Tesla to recall 475,000 cars in the US

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 31st Dec 2021) London, Uk – –

Tesla is to recall more than 475,000 cars in the US, according to documents filed with the US safety regulator.

The electric vehicle firm announced it was recalling 356,309 vehicles because of potential rear-view camera issues affecting 2017-2020 Model 3 Teslas.

A further 119,009 Model S vehicles will also be recalled because of potential problems with the front trunk, or boot.

The total recall figure is almost equivalent to the 500,000 cars Tesla delivered last year, Reuters reports.

The BBC has approached Tesla for comment.

A safety report, submitted this month, estimates that around 1% of recalled Model 3s may have a defective rear-view camera.

Over time “repeated opening and closing of the trunk lid” may cause excessive wear to a cable that provides the rear-view camera feed, says a Safety Recall report submitted by Tesla to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US on the 21 December.

If the wear causes the core of the cable to separate “the rear-view camera feed is not visible on the centre display”, the report notes.

The loss of the review camera display may “increase the risk of collision”, it adds.

The Model S recall involves vehicles manufactured between 2014-2021, some of which may have a problem with a “secondary latch” on the front trunk, or boot.

In another Safety Recall report, also filed on 21 December, Tesla notes the fault could mean, if the primary latch is inadvertently released, the front trunk “may open without warning and obstruct the driver's visibility, increasing the risk of a crash”.

Around 14% of recalled Model S's may have the defect, the report notes.

In both cases, the reports state that “Tesla is not aware of any crashes, injuries, or deaths” relating to the potential faults.

Passenger play

The latest recall is not the first safety issue to have prompted action from the electric vehicle firm.

Last week Tesla agreed to make changes to its Passenger Play feature, which allows games to be played on its touchscreen while the car is in motion.

It took action after an investigation was launched by the NHTSA.

The feature will now be locked and unusable while the car is moving.

Riot Games to pay $100m in discrimination case

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 29th Dec 2021) London, Uk – –

Riot Games, the studio best known for League of Legends, has agreed to pay $100m (£74.3m) to settle a 2018 class-action gender discrimination case.

The settlement will “remedy violations against approximately 1,065 women employees and 1,300 women contract workers”, California's Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH) wrote.

DFEH said the firm engaged in “systemic sex discrimination and harassment”.

Riot Games said it must “take responsibility for the past”.

The company will pay $80m (£59m) to members of the class action suit and about $20m (£15m) will cover legal costs.

The 2018 case followed investigations by the Los Angeles Times and the news website Kotaku.

According to the original complaint against the company, Riot was accused of fostering a “bro culture” and faced a range of allegations.

These included that women had been sexually objectified, with an email chain that rated the company's “hottest women employees”, and that unsolicited images of male genitalia had been shown to workers by their bosses and colleagues.

Industry problem

As part of the settlement, Riot agreed to workplace reforms, independent expert analysis of its pay, hiring, and promotion practices, and to be monitored for instances of sexual harassment and “retaliation” at its California offices for three years.

The company must also set aside $18m (13.2m) to fund diversity, equity and inclusion programmes and create 40 full-time positions in engineering, quality assurance or art-design roles for its former contract workers.

DFEH Director Kevin Kish wrote that, if accepted by the court, the settlement would lead to lasting change at Riot Games and “send the message that all industries in California, including the gaming industry, must provide equal pay and workplaces free from discrimination and harassment”.

Riot had initially agreed to settle the case for $10m in 2019, but the DFEH and another agency had blocked the deal arguing that the amount to which victims were entitled was much higher.

The company said it had to face the fact that it hadn't always lived up to its values, telling the Washington Post: “While we're proud of how far we've come since 2018, we must also take responsibility for the past”.

“We hope that this settlement properly acknowledges those who had negative experiences at Riot.”

In a letter to staff, published online, Riot's executive team said the settlement was, “the right thing to do, for both the company and those whose experiences at Riot fell short of our standards and values”.

The company told the BBC that since 2018 it had made improvements across the workplace, including hiring its first chief people officer and its first chief diversity officer, rewriting its values, mandating new training programmes and enlarging its diversity and inclusion team.

Riot Games is not the only prominent games firm to face questions about workplace culture.

The DFEH is also taking action against Activision Blizzard, the company behind the games World of Warcraft, Overwatch and Call of Duty.

Activision Blizzard recently reached an $18m (£13.2m) settlement with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) over claims of sexual discrimination and harassment.

Shoppers largely avoid central London Boxing Day sales

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 28th Dec 2021) London, UK —

Visitor numbers in London's main shopping and entertainment district were just over half of the pre-pandemic level on Dec. 26 and also fell compared to a week earlier, data for one of the year's traditionally busiest shopping days showed.

Britain is undergoing a record surge in COVID-19 infections driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant. The rise has kept many shoppers and diners at home, heaping pressure on retailers and hospitality firms that rely on seasonal trade.

The New West End Company, which represents 600 brands, restaurants and businesses in London's West End, said footfall on Dec. 26 was down by 16% from the previous week and down 44% from the same day in 2019.

