UK pension scams under investigation after relaxation in rules in 2015

( via — Tue, 28th July 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – British lawmakers said on Tuesday they were launching an inquiry into pension scams following a relaxation in pension rules five years ago that has increased the scope for fraud, a problem likely to get worse during the coronavirus pandemic.

Under so-called pension freedoms introduced in 2015, over-55s have been able to choose how they spend their pension pots, rather than being forced to buy an annuity, which gives a fixed income for life.

Industry sources say the changes have encouraged investment in other financial products that offer higher returns than annuities, but have also increased the scope for scams.

“More flexibility means more potential for the unscrupulous to take advantage and scam savers out of what will very often be their largest financial asset, crippling their dreams of a comfortable retirement,” said Stephen Timms, chair of the work and pensions committee of lawmakers.

Some 180 people reported they had been the victim of a pension scam in 2018, losing on average 82,000 pounds each. Regulators believe only a minority of pension scams are reported, the committee said in a statement.

The coronavirus pandemic is likely to lead to a further increase in scams, said Andy Agathangelou, founder of Transparency Task Force, which lobbies for reform of financial services.

“People are suffering from lack of money, there’s an increasing lack of confidence in the pensions industry and scammers are getting ever more sophisticated.”

The work and pensions committee is seeking written submissions on pension scams by Sept. 9.

Reporting by Carolyn Cohn

Gold hits record high as investors look for a safe place to put their money

( via – – Mon, 27th July 2020) London, Uk – –

Gold hit a record high on Monday as increasing numbers of nervous investors sought a safe place to put their money.

Rising political tensions between the US and China joined the ever-present worries over the continuing coronavirus pandemic to boost the spot price to $1,943.93 an ounce,

Covid-19 cases have risen to more then 16 million globally.

Many investors shun gold as it doesn't pay dividends or interest rates but it tends to rise in troubled times,

Interest rates are currently near zero and dividend returns from companies are uncertain at best, with so many struggling.

So far this year, gold prices have risen 28%.

Adrian Ash, director of research at precious metals trader BullionVault, said that the rising trend was likely to continue: “While gold could see this sharp spike pull back quickly, longer-term investment flows look set to stay strong.

“The permanent damage done to economic growth by the Covid catastrophe is likely to support the case for holding gold as a long-term form of financial insurance, because it will keep interest rates at or below zero while threatening mass corporate debt defaults and forcing government deficits to new peacetime records.”

A fall in the dollar is another factor that boosts the price of gold, which is quoted in the US currency. It means that buyers using other currencies can, in fact, be paying the same for their gold, as they are able to buy more dollars for their money.

In the latest development between the US and China, China took over the premises of the US consulate in the south western city of Chengdu. The move was in retaliation for the US closing down China's diplomatic base in Houston, Texas.

This sent the dollar index to its lowest since September 2018.

The US central bank, the Federal Reserve, is meeting this week to decide on monetary policy.

Mihir Kapadia, head of Sun Global Investments, thinks that could also help boost the price further: “With eyes on the upcoming Fed policy meeting later this week and more concerns over geopolitical tensions, further gains can be expected with these factors likely to weigh heavily on the stock markets for a few more weeks to come.”

Fellow precious metal silver was also higher, It rose more than 6% to $24.36, its highest since September 2013.

AstraZeneca signs cancer treatment deal worth up to £4.7bn

( via – – Mon, 27th July 2020) London, Uk – –

Pharmaceuticals company buys global rights to new technology from Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo

Drugmaker AstraZeneca could pay up to $6bn (£4.7bn) for the global rights to a new Japanese cancer treatment.

The Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company said it would pay $1bn (£800m) up front to its partner Daiichi Sankyo.

It has also promised to pay up to $1bn if the treatment gets approval from regulators and up to $4bn (£3.1bn) more if it sells as hoped.

The treatment, DS-1062, targets the Trop2 protein, which is overproduced by most breast and lung cancers. Honing in on the cells that produce too much of the protein allows the treatment to deliver selective chemotherapy to certain areas, rather than subjecting the whole body to the treatment.

The medicine has not yet been approved for use in any country, and its safety and efficacy have not been established.

“We see significant potential in this antibody drug conjugate in lung as well as in breast and other cancers that commonly express Trop2,” said the AstraZeneca chief executive, Pascal Soriot.

The deal will give AstraZeneca a slice of the global sales of the treatment, as the two companies have agreed to partner up to develop and then commercialise DS-1062.

However, Daiichi Sankyo will keep the exclusive rights to the Japanese market.

It is not the first time the two drug giants have collaborated.
In March last year, they started a similar partnership to develop and commercialise breast cancer treatment Enhertu.

“We are delighted to enter this new collaboration with Daiichi Sankyo and to build on the successful launch of Enhertu to further expand our pipeline and leadership in oncology,” Soriot said.

He added: “We now have six potential blockbusters in oncology with more to come in our early and late pipelines.”

