Heathrow Airport urged government to reopen the UK border to fully vaccinated EU and US travellers

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 26th July 2021) London, Uk – –

The company behind the UK's largest airport says that unless the government takes immediate action to help reopen the skies across core US and European markets, the aviation industry will need further financial support.

Heathrow Airport has urged the government to reopen the UK economy to fully vaccinated travellers from the EU and US by the end of the month after revealing coronavirus crisis losses of almost £3bn to date.

The company said expensive COVID testing requirements were hampering an effective reopening of the skies, while it also reported that the UK was falling behind its EU rivals in international trade by being slow to remove restrictions.

Heathrow said fewer than four million people travelled through the hub airport during the first six months of 2021 – a level that would have been surpassed by 18 days' worth of traffic in pre-pandemic times.

It posted a loss before tax of £868m compared to a figure just above £1bn for the same period last year, as demand for international travel slumped in the face of the first lockdowns Europe-wide.

The figure took its cumulative losses to £2.9bn, Heathrow said, adding: “Recent changes to the government's traffic light system are encouraging but expensive testing requirements and travel restrictions are holding back the UK's economic recovery and could see Heathrow welcome fewer passengers in 2021 than in 2020.”

It said that cargo volumes remained 18% down on pre-pandemic levels while rivals, such as Frankfurt and Schiphol, were up by 9%.

“Britain is losing out on tourism income and trade with key economic partners like the EU and US because ministers continue to restrict travel for passengers fully vaccinated outside the UK,” the statement continued.

It said that unless the government acted, the sector must be continue to be supported through an extension of the furlough scheme beyond September and business rates relief – the latter worth almost £120m to Heathrow.

Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “The UK is emerging from the worst effects of the health pandemic, but is falling behind its EU rivals in international trade by being slow to remove restrictions.

“Replacing PCR tests with lateral flow tests and opening up to EU and US vaccinated travellers at the end of July will start to get Britain's economic recovery off the ground.”

He was speaking following a weekend in which COVID checks were blamed for long queues at Heathrow's arrivals halls on what was its busiest day of the year so far.

Significant waiting times were also reported at check-in desks and at UK airports more widely where staff shortages as a result of the so-called ‘pingdemic', that has forced personnel to self-isolate if identified as a close contact by the NHS COVID app, were blamed for waits of over two hours.

By James Sillars

Beijing strips online tutoring firms ability to make profit from teaching core subjects

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 26th July 2021) London, Uk – –

Shares in Chinese online tutoring firms have slumped after Beijing stripped them of the ability to make a profit from teaching core subjects.

The new guidelines also restrict foreign investment in the industry.

The major shift in policy comes as authorities try to ease the financial pressures of raising children, after China posted a record low birth rate.

It is one of the biggest ever overhauls of the country's $120bn (£87bn) private tutoring sector.

Under the guidelines, issued jointly by the General Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council, all institutions offering tuition on the school curriculum will be registered as non-profit organisations.

The new rules also state: “Curriculum subject-tutoring institutions are not allowed to go public for financing; listed companies should not invest in the institutions, and foreign capital is barred from such institutions.”

The statement said the move was intended “to ease the burden of excessive homework and off-campus tutoring for students undergoing compulsory education.”

News of the rule changes have slammed the share prices of China's private education firms.

In Hong Kong trade, companies including New Oriental Education & Technology, Koolear Technology Holding Scholar Education and China Beststudy Education plummeted by as much as 47% on Monday.

On Friday in New York, TAL Education Group shares fell by more than 70%, while Gaotu Techedu lost 63% of its market value.

In a statement released on Sunday, TAL said it expects the guidelines “will have material adverse impact on its after-school tutoring services related to academic subjects in China's compulsory education system”, without giving details of the expected extent of the effect.

The announcement comes as Chinese authorities are cracking down on a wide range of online services from ride-hailing app Didi to Tencent's music streaming platforms.

Last week, China's internet watchdog, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), ordered some of the country's biggest online platforms to remove inappropriate child-related content and fined them.

In a statement, the CAC said its actions against Kuaishou, Tencent's messaging tool QQ, Alibaba's Taobao and Weibo “focused on solving seven types of prominent online problems that endanger the physical and mental health of minors”.

