Sweetgreen the restaurant world’s first “unicorn,” valued at over $1 Billion

Source: CNBC

Sweetgreen is now the restaurant world's first “unicorn,” valued at over $1 billion. Started by three college friends out of their dorm room at Georgetown University, the salad company has 91 locations with more in the works and is vying to become the digital food platform of the future.

How New York Got Its Skyline

Source: Bloomberg

Why do so many of New York's older skyscrapers have a similar design? The answer can be traced back to a monumental 1916 zoning law, which established “setback” requirements for buildings above a certain height. In the heart of the Financial District, the Equitable Building, a historic skyscraper that predates the law, remains a symbol of the excesses of the pre-zoning era.

How Comcast is looking to invest $50M dollars in a new esports stadium in Philadelphia

Source: Bloomberg

Telecom titan Comcast is investing $50M dollars in a new esports stadium located in the center of the Philadelphia sports complex. But that’s just the beginning of their plan to build a global esports empire.

UK’s watchdog ban on ‘Harmful’ gender stereotypes in adverts comes into force

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 14th June 2019) London, Uk – –

A ban on adverts featuring “harmful gender stereotypes” or those which are likely to cause “serious or widespread offence” has come into force.

The ban covers scenarios such as a man with his feet up while a woman cleans, or a woman failing to park a car.

The UK's advertising watchdog introduced the ban because it found some portrayals could play a part in “limiting people's potential”.

It said it was pleased with how advertisers had responded.

The new rule follows a review of gender stereotyping in adverts by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) – the organisation that administers the UK Advertising Codes, which cover both broadcast and non-broadcast adverts, including online and social media.

The ASA said the review had found evidence suggesting that harmful stereotypes could “restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults and these stereotypes can be reinforced by some advertising, which plays a part in unequal gender outcomes”.

“Our evidence shows how harmful gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to inequality in society, with costs for all of us. Put simply, we found that some portrayals in ads can, over time, play a part in limiting people's potential,” said ASA chief executive Guy Parker.

‘Stereotypes'

Blogger and father of two Jim Coulson thinks the ban is a good idea. He dislikes adverts that perpetuate stereotypes about dads being “useless”.

“It's the small things though that build up, and the small things are what inform the subconscious,” he told the BBC.

“That's the problem… that adverts rely on stereotypes. We know why they do it, because it's easy. “

But columnist Angela Epstein disagrees, and thinks that society has become “over-sensitive”.

“There's a lot of big things we need to fight over – equality over pay, bullying in the workplace, domestic violence, sexual harassment – these are really big issues that we need to fight over equally,” she told the BBC.

“But when you chuck in the fact that women are doing the dishes [in advertisements], it's not in the same sphere. When we lump it all together and become desensitised, we devalue those important arguments we need to have.”

‘Lack of diversity'

As part of its review, the ASA brought together members of the public and showed them various adverts to gauge how they felt about how men and women were depicted.

One of them was a 2017 television advert for Aptamil baby milk formula, which showed a baby girl growing up to be a ballerina and baby boys engineers and mountain climbers.

The ASA found some parents “felt strongly about the gender based aspirations shown in this advert specifically noting the stereotypical future professions of the boys and girls shown.

“These parents queried why these stereotypes were needed, feeling that they lacked diversity of gender roles and did not represent real life.”

At the time it was released, the campaign prompted complaints but the ASA did not find grounds for a formal investigation as it did not break the rules.

However, Fernando Desouches, managing director of marketing agency New Macho, which specialises in targeting men, said this was an example of a past advert that would not pass the new ASA legislation.

He said it showed how easy it can be for “deeply entrenched views on gender to come through in an ad that purports to be caring and nurturing of future generations.” He was “unsurprised it generated a backlash”.

Other situations likely to fall foul of the new rule include:

  • Adverts which show a man or a woman failing at a task because of their gender, like a man failing to change a nappy or a woman failing to park
  • Adverts aimed at new mothers which suggest that looking good or keeping a home tidy is more important than emotional wellbeing
  • Adverts which belittle a man for carrying out stereotypically female roles

However, the new rules do not preclude the use of all gender stereotypes. The ASA said the aim was to identify “specific harms” that should be prevented.

