Carphone Warehouse owner blames 22% profit fall on consumers delaying phone upgrades

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 20th June 2019) London, Uk – –

Owner of Currys, PC World and Carphone Warehouse blames 22% profit fall on consumers delaying phone upgrades

Shares in Dixons Carphone, Britain’s biggest electrical and mobile phone retailer, slumped almost 20% as it reported a big fall in profits and warned of “significant” losses in its mobile phone business.

The group, which owns Currys, PC World and Carphone Warehouse, said it had been hit by a growing trend among consumers to delay upgrading their mobile phones.

Profits for the year to 27 April fell by 22%, to £298m, down from £382m the previous year. New chief executive, Alex Baldock, who launched a turnaround strategy in December, warned profits would fall further this year, to about £210m. Analysts had been expecting a figure of about £296m.

This is the second profits warning from the group since Baldock joined in April last year. Dixons slashed its full-year dividend to 6.75p from 11.25p. Its shares tumbled almost 30% in early trading, to 91p, and later traded down 18% at 102p.

Baldock said the UK mobile market was changing rapidly and the group had to move faster to respond, but that would mean “taking more pain in the coming year, when mobile will make a significant loss”.Advertisement

He said: “Customers are hanging on to their handsets for longer, in some cases three to four years. Some say this is going to change with 5G but we are not going to be dependent on it.”

More customers are buying their handsets and sim cards separately, resulting in lower profits for Dixons, and when they do buy bundles they want more flexibility, Baldock said. In response, the company is preparing to launch its own 36-month credit-based bundle by next April.

He said Dixons had renegotiated all its network contracts, resulting in a £60m benefit to profits, and was offering customers a better choice, including packages with Virgin Media.

The group made a statutory loss before tax of £259m, compared with a profit of £289m the year before, reflecting charges of £557m, including a £383m writedown of its UK mobile business, Carphone Warehouse.

Carphone Warehouse, which now has 560 shops compared with 662 a year earlier, made a loss of £438. The company does not expect it to return to profit until 2022. Baldock did not rule out further store closures, although there are no current plans to do so.

As part of its turnaround plan, the company is merging its mobile and electrical divisions. It has introduced 18 “gaming battlegrounds” in its stores, where customers can play video games, and is aiming for more than 80 by the end of its financial year. The group also plans to give more space to large-screen TVs and smart home technology.

Baldock said: “Stores need to be exciting places where customers go to experience technology. They should be palaces of discovery.”

Richard Hunter, head of markets at investment platform interactive investor, said: “In all, the ambitious five-year transformation plan carries many promises and targets, but it is simply too early to gauge whether these are achievable.

“Of late, there has been an element of investors running out of patience with Dixons. Even before today’s mauling, the shares had given up 37% over the last year, as compared to a decline of 8% for the wider FTSE250 index.”

By Julia Kollewe

Sweetgreen the restaurant world’s first “unicorn,” valued at over $1 Billion

Source: CNBC

Sweetgreen is now the restaurant world's first “unicorn,” valued at over $1 billion. Started by three college friends out of their dorm room at Georgetown University, the salad company has 91 locations with more in the works and is vying to become the digital food platform of the future.

How New York Got Its Skyline

Source: Bloomberg

Why do so many of New York's older skyscrapers have a similar design? The answer can be traced back to a monumental 1916 zoning law, which established “setback” requirements for buildings above a certain height. In the heart of the Financial District, the Equitable Building, a historic skyscraper that predates the law, remains a symbol of the excesses of the pre-zoning era.

UK’s watchdog ban on ‘Harmful’ gender stereotypes in adverts comes into force

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 14th June 2019) London, Uk – –

A ban on adverts featuring “harmful gender stereotypes” or those which are likely to cause “serious or widespread offence” has come into force.

The ban covers scenarios such as a man with his feet up while a woman cleans, or a woman failing to park a car.

The UK's advertising watchdog introduced the ban because it found some portrayals could play a part in “limiting people's potential”.

It said it was pleased with how advertisers had responded.

The new rule follows a review of gender stereotyping in adverts by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) – the organisation that administers the UK Advertising Codes, which cover both broadcast and non-broadcast adverts, including online and social media.

The ASA said the review had found evidence suggesting that harmful stereotypes could “restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults and these stereotypes can be reinforced by some advertising, which plays a part in unequal gender outcomes”.