How Egypt Is Keeping This 200-Year-Old Tile Tradition Alive

Source: Still Standing

Saied Hussain has been hand making tiles out of cement for over 50 years. He says he’s one of the last still doing this work in Egypt — most other workshops couldn't withstand competition from marble and ceramic tiles. We went to Cairo to see how his business is still standing. Saied does not have a website. He sells his tiles locally in Cairo.

Next to repay £29m in Covid rates relief as customers return to high street stores

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 22nd July 2021) London, Uk – –

Shares soar as retailer raises profit forecast for third time in four months

Next has reported strong revenue growth as shoppers returned to its clothing stores after the Covid-19 lockdown reopening and as a result has decided to repay £29m of business rates relief to the government.

Shares in the bellwether retail chain soared 10% in early trading on Wednesday, making Next the biggest FTSE 100 riser as investors responded positively to the news that it was raising its profit forecast for the third time in four months.

The clothing and homeware retailer’s full-price sales over the past 11 weeks, between early May and 17 July, were almost 19% higher than during the same period two years earlier, before the pandemic. The company had previously forecast a 3% increase.

The latest profit increase – after upgrades in April and May – means Next is now expecting to make £750m of pre-tax profit this year, £30m more than at its last forecast in May.

The new profit forecast is after a deduction of £29m in business rates relief, which Next is repaying to the government, covering the period this year when its shops were open but were not charged rates.

Next has emerged as a big winner from the pandemic and experienced increased demand for products such as clothing since its stores in all four nations of the UK were allowed to reopen during April.

The company has been surprised by its levels of sales, ever since the easing of coronavirus restrictions unleashed pent-up demand for adults’ summer clothing. Next said many shoppers did not buy many clothes last summer, which meant it got a boost from the warm weather at the end of May and the start of June this year.

The retailer believes the reduction in foreign holidays taken by Britons this year has bolstered domestic spending, while consumers also have extra cash in their pocket after saving money during the pandemic.

Next’s online sales jumped by 63% in the first quarter of the year, making it the UK’s biggest internet clothing retailer – ahead of rivals such as Asos and Boohoo. Its online sales have come down in recent weeks, with shoppers flocking back to its reopened stores instead.

The retailer does not expect its sales to continue at what it called “these exceptionally strong levels” but it has also upped its sales guidance for the second half of the year from 3% to a 6% increase.

Its soaring sales have also prompted Next to restart shareholder payouts after a pause in 2020. It will pay a special dividend to its shareholders in September and said it expects to distribute £240m to investors during the current financial year.

By Joanna Partridge

The Billion Dollar Pool Supply Industry Cashing in on Summer

Source: CNBC

Over the last several decades, a growing number of Americans have chosen to spend more time and money on swimming pools. Most pools can be found in California, Texas and Florida, but population growth in other Southern states is escalating the demand for pool construction and supplies. Pool Corporation, one of the largest pool supply distributers, has seen its stock price soar. Already in 2021, people are opening up their pools 20-30% earlier in the year than they did in 2020, which means they will need more chemicals and supplies to keep their pools swimmable. For now, demand is pretty strong.

Baby Biker: 4-Year-Old Has Insane Motorcycle Skills

Source: Truly

A four-year-old daredevil is tearing up the competition in Ukraine with his motorcycle skills. While most kids are just day-dreaming about riding a motorbike, Ukrainian Tima Kuleshov started riding a bicycle before he was two-years-old and graduated to a mini motorbike at just two and a half.

Saudi state fund buys McLaren stake in £550m deal

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 16th July 2021) London, Uk – –

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund and Ares Management will invest £400m into the Surrey-based automotive giant, Sky News learns.

Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund is in advanced talks to acquire a stake in McLaren Group as part of a fresh shake-up at the British supercar manufacturer and Formula One (F1) team-owner.

Sky News has learnt that the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) is to participate in a £550m equity-raise which could be unveiled by McLaren within days.