The Daiichi Sankyo chief executive, Sunao Manabe, said the new treatment could become “best in class” for targeting and treating multiple tumours, including breast and lung cancers.Advertisement

“This new strategic collaboration with AstraZeneca, a company with extensive experience and significant expertise in the global oncology business, will enable us to deliver DS-1062 to more patients around the world as quickly as possible,” he said.

Press Association

The Rise And Fall Of The Mall

Source: BI

Starting with the opening of the Southland Mall in 1956 malls have been a vaulted piece of Americana for decades. Thousands were built across the country and for a while it seemed they would dominate the American landscape forever, but in recent years they’ve rapidly lost their value. So how did malls go from being a mainstay in American society to a quickly vanishing memory?

10 BEST Countries To Start A BUSINESS

Source: Alux

This Alux video will try to answer the following questions:

What's the best country to get an business opportunity? What are the 10 BEST Countries To Start A BUSINESS? What are the best countries to start a business in 2020? What is the procedure to start a new startup around the world? What is the best country in the world to start a business? What is the best country to start a business and live peacefully? What country is it easiest to start a business? Which country is best for business? What is the most profitable country in the world? Which country has the most small businesses? Which country has most entrepreneurs? Which country offers the most business opportunity? Which country is No 1 in ease of doing business? Which European country is best for business? Which country is the easiest to start a business?

Why RV Sales Are Booming

Source: CNBC

In the years that followed the financial crisis, sales of RVs began booming. Once considered a pretty dowdy way to travel, RVs have benefited from slick industry ad campaigns, low gas prices, and a renewed interest among Americans of all ages. Data indicate first-time buyers are pouring into RV dealerships and shows, looking for their own happy home on the road. But long-timers say new buyers need to do their research before buying, and understand what the RV life is really about.

Digital giant Revolut to announce additional funding of £63m from further share sale

( via– Fri, 24th July 2020) London, Uk – –

The UK-based digital bank has raised additional funding at a $5.5bn (£4.3bn) valuation, Sky News understands.

The British-based digital payments and banking app Revolut is raising tens of millions of pounds from a further share sale just months after crystallising its status as one of the UK's most valuable technology “unicorns”.

Sky News has learnt that Revolut will announce in the coming days that it has secured an $80m (£63m) investment from US-based private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners.

The share sale will take place at the same $5.5bn valuation at which it sold a $500m stake in February, an insider said on Friday.

Since then, the global coronavirus pandemic has buffeted both traditional banks and a number of digital lenders amid expectations of rising loan impairments amid the economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis.

Sources suggested that Revolut's ability to raise new funding at the same valuation underlined its resilience, even as the cross-border travel on which its revenues partly depend faces a protracted recovery.

Founded by Nik Storonsky, Revolut has grown from a standing start little more than five years ago to have more than 2,000 employees and more than 10 million customers in well over 30 countries.

In February, it unveiled TCV – an early-stage backer of Spotify, Airbnb and Netflix – as a major new investor.

The mammoth funding round came soon after Revolut appointed the City veteran Martin Gilbert as its chairman.

Michael Sherwood, former boss of Goldman Sachs in Europe‎ and one of the City's most prominent bank executives, has also joined the company as a non-executive director.

The board changes came as Revolut was forced to respond to a series of reputational challenges including alleged links to the Kremlin – which it has strenuously denied.

Revolut said last year it was opening 12,000 accounts every day – equating to four million each year – and has received financial backing from some of the biggest names in the venture capital industry, including Balderton Capital, DST Global and Index Ventures.

Mr Storonsky added in 2019 that he would like Revolut to be worth between $20bn (£15.8bn) and $40bn (£31.6bn) before it contemplates a stock market listing, which is likely to be some years away.

Despite its multibillion pound valuation, Revolut continues to be lossmaking, although that hardly makes it an anomaly among prominent technology companies.

In results published last autumn, Revolut said it had made a pre-tax loss of £33m in 2018, compared with £15m the previous year.

However, revenues grew more than fourfold from £13m to £58m, with the company saying it was on course to triple revenues again this year.

The Bank of England's Prudential Regulation Authority has challenged faster-growing firms under its auspices to adopt more rigorous stress-testing and evidence of greater challenge by board members.

Revolut declined to comment on Friday.

By Mark Kleinman

Portugal still on quarantine list for holidaymakers

( via – – Fri, 24th July 2020) London, Uk – –

Portugal remains off the list of countries that the government has exempted from quarantine restrictions.

In changes that apply to England, travellers from Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia and St Vincent and the Grenadines won't have to isolate.

It takes the list of countries that do not face travel restrictions into England to 80 nations.

The government also said it will update guidance weekly, meaning rules could change while people are away.

It said people should regularly check the advice. Previously, updates were provided every three weeks.

The guidance comes as infection rates begin to change across Europe.

On Friday, Norway announced that it was imposing a new 10-day quarantine on all travellers arriving from Spain after a spike in cases there at popular holiday resorts.

The latest data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) showed coronavirus infections in Spain had risen to 30.9 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Portugal's failure to make the exemption list will come as a huge blow.

Tourism is a major industry in the country and is popular with British holidaymakers, with almost three million UK visitors a year.

