including screens and processors are hard to get even with many factories long past virus shutdowns, analysts said. They added 2021 sales forecasts would be higher if not for the supply issues.

Ishan Dutt, a Canalys analyst, recalled a customer telling a vendor in April that any device with a keyboard would suffice as long as shipments arrived in a week. That urgent need has subsided, but people now want to upgrade, maintaining pressure on the industry, Dutt said.

Additional government stimulus money for schools and businesses in several countries may add to the crunch until 2022, said Ryan Reith, vice president at analyst firm IDC.

Some computers coming to market in the next few months address new needs. They feature better cameras and speakers for video conferencing, analysts said. More models will have a cellular chip, aiding users who can access 4G or 5G mobile signals but not traditional Wi-Fi.

Sam Burd, president at PC maker Dell Technologies Inc, this month said the industry “renaissance” would soon bring devices with artificial intelligence software to simplify tasks like logging on and switching off cameras.

Dell’s online orders from consumers surged 62% in the third quarter compared with last year. Over Black Friday, teams that would normally ring bells at Dell’s Texas headquarters to celebrate big sales gathered like many other people in 2020 – over Zoom from PCs at home.

Reporting by Paresh Dave

 

 

Coronavirus board game sells out by the thousands for Christmas

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 22nd Dec 2020) London, UK —

WIESBADEN, Germany (Reuters) – At a loose end during Germany’s first lockdown, the four Schwaderlapp sisters decided to put their long hours indoors to good use – by inventing a coronavirus board game that is selling by the thousands.

“Corona” can be played by up to four players, who compete to buy all the groceries on a shopping list for an elderly neighbour who is shielding against the virus.

The players collect and swap game cards, and the winner is whoever delivers all the items first. Hurdles along the way include encountering the virus, which sends you into quarantine, or finding that hoarders have already snapped up all the pasta or toilet rolls.

“The basic principle is one of solidarity,” 20-year-old Sarah told Reuters TV from the family home in the western city of Wiesbaden.

The sisters worked on the game most evenings during the spring lockdown, gradually incorporating more elements from news broadcasts about the pandemic.

“That was the case with hoarding. And we saw about the balcony concerts in Italy and turned that into a playing card too,” added sister Rebecca.

 

So far he’s sold 2,000 copies, and signed up a toy store as a secondary distributor.

“Because the game has been so popular it’s been quite a challenge for our family-based operation – packing and posting 500 games within a very short period,” he said.

“Demand has been massive from across Germany.”

Reporting by Reuters TV

 

Center Parcs shuts five UK sites due to concerns over new variant of coronavirus

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 21st Dec 2020) London, Uk – –

Center Parcs has temporarily closed its five UK sites due to concerns over the new variant of coronavirus.

The holiday firm said continuing to accept visitors would go against the government's “strong advice” to stay local and minimise social contact.

It said it regretted disappointing customers, and those who had booked stays could reschedule with a discount or get a full refund.

The five sites will remain shut until at least 7 January, it confirmed.

In a statement the company said: “It is clear that the threat of the virus with the new variant is now at an extremely delicate stage and [the government's] strong advice is to stay local, minimise social contacts and take care to protect ourselves and others.

“It is therefore with a heavy heart that we have made the decision to close all our UK villages”.

Those with bookings for immediately after 7 January have been told to regularly check both government advice and news directly from Center Parcs.

In March, all the company's sites were closed in line with government guidance.

Subsequently, the resorts have faced several changes depending on national restrictions, with most having only recently reopened at the beginning of December.

 

 

How A $16 Hat Made Carhartt A Billion-Dollar Brand

Source: CNBC

Carhartt has been the unofficial uniform of America’s blue-collar workforce since 1889. The Detroit brand cut its teeth outfitting railroad workers with bib overalls before expanding its offerings for laborers from farmers to carpenters and construction workers. Once the hip-hop community adopted the workwear style, Carhartt became a pop culture icon.

Today, it's almost impossible to walk around any major city from New York to Los Angles, from Tokyo to London, without seeing Carhartt jackets, Carhartt beanies, and Carhartt pants. The beanie is actually called the Carhartt watch cap and it's by far its most popular product with Carhartt selling about 4 million of them a year. A wide range of celebrities from Jamie Foxx and Kanye West o Rihanna, Bella Hadid and Drake all wear Carhartt gear.

The company says it has never sought out that kind of attention. In fact, fast fashion and the fleeting exposure that comes with it are anathema to its mantra: outworking the mall since 1889.

 

This 700 MPH Hyperloop Concept Could Become The Fastest Way To Travel

Source: BI

Countries in Europe and Asia are filled with high-speed bullet trains, bringing passengers from Paris to London or Tokyo to Kyoto within 2.5 hours. But hyperloops could bring passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 45 minutes. Elon Musk introduced the concept of the hyperloop in 2013, but the US still doesn't have one. So what's the holdup? It all comes down to technology, money, and construction. Virgin Hyperloop is on its way to developing the first hyperloop, testing a 107-mph run in November using maglev technology.