Banking sources said the deal would include £400m of new capital from PIF and Ares Management, a major global investment firm, with £150m being injected into the company by McLaren's existing shareholders – who include Mumtalakat, the sovereign investment fund of Bahrain.

The equity-raise was still being finalised on Friday and could still be delayed, the sources cautioned.

If completed, however, it would represent a major vote of confidence in McLaren's strategy under the leadership of Paul Walsh, the former Diageo chief who joined last year as executive chairman. The Woking-based company endured a torrid start to the pandemic as it sought a government loan to shore up its balance sheet.

It was also forced into a restructuring of its workforce which saw hundreds of jobs axed.

Sales of its luxury road-cars have, however, rebounded strongly in recent months, while its racing fortunes have also continued to recover.

The Saudis' acquisition of a minority stake in McLaren Group could pave the way for a series of commercial tie-ups involving the company and the oil-rich Gulf state, one analyst suggested on Thursday evening.

The PIF has also been part of a consortium attempting to buy Newcastle United Football Club from the retail tycoon Mike Ashley – a role which has attracted intense scrutiny from the Premier League and triggered a formal arbitration process that is expected to be resolved this month.

The Saudi fund has been a big investor in technology companies, in part through the giant Vision Fund led by Japan's SoftBank, and also through individual companies such as the electric vehicle start-up Lucid Motors, which it listed in New York earlier this year.

Its experience with Lucid could be of benefit to McLaren as it develops more hybrid and electric cars such as its Artura model.

Ares Management is regarded as a blue-chip provider of capital to companies around the world, and has an existing relationship with McLaren, according to insiders.

The equity-raise will allay any lingering questions about the strength of McLaren's balance sheet and will take the total funding raised by the group since Mr Walsh's arrival to well over £1bn.

That figure comprises a £300m equity injection in March 2020, a £170m sale-and-leaseback of its spectacular Surrey headquarters and a £185m windfall from the sale of a separate stake in McLaren Racing.

McLaren also secured a £150m loan from the National Bank of Bahrain, reflecting its close ties to the Gulf state, last year.

The sale of a stake in McLaren Racing, which comprises its F1 team and INDYCAR Championship outfit, came during a revival in its on-track fortunes after years in the doldrums.

Lando Norris, one of its F1 drivers, sits in fourth place in the drivers' championship, with team-mate Daniel Ricciardo lying in eighth.

The team, which is overseen by McLaren Racing chief executive Zak Brown, occupies third spot in the constructors' championship behind Red Bull and Mercedes.

As well as its racing arm, the group consists of McLaren Automotive, which makes luxury road cars and which was highly profitable prior to the COVID-19 crisis; and McLaren Applied Technologies, which generates revenue from sales to corporate customers.

Founded in 1963 by Bruce McLaren, the car marque is one of the most famous names in British motorsport.

During half a century of competing in F1, it has won the constructors' championship eight times, while its drivers have included the likes of Mika Hakkinen, Lewis Hamilton, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.

In total, the team has won 180 Grands Prix, three Indianopolis 500s and the Le Mans 24 Hours on its debut.

This weekend, it will compete in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

McLaren's on-track operations account for roughly 20% of the group's annual revenues.

It has sponsorship deals with companies including Darktrace, the cybersecurity software provider, Dell Technologies, the computing giant, and – as of this week – Stanley Black & Decker, the tool manufacturer.

McLaren is a major British exporter, directly employing about 3000 people and supporting thousands of jobs across the UK supply chain.

The company saw its separate divisions reunited following the departure in 2017 of Ron Dennis, the veteran McLaren boss who had steered its F1 team through the most successful period in its history.

He became one of Britain's best-known businessmen, expanding McLaren's technology ventures into a wide range of other industries through lucrative commercial partnerships.

Mr Dennis offloaded his stake in a £275m deal following a bitter dispute with fellow shareholders.

He had presented to McLaren's board a £1.65bn takeover bid from a consortium of Chinese investors, but did not attract support for it from boardroom colleagues.

HSBC and Goldman Sachs are advising on the latest equity-raise.

McLaren did not respond to a request for comment on Friday morning.

