UK jobless rate falls to a 44 year low as employers hire ahead of Brexit

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 14th May 2019) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s unemployment rate fell to its lowest since the mid-1970s in early 2019 as employers hired in the run-up to the original date for Britain’s EU departure, but there were signs that Brexit was beginning to weigh on the jobs boom.

The rate edged down to 3.8% in the first quarter, its lowest since the three months to January 1975, the Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday. Unemployment dropped by 65,000, the most in more than two years.

But employment growth slowed to 99,000, well below a median forecast of 135,000 in a Reuters poll of economists, and wage growth lost momentum too.

“It is possible to see the shadow of Brexit in some of these figures,” Mike Jakeman, an economist at accountancy firm PwC, said. “March was the month when Brexit anxiety was at its most acute and it might have been the case that firms were more reticent to offer higher wages and advertise new positions.”

The numbers could just as easily be a minor blip in the recent run of strong jobs and earnings growth, he also said.

Britain’s labour market has remained resilient as Brexit has neared, helping households whose spending has driven an otherwise fragile economy.

However, the jobs boom may well reflect how employers have opted to take on workers – who can be laid off quickly during a downturn – rather than commit to longer-term investments while they wait for uncertainty over the conditions of Britain’s departure from the European Union to lift.

Brexit was originally due on March 29. Last month it was delayed for a second time until Oct. 31 to give Prime Minister Theresa May more time to break an impasse over its implementation in parliament and in her own Conservative Party.

RISING INEQUALITY?

The strength of the labour market has pushed wages up more quickly than the Bank of England has forecast, leading some economists to think it might raise interest rates faster than investors expect once the Brexit uncertainty clears.

The ONS said that in January-March, total earnings including bonuses rose by an annual 3.2%, slowing from 3.5% in the three months to February and weaker than a Reuters poll forecast of 3.4%.

Excluding bonuses, pay growth also slowed, rising by 3.3%, in line with the Reuters poll.

The BoE this month said it expected wage growth of 3% at the end of this year.

Many people in Britain have however seen no increase in their living standards since before the financial crisis more than a decade ago, and a Nobel Prize-winning economist said on Tuesday that Britain risked tracking the rise in inequality seen in the United States.

The recent hiring surge, while good for workers in the short term, has weighed on Britain’s weak productivity growth – a major fault line in the economy – raising concerns about the long-term prospects for growth and prosperity.

The ONS said output per hour fell by an annual 0.2% in the first quarter of 2019, its third consecutive fall. In quarterly terms, output per hour dropped by 0.6%, its biggest fall since the end of 2015.

The ONS data also showed the number of EU workers in the United Kingdom rose by an annual 58,000 after three consecutive falls. The number of non-EU workers in the country grew more strongly, up by 124,000.

By William Schomberg

KPMG fined £5m over misconduct of Co-operative Bank audit

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 8th May 2019) London, Uk – –

KPMG has been fined £5m and “severely reprimanded” after admitting misconduct in its 2009 audit of Co-operative Bank.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) said KPMG's bad auditing came in the wake of Co-operative Bank's merger with building society Britannia.

It said the firm's deficiencies included “failures to exercise sufficient professional scepticism”.

KPMG said it regretted that some of its audit work “did not meet the appropriate standards”.

The accountancy giant had also failed to tell Co-op Bank that a number of loans it acquired through the Britannia merger were riskier than thought and failed “to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence”, the FRC said.

KPMG will pay £4m after agreeing to a settlement. Audit partner Andrew Walker was also fined, and will pay £100,000. The accountancy firm will also pay the regulator's costs of £500,000.

Co-op Bank problems

The FRC's fines relate to the aftermath of Co-op Bank's merger with Britannia. In 2013, the bank entered a bid for 632 branches being sold by Lloyds Bank.

The deal collapsed after the discovery of a £1.5bn black hole in the Co-op Bank's balance sheet.

The Co-op Bank was subsequently taken over by a group of US hedge funds in a rescue deal in 2013.

In 2017, the bank required another, £700m rescue package from investors to stop it from collapsing.

The bank – which no longer has any association with its former parent the Co-op Group – now has about 68 branches, down from 164 in 2015. In common with its larger competitors, setting aside money for customers wrongly sold PPI loan insurance has hit its performance.

‘Unacceptable deterioration'

The fine is the latest in a series for KPMG, which is one of the “big four”, the four largest auditors in the UK which as well as KPMG, include PwC, EY and Deloitte.

Last month, it was fined £6m, received another severe reprimand and told to undertake an internal review over the way it audited insurance company Syndicate 218 in 2008 and 2009.

The FRC is also investigating the accountancy giant's audit of the government contractor Carillion, which collapsed under £1bn of debt last year.

In June 2018, the FRC also found an “unacceptable deterioration” in KPMG's work and said it would be subject to closer supervision.

Break them up?

The big four accountancy firms are currently under review by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which has proposed an internal split between their audit and non-audit businesses to prevent conflicts of interest in audits.

