Spanish firm Inditex credited strong growth to emerging markets

 

Inditex, the world's biggest clothing retailer which is best known for fashion chain Zara, just reported a 10 percent jump in annual net profit.

Same-store sales were also up 10 percent in the year to the end of January.

The Spanish firm credited strong growth in emerging markets as well as a policy of opening bigger stores in prime locations that are then integrated with its expanding online operations.

However, profitability fell due to negative currency effects.

Food and Drink Businesses Keeping Close Watch On Price Rises

AJ Gazmen/Flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Wed, 15 Mar, 2017) London, Uk – –

Price rises are being considered by nearly three-quarters of major food and drink businesses, according to an industry monitor.

Pubs and restaurants are facing the spectre of rising costs from the business rates review as well as the forthcoming rise in the national living wage. Meanwhile competition within the sector is becoming even more fierce.

Like-for-like sales in February rose 1.7pc, according to the Coffer Peach Business Tracker. This compares well to more moribund retail sales data that recently showed growth in January was at its lowest rate since November 2013.

“Encouraging though these figures are, pub and restaurant groups will be working even harder this year to maintain trading levels as their margins are squeezed by increasing overheads,” said Peter Martin, vice president of business consultancy CGA Peach.

“As our recent CGA Business Leaders' Survey of 450 senior executives across pub, bar and restaurant chains showed, almost three-quarters are looking to pass increased costs, at least in part, on to the consumer this year.

“That means they will have to redouble efforts to up the customer experience.”

Analysts at Barclays noted prices were rising across the pub sector, something that had been discussed at a recent meeting with pub group Marston's.

“Given sector cost headwinds, management commented that it is seeing competitors raise prices across the pub sector,” Barclays said.

“Marston’s do not see themselves as price leaders but they have said prices are being raised, and they are prepared to follow this with their own gentle price increases.”

Restaurant groups had the best of February’s trading according to the Coffer Peach data, with like-for-like sales up 2.4pc nationally on the same month in 2016, boosted by family business during the school half-term holidays.

Managed pubs, which are run by the company that owns them instead of being leased, recorded a more modest 1.2pc rise in like-for-like sales.

London outperformed the rest of the country with like-for-likes sales ahead 2.6pc against 1.4pc outside of the M25.

Total sales growth in February among the 34 companies in the Coffer Peach Tracker was 4.7pc, reflecting the impact of new openings over the year.

However, the underlying annual sales trend shows sector like-for-likes are running at just 1pc ahead for the 12 months to the end of February.

By Bradley Gerrard

Intel Buys Mobileye Tech Firm For $15.3

 

US microchip maker Intel is about to be the new company behind the wheel at the driverless technology firm Mobileye.

Intel has agreed to buy the Israeli tech firm for $15.3 (14.3 billion euros) which could give it a dominant role in the autonomous-driving sector.

It is the biggest technology takeover in Israel's history and the largest purchase of a company solely focused on self-driving. The price represents a premium of around 33 percent to the Friday closing price of Mobileye's shares.

Skull Island Weekend Opening Now At $61M

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via deadline.com — Sun, 12 Mar, 2017) London, Uk —

Early morning industry estimates are confirming what we saw late last night: Warner Bros./Legendary monster movie is poised to pull in between $60M-$61M after a $24M Saturday that was +19% from Friday’s $20.2M. And Warner Bros. is reporting Kong: Skull Island at $61M as well. On the high end, that’s a 35% improvement on the pic’s projections four weeks ago, and $11M higher from where we originally thought Kong would land. Imax brought in $7.6M at 382 auditorium repping 12.5% of the weekend. Eight of Kong‘s 10 top-grossing locations included Imax bookings. In total, the global opening for Kong: Skull Island stands at $142.6M which is ahead of the $135M we forecasted.

Regarding Kong‘s rebound, Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. domestic distribution president said, “I think the marketing sold the movie perfectly heading into the weekend. This is a great weekend for the industry overall and all of our exhibition partners. The industry is up 24% from a year ago.” In fact for the period of Jan. 1-March 12, the total domestic B.O. is at $2.18 billion according to ComScore which is flat with the same frame a year ago. That’s good news, as 2017 tickets sales have been lagging for a few weekends.

