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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Wolt spokeswoman declined to comment.

By Mark Kleinman

How Covid Derailed The Cheesecake Factory’s Success

Source: CNBC

Americans love The Cheesecake Factory. The restaurant known for its massive 21-page menu, dozens of dessert options and ancient Egypt-inspired decor was ranked as one of the top casual dining restaurants in the U.S. in 2019. But the eatery popular with everyone from NBA stars to cheesecake aficionados has fallen on hard times as the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the restaurant industry. In October, The Cheesecake Factory reported third-quarter sales fell by 12% and same-stores sales were down 23% from a year earlier. So after 40 years in business will The Cheesecake Factory be able to regain its momentum and will the chain's takeout and delivery service be enough to offset the decline of the dine-in restaurant experience?

Public sector borrowing hit £34.1bn in December

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 22nd Jan 2021) London, Uk – –

The news comes amid fears that some local authorities are taking on risky levels of debt in an effort to stay financially afloat.

Public sector net borrowing reached £34.1bn in December – the third-highest monthly figure since records began in 1993.

The figure from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) means that:

• Borrowing since the start of the financial year in April has reached £270.8bn

• Borrowing in December 2020 was £28.2bn more than in December 2019

• December's figure was also higher than the £31.6bn borrowed in November 2020

• Public sector debt has reached an all-time high of £2.13trn – equivalent to 99.4% of GDP, the most
since the financial year ending 1962

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Since the start of the pandemic we've invested over £280bn to protect jobs and livelihoods across the UK, and support our economy and public services.

“This has clearly been the fiscally responsible thing to do. But, as I've said before, once our economy begins to recover, we should look to return the public finances to a more sustainable footing.”

Economists were divided over how soon Britons could see tax rises as part of the government's response.

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said in a note: “Public borrowing will fall sharply from about 20% of GDP this year to between 8% and 10% in 2021/22, if the government stops the furlough and self-employment income support schemes in the spring, and healthcare spending declines. Where have jobs been lost during the pandemic?

“We doubt that the chancellor will go a step further in the Budget on 3 March and push through large immediate tax rises or non-health spending cuts.

“But the Treasury will not tolerate a 10% deficit indefinitely and the timing of the next general election in 2024 suggests that Mr Sunak will not wait until the economy has fully recovered before actively tightening fiscal policy.

“Accordingly, we expect taxes to rise sharply in 2022, in order to attempt to stabilise the debt-to-GDP ratio while at the same time funding big demography-linked increases in health and pensions spending.”

Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said the borrowing figure “underscores the inevitability of tax hikes in the March budget”.

He added: “There is, therefore, the increasing need for a substantial amount of 2020's enforced savings, propelled by pent-up demand, to find its way back into the economy later this year.”

Meanwhile, MPs have warned that some local authorities are taking on risky levels of debt in an effort to stay financially afloat.

Meg Hillier, chairwoman of the Commons public accounts committee, said the Treasury was displaying a “worryingly laissez faire attitude” to the issue.

Ms Hillier said that “some local authorities have taken on extremely risky levels of debt in recent years in an effort to shore up dwindling finances”, particularly in commercial property investments.

“The pandemic has doubly exposed that risk – in the huge extra demands and duties it is placing on local authorities, and in the hit to returns on commercial investments,” the Labour MP added.

By Sharon Marris

Japanese car maker Nissan commits to keep making cars in Sunderland

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 22nd Jan 2021) London, Uk – –

Japanese car maker Nissan has told the BBC its Sunderland plant is secure for the long term as a result of the trade deal reached between the UK and the EU.

It said it will move additional battery production close to the plant where it has 6,000 direct employees and supports nearly 70,000 jobs in the supply chain.

Currently, the batteries in its Leaf electric cars are imported from Japan.

Nissan would not confirm if this would mean additional jobs at Sunderland, which is the UK's largest car plant.

Manufacturing the more powerful batteries in the UK will ensure its cars comply with trade rules agreed with the EU requiring at least 55% of the car's value to be derived from either the UK or the EU to qualify for zero tariffs when exported to the EU.

Some 70% of the cars made in Sunderland are exported and the vast majority of them are sold in the EU.

Nissan had issued stark warnings last year that if the UK left the EU without a trade deal, the resulting tariffs on cars and components would make the Sunderland plant “unsustainable”.

Nissan's chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta told the BBC: “The Brexit deal is positive for Nissan. Being the largest automaker in the UK we are taking this opportunity to redefine auto-making in the UK.

“It has created a competitive environment for Sunderland, not just inside the UK but outside as well.