MPS have gone further urging a full structural break up of the firms.

Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC currently conduct 97% of big companies' audits.

London Metal Exchange launched an initiative to ban brands not responsibly sourced by 2022

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 23rd April, 2019) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – The London Metal Exchange (LME) on Tuesday launched an initiative that could see it ban or delist brands that are not responsibly sourced by 2022 as part of efforts to root out metal tainted by child labour and corruption.

The 142-year-old LME, seeking to avoid overly punishing small mining brands to the benefit of larger miners such as Glencore, said it would not single out cobalt and tin for accelerated auditing.

The proposal is the largest step yet by the LME, the world’s biggest market for industrial metals, to clean up the global supply chain of all its commodities.

Cobalt is a key ingredient in the batteries that power electric vehicles and one flagged by human-rights groups as particularly high risk.

“Global consumers rightly demand action on responsible sourcing – and our industry must listen,” LME chief executive Matt Chamberlain said in a statement.

The LME said its proposed rules would require all brands to undertake a “Red Flag assessment” based on guidelines set by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) by the end of 2020.

The exchange would audit higher-risk brands by 2022 with a view to banning them if they do not comply.

In a consultation paper in October, the LME said it wanted to ban cobalt brands that traded at a significant discount against prices gathered by trade publication Metal Bulletin after 30 days.

The discount was created by concerns that some providers of cobalt to the exchange may have used child labour at operations mainly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where several organisations have cited human-rights abuses.

The proposal marks a shift from the LME’s traditional role of requiring brands and companies to meet metallurgical standards to including issues of ethical responsibility.

Brands would be forced to publish fully all of their supply-chain information by 2024, the LME said.

By Zandi Shabalala, additional reporting by Eric Onstad

Hotel chain attribute shortage of workers due to Brexit uncertainty for fall in profits

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 15th Feb 2019) London, Uk – –

Millennium & Copthorne Hotels has blamed a shortage of workers due to Brexit uncertainty for contributing to falling profits.

The hotel chain reported a 28% fall in pre-tax profits to £106m for the 12 months to 31 December 2018, compared with the same period in 2017.

It said Brexit concerns had affected its UK hotels, particularly in London.

The hotel chain also blamed the US-China trade war, minimum wage and competition from Airbnb for its woes.

For the fourth quarter of 2018, pre-tax profits dropped 76% to £7m.

In particular, revenue per available room in London dropped 7.4%, partly due to the closure of its Mayfair hotel for refurbishment.

“Concerns about Brexit have affected the Group's UK hotels especially in London, where the hotels started to face difficulties in recruiting EU workers which currently comprise more than half of the London workforce,” it said in a statement.

The hotel chain also said that it had been affected by the increase in the minimum wage, which came into force last year.

“The shortage of talent-from rank and file to senior management-is intensifying with many new hotels being built around the world, not to mention the growth of Airbnb and serviced apartments,” said chairman Kwek Leng Beng.

He stressed that all hospitality businesses would “need to evolve and embrace” changes in the industry in order to remain relevant and profitable.

How Black Sheep Coffee Created Their Unique Blend To “leave the herd behind”

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Sat, 19th Jan 2019) London, Uk – –

Gabriel Shohet and Eirik Holth can empathise with the blue back-to-workers who returned to their desks last week; five years ago, they too were uninspired by their careers.

But the duo did something about it, quitting their jobs to start a coffee chain.

The co-founders used to be university flatmates before graduating and joining private equity firms. They lost touch, but caught up on the phone one day about wanting to strike out on their own. “We were used to managing companies from the board, so never got stuck in or started anything from scratch,” explains Shohet. “Getting our hands dirty was very appealing.”

Inspiration struck: why not go into business together? “Coffee was our passion; we were always micro-roasting and experimenting with new blends at the flat,” recalls the entrepreneur. “We agreed to pack in our jobs, set a date and did it.”

From the beginning, they wanted their brand to stand out from the crowd. It inspired the name, Black Sheep Coffee (and its tagline, “leave the herd behind”).

They launched with a different brew: a 100pc speciality-grade robusta coffee that, unlike its commonly used arabica counterpart, has more caffeine and protein, and is higher on the PH scale. It makes for a smoother, frothier drink that’s easier to digest on an empty stomach.

Another difference is its work with homeless people, says Shohet. “We care deeply about doing good, but we wanted to do it directlyand not just donate to a big charity like everyone else.”

The Black Sheep owners introduced an initiative that enables customers to donate a discounted brew or completed loyalty card by sticking it or a note to a board in store. Those who can't afford a coffee can simply come in and grab one. “So many warned us against it, predicting drunks and thieves who would turn new business away,” recalls the co-founder. “They were wrong, of course – people have been polite and often help us to open in the morning.

“It's a neat way to fight social exclusion and break down barriers.”

The duo spent most of a start-up loan on kit, inventory and flights to meet suppliers. They carried out product tests and customer research by popping up at London markets and stations. “We had no salary and very little money,” recalls Shohet. “The first two years were really difficult, but we slowly built up [a positive] cash flow and enough landlord credibility that one eventually bought into our idea.”

