P&O Ferries suspends services ahead of ‘major announcement’

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 17th Mar 2022) London, UK —

UK-registered P&O Ferries, which sails major routes including between Britain, France and Ireland, said it had suspended services but would make a major announcement later on Thursday and was not going into administration.

“P&O Ferries is not going into liquidation,” a P&O Ferries spokesperson said in a statement.

“We have asked all ships to come alongside, in preparation for a company announcement. Until then, services from P&O will not be running and we are advising travellers of alternative arrangements.”

Dubai ports firm DP World bought the company in 2019.

P&O has a fleet of more than 20 ships that sail across the English Channel, North Sea, and Irish Sea, the firm's website said. It has almost 4,000 members employees and operates more than 30,000 sailings a year.

Reporting by William James and Muvija M

Ocado sales down in first quarter as shoppers resume pre-Covid buying habits

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 17th Mar 2022) London, Uk

Shares in online supermarket down 7% as company deals with rising outgoings and cost of living crisis

Ocado said sales dropped in its first quarter as shoppers returned to pre-Covid buying habits, and warned it was difficult to predict what the impact on business would be of rising food prices coupled with the cost of living crisis.

The online supermarket, which said it was implementing cost cuts to protect profits, said revenues fell 5.7% to £564.7m year-on-year in the 13 weeks to 27 February as an increase in its number of customers and transactions was offset by a steep fall in the amount being spent online.

The average amount spent by a shopper fell 15% year-on-year in the first quarter, to £124, as more customers returned to shopping in physical stores as the UK moved out of pandemic conditions and restrictions.

This fall more than offset a 31% increase in active customers to 835,000 and the average number of orders a week rising 11.6% year-on-year to 367,500.

Ocado said that, like the rest of the industry, it is being hit by significant rises in costs across the board – the 4.3% rise in food prices in February marks the fastest rate of increase since 2013 – from raw materials, energy and utilities to the dry ice used to keep food frozen and fresh during transport.

The company, a joint venture with Marks & Spencer, said that overall the UK grocery market had seen sales fall by 4%, with demand affected by consumers having to cope with steep rises in the cost of living.

“The scale of food price inflation over the course of this year, coupled with the overall level of market demand as the cost of living increases, particularly rising energy costs, is difficult to predict,” the company said. “We intend to continue to offer the best possible value to customers while recognising the overall level of pricing in the market.”

The company dampened its outlook, saying that while revenue growth for the year should end in “the high teens”, it is likely to be about 10% overall in 2022 due to factors including the war in Ukraine’s impact on inflation, the lower level of market demand, and the “continued return to pre-Covid shopping patterns”.

Shares in Ocado fell 7% on Thursday, making it the biggest faller on the FTSE 100.

By Mark Sweney

Heathrow Airport drops mandatory face mask rules for passengers

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 16th Mar 2022) London, Uk – –

The UK's largest airport has dropped mandatory face masks for passengers.

Heathrow Airport no longer requires people to wear them in its terminals, railway stations or office buildings but will continue to recommend they do so.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are the latest airlines to relax their policies on face coverings.

Passengers must still wear them on board flights if the country they're travelling to requires it.

‘Plan B' measures ended in late January, meaning masks were no longer legally required on some public transport and in shops.

However Heathrow, which handles a large number of international flights, had kept the rule that face coverings must be worn, until this week.

Heathrow's chief operating officer, Emma Gilthorpe, said the airport was pleased to move away from mandatory face mask requirements.

She said: “While we still recommend wearing them, we can be confident the investments we've made in Covid-secure measures – some of which aren't always visible – combined with the fantastic protection provided by the vaccine will continue to keep people safe while travelling.”

Heathrow said that if there was a significant rise in infections or a future variant of concern, it would not hesitate to bring the mandate back.

The airport said face coverings would remain available for people who still want to wear them.

Virgin Atlantic said it was also changing its face mask policy from Wednesday, making it a personal choice for customers and crew to wear them on board.

This will only happen on services where international regulations on mask-wearing do not apply.

For now, that means flights between Heathrow and Manchester and destinations in the Caribbean such as Barbados, St Lucia and Antigua.

The airline said customers may be asked to wear a mask when getting on and off planes and at destination airports.

It highlighted that on routes to or from the US, masks would still be required until at least 18 April.

Virgin Atlantic's chief customer and operating officer, Corneel Koster, said its policy would be introduced gradually. He encouraged passengers to respect each other's choices.

From Wednesday, British Airways (BA) customers will only have to wear a face covering on board flights if the destination they're travelling to requires it.

BA's chief operating officer, Jason Mahoney, said the move was “welcome” and “a positive step forward”.

Earlier this month, the airline and tour operator Jet2 relaxed its rules on face coverings for flights to and from England and Northern Ireland. Since Friday, Tui has done the same.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has said he would like to see the end of mandatory face masks by April or May. He added that cabin crew were being consulted.