“London continues to feel the effects of the Omicron variant, with swathes of people choosing to remain home to browse the sales online rather than risk travelling into city centres,” New West End Company CEO Jace Tyrrell said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering possible further restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus in England and will hold a meeting with officials and ministers to discuss the latest data on Monday.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have already introduced new rules.

Hospitality industry bodies and bricks-and-mortar retailers have said further restrictions could force some to close. They have urged the government to provide clarity on its pandemic plan and to support affected businesses.

Reporting by William James

TikTok ousts Google to become top online destination

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 27th Dec 2021) London, Uk – –

Move over Google, TikTok is the world's new most popular online destination.

The viral video app gets more hits than the American search engine, according to Cloudflare, an IT security company.

The rankings show that TikTok knocked Google off the top spot in February, March and June this year, and has held the number one position since August.

Last year Google was first, and a number of sites including TikTok, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Netflix were all in the top 10.

Cloudfare said it tracks data using its tool Cloudflare Radar, which monitors web traffic.

It is believed one of the reasons for the surge in Tiktok's popularity is because of the Covid pandemic, as lockdowns meant people were stuck at home and looking for entertainment.

By July this year, TikTok had been downloaded more than three billion times, according to data company Sensor Tower.

The social network, which is owned by a Chinese company called Bytedance, now has more than one billion active users across the world, and that number continues to grow.

In China, to comply with the country's censorship rules, the app is called Douyin, and runs on a different network.

Douyin was originally released in September 2016. This year, China ruled that users under the age of 14 would be limited to 40 minutes a day on the platform.

Security concerns

TikTok was launched internationally in 2018, after merging with another Chinese social media service, Musical.ly, an app which allowed users to share videos of themselves lip-synching to songs.

The social media platform is no stranger to controversy. In 2019, it garnered a temporary ban in India, a US counter-intelligence investigation and a record £4.3m fine after Musical.ly was found to have knowingly hosted content published by under-age users.

As one of the only internationally successful Chinese apps, politicians and regulators outside China have raised concerns about security and privacy.

Last year TikTok was forced to deny it is controlled by the Chinese government.

Theo Bertram, TikTok's head of public policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said it would refuse any request from China to hand over data.

The app hosts a variety of short videos, covering genres such as comedy, dance and politics.

In the UK, the most popular creator is make-up artist @abbyroberts with 17.4 million followers.

This year @Francis.Bourgeois, with 1.6 million followers, quit his job to become a full-time trainspotter as a result of his viral videos at railway stations talking about trains and cheering them as they pass.


Food and recipe videos have become a key part of TikTok's success, with viral clips getting millions of views.

As a result, in the US, a new food delivery service called TikTok Kitchen will launch in March, allowing people to order dishes originally created in viral videos.

The menu will be based on the app's most viral food trends and will include courses like the baked feta pasta which was ranked the most searched dish of 2021 by Google.

TikTok Kitchen is being co-founded by Robert Earl, who owns the US food outlets Planet Hollywood, Buca di Beppo and Bertucci's.

He said about 300 TikTok restaurants are planned across the country for the launch, with more than 1,000 expected by the end of 2022.

TikTok Kitchen will operate out of many of the restaurants belonging to the chains owned by Mr Earl.

Why Gamers Are Going To Be The New Rich

Source: Alux

This Alux video we will be answering the following questions:

Why are gamers the new rich? How are gamers getting rich? What is gamification? How does gamification work? What are good examples of gamification in business? What are some examples of gamification in the real world? Are there any examples of the gamification of school? Is gamification a big business? What are the best ways to implement gamification? What are good/bad examples of gamification design? Who are the best gamification experts?

How Pre-loved fashion is on the rise through global technology platforms

Source: Bloomberg

Pre-loved fashion is on the rise as old clothes find new wearers through global technology platforms. What are the risks and rewards of this resale revolution? At Vestiaire Collective’s authentication center in Northern France, CEO Max Bittner shows Imran Amed how countering counterfeits can secure growth. Back in London, he meets with Maria Raga, CEO of social e-commerce company Depop, as she looks to further build out a young online community.

Selfridges luxury department store chain sold for £4bn to Thai-Austrian alliance

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 24th Dec 2021) London, Uk – –

British luxury department store chain Selfridges is being sold to a Thai retailer and an Austrian property firm.

The deal for the majority of Selfridges Group is worth around £4bn ($5.4bn), the BBC understands.

Founded in 1908 by US retail magnate Harry Gordon Selfridge, the company is best known for its flagship department store on London's Oxford Street.

The Canadian wing of the billionaire Weston family bought Selfridges for nearly £600m in 2003.

“It is a privilege to be acquiring Selfridges Group, including the flagship Oxford Street store, which has been at the centre of London's most famous shopping street for over 100 years,” Central Group's chief executive Tos Chirathivat said in a statement.

It was revealed earlier this month that Central Group was close to agreeing a deal to take over Selfridges.

Selfridges Group employs around 10,000 people and owns 25 stores worldwide, including in major cities in England, Ireland, the Netherlands and Canada.

Signa and Central will take over 18 of the 25 stores. Selfridges Group's seven Holt Renfrew department stores in Canada were not part of the deal and will remain in the ownership of the Weston family.

Selfridges' new owners said they plan to build on the existing brand to develop luxury online stores as well improving its physical sites.