“Our evidence shows how harmful gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to inequality in society, with costs for all of us. Put simply, we found that some portrayals in ads can, over time, play a part in limiting people's potential,” said ASA chief executive Guy Parker.

‘Stereotypes'

Blogger and father of two Jim Coulson thinks the ban is a good idea. He dislikes adverts that perpetuate stereotypes about dads being “useless”.

“It's the small things though that build up, and the small things are what inform the subconscious,” he told the BBC.

“That's the problem… that adverts rely on stereotypes. We know why they do it, because it's easy. “

But columnist Angela Epstein disagrees, and thinks that society has become “over-sensitive”.

“There's a lot of big things we need to fight over – equality over pay, bullying in the workplace, domestic violence, sexual harassment – these are really big issues that we need to fight over equally,” she told the BBC.

“But when you chuck in the fact that women are doing the dishes [in advertisements], it's not in the same sphere. When we lump it all together and become desensitised, we devalue those important arguments we need to have.”

‘Lack of diversity'

As part of its review, the ASA brought together members of the public and showed them various adverts to gauge how they felt about how men and women were depicted.

One of them was a 2017 television advert for Aptamil baby milk formula, which showed a baby girl growing up to be a ballerina and baby boys engineers and mountain climbers.

The ASA found some parents “felt strongly about the gender based aspirations shown in this advert specifically noting the stereotypical future professions of the boys and girls shown.

“These parents queried why these stereotypes were needed, feeling that they lacked diversity of gender roles and did not represent real life.”

At the time it was released, the campaign prompted complaints but the ASA did not find grounds for a formal investigation as it did not break the rules.

However, Fernando Desouches, managing director of marketing agency New Macho, which specialises in targeting men, said this was an example of a past advert that would not pass the new ASA legislation.

He said it showed how easy it can be for “deeply entrenched views on gender to come through in an ad that purports to be caring and nurturing of future generations.” He was “unsurprised it generated a backlash”.

Other situations likely to fall foul of the new rule include:

  • Adverts which show a man or a woman failing at a task because of their gender, like a man failing to change a nappy or a woman failing to park
  • Adverts aimed at new mothers which suggest that looking good or keeping a home tidy is more important than emotional wellbeing
  • Adverts which belittle a man for carrying out stereotypically female roles

However, the new rules do not preclude the use of all gender stereotypes. The ASA said the aim was to identify “specific harms” that should be prevented.

So, for example, adverts would still be able to show women doing the shopping or men doing DIY, or use gender stereotypes as a way of challenging their negative effects.

The ASA outlined the new rules at the end of last year, giving advertisers six months to prepare for their introduction.

Mr Parker said the watchdog was pleased with how the industry had already responded.

The ASA said it would deal with any complaints on a case-by-case basis and would assess each advert by looking at the “content and context” to determine if the new rule had been broken.

Drive Through Supermarket Concept

Source: Wise Wanderer

Market from the company Dahir Inshat Drive Market is a shop in which visitors make purchases without leaving the car. This approach to service is convenient first of all for those who can not afford to waste time searching for and choosing goods in the usual hypermarket.

How Brunei Became One of The World’s Richest Countries

Source: Alux

In this Alux.com video well try to answer the following questions: Which is the richest country in the world? Why is Brunei so rich? Who runs Brunei? How much oil does Brunei have? How much oil does Brunei export? How is life in Brunei? Who is Hassanal Bolkiah? How rich is Hassanal Bolkiah? How powerful is Hassanal Bolkiah? How did Hassanal Bolkiah became rich?

Kiss Your Car Goodbye | Say Hello to “Mobility As A Service”

Source: Bloomberg

Drivers are already ditching their cars because of apps like Uber. Imagine what happens when driverless cars hit the roads. Bloomberg QuickTake explains the idea known as “mobility as a service”.

EE 5G network lands in London and five other UK cities

(qlmbusinessnews.com via cityam.com – – Thur, 30th May 2019) London, Uk – –

EE’s 5G network went live in six cities today, bringing the new technology to the UK for the first time.

London, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff and Belfast are the first locations to benefit from the new mobile network, which will offer users data speeds that are considerably faster than 4G.

However, with EE the first network to launch 5G, prices are set to be considerably higher until rivals begin to compete with their own launches.