So, for example, adverts would still be able to show women doing the shopping or men doing DIY, or use gender stereotypes as a way of challenging their negative effects.

The ASA outlined the new rules at the end of last year, giving advertisers six months to prepare for their introduction.

Mr Parker said the watchdog was pleased with how the industry had already responded.

The ASA said it would deal with any complaints on a case-by-case basis and would assess each advert by looking at the “content and context” to determine if the new rule had been broken.

Shell Energy Retail boss apologises for overcharging around 12,000 customers

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Fri, 14th June 2019) London, UK —

(Reuters) – Shell Energy Retail’s top boss apologised to customers after Britain’s energy regulator ordered the utility to compensate around 12,000 customers it overcharged on default tariffs after a price cap was introduced this year.

Ofgem said Shell Energy Retail Ltd, previously known as First Utility, will pay 200,000 pounds ($253,520) in addition to the refund to its consumer redress fund, bringing the total payment to 390,000 pounds.

This is the first such action against a company for overcharging since the price cap on default energy bills came into force on Jan. 1.

The price cap was aimed at saving households about a billion pounds a year following a government promise to tackle what it had called “rip-off” prices.

Shell Energy Retail overcharged a sum of 100,737 pounds collectively above the level of the price cap between January and March this year, Ofgem’s said.

“We’d like to apologise to all customers who were temporarily out of pocket,” Shell Energy Retail Chief Executive Officer Colin Crooks said in an e-mail to Reuters.

Crooks said the company had a small number of customers on fixed-price default tariffs to whom it didn’t apply the capped rates since most of those customers would have been better off remaining on their existing tariff.

“However, we recognise that there were some who would have been better off on the capped rates or who suffered a delay in changing their payment method,” he added.

Ofgem said it decided not to take formal enforcement action since the company addressed its failings.

Reporting by Muvija M and Shariq Khan in Bengaluru

Morrisons and Amazon agree deal to expand same-day home delivery across the UK

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com–Thur, 13th June 2019) London, Uk – –

The delivery service expands to Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Sheffield and Portsmouth as the grocer joins Amazon's Prime list.

Morrisons has expanded on its home delivery agreement deal with Amazon, extending its same-day service across the UK this year.

As part of the deal the grocery chain has also signed up to become a retailer on Amazon's Prime same-day delivery website and app, and will begin selling directly to customers, through Morrisons at Amazon.

The extended delivery service will work across cities including Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Sheffield and Portsmouth.

The deal is in addition to Morrisons' continuing as a wholesaler for all Amazon's other UK grocery offers for customers.

Morrisons shares were up 1.7% in early trading.

Details of the expansion of Morrison's deal with the world's second largest retailer – according to research company Kantar – come a month after the British grocery chain reported slowing sales growth.

For the 13 weeks to 5 May, group like-for-like sales excluding fuel were up 2.3%, representing a slowdown on a total of 3.8% in the previous quarter and 3.6% in the same period last year.

More from Amazon

Morrisons' trading statement at the time highlighted continuing “political and economic uncertainty” among shoppers.

It also cautioned that the current second quarter would be up against tough comparisons because of last year's excellent summer weather and the football World Cup.

On the extended deal with Amazon, Morrisons chief executive David Potts said: “Morrisons' conveniently located local supermarkets and Amazon's very popular website and customer offer are an ideal combination, offering ultra-fast same-day grocery home delivery for customers in and around cities across Britain.

“Amazon has been a valued partner of Morrisons for over three years and we are pleased to be expanding our relationship together.”

Doug Gurr, Amazon UK country manager, said: “We have greatly valued our relationship with Morrisons since the launch of the Morrisons store on Prime Now in the UK in 2016 and expanding this relationship enables us to offer Morrisons' high-quality grocery selection to even more Prime members.

“We are committed to growing our grocery business so that we can continue to deliver what we know our customers will always care about – low prices, vast selection, and fast delivery – and our relationship with Morrisons is an important part of that long-term growth.

“With the Morrisons store on Prime Now, many Prime members can do their full weekly grocery shop online through Prime Now with ultra-fast same day delivery.”

