How Maserati The Luxury Italian And Sports Car Brand Is Staging A Comeback

Source: CNBC

Maserati is an Italian luxury and sports car brand that doesn’t have the recognition that big names like BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, or even Ferrari have. For decades it was owned by Fiat Group, which later became Fiat Chrysler. Maserati gave it a presence in premium and luxury segments. But they've struggled in recent years, with falling sales and concerns among analysts that Fiat Chrysler did not make needed investments to update Maserati’s product lineup. Now that Fiat-Chrysler has merged with France’s Groupe PSA to form Stellantis, there is speculation over which brands in the stable will survive and succeed.

A New Billionaire Every 17 Hours: The Most Notable Newcomers On Forbes’ Billionaires List

Source: Forbes

It’s been a year like no other, and we aren’t talking about the pandemic. There were rapid-fire public offerings, surging cryptocurrencies and skyrocketing stock prices. The number of billionaires on Forbes’ 35th annual list of the world’s wealthiest exploded to an unprecedented 2,755–660 more than a year ago. Of those, a record high 493 were new to the list–roughly one every 17 hours, including 210 from China and Hong Kong. Another 250 who’d fallen off in the past came roaring back. A staggering 86% are richer than a year ago.

Jeff Bezos is the world’s richest for the fourth year running, worth $177 billion, while Elon Musk rocketed into the number two spot with $151 billion, as Tesla and Amazon shares surged. Altogether these billionaires are worth $13.1 trillion, up from $8 trillion in 2020. The U.S. still has the most, with 724, followed by China (including Hong Kong and Macao) with 698. We used stock prices and exchange rates from March 5 to calculate net worths. See below for the full list of the world’s billionaires and our methodology.

Ocado partners with Oxbotica in a £10m deal to make autonomous grocery delivery vehicles

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 16th Apr 2021) London, Uk – –

Online grocer strikes commercial partnership with Oxford-based self-driving vehicles company

Ocado has invested £10m in a self-driving vehicles company to drive its ambition to make autonomous grocery deliveries and develop “kerb-to-kitchen robots” to drop off shopping in homes.

The online grocer, which has previously tested a prototype self-driving truck delivering food and snacks to customers in south-east London, has moved to strike a commercial partnership with Oxford-based Oxbotica, which developed the truck.

Ocado, which will take a seat on Oxbotica’s board, said the technology could be used for “last-mile deliveries and kerb-to-kitchen robots”. The trials in Greenwich, London, in 2017 used a small “CargoPod” that holds eight boxes and required customers to leave their houses to pick up their shopping.

Ocado said the driverless vehicles could also operate inside its fulfilment centre buildings and the yards around them.Advertisement

“We are excited about the opportunity to work with Oxbotica to develop a wide range of autonomous solutions,” said Alex Harvey, the chief of advanced technology at Ocado. “These solutions truly have the potential to transform both our and our partners’ customer fulfilment centres and service delivery operations while also giving all end customers the widest range of options and flexibility.”

Ocado said there were potentially huge savings to be made by introducing autonomous technology to its operation. The moving of orders within its fulfilment centres costs 1.5% of UK sales and the cost of “final-mile delivery” is about 10% of sales. Labour represents about half of these costs.

Owing to regulatory and complexity reasons, Ocado said the development of vehicles that operate in low-speed urban areas or in restricted-access areas, such as its fulfilment buildings and yards, “may become a reality sooner than fully autonomous deliveries to consumers’ homes”.

As part of the collaboration, Ocado said it would outfit some of its delivery vans and warehouse vehicles with data capture capabilities, such as video cameras and radar, to train and test Oxbotica’s technology.

Ocado, which employs almost 19,000 staff, said the vehicle autonomy programme would not change “current hiring or employment levels within logistics or operations groups”.

The grocer took part in a wider funding round by Oxbotica led by BP Ventures and including the Chinese tech firm Tencent.

“This is an excellent opportunity for Oxbotica and Ocado to strengthen our partnership, sharing our vision for the future of autonomy,” said Paul Newman, a co-founder of Oxbotica.

By Mark Sweney

Serena Williams’ Stunning New Home With A Trophy Room & Art Gallery

Source: AD

Today AD is welcomed by tennis legend and 23-time Grand Slam singles title winner Serena Williams for a tour of her stunning new home north of Miami. After living with her sister Venus on and off for over 20 years, Serena and husband Alexis Ohanian have made a stylish new home for their family. From the eclectic artwork (including her own painting) to the world-beating trophy room, Serena’s home could only belong to someone as multifaceted and accomplished as her. “I was moving away from Venus for the first time in my life, so I wanted it to be really meaningful,” Serena says. While mixing family with business can be risky, the secret to their success as siblings and creative collaborators is simple: “You have to know your lane. I’m really good at playing tennis; I’m not as good at interiors. But I was able to learn through just watching Venus.”