“We've decided to localise the manufacture of the 62kWh battery in Sunderland so that all our products qualify [for tariff-free export to the EU]. We are committed to Sunderland for the long term under the business conditions that have been agreed.”

It came as Nissan paused one of its two production lines in Sunderland on Friday as disruption at ports caused by the pandemic affected its supply chain.

The company said the move would affect the line which produces the Qashqai and Leaf, but work would resume next week.

‘Belief in Britain'

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng welcomed the firm's endorsement of Sunderland as a manufacturing base.

“Nissan's decision represents a genuine belief in Britain and a huge vote of confidence in our economy thanks to the certainty our trade deal with the EU delivers,” he said.

“For the dedicated and highly-skilled workforce in Sunderland, it means the city will be home to Nissan's latest models for years to come and positions the company to capitalise on the wealth of benefits that will flow from electric vehicle production.”

It's particularly welcome after the more guarded comments from the boss of Vauxhall's parent company last week.

Speaking as the tie-up between Fiat Chrsyler and Peugeot Citroen was christened with new umbrella name Stellantis, boss Carlos Tavares said that the future of its Ellesmere Port plant depended on the support the UK government was prepared to offer after its decision to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars after 2030.

“If you change, brutally, the rules and if you restrict the rules for business then there is at one point in time a problem,” he said.

Looking forward, he said it would make more sense to locate an electric vehicle factory closer to the larger EU market.

Industry voices welcomed the news from Nissan but reinforced the message from Vauxhall's owners that the government needs to do more to secure the future of the car industry as it electrifies.

“This is obviously good news and will help the Nissan Leaf avoid any future tariffs, but we are going to need to see a lot more investment in battery production in the UK if we are to preserve the UK as a car manufacturer and exporter,” said Professor David Bailey of Warwick University.

The head of trade body the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders agreed.

“The battery plant in Sunderland may be enough for Nissan's near-term plans to build tens of thousands of electric cars but the UK made 1.5 million cars last year and all will be partly electric by 2030,” Mike Hawes said.

‘Jobs at risk'

Andy Palmer, former boss of Aston Martin and current chairman of electric bus maker Switch Mobility, has gone further. He says that 800,000 jobs are at risk if the UK government doesn't act now to foster battery investment.

“Without electric vehicle batteries made in the UK, the country's auto industry risks becoming an antiquated relic and overtaken by China, Japan, America and Europe.”

He urged the UK government to use every lever at its disposal to make the UK attractive.

UK car investment has fallen sharply since the UK voted to leave the EU.

In the five years to 2016 it averaged £3.5bn per year. In the four years since it has averaged around £1bn – a fall of 71% at a time when the technology and map of car production are going through their biggest revolution since the car was invented.

The Nissan decision is therefore a very welcome boost to the UK which is in an international scramble for the investment of the future which is happening right now.

By Simon Jack

UK manufacturers’ concern about shortage of materials and workers as COVID and Brexit hit

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 21st Jan 2021) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – British manufacturers’ concerns about shortages of low-wage workers and supplies have risen the most in almost 50 years, a survey showed on Thursday, as they wrestle with COVID-19 disruptions and new customs rules after leaving the European Union.

A measure of how manufacturers feel about their competitiveness relative to EU rivals deteriorated at the fastest pace on record, meanwhile, and companies expected output and orders to decline, the Confederation of British Industry said of its survey results.

“Manufacturers across the board are continuing to battle major headwinds,” CBI chief economist Rain Newton-Smith said.

A monthly index of new orders for January dropped to -38 from -25 in December, and a quarterly measure of optimism sank to -22 from zero in October.

However, export orders bucked the broader trend, with this balance rising to its least negative since March, though it was still below its long-run average.

“(This) suggests that EU firms are not hesitating to source goods from the UK, despite the extra red tape and rise in haulage costs,” Samuel Tombs of Pantheon Macroeconomics said.

The survey adds to signs that Britain’s economy will contract in early 2021, hit by a surge in coronavirus cases and restrictions, and new bureaucracy for trade with the EU.

Manufacturing accounts for about 10% of Britain’s economy.

The much bigger services sector has been hit far harder by social-distancing measures and is also facing new barriers to trade with the EU.

Separately, a new experimental measure of consumer spending indicated that credit and debit card spending in early January slumped to 35% below its level last February, before the pandemic.

The figures – published by the Office for National Statistics using Bank of England data – are not seasonally adjusted, so part of the fall probably reflects a normal drop in spending after Christmas, on top of the impact of new COVID restrictions which closed non-essential retailers this month.

The CBI figures showed many manufacturers reported a rush to build up stocks and complete EU orders in December, before the new customs rules took effect on Jan. 1.

British goods are not subject to tariffs or quotas as they enter the EU, but do face significant new paperwork, adding to costs and delays.

