The Amazon-Backed Smart Glasses Worth $600?

Source: CNBC

Focals are the best smart glasses to hit the market so far. They're from a company called North, which received venture backing from Amazon and Intel, among others. CNBC's Adam Isaak tried them out for a couple weeks. Watch the video to see his take on Focals' smart features and shortcomings.

15 Things To Learn About Running A Fast Food Business

Source: Alux

This video we'll try to answer the following questions: How to start a fast food business? What do you need to start a fast food business? How hard is to start a fast food business? How to make your restaurant fast foodsuccessful? Why do most restaurant fast food fail? What is a franchise? Should you start a franchise or go independent? Do you need a chef for your fast food business? How to get food for your fast food? How to market your fast food business? Can you get rich from a fast food business? How expensive is it to start afast food business? Are food trucks worth it?

Uber to float its shares on the New York Stock Exchange at $45

( via – – Fri, 10th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Uber has set a price for floating its shares on the New York Stock Exchange, in what is expected to be one of the biggest stock market flotations of the year.

The ride-hailing taxi app firm has priced its shares at $45 (£35). The deal values Uber at $82bn (£63bn).

The price is near the bottom of the expected $44-$50 range – a sign that investors are cautious about the firm.

Uber hopes to sell 180 million shares when trading starts on Friday.

This is the highest profile US flotation since Facebook seven years ago, analysts say.

Rival Lyft's flotation was priced at $72 per share when it listed on the New York Stock Exchange in April, but its share price has fallen by as much as a third since then.

Uber is keen to avoid a similar fate, but the firm has so far failed to make a profit.

India’s Reliance Industries acquires British toy retailer Hamleys

( via — Fri, 10th May 2019) London, UK —

MUMBAI (Reuters) – India’s Reliance Industries has acquired British toy retailer Hamleys, the energy-to-telecoms conglomerate said on Thursday.

Reliance Industries, which runs the world’s biggest single-location crude oil refinery in western India, has been gradually transforming itself into a consumer-facing behemoth through its retail and telecoms ventures.

Through its Reliance Brands subsidiary, the company signed an agreement to buy Hamleys from Hong Kong-listed C Banner International Holdings.

Reliance did not disclose the price, but in 2015 C Banner had bought it for 100 million pounds from France’s Groupe Ludendo.

The acquisition marks the first foray of billionaire Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries in an overseas retail brand.

“The worldwide acquisition of the iconic Hamleys brand and business places Reliance into the frontline of global retail,” said Darshan Mehta, chief executive of Reliance Brands.

Reliance Retail has the licence to sell Hamleys products in India.

Founded in 1760, Hamleys resonates with a sense of nostalgia for adults and children alike, with its flagship Regent Street store in Central London recognised around the world.

Hamleys has withstood global recessions, and world war bombings and has changed hands several times, the latest being the 2015 sale by Groupe Ludendo.

The toy seller runs 167 stores across 18 countries, the majority of which are in India. Reliance, which owns the master franchise, operates 88 Hamleys stores across 29 Indian cities.

Having established itself as India’s leading telecoms player, Reliance Industries has been firming up plans for a major retail onslaught to combine its traditional outlets with an online foray aimed at taking on Amazon and Walmart in India.

It is already the country’s biggest bricks-and-mortar retailer in terms of revenue and number of stores.

The conglomerate’s strategy to diversify beyond refining and petrochemicals has began to bear fruit, with its fast-growing telecoms and retail operations driving quarterly profit to record highs despite its gross refining margins taking a hit from oil price volatility and slowing global demand.

The group’s retail business doubled revenue to 356 billion Indian rupees ($5.1 billion) in the three months to Dec. 31 while earnings before interest and tax more than tripled to 15 billion rupees.

Reporting by Promit Mukherjee

Superdry issues fresh profit warning

( via– Thur, 9th May 2019) London, Uk – –

The company's co-founder, fresh from his battle to return to the fashion retailer, warns a turnaround will take time.