The aviation industry is hoping that the easing of travel restrictions will lift the curtain on a busy summer, after two years of major disruption due to the pandemic.

From Friday, all travellers will be able to enter the UK without filling in a passenger locator form or taking Covid tests.

Holidaymakers will still need to be aware of, and follow, and rules where they're going.

On Friday Heathrow's chief executive John Holland-Kaye said the recovery of aviation “remains overshadowed by war and Covid uncertainty”.

The airport's passenger numbers last month were still nearly 50% down on pre-pandemic levels.

However the airport is recruiting 12,000 staff to try and cope with demand during the summer peak.

By By Katy Austin

Fevertree warns of annual profit loss as Ukraine war pushes up commodity prices

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 16th Mar 2022) London, Uk – –

The company said it had taken the “precautionary” step of cutting earnings guidance as it faces uncertainty created by the “seismic global shock” caused by the war.

Mixer-maker Fevertree has warned annual profits will be lower than previously expected after the Ukraine war pushed up commodity prices “dramatically”.

The company said the surge over recent weeks had created “significant uncertainty in relation to input costs”.

That means underlying earnings for the year are expected at £63m-£66m, down from previous guidance of £69m-£72m.

The guidance was described as a “precautionary step in response to a seismic global shock”.

Shares slumped by 8% in early trading, leaving them more than 40% lower for the year to date.

Fevertree is one of the first consumer-facing UK-listed companies to quantify the financial hit from the volatility that has buffeted markets since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Prices of commodities from oil and gas to nickel and wheat have soared, adding to inflation pressures across businesses – even those not directly trading with either of those two countries.

Wagamama owner The Restaurant Group, which also published results on Wednesday, said it was “mindful” of similar pressures though has not changed its financial guidance.

The company was already battling what it described as “unprecedented” supply chain disruption which resulted in a squeeze on its profit margins and a “global backdrop of inflationary pressures” even before the war.

It has taken action to try to mitigate some of the problems, which include lorry driver shortages, soaring transatlantic freight charges and US storage costs.

But it is now facing a further challenge as “commodity prices have increased dramatically in recent weeks because of the terrible events unfolding in Ukraine and this has created significant uncertainty in relation to input costs”.

However, Fevertree still expects to deliver sales growth of around 15% this year and hopes to benefit from a sustained shift towards drinking premium cocktails at home.

The Restaurant Group, owner of brands including Wagamama and Frankie & Benny's, pointed to similar pressures as it delivered an update on Wednesday.

In its case, the company is not changing its financial guidance for the year but said it was “mindful” of the inflationary impacts of the Ukraine war and was working on contingency plans if there the conflict has any effect on its supply chain.

It said it had already been facing cost inflation of 5% even before the war, with higher electricity and gas prices adding up to a £6m-£7m hit.

Chairman Ken Hanna said: “While we have no direct exposure to either Ukraine or Russia, it remains too early to assess the impact on supply chain costs and customer behaviour.”

TRG's shares surged 10% higher in early trading as investors cheered its wider update, showing that annual losses narrowed to £32.9m compared with £132.9m a year earlier.

The group said current trading was strong, with sales for Wagamama up by 21% in the eight weeks to 27 February compared with 2019 levels.

By John-Paul Ford Rojas

Czech group Allywn to replace Camelot as preferred applicant to run National Lottery

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 15th Mar 2022) London, UK —

Britain on Tuesday named Czech group Allwyn Entertainment as its preferred applicant to run the National Lottery, replacing Camelot which has held the licence since its inception in 1994.

The decision means Allwyn, run by Czech businessman Karel Komarek and previously known as Sazka Entertainment, will hold the licence for 10 years until 2034.

“The selection of Allwyn as Preferred Applicant follows a fair, open and robust competition which received four applications at the final stage,” the Gambling Commission said.Report ad

“Allwyn has committed to investment in the National Lottery that is expected to deliver growth and innovation across the National Lottery's products and channels, resulting in increased contributions to good causes, subject to the protection of participants and propriety.”

Allwyn set up a UK arm to bid for the licence and it is chaired by Keith Mills, a key figure behind London's hosting of the 2012 Olympics, while retail executive Justin King and tech entrepreneur Brent Hoberman are on the advisory board.Report ad

Britain launched the National Lottery in 1994 to help raise income for charities and to fund elite athletes.

Camelot was awarded the first three licences for the lottery with the most recent one due to expire in February 2024. It was named as the reserved applicant should any problems emerge in finalising Allwyn's licence.

Since its launch, the National Lottery, one of the world’s largest lotteries, has raised more than 45 billion pounds ($59 billion) for 660,000 good causes and created more than 6,300 new millionaires, the Commission said.