Concern about shortages of materials and components rose by the most since January 1975, which the CBI linked to COVID disruption to international trade and Brexit-linked customs delays.

Concerns about a lack of unskilled workers rose by the most since April 1974. New immigration rules since Jan. 1 limit employers’ ability to hire low-paid workers from the EU, at a time when COVID has led to increased staff absence.

By David Milliken, William Schomberg

Additional reporting by Andy Bruce

Low-deposit mortgages return as markets emerge from Covid-related slowdown

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 20th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –

Low-deposit mortgages have made a return as the market emerges from a Covid-related slowdown.

Mortgage products for homeowners with a deposit of 10% of their property's value have risen more than fourfold compared with last summer's low.

The increase, based on figures from financial information service Moneyfacts, could offer some relief to first-time buyers.

But the cost of mortgages will remain an issue for many.

‘Homeownership dreams'

In early September last year, there were only 44 mortgage products available for those able to offer a 10% deposit. At the same time, first-time buyers putting money aside for a deposit were faced with pressures of poor savings rates and rising house prices.

That choice has now risen to 197 products, according to the Moneyfacts figures, with some big lenders returning in recent weeks.

Mortgage products for those able to offer a 15% deposit have also risen sharply, although the choice was already much greater.

“First-time buyers who may have been concerned that with record low savings rates and increasing house prices, their homeownership dreams may have had to be shelved, may have been pleased to note that we are now seeing some providers return products for those with 10% deposits,” said Eleanor Williams, from Moneyfacts.

Lenders had been grappling with the practical effects that the coronavirus pandemic brought to their business.

While some new businesses targeted first-time buyers on social media, many traditional lenders withdrew products from the market.

Staff shortages, and employees working from home, meant they were unable to process applications as fast as they had before the pandemic.

There were also concerns among lenders that, despite strong activity in the housing market, riskier – and younger – first-time buyers could find it difficult to make mortgage repayments during an economic slowdown caused by the pandemic.

Research has shown that younger workers are more at risk of redundancy.

Aaron Strutt, from mortgage broker Trinity Financial, said lenders were now working more efficiently despite staff still being at home.

He said that some of the biggest mortgage lenders had returned to the market. Some of the mortgage rates they were offering were not as attractive as they had been, but competition would help push down costs.

“If you are planning to purchase a property and have a 10% deposit the mortgage rates are not as cheap as they used to be, but they are getting better,” he said.

Many thousands of existing mortgage-holders who had struggled to make their repayments during the pandemic had taken payment “holidays”, which are deferrals on payments.

The latest figures from UK Finance, which represents lenders, show that 130,000 mortgage payment holidays were in place at the end of December 2020, down from a peak of 1.8 million in June last year.

By Kevin Peachey
Personal finance correspondent

UK hospitals use blockchain to track COVID-19 vaccines

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 19th Jan 2021) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Two British hospitals are using blockchain technology to keep tabs on the storage and supply of temperature-sensitive COVID-19 vaccines, the companies behind the initiative said on Tuesday, in one of the first such initiatives in the world.

Two hospitals, in central England’s Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick, are expanding their use of a distributed ledger, an offshoot of blockchain, from tracking vaccines and chemotherapy drugs to monitoring fridges storing COVID-19 vaccines.

The tech will bolster record-keeping and data-sharing across supply chains, said Everyware, which monitors vaccines and other treatments for Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), and Texas-based ledger Hedera, owned by firms including Alphabet’s Google and IBM, in a statement.

Logistical hurdles are a significant risk to the speedy distribution of COVID-19 vaccines but have resulted in booming business for companies selling technology for monitoring shipments from factory freezer to shots in the arm.

Pfizer Inc and BioNTech’s shot, for example, must be shipped and stored at ultra-cold temperatures or on dry ice, and can only last at standard fridge temperatures for up to five days.

Other vaccines, such as Moderna Inc’s, do not need such cold storage and are therefore easier to deliver.

“We can absolutely verify the data that we’ve collected from every single device,” Everyware’s Tom Screen said in an interview. “We make sure that data is accurate at source, and after that point we can verify that it’s never been changed, it’s never been tampered with.”

Firms from finance to commodities have invested millions of dollars to develop blockchain, a digital ledger that allows the secure and real-time recording of data, in the hope of radical cost cuts and efficiency gains.

Results have been mixed, though, with few projects achieving the revolutionary impact heralded by proponents.

Everyware’s Screen said it while it would be possible to monitor the vaccines without blockchain, manual systems would raise the risk of mistakes.

The system will “allow us to demonstrate our commitment to providing safe patient care,” said Steve Clarke, electro-bio medical engineering manager at South Warwickshire NHS in a statement.