The British- flower growning industry now worth £121m

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 13th June 2019) London, Uk – –

Homegrown stems accounted for 14% of £865m worth of flowers sold in Britain last year

The British-grown flower industry is now worth £121m – up from £82m in 2015 – following years of decline owing to imported stems, figures reveal.

Last year homegrown flowers accounted for 14% of the £865m worth of all stems sold in the UK, compared with 12% three years ago, according to a report by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The uplift has been driven by increased consumer demand for British blooms, in turn allowing UK growers to expand and flourish. Environmental benefits include increased biodiversity as growing flowers supports wildlife such as bees and butterflies across local farms.

According to Alastair Owen of New Covent Garden Market, the largest fresh produce market in the country, the use of British blooms in recent royal weddings had helped drive growth in homegrown stems. “We encourage anyone who loves flowers to get involved and to buy more British,” said Owen.

Without the lengthy transportation and refrigeration used for imported flowers, British stems are said to have a better scent and stay fresher for longer. Imported flowers are either cultivated in vast glasshouses in the Netherlands, or flown in by the millions of stems from farms in Africa and South America.

Supermarkets remain the largest outlet for cut flowers in the UK, however, representing just over half of all sales. Waitrose has reported a resurgence in the popularity of British peonies, up 48% compared with last year.

The Co-op recently became the second UK supermarket – after Aldi – to sign up to the National Farmers’ Union’s plants and flowers pledge, a 12-point charter aiming to increase the proportion of British plants and flowers available for consumers to buy.

By Rebecca Smithers

Lidl discount supermarket chain to open 40 new stores in south-east England

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 12th June 2019) London, Uk – –

Discount supermarket chain Lidl plans to open 40 new stores in the south-east of England.

The £500m investment will take place over five years and will include a new UK head office in south-west London.

The move will create 1,500 new jobs, a boost for the traditional retail sector which has seen high-profile store closures in recent years.

New shop locations will include Alperton, East Acton, Hackbridge and Watford. as well as central London.

Lidl opened its first shops in the UK in 1994 and now employs more than 22,500 people in 760 stores.

It has a 5.8% share of UK grocery spending, up from 5.4% a year ago, according to research firm Kantar. Rival discounter Aldi has an 8% share.

Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Tesco and Asda are all seeing their share of the market drop, although between them they still account for more than two thirds of spending on grocery shopping.

Reckitt Benckiser picks PepsiCo Laxman Narasimhan as new CEO

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Wed, 12th June 2019) London, UK —

(Reuters) – Consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser has picked PepsiCo executive Laxman Narasimhan as its next chief executive, becoming the latest industry heavyweight to turn to a company outsider to tackle faltering growth and new media-savvy rivals.

Narasimhan, PepsiCo’s global chief commercial officer, is the first external candidate to be appointed as CEO at Reckitt since the maker of Durex condoms, Nurofen tablets and Dettol cleaners was formed in 1999.

The 52-year-old will join Reckitt as CEO-designate and be appointed to the board on July 16. He will become CEO on Sept. 1, replacing Rakesh Kapoor, 60, who has led Reckitt for more than eight years and said in January he would retire this year.

The appointment is the latest in a series of external hirings as major consumer goods groups look to make up ground lost to smaller brands that have done a better job selling online and connecting with millennials on social media, while also facing investor pressure to boost efficiency.

Analysts had tipped Reckitt’s health division operations chief Aditya Sehgal and hygiene home president Rob de Groot as potential internal successors to Kapoor.

As well as industry challenges, Reckitt has faced company-specific setbacks in recent years, including a safety scandal in South Korea, a failed product launch and a cyber attack.

Kapoor launched a restructuring plan, dubbed RB 2.0, to split the group into two business units – one for health and one for hygiene and home products – under the same parent company.

Reckitt said on Wednesday Narasimhan would be charged with delivering the plan, due to be completed in 2020, but some analysts suggested he might have other ideas.

“The appointment of a new, external CEO is bound to raise questions regarding the timing of the end of the group’s RB 2.0 plan and whether it will ultimately lead to a split of the company,” Liberum analyst Robert Waldschmidt said.

‘FRESH PERSPECTIVE’

Jefferies analyst Martin Deboo questioned why a company already smaller than rivals Procter & Gamble and Unilever wanted to “descale itself”, which could hobble its ability to compete in emerging markets.