By James Sillars, business reporter

Superdry has issued a fresh profit warning following a bruising battle that saw its management team quit when co-founder Julian Dunkerton won a shareholder vote to return to the business.

The struggling fashion retailer issued a statement covering its fourth quarter to say a combination of factors would mean underlying profit before tax for the 2018/19 financial year would not meet current market expectations of £54.1m-£59.4m.

It blamed a combination of factors – weeks after shareholders narrowly voted in favour of allowing Mr Dunkerton to return to the board.

The contentious vote – marred by claims of dirty tricks – was opposed by then chief executive Euan Sutherland and others.

Mr Dunkerton's victory resulted in a mass exodus at the top, allowing him to take control as interim chief executive and Peter Williams, chairman of Boohoo, to be chairman.

Both, who had been deeply critical of the company's strategy, warned on Thursday that efforts to turnaround a poor trading performance would take time.

Superdry said its profit warning, the latest in a series of such alerts covering its current financial year, was down to “weak wholesale and e-commerce performance, along with other measures to deliver the new operational strategy”.

The statement said: “As a result of the store portfolio review announced by the company on 12 December 2018, the company will make a non-cash onerous lease and store impairment provision.

“Given the management transition and the consequent need to update the company's longer term strategic plans, the review has not yet been finalised but will have an impact that benefits both FY19 and subsequent years.

“Further details will be provided at the full year results announcement on 4 July 2019.”

It reported that full-year group revenue to 27 April was flat on the previous year at £872m – with store sales the only bright spot in the fourth quarter showing 2.2% growth.

Wholesale revenue was more than 9% lower on the same period last year while its online sales were 4% down.

Shares, down 68% over the past 12 months, fell by a further 5% at the market open as investors digested the latest update.

They later recovered on the day to be almost 3% higher following a conference call with analysts during which the company confirmed it was actively hunting a new chief executive and directors.

Superdry said a series of actions to bolster its offering had already been taken, including repopulating selected flagship stores with a greater density of stock, reducing unnecessary promotional activity and adding 500 new products.

Mr Dunkerton said: “I am very excited about being back in the business.

“There's a lot to do, but after five weeks, I am more confident than ever that we can restore Superdry to being the design led business with strong brand identity I know it can be.

“My first priority has been to stabilise the situation, and all of us in the business are putting all our energy into getting the product ranges right and improving the e-commerce proposition, which are two important steps towards addressing Superdry's recent weak performance.

“The impact of the changes we are making will take time to come through in the numbers but I'm confident we are heading in the right direction.”

Commenting on the trading performance senior market analyst at City Index, Fiona Cincotta, said: “The silver lining for Julian Dunkerton from these poor sales figures is that they help support the notion that a change at the top was necessary.

“The Superdry co-founder was only named interim chief executive's on 2 April, so previous management can shoulder much of the blame for this latest shambles.”

National Express accelerates revenues as it hits the road for Silicon Valley

( via – – Thur, 9th May 2019) London, Uk – –

By Joe Curtis

National Express accelerated revenues in the first three months of its new financial year as it prepares to take a 60 per cent stake in Silicon Valley’s shuttle service in an $84.3m (£64.5m) deal.

The coach company saw group revenues rise 8.3 per cent year on year between January and April, with the US growing by the same amount even before National Express takes control of We Drive U, taking Facebook and other tech giants’ staff to work.

In the UK, its coach business boasted growth of seven per cent, but was dragged down by bus revenue growth of just 1.8 per cent.

National Express’ Spanish subsidiary, Alsa, outgrew all other divisions however, nearing a 12 per cent rate of expansion, or 7.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

Group profits experienced “good growth” over the key Easter period, the firm said, despite a snow shutdown in US schools that cost $4.5m.

Dean Finch, group chief executive, said: “I am pleased all of our divisions have started 2019 in a positive manner and we have seen strong trading over the important Easter period.

“Organic revenue growth has been secured across all of our increasingly diversified international portfolio. As our acquisition of a majority stake in We Drive U demonstrates, this diversified international portfolio also continues to present new opportunities for further expansion, which we pursue when they meet our strict financial criteria.”