Camelot is owned by Canada's Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan.

Allwyn said it welcomed the news, saying its proposal was judged to be the best way of growing returns to good causes by revitalising the National Lottery in a safe way.

“The appointment of Allwyn will breathe fresh life into the National Lottery,” it said in a statement. “We will immediately work to deliver our comprehensive transition plan and look forward to transforming the National Lottery, making it better for everyone.”

Earlier this month, Komarek issued an open letter to “the people of the United Kingdom” in which he addressed media reports about another of his companies' links to Russian state natural gas company Gazprom following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which he said was a “senseless act of aggression”.

“I took the decision many years ago to divest and exit from Russian assets with the exception of a shareholding in a gas terminal, which we have been trying to exit for a number of years, and a 50/50 joint-venture with Gazprom on an underground gas storage facility in the Czech Republic,” Komarek said.

He said there were ongoing discussions with the Czech government on how to remove Gazprom from that joint venture.

Reporting by Michael Holden and Jan Lopatka

Sports bras in suits out, ONS states “the impact of the pandemic still evident in our shopping habits”

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 14th Mar 2022) London, Uk – –

Changes to the list of more than 700 items show “the impact of the pandemic still evident in our shopping habits”, the ONS said.

Men's suits are out and sports bras and crop tops are in as the basket of goods used by official statisticians to calculate price rises is given its annual shake-up.

Changes by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reflect consumer spending patterns still being re-shaped by the pandemic.

Its inflation basket of more than 700 items is designed to be “representative of the goods and services that consumers typically spend their money on” and shows their “changing tastes and habits”.

Sam Beckett, ONS head of economic statistics, said the latest reconfiguration showed “the impact of the pandemic still evident in our shopping habits”.

“With many people still working from home, demand for more formal clothing has continued to decrease,” she said.

“So, men's suits disappear from the basket and are replaced with a formal jacket or blazer.

“Last year's lockdown living saw an increase in the number of us working out and exercising.

Other changes include the single doughnut leaving the basket as sales of individual cakes decline in favour of multipacks – another change attributed to home working.

Meanwhile, continued high demand for antibacterial products sees surface wipes added.

A boom in pet ownership during the pandemic has resulted in dog and cat collars entering the list.

Other societal changes are also reflected – with the increasing adoption of vegan and vegetarian diets meaning canned beans, chickpeas and lentils, as well as meat free sausages, are added.

The switch away from coal sees the once-ubiquitous household fuel dropped ahead of a ban on its domestic use next year as part of action to combat climate change, the ONS said.

The statistics agency said that it had this year added 19 items to the basket, while removing 15 and leaving 715 unchanged.

Meanwhile, it revealed further details of plans to change the way it presents and calculates UK inflation figures.

With Britain facing its biggest cost of living increases in three decades, it has come under pressure over claims that the statistics fail to reflect the extent of the squeeze felt by the worst off.

The ONS said that alongside inflation figures for February, to be published next week, it would be launching a personal inflation calculator for individuals to work out their own experience.

It is also moving to improve data sources by working with retailers to obtain price “scanner data” straight from the till – to be included in headline inflation data from 2024.

By John-Paul Ford Rojas

Why Volkswagen Is Beating Tesla In Europe

Source: CNBC

In the U.S., Tesla dominates the conversation around electric vehicles, but in Europe, it’s a different story. Germany-based Volkswagen Group has risen from the ashes of its 2015 emissions scandal to become the EV market leader in Europe, where it has an edge thanks to local manufacturing, brand familiarity, and cheaper price points. But whether Volkswagen can broaden its appeal to become the global EV leader remains to be seen.

Germany-based Volkswagen Group has risen from the ashes of its 2015 emissions scandal to become the EV market leader in Europe, where the company reported that it had 26% market share in the first half of 2021.

While Tesla’s Model 3 has been selling well in the region, Volkswagen’s local manufacturing, brand familiarity and cheaper price points have helped give it an edge over Tesla. But as Elon Musk aims to start production at the Berlin Gigafactory by year’s end, Volkswagen’s lead could be short-lived. In the rapidly growing EV market, analysts say the Volkswagen Group benefits from its wide array of brands, which includes luxury marques like Audi, Bentley and Porsche.

VW’s most popular EV in Europe is the more affordable ID.3, a hatchback that starts at around $40,000. And in September 2020, Volkswagen released the ID.4, an SUV aimed at the global market that has since become Volkswagen’s top-selling EV overall.

However, Volkswagen still lags behind Tesla globally. Tesla delivered more than 627,000 EVs in the first three quarters of 2021, while Volkswagen sold about 293,000 cars. But Volkswagen, along with other traditional automakers and EV startups, plans to release an abundance of new all-electric models in the next decade.