By Mark Kleinman

Revolut, UK based digital banking app rockets to $33 bln valuation after Softbank-backed fundraising

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 15th July 2021) London, UK —

LONDON, July 15 (Reuters) – British-based digital banking app Revolut has raised around $800 million in a new funding round led by Softbank's (9984.T) Vision Fund and Tiger Global Management, valuing the company at around $33 billion.

The fundraising makes Revolut Britain's most valuable fintech firm and on paper it is now worth slightly more than the market capitalisation of mainstream lender NatWest (NWG.L).

London-based Revolut was worth just $5.5 billion when it raised $500 million in early 2020, and had been eyeing a valuation of around $20 billion as recently as June, according to media reports at the time.

Such stellar valuations are increasingly common in the financial technology sector, with payments company Wise (WISEa.L) valued at $11 billion last week in London's biggest ever tech listing.

Founded in 2015 by former Credit Suisse trader Nik Storonsky and developer Vladyslav Yatsenko, Revolut has won more than 16 million customers with products including foreign exchange, stock trading and cryptocurrencies, undercutting mainstream banks' prices.

It has yet to translate that rapid growth into profitability, however, with its annual losses doubling last financial year on investment in risk controls.

Revolut has in recent years accelerated its global expansion, pushing into markets including the United States, Australia and Japan.

The fresh cash will mainly be used to help product development, and marketing in countries that Revolut is expanding into, particularly the U.S. and India, Chief Financial Officer Mikko Salovaara told reporters.

The fundraising would not affect the timetable for any potential listing of Revolut, he said.

“We think eventually we will be a public company but have no immediate plans to list,” he said.

The investment round was endorsed by Britain's finance minister Rishi Sunak, who wants to grow the country's fintech industry to help keep the financial sector competitive following the UK's departure from the European Union.

“We want to see even more great British Fintech success stories like Revolut,” he said.

Reporting by Lawrence White

Waterstones shoppers encouraged to wear face coverings after July 19

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 14th July 2021) London, Uk – –

Waterstones says it will encourage its customers to continue wearing face coverings in its stores after they cease to be compulsory after July 19.

It is one of the first major chains to state a firm policy on mask wearing.

Businesses are weighing up what approach to take once Covid measures become a matter for them to decide.

Some shop workers and staff are worried that abandoning masks will put their health at risk, but others have reacted with anger at Waterstones' move.

Waterstones said in a tweet: “Following the lift of restrictions on 19 July across England, we will observe new government guidance. Given our enclosed browsing environment, we encourage our customers to wear face masks and observe social distancing, respecting the safety of staff and fellow book lovers.”

The tweet has attracted a mass – and mixed – response. Many are in favour of its position.

Critical care nurse, Kimberley Anne, said: “@Waterstones ! As an ITU nurse, I am so exhausted with all these waves of Covid and I personally feel more at ease bookshopping with a mask. I am freaking out already using the tube.”

But Talk Radio presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer, said: “I make a point of buying books at my local @Waterstones rather than ordering on Amazon because I want bookstores to thrive, but if I go into your store and a member of staff asks me to wear a mask, you will lose my business forever.”


From Monday 19 July the government has said wearing face coverings in England will be recommended but not mandatory.

Transport companies have been the most forthright in setting out their policies. London Transport said on Tuesday it would require passengers on the Tube, bus and its overground railways to wear masks.

Airlines including BA and Ryanair have already confirmed face masks will still be compulsory after 19 July.

But most retailers have taken a more cautious approach, and many, including leading supermarkets, have not yet said anything concrete.

Timpsons shoe repair and key cutting chain, which has more than 2,000 shops, is leaving mask wearing as a matter of personal choice for customers.

Its boss said: “I don't think the way it's going we've got any right, we shouldn't expect them to do so, that's entirely up to the customer.”

But he said his staff would be asked to wear masks.

Jewellery retailer Beaverbrooks is going further. It told the BBC it would keep all of its current safety measures in place, including welcome barriers, hand sanitisation stations and serving screens.

It said staff would still be wearing visors or masks. But it added that although it could not force customers to wear masks, it would prefer them to continue to wear masks in its stores.