On social media, you can also feel the warmth for Kong: RelishMix reports that hashtag activity for the Jordan Vogt-Roberts-directed movie has tripled since Thursday at 5.2K unique hashtags combined across Instagram and Twitter to 17.3K on Saturday. #KongSkullIsland hashtags are at 61.4K over four weeks with 21.5K for #Kong and 17.8K for #KingKong. Social gender activity is 60.8% male and 39.1% female while age is slicing 78% over 25 and 21.7% under 25. Since the Mexico premiere, Tom Hiddleston’s Instagram popped heavily with 254K likes on March 6th.

Reviewers already knew Kong: Skull Island was a fun ride different from other Kongs, and for moviegoers to believe it they needed to see it. Kong could capitalize on another recent B.O. trend: Well-reviewed movies like Universal/Blumhouse’s Get Out and 20th Century Fox’s Logan have experienced decent first Sunday holds (both those titles dipped 22% from Saturday). Given that, there might be a chance that Kong bests what’s expected to be a  -30% decline.

True, a $60M-plus No. 1 opening in March is noteworthy, and we’ve seen other movies like Divergent 1 & 2 open to $52M-plus during this month, but damn, Kong: Skull Island is bloody expensive at $185M along with an estimated global P&A of $136M putting a cloud over its profitability. And it’s that high cost that deflates the celebration of Kong‘s No. 1 win. Kong will get dinged around the world when Disney’s Beauty and the Beast opens next weekend, but WB is hoping to make good at the B.O. during that six-week play period stateside leading up to Easter when kids are rotating on spring break.

Overseas is at $81.6M in 65 markets, which is alright, though financiers have told us that $120M would have been a better start. WB/Legendary’s Godzilla after ancillaries yielded a profit off a $529M global haul. Does Kong get there? Japan and China open later this month, and despite the latter country’s Tencent Pictures being involved in Kong: Skull Island, the movie isn’t a Chinese co-production, therefore it’s subjected to the typical rental for U.S. pics that’s between 25%-27%. We deconstructed Kong: Skull Island on Friday, and aside from Logan and Get Out stealing the monkey’s money this weekend, the biggest challenge for the latest iteration of this classic Hollywood brand is King Kong himself.

By Anthony D'Alessandro

Nintendo’s Switch early sales in Europe and United States strong

 

Nintendo's shares rose on Wednesday following reports of strong sales of its Switch games console.

The hybrid home and mobile device is essential for Nintendo's future profitability after the poor performance of its previous offering the Wii U.

Japanese video gaming magazine Famitsu said an estimated 330,637 Switch units were sold in Japan in the first three days after its release on March 3.

Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted Positioned for Global Brand Battle

 

Kasper Rorsted, chief executive officer at Adidas, discusses his growth plan for the brand, how import taxes may impact the entire industry, capturing the “cool” factor in the company’s products, and turning around the Reebok brand. He speaks on “Bloomberg Surveillance.”

PSA Group to buy GM’s Opel unit valued at $2.3 Billion

 

Group agreed to buy GM’s Opel unit in a transaction valued at 2.2 billion euro ($2.3 billion), creating Europe’s second-largest carmaker in a bid to better compete in the region’s saturated market. Bloomberg's Manus Cranny reports on “Bloomberg Daybreak: Europe.”

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on First Roastery in downtown Milan in late 2018

Starbucks is entering the market in Italy for the first time. The world’s biggest coffee-shop operator will open a 25,500-square-foot retail space in a historic post office building in downtown Milan in late 2018. Speaking to Bloomberg's Francine Lacqua in the heart of the roastery, CEO Howard Schultz says Starbucks will have to earn success in a nation that pioneered coffee drinking. Schultz says Italy might not be the biggest market, but it is their most important. He also says China will probably overtake the U.S. in terms of the number of stores operated and discusses the company's tax arrangements as well as the state of U.S. politics.

 

Nokia’s relaunched 3310 mobile phone nearly 17 years after its debut

 

Nokia's 3310 phone has been relaunched nearly 17 years after its debut. Many consider the original handset iconic because of its popularity and sturdiness. More than 126 million were produced before it was phased out in 2005. The revamped version will be sold under licence by the Finnish start-up HMD Global, which also unveiled several Nokia-branded Android smartphones. One expert said it was a “fantastic way” to relaunch Nokia's phone brand.

 

 

 

Remote work and the challenges pose to small businesses

 

Nicolas Huk/flickr.com

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – via Staples–Sat, 4 March, 2017) London, Uk – –

The acknowledgement of the need for flexible working has been largely welcomed but what challenges does this pose to small businesses?

