UK Supreme Court Denies Tobacco Plain Packaging Appeal

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(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Wed, 12 Apr 2017) London, UK —

Britain's Supreme Court has denied the tobacco industry permission to appeal a new plain packaging law, meaning that from next month, as planned, all tobacco products sold in the United Kingdom will have dark brown packaging and no branding.

The decision, announced by the court on Wednesday, is in line with an earlier decision made last year that dismissed appeals brought by British American Tobacco (BATS.L), Japan Tobacco International and Imperial Brands (IMB.L).

The companies had argued that the law, which went into effect last May with a one-year grace period for existing inventory to be phased out, unlawfully deprived them of intellectual property by banning the use of all marketing on packages, including logos, colours and special fonts.

In its latest decision, the Supreme Court said the refusal to hear the appeal was based on the fact that it did not “raise a point of law of general public importance which ought to be considered at this time, bearing in mind that the case has already been the subject of judicial decision and reviewed on appeal.”

Officials at BAT and Japan Tobacco International were not immediately available for comment.

The new law aims to discourage the deadly habit with drab-coloured packaging and large pictorial health warnings.

By Martinne Geller

Will Backlash Towards United Airlines Debacle Impact Ticket Sales?

 

Bloomberg’s Justin Bachman discusses the reaction to a passenger being dragged from a United Airlines flight and subsequent actions from the company. He speaks with Jonathan Ferro on “Bloomberg Daybreak: Americas.”

Toshiba Globally Known Name for Electronics in Crisis

 

Toshiba – one of the best-known names in electronics – is in crisis, saying its very survival is in doubt.

The Japanese conglomerate's latest results reveal much bigger than previously estimated losses for the nine months through to the end of last year.

Toshiba risks its share being delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange and its auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers Aarata, has refused to approved those results because of concerns over billions in losses at its US nuclear power plant subsidiary Westinghouse Electric.

Barclays Boss Reprimanded Over Hunt for Whistleblower

 

British financial regulators have said they are investigating Barclays Chief Executive Jes Staley and the bank itself over a whistleblowing incident.

The UK-based bank revealed that Staley had twice tried to identify an employee who had raised concerns about an executive hired by Barclays who had previously worked with Staley at JPMorgan Chase.

The bank said it had formally reprimanded its top boss for what it called a serious offence.

Hackers Post Fake Deals on Amazon

 

Amazon third-party sellers, which account for more than half of the company's sales, have been hit repeatedly by hackers who post fake deals on legitimate sellers' pages. WSJ's Laura Stevens explains the impact on consumers on Lunch Break with Tanya Rivero. Photo: Reuters

Business Clients Boosts Travelodge Turnaround in Profits

Karen Bryan/Flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Mon, 10 Apr, 2017) London, Uk – –

Business customers now make up more than half of sales at low-cost hotel chain Travelodge, helping the business outpace its competitors.

The company said it was the first time since its financial restructuring in 2012 that business travellers had represented such a strong proportion of sales and this contributed to the 2.5pc rise in revenue per available room – a key industry performance metric – to £39.34, compared with a 1.4pc rise by its main competitors.

Travelodge noted the growth rate in the UK hotel market was slower than the prior year with a weaker London market offset by better performance in the regions.

This pushed the level of occupancy in its hotels down slightly to 76.1pc from 76.6pc in 2015 but the average price it charges for its rooms rose 3.1pc to £51.70. This was thanks to the aforementioned business customers and the fact its overhauled website is leading to a larger number of customers booking a room once they visit the site.

The near 7pc rise in total group revenue to £597.8m was also fed by a 14pc uplift in food and drink sales. Management has been working to encourage more of its guests to stay on site and eat by upgrading its breakfast offer. It now has 160 hotels with on-site restaurants.

Tight cost control also meant operating profits rose nearly 5pc to £110.1m.

Peter Gowers, Travelodge chief executive, said the UK still had a lower number of low-cost hotels than other major international markets such as the US and France and so the company was planning to open an average of 20 hotels each year for the next three.

