Brexit to Have Little Impact on UK Christmas Spending Habits

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Fri, 2 Dec, 2016) London, Uk – –

Christmas Shopping
Carmel/flickr.com

 

Britain's vote to leave the European Union has had no effect on the majority of shoppers Christmas spending plans, according to fresh figures.

The average UK adult expects to spend £280 on Christmas gifts this year, according to a survey by PwC of 2,000 shoppers across the country.

More than two-thirds of adults surveyed (67pc) said that Brexit had no impact on their spending habits.

“We’ve seen UK consumers respond robustly to this year’s political uncertainty and sterling weakness, as evidenced by the post-referendum retail sales figures,” said Madeleine Thomson, retail and consumer leader at PwC.

Regionally, Londoners, said that Brexit will have the most impact on Christmas spending, with 44pc in total feeling that it would have either a slight or considerable impact.

However, Yorkshire and Humber had the highest percentage of people who felt that Brexit would have no impact at all on their Christmas spending.

Scotland has the highest expected festive spend with £328.66 while the East Midlands has the lowest at £241.47.

Meanwhile, around 4pc of polled Brits said they don’t buy presents at all, with 64pc saying they did not celebrate Christmas, and a quarter said they did not have anyone to give gifts to.

Following on from the Black Friday shift to online shopping, over half of adults surveyed said they would buy gift online this Christmas. Online sales reached a record £1.23bn on Black Friday, up 12.2pc on the same day in 2015, according to retail analysts at IMRG. A number of retailers also took the step to discount early meaning that online sales for the week also rose to £6.5bn.

Earlier this week John Lewis reported its biggest ever week of sales with a 6.5pc lift to £200m.

However, the high street suffered from a 7pc dip in footfall as the spending shifted online. #

By Ashley Armstrong

Rental Limits to be Enforced by Airbnb

Airbnb announced for the first time that it would enforce a legal limit on the number of nights a year a host in London and Amsterdam can rent out a home. Thursday's announcement, coupled with several deals made over the past year, shows the company has started to offer more compromises to make peace with cities.

Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc to Cut 800 Posts

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bloomberg.com – – Thu, 1 Dec, 2016) London, Uk – –

Rolls Royce
Cedric Ramirez/flickr.com

Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc will cut 800 more posts at its marine-equipment and ship-design unit, or about 17 percent of the remaining workforce, as the lower price of crude hurts demand for oil-industry exploration and service vessels.

Restructuring steps will include a further simplification of the unit’s structure, including a “streamlining” of senior management, plus unspecified cost-reduction initiatives, London-based Rolls-Royce said Thursday.

The measures will cost about 20 million pounds ($25 million), split between this year and next, and should deliver annualized savings of up to 50 million pounds from mid-2017, according to a statement.

Rolls, best known for its aircraft engines, has already cut more than 1,000 jobs at its marine operation since 2016, with the division currently employing 4,800 people across 34 countries, including 1,900 in Norway, where it is based.

The offshore market is showing no sign of recovery, with the outlook bleaker as the backlog shrinks, Chief Executive Officer Warren East said Nov. 16. The marine arm has already shut or sold 12 of its 27 sites, and is looking at cutting more locations and shifting some production to emerging economies.

Rolls-Royce’s aviation business has also been hit by a slump in sales of business and regional jets, lower utilization of older wide-body planes and a slowdown in A330 engine deliveries as Airbus Group SE switches to an upgraded model. East has said the company is on course to deliver savings close to 200 million pounds by the end of 2017.

The marine division currently supplies gear including propellers, rudders and propulsion equipment for offshore vessels, oil and gas platforms, freighters, cruise liners, ferries, trawlers, luxury yachts and naval craft, as well as designing entire ships. While the unit markets engines, they’re made by the power systems arm, which has also laid off staff.

As part of the changes Rolls plans to establish a services hub and research center for new propulsion products in Ulsteinvik, Norway.

By Christopher Jasper

Why Brits are Shunning the High Streets On Black Friday For Bargins Online

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Fri, 25 Nov, 2016) London, UK – –

It's the super-shopping day of the year: the so-called ‘Black Friday' where we spend billions chasing bargains and cut-price goods. But this year more than any, British shoppers have been shunning the actual shops to instead get their deals from the comfort of their computers or phones. Whilst it means stores on the high street have been quieter than expected, it's been a different story for online sales.

British retailers reported strong online demand in early “Black Friday” trading, as shoppers chased deals in a spending spree that is expected to top last year's record level.

Shoppers are looking for bargains ahead of an expected rise in prices in 2017 as a weaker pound starts to push up the cost of imports, putting household finances under pressure.

Last year marked a change in the nature of the U.S.-imported discounting day. It generated record revenue but was subdued in terms of store-based sales, with shoppers put off by bad weather and memories of chaos and scuffles in 2014. This year, shoppers are focussing even more online.

