Harrods landmark London store came under protest over waiters’ tips

Saturday was a busy old day at Harrods – but for all the wrong reasons as far as the luxury department store is concerned. A protest outside the shop's entrance brought together disgruntled restaurant staff, complaining that up to 75 percent of the tips they receive in one of London's best-known landmarks are being kept by its Qatari owner.

Interior design and technology of the Toyota Concept-i

Toyota CALTY designer lead Ian Cartabiano walks through the interior design and technology of the Concept-i concept at CES 2017. With scissor-doors, autonomous driving, and an innovative artificial intelligence co-driver, it's a preview of the sort of technology that Toyota believes could be in the emotionally-engaged cars of tomorrow.

Maqui Berry the new super food coming to juice cleanses near you

There’s a new super food coming to juice cleanses near you, and it’s called the Maqui Berry. Like its predecessors, the Maqui Berry has ridiculous amounts of antioxidants and lots of the accompanying claims about its body-healing properties. Ashlee Vance, the host of Hello World, took a recent trip to the wine country outside of Santiago to see how the Maqui Berry is being processed by SouthAm Freeze Dry.

Toyota could be imposed with heavy border tax if it builds factory in Mexico: President-elect Trump

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Fri, 6 Jan, 2017) London, UK – –

Shares of Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) fell more than 3 percent on Friday after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump threatened to impose heavy taxes on the automaker if it builds its Corolla cars for the U.S. market at a plant in Mexico.

Toyota dropped as much as 3.1 percent to 6,830 yen ($59.06) in early trade before paring losses, after Trump's tweet on Thursday – “Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax.”

The tweet was Trump's first broadside against a foreign automaker. He has slammed automakers in the United States for building cars in lower-cost factories south of the border, which he said costs American jobs.

This week Ford Motor Co (F.N) scrapped plans to build a $1.6 billion assembly plant in Mexico after Trump criticized the investment.

Trump's tweet confused Toyota's existing Baja plant with the planned $1 billion plant in Guanajuato, where construction got under way in November.

Baja produces around 100,000 pickup trucks and truck beds annually, including the Tacoma pick-up truck. In September, Toyota said it would increase output of pick-up trucks by more than 60,000 units annually.

The Guanajuato plant will build Corollas and have an annual capacity of 200,000 when it comes online in 2019, shifting production of the small car from Canada.

Other Japanese automakers too have plants in Mexico. Nissan Motor Co (7201.T) has two facilities, producing 830,000 units in the year to March.

Honda Motor Co (7267.T) operates two assembly and engine plants in Mexico with a total annual capacity of 263,000 vehicles. It also operates a transmission plant with an annual capacity of 350,000 units.

Other Japanese carmakers also fell in early trade, with a stronger yen dragging on prices too. Honda fell more than 2 percent before paring losses, while Nissan also shed 2 percent, underperforming the broad Topix .TOPX index.


By Thomas Wilson

British Airways cabin crew to stage 48-hour strike after rejecting pay deal

The British Airways cabin crews are set to stage a walkout over payments after rejecting a deal proposed by the airline in December.
Trade union, Unite, announced that up to 2700 British Airways cabin crew members will leave work for 48 hours from January 10. The strike was initially planned for Christmas Day and December 26 but it was postponed after the airline made the offer. However, later 70 percent of the union members voted the offer down. Unite says low salaries have forced some of its members to find a second job. British Airways have called the walkout completely unjustified. The people involved in the strike account for 15 percent of the airline’s cabin crew.

Car prices to rise within weeks due to weak pound, industry’s trade body warns

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com- – Thur, 5 Jan, 2017) London, Uk – –

Sterling's weakness will see new car costs climb within weeks, adding to the list of products predicted to grow in price in 2017.

Car prices will start rising within weeks following the slump in the pound, the industry's trade body has warned.

The comments, by the head of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) in an interview with Sky News, add to fears of growing pressure on household budgets already facing rising fuel and retail costs.

Next used a Christmas trading statement to warn on Wednesday that its prices were on course to rise by 5%.

Meanwhile, Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane said rising prices may see consumers “throttle back” on spending – a key component of economic growth, which has partly been fuelled by rising household debt.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said new car customers would see increases in the first quarter of the year, with rises of 2-3% over coming months.

It would mean a hike of up to about £400 on a new Ford Fiesta Zetec, which currently sells for just over £13,500.

That is in addition to an earlier warning that motorists face paying £1,500 more for imported cars when the UK leaves the EU if the divorce deal results in new tariffs.

Mr Hawes made the latest comments about an imminent price hike as the SMMT published new car registration figures showing a record number vehicles, almost 2.7 million, left showrooms in 2016.

