GW cannabis therapy firm agrees £5.3bn takeover deal by Jazz Pharmaceuticals

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 3rd Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

The deal will see Jazz grow its portfolio of neuroscience therapies at a time when the medical cannabis industry is taking off.

A UK-based pharmaceutical firm that specialises in a cannabis-derived treatment for epilepsy has agreed to be bought in a $7.2bn (£5.3bn) takeover.

GW Pharmaceuticals said the cash and stock deal with Jazz Pharmaceuticals – best known for its portfolio of sleep medicines – would create a neuroscience therapy powerhouse.

The deal will allow Jazz, which is based in Ireland, to move beyond treatments for sleep disorders and cancer by adding GWs' Epidolex, which brought in sales of $132m (£97m) in the latest reported quarter.

The cannabis-based drug was approved in the US in 2018 for use in patients aged two years and older with rare childhood-onset forms of epilepsy.

GW, which is listed in New York, has been the subject of bid speculation for many years.

Jazz said the offer price represented a 50% premium to GW's closing share price on Tuesday.

The terms of the deal, expected to close within months subject to shareholder and regulatory approval, will see Jazz pay $220 per share, with $200 of that in cash and the rest in shares.

The tie-up is attractive for the company because the US medical cannabis industry is estimated to grow at pace – beyond $16bn (£11.7bn) in annual sales by 2025, according to New Frontier Data reported by the Reuters news agency.

Bruce Cozadd, chairman and CEO of Jazz Pharmaceuticals, said: “Jazz is proud of our leadership position in sleep medicines and rapidly growing oncology business.

“We are excited to add GW's industry-leading cannabinoid platform, innovative pipeline and products, which will strengthen and broaden our neuroscience portfolio, further diversify our revenue and drive sustainable, long-term value creation opportunities.”

By James Sillars

Jeff Bezos Amazon founder to step down as chief executive

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 3rd Feb 2021) London, Uk –

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is to step down as chief executive of the e-commerce giant that he started in his garage nearly 30 years ago.

He will become executive chairman, a move he said would give him “time and energy” to focus on his other ventures.

Mr Bezos, who has a fortune of almost $200bn, will be replaced by Andy Jassy, who currently leads Amazon's cloud computing business.

The change will take place in the second half of 2021, the company said.

“Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it's consuming. When you have a responsibility like that, it's hard to put attention on anything else,” Mr Bezos said in a letter to Amazon staff on Tuesday.

“As Exec Chair I will stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives but also have the time and energy I need to focus on the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and my other passions.”

“I've never had more energy, and this isn't about retiring. I'm super passionate about the impact I think these organisations can have,” he added.

Higher public profile

Mr Bezos, 57, has led Amazon since its start as an online bookshop in 1994. The firm now employs 1.3 million people globally and has its hand in everything from package delivery and streaming video to cloud services and advertising.

He's amassed a fortune of $196.2bn, according to Forbes' list of billionaires., making him the world's richest man. However, Bloomberg's billionaire index puts Tesla boss Elon Musk just ahead of him.

Amazon saw its already explosive growth skyrocket last year, as the pandemic prompted a surge in online shopping.

The firm reported $386bn (£283bn) in sales in 2020, up 38% from 2019. Profits almost doubled, rising to $21.3bn.

In announcing the plans, Mr Bezos said he would continue to focus on new products and initiatives.

“When you look at our financial results, what you're actually seeing are the long-run cumulative results of invention,” he said. “Right now I see Amazon at its most inventive ever, making it an optimal time for this transition.”

The shake-up comes as Mr Bezos has developed an increasingly public profile.

He has endured a public divorce, become a target for labour and inequality activists, and poured his wealth into other businesses, such as space exploration firm Blue Origin and the Washington Post newspaper.

‘Not leaving'

Amazon also faces increasing scrutiny from regulators, who have questioned its monopoly power. And its dominance in cloud computing is being increasingly challenged by other tech firms, such as Microsoft and Alphabet, parent company of Google and YouTube.