Vodafone will be the first of those operators to challenge EE when it launches its own 5G network on 3 July.

5G handsets – what's available?

Meanwhile, the selection of 5G handsets is expected to be limited for the moment, with Samsung, OnePlus, LG and HTC all producing 5G handsets.

Huawei’s Mate 20X (5G) smartphone has been blocked from both EE and Vodafone’s rollouts after Google banned the device from receiving upgrades.

The ban came amid claims from the US that Huawei is acting as a spy for China – something Huawei denies.

“The challenge we have at the moment is we don’t have enough clarity on whether our customers are going to be able to be supported over a timeframe of a two or three-year contract,” EE boss Marc Allera told City A.M. last week.

5G speeds and coverage

EE said its 5G network currently offers speeds 10 times faster than 4G, though it will not launch a fully fledged 5G network until 2022.

William Webb, a 5G expert and chief executive of Weightless SIG, warned that coverage will be thin for years after 5G launches, mirroring the ‘not-spots' of 4G and even 3G in some areas of the UK.

“Initially, coverage will be very patchy – some areas in city centres may have a good connection but little elsewhere. For many, there may be no 5G coverage where they live and work for many years,” he said.

He added that the data-hungry network will eat up allowances very quickly, leaving tariffs looking miserly in contrast to 4G contract deals on offer right now.

“The basic 5G package has 5GB of data. If the promise of 200Mb/s is delivered on – and 5G is aiming for much higher – then this entire monthly allowance will last a total of 200 seconds,” he said.

“The only real benefit here is that 5G networks will be virtually empty, allowing congestion-free communications. This is a big advantage when you consider in places such as Waterloo, Kings Cross or other mainline train stations.

“While lower congestion is a valuable benefit, there is no sign of the services or applications that will deliver the well-documented changes to the way that we live and work that some have promised.”

How can the UK improve 5G coverage?

Kate Bevan, editor of Which Computing magazine, said: “The rollout of 5G will offer great opportunities for consumers to get increased internet speeds, faster downloads and be better connected on the move, but the reality is that we are still lagging behind on 4G – with only two-thirds of the UK able to get access with a choice of all major operators.

“The government needs to clearly outline how it will achieve its 2022 target for 95 per cent of the country to have 4G coverage and the regulator must use its powers effectively to extend coverage.”

Kester Mann, principle analyst at CCS Insight, added: “EE’s launch highlighted that the shift from 4G to 5G is an evolutionary one, as it focused on offering a more reliable mobile experience. Its new 5G propositions contain little that is truly innovative, but address existing customer pain-points without over-inflating expectations.”

Currently an EE 5G contract will cost you £54 per month and £170 for a compatible device, though that will only get you 10GB of data per month.

By Joe Curtis

People aged over 70 still in work has more than doubled in a decade

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 27th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Despite benefits of working into retirement, campaigners say figures point to pensioner poverty in UK

The number of people aged over 70 who are still working has more than doubled in a decade to nearly half a million, new research has shown.

The number of those aged over 70 who are in full- or part-time employment has been steadily rising year on year for the past decade, according to new Office for National Statistics data, reaching a peak of 497,946 in the first quarter of this year – an increase of 135% since 2009.

Nearly one in 12 of those in their 70s are still working, a significant increase from the one in 22 working 10 years ago.

“While we know that the over-50s in general have been the driving force behind the UK’s impressive employment growth in recent years, our deeper analysis shows the hard work and significant economic contribution made by the rapidly growing numbers of over-70s in the workplace,” said Stuart Lewis, founder of Rest Less, the site for work and volunteering opportunities specifically targeted at the over-50s, which commissioned the research.

“Many are actively looking to top up their pension savings while they still can but there is also a growing understanding of the many health and social benefits that come with working into retirement,” he said.

The research also shows that nearly one in nine men aged 70 and over are currently working full or part-time: an increase of 137% over the past 10 years.

Over three times more men aged 70 and above are working full-time compared with a decade ago: 113,513 up from 36,302 in 2009.

The number of women aged 70 and above who are still working has also more than doubled in a decade. Today, there are 175,000 women aged 70 and above in work: an increase of 131%.