Aviation data analysts Cirium said there were 2,333 flights due to leave the UK for Portugal before the end of August.

‘Huge uncertainty'

Paul Charles, chief executive of the PC Agency, said it was a badly timed move by the government.

“The scale of those due to go there before end of August is enormous. The decision today plants huge uncertainty in the minds of those who are booked who will be looking for refunds and changes and most won't have a holiday. It's going to cause uproar for operators and industry.”

He added: “They are not prepared to open Portugal when situation is declining, but cases in Spain are soaring, with rapid rises in their case numbers.”

New face covering mandatory rules come into force on Friday

( via – – Thur, 23rd July, 2020) London, Uk – –

Banks, post offices and airports will also be subject to new rules, government confirms

Face coverings will be compulsory in takeaways, banks and post offices as well as shops, supermarkets, indoor shopping centres and stations in England from Friday, the government has announced.

Coverings, such as cloth masks or bandanas, must be worn when buying food and drink to take away, but if sitting down and consuming their purchase in the same premises, a customer can remove their face covering in order to eat and drink there.

While shoppers must wear face coverings, the rules say it will not be compulsory for shop or supermarket staff to wear them. The government only says “we strongly recommend that employers consider their use where appropriate”.

New government guidelines, details of which were published on Thursday afternoon, confirmed that coverings must be worn in shops, banks, building societies and post offices and “travel hubs” such as train stations and airports.

It will not be compulsory for customers to wear masks or similar coverings in hairdressers, gyms, dine-in restaurants and pubs or cinemas, concert halls or theatres.

Banks, post offices and other businesses will be able to ask people to remove face coverings for identification purposes.Advertisement

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, said:“As we move into the next stage of easing restrictions for the public, it is vital we continue to shop safely so that we can make the most of our fantastic retail industry this summer.

“Everyone must play their part in fighting this virus by following this new guidance. I also want to thank the British public for all the sacrifices they are making to help keep this country safe.”

However, there was some criticism over the measures, with the hospitality industry querying the timing of the news. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the UK Hospitality trade body, said: “The announcement lacked clarity around many issues affecting outlets offering both takeaway and on-premises dining. Furthermore, with the announcement at around 2.30pm the day before the measures come into effect, it left those venues a very short time to properly brief staff, prepare signage and take steps to encourage compliance.”

Police will have powers to enforce the rules and, from Friday, those who do not do so could face fines of up to £100, in line with the rules for wearing face coverings public transport. Children under 11 and those with certain disabilities will be exempt.

Shops can refuse entry to anyone without an exemption who refuses to wear a face covering and can call the police if people refuse to comply.

Major retailers said they would not ask staff to enforce the rules and some said they would also not require that staff wear masks if they were already working behind a perspex screen or similar protective set-up.

Tom Ironside, the director of business and regulation at the British Retail Consortium, the trade body that represents most of the high street, said: “Retailers are doing all they can to support necessary safety regulations and will play their role in communicating and encouraging the government’s new policy on face coverings.

“While enforcement of this policy will be handled by the police, the ultimate responsibility remains with customers who must ensure that they wear a face covering when going into stores.”

Businesses are concerned about potential threats to staff if they try to enforce the rules too strictly. Many retailers have already reported aggressive behaviour from some customers when trying to maintain social distancing measures.

Richard Walker, the boss of the frozen food chain Iceland, tweeted: “If mandatory face masks in shops will make our customers & colleagues safer then they are welcome – but we won’t put our staff at risk by asking them to police this. The UK cannot afford a second wave, so we all need to play our part and show care and consideration for each other.”

The Co-op is introducing body cameras for workers after in-store crime soared by 140% in the past year. It said the numbers of violent incidents hit record levels with 1,350 attacks experienced by workers in its shops in the first six months of 2020.

The company said it had not asked staff to challenge shoppers who were not wearing face covering. “We are aware that there are reasons why some customers are exempt, and it is the responsibility of all non-exempt customers to ensure they are in adherence with the new legal requirements,” the Co-op said.

Other retailers said they would be increasing their use of signage to remind shoppers of the new rules, while some, including Sainsbury’s, said they would be making Tannoy announcements about the measures.

For shoppers arriving without masks, Tesco said it would offer them face coverings at the door.

The prime minister’s office said enforcement would be treated as a “last resort”.

“What I’m sure we’ll find, as we have with other aspects of the coronavirus response, is that the British public will voluntarily choose to follow the guidelines because they want to play their part in helping to slow the spread of the virus,” Boris Johnson’s spokesperson said.

By Sarah Butler and Simon Murphy

Dyson to cut 900 jobs amid company’s restructuring plans

( via – – Thur, 23rd July 2020) London, Uk – –

Dyson is cutting 600 jobs in the UK and a further 300 worldwide as the coronavirus impact speeds up the company's restructuring plans.

The firm, best known for the invention of the bag-less vacuum cleaner, said the pandemic was changing consumer habits as more people shopped online.

Dyson was founded by inventor Sir James Dyson, who in May topped the Sunday Times Rich List.

The company has a global workforce of 14,000, with 4,000 in the UK.