A proper shop was a big turning point, but Shohet doesn't regret the financial struggle. “We had discipline and became very creative in terms of making things happen,” he says, giving the example of a stall in Urban Outfitters on Oxford Street. “We only sought out that partnership because we needed someone who would fit out our kiosk and wouldn't charge rent.”

The heavy footfall and prominent window branding was priceless, he thinks. “Not having any cash forces you to come up with cool concepts and different ways of getting things done.”

A £23,000 Kickstarter campaign helped the founders to kit out their first café in Charlotte Street, but they've otherwise shunned investment. “We've tried to grow without calling on institutions that may be looking for a quick return,” he says. “Short-term targets force you to compromise and limit your scope – it can kill the soul of a business.”

Black Sheep has been anything but limited, having grown to £10m in annual turnover and 28 shops across London, Manchester and Manila. “We're scaling very fast, which means we have to hire a lot of new people,” says Shohet, who leads 216 employees.

The biggest challenge has been finding and retaining that talent, he adds. Paying above market rate helps with the former (“if you want the best people, you have to be comfortable with the fact that they will be expensive”), while “clear” and “visible” career progression helps with the latter. “We have a strong training programme through which people can work their way up to head of coffee and gain industry-recognised qualifications.”

A smart benefit also enables staff to pursue their passions; the company will pay any employee to teach a free class to colleagues. “We don't want them to have to choose between Black Sheep and yoga or acting, for example,” says Shohet. “It's all about making sure that people have a good time working for us.”

Having a worse time is the high street, with more casualties expected this year. But the entrepreneur isn't worried. “Coffee is still very much about the experience,” he says. “People want to see it being made and drink it straight away; they want to use the Wi-Fi and hang out or host a meeting.”

In terms of what next for the brand, he wants to continue to focus on its two main mission statements: source the best coffee in the world and hire the best baristas in town. “Get those right and we can't really go wrong,” says Shohet, whose beans are currently sourced from India, Peru, Ethiopia and Papua New Guinea.

It will also keep on in its fight against plastic. Front of house, the business stocks paper straws and 100pc compostable cups and lids, explains the co-founder, who isn't a fan of offering discounts to clients who provide their own reusable cups. “We want to tackle the issue head-on, instead of making people pick between convenience and the environment.

“It's not the their responsibility to bring a cup or recycle another; it's ours.”

While there's still work to be done on the supplier side, Black Sheep has otherwise been plastic-free for three and a half years. “It's not that difficult,” says Shohet. “If we can do it, so can the big chains.”

By  Matthew Caines 

Chancellor Philip Hammond hints at Article 50 extension

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 16th Jan 2019) London, Uk – –

Chancellor Philip Hammond has raised the possibility of an extension to Article 50, the process by which the UK is due to exit the EU.

In a call with business leaders on Tuesday evening, Mr Hammond sought to reassure the business community that a “no-deal” Brexit could be avoided.

According to the CBI, he outlined how the 29 March date might be postponed.

John Allan, president of the CBI, said the chancellor appeared more relaxed about the possibility of a delay.

The CBI, the UK's biggest business lobby group, has warned a “no-deal” Brexit is a threat to jobs and growth.

Mr Allan said it “wasn't absolutely crystal clear” that the government could avoid that scenario, but he understood, following the call, that there would be moves in Parliament next week which would allow the UK's exit date from the EU to be put back “if it became clear we were heading towards that”.

A delay to implementation of Article 50 would avoid the UK leaving the EU without a negotiated deal.

The CBI chief said he was encouraged by government moves to build a cross-party consensus for a new approach to Brexit.

Andrea Leadsom, leader of the House of Commons, told the BBC the government would not be delaying Brexit.

“We are clear we won't be delaying Article 50. We won't be revoking it,” she said.

Despite fears that the pound would plummet if the government suffered a heavy defeat in Parliament, sterling rallied slightly. Shares traded in London broadly flat on Wednesday morning. Some observers have suggested that there is now a stronger consensus amongst MPs wishing to avoid a “no-deal” Brexit, making that a less likely outcome.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs said Tuesday evening's Parliamentary defeat for the prime minister made it more likely that the UK would pursue a “softer” Brexit, retaining closer ties to the EU, or even that Brexit might be overturned.

“We think the prospect of a disorderly ‘no-deal' Brexit has faded further,” Goldman Sachs' European economist Adrian Paul wrote in a note.

Goldman Sachs still believes the most likely outcome is that “a close variant” of the deal Mrs May has negotiated with Brussels will eventually be passed by the House of Commons.

However, Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, said the UK was still “staring down the barrel of no deal”.

“As things stand, UK law says we will leave on 29 March, with or without a withdrawal agreement, and yet MPs are behaving as though they have all the time in the world – how are businesses meant to prepare in this fog of confusion?” he said.