In addition, the research found, there are currently more than 53,000 over 80s working in the UK, 25% of whom are working full-time.Advertisement

But Catherine Seymour, head of policy at Independent Age pointed out that the rise in people working beyond 65 coincides with increases in pensioner poverty. “One in every six people – nearly two million – of pension age are now living in poverty and every day, another 226 people join that number,” she said.

“Many people who are now working in their late sixties and seventies are doing so out of necessity to pay the rent, heat their homes and afford their weekly shop,” she added. “Everyone who wants to should be able to retire from paid work at state pension age, and these figures suggest many people cannot afford that right.”

Stephen Clarke, senior economic analyst at the Resolution Foundation, pointed out that the UK still performs poorly compared to many other similar countries in terms of older workers’ participation in the labour market. “Plenty more progress can be made,” he said.

“The government should enable people to partially draw down pension pots while continuing to work, while businesses need to do more to keep those with health problems or caring responsibilities engaged with the labour market,” he added.

Patrick Thomson, senior programme manager at the Centre for Ageing Better, said that with fewer younger people starting work to replace those set to retire in the future, uncertainty over Brexit, and worsening skills and labour shortages, “it’s vital that employers wake up and adopt age-friendly practices like flexible working to enable people to work for as long as they want.

“The face of Britain’s workforce is changing dramatically. We can’t afford to ignore our older workers,” he said.

Lily Parsey from the International Longevity Centre, said:

“To maximise the longevity dividend of our ageing society, we need to create inclusive and supportive workplaces, to ensure that we all can benefit from the benefits longevity can yield.”

Case study: ‘My age is totally irrelevant’

Reverend Michael Soulsby, 82, took up a hospital chaplaincy in Buckinghamshire at the age of 80 and is still working one or two days a week.

“I retired as a Church of England parish priest at the age of 68 but un-retired four months later. I have been working part-time since then on baptisms, births, funerals, Sunday services and administering to those in hospital here who need me.

“My age is totally irrelevant in terms of my health. My wife has preserved me very well, so I feel exactly the same physically as I did 20 years ago. I would like to think that my age has, however, made me a better hospital chaplain because I’ve gained the experience to appreciate better what the people I’m administering to really need to hear.

“I’m not still working for financial reasons. I’m still working because there’s a great deal of satisfaction in a job well done. I’ll leave when I stop working to the judgement of the hospital and the chaplaincy but I hope I still have a good few years in me left.”

By Amelia Hill

How Singapore developed one of the world’s best public housing programs

Source: Bloomberg

Singapore had a severe housing shortage decades ago. But it developed one of the world's best public housing programs, which has also allowed a huge number of its citizens to buy their own homes.

Natura to buy cosmetics firm Avon in £1.6bn deal

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Thur, 23rd May,2019) London, Uk – –

Avon sees the tie-up as boosting its online offering at a time when direct selling is under pressure from internet sales.

The owner of The Body Shop, Natura, is snapping up direct-selling cosmetics firm Avon in a deal that values the UK company at £1.6bn.

Brazil-based Natura, which also has the Aesop brand in its stable, said the agreement would create the world's fourth-largest beauty company and boost its direct sales offer at a time when both are grappling competition from internet sales.

Natura is primarily a physical space retailer with 3,200 stores worldwide.

Under the terms of the share swap deal, Natura will hold 76% of the combined business.

Investors in 133-year-old Avon Products will get 0.3 Natura share for each Avon share – a premium of 28% on the value seen on Tuesday.

Shares in both companies had ended over 9% higher on Wednesday as speculation mounted that a deal was imminent.

The takeover will give them a commanding market share of almost 47% in Brazil – their largest single market – where Natura has a 31% share currently, according to research group Euromonitor.

While such a dominant position could concern regulators, who must approve the deal, analysts said both currently offer each other's products so competition concerns were likely to be limited.

Natura said it expected the deal to be concluded by early next year – a consequence of the requirement for shareholders of both firms and competition authorities in several countries to approve the tie-up.

Jan Zijderveld, Avon's chief executive, said: “This combination is the start of an exciting new chapter in Avon's 130-year history.

“It stands as a testament to the progress of our efforts to ‘Open Up Avon', and we believe it will allow us to significantly accelerate our strategy and further expand into the online channel.

“Over the past year, we have started a transformation to strengthen Avon's competitiveness by renewing our focus on Her, simplifying our operations, and modernising and digitising our brand.