Most of the jobs will be lost in retail and customer service roles.

Dyson uses its own people to sell in department stores, for example at John Lewis, but the shift to online has cut necessity for a High Street presence. The jobs being lost overseas, where the company operates in 80 countries, involve similar roles.

A Dyson spokesman said: “The Covid-19 crisis has accelerated changes in consumer behaviour and therefore requires changes in how we engage with our customers and how we sell our products.”

He said the company would try to avoid compulsory redundancies where possible, and emphasised that it had not furloughed any staff nor drawn on any public money to support jobs anywhere in the world during the pandemic.

Most Dyson products are designed in the UK, where it has two technology campuses in Wiltshire, but manufactured in Asia.

Electric cars

Earlier this year the company joined the fight to produce medical ventilators for the NHS, amid fears it would be overwhelmed by coronavirus.

In March the government ordered 10,000 ventilators from the company, although Sir James later told employees these were no longer needed.

The company also tried to diversify into making electric cars.

But last year, it said that although its engineers in the UK had developed a “fantastic electric car”, it would not hit the roads because it was not “commercially viable”.

Sir James, a Brexit-backing entrepreneur, launched his first vacuum cleaner in 1993. He had previously, in 1974, invented a wheelbarrow which used a spherical wheel.

Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, set a fresh record by added £10bn to his fortune in just one day

( via – – Tue, 22nd July2020) London, Uk – –

He was already by far the world’s richest person, but Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has set a fresh record increasing his fortune by an additional $13bn (£10bn) in a single day to take his personal wealth to an unprecedented $189bn.

The huge increase in Bezos’s wealth on Monday alone is equivalent of adding nearly 30 times the Queen’s £350m fortune. His total wealth now makes him worth more than Britain’s biggest company, the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca which is valued on the stock exchange at £121bn.

Bezos’s fortune has been swelled by Amazon’s soaraway share price as hundreds of millions of people trapped at home by coronavirus lockdowns around the world turn to the online delivery giant to keep themselves fed and entertained.

It is hard to reconcile this obscene figure with the reality the rest of us are living through.Rebecca Gowland, Oxfam

While many businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic and the beginnings of what threatens to be the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, Amazon’s shares have increased by 70% since the start of the year. On Monday alone, the share price rose by 8% to a record $3,197. (By lunchtime Tuesday they were changing hands at slightly below that peak.)

Bezos, who started Amazon in his garage in 1994 still owns 11% of the company’s shares, as well as space travel venture Blue Origin and the Washington Post. Since January, Bezos’s wealth has grown by $74bn.

Oxfam, the global development charity, said it was “truly shocking” that Bezos had managed to make so much money during the coronavirus crisis, which has forced hundreds of millions of people around the world to rely on food banks and government support.

“It is hard to reconcile this obscene figure with the reality the rest of us are living through,” Rebecca Gowland, Oxfam’s head of inequality campaign and policy, said. “At a time when hardship is commonplace, hunger is on the increase and half a billion more people face being pushed into extreme poverty, it is truly shocking that one already extremely wealthy individual has pocketed another $74bn already this year.”

Gowland said it showed global economic policies are “not fit for purpose” and “allow the super-rich to accumulate vast amounts of money at the expense of the rest of us when that money is desperately needed for healthcare and social safety nets”.

Bezos’s $189bn fortune, as estimated by Bloomberg Billionaires Index, means he is personally worth more than companies such as Exxon Mobil, Nike or McDonald’s.

In the UK, Bezos has more than enough money to buy the big four banks – HSBC, Barclays, RBS and Lloyds – and have enough change left over to pick up British Airways owner IAG as well as Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer.

He has so much money, that his fortune now dwarfs the GDP of Hungary, Ukraine and Qatar. And he is within striking distance of overtaking Greece and New Zealand who are ranked by the World Bank as the 51st and 52nd biggest economies in the world.

John Teahan, portfolio manager at investment fund RWC Partners Equity Income, said Amazon’s runaway share price should make it “a candidate for the eighth wonder of the world”. Teahan said Amazon’s shares have delivered a return of 199,908% since it floated on the stock market in 1997. “It is a manmade creation that has so far defied the laws of finance,” he added.

The $13bn increase Bezos achieved on Monday is the biggest single-day jump in anyone’s net worth since Bloomberg began tracking the daily changes in fortunes of the world’s wealthiest people in 2012.

Bezos is now $71bn richer than the next-wealthiest person on the list: Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Gates, who was the world’s richest person until Bezos overtook him, and his wife Melinda have given more than $50bn to charitable causes, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

The Mircosoft founder has promised to spend billions on the fight against coronavirus. “It’ll be a few billion dollars we’ll waste on manufacturing [vaccines] that don’t get picked because something else is better,” he said . “But a few billion in this, the situation we’re in, where there’s trillions of dollars … being lost economically, it is worth it.”

Bezos has donated $100m to a food bank charity to help Americans struggling with the economic fallout from the pandemic. Amazon is also pumping $25m into an “Amazon Relief Fund” to support delivery drivers and “seasonal employees under financial distress”.