National Express remains on track to hit full-year profit and cash flow targets, Finch added.

The company said its US business chief executive, Matthew Ashley, will become group business development director at the end of August.

KPMG fined £5m over misconduct of Co-operative Bank audit

( via – – Wed, 8th May 2019) London, Uk – –

KPMG has been fined £5m and “severely reprimanded” after admitting misconduct in its 2009 audit of Co-operative Bank.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) said KPMG's bad auditing came in the wake of Co-operative Bank's merger with building society Britannia.

It said the firm's deficiencies included “failures to exercise sufficient professional scepticism”.

KPMG said it regretted that some of its audit work “did not meet the appropriate standards”.

The accountancy giant had also failed to tell Co-op Bank that a number of loans it acquired through the Britannia merger were riskier than thought and failed “to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence”, the FRC said.

KPMG will pay £4m after agreeing to a settlement. Audit partner Andrew Walker was also fined, and will pay £100,000. The accountancy firm will also pay the regulator's costs of £500,000.

Co-op Bank problems

The FRC's fines relate to the aftermath of Co-op Bank's merger with Britannia. In 2013, the bank entered a bid for 632 branches being sold by Lloyds Bank.

The deal collapsed after the discovery of a £1.5bn black hole in the Co-op Bank's balance sheet.

The Co-op Bank was subsequently taken over by a group of US hedge funds in a rescue deal in 2013.

In 2017, the bank required another, £700m rescue package from investors to stop it from collapsing.

The bank – which no longer has any association with its former parent the Co-op Group – now has about 68 branches, down from 164 in 2015. In common with its larger competitors, setting aside money for customers wrongly sold PPI loan insurance has hit its performance.

‘Unacceptable deterioration'

The fine is the latest in a series for KPMG, which is one of the “big four”, the four largest auditors in the UK which as well as KPMG, include PwC, EY and Deloitte.

Last month, it was fined £6m, received another severe reprimand and told to undertake an internal review over the way it audited insurance company Syndicate 218 in 2008 and 2009.

The FRC is also investigating the accountancy giant's audit of the government contractor Carillion, which collapsed under £1bn of debt last year.

In June 2018, the FRC also found an “unacceptable deterioration” in KPMG's work and said it would be subject to closer supervision.

Break them up?

The big four accountancy firms are currently under review by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which has proposed an internal split between their audit and non-audit businesses to prevent conflicts of interest in audits.

MPS have gone further urging a full structural break up of the firms.

Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC currently conduct 97% of big companies' audits.

Uber drivers in the UK star a day of transatlantic strikes ahead of U.S. action

( via — Wed, 8th May 2019) London, UK —

LONDON/ NEW YORK (Reuters) – Uber drivers in Britain started a day of transatlantic strikes on Wednesday to protest at the disparity between gig-economy conditions and the sums investors are likely to make in Friday’s blockbuster stock market debut.

Drivers and regulators around the world have long criticized the business tactics of Uber Technologies, and the expected $90 billion valuation in an IPO on Friday is proving to be the latest flashpoint.

Unions in Britain said they were seeing good support for the strike, with drivers staying at home and passengers using the #UberShutDown hashtag to pledge solidarity on social media. The Uber app said fares were higher in London during a rainy morning rush hour, due to increased demand.

“Stand with these workers on strike today, across the UK and the world,” said Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party.

Drivers in London and the cities of Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow were due to log off the app between 0700 and 1600, before counterparts in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and several other major cities joined in.

Uber has 3 million drivers globally, and it is not clear if the action can significantly slow service, although organizers have received widespread publicity.

Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi, hired to help move the company past a series of scandals and manage the IPO, has promised to treat drivers better. Uber is paying more than a million drivers about $300 million in one-time bonuses for instance, and has changed policies such as allowing riders to tip.

“Whether it’s being able to track your earnings or stronger insurance protections, we’ll continue working to improve the experience for and with drivers,” it said.