Reckitt’s shares were little changed in morning trading.

Still, at least three analysts welcomed Narasimhan’s appointment.

“Narasimhan’s strategic and leadership background make him a strong fit for Reckitt. We believe he will bring a fresh perspective to both the business and to investors,” Morgan Stanley analyst Richard Taylor wrote in a note.

Narasimhan led Strategy, Global Category Groups and Global R&D in his capacity as Chief Commercial Officer at PepsiCo.

Prior to that, he headed the beverage maker’s Latin America, Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa operations managing annual sales of 14.5 billion pounds ($18.5 billion) and at one time was also Chief Financial Officer of the group’s Americas Foods business.FILE PHOTO: Rakesh Kapoor, the CEO of Reckitt Benckiser, poses for a photograph at the company headquarters in Slough, Britain August 14, 2017. REUTERS/Martinne Geller/File Photo

Narasimhan studied mechanical engineering in India before moving to the United States to get an MBA. Before joining PepsiCo, he worked at consultants McKinsey for two decades.

As CEO of Reckitt, Narasimhan will get a salary of 950,000 pounds and will be eligible to participate in the company’s annual bonus plan with a target of 120% of salary.

PepsiCo named Ram Krishnan, currently CEO Greater China, as its new chief commercial officer.

Reporting by Siddharth Cavale and Muvija M

WhatsApp to take legal action against people using its platform for spam messages

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Tue, 11th June 2019) London, Uk – –

From December, those engaging in certain types of automated or bulk messaging could face legal action from the messaging platform.

WhatsApp has revealed it will begin to take legal action against people using its platform for spam messages.

In an update to the messaging app's FAQ section, WhatsApp confirmed the crackdown will start on 7 December.

The company said: “WhatsApp will take legal action against those we determine are engaged in or assisting others in abuse that violates our terms of service.”

WhatsApp also warned that legal action could be taken “based on information solely available to us off our platform”.

These violations include “automated or bulk messaging, or non-personal use”, which leaves room for WhatsApp to license particular tools for businesses who use the messaging platform to communicate with customers.

The company currently offers a free WhatsApp Business app which allows small firms to automate, sort and respond to messages.

Meanwhile, the Whatsapp Business API enables medium and large companies to communicate with customers and staff over the app.

Uber uses the service to put drivers in contact with support staff, while Booking.com uses it to share booking confirmations and other updates with customers.

The announcement comes as the Facebook-owned company aims to grow the messaging platform into one that can handle payments too, with a team of developers working on payments features in London.

Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg confirmed that WhatsApp mobile payments would be launching this year after a successful test phase for the feature in India.

Speaking at the F8 developer conference, he said he believed “it should be as easy to send money to someone as it is to send a photo” – but the financial world is far more regulated than image messaging is.

Confirming plans for the payments platform, Matt Idema, the chief operating officer at WhatsApp told Sky News: “We're eager to work with some of the best technical and operational experts in both London and Dublin to take WhatsApp into its second decade.

“WhatsApp is a truly global service and these teams will help us provide WhatsApp payments and other great features for our users everywhere.”WhatsApp points finger at Israeli firm over hackA sophisticated hacking group has developed a tool which can take control over victim's phones by sending them a call

Earlier this year, Facebook announced that Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp were all being brought under one umbrella earlier this year.

The integration of the three platforms would see the company combine its data collection from hundreds of millions of users around the world.

It is believed this would potentially allow Facebook to introduce a payments feature, helping the company to generate the kind of revenues seen from Chinese apps such as WeChat.

That app is so widely used in China that street market stalls and buskers use it for trade, and alongside its rival AliPay it comprises a market worth of $9tn (£7tn) in 2016, according to Research Consulting Group.

Ocado to invest £17m in high-tech ‘vertical farms’ to grow produce near distributors

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 11th June 2019) London, Uk – –

£17m investment includes formation of venture to develop systems to sell to other retailers

Ocado is investing £17m in high-tech farming with the aim of growing herbs and other produce alongside its robot-run distribution centres around the world.

The online grocery specialist has bought a 58% stake in Jones Food, a “vertical farm” that grows 420 tonnes of basil, parsley and coriander a year in stacked trays under 12km (7.5 miles) of LED lights in a warehouse in Scunthorpe. The grower currently supplies businesses such as sandwich maker Greencore.