That was 2.2% up on 2015 and the fifth consecutive year of growth, though 2017 is expected to see a fall in sales.

Mr Hawes said that the private market for new cars had declined over 2016 but the market had been bolstered by strong fleet demand.

Meanwhile, diesel cars saw a record number of new car registrations – climbing to almost 1.3 million – despite the fall-out from the Volkswagen emissions scandal.

The SMMT figures showed VW new car sales in the UK fell 7.5% last year on 2015's total.

UK car manufacturing has also been strong, with 2016 figures to be published later this month as the industry aims to hit the 1972 record for number of cars produced.

But it now faces a “double-edged sword” from the collapse in the pound – which has fallen by about 18% against the dollar since June's Brexit vote.

There is a benefit because 80% of cars produced in the UK are exported and the fall in sterling makes them cheaper for overseas buyers.

But 60% of parts that go into cars come from abroad, so the cost of these has gone up.

Meanwhile, more than 80% of cars sold in the UK are imported.

“Ultimately, a fall in sterling is going to flow through to an increase in pricing, probably of the magnitude of two or three per cent over the coming months,” Mr Hawes said.

“I think we will see increasing prices certainly in the first quarter.”

Mr Hawes said it was too difficult to pencil in forecasts after that.

He added that the industry wanted to remain in the customs union, which would mean tariff-free trade as well as other “clear benefits” such as moving cars and parts quickly.

Additional costs would make it much harder to compete with other plants in Europe.

The SMMT warned in November that new tariffs, should the UK go for a “hard Brexit” split from the single market, could add billions to both import and export costs resulting in rising prices.

By John-Paul Ford Rojas

Amazon and Forever 21 considering an acquisition offer of American Apparel LLC

Amazon and Forever 21 are two of the companies considering an acquisition of American Apparel LLC. The Los Angeles-based “Made in the U.S.A.” company is set for a bankruptcy auction that “will determine the future” of the company's manufacturing plant in California. An acquisition offer made by a company would have to top Canadian apparel maker Gildan Activewear Inc, which has already placed a $66 million bid. Gildan would keep some production in California but would probably move some manufacturing to low-cost countries.

Next shares fell more than 10pc after ‘difficult’ Christmas trading

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Wed, 4 Jan, 2017) London, Uk – –

Next shares fell more than 10pc in early trading after it warned that its profits would be at the lower end of its guidance after “difficult” Christmas trading.

The high street retailer added that it expected 2017 to be another challenging year due to a squeeze on consumer spending and the fall in the value of the pound, which will hit its costs.

Next shares immediately tumbled to £42.31 following the gloomy update, in which it reported a further decline in sales in the fourth quarter of 2016. It said a difficult trading session meant its end-of-season sale was down 7pc on the same period in 2015.

The FTSE 100 company had previously said its profit before tax for the year to January would be between £785m and £825m, but this morning revealed a revised central guidance of £792m.

Total sales in the year to December 24, including markdown sales, were up 0.4pc on the previous year. But full-price sales fell 1.1pc on last year.

The group had enjoyed better-than-expected sales in the summer but now anticipates the “cyclical slow-down in spending on clothing and footwear” to continue into 2017.

The prices for garments it sources are set to increase following the devaluation of the pound, Next said, adding: “We may see a further squeeze in general spending as inflation begins to erode real earnings growth.”

Sales for the year to December 24 were down 4.3pc in Next retail but directory sales were up 3.6pc.

“Next is well placed to weather a downturn in consumer demand,” it said. “Our balance sheet remains robust and our net debt is forecast to close the current year at around £850m, this is more than covered by the value of our Directory debtor book, which will be approximately £1bn at the end of January 2017.”

Analysts at Jefferies said: “Next's disappointing Christmas trading leads to an even more downbeat outlook for 2017/18.

“Offering negative earnings growth and a lower special dividend, it is difficult to see any near-term upside here.”

By Sam Dean

Ivan Rogers Britain’s EU ambassador quits before Brexit negotiations

(qlmbusinessnews.com via newstalk.com – – Tue, 3 Jan, 2017) London, Uk – –

Brexit Vote

Britain's EU ambassador has unexpectedly quit just months before the formal Brexit talks are due to get under way.

Ivan Rogers, who was not due to leave his post until October, has announced he would step down from his post early.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said she would trigger formal negotiations for leaving the EU by the end of March.

Rogers, who was appointed to his Brussels role by David Cameron in November 2013, is one of Britain's most experienced diplomats on EU affairs.