“Together we will work with the world's leading architects to sensitively reimagine the stores in each location, transforming these iconic destinations into sustainable, energy-efficient, modern spaces, whilst staying true to their architectural and cultural heritage,” Signa's chairman Dieter Berninghaus said.

Analysis By: Katie Prescott

Unique Brand

Selfridges is known for its bright yellow cardboard bags and its flagship store on London's Oxford Street is a magnet for shoppers and tourists alike.

Home to luxury brands, a visit is just as much about the experience and beautiful displays as what it is selling.

It even inspired a TV series about the American founder Harry Selfridge, who decided to build the “biggest and finest” department store in the world in 1908.

Now that “big, fine brand” and its buildings have brought its owners, the Weston family, a £4bn Christmas present.

Chief Executive of rival Fenwick, John Edgar, a former chief financial officer at the Selfridges Group, described it as a “great price for a fantastic business”

Analysts say that despite the well-publicised woes of retail through the pandemic, this sale shows that the Selfridges brand is unique. And it also underlines just how popular UK property still remains with international investors.

The Weston family – which also owns Fortnum & Mason and has majority control of Primark owner ABF – launched the sales process in June, a few months after the death of W Galen Weston, who oversaw the move to take the department store.

Alannah Weston, chair of Selfridges Group and daughter of Galen Weston, said the move is testament to her “father's vision for an iconic group of beautiful, truly experiential, department stores”.

“Creative thinking has been at the heart of everything we did together for nearly twenty years and sustainability is deeply embedded in the business,” she added.

Central, which is owned by the billionaire Chirathivat family, is involved in wide range of businesses including real estate, retail, hospitality and restaurants.

The Bangkok-based firm opened its first department store in 1956 and has grown to become Thailand's biggest owner of shopping malls.

It also has an e-commerce joint venture with China's JD.com and a stake in south east Asian ride-hailing and delivery giant Grab.

Vienna-based Signa Group was founded by entrepreneur René Benko in 2000 and has become Austria's largest privately owned real estate company.

The two firms already jointly own major department stores across Europe.

The Central-Signa 50/50 bid reportedly beat rival offers from the Qatar Investment Authority, which owns Harrods, and Lane Crawford, a Hong Kong-based department store chain.

Before the impact of the pandemic, Selfridges had doubled its profits and reported sales growth of more than 80% since being taken over by the Westons.

The family has received more than £580m in dividends from the business over the past decade, but also injected investment into improving the store's experience, with new concepts including an indoor skate park at its London store.

Charlotte Tilbury celebrity makeup artist repays £3.2m furlough cash as sales soar

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 23rd Dec 2021) London, Uk – –

Covid crisis drives people online, with such cosmetics sales accounting for two-thirds of total

The celebrity makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury’s company has repaid £3.2m in furlough money after sales soared during the pandemic as shoppers switched to buying online.

Accounts filed at Companies House also reveal that Tilbury sold her business for £1.3bn – considerably more than the up to £1bn previously thought – to the Spanish cosmetics and fragrance group Puig last year.

The scale of the deal means that Tilbury, who personally held a controlling stake in the business of between 50% and 75%, is likely to have received hundreds of millions from the takeover of the company in which she remains a minority shareholder.

The London-born makeup artist, who grew up on the Spanish island of Ibiza, also received a consultancy fee of £1.55m from one of the group’s parent companies, Islestarr Holdings, last year, according to Companies House filings.

Global sales for Charlotte Tilbury Limited Group rose 11.3% to £258.5m in the year to 31 December 2020, according to figures released by the company, driven by strong performances in key markets including the UK, mainland Europe and Asia.

While its stores were forced to close for long periods, the cosmetics group said online sales doubled to account for two-thirds of total sales. Sales were underpinned by online video beauty consultations and a virtual store featuring an avatar of Tilbury, and the firm also continued with new product launches when some rivals held back.

Tilbury’s tips learned from years in the trade, with celebrity clients thought to include Amal Clooney and Penélope Cruz, have helped her build a big social media presence with about 10m followers over various platforms enabling the company to continue to thrive during the coronavirus pandemic.

The group fell to a £9.9m loss before tax for the year, after more than £29m in one-off costs related to its buyout by Puig. However, a spokesperson said the company had repaid furlough cash as underlying profits, before one-off costs, interest payments and other adjustments, rose almost 44% to £32m. “We would like to thank the UK government for its support,” the spokesperson said.

Alongside Tilbury’s business, Barcelona-based Puig owns brands including Paco Rabanne, Jean Paul Gaultier and Nina Ricci.

Reporting by Sarah Butler

Jack Dorsey Goes on Unfollowing Frenzy After Web 3 Beef

(qlmbusinessnews.com via coindesk.com — Thur, 23rd Dec 2021) London, Uk – –

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

Marc Andreessen, Brian Armstrong and Tyler Winklevoss have been cut out of the Twitter founder’s timeline.

To the uninitiated, it sounds like a bunch of rich guys arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

But beyond Twitter drama, Block Inc. CEO Jack Dorsey’s public sparring with venture capitalists over “Web 3″ serves as a proxy for a long-running debate – not only about which cryptocurrencies are best but what they are good for.