Reporting by Tom Wilson

Holiday bookings surge as Covid vaccinations rollout

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 19th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –

People high on list for jabs in UK ready to make 2021 and 2022 plans

Abta says is it is hearing from members that the over-50s represent a much higher proportion of early bookers than normal.

Holiday companies have reported an increase in bookings as the UK’s coronavirus vaccine rollout gives people hope that they will soon be able to travel overseas again.

Despite a series of negative travel announcements in recent days, including the closure of air corridors and words of caution from ministers over foreign holidays, there are signs that those among the first in line for the vaccinations are starting to plan trips, and that consumers are hopeful about taking a break later this year.

The travel association Abta said it was hearing from members that the over-50s represented a much higher proportion of early bookers than normal.Matt Hancock cautions against booking holidays abroad.

Saga, which specialises in holidays for the over-50s, reported rising numbers of bookings for this year and next. Traffic to its bookings website was up by 16% in the first two weeks of this year, compared with the first two weeks of December, while sales made through Saga had doubled over the same period. The interest comes despite the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, saying it was too early to plan for summer holidays this year because of travel restrictions and Matt Hancock, the health secretary, suggesting on Monday that holidays abroad may not be a given.

Bookings for long-haul trips for 2022 have also surged, suggesting an appetite for “once-in-a-lifetime holidays”, Saga said, while people are booking for longer even for short-haul destinations.

Saga said 70% of short-haul-stay bookings between November 2021 and January 2022 were for 21 nights or longer.

Chris Simmonds, the chief executive of Saga Holidays, said: “Many of our guests are hopeful that they will be able to travel again soon, with the vaccine providing them the optimism they need to start planning ahead.

“Of course, given we cater exclusively for people aged over 50, many of our customers are near the top of the queue for a vaccine, which is giving them the confidence to start thinking about travelling again, as well as returning to other parts of normal life.”

The tour operator Tui said older travellers were making up more of its bookings than usual.

A spokesperson said: “We’re seeing more interest in holidays from an age group that wasn’t coming through before, with the over-50s starting to book, we assume, on the back of the positive vaccine news.

“Since the end of last year, bookings from this group have accounted for 50% of all our web bookings, as customers long for a sunshine break later in summer, in particular in Greece, Turkey or the Balearics.”

It also reported customers booking longer breaks than previously, with many opting for 10, 11 or 14 nights instead of seven. It suggested this was to make up for not having had a holiday in 2020.

The airline easyJet said its holiday bookings for the summer were 250% higher than they had been at this point last year.

Its chief executive, Johan Lundgren, said: “We have seen easyJet holidays bookings from our over-50s customers increase over the last few weeks in comparison to pre-Christmas, which suggests a further confidence boost from the vaccine rollout.”

Lundgren said there was “pent-up demand”, adding: ”We have seen that every time restrictions have been relaxed and so we know that people want to go on holiday as soon as they can.”

Skyscanner, which offers flights and hotels via its website, said searches and bookings remained lower than normal for the time of year but there were signs that activity was picking up.

Searches were up by 12% over the week and bookings by 7%, with July 2021 the most searched for month.

Other firms reported bookings were higher for this September and October, suggesting consumers were hopeful that vaccines may have been delivered and travel restrictions lifted by the autumn.

On Monday, tough new testing rules came into effect that require all those arriving in the UK to show a negative Covid-19 test or face a potential £500 fine. The UK has also closed all its travel corridors, meaning people arriving will be required to quarantine.

Meanwhile, an official close to the Australian government has warned that tourists could face “substantial border restrictions” for most of 2021. Returning Australian travellers must pay about AU$3,000 (£1,700) to quarantine inside a hotel room for 14 days.

By Miles Brignall and Gwyn Topham

Next Fashion chain reported to be the frontrunner to buy Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia retail empire

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 18th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –

Fashion chain Next is reported to be the frontrunner to buy Sir Philip Green's Arcadia retail empire out of administration as a deadline for bids comes due on Monday.

The Sunday Times said a consortium including the chain and US hedge fund Davidson Kempner has overtaken Mike Ashley's Frasers Group among others to buy the company, which owns Topshop.

Some 13,000 jobs were put at risk when Arcadia went bust in November.

Next declined to comment on the claims.

The retailer, which has 550 UK stores, has weathered the pandemic well, with its Christmas sales matching last year's figures despite temporary store closures.

By contrast, sales at Acadia, which also owns Burton and Dorothy Perkins, slumped during the crisis triggering its collapse.

Since November, administrators Deloitte have been looking for buyers for some or all of the group, which had 444 stores in the UK and 22 overseas at the time.