Heathrow Airport wants to expand flights operations up to 5 per cent whether or not a third runway is built

(qlmbusinessnews.com via independent.co.uk – – Tue, 8th Jan 2019) London, Uk – –

Britain’s biggest airport could soon have an extra 68 flights a day squeezed in on the world’s busiest pair of runways.

Heathrow Airport hopes to expand operations by up to 5 per cent whether or not a third runway is built.

As the West London airport launched a consultation into the biggest changes to airspace patterns in 50 years, it also revealed plans for “a short-term change to the way aircraft arrive at Heathrow” that could increase resilience – and squeeze in almost 25,000 flights a year.

To do so would require the 480,000 annual cap on aircraft movements, imposed in 2002 as a condition for building Heathrow Terminal 5, to be lifted.

At present all but 5,000 of the permitted slots at Heathrow are used; the “spare” slots are at times such as late evenings, Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings when demand is light.

The key proposal is for a move to “independent parallel approaches” (IPA) when both runways are being used for landings.

While the standard operation at Heathrow involves one runway being used for arrivals and the other for departures, at busy times for arrivals – particularly early mornings – both can be used for touchdowns. But strict rules on sequencing mean that simultaneous landings cannot happen.

A Heathrow Airport spokesperson said: “Because Heathrow operates at 98 per cent of its capacity,  disruption or delays during the day can have a knock-on effect to the punctuality of flights.

“To mitigate this, we are always looking to improve how we manage aircraft arriving at Heathrow during particularly busy periods, and one of the ways to do this is through the introduction of new technology such as Independent Parallel Approaches [IPA].

“IPA will not only be beneficial for our passengers by improving punctuality, and preventing flight cancellations and delays –  it will also help to reduce the number of late running flights into the night which are disruptive to local communities.”

But while initially the focus would be on increasing resilience, the move would also provide the opportunity to increase arrivals by 10 per cent – representing almost 25,000 additional movements.

The airport stressed: “We would like to introduce IPA even if we do not get approval to build a third runway.”

In the consultation document, Heathrow revealed that some of the flight paths used for IPA “could overfly areas that are not affected by Heathrow arrivals today”.

Forty-two months ago, the Davies Commission unanimously recommended a third runway at Heathrow. While no significant works have begun, the airport says the new runway is on track to open in 2026, with the project costing £14bn.

Radical changes to airspace will be necessary ahead of a new runway opening, and Heathrow is asking local residents for their preferences for a range of arrival and departure patterns.

John Stewart, chair of HACAN, representing residents under the Heathrow flight paths, said: “A lot of West London will be badly hit by these proposals but there will be many other communities who will be relieved at the prospect of all-day flying coming to an end.

“It amounts to a near-revolution to Heathrow’s flight paths.”

The Airspace & Future Operations consultation runs until 4 March.

By Simon Calder

Prosecco House the first bar in London dedicated to only serving the Italian bubbly

Source: BI

Prosecco House is the first bar in London that serves the Italian bubbly only.

They have 28 different types of Prosecco, which they get from five vineyards in Italy and three distributors in London.

“From every single brand, there are different types because we do Brut, Extra Brut, Dry, Extra Dry but as well crisp, delicate, fruity… You name it,” owner Kristina Issa told Business Insider.

“We can accommodate every different taste.” Drinks are sold by the glass or by the bottle.

Prices for a glass range from £7.50 to £13.50, while bottles start at £37. The Rivalta Nero is the only exception.

This Prosecco is sold by the bottle only, for £68. Prosecco House is located a few seconds walk away from Tower Bridge, in the luxury complex One Tower Bridge.

France’s Vinci to pay 2.9 billion pounds for majority stake in Gatwick airport

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 27th Dec, 2018) London, UK —

(Reuters) – France’s Vinci (SGEF.PA) is paying about 2.9 billion pounds for a majority stake in Gatwick, adding the second busiest airport in Britain to its portfolio despite the shadow of Brexit.

Expected to close by June next year, the deal to acquire a 50.01 percent stake would make Gatwick the single largest asset in Vinci’s airport network, which would grow to 46 airports spanning 12 countries, the French company said on Thursday.

“The transaction represents a rare opportunity to acquire an airport of such size and quality,” it said in a statement.

Vinci has been expanding into faster growing and more profitable concessions such as airports and motorways, as well as in engineering projects for the energy industry, to counter signs of weakness elsewhere in the construction sector.

The French group is investing despite short-term uncertainty about the impact on travel of Britain’s departure from the European Union at the end of March.

Gatwick made unwelcome headlines last week after drone sightings caused 36 hours of travel chaos for more than 100,000 Christmas travellers.

Gatwick Chief Executive Stewart Wingate, who will remain in his role, said the airport was learning lessons to avoid a repeat of the disruption.

“While today's announcement marks an exciting moment in Gatwick's future, my team and I remain focused on doing everything we can to help ensure that travel runs as smoothly as possible for everyone over the rest of the festive period,” he said in a statement here.

SELLING DOWN

Vinci is buying the stake in Gatwick from existing shareholders, and the remaining 49.99 percent minority will be managed by investment group Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), Vinci said.