The contretemps highlights important questions about what a truly decentralized internet would really look like, and what role different stakeholders have in building it. Dorsey, a longtime Bitcoin aficionado, appears to have aligned himself with the so-called maximalists, a camp highly suspicious of any rival to the original cryptocurrency and any non-monetary application of the underlying technology.

Both sides of the Web 3 debate bemoan the current state of the internet, dominated by a handful of large platforms (not least of all Twitter, where Dorsey stepped down as CEO last month). But the maximalists distrust the Web 3 crowd’s use of crypto tokens as a way to fund such projects. The fact that VCs are big holders of these tokens is, to the maximalists, damning, a classic case of “meet the old boss, same as the new boss.”

Web 3 advocates, which include but are not limited to VCs, counter that a variety of approaches is needed to make good on the internet’s liberating promise; that tokens can align participants’ interests in a network; that Web 3 developers’ reliance on VCs is a perverse consequence of outdated securities laws; and that while Bitcoin was a bona fide breakthrough, its utility is limited and the purists are being shortsighted.

Since his controversial tweet on Dec. 20, declaring that VCs, not users, control Web 3, thus making it a “centralized entity with a different label,” Dorsey has gone on an unfollowing spree on the social network he co-founded and ran for years.

Some of the most well-known players in the crypto space, including Andressen Horowitz (a16z) co-founder Marc Andreessen, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong and Gemini founder Tyler Winklevoss, have been felled by Dorsey’s unfollow button. Andreessen later blocked Dorsey.

Proponents of Bitcoin, like Dorsey, have long touted the network’s utility as a tool of liberation to be used by the people, as a way to resist financial censorship and protect against hyperinflation. On that score, few if any in the Web 3 camp would likely disagree.

The ongoing debate centers around the level of decentralization in the burgeoning Web 3 space, which big investors have been pouring money into – and, in the eyes of their critics, gaining outsized control of in exchange.

Dorsey has been increasingly critical of non-Bitcoin crypto projects, which he sees as going against the decentralized ethos of Bitcoin, culminating in Monday night’s Twitter spat.

Web 3 investors and supporters alike pushed back against Dorsey’s claim that Web 3 will “never escape [venture capitalists’] incentives.”

Balaji Srinivasan, former CTO of Coinbase and a former partner at a16z, responded to Dorsey’s tweet to voice his disagreement and point out how Twitter’s own corporate interests shaped the company in ways that betrayed its early slogan, “the free speech wing of the free speech party.”

“Web 3 offers the possibility, not guarantee, of something better,” Srinivasan tweeted.

“All false,” Dorsey replied, kicking off a fight that has lasted well into Wednesday and shows no sign of slowing down.

On Dec. 21, Dorsey re-tweeted an unflattering cartoon depicting an Ethereum-enabled Web 3 faucet pouring water into the waiting mouth of a corpulent venture capitalist, while a starving retail investor waited for droplets to fall on his tongue. In a quote-tweet of this post, Srinivasan pointed out that the Ethereum project was initially funded in 2014 by a public crowdsale, not through a venture capital round.

Later that evening, Dorsey tweeted more directly: “The VCs are the problem.”

Dorsey’s pot-stirring is reminiscent of another Big Tech CEO with a finger in the crypto pie – Elon Musk, who also joined the fray on Monday night, tweeting “Has anyone seen web3? I can’t find it.”

Dorsey’s reply was a thinly-veiled reference to Andreessen Horowitz’s domination of Web 3: “It’s somewhere between a and z.”

A16z bought $80 million in Twitter shares in 2011 on the secondary market.

Dorsey, for his part, seems to be taking the heat in stride.

When Andreessen blocked Dorsey on Twitter, Dorsey posted a screenshot and cheekily tweeted “I’m officially banned from web3.”

After unfollowing a host of prominent Web 3 supporters, Dorsey has gone on a following spree, adding several bitcoin maximalists and open-source software contributors.

By Cheyenne Ligon

UK tech sector enjoys record year after start-ups attract more capital than ever before

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 22nd Dec, 2021) London, Uk – –

During what was the tech sector's best year since 2014, some £29.4bn was raised by start-ups and scale-ups, according to figures prepared for the government's Digital Economy Council.

The UK's tech sector has enjoyed a record year with start-ups attracting more capital than ever before, new data shows.

During what was the tech sector's best year since 2014, some £29.4bn was raised by start-ups and scale-ups, according to figures prepared for the government's Digital Economy Council, which were released on Monday.

That was more than twice the sum raised last year and reflects the way in which the pandemic and the lockdowns that followed it have accelerated so-called digitisation.

Many aspects of daily life have moved online during the last two years as working from home has been widely adopted, while communicating through social media and apps has exploded, as has e-commerce.

Record sums of venture capital have flowed into start-ups and scaling tech companies, with the likes of the car-selling platform Motorway, the second hand clothes selling site Depop and the banking challenger Starling Bank all raising money that pushed them north of a $1bn valuation – helping them achieve so-called unicorn status.

The analysis suggests that vast sums being poured into UK tech companies, along with the increased valuations being placed on them, mean that UK tech companies founded since the start of the century are now worth some £540bn.