Duncan Tatton-Brown, finance director of Ocado, said the group could open at least 10 more similar farms within five years. He said it could take less than a year to build a Jones Food facility and the two companies were now considering how Ocado’s expertise in robotics and AI could be used to make Jones Food more efficient.Advertisement

James Lloyd-Jones, chief executive of Jones Food, said the group’s Scunthorpe farm recycled all its water, did not use pesticides and was powered by renewable energy, such as wind turbines and solar panels.

Ocado’s £17m investment also includes the formation of a new joint venture – Infinite Acres – with US-based vertical farming business 80 Acres and Priva, a Netherlands-based horticultural technology provider, on a four-year project to develop off-the-shelf vertical farming systems that can be sold to retail and other businesses worldwide. The 80 Acres farms, which are based in Ohio, Arkansas, North Carolina and Alabama, are able to grow tomatoes and courgettes as well as leafy salads and herbs, without using pesticides.

Tim Steiner, Ocado’s chief executive, said: “We believe that our investments today in vertical farming will allow us to address fundamental consumer concerns on freshness and sustainability and build on new technologies that will revolutionise the way customers access fresh produce.

“Our hope ultimately is to co-locate vertical farms within or next to our [distribution centres] and Ocado Zoom’s micro-fulfilment centres so that we can offer the very freshest and most sustainable produce that could be delivered to a customer’s kitchen within an hour of it being picked.”

Ocado Zoom is a new one-hour delivery service offering a more limited range of goods, launched earlier this year and being trialled in west London.

Only eight people work at the Jones Food facility, where the herbs are grown hydroponically – getting all the nutrients they need without soil. The plants, the first of which were only grown last year, are not touched by humans from seed to bagging ready for stores. A robot called Frank stacks trays of plants ontoon to towers of shelving while machinery automatically harvests them when ready.

Every element inside is monitored to ensure it is clean and primed for growing the herbs quickly. Anyone entering must wear protective clothing including overalls, wellies and hairnets and step through an air shower that blows off any dust. Air is filtered to ensure insects cannot enter.

Ocado currently sells Waitrose groceries via its website in the UK and provides distribution for Morrisons’ website. Next year it will swap Waitrose for Marks & Spencer under a £750m joint venture, raising the prospect of specialist robot farms serving the 134-year-old high street retailer.

Ocado has sold its hi-tech robot grocery picking and packing technology around the world to retailers wanting to develop online businesses. In one blockbuster deal it is to build 20 warehouses for US supermarket giant Kroger. It has also struck grocery delivery technology partnerships with Groupe Casino in France, Sobeys in Canada and ICA Group in Sweden, creating a ready-made potential market for its robot farms.

By Sarah Butler 

UK economy contracted by 0.4% after ‘dramatic’ fall in car output – ONS

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 10th June 2019) London, Uk – –

A “dramatic” fall in car production and an easing of stockpiling by manufacturers meant the economy shrank in April, official figures show.

The economy contracted 0.4% from the month before, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The contraction meant growth for the three months to April slowed to 0.3%.

Factory shutdowns designed to cope with disruption from a March Brexit slashed UK car production in April by nearly half, the industry said last month.

‘Hangover'

The economy seen a spurt of growth in the run-up to the proposed March date for the UK leaving the European Union, as manufacturers stockpiled parts, raw materials and goods in the anticipation of holdups at the border.

After the Brexit deadline was extended to October, it suffered the reverse effects as these supply reserves were used up and fewer purchases were made.

“The hangover that's followed the UK's original exit date is proving stronger than anticipated,” said Yael Selfin, chief economist at accountants KPMG UK. “Today's figures signal the UK economy is likely to experience more subdued growth for the rest of the year, marred by Brexit uncertainty.”

“The significant drop in car manufacturing, and in broader manufacturing activity at the start of [the second quarter], point at more than just a reversal of the stock building effect seen as businesses prepared for an expected Brexit in March.”

ONS statistician Rob Kent-Smith said: “Growth showed some weakening across the latest three months, with the economy shrinking in the month of April mainly due to a dramatic fall in car production, with uncertainty ahead of the UK's original EU departure date leading to planned shutdowns.