‘Violence and abuse'

Aside from Sainsburys, which said last week that mask wearing will be a matter of personal choice for customers, leading supermarkets have not so far publicly stated their approach. Morrisons says it is waiting for further guidance from the government.

Some shoppers are uncomfortable with anything other than a clear safety policy. Commenting on Waterstones' move, Denys Whitley tweeted: “‘Encourage' is not strong enough. Mask-wearing must be mandatory. Non-masked are not respecting the safety of staff or fellow book-lovers… With this policy, I'll be sticking to the pathetic selection on Amazon.”

Shop workers union Usdaw had previously urged the government not to lift Covid safety measures in shops.

According to a recent survey, it found violence, verbal abuse or threats of violence towards shopworkers had increased from between 25-50%, with face coverings the trigger for 15% of the incidents.

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary, said: “Shopworkers already face violence and abuse when enforcing these measures and we are concerned that, when restrictions no longer have the force of the law behind them, this could result in further abuse, threats and violence towards retail workers.”

Google fined €500m by France’s antitrust watchdog over copyright

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 13th July 2021) London, Uk – –

Google must come up with proposals for how it would compensate agencies for use of their news

France’s antitrust watchdog has fined Google €500m for failing to comply with the regulator’s orders on how to conduct talks with the country’s news publishers in a row over copyright.

The fine comes amid international pressure on online platforms such as Google and Facebook to share more revenue with news outlets.

The US tech group must now come up with proposals within the next two months on how it would compensate news agencies and other publishers for the use of their news. If it does not do that, the company would face additional fines of up to €900,000 per day.

Google said it was very disappointed with the decision but would comply. “Our objective remains the same: we want to turn the page with a definitive agreement. We will take the French Competition Authority’s feedback into consideration and adapt our offers,” the US tech giant said.

A Google spokesperson added: “We have acted in good faith throughout the entire process. The fine ignores our efforts to reach an agreement, and the reality of how news works on our platforms.”

News publishers APIG, SEPM and AFP accuse the tech company of having failed to hold talks in good faith with them to find common ground for the remuneration of news content online, under a recent European Union directive that creates so-called “neighbouring rights”.

The case itself focused on whether Google breached temporary orders issued by the antitrust authority, which demanded such talks take place within three months with any news publishers that ask for them.

“When the authority decrees an obligation for a company, it must comply scrupulously, both in the spirit and letter (of the decision). Here, this was unfortunately not the case,” the antitrust body’s chief, Isabelle de Silva, said in a statement. She also said the regulator considered that Google had not acted in good faith in its negotiations with the publishers.

APIG, which represents most major French print news publishers including Le Figaro and Le Monde, remains one of the plaintiffs, even though it signed a framework agreement with Google earlier this year, sources told Reuters. This framework deal has been put on hold pending the antitrust decision, the sources said.

The framework agreement, which many other French media outlets criticised, was one of the highest-profile deals under Google’s News Showcase programme to provide compensation for news snippets used in search results, and the first of its kind in Europe.

Google agreed to pay $76m over three years to a group of 121 French news publishers to end the copyright row, documents seen by Reuters showed.

UK police seize record £294 million haul of cryptocurrency

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 13th July 2021) London, UK —

How The Right 5-10 Cryptocurrency Coins
Could Make You A Fortune

LONDON, July 13 (Reuters) – British police have seized record hauls of cryptocurrency totalling 294 million pounds ($408 million) as part of an investigation into money laundering after organised crime groups moved into cyptocurrencies to wash their dirty money.

London police said on Tuesday they had seized 180 million pounds of an undisclosed cryptocurrency less than three weeks after making a 114 million pound haul on June 24 as part of a money laundering investigation.

“While cash still remains king in the criminal word, as digital platforms develop we’re increasingly seeing organised criminals using cryptocurrency to launder their dirty money,” said Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty.

A 39-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of money laundering after the first haul was discovered and has been interviewed under caution over the 180 million pound discovery.

“Today’s seizure is another significant landmark in this investigation which will continue for months to come as we hone in on those at the centre of this suspected money laundering operation,” said Detective Constable Joe Ryan.