Chris Philp, the digital minister, said that the tech sector's growth was not just confined to London and the South East.

He pointed out that almost £9billion of all money invested in the sector by venture capital firms had gone into start-ups and scale-ups outside London and the South East – with the regions accounting for nine of the 29 unicorns formed in the UK this year.

Mr Philp added: “Capitalising on this fantastic investment across the country is a crucial part of our mission to level up, so we are supporting businesses with pro-innovation policies and helping people to get the skills they need to thrive in this dynamic industry.”

The figures also highlight the attractiveness of the UK to tech investors compared with other European countries. The £29.4bn raised by UK start-ups and scale-ups was double the £17.4bn raised in Germany and almost three times the £9.7bn invested in French companies during the year. The UK accounted for £1 in every £3 invested in European tech companies during the year.

Expectations are that the UK's tech sector will continue to attract investment and continue growing as UK venture capital firms have raised more money than ever before this year. UK venture capital firms raised some £7bn during 2021 with the likes of Index Ventures, Balderton Capital and 83North all completing record-breaking fundraisings.

American investors are also keen to back fast-growing UK tech companies at an increasingly early stage in their development. Competition for deals among venture capital funds is heating up as an increasing number of US venture capital firms launched offices in the UK, including Bessemer Venture Partners, General Catalyst and Sequoia Capital.

The figures, which were compiled for the Digital Economy Council by the data and intelligence provider Dealroom, suggest that 37% of all funding now comes from the US, up from 31.5% last year, with the majority of it going into fintech and health tech companies. Some 28% of UK venture funding came from domestic capital.

Saul Klein, partner and co-founder at LocalGlobe and Latitude, an investor in Oxford Nanopore, Wise and Cazoo, which have all listed on either the London or the New York stock exchanges this year, said: “It's taken 20 years for UK tech to get to the starting line and things start to get interesting in the next 20 years. We have all the ingredients to become the leading tech ecosystem in the world, with record levels of research and development, financing and established tech hubs across the country from New Palo Alto in Kings Cross, to Cambridge, Edinburgh and Manchester.”

Cities outside London proving particularly strong in building a tech economy and supporting start-ups include Cambridge, Manchester, Oxford, Edinburgh and Bristol. Leeds, Newcastle and Belfast also made it into the top 10 of regional cities, ranked by Dealroom on a combination of venture capital raised, tech jobs available, tech salaries and the number of companies valued at more than $1bn with their headquarters there.

The increased sums being poured into UK tech is also translating into increased job vacancies in the sector, which is experiencing difficulty in recruiting skilled staff. There has been a 50% rise in overall UK tech job vacancies advertised this year compared to 2020's figures, with advertised tech vacancies hitting 160,887 in November.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of the recruitment firm Adzuna, said: “The number of IT job openings is higher than it's ever been and is consistently growing week on week. In particular, it's great to see strong hiring in cities like Manchester and Birmingham which are showcasing some of the highest figures outside of London. The struggle for businesses across the country is having enough skilled staff to fill these positions to allow them to keep growing.”

Currently, tech vacancies make up 12% of all available jobs in the UK, with just over 50% of these jobs available outside of London and the South East. Remote working has been a useful tool for tech companies seeking to recruit people, with more than a fifth of all job ads in the IT sector advertised as remote roles.

The publication of Lord Hill's UK Listings Review in March is also seen as having contributed to the strong number of tech companies listing in the UK. Some 118 companies have chosen to list in the UK so far this year, raising more than £16.8billion, the most capital raised since 2007. This made the UK the most active venue globally for stock market flotations outside the US and Greater China.

Julia Hoggett, chief executive of the London Stock Exchange, said that 37 of these companies were in the tech and consumer internet sectors, of which, 30 were founder-led.

She added: “Intent matters and the changes to listing regime have supported a great year for the London Stock Exchange. It provides a platform for an equally exciting 2022.”

According to Dealroom, the value of UK tech companies that either listed on stock markets or were taken over during the year hit a record £84bn, with the likes of Deliveroo, Darktrace, Cazoo, Arrival, Babylon and Depop all either listing or being taken over.

By Ian King

Online grocer Farmdrop goes bust and cancels Christmas deliveries

((qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 21st Dec 2021) London, Uk – –

Ethical business tells customers awaiting turkeys, geese and other food to seek refunds from banks

The online ethical grocer Farmdrop has gone out of business a week before Christmas, leaving hundreds of customers who had ordered turkeys, geese and other festive food scrambling to find alternatives.

The company confirmed it had gone into administration and was “permanently closed”, so it would not be delivering any orders from Friday onwards. Those who have paid will have to approach their bank or card company to ask about getting their money back. Thursday was the final day of deliveries.

Anxious customers who had been expecting a delivery over the next few days asked on social media what would happen now and if they should attempt to source items from elsewhere.A

Moira Doyle tweeted: “My delivery today is cancelled. Payment taken yesterday for Xmas order. Refund??” She added that it would be “back to Tesco” for her.

Another tweeted: “Well @farmdrop have gone bust, and with that, my Christmas food delivery … anyone got any intel on places still selling goose?”