Mr Bezos's decision to hand over the day-to-day operation of the company came as a surprise. But investors appeared unfazed, with little change in the firm's share price in after-hours trade.

In a call with analysts to discuss the firm's financial results, Amazon chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky said: “Jeff is not leaving, he is getting a new job… The board is super active and important in Amazon's success story.” 

Mr Jassy, a Harvard graduate, has been with Amazon since 1997 and helped develop Amazon Web Services, which has long been seen as the profit engine of the company.

The division provides cloud computing and storage for governments and companies including McDonald's and Netflix.

“Andy is well known inside the company and has been at Amazon almost as long as I have. He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence,” Mr Bezos said.

Sophie Lund-Yates, analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said it was “no accident” that Amazon is tapping the head of the cloud business to lead the company.

Analysis: By James Clayton

This is a real surprise. But you have to remember that Jeff Bezos himself is worth nearly $200bn.

And when you're that rich imagine what you can do. Jeff Bezos has some pretty lofty ambitions outside of Amazon.

His Blue Origin company wants to “build a road to space”. He's also sunk $10bn into Earth Fund, designed to help combat the effects of climate change.

Oh, and he also owns the Washington Post.

How will Amazon cope? Well, importantly, he's not leaving. As executive chair and founder he'll still exercise huge power over the company.

However, stepping back will inevitably mean less influence.

His replacement – Andy Jassy – has been running Amazon Web Services, Amazon's booming cloud business division.

His rise to the top underscores how important this business has become to Amazon.

Another top executive, Jeff Wilke, who led the firm's consumer business, announced his retirement last year.

Amazon Web Services “continued to shine in [its most recent] quarter, and now accounts for a more meaningful chunk of sales. The potential here is huge, and the scalable benefits that come with it should have ears pricking up,” she said.

Overall sales at the company rose 44% in the last three months of the year to $125.6bn, boosted in part by renewed lockdowns in some parts of the world as well as a later date for the firm's “Prime Day”, when the firm drives sales with a slew of discounts.

Amazon Web Services saw sales rise 28% to

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Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies, wrote on Twitter that the “huge” announcement showed how central cloud services are to Amazon's business.

But she added that she did not think Bezos was “done making an impact on the future of the company”.

Critics of the firm reacted to the announcement similarly.

“Do not be fooled by Amazon. Jeff Bezos is still in a position of immense power as executive chair,” said Public Citizen, a US-based consumer rights activist group. “This abusive, predatory monopoly still needs a complete overhaul.”

‘Buy now, pay later’ firms to face crackdown by UK’s financial regulator

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 2nd Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

Regulator says 5 million people have used such services since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Buy now, pay later” firms such as Klarna and Clearpay will be closely monitored by the UK’s financial regulator after the use of such services nearly quadrupled during the coronavirus pandemic, raising fears over consumer debt levels.

The Treasury announced plans to bring the £2.7bn sector under the regulation of the Financial Conduct Authority after a four-month review by the former FCA interim chief executive Chris Woolard.

Companies including Clearpay, Laybuy and industry leader Klarna allow customers to stagger payments for products such as clothes and furniture with no interest or fees – unless they fail to pay back on time.

Bringing them under the FCA’s regulation means that firms will have to make affordability checks before lending and ensure customers are treated fairly, in particular those who are vulnerable or struggling to repay the loans. Under FCA rules, people will also be able to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service if things go wrong.

The FCA said the use of buy now, pay later agreements nearly quadrupled in 2020 and is now at £2.7bn, with 5 million people using these products since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, which caused a boom in online shopping. It said this “comes with significant potential for consumer harm”. For example, more than one in 10 customers of a major bank using buy now, pay later were already in arrears.

John Glen, the economic secretary to the Treasury, said: “Although the average transaction tends to be relatively low, shoppers can take out multiple agreements with different providers – and the review found it would be relatively easy to accrue around £1,000 of debt that credit reference agencies and mainstream lenders cannot see.