As cryptocurrencies are largely anonymous, convenient and global in nature, some of the world's biggest criminal groups have bet big on them as a way to launder money and stay one step ahead of the police, tax and security forces.

By Guy Faulconbridge

Uber picks former Tesco exec Eve Henrikson’s to run European delivery arm

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 12th July, 2021) London, Uk – –

Eve Henrikson's appointment as the boss of Uber's delivery operations – including its Uber Eats app – across Europe will be announced on Monday, Sky News learns.

Uber will this week name a former Tesco executive as the head of its European delivery arm amid a frenzy of competition in the rapid grocery sector.

Sky News understands that Eve Henrikson, who spent years working for Britain's biggest online grocer, is joining the owner of the world's best-known ride-hailing app as regional general manager for Uber Delivery in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The last permanent occupant of the role was Stephane Ficaja, who left Uber earlier this year.

Ms Henrikson's appointment will come amid a deluge of investment in tech companies specialising in fast urban logistics.

Deliveroo, which went public in London through a calamitous flotation earlier in 2021, has since seen its shares recover amid continued growth in consumer demand.

Meanwhile, the likes of Getir and Gorillas, which promise to deliver groceries within minutes, are raising vast sums of capital to accelerate their efforts to capture market share.

Ms Henrikson said her role would include an attempt to launch “new on-demand services and adjacencies, providing best-in-class customer experiences and delivering profitable growth”.

Uber is expanding its delivery services into areas such as groceries, retail and pharmacy products, having been one of the early entrants to the restaurant delivery space through its Uber Eats operation.

It has also launched Uber Direct, a delivery-as-a-service offering for corporate customers such as McDonald's.

Uber said it had more than doubled gross bookings for the delivery business in the first quarter of the year.

The Uber Eats app is now available in nearly 900 cities in 14 countries across the EMEA region, and the second-largest player in the UK market, according to the company.

By Mark Kleinman

How Tech Companies Made Billions And Paid 0 Taxes

Source: Alux

This one is pretty much a crash course on how a lot of big companies, in general, get full marks for tax evasion.

This Alux video we will be answering the following questions:

How many corporations paid no taxes in 2020? What companies did not pay taxes in 2020? How are Fortune 500 companies not taxed? What companies paid zero taxes? What company pays the most tax? Why did Amazon not pay taxes? How does Nike no tax? How much did billionaires pay in taxes? How do big companies pay no taxes? Did Google pay taxes? Is Amazon Paying Taxes 2020? Did Amazon pay any taxes last year? How much did FedEx pay in taxes 2019? Do oil companies pay taxes? How many Fortune 500 companies paid no taxes last year? Who actually pays corporate taxes? Do corporations pay less taxes than individuals? Which UK company pays most taxes? Does Walmart pay any taxes? Does Elon Musk pay taxes in the US? Do footballers pay tax UK? Do Amazon pay taxes in the UK? Who paid the most tax in 2019? Who is highest tax payer in India? Who is the highest tax payer in USA?

CDs and DVDs will no longer be sold by Sainsbury’s

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 9th July 2021) London, Uk – –

Supermarket giant Sainsbury's says it has decided to stop selling CDs and DVDs as streaming services take their toll on sales of the products.

A spokesperson said Sainsbury's customers increasingly went for music and films online instead of buying the shiny silver discs.

The firm said sales were being phased out, although it would continue to sell vinyl records in some stores.

CD sales have shrunk in the past decade but were still worth £115m last year.

Other big supermarkets show no sign of following Sainsbury's lead, with larger branches of Tesco, Asda and Morrisons still stocking a range of CDs and DVDs.

“Our customers increasingly go online for entertainment, so earlier this year we took the decision to gradually phase out the sale of DVDs and CDs, so that we can dedicate extra space to food and popular products like clothing and homewares,” Sainsbury's said.

The decision is another sign that the CD, once the dominant means of buying and selling recorded music, is long past its heyday.

With sales hit first by the MP3 music file, then by streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer, the silver disc is now seen as unfashionable in many circles.

Worse still, the format that it was designed to kill off, the vinyl record, has enjoyed a resurgence, with UK sales climbing to 4.8 million last year, bringing in revenue of more than £86m.