He acknowledged “increased cost pressures” from the National Living Wage as well as business rates but thought the company would benefit from attracting business customers who wish to reduce their travel costs as well as people opting for so-called staycations in the UK because the pound’s fall has made travelling to some foreign destinations more expensive.

In March, Travelodge announced its largest ever hotel would form part of its next wave of expansion in yet another sign the low-cost player is putting its high-profile restructuring behind it.

Construction has started on the 395-room flagship hotel on London’s Middlesex Street, close to the iconic Gherkin, which will open in 2018.

The company's huge debt pile led to a restructure in 2012 that saw turnaround specialists GoldenTree Asset Management, Avenue Capital and Goldman Sachs take control of the company from Dubai International Capital in a debt-for-equity swap.

The trio ploughed £75m into the company and in 2013, former Hilton deputy chief executive Brian Wallace was installed as chairman while Mr Gowers, who had previously held senior roles at Holiday Inn owner InterContinental Hotels, joined as chief executive later that year to help spearhead the turnaround.

By  Bradley Gerrard

UK Paramount Theme Park Construction Set to Cost £3.5 billion

It’s the news British film-lovers and thrill-seekers have been waiting to hear forever – no longer do we have to schlep across the seas to get our fix of stardust and adrenaline, for the UK is finally getting its own ‘Disneyland’.

The theme park will be the first of its kind in the UK, and is being created by film company Paramount at a cost of £3.5 billion.

Paramount is the company behind such iconic films as Titanic, Forrest Gump, The Godfather, Footloose, Braveheart and Iron Man.

Touted as the “UK Disneyland,” the new theme park is set to be built in Dartford, Kent and will feature attractions inspired by the films.

However, the park will also include rides inspired by BBC Worldwide and Aardman Animations, the creators of Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Chicken Run.

The resort will be divided up into different areas such as Adventure Isle, Land of Legends, Cartoon Circus, Starfleet Command, Action Square, Port Paramount and Entertainment City.

As well as rides, the theme park is planned to include a theatre, cafes and restaurants, shops, hotels and a nightclub.

Much like at Disneyland, there will be a “Paramount and Friends Carnival” every afternoon and a show “celebrating the works of Paramount Pictures and our other content partners” every evening.

At an expected £57 for a full-priced day ticket, a family trip to the theme park will not be cheap.

Despite the price, the creators are expecting to welcome up to 40,000 visitors a day.

The plans for the park, however, are yet to be approved – a development consent order (DCO) will be submitted to the government in November, Essex Live reports.

But Humphrey Percy, group CEO of the project's parent company Kuwaiti European Holdings, is confident there’ll be no problems getting the green light to go ahead with the park: “We have the financial backing to take us all the way through that process,” he said.

Provided the plans are approved by the Government, construction of the theme park should commence in 2019, with the 872-acre resort set to open in 2022.

Online Orders Made Faster by Robots

 

Behind every order you place online is a picker, a person who navigates a warehouse to find the item you ordered, picks that item off a shelf and brings it to be shipped. That can take a while but Fetch Robotics, a Silicon Valley startup, thinks it has a faster solution. You guessed it, robots.

Lloyds reveal £100 million pounds compensate scheme for fraud victims

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(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Fri, 7 Apr 2017) London, UK —

Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L) revealed a 100 million pound compensation scheme on Friday for victims of a fraud for which six people were jailed this year, as Britain's financial watchdog reopened a probe into the case.

Britain's biggest mortgage lender has been under pressure to compensate the victims at its HBOS business, who say it reacted too slowly to their complaints and will hope that this will draw a line under the controversy.

“We would like to express our deep regret and apologies to any customers directly affected by the criminal behaviour of these individuals,” Chief Executive António Horta-Osório said.

Lloyds said in a statement it will provide interim payments on a case-by-case basis and appoint an independent lawyer to consider whether it properly investigated at the time.

Nikki and Paul Turner, who brought the scam to the attention of police in 2003, called on Lloyds to be clear on when it would make payments.

“It is a relief to see that Lloyds is finally recognising its obligations to the victims of this scandal,” Nikki Turner said in a statement.

“However we need to see a firm timetable from Lloyds on when restitution will be made. The bank has to recognise that victims suffered twice – once from the fraud and then from the cover-up,” she said.