Biden Issues Long-Awaited US Executive Order on Crypto

(qlmbusinessnews.com via coindesk.com — Thur, 10th Mar 2022) London, Uk – –

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Federal agencies will evaluate their approach in six “key priorities” within the digital asset sector.

The Takeaway

  • U.S. President Joe Biden signed a first-of-its-kind executive order on cryptocurrencies on Wednesday, directing federal agencies to coordinate their approach to the sector.
  • The executive order does not lay out specific positions the administration wants agencies to adopt, or impose new regulations on the sector.
  • One part of the order will direct the Treasury Department to create a report on the “future of money,” including how the current financial system might not meet consumer needs.

U.S. President Joe Biden directed federal agencies to coordinate their efforts at drafting cryptocurrency regulations in a first-of-its-kind executive order on Wednesday.

The “whole-of-government” effort to regulate the crypto industry focuses on consumer protection, financial stability, illicit uses, leadership in the global financial sector, financial inclusion and responsible innovation, according to a fact sheet accompanying the order.

The executive order, the first such to focus exclusively on the growing digital asset sector, directs federal agencies to better communicate their work in the digital asset sector, but it does not lay out specific positions the administration wants agencies to adopt.

Similarly, the order did not announce any new regulations for which cryptocurrency companies to abide.

A senior administration official struck a neutral tone on digital assets by telling reporters the growth of the cryptocurrency sector could threaten the U.S. financial system, national security or business stability. Without “sufficient oversight,” criminals can use cryptocurrencies to launder funds or evade sanctions.

“At the same time, however, digital assets can also provide opportunities for American innovation and competitiveness and promote financial inclusion,” the official said. “Innovation is central to America's story and our economy, generating jobs and opportunities, creating and building new industries, and sustaining our global competitive edge and leadership.”

Wednesday’s executive order, which was originally reported to be in the works in October 2021, will define six “key priorities” for the administration: protecting U.S. interests, protecting global financial stability, preventing illicit uses, promoting “responsible innovation,” financial inclusion and U.S. leadership, according to a fact sheet shared with reporters.

Roughly 40 million Americans, or 16% of the total U.S. population, have reportedly invested in or are trading in cryptocurrencies, according to the official.

Investor protection

Crypto’s volatility was cited as one issue that could harm investors by an administration official, who pointed out that bitcoin’s (BTC) price at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic was around $10,300. The price peaked close to $70,000 in November before falling again in the fall of 2021 and start of 2022.

Bitcoin’s price surged more than $3,000 (close to 8%) on Tuesday after a Treasury Department statement on the executive order was seemingly inadvertently published.

“The President has put forward a holistic whole-of-government approach to understanding not only the macroeconomic risks, but also microeconomic, with the risk to each individual, investor and business that engages with these assets,” the official said.

Investor protection is then a chief goal, the official said. Part of this effort will include understanding the technology underpinning digital assets. Another part will include understanding the weaknesses in the current financial system and which areas do not currently serve all consumers.

“[The order] recognizes that our assessment of the risks and potential benefits of digital assets must include an understanding of how our financial system does and does not meet the current needs of consumers in a manner that is equitable, inclusive and efficient,” the official said.

Consumers might face an “antiquated payment infrastructure,” which would be slow or unserviceable. The official said this was “especially true” of cross-border payments.

‘Future of money’

Part of the order directs the U.S. Treasury Department to draft a report on “the future of money and payment systems,” according to a fact sheet.

The interagency report will analyze cryptocurrencies’ impact on economic and financial growth, financial inclusion, national security and “the extent to which technological innovation may influence that future.” The report should also answer the earlier question of how the current financial system does or does not meet consumer needs.

In a statement originally published (and later removed) on Tuesday night, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the report will complement the Treasury Department’s existing efforts to analyze the cryptocurrency sector.

“Already, the Department has worked with the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, the FDIC [Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation], and OCC [the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] to study one particular kind of digital asset – stablecoins – and to make recommendations,” Yellen said. “Under the executive order, Treasury and interagency partners will build upon the recently published National Risk Assessments, which identify key illicit financing risks associated with digital assets.”

The President’s Working Group report, published in November, called on Congress to pass a law more clearly defining federal bank regulators’ oversight authority over stablecoins, but said the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) could take action in lieu of legislation.

Yellen referenced FSOC’s role in her statement, saying the financial stability watchdog would look at any potential risks posed by the cryptocurrency sector “and assess whether appropriate safeguards” already exist.

“Because the questions raised by digital assets often have important cross-border dimensions, we’ll work with our international partners to promote robust standards and a level playing field,” she said.

Another senior administration official said the executive order will organize these previous or ongoing efforts, bolstering Treasury’s efforts with input from national security and economic advisers at the White House.

Digital dollar

The executive order will also ask agencies to evaluate how the U.S. could issue a central bank digital currency, “should issuance be deemed in the national interest.”