“Together with Natura, we will have broader access to innovation and a portfolio of products, a stronger e-commerce
and digital platform, and improved data and tools for Representatives to drive growth and enhance value for shareholders.”

Palm Beach: America’s first “gated community.”

Source: CBS

The first thing you should know about Palm Beach is that it's an island (unto itself) – the most exclusive town in America, and (according to writer Laurence Leamer) America's first “gated community.” Mo Rocca takes a tour of the city that rose from Florida's tropical wilderness, which today features one of the richest commercial strips in America, and is home to Mar-a-Lago, the “Winter White House” resort of President Donald Trump.



Amazon announce big investment in food courier Deliveroo

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 17th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Online giant Amazon has announced a big investment in food courier Deliveroo.

The exact figure was not given, but Amazon is the biggest investor in Deliveroo's latest round of fund raising, which in total raised $575m (£450m).

Deliveroo said it would use the money for international expansion, improving its service and to grow its delivery-only kitchens business.

Several existing US investors also contributed to the fund raising.

The amount of capital invested in Deliveroo since it was founded in 2013 now totals more than $1.5bn, and the firm is one of Europe's fastest growing technology companies.

Deliveroo founder and chief executive Will Shu said he was looking forward to working with “such a customer-obsessed organisation” like Amazon.

Amazon said it was attracted by Deliveroo's “innovative technology service”.

The backing from Amazon gives Deliveroo a boost against rivals such as JustEat and Uber Eats.

The online retailer briefly had its own UK food delivery venture, Amazon Restaurants UK, which it started in 2016 but closed just two years later.

“They [Amazon] weren't able to compete within the market so they've gone for the buying option instead. They've got the money behind them to do that,” Louise Dudley, fund manager at investment firm Hermes, told the BBC's Today programme.

“It [Deliveroo] is not just a food delivery company it's very much a tech company. They have this tech platform that is seen is very attractive. They are able to expand into new areas and think about how people's tastes are evolving and be able to predict what stores will be successful. That predictive growth is very attractive to Amazon”.

Amazon had previously been reported to have made approaches to buy Deliveroo outright. Uber also reportedly had talks with Deliveroo over buying it.

Analysis

Rory Cellan-Jones
Technology correspondent

It was already a fierce contest – now the battle to dominate the food delivery business in the UK just moved to a whole new level.

In a rare failure Amazon decided last year to pull its Restaurants food service out of a UK market where Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats were scrapping to be top dog. Now it's put its firepower behind Deliveroo, which was already confident that its technology platform gave it the edge.

The company will now use some of its extra cash to build more of its “super kitchens” expanding its offering beyond traditional restaurants and invest more in machine learning to speed up delivery times.

Whether the market for food deliveries is quite as big as all the firms believe – and whether it stretches far beyond London twenty-somethings – remains to be seen but they all seem prepared to spend big money to win the lion's share.

The question is why did Amazon not just buy the whole business? Perhaps the ecommerce giant wanted to sample a starter before swallowing the whole three course meal.

Deliveroo now operates in more than 100 towns and cities across the UK, but has a much smaller share of the market than rival Just Eat which dominates the food delivery sector.

Just Eat's shares fell 8% in early trading, but analysts at Liberum said that despite the extra funding, Deliveroo was unlikely to become a serious competitor.

“Just Eat's market leading position will be incredibly difficult to overcome, especially given its strength in smaller towns.

“In the UK, it has an estimated 3-4 times greater share than Uber Eats and Deliveroo combined and, crucially, 60%+ of its customers are in small towns where it is effectively the only option for restaurants and where the Uber Eats/Deliveroo model just doesn't work because of the economics,” Liberum said.

Mr Shu came up with the idea for the firm after he moved from New York to London as a banking analyst. He was working long hours and was frustrated by the fact so few restaurants delivered, a service he had used daily in the US.

In the firm's early days, Mr Shu delivered all the food himself on a motorbike, while Greg Orlowski, his co-founder who has since left the business, developed the booking technology from his home in the US. Mr Shu still claims to get on his bike once a week to deliver an order to customers in London, as a way of staying in touch with riders.

As well as the UK, Deliveroo now operates in Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, the United Arab Emirates and Taiwan.

Global sales at the firm more than doubled in 2017, jumping to £277m, but its losses continued to increase, doubling to nearly £185m as it invested in global expansion.