WHY I LEFT MY $200,000+ JOB AS A LAWYER and learned to CODE instead

Source: Career Game Changer

Dels the lawyer and entrepreneur who loves travel, self-improvement and everything to do with success. Worked with several of the biggest banks, law firms and management consultancy companies in the world and is passionate about helping other high achievers to land their dream jobs in those companies or even to start their own business

Royal Mail to pay one-off dividend to shareholders due online shopping boom

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 30th March 2021) London, Uk – –

Company expects profit of £700m for year to end of March, more than double last year

Royal Mail is to make a one-off dividend payment to shareholders after the online shopping boom during the Covid-19 pandemic boosted its parcel delivery business, in a dramatic turnaround of the company’s fortunes.

Royal Mail expects to make an adjusted operating profit of £700m for the year to the end of March, more than double last year’s £325m. This has given it the confidence to pay a final dividend of 10p a share on 6 September, the first payout to shareholders since January 2020. It will set out a new dividend policy when it publishes its full-year results on 20 May, the company said.

Since floating on the stock exchange in October 2013, Royal Mail had been struggling with its traditional letters business, which is in decline. Attempts to restructure the company led to prolonged battles with unions. However, it has focused on expanding its parcel delivery business, as online shopping soared during the Covid-19 crisis, when many shops have been forced to shut during lockdowns.

Richard Hunter, the head of markets at the trading platform Interactive Investor, said: “The astonishing reversal of fortunes at Royal Mail continues as the momentum of bumper Christmas trading has spilled over into the new year.

“Challenges remain, however, and the group will need to be alert. Competition is particularly fierce in the parcels business and it is not yet clear whether the current volumes are at a temporary peak as customers have been driven to online shopping from their homes during the pandemic.”

The share price of the FTSE 250 listed firm has more than quadrupled in the past year, to 520p, up 2% on Tuesday. Hunter said Royal Mail would be a strong contender to regain its FTSE 100 status at the next reshuffle of the index.

As well as investing in its UK Parcelforce division, Royal Mail sees growth opportunities abroad. Its GLS international parcels arm is expected to make an operating profit of €390m (£350m) for the past year; it is forecast to rise to €500m by 2025.

Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Nicholas Hyett described GLS as “the jewel in Royal Mail’s crown”. He said: “If the UK business could emulate its international cousin the group would be home and dry. Instead the UK is suffering after a period of chronic underinvestment, and the capital expenditure needed to make up the shortfall looks set to eat into shareholder returns for years to come.”

The company recently started trialling a Sunday parcel delivery service for several big UK retailers. Rivals DPD and Hermes already make Sunday deliveries for retailers such as Amazon.

By Julia Kollewe

Lego plans ‘to hire hundreds’ more in UK in digital drive

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 10th March 2021) London, Uk – –

Danish toy giant Lego plans to recruit hundreds of computer experts in the UK, Denmark and China to expand its digital games and online sales operation.

In 2020, the company saw its fastest sales growth in five years, helped by locked-down families buying bigger Lego sets they could make together.

But a new Super Mario set, which blends physical bricks with online games, has been one of the biggest launches ever.

Boss Niels Christiansen told the BBC Lego would speed up its digital plans.

The company has just released Lego VIDIYO, a partnership with Universal Music, which allows children to make their own music videos with special effects and filters.

“For the past two years we've made large-scale investments in initiatives designed to support long-term growth,” the Lego chief executive said.

“We are accelerating our digital transformation. This is a big investment area for customers and suppliers,” he said.

Store expansion

He told the BBC that every 2.77 seconds “someone uploads a Lego creation to our digital platforms that they have created and want to share. The Lego community is based on the brick, but this shows there is no limit to where we can take this.”

While the Lego brick will always be at the heart of the business, he said: “Today's children are growing up in a digital world and they effortlessly blend online and physical play.”

The digital expansion will mean recruiting more computer games and website specialists over the next couple of years, said Mr Christiansen, who praised the UK's expertise in this sector. “We go where the talent is available. Where we find the best talent is in UK and Denmark. I think the number will be in the hundreds.