Frasers Group, which owns House of Fraser and Sports Direct, and has a track record of buying up failed brands, has expressed an interest.

According to reports, Authentic Brands, the US owner of the Barneys department store, and JD Sports have tabled a joint offer, while online retailer Boohoo is also said to be circling.

Deloitte and Arcadia declined to comment on the reports.

Experts expect Arcadia to be broken up, with bidders taking on different parts of the business, and brands potentially hived off from their stores.

In December, Australian collective City Chic said it would buy Arcadia's Evans brand, commerce and wholesale business for £23m but not its store network.

Next boss Simon Wolfson has said it will take a minority stake in Arcadia, with Davidson Kempner holding the majority, if the consortium's bid succeeds.

‘More pain to come'

Last year was the worst for the High Street in more than 25 years as the coronavirus accelerated the move towards online shopping, according to the Centre for Retail Research (CRR).

Nearly 180,000 retail jobs were lost in the UK, up by almost a quarter on the previous year, as shops faced strict curbs and prolonged closures.

CRR warned there will be more pain for the sector in 2021 as retailers face a cash flow crisis and rent payments.

It has predicted up to 200,000 more retail jobs will be at risk in 2021.

The Electric Pickup Truck War Is Here

Source: Bloomberg

The electrification of the pickup truck, America's most beloved automobile, could finally jolt EVs fully into the U.S. mainstream. It also promises a huge payday for the companies that can make them affordable. The players in this potentially lucrative market aren't just the traditional, deep-pocketed automakers, mind you: there's a batch of well-funded startups going head-to-head in the coming fight

15 Powerful Goals to Set for 2021

Source: Alux

This Alux.com video we will be answering the following questions: What are you plans for 2021? What are your goals for 2021? What should you achieve in 2021? What are the best goals for 2021? What are the best new year's resolutions for 2021? How should you set up your goals? How to plan for your goals? How to make this year better? How to set personal goals? What are the best personal goals? What are the most powerful personal goals for 2021? How to make the most out of 2021?

Lidl and food courier Just Eat sales surged by lockdown living

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 14th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –

Restaurant and pub closures fuel trading boom over Christmas period

Lockdown living has driven a surge in demand at Lidl and the food courier Just Eat, with both companies posting strong sales for the final weeks of 2020.

With restaurants and cafes closed to diners, the boom in home eating led Just Eat Takeaway.com to report a 57% spike in orders across Europe during the final three months of last year, compared with a year earlier.

The leap in trade reported by the continent’s biggest food delivery service was a further acceleration in growth from the 46% jump in the third quarter.

In the UK, delivery orders surged by almost 400% in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared with the same period of 2019, as many consumers were once again asked by the government to stay indoors.

Just Eat Takeaway, based in the Netherlands and one of the world’s largest online food delivery firms, said it had put “tremendous effort” into improving its British business, including a doubling of its UK sales force.

In 2021, we will continue to invest in price leadership, improving our service levels and expanding our offering to restaurants and consumers,” said Jitse Groen, the chief executive.

Lidl also reported a record Christmas, as customers celebrated with panettone and pink prosecco.

Sales at the chain rose by 17.9% in the four weeks to 27 December, compared with the same period a year earlier. The increase was larger than those at the UK’s four biggest supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons – and Aldi.

British supermarkets notched up their biggest month on record in December, with consumers spending £11.7bn on take-home groceries, according to analysts at the research group Kantar, as coronavirus restrictions led to the closure of many restaurants, pubs and cafes during the key trading period.

Lidl said shoppers bought more goods – with basket size increasing by almost 25% year on year – and British households switched £34.7m of spend to Lidl from other supermarkets.

Customers’ taste for premium food and drink over the Christmas period boosted their spend, and sales of Lidl’s Deluxe range climbed by 22%.

Lidl shoppers bought more than 1m bottles of pink prosecco during the festive period, as well as 2.7m panettones. An average of 17,000 Deluxe mince pies an hour were sold during December.

Christian Härtnagel, chief executive of Lidl GB, said its record sales and basket size growth demonstrated the strength of the chain’s appeal.

And the store’s first branded Christmas jumper, featuring the logo as part of a festive design, appears to have topped the charts, with one sold every minute in the month to 27 December.

“Despite this Christmas being a difficult time for many across the country, we are pleased to have been able to help our customers enjoy themselves by offering high-quality food at the lowest prices on the market,” he said.

Trump dropped by Deutsche Bank for future business – NYT

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 12th Jan 2021) London, UK —

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Deutsche Bank will not do business in the future with U.S. President Donald Trump or his companies in the wake of his supporters’ assault on the U.S. Capitol, the New York Times reported.