While his resignation has been welcomed by Eurosceptics in providing a clean break from the previous administration ahead of the crunch talks, his loss of expertise during what are likely to be complex and fraught negotiations has been described by others as “a body blow”.

Rogers sparked controversy at the end of last year after he privately warned the British government a post-Brexit trade deal could take a decade to finalise and even then may fail to get approved by member states.

He faced criticism at the time from prominent Leave campaigners who accused the “scarred” diplomat of “gloomy pessimism”.

But Downing Street had come to his defence arguing he was simply passing on the views of other EU nations and was “doing the job of an ambassador”.

Confirming his departure, a UK government spokesman said: “Sir Ivan Rogers has resigned a few months early as UK Permanent Representative to the European Union.

“Sir Ivan has taken this decision now to enable a successor to be appointed before the UK invokes Article 50 by the end of March. We are grateful for his work and commitment over the last three years.”

Responding to his resignation, Hilary Benn, Labour chair of the cross-party Brexit select committee, said: “This has clearly taken everyone by surprise and it couldn't be a more difficult time, to lose someone of his experience and insight.”

Highlighting the timescale set by Mrs May to trigger the formal Article 50 process for leaving the EU, Mr Been said finding a replacement should be an “urgent priority” for the government.

UKIP donor and Leave.EU chairman Arron Banks said: “This is a man who claimed it could take up to 10 years to agree a Brexit deal.

Rogers was awarded a knighthood last year for services to British, European and international policy.

London to welcome China’s first freight train

China’s multi-billion dollar One Belt, One Road plan is a strategy launched in 2013 and focus on infrastructure and trade network connecting Asia with Africa and Europe along old Silk Route trading routes in an effort to boost trade and economic growth.

With that in mind China launched its first freight train to London, which will travel from Yiwu West Railway Station in Zhejiang Province, Eastern China to Barking, London, taking 18 days to travel over 12,000 kilometres.
The route runs through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France, before arriving in London. The UK is the eighth country to be added to the China-Europe service, and London is the 15th city.

China estimates that it will gain heavily from opening the ancient trade routes which will, in turn, boost regional cooperation and better relations between countries that lie along the Silk Route.

UK government announced plans on Monday to build 17 new towns and villages

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Mon, 2 Jan , 2017) London, UK – –

Chinese Developers
Gareth Williams/www.flickr.com


Britain's government announced plans on Monday to build 17 new towns and villages across the English countryside in a bid to ease a chronic housing shortage.

The new “garden” communities – from Cumbria in the north to Cornwall on England's southern-most tip – would be part of a scheme to build up to 200,000 new homes, housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell said in a statement.

That would still be a fraction of the million houses the government has said it wants to see built from 2015-2020 in an already densely populated nation.

Successive governments have promised to tackle a shortage that has seen house prices spiral in London and other major cities, out of the reach of many buyers.

But developers have complained about a lack of available land and strict planning laws that outlaw development on “greenbelt” land around existing towns and give local councils the power to block construction.

Britain asked local authorities last year to say if they were interested in having new garden developments – based on a 19th century idea of housing growing populations in self-contained towns surrounded by countryside.

Barwell announced the locations for the first time on Monday and said the state would loosen planning restrictions and give 7.4 million pounds ($9.10 million) to help fund the building.

The three newly announced towns, with more than 10,000 homes each, will be built near Aylesbury, Taunton and Harlow, the government said.

The new garden villages, including Bailrigg in Lancaster, Long Marston in Stratford-on-Avon, Welborne in Hampshire and Culm in Devon, would each have 1,500-10,000 properties.

Together with seven other garden towns already announced, the new developments could provide almost 200,000 homes, Barwell said.

by Kylie MacLellan

Bitcoin started the new year above $1,000 for the first time in three years

It has been a bumper year for bitcoin.

Having risen in value in 2016 by 125 percent the digital currency started the new year by jumping above $1,000 for the first time in three years.

As most bitcoin trading is done in China, analysts linked that to the fall in the value that country's currency – the yuan. Last year the yuan slipped seven percent, it's weakest showing in over 20 years.

Theresa May’s New Year 2017 Message

The New Year is a time to reflect on what has passed and to look ahead to the opportunities to come. And this year, as I consider all that 2017 has in store, I believe those opportunities are greater than ever. For we have made a momentous decision and set ourselves on a new direction.

And if 2016 was the year you voted for that change, this is the year we start to make it happen. I know that the referendum last June was divisive at times. I know, of course, that not everyone shared the same point of view, or voted in the same way. But I know too that, as we face the opportunities ahead of us, our shared interests and ambitions can bring us together. We all want to see a Britain that is stronger than it is today.