Jane Tidey was one of those tweeting she had just received an email saying her order for Christmas Eve was cancelled. Meanwhile, Rhiannon Litterick tweeted the company to say her order had not arrived and the phone line was closed. “Please help! We’re isolating, so are relying on this order,” she added.

The London-based company was set up by the former City broker Ben Pugh in 2012 after he became frustrated by what he saw as a lack of decent local food available in London, and spied an opportunity to connect farmers with consumers using the internet. Farmdrop specialised in responsibly sourced, homegrown and organic produce from independent producers, and sold hundreds of different items, from organic pigs in blankets to recycled toilet paper.

According to trade magazine the Grocer, Farmdrop had 10,000 customers at the start of 2020, though it expanded rapidly during the pandemic, enjoying “unprecedented growth” in orders as large numbers of locked-down households switched to online deliveries.

But earlier this year it warned “the growth in orders and sales has not translated into profitability”. Its latest accounts filed in July showed the company reported pre-tax losses of £10m compared with £11m the previous year.

Farmdrop’s demise deals a heavy blow to its 450-plus producers, some of whom said on social media they were owed money.

John Malseed, the director of Frenchbeer Farm in Newton Abbot, Devon, one of Farmdrop’s main suppliers of turkeys, said the news was “a bit of a kick in the teeth”.

He said there were hundreds of its turkeys in a warehouse in London and “we are trying to get our stock back”. Malseed said he was hopeful he could send them on to the customers who had ordered them, but that it was too early to say for sure what would happen.

His farm had more than doubled the number of birds it produced this year, Malseed said, adding: “We will try to fulfil as many of their orders as possible.”

Farmdrop began by delivering produce from local farmers to libraries, community centres and pubs, but later upgraded to a fleet of electric vans so it could offer next-day deliver directly to people’s homes.

In June 2018, the company said it had raised £10m from investors, including the founder of Skype, Niklass Zennström, to take its home delivery service to the north of England. Other shareholders include Wheatsheaf Group, part of the Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor Estate, and Impact Ventures UK. Another high-profile backer is Alex Chesterman, the founder of property website Zoopla.

In the accounts filed in July, the firm’s auditor talked about the financial challenges facing the business and said: “These conditions indicate the existence of a material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt on the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

In an email to customers, Farmdrop said it had been working to secure the support and capital it needed to continue, but “it has become apparent that we have exhausted all possible options … We will no longer be able to serve our cherished customers.”

In another email, it said: “If you have paid for an order with us, we would recommend getting in touch with your bank or card supplier to initiate a chargeback as the refunds now sit with the administrators. If you have booked a delivery but have not yet been charged, you will not be charged.”

Reporting by Rupert Jones

Pret A Manger customers complain over drinks subscription deal

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 20th Dec 2021) London, Uk – –

Pret A Manger has received thousands of complaints over its drinks subscription service following frustration that not all promised beverages are available.

The £20 a month deal offers unlimited hot and cold drinks.

But the BBC understands the High Street chain has received 5,000 complaints about the offer, such as smoothies often being unavailable.

Ex-Pret staff have also told the BBC its introduction has meant workers feel overwhelmed by the increased workload.

Pret a Manger launched the subscription in September 2020 after sales plunged during Covid lockdowns.

The company said it was “really pleased” with the response to the subscription offer where it pledges: “If our Baristas brew it, blend it or steam it, you can have it!”

“It's been incredibly popular with Pret customers. We continue to work with shop teams to ensure they have what they need to keep team members and customers happy,” the company said.

But some customers said that this is not always the case.

Rachel, from Watford, who had been on furlough for months, recently started commuting again. “As I was now travelling into London again I thought I'd treat myself to drinks I wouldn't usually try,” she told the BBC.

“But most of the time I'm told that I can't have a cold drink because they're unavailable.”

Another customer, Brendan, also subscribed, limiting himself to two drinks a day “to stay healthy”. But he told the BBC that by mid-afternoon mango and pineapple preference is often not available.

“It's become a long standing joke with the staff now,” he said. “I laughed it off for a while, but now I'm getting angry and I'm starting to feel I've been ripped off`.”

Meanwhile another customer, Isabelle, tweeted: “Have been to four Prets this morning that have ‘stopped doing smoothies'. Is this because of the subscription? The smoothies were a key part of me wanting to sign up.”

Other customers have taken their complaints to the UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).


The regulator has contacted Pret a Manger to say that they should “consider reviewing the ads for their subscription service”.

The ASA said it informed Pret “that their ads should not state or imply that the service was available in all store locations, or that it covers their entire range of products if that wasn't the case”.

Pret said: “We have spoken with the ASA to ensure all Pret marketing for the coffee subscription is in accordance with their latest guidance.”

Meanwhile, some former Pret employees said working conditions became “unbearable” after the subscription was launched.

One claimed that staff deliberately turned blending machines off as it takes one-and-a-half minutes to prepare a smoothie.

If a “mystery shopper” is in store they'll be marked down – with the team missing out on financial bonuses – if they don't deliver drinks within a strict time frame.

He also alleges that other colleagues pretend the machines are broken, are being washed or there's a supply issue and they've run out of the small blue bags which contain a carefully portioned amount of fruit.

