Aldi’s overtaking the Co-op for status as Britain’s fifth biggest supermarket



Andrea Felsted speaks to Ian King about Aldi's new status as Britain's fifth biggest supermarket, overtaking the Co-op and only behind the big four: Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons. Andrea says the company's success is mainly down to an aggressive strategy of opening new stores, as sales in its existing shops are flat

BrightHouse rent-to-own electrical chain submits reform plan to Financial Conduct Authority

( via – – Tue, 7 Feb, 2017) London, Uk – –

The struggling rent-to-own electricals chain BrightHouse has made a bid for survival by offering permanent reform of its controversial practices in talks with lending watchdogs.

The company, owned by private equity firm Vision Capital, has submitted a detailed business plan to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in an attempt to ward off circling bondholders who are preparing for the worst.

The FCA is due to scrutinise the plan and assess whether BrightHouse should be allowed to continue to lend on the basis of it. The situation is increasingly urgent for the chain, with quarterly rent payments on its 311 stores looming at the end of March and its heavy debts due to be called in.
BrightHouse’s finances are under strain from temporary lending rules agreed with the FCA that force it to carry out more stringent checks on customers’ credit history before lending to them. The guidelines also bar it from issuing punitive late payment charges.

The regulator has cracked down on the hire purchase sector over alleged overcharging and hard-sell tactics targeting vulnerable consumers.

BrightHouse said last week it would shut 28 stores before the next rent demands are due, saying “part of our plan requires us to be leaner and more cost effective”.

The chain owes bondholders £220m in notes that are due for refinancing by next year. Bond investors fear BrightHouse will be denied a lending licence by the FCA or that the scrutiny process will take so long that it will prevent refinancing. City sources said they did not expect a decision from the FCA until the second quarter of the year.

Legal and financial advisers are jockeying for position on the potential restructuring, with Moelis and PWC understood to be seeking appointment by bondholders. BrightHouse is working with Rothschild and the City law firm Freshfields. A BrightHouse spokesman declined to comment.

By Christopher Williams and Ashley Armstrong

Ryanair CFO Neil Sorahan blamed an ‘abuse’ of two bag policy for delays

Ryanair CFO Neil Sorahan speaks to Ian King about the company's financial results. The airline has blamed an increase in delays on what it says is the abuse of its policy allowing passengers to carry two bags free on to the plane – and says it is now under review.

Uber boss does U-turn On Trump’s business advisory panel

Uber's Travis Kalanick tells employees he is quitting President Trump's business advisory panel. The ride-sharing app has come under pressure with the #deleteuber campaign gaining ground. We also bring you the latest on which company is looking to start manufacturing in the United States. And we end with a look at Super Bowl Sunday.

Vodafone echo similar warning by BT of pressures on international corporate business


( via – – Thur, 2 Feb, 201) London, UK – –

Vodafone, the world's second-biggest mobile operator, said on Thursday that the rate of growth in its international business division had slowed, echoing a similar warning given by British rival BT last week.

BT, Britain's dominant fixed-line telecoms operator that provides networked IT and cloud services to companies and governments around the world, had said that it had seen a marked slowdown in its international order book, prompting it to take a more cautious approach to the sector.

Vodafone, reporting its third-quarter results on Thursday, said it was also seeing lower rates of growth in its global enterprise division, and said it was taking a more disciplined approach to agreeing contracts.

Neither spelled out whether the slowdown in spending was due to concerns by corporate customers for the global economy or whether it reflected competitive pressures from cloud service specialists such as Amazon Web Services.

“Global enterprise used to grow (around) 5 percent, now it's 2, so yes there is a deceleration,” Vodafone Chief Executive Vittorio Colao told reporters.

“What I hear, what I see is there is a pressure on revenues and we are a little bit stricter on the profitability of some contracts, so we don't always bid to the last penny to win.”

BT issued a major profit warning last week, with the business hit by a slowdown in British government work and an accounting scandal discovered in its Italian business.

The firm also said it had seen a drop in new work from multinational companies, forcing it to lower its growth forecasts for the unit.

“We're taking action to address this trend,” BT Finance Director Simon Lowth told analysts. “We are now more cautious on the outlook for the international markets for this year and next and we've revised downwards our expectations of future growth rates in this part of our business.”

IT research firm Gartner has predicted that spending on global communications services will rise by 1.7 percent this year, while it expects IT services to rise by 4.2 percent.

By Kate Holton and Paul Sandle

Starbucks plans to hire 10,000 refugees over five years


( via – – Tue, 31 Jan, 2017) London, Uk – –

Coffee chain unveils plan to hire staff as top US companies express ‘deep concern’ over president’s order.

Starbucks has promised to hire 10,000 refugees over five years in response to Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily barring refugees access to the US and banning entry for anyone from seven majority Muslim countries.

Starbucks has promised to hire 10,000 refugees over five years in response to Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily barring refugees access to the US and banning entry for anyone from seven majority Muslim countries.

The move came as leading US companies including Alphabet, Amazon, Ford, Goldman Sachs and Microsoft came out against the policy.

Howard Schultz, the coffee chain’s chief executive, said he had “deep concern” about the president’s order and would be taking “resolute” action, starting with offering jobs to refugees.

“We are developing plans to hire 10,000 of them over five years in the 75 countries around the world where Starbucks does business,” he told employees in a strongly worded note.