After the deal, GIP will halve its stake to 21 percent and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority will be left with 7.9 percent.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System will retain 6.4 percent, the National Pension Service of Korea 6 percent and Australian sovereign wealth fund the Future Fund Board of Guardians will have 8.6 percent.

In the year to March 2018, Gatwick reported total revenue of 764 million pounds and handles around 46 million passengers annually.

The Gatwick deal follows Vinci’s acquisition earlier this year of the airports management portfolio of Airports Worldwide, which allowed it to enter the United States and expand in Europe.

Between 2014 and 2017, Vinci Airports’ revenue grew 196 percent, driving the concessions business up 19.3 percent, while Vinci Construction fell 9.5 percent in the same period.

Vinci shares were up 0.6 percent by 0945 GMT.

By Zuzanna Szymanska

Minicab and Uber drivers to pay London congestion charge from April

(qlmbusinessnews.com via cityam.com – – Thur, 20th Dec 2018) London, Uk – –


Minicab and Uber drivers will no longer be exempt from the £11.50 congestion charge from April next year, Sadiq Khan announced today as part of his push to curb pollution levels.

TfL expects the changes to reduce the number of private hire vehicles entering the congestion zone each day by up to 8,000, a 44 per cent drop from current levels.

The congestion charge applies from Monday to Friday from 7am to 6pm and covers London’s central zone. The boundary stretches round King’s Cross, the city, the Imperial war museum and Buckingham palace.

Higher costs can be expected to hit operators as well as customers looking for a ride in the centre. Uber rival Addison Lee has previously come out with a prediction that the plans will cost it £4m a year.

“We need private hire vehicles and taxis to play their part and help us clean up our filthy air,” said Sadiq Khan, who argued that “tough decisions” needed to be made in order to “protect the health and wellbeing of London”.

Khan has also argued that scrapping the drivers' exemption is necessary to drive down congestion. TfL has said that the pace of the rise in private hire vehicles, which has been bolstered by ride-hailing apps such as Uber, had not been anticipated when the exemption was originally put in place 15 years ago.

The move can also be expected to generate some extra cash for TfL at a time when its revenues have been squeezed as a result of fare freezes and the continued delays hitting its Crossrail project.

The Licensed Private Hire Car Association set up a petition opposing the changes last month, which reached just under 10,000 signatures. Responding to the decision, the group said: “We will do everything we can to challenge this disappointing decision.”

“We do not agree that removing the congestion charge exemption for private hire drivers in London is indeed fair, nor going to reduce congestion.”

An exception will be made for vehicles that are wheelchair accessible, while those that meet certain requirements will be eligible for a new type of cleaner vehicle discount.

Richard Dilks, transport director at London First, said: “The congestion charge has cut traffic in the capital, but London’s roads are still grinding to a halt.

“While it’s right to address the impact of private hire cars, in isolation it is not enough. London is Europe’s second most congested city, and after 15 years of the charge it’s time to modernise the entire system to make sure it continues to work for the capital well in to the future. That includes looking at how to tackle congestion and emissions together, help freight be even more efficient, and make bus journeys faster and more reliable.”

By Kim Darrah

Dixons Carphone report £440m loss, as share price falls

QLM Image

(qlmbusinessnews.com via cnnmoney.com – – Wed, 12th Dec 2018) London, Uk – –

Dixons Carphone sank to a huge loss in its half-year result today, as a £500m writedown in its Carphone Warehouse division weighed the company and its share price down.

The figures

Dixons swung to a £440m loss for the six months to the end of October after paying out £490m in impairment charges for a restructure of its Carphone Warehouse arm, compared to a £54m profit before tax last year.

That compares to an underlying profit before tax of £50m for the firm, down from £73m in the same period of 2017.

Revenue grew one per cent year on year, or three per cent on a like-for-like basis, to £4.89bn.

Cash flow dropped by one third to £116m however as Dixons introduced new working capital phasing, while net debt piled up, from £206m last year to £274m now.

However, investors lost 39.7p per share, a far cry from their 4.5p earnings this time last year, while the dividend fell from 3.5p last year to 2.25p this year.

Shares fell by 10 per cent in early morning trading on the news.

Why it’s interesting

Dixons’ huge one-off loss relates to its restructure as it attempts to wean itself off its reliance on the troubled high street, which failed to benefit from November’s Black Friday spending spree.

The company is taking an impairment charge of £225m on its Carphone Warehouse business, along with £113m of charges for related assets and £6m against individual Carphone Warehouse stores.

Instead, new boss Alex Baldock wants to boost activity online, as well as introducing more flexible ways to pay for shoppers through credit plans.

“We're focusing on our core, and on four things that matter most: two big profitable growth opportunities in online and credit; revitalising our mobile business; and giving customers an easy experience,” Baldock said.

“We'll deliver these through capable and committed colleagues, working in one joined-up business, with strong infrastructure.