Lloyds, whose shares had fallen 0.8 percent by 0900 GMT against a 0.3 percent fall in the S&P European banks index .SX7P, said the compensation was to cover economic losses, distress and inconvenience caused by the fraud.

Many of the businesses involved went into liquidation, resulting in job losses and financial hardship as a result of the scam. Two former bankers at HBOS, which was rescued in a state-engineered takeover by Lloyds in 2008, helped syphon off money from struggling businesses which were HBOS clients.

Britain's Financial Conduct Authority separately said it was resuming its investigation of the case, which had been placed on hold in 2013 pending the outcome of the police's own probe.

Former HBOS bankers Lynden Scourfield and Mark Dobson, businessmen Michael Bancroft, David Mills and his wife Alison Mills and accountant Tony Cartwright were convicted of various crimes after a five-month jury trial in February.

They were found guilty of a scam involving fraudulent loans and sent to prison for a total of 47-and-a-half years, among the toughest sentences handed out for a high-profile, white-collar fraud in Britain in recent years.

The corrupt bankers asked struggling business owners to employ a turnaround consultancy as a condition for getting a loan and they were obliged to pay the consultancy high fees for services and, in some cases, hand over ownership.

Scourfield was bribed with designer watches, sex with prostitutes and exotic foreign holidays by his business associates for his role in the scam.

Judge Martin Beddoe said when sentencing him that Scourfield had “sold his soul … for sex, for luxury trips with and without your wife, for bling and for swank.”

(Reporting By Andrew MacAskill and Lawrence White, Editing by Anjuli Davies and Alex Smith)

By Andrew MacAskill and Lawrence White

Co-operative Bank warns investors rescue may require them to take a hit

Howard Lake/flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Fri, 7 Apr, 2017) London, Uk – –

The Co-operative Bank has warned its investors for the first time that any rescue of the troubled lender will require them to take a hit, as it presses ahead with talks with bidders over a possible sale of the business.

The loss-making bank, which put itself up for sale in February, revealed today that after receiving “a number of non-binding proposals” it had “selected several parties to enter a further phase during which these parties will be provided with additional information”.

It is understood that challenger bank Virgin Money is among the bidders through to the next round, but CYBG, the owner of the Clydesdale and Yorkshire brands, is not. US private equity firms JC Flowers and Cerberus have also been linked to bids.

However, in a blow to its bond investors, the lender also revealed that “each of the preliminary offers selected includes some form of liability management exercise”, signaling that its suitors were proposing either a debt-for-equity swap or imposing losses on debt-holders as a condition of a deal.

It means that bondholders are in the firing line whatever the fate of the bank. In case a sale fails, which some in the industry think is likely, the lender is also in talks about raising £750m through a combination of £300m of fresh equity and forcing bond holders to exchange their debt for equity.

If both rescue plans collapse, the Bank of England will be forced to step in and wind Co-op Bank up, a move that is expected to see its most attractive businesses sold off piecemeal. This would again inflict losses on bond investors.

Earlier this week The Co-operative Group wrote down the value of its 20pc stake in the bank to zero. The lender’s current woes stem from its 2009 takeover of the building society Britannia, which burdened its balance sheet with bad loans.

A group of US hedge funds took control of the bank in 2013 when they rescued the business after it discovered a £1.5bn black hole in its balance sheet.

Spokesmen for Virgin and CYBG declined to comment.

By  Ben Martin

MPs Slam Uber, Amazon, Deliveroo over ‘gibberish’ contracts

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Thu, 6 Apr, 2017) London, Uk – –

The gig economy has come under fresh attack from MPs who have labelled the self-employment contracts of Uber, Deliveroo, Amazon and Hermes as “unintelligible”.

The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee slammed the businesses for confusing contractors so they don't understand their rights. It singled out Uber's contract as being “gibberish”.

It is the latest assault on the gig economy, which has been criticised for depriving workers of rights including holiday and sick pay, as well as guaranteed minimum wage.