Critics pointed out Bezos’s $100m donation represents 0.05% of his fortune.

Bezos is unique among the world’s five wealthiest people as the only one not to have signed the Giving Pledge, a philanthropic initiative created by Gates and investor Warren Buffett to encourage the world’s richest people to commit to giving at least half their wealth to charity.

Bezos has given $2bn, amounting to just more than 1% of his wealth, to the Bezos Day One Fund to help address homelessness and improve education for children in low-income families.

Oxfam has called for a windfall tax on huge profits made during the pandemic to help pay for the recovery from the economic destruction wrought by the coronavirus.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed deep inequalities and massive failures in our economic system, leaving tens of millions of people in the US without jobs, devastating public services and bankrupting countless small businesses,” Irit Tamir of Oxfam said.

“Yet at the same time, thanks to a combination of government assistance and pure luck, a handful of companies are raking it in and making already rich shareholders even richer.”

Bezos would have been even richer, if he had not been required to give his ex-wife MacKenzie 25% of his Amazon shares when they divorced last year. The boom in Amazon’s share price, increased her fortune by $4.6bn on Monday and she is now the world’s 13th-richest person.

MacKenzie signed the Giving Pledge saying she had “a disproportionate amount of money to share” and promised to work hard at giving it away “until the safe is empty”.

By Rupert Neate 

Major airlines call for joint US-European testing scheme

( via – – Wed, 22nd July 2020) London, Uk – –

Major airlines have asked for a joint coronavirus testing programme, so that travel may resume between the US and Europe.

The owner of British Airways and United Airlines are among the carriers that have signed a letter to US and European Union leaders.

Currently travel between Europe and the US is largely barred.

Carriers are struggling to survive as the coronavirus pandemic has majorly disrupted global travel.

In a letter sent on Tuesday to US and European governments, major airline chief executives called for a US-EU testing programme for passengers making trans-Atlantic trips.

Signees of the letter include bosses of International Airlines Group (IAG) – which owns British Airways – American Airlines, United Airlines and Lufthansa.

“Given the unquestioned importance of trans-Atlantic air travel to the global economy as well as to the economic recovery of our businesses, we believe it is critical to find a way to re-open air services between the US and Europe,” the letter said.

It was sent to US Vice President Mike Pence and Ylva Johansson, the European commissioner for home affairs.

“We recognize that testing presents a number of challenges, however we believe that a pilot testing programme for the transatlantic market could be an excellent opportunity for government and industry to work together,” the letter added.

The EU doesn’t currently allow visits from US residents, although it has relaxed rules for non-essential travel from 15 countries with lower coronavirus infection rates.

The UK requires people arriving from the US to spend 14 days in self-imposed quarantine, while the US restricts travel by most passengers coming for Europe.

China wants testing

​China has also come out in favour of testing kits and wants passengers of inbound flights to provide negative Covid-19 test results before boarding.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) made the announcement on Tuesday as the government looks to further reduce the risk of imported coronavirus cases.

The airline industry is facing a huge challenge amid a severe downturn in passengers. Most major airlines have announced job cuts and staff furloughs, while some smaller players have collapsed.

Ryanair to cut three bases of operations in Germany as pressure on pilots increase to accept new pay deal

( via– Tue 21st, July 2020) London, Uk – –

The no-frills carrier threatens the futures of three bases in Germany as it piles pressure on pilots to accept a new pay deal.

Ryanair has taken aim at three bases of operation in Germany after pilots based in the country rejected proposed pay cuts.

The Ireland-based carrier, which has agreed new deals with UK-based pilots and cabin crew as it navigates the challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis, said it would shut its base at Frankfurt Hahn Airport from November.

A memo to German pilots also revealed that pilots there would receive details of their notice period this week.

The no-frills airline warned it was “likely” to close two further bases – at Berlin Tegel and Duesseldorf airports – following the summer season.

“We must move on with alternative measures to deliver savings, which regrettably will mean base closures and dismissals,” the email said.

There was no detail on how many jobs were under threat but it would be widely expected that both sides would come to an agreement to avert the closures.

The margin of the German pilots' rejection was small and recent experience, when Ryanair U-turned on plans to close down its Lauda subsidiary in Vienna, shows the airline is willing to back down when it gets what it wants.

The German Vereinigung Cockpit union had said in a statement before the base closure proposals were revealed that it had not given up hope of a deal.

“The employer would be well advised to get back to the negotiating table quickly now”, it said, though it maintained its opposition to the terms offered by Ryanair, saying the duration of the deal offered job security until March 2021 whereas pay cuts were demanded until 2024.

Avon reports the number of people signing up to be sales representatives had more than doubled

( via – – Mon, 20th July2020) London, Uk – –

Number of new reps who sell products to people in their homes has more than doubled

Avon looks set to be calling at many more UK homes after the cosmetics company revealed that the number of people signing up to be sales representatives had more than doubled in the lockdown.

The company, which boasts 5 million “reps” globally, said it had seen a 114% “surge” in the number of new representatives joining its UK businesssince lockdown began.