By the end of this year, more than 50pc of businesses in the UK are likely to have flexible working policies in place, with the tipping point – when office and desk-based working becomes the exception rather than the rule – having been reached.

That is according to a Citrix-commissioned report by The Work Foundation at Lancaster University, published in February 2016, which also predicted that by 2020 some 70pc of organisations will have followed suit, thus banishing many working norms – such as the nine-to-five shift in the office – to the past.

But what does that mean for SME owners? What should you be thinking about to enable your staff to work at home, or on the move? And which productivity tools are best?

By the end of this year, more than 50pc of businesses in the UK are likely to have flexible working policies in place
Professor Geraint Johnes, director of research at The Work Foundation, says: “One of the biggest challenges for small businesses is to learn how to manage the activities of their staff who are mobile workers. Getting people together to collaborate requires making arrangements in advance and deciding on a software platform (Skype, for example) on which meetings can take place.

“This change in routine may be daunting, but the ability not to be restricted by space opens up all sorts of possibilities for collaboration – both with people inside the firm and those outside. While the flexibility is a plus, firms need to be aware of the drawbacks, and put arrangements in to compensate.”

Paul Dunne, UK and Ireland manager of Plantronics, an electronics company producing audio communications equipment for business and consumers, agrees and says: “Mobile working can allow SMEs to cut costs significantly by reducing the need for physical office space.

“Real estate costs a great deal of money and when combining that with the overheads of heating, managing phone lines and IT infrastructure, and maintaining the general office environment, the traditional work space becomes a significant strain on budgets.”

Choosing your own office

“With flexible working you could do away with the office altogether or, at the very least, reduce bricks and mortar considerably,” notes Mr Dunne. “From an employee’s point of view, they’re able to save time and money by reducing their commute, and they’re able to work from a comfortable environment with little or no distractions, increasing both productivity and morale.”

However, on team bonding Prof Johnes warns: “Water cooler conversations may decline, so opportunities for workers to meet together virtually, outside of the pressure cooker, need to be built into the timetable.”

Gary Turner, co-founder and UK managing director of Xero, a software company that develops cloud-based accounting software for SMEs, says: “The modern workforce is far less interested in a dedicated desk or chair set-up at the office, so as long as your employees are all invested, mobile working can transform a business.

“Home working enables you to fit your work life into your other responsibilities and can allow you to get a lot done in a short amount of time – but you must be clever with the tools you use and be wary of other distractions, particularly regarding family life.”

With flexible working you could do away with the office altogether or, at the very least, reduce bricks and mortar considerably
Regarding tips for tools, he adds: “Mobile apps can boost your business to get the most from employees wherever they are. Google Hangouts enables ad-hoc 1:1 video conversations and larger group meetings of up to 25 participants with chat-group features to provide backchannel for crowdsourcing quick answers.

“Also, project management tools such as Basecamp and smart inbox management can help you manage your tasks, and cloud software enables teams to collaborate remotely on shared documents via software such as Google Drive, saving valuable time.”

The home-working office is easily equipped without filling the room with clutter. Portable hard drives and USBs are handy backups to cloud services, and privacy filters will help the keep home working environment secure and private.

“Work is what you do and not where you go,” suggests Rami Houbby, managing director of internet telephony service provider NFON UK. “There are many productivity tools that can help workers get the most out of mobile working. Services such as cloud telephony can make them feel and work as if they were behind their desk. Added to that are features such as desktop sharing, presence and instant messaging, so they can communicate effectively and seamlessly.”

Getting to the heart of the matter, Mr Houbby adds: “While everyone is talking about video conferencing, which has become much more affordable, the main barrier to adoption is still perception: not all staff members are comfortable to be seen in their home clothing on the screen.”

By Oliver Pickup

 

Uber CEO Kalanick apologised after Argument With Driver Over Falling Fares

 

The head of the online taxi service Uber has apologised after a video of him swearing at one of the company's drivers went viral. Travis Kalanick says he is ashamed of his behaviour after the driver complained his income was falling because of Uber's fare structure.

Snap to Price 200 Million Shares at $17 each

 

In a few hours, Snapchat's parent Snap will list on the NYSE under the ticker, “SNAP.” In preparation, the NYSE planned a practice sale of the much-anticipated Snap IPO hoping to avoid technical glitches ahead of the event and Snap priced 200 million shares at $17 each. The countdown begins.