Dixons’ travails are evidence of further high street pain, according to Ed Monk, associate director of Fidelity Personal Investing’s share dealing service.

But he added that Dixons’ restructuring plan under new boss Alex Baldock could change its fortunes.

He also pointed to an employee share scheme Dixons announced, allowing staff with a year’s service to get up to £1,000 in company shares.

“That’s a sensible move as the company looks to differentiate itself from online rivals like Amazon, with better in-store service.”

What Dixons Carphone said

Alex Baldock, group chief executive, said:

“We believe that Dixons Carphone is now on the path to sustainable success. We have set a clear long-term direction that will deliver more engaged colleagues, more satisfied customers and a more valuable business for shareholders.

“We have powerful strengths, as a growing market leader with amazing people and capabilities no competitor can match. Our plan builds on those strengths. We're focusing on our core, and on four things that matter most: two big profitable growth opportunities in online and credit; revitalising our mobile business; and giving customers an easy experience. We'll deliver these through capable and committed colleagues, working in one joined-up business, with strong infrastructure.

“We're underway and investing in all of these, including giving our colleagues at least £1,000 of shares, making every colleague a shareholder. We strongly believe aligning and energising the business behind our strategy in this way will benefit customers and shareholders.

“There are headwinds and uncertainty facing any business serving the UK consumer, we've had our own challenges, and our plan will take time. But, with this plan, we can now see the way to unleashing the true potential of this business. We believe in our plan, are underway making early progress and determined to make it a lasting success.”

By Joe Curtis

Political turmoil over UK’s draft agreement with the EU creates fresh uncertainty for currency and share traders

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Thur, 15 Nov 2018) London, Uk – –

A series of resignations over the UK's draft agreement with the EU have created fresh uncertainty for currency and share traders.

The pound has fallen sharply while banking and house building stocks are also under pressure after a draft Brexit deal was hit by political turmoil.

Sterling was more than two cents lower against the dollar at less than $1.28 in the wake of Dominic Raab's resignation as Brexit Secretary while it was also down by two cents versus the euro, at €1.13.

In the stock market, Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays led the fallers, dropping 7%, while big house builders such as Baratt Developments and Persimmon each slumped by 6%.

But the wider FTSE 100 was less heavily affected, with the pound's fall providing a boost to the sterling value of the top-flight's multinationals, whose earnings are largely in foreign currencies.

However, the index turned negative by mid-morning when Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey announced that she would follow Mr Raab in quitting the Cabinet.

The second-tier FTSE 250 Index, which has more of an exposure to the UK economy, was down by around 1%.

Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, said: “As the steady drip of resignations hits the government, the UK's deal with the EU appears to be dead in the water already.

“Risk appetite has taken a hit across the board.”

The falls for banking stocks came after state-backed RBS revealed last month that it was putting aside £100m to guard against a “more uncertain economic outlook” ahead of Brexit.

House builders have also revealed their exposure to the uncertainty, with Taylor Wimpey saying earlier this week that there were “signs of customer caution” and that it expects sales volumes will fail to grow next year.

At the same time, house price growth has slowed sharply.

Currency markets have been in volatile mood in recent weeks amid the changing prospects for a Brexit deal.

The pound had crept above $1.30 against the dollar on Wednesday after it emerged that UK and EU officials had agreed a draft deal, with gains only muted given the difficult task of winning political backing for it.

Ratings agency Moody's has described the agreement as a positive step but warned that it was “far from the end of the process” and that its passage through Parliament was far from certain.

Colin Ellis, Moody's chief credit officer for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “If the UK parliament does not support the agreement then – in the absence of further developments – the EU and the UK will be heading for a no-deal Brexit by default.

“As we have said previously, that would have significant negative consequences for a range of issuers.”

Experts including the Bank of England expect a sharp shock to the economy if there is a no-deal withdrawal and the UK's independent fiscal watchdog has drawn comparisons with the impact of the three-day week in 1974.

By John-Paul Ford Rojas

 

 

Heinz first London baked beans cafe – this is what it’s like

 

Business Insider UK

You can now get hot pots of baked beans at Heinz's cafe in London's Selfridges.

The company launched it to mark the 50th anniversary of the “Beanz Meanz Heinz” slogan created in the 1960s.

Each pot costs £3 and you can get your beans with scrambled eggs, ham hock, or crispy bacon.

 

Addison Lee aims for self-driving cars in London within three years

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 22 Oct 2018) London, Uk – –

Tech pioneer Oxbotica to start mapping public roads as it calls deal with hire firm ‘huge leap’

Self-driving car services could be on the streets of London within three years under a partnership between the private hire firm Addison Lee and the British driverless car pioneers Oxbotica.

The companies have signed a deal to develop and deploy autonomous vehicles in the city by 2021.

Oxbotica will start mapping more than 250,000 miles of public roads in and around London from next month, using its technology to create a comprehensive map of every traffic feature.