“Quite frankly the Uber contract is gibberish. They are well aware that many, if not most, of their drivers, speak English as a second language – they recently lost a court case trying to escape Transport for London’s new English testing rules for private hire drivers – yet their contract is almost unintelligible,” said Frank Field, chair of the committee.

“These companies parade the ‘flexibility' their model offers to drivers, but it seems the only real flexibility is enjoyed by the companies themselves.”

Mr Field, who is leading the Commons inquiry into self-employment and the gig economy, described clauses in both Uber and Deliveroo contracts that prevent workers from challenging their “self-employed” status as “egregious”.

“It does seem a marvellous business model if you can get away with it.”

As well as criticising the wording of contracts, which prevents workers from contesting their status and entitlement to certain benefits, the Committee condemned Deliveroo for outright banning workers from challenging their status in court.

Deliveroo has since said it will remove the relevant clause from its contracts and is facing an employment tribunal in May.

The Committee warned that loose regulation of the gig economy will ultimately hit the public and it will end up footing the bill.

“My worry is that as a result, these companies contribute little to the public purse or our social safety net,” said Mr Field. “They are not paying sick leave, National Living Wage, or contributing to pensions.

“Yet it seems that their employment practices will lead more people to need taxpayers to pick up these costs.”

Industry bodies joined MPs in condemning the use of “scare” clauses in gig economy contracts and urged the Government to update laws that govern the sector.

“These clauses are not legally enforceable but they're being used as a scare tactic to stop workers from challenging bad working conditions,” said Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the Trade Union Congress. “The Government urgently needs to reform employment law so that employers who use these appalling clauses are fined.”

Dr Jason Moyer-Lee, general secretary of the Independent Worker's Union of Great Britain, which has recently won landmark cases against Excel and CitySprint, said: “The contract clauses these companies use is further evidence that they are worried about being exposed for the sham operations they are running. Government, should start enforcing employment law, rather than making it easier for companies to break it.”

Mr Field has previously called on Theresa May to listen to compel such companies to guarantee self-employed workers the minimum wage.

Uber said drivers using its app last year earnt £15 an hour on average after the company's service fee. It is currently appealing an employment tribunal's decision that two Uber drivers are in fact employees, rather than contractors.

“We recognise our terms could be written in plainer English and we started the process of revising them some time ago,” said a spokesman for Uber. “We've always been clear to drivers who use Uber that they are self-employed and free to choose if, when and where they drive, with no shifts, minimum hours or uniforms. There is nothing in our terms to stop anybody challenging this.”

Amazon said 70pc of those who participate in its flexible working programme work 10 hours or less a week and that the majority use it to supplement their other work.

A spokesman for Deliveroo said: “We are always revising our supplier agreement to ensure it reflects how we work with riders in practice. That is why we are removing the clause discussed, which has never been enforced, in the coming weeks.”

By Cara McGoogan

Electric “driverless pods” test out by public

 

Members of the public are getting the chance to test newly designed electric “driverless pods” on pavements in Greenwich.

Labelled as “probably the most significant change in transport” in a century the £8m Government-backed project will gauge people's perceptions of autonomous public transport.

Hammond in globetrotting attempts to secure trade deals for UK

 

Britain's Finance minister Phillip Hammond, while forbidden to talk serious turkey in his globetrotting attempts to secure trade deals for the UK post-Brexit until after the UK has quit the EU, is doing his best to prepare the ground.

He has been exploring possible trade relationships far and wide and is currently in the former jewel in the crown of empire, India. He has a new slogan, “Build in India, finance in Britain”, and the two countries have set up a joint investment fund.

Leasehold traps buyers in properties with rocketing ground rents

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 5 Apr, 2017) London, Uk – –

Landlords will cash in as resurgence of leaseholds traps buyers in properties with rocketing ground rents, say campaigners

The worsening “nightmare” of the leasehold system in England and Wales is holding millions of homebuyers hostage to exorbitant bills, according to a report by campaign group HomeOwners Alliance, which estimates that landlords are in line to pocket £4bn from lease extensions.

Leasehold, once seen as a dying relic of the Victorian property market, has returned with a vengeance since the 1990s, according to the report. In 1996 just 22% of new builds in the UK were sold as leasehold, but this has doubled to 43% today. In London, nine out of 10 new builds are now leasehold.