In this, the order ties in to the Federal Reserve’s ongoing efforts to study digital dollar issuance. Branches of the central bank have published multiple reports in recent months evaluating both the policy and technological questions that must be answered before a central bank digital currency (CBDC) can be issued.

More than 100 countries are already looking into CBDCs, the administration official said, with use cases encompassing both domestic transactions as well as international usage.

“Many of these countries are also working together to set standards for CBDC design and cross-border systems,” the official said. “With implications for domestic and international priorities, including the centrality of the U.S. dollar in the global financial system, the [executive order] will help make sure we have a leadership role and a seat at the table.”

The official said the U.S., when it held the Group of 7 presidency, established a digital payments experts group to evaluate CBDCs, as well as stablecoins and “other digital payments issues.”

Biden’s executive order will ask the Fed, as well as any other relevant agencies or departments within the federal government, to look at the possible risks of a CBDC in addition to the possible benefits.

Implications to national security, human rights and financial inclusion are other factors that these agencies will have to consider in answering the question of whether issuing a CBDC is in the national interest.

The privacy of the dollar remains a key issue.

National security, international cooperation

The executive order has long been rumored to have a focus on national security. The fact sheet detailing the order mentions national security a handful of times, while an administration official said the administration has already begun work on addressing these concerns.

The U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) each have their own relatively young units focused on crimes committed with, or using, cryptocurrencies.

“The insufficiency of international implementation of anti-money laundering networks and frameworks with digital assets is the greatest vulnerability of these ecosystems that criminals are currently exploiting,” the official said.

Part of this stems from the fact that cryptocurrency networks were not designed with tools like identity screening or the ability to block transactions implemented, the official said.

Indeed, most cryptocurrency networks are arguably designed to limit identification and be more decentralized. To address this, the executive order “represents a continuation” of the U.S. working to set both financial and technological standards abroad, the official said.

“We remain committed to working with allies in the broader digital asset community to shape the future of digital assets systems in a manner that's inclusive, consistent with our democratic values and safeguard the integrity of the global financial system,” the official said.

The fact sheet described this as “promoting U.S. leadership in technology and economic competitiveness.”

The U.S. Commerce Department will be directed to create a framework to address these concerns, the fact sheet said, and to ensure that the U.S. remains a leader in using digital asset technologies.

Other agencies should be able to take advantage of this framework for their own policy or operational approaches to crypto.

By Nikhilesh De

AMC Theatres Will Accept DOGE and Shiba Inu via BitPay

(qlmbusinessnews.com via coindesk.com — Thur, 3rd Mar 2022) London, Uk – –

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AMC already allows bitcoin and ether, among other cryptocurrencies, to be used for payments.

AMC Theatres customers next month will be able to pay with meme coins dogecoin (DOGE) and shiba inu (SHIB) using crypto payments provider BitPay.

  • “BitPay will be live for AMC online payments on our web site by March 19, and live on our mobile apps by April 16, possibly a few days earlier,” tweeted AMC CEO Adam Aron on Monday.
  • In November the company, a unit of AMC Entertainment Holdings (AMC) began accepting bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH), bitcoin cash (BCH) and litecoin (LTC) for payments, and promised DOGE was coming soon. At that time, AMC also said it would explore using shiba inu.
  • AMC shares were up about 4% today, but remain lower by more than 30% year to date.

By Aoyon Ashraf

How Microsoft And Sony Could Change The $200 Billion Video Game Industry

Source: CNBC

Big moves are happening in the video game industry. Microsoft, the tech giant behind the Xbox console, announced plans in early 2022 to buy Activision Blizzard, the force behind “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft,” among other major titles.

This $68.7 billion all-cash acquisition is expected to close in 2023. If approved by regulators and shareholders, it will be the largest tech deal in history.

“There's been a consolidation wave going on in the game space for the last several years,” said Eric Handler, managing director and senior research analyst at MKM Partners. “You've had a lot of private equity money flow into the industry. It's highly fragmented. It's just natural to see consolidation. Microsoft being a trillion-dollar company, obviously, they can do bigger deals.”

Shortly after the Microsoft-Activision purchase, Sony announced plans to buy Bungie in a deal valued at $3.6 billion. Bungie is currently the developer of the Destiny series, a multiplayer online game that incorporates first-person shooter and role-playing mechanics. Bungie remains best known for creating the original Halo, a first-person shooter that launched with the first Xbox console in 2001.

Brompton folding bike-maker announce plans to relocate to new manufacturing site in Kent

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 25th Feb 2022) London, Uk – –

Brompton Bicycle will on Friday announce plans to relocate to a manufacturing site in Kent aimed at boosting its status as one of Britain's most prominent exporters, Sky News learns.

Brompton Bicycle, the folding bike-maker which has become one of Britain's most recognisable exporters, will on Friday outline plans for a “revolutionary” new factory aimed at fuelling further international expansion.