Founded in 1886, Avon has been struggling to keep pace with changing consumer tastes and habits, and has faced increased competition from new brands backed by online influencers. But the company said the pandemic had prompted many people to look for new ways of earning cash, and that, amid a looming jobs crisis, growing numbers were on the hunt for opportunities to supplement their income.Advertisement

It said the spike in sign-ups came amid predictions that the economic impacts of Covid-19 would be “disproportionately felt by women”.

The company has also changed its commission structure, so that reps can now earn 20% on their sales of £1 and over. Previously sales had to reach £90 before reps qualified for commission.

Sian Erith, who lives in Norfolk,kickstarted her Avon business during lockdown as restrictions forced her to take a break from a career in hairdressing. Using social media to generate online sales at a time when personal selling was not possible, Sian said she earned £600 in her first three weeks.

Avon was founded in 1886 by David McConnell, a travelling book salesman who found that female customers – who often answered the door because their husbands were at work – were more interested in the free perfume samples he offered as an additional perk. McConnell recruited women to act as sales agents for the products he mixed from an office in New York.

Avon’s UK business launched in 1959, and the first “Ding dong, Avon calling” TV adverts aired in 1964, and it soon became a British catchphrase.

The rise of social media has fuelled rapid change in the beauty market, helping to launch brands backed by online influencers, such as Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty and Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics, which are now challenging the big, established names.

However, the company – now owned by the Brazilian beauty group Natura, also the owner of The Body Shop – remains one of the biggest names in the world of “direct selling” – which does not use shops – and claims to have a huge reach in the UK. It claims to be one of the top three beauty brands in the country “with six million women seeing an Avon brochure every three weeks”.

Angela Cretu, Avon’s chief executive, said: “As the recession tightens its grasp on communities in the wake of Covid-19, people are looking for new ways to earn.” She added that the company was preparing for “a tidal wave” of new sign-ups.

Cretu also said that many of the reps played a crucial role within their communities, as they often provided support to vulnerable individuals by picking up prescriptions and helping with shopping.

The 114% increase relates to those signing up between 23 March and 7 June this year compared with the same period in 2019.

By Rupert Jones

Marks & Spencer set to cut hundreds of jobs

( via – – Mon, 20th July 2020) London, Uk – –

UK High Street stalwart Marks and Spencer is to cut hundreds of jobs as coronavirus continues to hit trading.

The retailer said 950 store management and head office jobs were at risk because it needed to accelerate its restructuring.

A spokesperson said the move marked “an important step” in it becoming a “stronger, leaner” business.

M&S was already undergoing a transformation that included cutting costs and closing some stores.

The firm said that because of the pandemic, those measures would be accelerated under a programme called Never The Same Again. M&S said it now wanted to “make three years' progress in one”.

M&S said it had started collective consultation with employee representatives and had set out plans to offer voluntary redundancy first to affected staff.

Sacha Berendji, director of retail, operations and property at M&S, said: “Through the crisis, we have seen how we can work faster and more flexibly by empowering store teams and it's essential that we embed that way of working.

“Our priority now is to support all those affected through the consultation process and beyond.”

M&S's food stores were open throughout the coronavirus lockdown, but trading in other parts of the business was severely affected. Clothing sales fell by 84% year-on-year at the lowest point, the firm said in May, warning that some customer habits had “changed forever”.

M&S was already struggling to adapt to the rise of online shopping and changing customer tastes.

The company had been facing increasing competition from fashion giants such as Primark on the High Street and Asos on the internet.

It is also one of the few big food retailers without its own internet-based delivery service. However, the retailer's partnership with Ocado starts in September, replacing the online grocer's existing deal with Waitrose.

In May, M&S chief executive Steve Rowe said that the impact of the virus lockdown had driven “effects and aftershocks” in the retail sector that would “endure for the coming year and beyond”.

Its latest announcement comes after a wave of redundancies on the High Street, with John Lewis, Boots and Debenhams among retailers announcing huge job cuts.

On Monday, Ted Baker confirmed it could cut about a quarter of its UK workforce after the coronavirus pandemic added to its financial difficulties.

The fashion retailer did not confirm the number of redundancies, but there are reports that 500 store and head office jobs will go.

“We have not taken this decision lightly and would like to thank all our colleagues for their hard work,” a spokesperson said. The move is intended to save about £6m by the end of the year.

Both part-time and full-time roles will be affected. About 200 jobs will go at the Ugly Brown Building, its London headquarters, with the rest from its 46 shops across the UK and Europe, as well as many store concessions.

Ted Baker had also been struggling before the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK. The firm reported a pre-tax loss of £79.9m in the year to 25 January, against a £30.7m profit the previous year.

Black cowboys saddle up


After the Civil War, black cowboys played a key role in settling the West, and their heritage is honored by African American cowboys and rodeo riders today. “CBS This Morning: Saturday” co-host Michelle Miller talked with members of the Compton Cowboys, a Los Angeles group of riders who take to the streets of South Central on horseback; and with participants in the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo, named for the famed African American Wild West Show star.