“There was also widespread weakness across manufacturing in April, as the boost from the early completion of orders ahead of the UK's original EU departure date has faded.”

‘Sluggish growth'

The contraction in April was far sharper than economists had expected.

Ruth Gregory, senior UK economist at Capital Economics, said the figures suggest “underlying growth is pretty sluggish”.

“With the Brexit paralysis and a slowing global economy taking its toll, we doubt GDP will grow by much more than 1.5% or so in 2019 as a whole and expect interest rates to remain on hold until the middle of next year.”

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) estimated car production for the whole of 2019 would be about 10% down on last year. It said the market might pick up by the end of the year if there was a favourable deal between the UK and the EU and a substantial transition period to adapt to trading outside the single market.

But it has said a no-deal Brexit would make the declines worse with the threat of border delays, production stoppages and additional costs.

Thomas Cook confirms Fosun takeover bid

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, th June 2019) London, Uk – –

Confirmation of Fosun's bid comes after Sky News reported that the Chinese firm was in secret talks with the UK tour operator.

Thomas Cook has confirmed a takeover approach by China's Fosun Tourism Group for its tour operator business.

Shares rose 12% after the company confirmed the preliminary approach on Monday.

The move could pave the way for the break up of the 178-year old company, which is looking to sell off its airline business.

Thomas Cook's confirmation of the Club Med owner's approach comes after Sky News' report over the weekend that Fosun was in secret talks to buy the UK tour operator.

The firm, which is listed in Hong Kong, is already ‎Thomas Cook's biggest shareholder with an 18% stake.

Thomas Cook said in a statement: “There can be no certainty that this approach will result in a formal offer.

“However, the board will consider any potential offer alongside the other strategic options that it has, with the aim of maximising value for all its stakeholders.”

More from Thomas Cook

If Thomas Cook was to accept an offer and sell to Fosun, the move would rank among the most significant and prominent acquisitions of a British business by a Chinese rival to date.

Thomas Cook and Fosun already have a joint venture in China which is showing strong growth, with an eight-fold increase in customers last year.

The introduction of own-brand resorts in the world's second-largest economy has also opened up the domestic Chinese market to Thomas Cook.

However, any deal agreed between the two companies would be complicated by separate interest from private equity firm Triton, wanting to acquire Thomas Cook's airline and tour operating assets in northern Europe – as revealed by Sky News in May.

‎Triton, which bought the travel company Sunweb Group last December, wants to buy a portion of Thomas Cook that employs roughly 20% of Thomas Cook's workforce.

Thomas Cook reported a half-year loss of £1.46bn, citing uncertainty around Brexit and UK consumers delaying their holiday plans.

The bulk of the loss for the six months to the end of March was caused by Thomas Cook's decision to write down the value of part of the business by £1.1bn in the light of the weak trading environment.

Drive Through Supermarket Concept

Source: Wise Wanderer

Market from the company Dahir Inshat Drive Market is a shop in which visitors make purchases without leaving the car. This approach to service is convenient first of all for those who can not afford to waste time searching for and choosing goods in the usual hypermarket.

How Brunei Became One of The World’s Richest Countries

Source: Alux

In this Alux.com video well try to answer the following questions: Which is the richest country in the world? Why is Brunei so rich? Who runs Brunei? How much oil does Brunei have? How much oil does Brunei export? How is life in Brunei? Who is Hassanal Bolkiah? How rich is Hassanal Bolkiah? How powerful is Hassanal Bolkiah? How did Hassanal Bolkiah became rich?

Bank overdraft fees to undergo major shake-up

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri,7th June 2019) London, Uk – –

Bank overdraft fees are to undergo a major shake-up, which the UK financial regulator is calling the biggest overhaul for a generation.

Banks and building societies will no longer be allowed to charge fixed daily or monthly fees for overdrafts.

In addition, there will no longer be higher fees for unplanned overdrafts than for arranged ones.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said the new rules would start by April 2020.

Under the new measures, which were first proposed in December, banks will also be required to charge a simple annual interest rate on all overdrafts, and overdraft advertisements will need to come with that rate clearly displayed, to help consumers compare various products.