Sky News has learnt that Brompton, which is run by Will Butler-Adams, will announce that it has identified a 100-acre site on a floodplain in Kent that it intends to redevelop in partnership with Ashford Borough Council.

If a planning application is approved, Brompton plans to open the site in 2027, with its existing home in Greenford, west London, operating until at least 2030.

Under the plans to be outlined on Friday, the Kent site would comprise a 40-acre site overseen by the company, with the other 60 acres “rewilded” by the local authority into a public nature reserve with a cycle path and a network of walking trails.

According to Mr Butler-Adams, the objective will be to “inspire employees and visitors to access the site by cycling, walking, or using public transport and so the travel plan intends to see no new parking spaces created”.

The new factory has been designed by Guy Hollaway, the architect behind a string of eye-catching buildings in Kent, and will be developed by Quinn Estates.

One source said the new factory would cost tens of millions of pounds to build, underlining Brompton's confidence in its own future as well as the UK as the home of its manufacturing operations.

The site will also incorporate a visitors' centre, museum, educational space, and café.

“The time has now come for us to find a larger home for Brompton,” Mr Butler-Adams told shareholders on Thursday in a memo relayed to Sky News.

“West London rents are rising at a rapid rate and looking further afield presents us with the opportunity to find a bigger space to facilitate our future growth whilst ensuring we remain financially robust.”

The announcement will be particularly significant in the context of warnings from Mr Butler-Adams in recent months over the impact of supply chain disruption on Brompton.

In October, he said shortages of key raw materials such as aluminium and steel were posing particular challenges for the privately owned company.

Mr Butler-Adams joined the company 20 years ago when it had a workforce of just 24 and was selling roughly 6,000 bikes each year.

It had been founded in 1975 by Andrew Ritchie, who began designing the iconic folding bike in his flat in London's Knightsbridge.

In results for the year to the end of March 2021 released two months ago, the company said sales and profits had surged, aided by a boom in demand for its products during the pandemic.

It did, however, pause production briefly in the run-up to Christmas because of the Omicron variant's impact on staffing levels.

Mr Butler-Adams told The Times in December that Brexit had been “a full-on disaster for us” because of its impact on costs and delivery times.

Nevertheless, he told shareholders in his memo outlining the company's relocation plans: “By choosing Ashford as the future Brompton Global Headquarters, we can retain this strong, close connection to London and the UK, whilst being on the doorstep of Europe.”

The company is embracing the shift towards electric bikes, while its innovative use of titanium recently enables it to launch its lightest folding bike so far, at just 7.45kg.

Brompton declined to comment.

By Mark Kleinman

Ikea’s first city centre shopping mall opens in west London

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 24th Feb 2022) London, Uk – –

Former Kings Mall in Hammersmith is fully let with a Lidl and events spaces

When Ikea bought the former Kings Mall two years ago, more than a quarter of stores in the run-down Hammersmith shopping centre stood empty.

On Thursday, the Swedish furniture giant’s £170m experiment on the west London shopping mall will be tested with the opening of Livat, its first city centre shopping mall globally and the first to be refurbished rather than built from scratch.

While Ikea’s parent group controls 47 other shopping centres worldwide, at 37,000sq metres Livat is just over a third of the size of its typical site and its first in the UK. Livat also houses Ikea’s only high street store in the UK – which is a quarter of the size of a typical store.

The former Kings Mall is now fully let, with new tenants including German discount supermarket Lidl, a Library of Things (a social enterprise) and Sook, the rent-by-the hour retail or events space, alongside an Ikea’s outlet.

“This is the first step on our journey to develop more city centre locations,” said Cindy Andersen, managing director of Ikea’s parent group’s property arm, Ingka Centres, which bought the 1980s site. “This was a perfect opportunity to refurbish and existing location which has been established for a long time and taking the next step to put some new energy into the place.”

The mall, which Ikea spent £170m on buying and redeveloping, will include a small market hall for local food pop-ups alongside Ikea’s own Swedish Deli and two further cafes offering meatballs, open sandwiches and coffees.

Brightly coloured seating on a stairway below a repaved atrium will lead to a locally run cafe above the mall, which sits beside a revamped outdoor space for council tenants in the residential block above, with a wildflower meadow, seating and planters.

The project is a bold bet on a post-Covid world. It paves the way for the redevelopment of the former Topshop flagship on London’s Oxford Street, which will reopen as Ikea next autumn as the Swedish group plans to spend £1bn on expanding in the capital over the next three years.

Andersen said Ikea was “actively searching” for more urban sites to redevelop in cities in the UK and across Europe and North America.

Later this year, Ikea will breathe new life into San Francisco’s 6X6 “ghost mall” which has lain empty since it was completed in 2016. The group is meanwhile redeveloping Toronto’s Aura Podium which formerly housed a branch of Bed, Bath & Beyond and some restaurants.