The HomeOwners Alliance said that of the 5m leasehold properties in England and Wales, 1.58m are “owner occupied”. “But in the eyes of the law, they are in fact owned by their freeholder. The UK’s official rate of home ownership was 64.6% in 2014, but this includes the leaseholders who are not their legal owners – subtract them, and the rate falls to just 58.9%,” the alliance said in its Homes Held Hostage report.

It found that four out of 10 leaseholders do not know the length of time remaining on their lease, while of those that do, almost a quarter (equal to 370,000 homes) have less than 80 years to run. “The cost of extending these is likely to exceed £4bn.”

Most leaseholds are flats, but the report highlights the growing number of newly built houses being sold as leasehold by developers, “a practice which was almost unheard of 20 years ago”.

Some buyers of leasehold houses are finding themselves trapped in properties made unsaleable by rocketing ground rents, with many doubling every 10 years. In one case highlighted by the Guardian, the owner of a £100,000 flat bought on a 125-year lease in 2010 found this year it was valued at zero by mortgage companies because of the ground rent clause.

The HomeOwners Alliance is demanding that the government calls a halt to new leaseholds, with developers forced to switch to “commonhold” instead. This is similar to the US-style system used for condominiums, which effectively gives a freehold to every flat buyer alongside a common responsibility for the building. It was introduced in the UK in 2002 but has been a “massive disappointment”, according to Paula Higgins, who runs HomeOwners Alliance.

“The main reason is that housebuilders have a strong financial incentive not to offer commonhold,” said Higgins. “Why would a housebuilder hand over commonhold ownership to flat buyers, when it can retain the freehold and sell that freehold on to investors at a premium a few years down the line, and collect ground rent and administration fees in the meantime?

“Leasehold ownership can be traced back to the Domesday Book and it is a practice that should be relegated to history.”

In its recent white paper on housing, the communities secretary, Sajid Javid, promised an end to “leasehold abuse” by which homebuyers are locked into leases with spiralling ground rents.

But Labour’s housing spokesman, John Healey, said: “This report shines new light on the difficulties faced by some homeowners who own their home on a leasehold basis. Often in the dark about the exact terms of their lease and currently unprotected from punitive terms including huge rises in rip-off ‘ground rents’.

“Labour would start by giving leaseholders security from rip-off ground rents and end the routine use of leasehold ownership in new housing developments.”

Widespread ignorance about leasehold among young flat buyers – made worse by poor quality information from estate agents – is highlighted in the report.

It found that less than half of adverts on popular property websites were clear as to the correct tenure of a property. Only 49% of flat listings specified whether the property was a share of freehold or a leasehold property. Furthermore, only a quarter of the listings (24%) were specific about the length of time left on the lease.

The HomeOwners Alliance’s report calls for new leasehold houses to be outlawed, and mandatory commonhold tenure for all newly built flats. For existing leases, it says lease extensions should always be a minimum of 250 years, with only a peppercorn rent.

By Patrick Collinson

Amazon targets Uk Businesses with new online marketplace

simone.brunozzi/flickr.com

(qlmbusinessnews.com via independent.co.uk – – Tue, 4 Apr, 2017) London, Uk – –

More than a hundred million products will be available for companies to buy, including laptops, office supplies, furniture and commercial-grade printers

Amazon's quest for market domination is becoming harder to ignore.

The sprawling Seattle-headquartered group on Tuesday said that it is launching a service in the UK aimed at doing for businesses what it already does for individual customers, by offering a marketplace where companies can buy everything from industrial machinery to paper clips and janitorial equipment – even in bulk.

Amazon Business will aim to cater to the procurement needs of businesses of all sizes, as well as institutional buyers including universities, hospitals and non-profits.

“Whether you are a sole trader, a buyer in a mid-size company or a chief procurement officer in a large multi-national organisation, Amazon Business has the products and capabilities to serve your needs,” Bill Burkland, who heads up Amazon Business in the UK, said in a statement.