The firm uses more than 60,000 couriers – mostly using bikes or moped – to deliver food from restaurants to customers.

Deliveroo does not employ its riders directly, but pays them per delivery.

Last year, a group of 50 UK Deliveroo couriers won a six-figure payout after claiming they had been unlawfully denied holiday and minimum wages.

TUI reports widening half-year losses of £261m

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 15th May 2019) London, Uk – –

The travel operator is counting the cost of a weak consumer environment as well as the grounding of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

Travel operator TUI has reported widening half-year losses and a fall in summer bookings as it counts the cost of weak consumer confidence and Brexit uncertainty.

The group reported an underlying loss of €301m (£261m) for the six months to the end of March, up from €170m (£148m) in the same period a year ago.

It has also been knocked by the grounding of Boeing's 737 MAX aircraft, which it has previously warned could cost up to €300m (£261m) as it leases more aircraft to cover its routes.

TUI said the decline in its first-half performance was partly due to the knock-on impact of last summer's heatwave holding back bookings and because it had too much capacity in Spain as holidaymakers opted for cheaper destinations such as Turkey.

For this summer, bookings in its package holiday and airlines business are down 3% while selling prices are up by only 1% amid a competitive market – not enough for TUI to cover rising costs.

TUI said that for this part of its business “weak demand environment persists”, putting pressure on profit margins.

“This is driven by a number of factors – reduced demand due to last year's extraordinary hot summer, slowdown of consumer confidence, Brexit uncertainty, shift in demand to the eastern Mediterranean coupled with overcapacity to Spain, as well as the 737 MAX grounding,” TUI said.

However, the group said its hotels and cruise ships business, where it has been investing in expansion over recent years, continued to perform well.

The results come after two profit warnings from TUI earlier this year – one blamed on the weak UK market and the other on the Boeing issue.

TUI's fleet of 150 aircraft includes 15 currently grounded 737 MAX aeroplanes, with a further eight scheduled for delivery after the lifting of the grounding.

It has warned investors that it faces a €200m (£174m) hit from the grounding of the aircraft, assuming flights resume by mid-July.

If it does not become clear by later this month that flying will re-start by that time, it will have to extend measures to cover for this until the end of the summer season, adding a further impact of up to €100m (£87m).

TUI chief executive Fritz Joussen said the company was “on track, both strategically and operationally” and that medium and long term growth forecasts were intact. Shares rose 3%.

The company is not the first travel firm to warn of a Brexit impact on demand, with easyJet saying last month that the uncertainty was having an impact.

Meanwhile, TUI's rival Thomas Cook has been seeking new debt funding from lenders and has been looking to sell its airline business.

By John-Paul Ford Rojas, business reporter

Self-Made Rich Kids Commanding Their Own Multimillion-Dollar Empires

Source: Be Amazed

Striking it rich and commanding your own multimillion-dollar empire may be one of your long term goals, but for some enterprising kids out there, they’ve already accomplished it by the time they left school!

Shopping centre owner Intu cuts forecast for rental income blaming the retail downturn

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 3rd May 2019) London, Uk – –

The owner of the Lakeside and Trafford Centre shopping centres, Intu, has cut its forecast for rental income, blaming the retail downturn.

Intu said 2019 would be “challenging” due to a rise in rescue deals, as stores struggle to pay rent.

It added that retailers were also delaying signing new leases due to “political and retail” uncertainty.

Intu said its like-for-like rental income for the year would fall by between 4-6%.

In February, the company had said it expected rental income to drop by 1-2%.

Occupancy of Intu's shopping centres fell 1.1% to 95.6% for the first three months of 2019, compared to the previous quarter, due to a rise in retailers going into administration or agreeing rescue deals, known as company voluntary agreements (CVA) with creditors.

CVAs allow retailers to renegotiate rents at stores that remain open.

Intu said it had been affected by the closure of some New Look Men and HMV stores.

However, the company said that it was seeing new types of tenants paying higher long-term rents, such as Metro Bank opening up in Manchester Arndale, and the introduction of a “Market Halls” food court at Lakeside featuring food and drink from smaller independent businesses.

“Despite the current operating environment, I believe we have a very good business and am confident we can meet the challenges we are facing head on,” said newly-appointed Intu chief executive Matthew Roberts.

Retail woes abound

Many High Street retailers have run into trouble over the past two years.