“We have a solid digital foundation, but must move faster. The past year has shown the importance of having an agile, responsive business built on strong digital foundations,” Mr Christiansen said.

In addition to its 17 stores – and another due to open in Edinburgh soon – Lego has two UK offices and employs almost 750 people.

Despite store closures across the world due to the pandemic, and temporary production shutdowns at factories in China and Mexico, Lego saw a 19% jump in profits to 12.9bn Danish kroner (£1.5bn) for 2020. Revenues rose 13% to 43.7bn kroner (£5bn). Sales growth in all Lego's markets was in the double-digits.

Plastic alternative

Mr Christiansen said there had been an increase in sales of bigger, more complicated Lego sets. “Instead of buying Lego sets for kids, families were buying big sets and building them together,” he said. And the growth in interest for adult Lego sets continues, he added.

A strong seller in 2020 – and a favourite of Mr Christiansen – was a complex Lamborghini car. However, his number one favourite is the traditional build-what-you-want box of bricks, which consistently remains in Lego's top ten best sellers each year.

Despite the pandemic, Lego continued with store openings – with another 134 new shops, including 91 in China, expanding the chain to 678. Lego plans to open another 120 sites in 2021, with 80 in China where development of the brand had not been as fast as in Europe and the US.

Mr Christiansen said bricks and mortar remained key to Lego's growth, in large part because “the shops are not about getting the product across the counter”.

He said: “The stores are much more a brand-builder and experience outlet. A lot of the new stores will be in China. It makes a big, big difference if there is a store in town for creating awareness of the brand.”

The company, founded in 1932 and still family-owned, is trying to find alternatives to plastic for its bricks. Lego said it could not give a figure for how many were made each year.

Mr Christiansen said Lego is investing heavily in researching new materials, but has already introduced more bio-based elements into the manufacturing. The plan remains to introduce a sustainable product by 2030.

Finding a quality, long-lasting material was not as easy as people might think.

“Lego sets will be used for 40, 50 years. They will still work even though they might have been lying in the basement until brought out for the grandchildren.

“That lasting quality needs to stay there even when we sustainably source. We cannot just go out and buy that material. We are actually trying to develop it,” he said.

By Russell Hotten, Business reporter

The Most Expensive Neighborhood In London

Source: King Luxury

The Most Expensive Neighborhood In London. The city is known to be one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, so living in the most expensive area of London could cost you millions of dollars. Knightsbridge is the most expensive residential area in London with an average selling price of more than 15 million pounds. It is also known to tourists as a shopping destination and is home to both Harrods and Harvey Nichols. The neighborhood in the center of the capital is home to some of the world's wealthiest stars such as Robbie Williams, Jimmy Page as well as David and Victoria Beckham.

Sainsbury’s rewards frontline staff with 3% bonus

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com–Fri, 26th Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

The chain bolsters store pay and announces a third bonus for its frontline colleagues but says the annual award is a “one-off”.

Sainsbury's is to reward frontline staff with a 3% bonus for their efforts to serve customers during the coronavirus crisis.

The UK's second-largest supermarket chain said the payout – worth £530 to a full-time worker – was a “one-off” in recognition of outstanding service.

The sector witnessed a stampede for goods from March last year as the UK prepared to enter its first COVID-19 lockdown, leading to widespread shortages of products such as toilet roll and flour as supply chains caught up with demand.

Sainsbury's, which is only the second chain after Lidl to award a bonus, said staff at its supermarkets and Argos stores would also get a pay rise to £9.50 per hour from next month.

Staff at central London stores will see their hourly pay rise to £10.10.

The awards meant staff were taking home more than £100m more, Sainsbury's explained, because workers had already received two other smaller bonus payouts.

The sector has been among the big winners of the pandemic as supermarkets have benefited from essential retail status while the major chains have also ramped up their online operations to meet unprecedented grocery delivery orders.

That delivery shift has come at a price for some workers though as Sainsbury's warned last November that 3,500 jobs could be lost at its supermarket counters and Argos stores. COVID jobs crisis: Retail is worst hit sector

Major chains moved to deflect criticism around higher dividends to shareholders from bumper sales by pledging to repay more than £2bn in business rates relief.

Sainsbury's retail and digital director Clodagh Moriarty, said: “In the last 12 months our frontline colleagues have shown outstanding commitment to our customers.

“In recognition of everything they have achieved, we are giving them a pay rise, plus an additional one-off payment.”

By James Sillars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Wolt spokeswoman declined to comment.