Uber has steadfastly and mostly successfully beaten attempts to compel it to treat drivers as employees, arguing that its main business is a platform that brings riders and drivers together. And the money-losing company is under pressure to cut costs.

“It is the drivers who have created this extraordinary wealth but they continue to be denied even the most basic workplace rights,” said James Farrar, Chair of Britain’s United Private Hire Drivers, calling for a “digital picket line”.

Many drivers want better pay from Uber rival Lyft Inc as well.

“Both Uber and Lyft have said that the greatest threat to their investors is driver dissatisfaction. They know that they’re paying too little to keep drivers satisfied,” said Los Angeles organizer Brian Dolber.

Uber and Lyft have steadily chipped away at rates, particularly in the more established markets where they have cut back on incentives and bonuses to attract new drivers. They have also devised more complicated formulas for determining what riders pay and what drivers earn.Slideshow (2 Images)

Both companies recently slashed the per-mile rate drivers earn in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and some drivers estimated a loss of 10 percent to 20 percent in earnings. Lyft said its hourly wages have risen over the last two years and on average are over $20 per hour.

The company and its critics are divided over how much drivers can make. Classified as independent contractors, they lack paid sick and vacation days and must pay their own expenses, such as car maintenance and gasoline.

Uber noted that a recent study whose authors included current and former Uber employees showed driver gross earnings averaged $21 an hour, while a study by left-leaning Washington think tank Economic Policy Institute calculated that after all costs, Uber drivers earned $9.21 in hourly wages.

Reporting by Jane Lee and Alexandria Sage in San Francisco and Joshua Franklin in New York; Writing by Kate Holton and Peter Henderson

Purplebricks Michael Bruce steps down as CEO as the online estate agent scales back expansion

( via – – Tue,7th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Michael Bruce steps down as chief executive after firm admits it grew in US too quickly

Purplebricks has ousted its chief executive and said it would pull out of Australia and scale back its US business after the online estate agency admitted it had expanded too quickly.

It is understood Michael Bruce, who founded the company in 2012 with his brother Kenny, stepped down after the chair, Paul Pinder, decided to take action following what he described on Tuesday as a “disappointing” 12 months.

Bruce, who owns 11% of Purplebricks, has been replaced by the chief operating officer, Vic Darvey. Darvey joined the firm in January from MoneySuperMarket, where he was managing director. Bruce will receive his annual salary of £150,000 but will not get a bonus, as disclosed in the latest accounts.

Shares in the company, which does not have any branches, fell 7% after Pinder apologised to shareholders in a trading update for its poor performance and conceded it had made a number of mistakes including over expansion abroad.

Pinder said: “With hindsight, our rate of geographic expansion was too rapid and as a result the quality of execution has suffered. We have also made sub-optimal decisions in allocating capital. We will learn from these errors and will not make them again.”

The company said it would close its Australian division after the market had become tougher. It also admitted to making “some execution errors” in the two-and-a-half years it had been operating in the country.

Purplebricks is also carrying out a strategic review of its business in the US, which it is scaling back operations and cutting spending on marketing.

The company said that although conditions were “challenging” in the UK, it was outperforming the wider market and saw plenty of opportunity for profitable growth.

Purplebricks slashed its revenue forecast in February and announced the sudden departure of its UK and US heads. It stuck to this revised estimate on Tuesday, predicting full-year revenues of between £130m and £140m.

Shares were worth 100p when the firm floated on London’s junior Aim market in December 2015, and peaked at nearly 500p in July 2017. Since then the shares have slumped about 75% to trade at 126p on Tuesday.

The share price decline has dealt a blow to Woodford Investment Management, led by the well-known City investor Neil Woodford. It is the largest shareholder in the company, with a 28% stake.

Purplebricks, which does not have any branches, charges sellers an upfront fee for advertising their property online and arranging viewings, while traditional estate agents charge after a home is sold.

By Julia Kollewe

BMW profits down 78% amid €1.4bn provision for EU fine

( via– Tue, 7th May 2019) London, Uk – –

As BMW updates investors on its challenges, the UK car industry reveals flat sales this year so far when Mini is combined.