Last year, the House of Fraser department store chain fell into administration, before being bought by Mike Ashley's Sports Direct.

In December, music chain HMV fell into administration for the second time in six years, blaming a “tsunami” of retail challenges, including business rate levels and the move to digital.

Last month, department store chain Debenhams announced a CVA and named 22 stores it planned to close next year as part of its plans to close 50 outlets.

A report in November by accountancy firm PwC found that about 14 shops were closing every day, with High Streets face their toughest trading climate in five years.

A net 1,123 stores disappeared from Britain's top 500 High Streets in the first six months of 2018, PwC said. It found that fashion and electrical stores had suffered the most as customers switched to shopping online.

Beyond Meat’s share price doubles in the vegan burger maker’s debut IPO

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Fri, 3rd May 2019) London, UK —

(Reuters) – Shares of vegan burger maker Beyond Meat Inc rose more than 160 percent in their market debut on Thursday, as investors look to cash in on the first publicly listed veggie meat company and the growing popularity of plant-based meat alternatives.

The stock opened at $46, well above its IPO price of $25. Shares surged minutes after starting to trade and were halted due to volatility. They traded up to $72 during the day, before closing at $65.75.

Beyond Meat, which has warned it may never turn a profit, closed with a market capitalisation of around $3.8 billion, based on shares outstanding including underwriters’ option.

Earlier on Tuesday, the company raised the size and price of its offering after increased demand from investors. The IPO raised $240 million.

The money raised from the IPO gives Beyond Meat firepower to compete with other rivals in the increasingly crowded imitation meat market, such as Silicon Valley startup Impossible Foods Inc.

Beyond Meat founder and Chief Executive Ethan Brown told Reuters on Thursday the proceeds would be used to expand marketing efforts, develop new products, establish production centres in Europe and Asia and open additional manufacturing facilities in the United States.

The Los Angeles-based company, which counts actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Microsoft Corp founder Bill Gates among its investors, aims to market its meatless burger patties and other products to meat-loving consumers. It avoids terms such as vegan or vegetarian and instead displays its products in the meat case of supermarkets.

Plant-based substitutes for meat have been gaining popularity as more people shift towards vegan or vegetarian diets, amid growing concerns about health risks from eating meat, animal welfare and the environmental hazards of intensive animal farming.

Beyond Meat creates substitutes for meat by using ingredients that mimic the composition of animal-based meat, mainly employing pea protein that looks and cooks like beef or chicken.

Currently, some 70 percent of the company’s revenues are generated by its flagship Beyond Burger patties. The company also sells imitation sausages and vegan ground beef.

But Beyond Meat said it has struggled with production capacity issues in the face of growing demand, and interruptions in the supply of pea protein, which it currently sources from two producers in Canada and France.

“We’re looking very much at not only expanding the number of pea protein providers but also getting into new types of protein,” Brown said.

Brown said protein blends, including from mung beans, brown rice and sunflower seeds, would not only offer pricing protection and supply chain diversity, but also provide consumers with a variety of plant-based protein options.

But Beyond Meat is not the only company vying for health-conscious consumers.

Tyson Foods Inc, the No.1 U.S. meat processor, owned a 6.5 percent stake in Beyond Meat, but last week said it sold its holding, as it looks to develop its own line of alternative protein products.

Burger King and Impossible Foods last month started selling their vegan burger Impossible Whopper in 59 stores in and around St. Louis, Missouri, with nationwide sales expected by the end of the year.FILE PHOTO: Ethan Brown, founder and CEO of Beyond Meat, and guests ring the opening bell to celebrate his company's IPO at the Nasdaq Market site in New York, U.S., May 2, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Beyond Meat began selling its plant-based burger at more than 1,100 U.S. locations of fast-food chain Carl’s Jr in January.

In 2018, some $50 million of Beyond Meat’s revenues came from retail sales, including at Amazon.com Inc’s Whole Foods Market and Kroger Co supermarkets, while some $37 million was generated at restaurants.

Brown said the company planned to expand its network of restaurant and retail partners outside the United States, which currently account for 7 percent of revenues, but declined to provide further details.

In 2018, Beyond Meat’s net loss narrowed marginally to $29.89 million, from $30.38 million a year earlier. Net revenue more than doubled to $87.93 million in the same period.

Reporting by Bharath Manjesh and Tina Bellon