Low morale

“Staff are just frustrated and tired with the endless smoothie and frappes giveaway, and they just boycott it, ” he said. “It is just easy to say that ice or smoothies or frappe are gone for today.

“They are really time consuming. Try to make 50 smoothies daily one by one and you will feel it.”

A Pret barista who recently quit revealed that he had worked for his store in the Thames Valley since it opened three years ago: “But the whole demeanour changed when they brought in the subscription. The blending machines can't take it.

“I can understand why Pret think it makes commercial sense but the staff can't take much more.”

Another Pret worker was so disgruntled with the conditions that she set up a website to gather complaints. The site, expret.org, is kept up to date with the latest frustrations, as she felt no one was listening to her or her colleagues.

Pret claims that less than 1% of the complaints about their subscription are about the lack of smoothies or frappes.

A spokesman added that when Pret suggested frappes and smoothies would be removed from the subscription earlier in 2021: “There was a public outcry so Pret listened and kept them as part of the subscription.”

In the same month Pret launched the deal, rival Leon offered a similar promotion for £15 a month – but it was limited to 75 coffees a month and excluded other drinks such as teas and hot chocolate.

Leon has since suspended it, stating: “To help our teams during these difficult times, we have stopped taking on new subscribers.”

Where Do The Clothes At Stores Like TJ Maxx Come From?

Source: CNBC

As demand for traditional department stores falls, off-price retailers like T.J. Maxx, Marshall’s and Burlington are seeing a surge in popularity. But as more consumers join the ranks of bargain hunters and deal chasers, less of them know where their favorite affordable clothes, shoes and other items come from. The supply chains behind these stores have evolved in the last decades to meet rising demand, and they’ll likely continue to change as e-commerce grows in popularity and consumers emerge from the pandemic.

Could Robots End Animal Captivity In Zoos And Marine Parks

Source: Freethink

Could robotic dolphins help marine parks become more humane spaces where people can learn about and connect with nature? Edge Innovations thinks so.

The first step toward that future could be Delle, an 8.5-foot-long, 600-pound animatronic dolphin that’s able to swim semi-autonomously using simple AI, or remotely under control of a human operator. Delle swims and behaves so naturally that some audiences — and the fish it shares tanks with — can’t distinguish it from the real animal.

From an industry perspective, what’s probably most alluring about robotic dolphins isn’t what they can do, but what they don’t need: food, sleep, training, and veterinary care. That’s not to say robotic dolphins are cheap: Delle costs between $3 to $5 million, while a live dolphin can cost marine parks about $100,000.

It’s too early to determine exactly how much money marine parks could save with robotic dolphins, but making the switch would almost certainly save massive amounts of suffering among these smart, social sea creatures.

NFTs market hits $22bn as craze turns digital images into assets

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 16th Dec 2021) London, Uk – –

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

Critics of non-fungible tokens say they are symptomatic of unsustainable digital gold rush

The global market for non-fungible tokens hit $22bn (£16.5bn) this year as the craze for collections such as Bored Ape Yacht Club and Matrix avatars turned digital images into major investment assets.

NFTs have drawn from veteran investors similar warnings to those issued about cryptocurrencies: that they are symptomatic of an unsustainable, digital gold rush. NFTs confer ownership of a unique digital item – whether a piece of virtual art by Damien Hirst or a jacket to be worn in the metaverse – upon someone, even if that item can be easily copied. Ownership is recorded on a digital, decentralised ledger known as a blockchain.

Data from DappRadar, a firm that tracks sales, showed that trading in NFTs reached $22bn in 2021 and that the floor market cap of the top 100 NFTs ever issued – a measure of their collective value – was $16.7bn.

The most valuable NFT sale this year was The First 5000 Days, a digital collage by Beeple, the name used by the American digital artist Mike Winkelmann, that was auctioned for $69.3m in March, making it one of the most valuable pieces of art ever sold by a living artist. Another Beeple NFT, Human One, sold for $29m.

Other multimillion-dollar NFTs included the Bored Ape Yacht Club, a collection of 10,000 NFTs represented as cartoon primates that are used as profile photos on the social media accounts of their owners and which raised $26.2m. Celebrity BAYC owners include the talkshow host Jimmy Fallon and the rapper Post Malone.

DappRadar said a key factor in the surge in NFT trading was mainstream businesses entering the fray.

Coca-Cola raised more than $575,000 from selling items such as a customised jacket to be worn in the metaverse world of Decentraland while the Matrix star Keanu Reeves failed to keep a straight face when told by an interviewer that his Matrix film series now had NFTs attached to it.

“Hollywood, sports celebrities and big brands like Coca-Cola, Gucci, Nike, and Adidas, made their dent in the space, providing NFTs with a new level of exclusivity. The power of attraction of these famous names profoundly impacted NFTs and the blockchain industry overall,” said DappRadar.

Football fans have been targeted with NFT marketing – including with NFTs backed by the former England players John Terry and Wayne Rooney – and have been warned by experts that they are risky assets, unregulated in the UK. It will take years before NFTs behave like a conventional market, said George Monaghan, analyst at research firm GlobalData.