By James Sillars, business reporter

BMW warned it expects annual profits to be down on 2018 as it booked a hefty provision to cover the cost of a fine from the EU Commission.

The German carmaker reported a 78% decline in operating profits during the first quarter.

They came in at €589m (£503m).

BMW said the decline partly reflected the costs of converting factories to make electric cars – with such investment rising 36% on the same period last year.

But it also booked a €1.4bn (£1.2bn) legal charge in the wake of a warning from the EU last month that manufacturers in Germany faced financial penalties for alleged collusion in the area of emissions filtering technology.

The company said it would contest any fine, arguing the talks it engaged in were for the benefit of the environment and society as a whole as they move to bring down emissions further in the wake of the dieselgate scandal at rival VW.

“The participating engineers from the manufacturers development departments were concerned with improving exhaust gas treatment technologies.

“Unlike cartel agreements, the whole industry was aware of these discussions,” BMW said.

Global car sales were up fractionally on the same period last year but at a weaker margin.

Shares were 1% down in early trading.

BMW said it would move to counter rising costs by cutting its engine and gearbox combinations by 50% and seeking €12bn (£10bn) in efficiency savings by the end of 2022.

The results highlight the pressure being felt by manufacturers as they are forced to move away from petrol and diesel technology towards electric drive trains.

BMW has previously warned it may shift Mini production from Oxford if the UK was to leave the European Union without a deal.

It has also said engine production at its Hams Hall plant in Birmingham could be moved to Austria.

The company updated on its performance as the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) released the latest sales figures for the UK market.

They showed just over 78,000 new BMW or Mini-branded vehicles had left showrooms in the year to date.

That represented a slight increase on the same period last year.

The SMMT also revealed just over 10,000 alternatively fuelled vehicles – electric or hybrid – left showrooms in April.

That was a 12% rise on the same month a year ago but the body reiterated its call for more central support to help the transition to cleaner vehicles.

The body's chief executive, Mike Hawes, said: “While it's great to see buyers respond to the growing range of pure electric cars on offer, they still only represent a tiny fraction of the market and are just one of a number of technologies that will help us on the road to zero.

“Industry is working hard to deliver on this shared ambition, providing ever cleaner cars to suit every need.

“We need policies that help get the latest, cleanest vehicles on the road more quickly and support market transition for all drivers.

“This includes investment in infrastructure and long term incentives to make new technologies as affordable as possible.”

Trumps new tariff threat to China hits stock markets

( via – -Mon, 6th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Stock markets in China and Europe have been hit after US President Donald Trump threatened new tariffs on China, putting a trade deal in doubt.

He said on Twitter the US would more than double tariffs on $200bn (£152bn) of Chinese goods on Friday and would introduce fresh tariffs.

Recent comments had suggested both sides were nearing a trade deal.

A Chinese delegation is preparing to travel to Washington for negotiations aimed at ending the trade war.

It is not clear whether Beijing's top trade negotiator Vice-Premier Liu He will be part of those negotiations that are due to resume on Wednesday.

“We are currently working on understanding the situation,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said during a regular news briefing.

Earlier, US media reported that Beijing was considering cancelling the talks. Reports said the Chinese were due to send a 100-person delegation to the negotiations.

Shares stumble

In China, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed 2.9% lower, while the Shanghai Composite tumbled 5.6%.

European stock markets fell in early trading, with the main Paris and Frankfurt indexes down more than 2% by mid-morning. Particularly hard hit were the makers of cars, car parts and steel.

US stock futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street. Markets in London are closed for a bank holiday.

Michael Hirson, Asia director at Eurasia Group, said: “His [Mr Trump's] move injects major uncertainty into negotiations, which now face a rising risk of an extended impasse – perhaps even through the US presidential election.”

What did Mr Trump say?

The US president tweeted that tariffs of 10% on certain goods would rise to 25% on Friday, and $325bn of untaxed goods could face 25% duties “shortly”.