By Mark Kleinman

How A $16 Hat Made Carhartt A Billion-Dollar Brand

Source: CNBC

Carhartt has been the unofficial uniform of America’s blue-collar workforce since 1889. The Detroit brand cut its teeth outfitting railroad workers with bib overalls before expanding its offerings for laborers from farmers to carpenters and construction workers. Once the hip-hop community adopted the workwear style, Carhartt became a pop culture icon.

Today, it's almost impossible to walk around any major city from New York to Los Angles, from Tokyo to London, without seeing Carhartt jackets, Carhartt beanies, and Carhartt pants. The beanie is actually called the Carhartt watch cap and it's by far its most popular product with Carhartt selling about 4 million of them a year. A wide range of celebrities from Jamie Foxx and Kanye West o Rihanna, Bella Hadid and Drake all wear Carhartt gear.

The company says it has never sought out that kind of attention. In fact, fast fashion and the fleeting exposure that comes with it are anathema to its mantra: outworking the mall since 1889.

 

Post-Brexit trade deal between Boris Johnson’s government and Brussels on a knife-edge

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 7th Dec, 2020) London, Uk – –

Negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal have “entered the endgame” with the PM and EU president due to speak later.

By Greg Heffer, political reporter

Brexit trade talks go down to the wire with a phone call between Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen this afternoon.

The prime minister was due to speak with the EU chief at 4pm (5pm in Brussels) to assess whether a post-Brexit trade agreement can still be reached.

Meanwhile, the government offered a concession to the EU and said it would drop the most controversial parts of its Internal Market Bill – which could break international law – following “good progress” in talks over Irish border arrangements.

This afternoon's phone call between Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen is their second within 48 hours, after they agreed over the weekend to make a “further effort” to reach a deal, despite months of deadlock on key issues.

Saturday's call preceded another day of negotiations, which continued late into the night.

However the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, was said to have been “very gloomy” about the prospects of a deal when he spoke to the bloc's national ambassadors on Monday morning.

Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney told RTE news: “Having heard from Michel Barnier this morning, really the news is very downbeat.

“I would say he is very gloomy, and obviously very cautious about the ability to make progress today.”

One EU diplomat said: “EU-UK negotiations have entered the endgame, time is running out quickly.

“Despite intensive negotiations until late last night, the gaps on level playing field, governance and fisheries are still not bridged.

“The outcome is still uncertain, it can still go both ways.”

Meanwhile, an EU source told Sky News they were “not expecting anything substantial yet” although they predicted “some more drama” and said trade talks were “moving in the right direction on fishing”.

Downing Street said on Monday that “significant differences remain on critical issues”, including fisheries, which was still being negotiated by the UK's team in Brussels.

The prime minister's official spokesman said: “Our negotiations are ongoing but we remain committed to trying to reach a free trade agreement, and that is what our team is there trying to achieve today, but we are clearly in the final stages now.”

The spokesman also said the UK government was “prepared to negotiate for as long as we have time available if we think an agreement is still possible”, after Mr Barnier reportedly told members of the European Parliament the deadline for talks succeeding is Wednesday.

In a bid to soothe tensions, the UK government also confirmed it would “be prepared to remove” two parts of the Internal Market Bill.

The draft legislation has been condemned by critics both in Westminster and across European capitals for allowing ministers to override the Withdrawal Agreement – the UK's divorce deal with the EU that was agreed last year.

The government has admitted the legislation could see the UK breach international law, but argue it is needed to protect the integrity of the UK and the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland.

Senior cabinet minister Michael Gove met with European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic in Brussels on Monday.

Following their meeting, the UK government released a statement saying it could scrap the controversial parts related to state aid and export declarations.

The bill is being debated on on Monday in the Commons after the Lords took out the same sections, but the government is expected to successfully reinsert them – setting up a “ping pong” battle between the two Houses.

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly told Sky News' Kay Burley those clauses would be reintroduced to the bill when it returns to the House of Commons today, with MPs set to vote on whether to keep or scrap the Lords' amendments this evening.

“It contains clauses that we may need to rely on and, if we do need to rely on them, better that they're there,” Mr Cleverly said.

“It's an insurance policy, like all insurance policies you'd prefer not to have to use it. But you would kick yourself if you need it and it isn't there.”A no-deal was unthinkable once – this week we'll find out if the PM is prepared to press that button

Asked whether it was worth risking the EU's anger by reintroducing the controversial legislation in full, Mr Cleverly replied: “Not having that in place would weaken our position and actually give an advantage to the EU negotiators.