Currys PC World – part of Dixons Retail (DC.L), Europe's largest electricals and telecommunications retailer – reported its highest ever number of orders, up 40 percent on 2015, with over half a million visitors to its website before 0600 GMT.

Electricals to toys retailer Argos (SBRY.L) saw similarly robust trade with over half a million visits to its website between midnight and 0100 GMT, up 50 percent year-on-year.

“It will be the busiest trading day of the year,” Argos CEO John Rogers told Reuters.

“It’s becoming an increasingly mobile (phone) shopping day. We’d expect to be north of 60 percent online and almost 80 percent of our online orders are coming from mobile,” he said.

John Lewis [JLP.UL], Britain's biggest department store group, said its website was taking five orders every second.

UK retailers will be hoping the promotions kick-start Christmas trading, building on a strong October when cold weather and Halloween boosted sales.
Many, including Amazon (AMZN.O), Argos, Dixons Carphone and Tesco (TSCO.L), have extended Black Friday to run for a two week period either side of the main day.

PRESSURE

UK consumer spending has held up since June's vote to leave the European Union. However, the Bank of England and many economists fear higher prices caused by the Brexit hit to the value of the pound and slower jobs growth will eat into households' spare income next year.

Wednesday's fiscal statement from Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond also did little to ease looming pressure on household budgets.

PwC, the accounting and consultancy firm, is forecasting revenue from Black Friday promotions to grow by 38 percent to 2.9 billion pounds.

Researcher ShopperTrak forecasts Friday's in-store shopper numbers will be down by 2.8 percent year-on-year – a second straight year of footfall decline.

Some analysts argue Black Friday discounts pull forward Christmas sales that store groups would otherwise have made at full price and can dampen business in subsequent weeks.

Retailers, however, say carefully planned and targeted promotions with global suppliers allow them to achieve a sales boost while maintaining profit margins.

“DECEPTIONS”

An investigation by consumer group Which? Found half of the products “on offer” in last year's Black Friday were actually cheaper in the months before or after the event.

Peter Ruis, the boss of fashion chain Jigsaw, told the BBC that Black Friday discounts were “deceptions” as the goods are often not worth the original price. Shops risk being perceived as “traders peddling cheap stuff on a market stall,” he said.

Argos's Rogers countered by saying there was no “smoke and mirrors” at his firm. “Customers are great at sniffing out a bargain. They know when something’s a good deal,” he said.

And the popularity of Black Friday is spreading overseas.

“1.2 percent of the population of Denmark was on our Danish website at 1 minute past midnight … looking at our Black Friday deals. 60,000 people,” tweeted Dixons Carphone CEO Seb James.

By James Davey

Calling in sick – The best excuses, according to your boss

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Tue, 22 Nov, 2016) London, Uk – –

Employees suffering from a migraine might want to think up a better excuse when phoning in sick from work, as just one in five bosses consider the headache serious enough to warrant a day off.

Back pain, injury caused by accident and even elective surgery such as a cataract operation or hip replacement fail to arouse sympathy out of managers, with around 37pc considering these ailments adequate excuses for missing work.

The medical insurance provider AXA PPP Healthcare surveyed 1,000 business owners, managing directors and chief executives about their attitudes towards employees' sick leave.

The research found that flu is the most acceptable ailment for staff to stay at home – even though it won sympathy from just 41pc of bosses.

While mental illnesses such as stress, depression and anxiety were not viewed more or less kindly by managers, employees were significantly more likely to lie about non-physical health.

A survey of 1,000 non-executive employees found that 7pc would tell their boss a lie if they had to miss work for a physical ailment such as back pain, flu or accidental injury.

However, they were almost six times more likely to lie if they called in sick due to stress, anxiety or depression, with 40pc saying they would not tell their manager the truth.

The survey also found that 22pc of employees would not give the honest reason if they phoned in sick due to a cold, while 12pc would lie about having a migraine.

“Employers need to challenge this blinkered attitude, both for their own benefit as well as that of their employees,” said Glen Parkinson of AXA PPP Healthcare.

“In many cases it is more productive for an employee to take a day off to recover from a spell of illness rather than to come into work, with diminished productivity and, for likes of colds and flu, the potential to spread their illness to workmates.”

When asked to explain why they would withhold the truth from their managers, 23pc of employees said they preferred to keep their health issues private.

A further 23pc admitted they were afraid of being judged, 15pc said they were concerned about not being believed, 7pc said they were afraid of their manager's reaction and 3pc confessed they would feel ashamed to reveal the true reason.

Mr Parkinson added: “Showing sympathy and flexibility when employees are unwell is crucial to maintaining a healthy and committed workforce, which in the long term creates a healthier business.”