More than a hundred million products will be available to companies that sign up to the service, including laptops, office supplies, furniture and commercial-grade printers.

Businesses will also be able to buy highly specialised equipment— like power tools and thermal imaging cameras— and lab supplies like microscopes, test tubes and high-speed centrifuges.

Amazon Business already launched in the US in April 2015 and now serves more than 400,000 businesses there. It generated more than $1bn (£800m) in sales in its first year, according to the company. Last December it rolled out in Germany, where it is now used by more than 50,000 business customers.

The latest launch in the UK could help bolster Amazon’s already meteoric stock price rise and it also underscores the company’s commitment to diversifying both its customer base and the services it provides.

Last year, Amazon started a food delivery service across London–directly rivalling players like Deliveroo and UberEats—and more recently the company has launched a drive-through style of bricks-and-mortar supermarket in the US.

Customers order their food online then collect from a warehouse, with bags pre-packed and loaded into the boot by Amazon employees.

And the company’s proven ability to shake up the markets in which it operates seems to be paying off.

Amazon’s share price has surged by close to 50 per cent over the last year to a record high, valuing the company at well over $400bn. Profits last year increased nearly three-fold to $2.4bn on sales of about $136bn, partly thanks to the launch of its Amazon Echo home assistant and the popularity of its media streaming services for Amazon Prime members.

Founder Jeff Bezos recently overtook Warren Buffett in a Bloomberg ranking of the world’s richest people, to nab second spot after Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Mr Bezos, who is also Amazon's chairman and chief executive, is now worth $75.6bn – which marks a massive $10.2bn increase so far in 2017.

By Josie Cox

Firms lay groundwork for exodus of London jobs

Gideon Benari/flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 4 Apr, 2017) London, Uk – –

Lloyd’s of London and Royal London set up subsidiaries outside of UK as JP Morgan and Citigroup explore relocation options

A growing number of leading City firms have revealed they are now laying the groundwork for an exodus of thousands of jobs from London after Britain’s vote to leave to EU.

Just a day after Theresa May formally triggered the process for Brexit it was confirmed that the insurers Lloyd’s of London and Royal London are setting up subsidiaries outside the UK, while the investment banks JP Morgan and Citigroup are actively exploring the relocation of key operations.

Luxembourg also threw its hat into the ring in the battle to attract the European Banking Authority, which employs 159 people at Canary Wharf in London. Frankfurt and Paris also want to host the organisation.

JP Morgan is in talks to buy an office building in Dublin big enough to hold more than 1,000 workers, increasing speculation that it will move a substantial number of jobs from London as a result of Brexit. Citigroup said it was planning for a hard Brexit that would require “relocating certain client-facing roles to the EU from the UK”.

A number of banks and insurers have already confirmed they could move staff. Goldman Sachs is to move hundreds of bankers to Frankfurt and Paris, while HSBC could switch 1,000 investment banking jobs from London to Paris.

A key concern for financial firms is whether the UK will still hold passporting rights that allow British-based banks and insurers to do business in the rest of the EU.

Lloyd’s, the world’s biggest insurance market, confirmed that it will set up a subsidiary in Brussels to allow it to continue underwriting insurance policies across the EU. The new subsidiary will have about 60 staff. Lloyd’s employs 700 people in London out of global workforce of 1,000.

Inga Beale, chief executive of Lloyd’s, said: “I am excited about the opportunities this venture will offer the market by providing that important European access efficiently.

“It is now crucial that the UK government and the European Union proceed to negotiate an agreement that allows business to continue to flow under the best possible conditions once the UK formally leaves the EU.

“I believe it is important, not just for the City but also for Europe, that we reach a mutually beneficial agreement.”

The Lloyd’s chairman, John Nelson, told the Financial Times he now expected other insurers to follow the market to the Belgian capital.

Royal London, the insurance and pensions group, said it would be converting its existing Irish operation into a regulated subsidiary to ensure it could press ahead with work in Europe amid the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

The US investment banks JP Morgan and Citigroup sent memos to their staff confirming that they were exploring options regarding the location of their operations.