“And, in a negotiation like this, it is really key that both parties negotiate hard – I'm sure the EU negotiators are negotiating hard, but so is David Frost (the UK's chief negotiator) and our negotiating team.

“We do it in a spirit of positivity, but we do want to get a deal that works for the UK, an agreement that works for the UK.”

The EU's national leaders will gather for a summit in Brussels on Thursday, which will come just three weeks before the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December.

The pound fell by more than two cents against the US dollar on Monday morning to just over $1.32 as investors grew more anxious about the possibility of a no-deal outcome.

It was a sharp reverse from market optimism over the talks last week which saw sterling climb above $1.35 for the first time this year.

Without a post-Brexit trade deal being agreed by the end of this month, the EU and UK are likely to have to trade on World Trade Organisation rules with tariffs imposed in both directions.

England’s high streets returned to business after lockdown

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 2nd Dec 2020) London, Uk – –

Primark stores were some of first to open as Covid controls on non-essential shops eased

England’s high streets returned to business slowly and tentatively on Wednesday with queues outside some Primark stores as they became some of the first to open their doors at 7am.

Non-essential stores in England are reopening after the month-long lockdown brought in by the government in its latest effort to control the spread of Covid-19.

While there were reports of queues outside some Primark stores in Newcastle and Birmingham, only about 20 masked people queued outside Primark’s Oxford Street branch in London, with almost as many press photographers as shoppers.

A number of stores, including Forever 21, Schuh and several former tourist gift shops remain permanently closed on London’s main shopping street, which has been hard hit because tourists and commuters have been kept away by travel restrictions and the shift to working from home.

Standing in the queue outside the cut-price fashion store, which was still bringing in trollies full of Primark stock after the doors opened, Gabriella Abrile, 21, said “I’m so excited. It’s a very good store. I’m here to buy gifts.”

Several other shoppers said they were popping in on their way to work. Tracey Banks, 57, said she had been keen to get back into stores as “I’m old, I like to touch and feel things. I don’t like to just look at a picture.

“I’m going to get some Christmas pyjamas to make sure I get them before the mayhem starts. I’m surprised there is only a little queue. I expected it to be much bigger,” she said.

By Sarah Butler

Why These 3 Businesses Will Boom In 2021

Source: Practical Wisdom

2021 may be the most unpredictable year of the decade. No one knows how people are going to react to new business strategies; no one even knows what some of these business strategies will be. Reopening a business during COVID is like a game of chess: without a plan, you’ll lose. For all those that aspire to start a new business or invest in one, this video is for you.

UK shoppers preparing for Christmas earlier – says ASDA

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 17th Nov 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic British shoppers are preparing for Christmas earlier than ever before, supermarket group Asda said on Tuesday.

Asda, Britain's third largest grocer after Tesco TSCO.L and Sainsbury's SBRY.L, said it had already seen a surge in demand for Christmas products and “lockdown proof” festive goods.

“We have already seen a marked shift in buying patterns with customers stocking up their freezers and cupboards with festive essentials earlier than ever before,” said CEO Roger Burnley.

He highlighted sales of Christmas puddings up 71% year-on-year, and mince pies up 44%. Sales of Christmas trees were up 83% and festive lights by 57%.

Asda said there was also evidence customers were preparing for smaller Christmas gatherings, given current government restrictions on meeting friends and family. Sales of frozen turkey crowns, which typically serve three to four people, had increased by 230%.

Asda is currently owned by U.S. giant Walmart WMT.N.

However, last month the Issa brothers and private equity group TDR Capital agreed to buy a majority holding in Asda in a deal giving it an enterprise value of $8.8 billion.

The deal, under which Walmart will keep a minority stake, requires regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the first half of 2021.

Asda said like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, rose 2.7% in the third quarter to Sept. 30 – a slowdown from growth of 3.8% in the previous quarter.

Industry data has shown Asda's growth to be lagging that of Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons MRW.L, partly reflecting Asda's lack of a local convenience store offer – a format that has proved popular with consumers during the crisis.

Asda is, however, performing well online, with sales soaring 72% in the quarter.

It expects rapid growth in online shopping to continue in the Christmas quarter and has increased the capacity of its grocery home shopping service to 765,000 weekly slots.

Asda has also extended its delivery trial with Uber Eats from 50 to 100 stores.

Separately on Tuesday Walmart posted a bigger-than-expected increase in quarterly same-store sales.