The Hammersmith store opens a year later than expected after works to knock through smaller stores and a former Debenhams and a basement area, which was once several stockrooms, took longer than expected during the pandemic.

Peter Jelkeby, the manager of Ikea’s UK retail business, said the retailer would look at a range of opportunities to fill in gaps and make the furnishings store more accessible in London as shopping habits change. More than 44% of the group’s UK sales were online last year compared to 19% in 2019.

“We need to be agile,” he said, pointing to the group’s experiments with lockers where shoppers can pick up products in Twickenham and Kingston, west London. If the idea proves popular 20 more sites are on the cards in London by the end of this year.

“Hammersmith is a new way to reach consumers. It is going to be accessible to quite different shopping behaviour … I am optimistic about physical [store] space but it needs to be in harmony with digital sales.”

He said Ikea expected the furniture market to continue to grow, even if there was a slow down from the “extreme demand” for certain kinds of products, such as desks and office chairs, which was seen during the pandemic lockdowns and the switch to working from home.

“It’s a volatile market but we are fairly optimistic,” Jelkeby said. He admitted that securing supply and transport of a whole range of products was “still challenging” and it was not clear how long the issues would last.

Ikea said it expects price inflation of 10% to 11% in the UK and Ireland this year, although some products have risen by as much as 50%.

Jelkeby said: “We have been absorbing a lot of cost increases and inflation is going to [continue] to be around us. We will continue to become more efficient and the consumer will decide if we are competitive.”

Ikea’s Hammersmith store is a step on from Ikea’s previous high street formats in the UK, all of which have now closed, such as the small store based around planning kitchens or bathrooms in central London’s Tottenham Court Road and Bromley, south-east London.

The store, which houses 18 room sets, compared to more than 30 in a typical Ikea store, featuring large items that can be ordered for home delivery as well as room design services and 1,800 different smaller items to takeaway, from mugs, artificial plants and kitchen kit to technology such as lamps featuring a Sonos smart speaker. The biggest item that can be taken home immediately is a coffee table.

By Sarah Butler

Rolls-Royce Chief Executive Warren East to step down

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 24th Feb 2022) London, UK —

Rolls-Royce (RR.L) Chief Executive Warren East will step down by the end of the year after steering the aero-engine maker through the worst of the pandemic, though fresh challenges loom following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Shares in the British group, which also has defence and energy businesses, dropped 16% to a seven month low in early Thursday trade as weaker-than-expected 2021 earnings, East's upcoming departure and geopolitical risks spooked investors.Report ad

Rolls-Royce burned through 5.5 billion pounds ($7.4 billion) of cash during the pandemic as its airline customers stopped or cut back flights.

But East, who took the helm in 2015, delivered cost cuts of 1.4 billion pounds a year ahead of schedule.

That, along with a recovery in civil aviation, helped cash flows turn positive in the third quarter of last year, and the CEO forecast 2022 as a whole would be modestly positive.Report ad

Still, East warned geopolitical uncertainty after Russia's invasion of Ukraine was “fundamentally bad.”

From a Rolls-Royce perspective, Russia is less than 2% of total revenue, he said, but about 20% of its titanium comes from the country. “We have been prudently building stocks as the situation has been developing over months,” he told reporters.

After the cost cuts, East said a more efficient civil aerospace business was well placed for recovery.Report ad

“It's poised for future growth as international travel rises. And it is rising: large engine flying hours rose 57% year-on-year in the second half of 2021,” he said.

The end of 2022 was the “right time” to hand over to someone else, he said, adding he would leave Rolls-Royce operationally and strategically in a “much better place”.

Underlying operating profit of 414 million pounds contrasted with a restated loss of 2 billion pounds in 2020, but fell short of analyst' expectations of 597 million pounds.

Free cash outflow of 1.44 billion pounds beat market expectations, however, and was also well ahead of the outflow of 4.18 billion pounds in 2020.

Reporting by Paul Sandle

Analytics Firm Predicts Turnaround for Ethereum Competitor That Just Closed a $1,000,000,000 Token Sale

(qlmbusinessnews.com via dailyhodl.com Thur, 24th Feb 2022) London, Uk – –

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Crypto analytics firm Santiment is laying out its outlook for Terra (LUNA) after the Terra ecosystem supporting Luna Foundation Guard (LFG) raised $1 billion in a private token sale.

The Singapore-based non-profit says that the proceeds from one of the largest token sales in crypto history will be used to establish a Bitcoin (BTC)-denominated forex reserve for Terra’s dollar-pegged stablecoin TerraUSD (UST).

LUNA is currently trading at $58.96 from a high of nearly $100 in December, but Santiment says that the token will likely surge based on signals from its social dominance metric.