“With several buy now, pay later providers planning to expand to higher value retailers, or offer their products in store, the risk that consumers could take on unaffordable levels of debt is increasing.

The Treasury expects that – after a consultation with the firms and others involved and legislation – the FCA will be given formal oversight of the sector later this year. The government has come under pressure to act swiftly, after warnings from more than 70 cross-party MPs that buy now, pay later could be “the next Wonga waiting to happen” – referring to the 2014 crackdown on payday lenders after they drove people into unsustainable debt.

Woolard said: “Changes are urgently needed: to bring buy now, pay later into regulation to protect consumers; to ensure that there is secure provision of debt advice to help all those who may need it; and to maintain a sustained regulatory response to the pandemic.”

The FCA said free debt advice services needed secure, long-term funding as demand has increased to as many as 1.5m additional cases during the pandemic.

By Julia Kollewe

Shell likely to announce purchase of the Post Office’s broadband operations this week

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 1st Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

The oil major's latest purchase outside its core business is likely to be announced early this week, Sky News understands.

The FTSE-100 oil giant Shell will this week clinch the purchase of the Post Office's broadband operations, transforming its presence in the UK home communications market.

Sky News understands that Shell was on Sunday close to signing the deal after weeks of talks.

It is expected to cost the energy behemoth in the region of £80m, and will add roughly 500,000 customers to Shell Energy Retail's existing base.

The deal, which could be announced early this week, will again reinforce how the world's oil majors are reshaping their businesses to reduce their reliance on their traditional hydrocarbon operations.

Last week, Shell announced the acquisition of Ubitricity, the UK's largest electric vehicle-charging network.

Shell has had a presence in the broadband market since acquiring First Utility in 2018, which also took it into the supply of energy to British households.A

Shell Energy Retail – the new name of First Utility – has roughly 130,000 UK broadband customers, as well as 870,000 domestic energy accounts.

For the Post Office, the disposal enables Nick Read, its chief executive, to refocus on its core operations of mail and parcels, banking, travel services and bill payments.

A source close to the Post Office said it would ensure that no postmaster is out of pocket as a result of the sale, with its telecoms arm accounting for just 0.3% of their total pay during the last financial year.

By Mark Kleinman

Boohoo online retailer confirms ‘exclusive’ talks to snapped up three Arcadia brands

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 29th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –

Online retailers are on course to deliver a huge blow to the high street as they head the race to snap up Arcadia's main brands.

Boohoo, the online retailer which snapped up the Debenhams brand this week, has confirmed “exclusive” talks to buy remnants of Sir Philip Green's Arcadia empire.

Sky News revealed on Thursday night that Boohoo was leading the race for the Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton brands and was prepared to pay around £25m.

That is because Boohoo – like fierce rival ASOS, which is locked in negotiations over the most valuable parts of Arcadia including Topshop – also has no plans to take on any physical sites amid COVID-19 chaos on the high street.

It places 13,000 Arcadia jobs in peril on top of more than 10,000 at Debenhams,which is also set to see stores shuttered once stock clearances are completed ahead of a pure digital future.

Boohoo said on Friday: “The group confirms that it is in exclusive discussions with the administrators of Arcadia over the acquisition of the Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton (excluding HIIT) brands.

“These discussions may or may not result in agreement of a transaction. A further announcement will be made when appropriate.”

Boohoo shares were 1% down at the open.

Analysts at Jefferies Equity Research said of the potential deal: “While not viewed (or priced) as the ‘jewels in the Arcadia crown', Dorothy Perkins, Wallis, and Burton are well-known brands that in the year to Sep-18 generated a sizeable £580m of revenue between them.

“These acquisitions would be very much consistent with boohoo's successful approach to date, and we would view the brands as a good fit within the group, particularly given the recent Debenhams deal, through which all three traded.”

Boohoo issued the update as industry figures compiled by the Local Data Company showed retail store vacancy rates already at record levels in the three months to December amid a tough Christmas season.