In 2017, banks made more than £2.4bn from overdrafts – with 30% alone coming from unarranged overdrafts.

Previous research showed those aged between 35 and 44 were most likely to have some form of overdraft, and about 10% of all 18 to 24-year-olds had exceeded their overdraft limit in the previous 12 months.

The regulator said the changes would make overdrafts “simpler, fairer, and easier to manage”.

It will mean:

  • No difference between arranged and unarranged overdraft prices – but no cap on the cost either
  • An end to monthly or daily fees
  • A requirement for banks to advertise their overdraft rate as a single annual interest rate, or APR
  • Banks will still be able to refuse to make a payment if a customer does not have the funds to cover it, but any resulting fee for the customer must reflect the cost to the bank
  • Banks must do more to identify and help customers who are showing signs of financial strain or are in financial difficulty

When the new rules come into force, the typical cost of borrowing £100 through an unarranged overdraft would drop from £5 a day, to less than 20p, the regulator said. However, some fear that the costs to those who previously used arranged overdraft charges might rise, or charges for accounts may rise.

Banks and building societies will be required to charge a simple annual interest rate on all overdrafts, and overdraft advertisements will need to come with that rate clearly displayed, to help consumers to compare various products.

The FCA's chief executive, Andrew Bailey, said the overdraft market was currently “dysfunctional” and “causing significant consumer harm” because vulnerable customers are often hit by excessive charges for unarranged overdrafts, which can be 10 times as high as fees for payday loans.

“Consumers cannot meaningfully compare or work out the cost of borrowing as a result of complex and opaque charges, that are both a result of and driver of poor competition,” said Mr Bailey.

“The decisive action we are taking today will give greater protections to millions of people who use an overdraft, particularly the most vulnerable.”

Eric Leenders, from bank trade body UK Finance, said: “Overdrafts can provide a convenient way for customers to smooth their short-term cash-flow, and there is a highly competitive market in the UK. The banking industry is committed to helping customers manage their money and we will be working closely with the FCA to implement these rules.”

Charity reaction

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said overdrafts were one of the most common areas of concern when worried consumers contacted the charity.

“Overdraft charges can have serious knock-on effects for people's debt and mental health. These new rules should help thousands of people from getting trapped in a debt spiral,” she said.

“If, after these measures are introduced, people still pay over the odds, the FCA should review the need for an interest rate cap to ensure no one is paying back more than twice what they borrowed.”

Peter Tutton, of debt charity StepChange, said: “We would like the regulator to be more pro-active and fleet of foot in identifying and refining the specific, practical steps banks should be taking to help customers escape the overdraft trap more quickly, and to break the cycle of repeat use of overdrafts.”

Monsoon owner Peter Simon delays restructuring plan to rescue the business

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 7th June 2019) London, Uk – –

Owner Peter Simon ‘taking extra precautions’ before negotiating with landlords

The owner of the Monsoon and Accessorize retail chains has delayed plans for a restructuring to rescue the business after landlords failed to back similar plans by Philip Green’s retail empire.

Peter Simon had planned to launch an insolvency procedure known as a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) as early as Friday, which would enable him to reduce the size of his stores and pay less rent.

The procedure, led by the advisory firm Deloitte, which is also acting for Green’s Arcadia Group, is not now expected to go ahead until next week at the earliest as Simon and his advisers continue to negotiate with landlords.Quick guide

Why are UK high street retailers in trouble?

Simon, who founded Monsoon as a London market stall in the 1970s, is thought to have offered to pump £34m in new investment into the retail group, which has about 270 shops, in order to keep it afloat. Landlords have also asked for an equity stake in the business.

More than one source said Monsoon had been waiting to see how landlords responded to Arcadia’s CVA before moving ahead and was taking extra precautions before launching its plan.

Monsoon’s business structure means it is less reliant on the backing of landlords, with other creditors including clothing suppliers having a bigger share of the vote, but in other ways its story is seen as similar to that of Green’s empire.

Like the Green family, Simon has taken big dividend payouts from Monsoon over the years. The firm paid £5m to Adena Property, an offshore company he owned, in the year to August 2017. Its holding company also paid his family £116m in dividends between 2008 and 2013.

By Sarah Butler