Social dominance measures how popular a particular crypto asset is against other crypto projects at a particular point in time. Usually, crypto assets that receive a higher percentage of media attention switch price directions more quickly.

According to Santiment, Luna’s social dominance is at its highest in more than six months despite the bearish sentiment of traders. The behavior analytics platform says that the spike in discussions suggests that LUNA is heading in a positive direction.

“LUNA sits as the 11th largest cryptocurrency. It gained major fanfare in 2021, and appears to be a hot topic despite its 3-month drop. It’s currently seeing the highest percentage of discussion since October, a good sign of an incoming turnaround.” 

By Daily Hodl Staff

McDonald’s pig policy fight escalates with billionaire Carl Icahn board nominations

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 21st Feb 2022) London, Uk – –

Billionaire Carl Icahn has stepped up his fight with McDonald's over the welfare of pigs used in its food chain.

Mr Icahn, whose no-nonsense reputation for shaking-up companies made him a Wall Street legend, wants to put two people on McDonald's board.

He owns only 200 McDonald's shares but, reportedly spurred on by his animal welfare activist daughter, that gives him leverage to agitate for change.

McDonald's says it has led the way in improving animal welfare standards.

The battle centres on claims about pregnant sows being kept in small crates, a practice Mr Icahn said was “obscene”.

He said McDonald's had not lived up to a promise to phase out the sourcing of pork from pigs housed in so-called gestational crates, a practice targeted by animal rights activists.

Mr Icahn had asked all McDonald's pork suppliers in the US to move to “crate-free pork”, along timeframes he had set.

Now Mr Icahn has proposed that Leslie Samuelrich and Maisie Ganzler stand for election at the 2022 annual meeting, a statement by the fast food giant said.

Activist investors such as Mr Icahn – one of a handful of feared corporate raiders said to have been the model for Gordon Gekko in the 1987 movie Wall Street – normally focus on companies they believe need restructuring.

But he told the Wall Street Journal earlier this month that he was moved to do something at McDonald's by his daughter, an animal lover who has worked for the Humane Society.

McDonald's pledged to stop ordering pork from suppliers putting pregnant pigs in crates back in 2012. The firm said it had “led the industry” since then and about a third of US pork suppliers have moved to group housing systems.

It said it expected to source 85% to 90% of its pork from these suppliers by the year's end. All of the pork it buys will come from these suppliers by 2024.

McDonald's said in a statement on Sunday that it would continue to work with the industry to improve standards, but that some of Mr Icahn's demand were unreasonable.

The chain also noted that Mr Icahn was the majority owner of Viskase, which makes and supplies packaging for the pork and poultry industry.

It added that he had “not publicly called” on Viskase to make similar commitments. Mr Icahn did not immediately respond to a BBC request for comment.

As the founder and controlling shareholder of Icahn Enterprises, Mr Icahn has a net worth of $16.8bn (£12.3bn), according to Forbes.

He previously spent several months advising former US President Donald Trump on regulatory reform, before stepping down amid controversy.

However, he is unlikely to succeed with the nominations, observers said.

“Mr Icahn's profile means McDonald's feels a need to respond even though his stake is so small,” Mak Yuen Teen, a professor at NUS Business School in Singapore, told the BBC.

“It does seem that McDonald's has been rather slow in fulfilling this particular commitment made 10 years ago. It's only now that it's accelerating the fulfilment when activists are publicly highlighting it.”

McDonald's said it sourced only approximately 1% of US pork production, and that it did not own any sows, or produce or package pork in the country.

It said the board would evaluate Mr Icahn's nominees “as it would any other candidates”.

What Wedding Dresses Around the World Look Like

Source: GBS

You are cordially invited to the wedding dress episode of “Around the World.” Great Big Story senior producer Beryl Shereshewsky talks to seven dressmakers in seven countries to learn about the special dresses they make for brides in their communities. The craftsmanship, tradition and love that goes into these gorgeous creations is truly amazing. Among the dresses featured: an elaborately beaded Native American southern Cheyenne buckskin dress from Oklahoma; a kente dress handwoven in red, yellow and green, the national colors of Ghana; and in Sweden, a traditional black taffeta folk wedding dress known as a vanga dress.

Gilded-Age marriages: The American Social Climbers Who Married Their Daughters to British Aristocrats in Exchange for Noble Titles

Source: WH

In the 1870s, rich Americans came up with a new scheme: they sold their daughters abroad, marrying them off to British aristocrats in exchange for a title. In a country without an aristocracy, suddenly every rich American wanted a duchess in the family. The young women, who often didn't have a choice, became known as the Dollar Princesses. Buying noble titles was an old practice, of course, but Americans took it to a new level with Gilded-Age marriages. American brides carried huge fortunes across the sea, including some of the most lavish dowries in history.