While the link-up could eventually allow Addison Lee’s fleet of black Mercedes and Prius cabs to be driven autonomously, the 5,000 drivers in London will remain employed, the firm says. However, it could also offer a cheaper, autonomous ride-sharing version of its hire service. The first stage is likely to be in corporate shuttles, around airports or campuses.

Despite the ambitious time frame, London looks set to be at least a year behind other global cities. Tokyo launched an experimental driverless taxi in August, with a view to having a full service in place in time for the 2020 Olympics.

Toyota, meanwhile, is investing $500m (£388m) to develop an autonomous fleet for Uber, although Uber’s programme was set back when one of its self-driving cars was involved in a fatal collision with a pedestrian in the US in March.

Andy Boland, chief executive of Addison Lee, said that although technology could make an autonomous version of their current service feasible in London, “our 5,000 drivers in the UK are going to carry on doing what they are doing. For the foreseeable future I would draw that distinction between premium services, and technology opening those other sorts of services at a relevant price point.”

However, he said a driverless vehicle should eventually prove cheaper to run for the firm: “There are cost savings in the medium term, from maximising asset utilisation.”

The traditional London taxi and private hire trade has been disrupted by Uber offering lower fares, but industry observers have questioned whether Uber could continue to keep prices down in the long term by continuing to use drivers.

Boland said that while plenty of tech firms had eyed the market in a sector that could be worth £28bn a year by 2035, practically implementing autonomous or car-sharing services would still require the kind of fleet, maintenance and customer base his firm already had.

Graeme Smith, chief executive of Oxbotica, said: “This represents a huge leap towards bringing autonomous vehicles into mainstream use on the streets of London, and eventually in cities across the United Kingdom and beyond.”

New York is the next city it will target.

Transport for London said it was committed to engaging with firms using autonomous vehicle technology at the earliest opportunity. Michael Hurwitz, director of transport innovation, said it had the potential to change travel significantly: “All cities across the UK, including London, need to understand the opportunities, risks and challenges they face when considering how transport will operate in the future.”

Addison Lee and Oxbotica were part of the consortium carrying out government-funded studies in Greenwich, south-east London, to investigate whether the public transport network could be complemented with people ride-sharing in driverless pods.

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

 

 

View a more eclectic side of London where locals enjoy spending time

 

Source: Youtube/Love and London

Forget London Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square… those areas are super-touristy, crowded, and don't show the character of London. In this video takes you to three areas in London where Londoners enjoy spending time, which shows you the side of the city that is full of character and diverse.

Chancellor Philip Hammond needs at least £19bn to ‘end austerity’ – IFS

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 16th Oct 2018) London, Uk – –

The only way the chancellor can end austerity is to borrow substantial sums or raise Britain's tax burden to the highest level for nearly 70 years, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned.

In its closely-watched green budget, a survey of the UK economy and public finances, the IFS said that even the mildest version of “ending austerity” would cost a minimum of £19bn – the equivalent of a penny on income tax, National Insurance and on VAT.

The IFS added that there was effectively no prospect of a “Brexit dividend” for the public finances and warned that UK economic growth would remain weak for another two years.

Its report comes a fortnight ahead of the chancellor's winter budget, in which he will unveil his latest plans for borrowing and spending.

But the IFS said that Philip Hammond can only end austerity – in other words cancel major planned spending cuts – through significant tax rises or by borrowing so much that he breaks his commitment to eliminate the deficit by the middle of next decade.

It added that the sum – which it put at a provisional £19bn – would be bigger still if Mr Hammond abolished the benefits freeze and increased the generosity of other payouts.

Paul Johnson, director of the IFS, said that these decisions, which will form key parts of the budget, will “probably be the biggest non-Brexit related decision this chancellor will make”.

“He has a big choice,” he added. “He could end austerity, as the prime minister has suggested.

“But even on a limited definition of what that might mean would imply spending £19bn a year more than currently planned by the end of the parliament. An increase of that size is highly unlikely to be compatible with his desire to get the deficit down towards zero.

“Alternatively, the chancellor could stick to his guns on the deficit and leave many public services to struggle under the strain of a decade and more of cuts.

“He could reconcile these demands by raising taxes, and in principle there are plenty of good options, but the overall tax burden is already high by UK historical standards and he could be constrained by the lack of a parliamentary majority. This is going to be the toughest of circles to square.”

An increase in the tax burden of that scale would lift it to the highest level since the late 1940s and early 1950s – though it would still leave it in the middle of the pack of other developed economies.

But Mr Johnson said that it was far more likely that the government would simply borrow more. “Increasing borrowing is clearly the line of least resistance,” he said. “If I had to guess I would guess borrowing will be higher than the number in the spring statement.”

The IFS said that the extra money was significantly higher because of the extra commitments the chancellor had already made to spend more on the NHS and on international aid.

And it calculated that even if the UK enjoys an economic bump if it seals a deal to leave the European Union, the scale of the so-called “Brexit dividend” – the money the Treasury might save on contributions to the EU – might only be around £1bn a year by 2022/23 – a rounding error in fiscal terms.