Deutsche Bank is Trump’s biggest lender, with about $340 million in loans outstanding to the Trump Organization, the president’s umbrella group that is currently overseen by his two sons, according to Trump’s disclosures with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics dated July 31 last year, plus banking sources.

The move, reported by the NYT and citing a person familiar with the bank’s thinking, comes as Signature Bank – where Trump’s ethics disclosures show he has checking and money-market accounts – called for him to step down.

“The resignation of the president … is in the best interests of our nation and the American people,” Signature Bank said on its website.

A spokesman for Deutsche Bank declined to comment on Tuesday on the NYT report.

The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment outside normal business hours, and the White House press office did not answer the phone.

Christiana Riley, the head of Deutsche Bank’s U.S. operations, condemned the Jan. 6 violence in Washington in a post on LinkedIn last week.

“We are proud of our Constitution and stand by those who seek to uphold it to ensure that the will of the people is upheld and a peaceful transition of power takes place,” she wrote.

Reuters reported in November that Deutsche Bank was looking for ways to end its relationship with Trump after the U.S. elections, as it tires of the negative publicity stemming from the ties.

Trump’s loans with Deutsche are for a golf course in Miami and hotels in Washington and Chicago.

The president was handed a rebuke by the world of professional golf this week, with the PGA of America and the R&A both announcing they would shun two courses owned by the President in the wake of the Capitol storming.

Twitter and Facebook have shut down Trump’s social-media feeds.

Reporting by Tom Sims

Dr Martens UK footwear brand planning £3bn stock market debut in London

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 12th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –

Footwear brand expected to float at least 25% of business as sales surge during pandemic

First popularised by the skinheads in the 1960s, Dr Martens later becoming fashion staples among punks, goths and schoolgirls.

The British footwear brand Dr Martens is planning a £3bn flotation, more than 60 years after its first pair of boots were stitched together in Northamptonshire.

Best known for its 1460 boot featuring its trademark yellow stitching and chunky soles, the company expects to float at least 25% of the business on the London stock market.

It comes nearly seven years after Dr Martens was bought for £300m by the private equity group Permira. Sales under its ownership have surged, rising from £160m in 2013 to £672m in the year to March 2020. Sources close to the plans said the shoe company expects to seek a valuation of about £3bn.

The brand, which sells 11m pairs of shoes and boots a year across more than 60 countries, managed to grow throughout the pandemic, despite lockdowns that forced its 130 high street stores to close. Dr Martens reported an 18% rise in sales to £318m in the six months to September, while profits grew by a third to £86.3m. The majority of sales come from the wholesale business, which sells to third-party retailers.

The first pair of Dr Martens made in the UK was in 1960 at its original factory in Northamptonshire, where one of its two main offices is still based. The boots grew in popularity over the following decades, first adopted by skinheads in the 1960s, and later becoming fashion staples among punks, goths and schoolgirls.

However, Russ Mould, the investment director at broker AJ Bell, said there were some “red flags”, including consumer complaints over the quality of Dr Martens footwear.

“Could it be that the business has suffered under private equity ownership? Many investors are sceptical about backing companies that are being sold by private equity, for fear they might have suffered from underinvestment and subjected to a ‘quantity over quality’ approach for production,” Mould said.

However, some critics have said the alleged deterioration came after it shifted the bulk of its production from the UK to Asia nearly 20 years ago, he said.

Dr Martens said it rejected allegations of declining standards, and said Permira had continued to invest in the business since its takeover.

The footwear firm also said on Monday it had diversified its supply chain, and reduced the proportion of shoes made in China from 46% to 32% between 2019 and 2020, but did not link the changes to quality concerns.

Mould said Dr Martens’ IPO was coming at an interesting time for UK markets, hot on the heels of a Brexit deal and the best-ever start to a calendar year for the FTSE 100. “If ever there was a good time to market a well-known British name to investors, it is now,” he said.

By Kalyeena Makortoff

Ocado warns customers of missing items and substitutions over the next few weeks

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 11th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –

Online supermarket Ocado has become the first big retailer to warn of shortages of some products.

It told customers in an email that there may be “an increase of missing items and substitutions over the next few weeks”.

Staff sickness and self-isolation means some food producers are cutting the number of product lines they offer.

While customers might not get their exact product choice, plenty of food should be available, Ocado said.

“Staff absences across the supply chain may lead to an increase in product substitutions for a small number of customers as some suppliers consolidate their offering to maintain output,” a spokesperson said.

The news comes after a rush of online food orders for supermarkets, as shoppers try to stay at home after the new lockdown started.