JP Morgan is in talks to acquire a site in Dublin’s Capital Dock from the developer Kennedy Wilson and the National Asset Management Agency, which was created by the Irish government after the financial crisis to buy property loans from banks.

Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JP Morgan, said before the EU referendum last June that the bank could be forced to move as many as 4,000 jobs from the UK if the country voted to leave.

JP Morgan employs about 16,000 people in the UK, with its main offices in Canary Wharf, Bournemouth and Glasgow. Citi employs almost 9,000 people in Britain.

It is understood that JP Morgan has not yet made a decision about if or where it will move staff from London, but the Dublin office would be an option.

In an internal memo sent to JP Morgan staff on Wednesday, Mary Erdoes, head of asset and wealth management, and Daniel Pinto, head of the firm’s corporate and investment bank, said: “Our size, scale and existing footprint across the continent mean that we have choices in terms of locations and legal entity structure.

“We may need to make adjustments to our legal structure, but we will maintain our strong commitment to our clients in the UK and the EU.

“We have spent the last several months reviewing the many variables in this process – client needs, employee considerations, regulatory requirements, operational risks, our inventory of licences, political issues in the region and dozens of other factors. This is a complex process and we will not rush into any decisions.”

Citi confirmed to staff that London would remain its headquarters for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and an “important global hub”. However, James Cowles, Citi’s chief executive for EMEA, said the bank was planning on the basis of a “hard Brexit” that would result in the UK losing its passporting rights.

Cowles said: “A hard Brexit would require certain changes, including relocating certain client-facing roles to the EU from the UK, and the possible creation of a new broker-dealer entity within the EU.

“Citi has been discussing our options with representatives from a number of different countries, as well as with our clients.”

The Liberal Democrats warned that JP Morgan’s potential Dublin deal and the new Brussels office for Lloyd’s were a sign that jobs could be lost in the City of London due to Brexit.

Susan Kramer, the Lib Dem Treasury spokeswoman, said: “It is the prime minister’s choice to drive Britain out of the single market, and that is driving jobs and wealth creation out of the UK. Estimates suggest leaving the single market could cost Britain up to £200bn over 15 years.

“When the P45s start to land and the NHS operations are cancelled, this will be the government’s fault.”

By Graham Ruddick

 

 

‘Tap and go’ technology to replaces tills by 2021

Michael Ocampo/Flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Mon, 3 Apr, 2017) London, Uk – –

Brits are well known for their love of queuing, but the prospect of standing in line while out shopping is soon to become a memory of a bygone era.

A quarter of shops are planning to do away with queuing altogether within four years, by letting customers pay for items using their smartphones by 2021, according to a survey of Britain's biggest retailers.

Transactions at traditional manned, stationary point of sale check-out are in freefall with the proportion falling from 71pc in 2012 to 52pc in 2017.

The move by stores is in part a response to Brexit, retail consultants at Zebra, which conducted the research, said.

By getting rid of tills and staff retailers will be able to cut costs at a time when they are seeing their margins squeezed as a result of the falling value of the pound and rising commodity prices.

Household name stores including Waitrose and Zara are already installing high-tech payment and security systems which are likely to evolve into fully “queue-less” systems over the coming years.

Zara has installed high-tech clothes tags which let staff know where they are in stores, however, these could eventually be used to let customers scan garments and pay for them using their smartphones.

Meanwhile, Waitrose has rolled out handheld self-scanning devices in some stores which looks and feel like smartphones and let customers upload their shopping lists.

The latest mobile devices for self-scanning use Bluetooth technology to detect what a customer has just scanned. This also allows the retailer to know where customers are in store and provide contextual information, such as “don’t forget, that product is part of a special offer.”

Mark Thompson, director of retail and hospitality at Zebra Technologies, said: “In five years, a visit to the British high street will be massively different from today. Retailers want to put more power into the hands of shoppers, letting them pay with their mobiles as they browse, or giving them smart-carts with screens and built-in scanning.

“The store itself will continue to get smarter as well. Retailers will be able to tell when and even where specific customers are in store. This technology will also save stores money, which is why the falling value of the pound, coupled with higher commodity prices will speed up its rollout as firms look to maintain their profits.”

By Katie Morley