He added that the move was to make clear the company “will neither stand by, nor stand silent, as the uncertainty around the new administration’s actions grows with each passing day”.

Schultz said the initial focus would be in the US and for refugees who had served as interpreters for the US military, but it is not yet clear when the five-year period would begin, or whether people would be employed directly by Starbucks or by suppliers. Schultz added that the Seattle-based company had also contacted employees who had been affected by the immigration ban.

The move met with both support and a backlash on social media. The hashtag #BoycottStarbucks was trending on Twitter on Monday morning, with people praising and condemning the company’s move.

Starbucks’ move came as leading banks, car companies and technology firms voiced concern at the executive order. On Sunday, the Goldman Sachs chief, Lloyd Blankfein, left a voice message for staff that warned the plan could create “disruption” for the bank and its staff, according to a transcript seen by Reuters.

“This is not a policy we support, and I would note that it has already been challenged in federal court, and some of the order has been enjoined at least temporarily,” Blankfein said.

Ford’s executive chairman, Bill Ford Jr, and chief executive, Mark Fields, also condemned the travel ban in a statement to staff. “We do not support this policy or any other that goes against our values as a company,” they said.

Technology firms were the first to come out publicly against Trump’s plans. Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, said that as an immigrant himself, he would “continue to advocate” on the issue. “As an immigrant and as a CEO, I’ve both experienced and seen the positive impact that immigration has on our company, for the country, and for the world,” he wrote on LinkedIn, the business networking site owned by the group.

Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, said 76 employees had been affected by the 90-day ban on entry for citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

In an email to Microsoft staff, he said: “We believe that immigration laws can and should protect the public without sacrificing people’s freedom of expression or religion. And we believe in the importance of protecting legitimate and law-abiding refugees whose very lives may be at stake in immigration proceedings.”

On Sunday, the Google co-founder and Alphabet president, Sergey Brin, was photographed among people protesting at San Francisco international airport over the immigration measures. Brin said he was there in a personal capacity, but reportedly told one journalist: “I’m here because I’m a refugee.”

A Google spokeswoman said: “We’re concerned about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that could create barriers to bringing great talent to the US. We’ll continue to make our views on these issues known to leaders in Washington and elsewhere.”

On Monday, the billionaire investor Mark Cuban added his voice to Trump’s critics. Cuban, who campaigned for Hillary Clinton during the election, told CNBC that in person Trump seemed reasonable and open-minded. “But all that is thrown out the window when he tweets and when he communicates with the media,” he said. “This dichotomy makes things very difficult for business.”

Cuban said that Google, Microsoft and others had already had their businesses disrupted by Trump’s travel restrictions and that they were making life more confusing for employers of foreign-born workers.

“Now you have to give consideration to where they’re from, what their circumstances are, what type of travel that person is doing. Are they a risk? How does that impact my future hiring?”

By Adam Vaughan and Dominic Rushe

Fitbit disappointing fourth quarter sees six percent cut in workforce

Fitbit has announced that it will be conducting a “reduction in force, that will impact approximately 110 employees.” That comes out to about six percent of the company's workforce. The decision is coming after a disappointing fourth quarter for the wearables company. Fitbit's 2016 Quarter four revenue expectations were as high as 750 million dollars, but it now estimates an earned range between 572 million and 580 million dollars. Company CEO James Park said the missed goals are not necessarily indicative of a large weakness in the company. Fitbit's 2016 year-end report will be released in February.

Volkswagen Crowned World’s Biggest Automaker

Toyota which had received the title of being world's biggest automaker has failed to retain the title which had sold 10.175 million vehicles worldwide in 2016, fewer than Volkswagen which sold 10.31 million. The development is indeed a milestone achievement despite the taint to Volkswagen's reputation that had been at stake over a huge scandal over cheating on emissions tests. However, General Motors is yet to table it's sales report next week and if General Motors falls short, then the the  title of being world's biggest automaker will go to time the German automaker for the first time. Toyota Motor Corp had the auto crown for the past four years, although it fell behind General Motors in 2011, when production was hit by a quake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.


Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc’s credit rating downgraded by Standard & Poor

Rolls Royce
Cedric Ramirez/

( via – – Tue, 24 Jan, 2017) London, Uk – –

Standard & Poor’s downgraded Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc’s credit rating to three levels above junk after factoring in 670 million pounds ($836 million) in fines for bribery and corruption charges.

The aircraft engine-maker’s long-term investment rating has been downgraded to BBB+ from A-, S&P said in a statement Monday, cautioning that a new mandatory accounting system could weigh on reported revenue and profit. The ratings agency also said further investigations may follow the Jan. 16 fines.

The downgrade is the latest fallout after an agreement with U.S., U.K. and Brazilian regulators. Rolls was accused of paying bribes and using middlemen to secure contracts in countries including India, Indonesia and Nigeria. The company reported the incidents to the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office in 2012.

Rolls-Royce shares fell as much as 3.4 percent Tuesday and were trading down 2 percent at 678 pence as of 9:13 a.m. in London.

Rolls-Royce said last week it expected earnings to be ahead of expectations for 2016. The company is due to report annual results Feb. 14.

The engine-maker in November detailed the initial impact on its books from a switch to a new accounting system that prevents Rolls from booking revenue for contracts far in advance. The impact on the company’s earnings is under review and has not been factored into the latest forecast, S&P said.
By Benjamin Katz