Within a couple of hours of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's speech to the nation on Monday, shoppers reported problems with Sainsbury's and Tesco, while Ocado customers were placed in a virtual queue.

Ocado told its customers that from Friday “changes to the UK supply chain have affected some of our suppliers and may result in an increase of missing items and substitutions over the next few weeks.”

It added: “We apologise for any inconvenience caused and we are working hard to mitigate any impact.”

Food suppliers are grappling with staffing problems, hospitality clients who have closed their doors and delays at the border with the EU.

Wholesalers the BBC spoke to this week said they faced throwing away thousands of pounds worth of food because of cancelled orders following new restrictions.

The UK meat industry has called for the early vaccination of its workers to keep food supplies running smoothly during the coronavirus crisis.

It warned earlier this week that absences during the pandemic, coupled with disruption at ports, could hit food supply chains.

An early vaccination call for supermarket staff was also made by the boss of Sainsbury's on Thursday.

The government said the food industry remains “well-prepared” to make sure people have the food they need.

The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) said coronavirus and disruption at ports due to new systems brought in after the Brexit transition period were “a severe challenge to the industry and to the smooth running of the nation's food supply chain”.

How Self-Storage Industry Continues to Outperform During The Pandemic to Make Billions

Source: CNBC

Americans collectively have more than five billion items sitting at home that they no longer use, according to a 2019 survey by online marketplace Mercari. One-click shopping and the globalization of overseas manufacturing has made it easier than ever for consumers to acquire goods. According to the Self Storage Association, an industry trade group, more than 10% of households in the U.S. rented a self-storage unit in 2020, 18% more than in 2005. The self-storage industry has continued to outperform during the pandemic, with several companies reporting strong occupancy and healthy demand, according to the research site Yardi Matrix. But with headwinds threatening the economy will self-storage companies like Public Storage and Extra Space Storage be able to maintain their momentum? And what will new disruptors like Neighbor and Clutter mean for the future of the industry?

Changchun Ice And Snow World 2021

Source: Chun Ming Ng

Changchun Ice and Snow World 2021 (or Changchun Ice and Snow Xintiandi 长春冰雪新天地) debuted with a new image this year. It is the world's biggest ice and snow festival, bigger than the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival. It covers an area of 1.38 million square meters, and the amount of ice and snow used exceeds 200,000 cubic meters. It is a veritable “Ice Kingdom”. As the first million-square-meter “Ice Kingdom” in the country to light up, Changchun Ice and Snow Xintiandi have built 142 ice and snow buildings.

Marks & Spencer sales of sleepwear soared as people spend more time at home

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 8th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –

Marks & Spencer says sales of sleepwear have soared as people spend more time at home because of Covid restrictions.

The retailer sold 20% more women's pyjamas during the 13 weeks to 26 December, with many of them being bought as Christmas presents.

“The great British public are back in their pyjamas,” said chief executive Steve Rowe.

Despite this, clothing sales as a whole fell nearly a quarter, although food sales showed modest growth.

M&S said its trading was “robust” over the Christmas period, but UK revenues for the quarter were £2.52bn, 8.2% lower than last year.

M&S blamed “on-off restrictions and distortions in demand patterns” due to the coronavirus crisis.

International revenues also took a big hit, falling 10.4%.

M&S also said that potential post-Brexit tariffs on part of its range exported to the EU, together with “very complex” administrative processes, would “significantly impact” its businesses in Ireland and the Czech Republic, as well as its franchise business in France.

Mr Rowe said the chain's popular Peppa Pig sweets, made in Germany, were one product that could face tax rises.

It said it was “actively working to mitigate” those effects.

Mr Rowe thanked staff for “a first-class execution of Christmas for our customers in near impossible conditions”.

The High Street stalwart said customers had responded to its “innovative seasonal product” during the four-week run-up to Christmas.

Like-for-like food sales had risen 2.6% during the period, it said.

However, clothing and home sales fell by 24.1%, and UK sales overall were down 7.6% on a like-for-like basis.

Trading was hit particularly badly in November by the national lockdown in England, with clothing and home sales slumping 40.5% in the month and food sales down 4.5%.

“Near-term trading remains very challenging, but we are continuing to accelerate change under our Never the Same Again programme to ensure the business emerges from the pandemic in very different shape,” Mr Rowe said.

Multi-brand shift

On the positive side, M&S said its tie-up with online firm Ocado had produced “very strong” results, while customers had responded to its “innovative seasonal product” during the four-week run-up to Christmas.

Ross Hindle, retail sector analyst at Third Bridge, said: “Despite the pressure faced by their clothing division, the M&S food division is expected to deliver solid results, propelled by both stockpiling and its Ocado partnership.