We all want a country that is fairer so that everyone has the chance to succeed. We all want a nation that is safe and secure for our children and grandchildren. These ambitions unite us, so that we are no longer the 52% who voted Leave and the 48% who voted Remain, but one great union of people and nations with a proud history and a bright future. So when I sit around the negotiating table in Europe this year, it will be with that in mind. The knowledge that I am there to get the right deal, not just for those who voted to Leave, but for every single person in this country.

Of course, the referendum laid bare some further divisions in our country; between those who are prospering, and those who are not. Those who can easily buy their own home, send their children to a great school, find a secure job, and those who cannot.

In short, those for whom our country works well, and those for whom it does not. This is the year we need to pull down these barriers that hold people back, securing a better deal at home for ordinary, working people. The result will be a truly united Britain, in which we are all united in our citizenship of this great nation. United in the opportunities that are open to all our people, and united by the principle that it is only your talent and hard work that should determine your future. After all, it is through unity that our people have achieved great things. Through our precious union of nations – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Through our union of people – from sports teams to Armed Forces, businesses to charities, schools to hospitals. And, above all, through our union of communities and families.

Of course, it isn’t just big, global events that define a year – it is the personal things. 2017 might be the year you start your first job or buy your first home. It might be the year your children start school or go off to university, or that you retire after a lifetime of hard work. These things – life’s milestones – are the things that bind us, whoever we are. As the fantastic MP Jo Cox, who was so tragically taken from us last year, put it, “We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.” We have a golden opportunity to demonstrate that – to bring this country together as never before, so that whoever you are, wherever you live, our politics, economy and society work for you, not just a privileged few.

So as we look ahead to a year of opportunity and unity, let me wish you and your family a peaceful, prosperous and happy New Year.

Business rates in London could be up an extra £4bn over the next five years

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Sat, 31 Dec  2016) London, Uk – –

UK public finances
London Skyline/Megan Trace/flickr.com

London properties should be uncoupled from the national business rates system to prevent companies in the capital being treated as a cash cow, say the capital’s businesses.

Businesses in London could be forced to stump up an extra £4bn over the next five years under an upcoming revaluation, which has led the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry to call for the capital to have a separate business rates system or risk a “profound” impact on the capital’s economy.

The extra rates burden could force small, independent shops, bars and restaurants, which are already reeling from rocketing rents, to close down or move to cheaper locations, the LCCI has warned.

Property values in London have soared since the last revaluation in 2008, meaning that many businesses will be hit with rocketing bills under the new regime.

Business rates are often the third largest outgoing for companies after salaries and rents.

In total, the extra burden for London could be as much as £885m a year because of an upcoming revaluation, due in April, as companies across the city face an average rise of 11pc.

Few other places have seen values rise so significantly, with the result that businesses in the capital will pay disproportionately more than elsewhere in the UK. St Pancras Station will face the biggest jump in rates, paying £10.1m a year, an increase of £21.5m, or 73pc, over the next five years, exclusive analysis for The Telegraph by CVS, the business rates specialist, has found.

The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel also faces a £13.5m jump in its rates bill over the next five years while the demand on the BBC for Broadcasting House in Portland Place will rise by £19.5m.

Harrods, Selfridges and John Lewis will also face steep rises, CVS calculated. Some West End retailers and office occupiers in Shoreditch will see bills more than double as a result of the delayed revaluation, which was held back for two years to prevent the changes from taking effect just before the last general election.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, has proposed a relief scheme that would limit increases for business to 42pc in a year. This has been considered as woefully inadequate by critics who have highlighted that in the last business rates revaluation, rises were capped at 12.5pc.

Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of the LCC, said: “The Government should consider proposals for London to be ‘uncoupled’ from the national valuation system that gives London’s businesses an unfair deal.

“We are not asking for special treatment for London nor do we seek to implement changes that will see the rest of the country lose out, but at the same time we do not want to risk businesses shutting up shop or moving out of London altogether.

“We need to be wary of potential pitfalls including business being viewed as a ‘cash cow’,” Mr Stanbridge said.

The LCCI says there is a case for “substantive” changes to the rates system, including breaking the link between revaluations and the fixed tax yield it generates. Doing so would prevent what the chamber described as “punitive rises” in the future.

According to the LCCI, the new rates will hit small- and medium-sized businesses particularly hard, as they are less able to find the resources to pay the higher bills.

There has also been criticism of the Government’s plans to reform the business rates appeals process, which will mean that companies have to pay their rates bills for an entire year, even if the bill is incorrect.

Ashley Armstrong and Alan Tovey