British Airways to retire entire 747 fleet after suffering sharp travel downturn

( via – – Fri, 17th July 2020) London, Uk – –

British Airways has said it will retire all of its Boeing 747s as it suffers from the sharp travel downturn.

The UK airline is the world's largest operator of the jumbo jets, with 31 in the fleet.

“It is with great sadness that we can confirm we are proposing to retire our entire 747 fleet with immediate effect,” a BA spokesman told the BBC.

Airlines across the world have been hit hard by coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

“It is unlikely our magnificent ‘queen of the skies' will ever operate commercial services for British Airways again due to the downturn in travel caused by the Covid-19 global pandemic,” the spokesman added.

BA, which is owned by International Airlines Group (IAG), said the planes will all be retired with immediate effect. The 747s represent about 10% of BA's total fleet.

It had planned on retiring the planes in 2024 but has brought forward the date due to the downturn.

According to travel data firm Cirium there are about 500 747s still in service, of which 30 are actively flying passengers. More than 300 fly cargo and the remainder are in storage.

A luxury BA could no longer afford

Analysis by Theo Leggett

The Boeing 747 is beautiful, distinctive and has half a century of proud service behind it. But – as a passenger plane at least – it is also quite simply outdated.

A four-engine aircraft, it is far less efficient than modern twin-engine models, such as the Airbus A350, the 787 Dreamliner, or even the older Boeing 777 – all of which are cheaper to run.

Before the Covid-19 crisis, the writing was on the wall. Airlines such as Air France, Delta and United had already retired their fleets.

BA had planned to use them for another few years. But the crisis in the industry means a future in which there will be fewer passengers, fewer planes – and keeping costs down will be crucial.

So now the airline has decided the queen of the skies is a luxury it can no longer afford.

British Airways' predecessor BOAC first started flying 747s in the early 1970s. BA is currently flying the 747-400 version of the long-range aircraft.

It is currently the world's biggest operator of 747-400s and first took delivery of them in July 1989. Originally, the upper deck contained a lounge which was known as the “club in the sky”.

The British carrier added it would operate more flights on modern, more fuel-efficient planes such as its new Airbus A350s and Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

It expects them to help it achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Boeing's 747 helped democratise global air travel in the 1970s, and marked its 50-year flying anniversary in February 2019.

US-based Boeing signalled the end of the plane's production a year ago.

A wave of restructuring triggered by the virus outbreak is hitting airlines across the world, along with plane-makers and their suppliers. Thousands of job losses and furloughs have been announced in recent weeks.

Hundreds of BA ground staff face redundancy as the airline slashes costs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Boeing's ‘queen of the skies'

  • The first Boeing 747 flight took place in February 1969
  • It was the first aeroplane dubbed a “jumbo jet”
  • BOAC, British Airways' predecessor, operated its first 747 flight, flying from London to New York, in 1971
  • At its height, BA had a fleet of 57 747-400s, second only to Japan Airlines (more than 100)
  • The wings of a 747-400 span 213ft and are big enough to accommodate 50 parked cars

What happens to retired planes?

Specialist companies assess whether aircraft should be salvaged or scrapped. Often they are dismantled and their parts sold on for scrap or recycled. Most of the value is in the engines.

Many are also stripped out as they have valuable interiors. In some cases, private individuals and entrepreneurs buy old airliners to convert them into hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions.

Those that are scrapped can end up in giant aircraft graveyards in the desert where they are left to rust.

Twitter steps up search for chief information security officer ahead of hack

( via — Thur, 16th July 2020) London, UK —

(Reuters) – Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) had stepped up its search for a chief information security officer in recent weeks, two people familiar with the search told Reuters, before the breach of high-profile accounts on Wednesday raised alarms about the platform’s security.

The FBI’s San Francisco division is leading an inquiry into the Twitter hacking, as more Washington lawmakers called for an accounting of how it happened.

The law enforcement agency said hackers committed cryptocurrency fraud after they seized control of the Twitter accounts of celebrities and political figures including Joe Biden, Kim Kardashian, Barack Obama and Elon Musk.

A day after the breach, it was not clear if the hackers were able to see private messages sent by the account holders. U.S. lawmakers fretted about future attacks.

“While this scheme appears financially motivated…imagine if these bad actors had a different intent to use powerful voices to spread disinformation to potentially interfere with our elections, disrupt the stock market, or upset our international relations,” U.S. Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat, said in a statement.

Echoing a similar sentiment, Representative Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, asked what would happen if Twitter allowed a similar incident to occur on Nov. 2, a day before the U.S. presidential election.

Jordan said he remained locked out of his Twitter account as of Thursday afternoon and said his confidence in how the company operates has been deteriorating.

President Donald Trump, a prolific Twitter user, was planning to continue tweeting and his account was secure during the attack, spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said.

The White House had been in “constant contact with Twitter over the last 18 hours” to keep Trump’s Twitter feed secure, she said.

Twitter said hackers had targeted employees with access to its internal systems and “used this access to take control of many highly-visible (including verified) accounts and Tweet on their behalf”.