That was still well short of the money brought in by CDs. But according to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the value of record sales in 2021 is expected to surpass that of CDs for the first time since the late 1980s.

“The CD has proved exceptionally successful for nearly 40 years and remains a format of choice for many music fans who value sound quality, convenience and collectability,” said a BPI spokesperson.

“Although demand has been following a long-term trend as consumers increasingly transition to streaming, resilient demand is likely to continue for many years, enhanced by special editions and other collectible releases.

“If some retailers now see the format as less of a priority, this will create a further opportunity for others, such as independent shops and specialist chains such as HMV, to cater to the continuing demand.”

Out of fashion

Music industry observer Graham Jones points out that supermarkets have always carried a very limited selection of CDs, with an emphasis on big names such as Ed Sheeran.

But as his book Last Shop Standing makes clear, the supermarkets could still make life difficult for record shops, especially by undercutting them on price.

In one chapter, he recounts an incident from 2008, when a shop in the East Midlands found that rather than ordering copies of the latest Coldplay CD from the record company, it was cheaper to buy them on special offer from Morrisons and Asda and resell them.

However, such incidents are unlikely to be repeated these days.

“Sales of CDs are slowing down, so I can understand why Sainsbury's are pulling out, really,” he told the BBC.

“Vinyl is incredibly fashionable and the CD has gone out of fashion.

“A lot of indies [independent shops] may be stocking less CDs than they used to, but they're still selling. There's this myth that the CD is completely dead.”

By Robert Plummer
Business reporter

Ocado report a 20% increase in sales after shopping shifts online due to pandemic

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 6th July 2021) London, Uk – –

Retailer says new groups of customers have become used to online grocery buying in pandemic

Ocado, the online grocer, has reported a 20% increase in retail sales and hailed a permanent shift in grocery shopping in the Covid-19 pandemic.

Retail revenues climbed by 19.8% to £1.2bn in the six months to 30 May, and Ocado cut its half-year loss before tax to £23.6m from £40.6m. At the end of the period, it was serving 777,000 active customers, a 22% increase year on year.

The firm recorded positive growth in the three months to the end of May, even as Covid-19 restrictions began to ease. This meant, however, that fewer meals were being eaten at home and basket sizes began to return towards pre-pandemic levels. Over the half year as a whole, the average basket size was flat at £138.

Tim Steiner, the Ocado chief executive, said the company was tapping into demand “from new pools of customers now socialised to online grocery shopping”.

He added: “As we head towards a post Covid-19 future, it is increasingly clear that the landscape for grocery worldwide has changed, for good.”

Ocado started selling Marks & Spencer products in September, after ending a longstanding partnership with Waitrose.

As the pandemic led to a boom in online shopping, Ocado ramped up its robotic warehouse capacity. It opened three sites in the first half, including the first “mini” warehouse in Bristol, and the first warehouses in the US for Kroger in Ohio and Florida.https://www.theguardian.com/email/form/plaintone/business-todaySign up to the daily Business Today email

The Bristol warehouse is operating at just over half of its capacity of 30,000 orders a week. Ocado plans to open 56 warehouses in coming years, with 15 under construction outside the UK. It is about to open a new warehouse in Andover, to replace one destroyed by fire, as a “state of the art robotic customer fulfilment centre”.

Ocado is looking to build more than 12 “Zoom” micro sites in UK cities, which can handle 10,000 products and deliver in less than an hour, with the first opened in Acton.

The company has also struck a deal withAuchan Retail to supply its technology and develop the French group’s online business in Spain.

By Julia Kollewe

Inside Tyrese Gibson’s Atlanta Dream Mansion

Source: AD

Today AD is welcomed to Atlanta, Georgia by actor and musician Tyrese Gibson for a tour of his six-story dream mansion. Despite its grandeur, the 25,000 square foot French Chateau-style mansion radiates an inviting warmth – an effect Tyrese created with intention. “I wanted guests to feel the regal energy, the regal vibe,” says the man behind the character Roman Pearce from The Fast and the Furious. “But it’s very livable. No one comes into my house and, I’m like, I’m sorry, you can’t sit here.”