Physical stores deemed non-essential retail, such as fashion, saw a stop-start 2020 as a result of pandemic restrictions.

The British Retail Consortium has warned the situation is only going to get worse as current lockdowns continue.

It has demanded further government support for the retail sector including an extension to the business rates holiday beyond April.

By James Sillars

Contactless card payment limit could be increased to £100

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 27th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –

The limit for contactless card payments was raised from £30 to £45 last April at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The contactless card payment limit for a single transaction could be raised to £100 – more than double the current amount.

Since the limit was raised from £30 to £45 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last April, people have increasingly made use of contactless payments, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said.

The FCA said it is now consulting on raising the limit again.

“Recognising changing behaviour in how people pay, as part of a wider consultation, we will shortly be seeking views on amending our rules to allow for a possible increase in the contactless limit to £100,” it said.

The current £45 limit is three times the amount it was a decade ago.

There are concerns that increasing the contactless payment limit may lead to the end of customers using cash, but the Government intends to legislate to protect against this.

To prevent contact and protect customers during the pandemic, some retailers encouraged shoppers to pay by card, but a recent Bank of England study found the risk of catching coronavirus from banknotes was low.

The FCA made the comments as it confirmed further coronavirus support measures.

It said that for mortgage customers, it is extending current guidance so firms should not enforce repossessions, except in exceptional circumstances, before 1 April.

For consumer credit customers, it has updated the guidance so firms will be able to repossess goods and vehicles from 31 January.

The finalised guidance emphasises this should only be a last resort, subject to complying with government public health guidelines and regulations, for example on social distancing and shielding.

Firms will also need to consider the potential wider impact on vulnerable customers when deciding whether repossession of goods or vehicles is appropriate, the FCA added.

Wolt food delivery platform raises $500m from global investor group

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 25th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –

The Finnish company will announce investment from KKR and Tiger Global as soon as Tuesday, Sky News understands.

Another of Europe’s food delivery giants is raising hundreds of millions of pounds to fund its expansion, underlining the frenzy of global investor interest which has gripped the sector.

Sky News has learnt that Wolt, a Finnish company which operates in about 20 markets including Germany, Greece and Japan, will announce a huge financing round as soon as Tuesday.

According to private equity sources, the investment giants KKR, Tiger Global and DST will all participate in the round as new investors.

The round will be led by ICONIQ Capital, the investment group which manages the fortune of Facebook's founder, Mark Zuckerberg, one of the private equity insiders said.

One investor who held talks with Wolt but did not ultimately take part in the latest fundraising said it had been pitched at a substantial premium to its last valuation, potentially making it one of Europe's most valuable food delivery businesses.

Wolt was founded just seven years ago, and now delivers food in 120 cities in 23 countries.

The megaround highlights the scale of investors' determination to capture a slice of one of the sectors benefiting from the coronavirus pandemic.

Doordash recently went public in the US, while Deliveroo, one of Britain's biggest food delivery players, is drawing up plans to float in the coming months.

Deliveroo raised $180m of new capital from existing investors earlier this month, while it has strengthened its board by adding Lord Wolfson, the Next chief executive, as a non-executive director.

A Wolt spokeswoman declined to comment.

By Mark Kleinman

How Covid Derailed The Cheesecake Factory’s Success

Source: CNBC

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

Holiday bookings surge as Covid vaccinations rollout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Miles Brignall and Gwyn Topham

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

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

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

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

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

Next declined to comment on the claims.

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

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

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

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

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

Deloitte and Arcadia declined to comment on the reports.

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

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

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

‘More pain to come'

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

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

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

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

The Electric Pickup Truck War Is Here

Source: Bloomberg

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

15 Powerful Goals to Set for 2021

Source: Alux

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By James Sillars

Lidl and food courier Just Eat sales surged by lockdown living

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

Restaurant and pub closures fuel trading boom over Christmas period

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By John-Paul Ford Rojas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Ben Beaumont-Thomas

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

Source: CNBC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Rebecca Smithers