By Lauren Davidson

Fender Musical Instruments Corp challenge customers to commit for life

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bloomberg.com – – Mon, 21 Nov, 2016) London, Uk  – –

Each holiday season, thousands of teenagers tear gift wrap off shiny, new guitars. They giddily pluck at the detuned strings, thinking how cool they'll be once they're rock stars—even if almost all will give up before they ever get to jam out to “Sweet Child o' Mine.”

For them, it's no big deal to relegate the guitar to the back of the closet forever, in favor of the Playstation controller. But it is a big deal for Fender Musical Instruments Corp., the 70-year-old maker of rock ‘n' roll's most iconic electric guitars. Every quitter hurts.

“The industry's challenge—or opportunity—is getting people to commit for life,” said Andy Mooney, Fender's chief executive officer. “A pretty big milestone for someone adopting any form of instrument is getting them through the first song.”

The $6 billion U.S. retail market for musical instruments has been stagnant for five years, according to data compiled by research firm IBISWorld, and would-be guitar buyers have more to distract them than ever. So how do you convince someone to put down the iPhone, pick up a Stratocaster, and keep playing?

Beginning players, whether they're fickle teens or too-busy adults, have always quit the guitar at high rates. Guitar makers have never before made much of a concerted effort to keep them, Mooney said. But Fender estimates that nearly half its customers are first-time players, and it's making an effort to treat them as such.

Fender says it hauls in about a half-billion dollars a year in revenue and is on track to grow in the high single digits this year. That's still down from its $700 million in revenue in 2011, a number revealed when the company filed for an initial public offering in 2012 that was later withdrawn.

The task of keeping kids hooked on playing is a tricky one for a company still crawling back from post-recession struggles. In late 2012, as Fender fought to stay profitable, private equity firms TPG Growth and Servco Pacific took control of it. Last year, they brought on Mooney, a veteran executive who held posts at Disney, Nike, and Quiksilver, to make Fender more digital- and consumer-focused.

That means more apps, more connected devices, and a newfound focus on helping folks learn how to play their guitars. The hope is that players will get hooked early on cheap starter models, then upgrade to fancier guitars as they commit themselves to playing, with the most devoted among them evolving into collectors, their walls hung with high-end instruments. That all means more cash for Fender.

Almost everyone who picks up a guitar, about 90 percent, abandons it within the first year, according to Mooney. Many give up within three months, frustrated or unwilling to commit. Some people bounce to another instrument. And people quit electric guitars more often than acoustic ones, he said, because of the pain factor: Steel strings hurt delicate hands.

Over the next few years, the company will be releasing a suite of digital products to help keep new guitar players strumming along.

The first, a tuning app, teaches players how to change the pitch on their guitars, whereas most of the dozens of existing tuning apps assume some level of guitar proficiency. “When the kid plugs it in for the first time, it doesn't sound like a screaming cat when it comes out of an amp,” said Mooney. “We want to help with a lot of the basic stuff.”

Fender is also looking to release a practice-room app that can teach someone to play any song in their music library, along with a tone app that lets an amp emulate the sounds of famous guitarists. Fender's newest amp model, to be released next year, will be able to connect to apps wirelessly, through Bluetooth, to let players alter and share sound effects.
Fender says about 60 percent of its business is in guitars, both electric and acoustic; the rest is a mix of related products such as amps and picks. (The company acquired Aurisonics, a maker of medical and military-grade in-ear monitors, in January and announced new lines of earbuds.)

When it comes to selling guitars, color palettes have become more crucial than ever, said Mooney. Once, all anybody wanted was black, white, or sunburst. Now fashion is coming into play, and Fender is looking to collaborate with artists to create styles. This spring, its top-selling hue was metallic blue.

Nearly all Fender's business is done through traditional retailers; online sales from its own website make up less than 2 percent of total sales in North America. Mooney doesn't see that as a problem. Players need to touch, feel, and play a guitar before they buy one, he said, and his company prefers to use the internet as a learning tool for shoppers, rather than to drive sales.

Detractors have predicted the death of the electric guitar for years, pointing to the rise of rap and electronic dance music on pop charts.
But Mooney isn't worried. More women are playing guitar these days, he said—something he credits largely to Taylor Swift—and Fender now sees as many women as men playing the acoustic guitar, if not the electric. And although the mix of instruments sold is constantly shifting, guitar sales have actually grown over the past decade, he said. “The pendulum swings back and forth.”

By Kim Bhasin

Heathrow Christmas Holiday Advert

Throughout their 70 years, Heathrow have specialised in reconnecting people with their loved ones, especially at this time of year, because coming home for Christmas is the best gift of all. Among the millions of seasonal passengers, there are some extra-special arrivals that have made it home in time for the big day…