Asda head offices to allow hybrid working for staff

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 2nd July 2021) London, Uk – –

Asda has announced it will make hybrid working permanent at its head offices once Covid restrictions are lifted.

The supermarket group said staff at Asda House in Leeds and George House in Leicester can choose where they work.

Around 4,000 staff work at both offices, with the majority based in Leeds.

England is set to lift final Covid measures on 19 July and many businesses have indicated they will continue to allow flexible working.

However, not all companies plan to embrace a hybrid approach. Goldman Sachs International has said it wants people to come back into the office once restrictions have ended.

Asda said its new approach “will encourage colleagues to select the best location to do their job”, including home, head office or even a store or depot.

When employees have meetings or training, they will be encouraged to come into the office.

But Asda said staff also “have the flexibility to work from home when it is more productive to do so, such as tasks that involve planning or research”.

Asda's plan is similar to one adopted by Nationwide, which will allow the building society's 13,000 office employees to “work anywhere”.

Nationwide is closing three offices in Swindon and the 3,000 staff based at those sites can either move to the nearby headquarters, work from home or mix the two. Some employees may be able to work from a local High Street branch if they prefer, instead of travelling to an office.

Jacki Simpson, Asda's vice president of people operations, said: “We have learned a great deal about working patterns during the last 16 months and have seen colleagues work productively across different locations.”

She said the retailer had consulted with staff about how they wanted to work in the future.

“We know they welcome the increased flexibility of remote working,” she said. “However, they also acknowledge there is some work that is simply better done from the office, so as we move forward a hybrid working model is the right approach for our people and the business.”

Gap plans to close all 81 stores in the UK and Ireland

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Thur, 1st July 2021) London, Uk – –

US fashion giant Gap has confirmed it plans to close all its 81 stores in the UK and Ireland and go online-only.

The firm said it would close all its stores “in a phased manner” between the end of August and the end of September.

This includes 19 stores that were already scheduled to close in July as their leases were expiring.

The company has not disclosed how many employees the closures will affect, but will shortly start a consultation process with the staff.

The firm said it was “not exiting the UK market” and would continue to offer a web-based store when all the shops had closed.

A Gap spokesperson said the decision followed a strategic review of its European business.

As a result, Gap is also looking to offload its stores in France and Italy.

Analysis: Emma Simpson

Gap was a big hit when it first opened in the UK back in 1987, famous for its hoodies and sweatshirts. But in recent years, it has struggled to stay relevant, resorting to prolific discounting to pull shoppers in. That left Gap in a weak position to withstand the turmoil of a global pandemic.

It launched a strategic review of its entire European operations last autumn, warning that it was considering closing all its UK stores. Just a few weeks ago, 19 store closures were announced – now the rest of them will close as well.

Gap blamed what it described as market dynamics – in other words, the huge shift to internet shopping. It's going online-only, just like Debenhams and Sir Philip Green's Arcadia group. It's yet another famous name bidding a retreat from our High Streets, adding to the challenge of what to do with empty shops.

Kate Hardcastle, a consumer and retail expert says the closure is because Gap failed to keep up with the competition by not offering enough variety or being as cheap as competitors such as Primark.

“The brands you want to shop with in physical retail have to have so much more than just products on offer, they have to have purpose,” she says.

“It just didn't feel like a company that had embraced the new consumer,” she adds.

The company said it was in negotiations with another firm to take over all of its French stores.

In Italy, Gap said it was in discussions with a partner for the potential acquisition of the stores there.

“We believe in Gap's global brand power. We are executing against Gap's Power Plan and partnering to amplify our global reach,” the spokesperson said.

“We are not exiting the UK market. We will continue to run and operate our Gap e-commerce business in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.”

A source close to the company said that it had seen rapid uptake of internet shopping for its clothes in the UK since the pandemic-enforced lockdowns.

The move comes as the latest blow to UK High Streets, already reeling from the collapse of the Debenhams and Arcadia retail empires during the pandemic.

The Debenhams brand continues online after being bought by retailer Boohoo for £55m in January – and now Gap has added to the ranks of bricks-and-mortar clothing chains that have moved to cyberspace.