“2021 NFT activity was frenzied. That’ll subside in coming years and NFTs will settle into something more akin to today’s modern art market, where consensus on value is more solid. That said, it’ll be years before any crypto market, let alone NFTs, comes to resemble anything conventional markets would call stable. I wouldn’t throw your rainy day fund into any meme NFTs quite yet,” he said.

By Dan Milmo

M&S was Britain’s fastest growing food retailer in last quarter -NielsenIQ

((qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 14th Dec 2021) London, Uk – –

Marks & Spencer (MKS.L) was Britain's fastest growing food retailer in the 12 weeks to Dec. 4, market researcher NielsenIQ said on Tuesday, providing more evidence the group's latest turnaround plan is delivering.

NielsenIQ said M&S's sales rose 9.1% in the period year-on-year, outpacing German-owned discounters Lidl and Aldi, which recorded growth of 8.3% and 4.6% respectively.

They were the only three retailers to grow sales against the same period last year.

Market leader Tesco (TSCO.L) was the best performing of the so-called big four grocers, with its 0.7% sales decline significantly outperforming Sainsbury's (SBRY.L), Asda and Morrisons, who recorded declines of 4.6%, 4.2% and 5.6% respectively.

Comparative numbers were tough as in the same period last year Britain was in COVID-19 lockdown.

Rival market researcher Kantar does not include M&S in its monthly reports. 

Last month M&S, which also sells clothing and homeware, beat forecasts for first-half profit and upgraded its earnings outlook for the second time this year, sending its stock soaring on bets that one of Britain's most elusive turnarounds could finally materialise. Its shares are up more than 70% so far this year. 

NielsenIQ said total UK till grocery sales fell 2.5% in the four weeks to Dec. 4 year-on-year.

However, it said spending has picked-up with sales down just 0.9% in the first week of December.

The researcher forecast British shoppers would spend 6.8 billion pounds ($9 billion) at supermarkets in the two weeks to Dec. 24.

It said British shoppers were seeking to treat themselves to more premium and higher value items this Christmas, with the average value of the shopping basket running 2.6% higher this year.

Reporting by James Davey

15 Incredible Destinations That Make For The Perfect Workation

Source: Alux

This Alux video we will be answering the following questions: What is the meaning of Workation? How do you get a Workation? Why is Workation important? Where can I go for Workation? How do you travel with WFH? What is digital nomad? How long is a Workation? What should I bring for Workation? How do you plan a Workation? What countries are best for digital nomads? Where can you be a digital nomad? Where do the most digital nomads live? Can you be a digital nomad in Bali? Do digital nomads pay tax? Is being a nomad illegal? How do I become a digital nomad with no experience? How much money do I need to be a nomad? Where do nomads stay? How do you become a nomad in 2021? Where to live if you can work remotely?

Boots places one of its best known personal care brands up for sale

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 10th Dec 2021) London, Uk – –

Boots is to sound out potential bidders for the brand even as Britain's biggest high street chemist also prepares to be put on the block, Sky News learns.

Boots is putting one of its best-known personal care brands up for sale, even as Britain's biggest high street chemist itself faces being taken over in 2022.

Sky News understands that Boots is preparing to sound out potential bidders for Aromatherapy Associates, which it bought in 2014.

The deal does not involve the retailer's other wholly owned brands, many of which sit within a separate subsidiary named after its No7 beauty products label.

Aromatherapy Associates was founded in 1985 by Geraldine Howard and Sue Beechey, and expanded to offer a broad range of essential oil-based products.

Industry sources said the business would not be expected to fetch more than “a few tens of millions of pounds” in an auction, although a more precise valuation was unclear on Friday.

Boots declined to comment.

Last week, Sky News revealed that Walgreens Boots Alliance was preparing to launch a strategic review of Boots with advisers from Goldman Sachs.

That process is expected to involve bidders being asked to table offers for the 172-year-old health and beauty retailer during the first half of next year.

Spinning the chain off into a separately listed company is also a possibility, they added.

A full-blown auction of Boots would be among the most significant deals involving a high street chain for years, and will draw close scrutiny in Whitehall, given Boots' critical nationwide role in delivering public healthcare services.

Boots operates a network of 2200 stores – one of the largest in Britain – and employs 55,000 people, making it one of the country's biggest private sector employers.

A sale could value Boots at somewhere between £5bn and £10bn.

By Mark Kleinman

Opera’s Browser Wallet to Support Solana in Early 2022

(qlmbusinessnews.com via coindesk.com — Fri, 10th Dec 2021) London, Uk – –

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

Opera said Friday its native wallet will add support for Solana early next year, a timeline that could place the browser developer on track to beat Brave.

Opera, which has emphasized Web 3 readiness since 2018, said in a press release that it will be “the first browser” to support Solana-based decentralized applications. Browser plugin Phantom, a closed-source platform, currently dominates that space.

It also faces steep competition from Brave, another browser competitor leaning heavily into the crypto space that also plans to add Solana support. But Brave, which has only said its integration will come in the “first half” of 2022, may not move fast enough to claim the first spot.

Solana is a fast and cheap network with roughly $12 billion in total value locked, according to DeFi Llama. It’s benefitted from a banner year of development and massive token price gains.

Crypto upstart Solana Labs will work with Opera on the integration, the publicly-traded Norwegian company said.

By Danny Nelson

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