He pointed to reports that M&S was poised to acquire the Jaeger clothing brand as a possible way forward, saying it “hints at the potential for a more aggressive shift into the multi-brand space”.

“M&S have numerous large stores which could be filled with non-M&S merchandise in order to drive their top-line. The risk here is whether such brands might cannibalise M&S branded products,” he added.

Emily Salter, retail analyst at GlobalData, said M&S was “paying the cost for its inability to adapt fast enough to changing shopping habits”.

“M&S's recovery is slow versus other apparel players, as it continues to be hurt by an online platform unable to make up for lost store sales,” she added.

She saw little point in a potential purchase of Jaeger, as it would be “costly to turn around and do little to boost the retailer's fortunes”.

However, she said M&S's focus on value in food had “started to pay off, with decent sales growth, especially considering dampened footfall on High Streets”.

Ryanair to roll-out 737 MAX with UK market – CEO

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 7th Jan 2021) London, UK —

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ryanair plans to begin deploying its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in the United Kingdom following its first deliveries in the coming months, CEO Eddie Wilson said on Thursday.

The airline has said it expects to receive around 30 of the MAX aircraft, which were ungrounded in the United States late last year after a 20-month safety ban that followed two fatal crashes.

“We will deploying those probably initially in the UK,” Eddie Wilson told Newstalk radio.

Reporting by Conor Humphries

Neil Young sells half of the rights to his song catalogue to Hipgnosis

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 6th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –

Publishing house makes third major deal in a week, following acquisition of catalogues by Jimmy Iovine and Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsay Buckingham

Neil Young has sold half of the rights to his song catalogue to Hipgnosis, in the same week the publishing house has acquired catalogues by former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsay Buckingham and super-producer Jimmy Iovine.

The deal comprises Young’s entire song catalogue of 1,180 compositions, with Hipgnosis taking on 50% of the worldwide copyright and income from the catalogue in exchange for an undisclosed cash sum that will certainly run into nine figures.

Hipgnosis Songs Fund was founded in 2018 by Merck Mercuriadis, who has previously managed artists including Elton John, Guns N’ Roses and Beyoncé. In December, after floating the company on the London Stock Exchange in 2018, he announced the company’s market value had reached £1.25bn. In the first six months of 2020, the company generated £50m in revenue, twice the amount for the same period in 2019.

Part of that growing Hipgnosis income is from use of its song catalogue in film and television, as well as advertising. Young is famously resistant to his music being used on adverts, singing in 1988 on This Note’s for You: “Ain’t singing for Pepsi / Ain’t singing for Coke / I don’t sing for nobody / Makes me look like a joke.”

Mercuriadis acknowledged Young’s stance, saying: “We have a common integrity, ethos and passion born out of a belief in music and these important songs. There will never be a ‘Burger of Gold’ but we will work together to make sure everyone gets to hear them on Neil’s terms.”

“Burger of Gold” is a reference to a 1973 Neil Young concert, where he revealed he’d been asked by an unnamed company to use hit song Heart of Gold on an advert, and joked he would have had to rename the song Burger of Gold if he’d agreed.

Mercuriadis said he had been a Young fan since the age of seven when he bought the album Harvest. He referred to his albums as “part of who I am, they’re in many ways responsible for who I’ve become and they’re most certainly in my DNA”.

Earlier this week, Hipgnosis also acquired 100% of Lindsay Buckingham’s 161-song catalogue, including hits he wrote for Fleetwood Mac such as Go Your Own Way, plus 50% of any as-yet unreleased songs. Mercuriadis hailed him as “one of the greatest guitarists, songwriters and producers of all time yet is still so underrated”.

He also acquired the worldwide producer royalties from 259 songs by Jimmy Iovine, who produced artists including Bruce Springsteen, U2 and Patti Smith before founding the Beats Electronics technology firm that was bought out by Apple for $3bn in 2014. Iovine said his work had found “the right home”, and that he would use the proceeds to fund the building of a high school in Los Angeles.

Hipgnosis started out buying the catalogues of star songwriters and producers such as Timbaland, The-Dream, TMS and Rodney Jerkins, before acquiring artist catalogues including Mark Ronson, Barry Manilow, Steve Winwood and Blondie.

Stars selling their catalogues has become a major music industry trend in recent years, including Buckingham’s former bandmate Stevie Nicks, who sold 80% of her song publishing rights to a rival publishing house, Primary Wave, in December.

Later that month came the most eye-catching deal of all: Bob Dylan selling his entire catalogue to Universal Music Group for a sum believed to be over $300m (£225m). Universal called it “the most significant music publishing agreement this century and one of the most important of all time”.

By Ben Beaumont-Thomas