Reporting by James Davey

How SpaceX Made NASA Cool Again

Source: CNBC

NASA reached peak cool on July 20th, 1969 when it sent the first men to the moon. However, the agency's impact on society goes far beyond space. Some of the biggest advancements in technology started as NASA experiments, from GPS systems and Dustbusters to freeze-dried foods and laptop computers. But Neil deGrasse Tyson, the famous astrophysicist, says NASA partnering with Elon Musk's SpaceX is one of the biggest advancements the agency has made since the moon landing.

Model railway maker Hornby sales surge by 33% in lockdown

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 30th Oct 2020) London, Uk – –

Model railway maker Hornby has seen its sales surge by 33% in the six months to the end of September, as more people took up hobbies in lockdown.

The firm, which also makes Corgi cars and Scalextric racing kits, said it had benefitted from families spending more time at home.

Not along ago, Hornby was “a company in chaos”, losing up to £10m a year, according to boss Lyndon Davies.

He hailed the firm's return to profit in a “time of adversity”.

“We have observed hitherto successful and profitable companies worldwide crumbling under the pressure [of the pandemic], with losses, closures and tumbling share values.

“Yet we have not only weathered this shattering storm, our sales have increased by 33% in the first half of 2020, moving Hornby back into profitability.”

Parts of the Hornby business that performed strongly over the past six months included Airfix, its model aeroplane brand, and Humbrol, which makes specialist paints for modelling.

Mr Davies said the company had seen a big jump in online sales, as customers sought comfort from uncertainty in products “they know and love”.

He said boredom was another driver: “People want to do things, they don't want to sit there watching the TV for the day.”

He said the firm entered the year with “no idea” how the business would be impacted by the pandemic.

All of the firm's offices had to close at various points, and it lost several weeks of shipments due to supply chain issues.

Despite this, sales climbed to £21.1m in the period from £15.9m last year. That's given Hornby a net profit of £200,000, turning around a £2.5m loss in 2019.

Shares in the firm surged almost 30% on the back of the strong results.

Wider ranges

Lockdown isn't the only reason behind Hornby's changing fortunes. After a complete restructuring of the management team in 2017, the company widened its range, introducing train sets tied to well-known brands such as Harry Potter and Paddington Bear.

Back to the Future-themed cars have been “the biggest selling Scalextric cars for 10 years”, Mr Davies added.

The firm has also embraced new technologies. A century after its first clockwork locomotive was introduced in 1920, the company's model trains and racing cars can now be controlled by mobile phone apps using bluetooth.

“These brands have been misunderstood for the past 5-10 years, but in the last year we've brought them alive again,” Mr Davies said.

10,000 Black Interns scheme a push to improve workplace diversity

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 27th Oct 2020) London, Uk – –

NHS, Linklaters and PwC among companies pledging to cumulatively hire 10,000 black interns as part of campaign

The NHS, the law firm Linklaters and the accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers are among the large companies that have promised to cumulatively hire 10,000 black interns amid a push to improve the diversity of the UK’s professional industries.

Businesses who sign up to the #10000BlackInterns programme will offer paid internships in sectors that have struggled to increase their ethnic diversity to match the broader UK population.

Companies or other organisations from education, healthcare and advertising have already signed up to the scheme, alongside accountants and the legal profession.

In the insurance industry Zurich has already signed up, while in the banking sector Credit Suisse has said it will take part alongside the recruitment firm Russell Reynolds Associates.

The scheme has received backing from the Confederation of British Industry, the UK’s largest business lobby group, as well as the former prime minister David Cameron and Lady Amos, a Labour peer.

It follows the successful launch of a smaller scheme, 100 Black Interns, in August, targeted at the “chronic under-representation of Black talent” in the investment management industry. More than 200 investment companies have signed up to the earlier initiative.

Both campaigns were started by the same team of former investment industry professionals.

The campaign intends to hire a chief executive and trustees shortly as it gains more partners, with the aim of rolling out the internships over the course of 2020 and 2021. Those interns will then commit to mentor and sponsor future interns on the programme.

Cameron said: “This initiative will help build a more inclusive economy that works for everyone. We are encouraging leaders from British industry and professional services to champion the effort in their sector.”

Amos, a former diplomat, said: “It is so powerful to see leading players in different sectors pulling together to address the under-representation of Black talent in such a tangible and sustainable fashion. Of course there is so much more to do, but this programme is a great step in the right direction.”

By Jasper Jolly