Other high-profile accounts that were hacked included rapper Kanye West, Inc (AMZN.O) founder Jeff Bezos, investor Warren Buffett, Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) co-founder Bill Gates, and the corporate accounts for Uber Technologies Inc (UBER.N) and Apple Inc (AAPL.O).

The company, which has been without a security chief since December, said hackers conducted a “coordinated social engineering attack” against some of its employees with access to internal systems.

In an extraordinary step, it temporarily prevented many verified accounts from publishing messages as it investigated the breach.

The hijacked accounts tweeted out messages telling users to send bitcoin and their money would be doubled. Publicly available blockchain records show that the apparent scammers received more than $100,000 worth of cryptocurrency.

Twitter’s shares fell a little over 1% on Thursday afternoon.

CEO Jack Dorsey said in a tweet on Wednesday that it was a “tough day” for everyone at Twitter and pledged to share “everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened”.

Dorsey’s assurances did not assuage Washington’s concerns about social media companies, whose policies have come under scrutiny by critics on both the left and the right.

Democratic Senator Mark Warner called on Twitter and law enforcement to investigate the matter while the U.S. House Intelligence Committee said it was in touch with Twitter regarding the hack, according to a committee official who did not wish to be named.

Republican Senator Josh Hawley wrote a letter to Dorsey within minutes of the hack and asked about potential data theft and whether the breach affected select users or the security of the platform overall.

Frank Pallone, a Democrat who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee that oversees a sizeable portion of U.S. tech policy, said in a tweet the company “needs to explain how all of these prominent accounts were hacked.”

The New York State Department of Financial Services also weighed in, saying it will investigate the hack.

Reporting by Joseph Menn; Additional reporting by Ayanti Bera, Aakash Jagadeesh Babu and Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Katie Paul and Elizabeth Culliford in San Francisco; and Nandita Bose, David Shepardson, Diane Bartz and Jeff Mason in Washington; Editing by Peter Graff, Carmel Crimmins and Lisa Shumaker.

British Gas-owner Centrica to tell staff accept new contracts or risk jobs

( via – – Thur, 16th July 2020) London, Uk – –

British Gas-owner Centrica will tell thousands of staff to accept new working conditions, including no extra overtime pay, or risk their jobs.

The firm said if employees don't sign the contract, there will be a fresh wave of redundancies, although it insists that is a “last resort”.

Centrica has already outlined 5,000 job cuts as customer numbers tumble.

The firm said it had “been open about the changes” needed to win back customers.

The proposals are all subject to a consultation period with unions, the company stressed.

“Our employees' base pay and pensions will be protected, but simplifying and modernising their terms is essential if we're to become more flexible and price competitive,” said Centrica.

“We have over 80 different employee contracts with 7,000 variations of terms, many of which are outdated and stop us delivering for customers.”

Unions and workers said they were concerned about the move and criticised the timing amid lockdown.

“They are using this as an excuse because they know we can't even have discussions and meetings,” said one British Gas engineer, who has worked for the firm for more than 15 years and spoke to the BBC on condition of anonymity.

“This really is a divide-and-conquer moment.”

The company says it must become more competitive to protect jobs in the long term.

Centrica proposes to fix overtime pay at the same rate as regular hours, according to a presentation seen by the BBC.

Previously, overtime could attract double the hourly rate, depending on a worker's contract.

Engineers who might previously have been asked to work shifts between 08:00 and 20:00 in the busier winter period could be allocated hours any time between 06:00 and 23:00.

Centrica follows British Airways in combining proposed layoffs with new contracts which unions describe as unfavourable. Both companies insist the deal offered is fair.

‘Huge slap in the face'

“What is really painful is that when this coronavirus kicked off, we all rose to the challenge,” said the engineer.

He and other British Gas workers volunteered to deliver meals for vulnerable people for the Trussell Trust.

This gave him and his colleagues a sense of purpose, he said, together with continuing to repair broken heating systems during lockdown.

“We were going into houses. We were feeling proud, as we were key workers,” he said. “It's a huge slap in the face.”

Centrica said a so-called Section 188 notice, which employers are obliged to give to workers' representatives if they are considering large-scale redundancies, was a last resort if workers did not agree the new terms.

“We've been open about the changes we need to make to win back customers, grow our company and protect jobs in the long run,” the company said in a statement.

Winter deadline

The GMB union said it had started talks with the company on planned changes, as Centrica has set a deadline of agreeing a deal with employees before winter.

Assistant general secretary Christina McAnea of the Unison union branded the move “disgraceful behaviour”.

“Employees have worked hard throughout the past few months to ensure customers are well-served, despite the pandemic,” she said. “This is no way for company directors to repay them.”

The company is scrambling to stem the flow of customers from its energy supply business.

Last month, it began trialling a cheaper, digital-only brand under the name British Gas X.

It also already plans job cuts at its head office.

New boss Chris O'Shea said most of the cuts would fall in the UK as the energy giant seeks to slim down its business.

About half of the jobs to go will be among the company's leadership, management and corporate staff. This will include half of the senior leadership team of 40, who will leave by the end of August.

Centrica has about 27,000 employees, with 20,000 of these based in the UK.

By Howard Mustoe