John McDonnell, Labour's shadow chancellor, said: “This heaps yet more pressure on the chancellor to explain how he is going to deliver on the Tory promise of ending austerity.

“With billions of cuts in the form of Universal Credit still to come, and public services at breaking point, tinkering around the edges is not enough. It's time the chancellor finally came clean about where the additional funding for the NHS is coming from.”

A Treasury spokesperson said: “Our balanced approach is getting debt falling and supporting our vital public services, while keeping taxes as low as possible. This year, we have already committed an extra £20.5bn a year to the NHS, scrapped the public sector pay cap, and frozen fuel duty for the ninth year in a row.”

By Ed Conway

 

Deutsche Bank to move assets from London to Frankfurt after Britain’s planned exit from the EU

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Mon, 17th Sept 2018) London, UK —

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) said on Monday that it would move assets from London to Frankfurt after Britain’s planned exit from the European Union next year, in line with British and EU regulators.

“The terms on which banks will operate in the EU and UK after Brexit remains unclear in the absence of a firm political agreement but our intention is to operate in the UK as a branch in line with the Prudential Regulation Authority’s guidance”, the lender said in a statement.

It added that it announced in 2017 that would make Frankfurt rather than London the primary booking hub for its investment banking clients.

According to a source close to the matter, Deutsche Bank is considering shifting large volumes of assets from London to Frankfurt and to transform its UK arm into a smaller, less complex and ringfenced subsidiary.

By Arno Schuetze

 

 

The 10 top most lucrative occupations in the Uk you can do from home

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Sun, 16th Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

The number of people working from home has surged in recent years, fueled by the economic downturn forcing many Britons out of their traditional office jobs, and technological advances making it easier for people to work remotely.

The Office for National Statistics puts the number of home workers at around four million, a 19pc increase over the past decade.

Jobs site Indeed has identified the top 10 most lucrative freelance occupations in Britain, ranked by annual salaries.

1. Development Operations Engineer – £59,449
Development operations (DevOps) engineers are typically responsible for the production and ongoing maintenance of a website platform, so are generally required to know how to code.

Because DevOps spend almost all of their time on a computer, it's easy to work from home, with the occasional office visit to catch up with team members.

 

 

2. User Experience Researcher – £46,004
User experience (UX) researchers spend their time gathering data from consumers for business clients, so that the latter can better understand their customer's behaviour.

This is done through qualitative and quantitative methods, including interviews and surveys – all of which can take place away from an office environment.

3. Freelance Quantity Surveyor – £44,950
Quantity surveyors manage all of the constructions costs relating to building projects, and can either work in an office or on-site. Freelancers can of course carry out much of their work from the comfort of their home, while maintaining regular visits to their construction sites.

4. Proposal Writer – £38,436
Whether for a business or individual, proposal writers create written documents designed to convince the recipient to enter a business arrangement or buy a product. This can all be done on a computer, enabling the writer to work remotely.

 

 

5. Software Developer – £32,740
Software developers, also known as a computer programmers, are responsible for designing, installing, testing and maintaining software systems.

While developers usually work in teams with engineers and managers, it is feasible for them to work from home with regular calls to colleagues.

6. Social Media Manager – £32,424
As the name suggests, social media managers must come up with engaging media marketing campaigns for clients and post the content on platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest.

All of this can be done on a laptop or phone, so doesn't require a person to work from an office.

7. Online Tutor – £29,000
Online tutors (or “e-tutors”) educate and support students learning a particular course, just like a normal tutor, but on the Internet.

Tutors can guide and support students through a course via social media and email, and can even offer services such as “virtual classrooms” through Skype.

 

 

8. Copy Editor – £28,836
Copy editors are responsible for scanning documents for grammar, spelling and punctuation, as well as fact-checking, and then making any necessary edits.

This can all be done at home, and copy editors often combine this work with freelance writing to bring in extra money.

9. Content Producer – £28,615
Content producers create and publish written content for different websites and digital platforms.

Everything is done online and communication is most effective via email, making it an ideal job to carry out at home.

10. Event planner – £25,811
While event planning isn't as well paid as many jobs that require you to work in an office, those in the profession will save on travel costs by working from home, where they can easily communicate with clients and vendors on the phone or by email.

By Sophie Christie

 

 

UK economy grew by 0.3% in July helped by World Cup and warm weather

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 10th Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

The UK economy grew by 0.3% in July after being helped by the heatwave and the World Cup, according to the Office for National Statistics.

In the three months to July, the economy expanded by 0.6%.

“Services grew particularly strongly, with retail sales performing well, boosted by warm weather and the World Cup,” said Rob Kent-Smith from the ONS.

“The construction sector also bounced back after a weak start to the year,” he added, but production contracted.

“The dominant service sector again led economic growth in the month of July with engineers, accountants and lawyers all enjoying a busy period, backed up by growth in construction, which hit another record high level,” said Mr Kent-Smith.

The 0.6% growth rate for the three months to July was at the top end of forecasts, and marks a pick-up from the 0.4% rate seen in the three months to June.