“The Trade Deal with China continues, but too slowly, as they attempt to renegotiate. No!” he tweeted.

After imposing duties on billions of dollars worth of one another's goods last year, the US and China have been negotiating and in recent weeks, appeared to be close to striking a trade deal.

Last week US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin described talks held in Beijing as “productive”.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox News that the president's tweet was a warning.

“The president is, I think, issuing a warning here, that, you know, we bent over backwards earlier, we suspended the 25% tariff to 10 and then we've left it there.

“That may not be forever if the talks don't work out,” he said.

Is the deal over?

So far, the US has imposed tariffs on $250bn of Chinese goods, having accused the country of unfair trade practices.

Beijing hit back with duties on $110bn of US goods, blaming the US for starting “the largest trade war in economic history”.

According to reports, in recent days US officials have become frustrated by China seeking to row back on earlier commitments made over a deal.

Sticking points have included how to enforce a deal, whether and how fast to roll back tariffs already imposed and issues around intellectual property protection.

Tom Orlik, chief economist at Bloomberg Economics, said: “It's possible talks are breaking down, with China offering insufficient concessions, and an increase in tariffs a genuine prospect.

“More likely, in our view, is that this renewed threat is an attempt to extract a few more minor concessions in the final days of talks.”

What will the tariff rise affect?

Mr Trump's latest move will raise duties on more than 5,000 products made by Chinese producers, ranging from chemicals to textiles and consumer goods.

The US president originally imposed a 10% tariff on these goods in September that was due to rise in January, but postponed this as negotiations advanced.

However, both US and international firms have said they are being harmed by the trade war.

Fears about a further escalation caused a slump in world stock markets towards the end of last year.

The IMF has warned a full-blown trade war would weaken the global economy.

Warren Buffett seeks future UK investment despite Brexit

( via – – Mon, 6th May 2019) London, Uk – –

Warren Buffett has said he wants to invest more in the UK and other parts of Europe, despite uncertainty over the UK's future relationship with the EU.

The US investment guru said he would like his firm, Berkshire Hathaway, to be better known across the Atlantic.

“We're hoping for a deal in the UK and/or in Europe, no matter how Brexit comes out,” the billionaire told his annual shareholders' meeting.

“I have the feeling it was a mistake,” he said of the UK's vote to leave.

However, he added: “It doesn't destroy my appetite in the least for making a very large acquisition in the UK.”

Mr Buffett, known as the “Sage of Omaha”, is chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, which owns dozens of US stocks.

The company reported first-quarter earnings of $21.7bn (£16.5bn) on Saturday, a marked improvement on last year's first-quarter loss of $1.1bn.

Food woes

However, that does not reflect the performance of one of its more troublesome investments, the 26.7% stake in food giant Kraft Heinz, which has not yet filed its quarterly results with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Kraft Heinz reported a $10.2bn loss for 2018 amid signs that consumer demand for its processed food products was waning. At the same time, Berkshire wrote down the value of its stake by $3bn.

Analysts point to the food firm's failure to invest in its portfolio of brands and its emphasis on cost-cutting as factors that have contributed to its difficulties.

At the meeting on Saturday, Mr Buffett indicated he was still committed to the firm, which was created in 2015 by the merger of Kraft Foods and HJ Heinz.

At the time, Heinz was owned jointly by Berkshire Hathaway and Brazil's 3G Capital investment firm.

Mr Buffett said 3G's management, which is responsible for the day-to-day running of the food company, was doing well operationally.

But he said taking on Kraft had proved costly, adding: “You can turn any investment into a bad deal by paying too much.”

Aliko Dangote: The Nigerian Billionaire’s Top 10 Rules For Success

Source: Evan Carmichael

He's a Nigerian billionaire, who owns the Dangote Group, which has interests in commodities. His company operates in Nigeria and other African countries. As of January 2015, he had an estimated net worth of US$18.6 billion. He's Aliko Dangote and here are his Top 10 Rules for Success.

The Skittles Factory In The US, Shaping The Small Town Economy Of Yorkville, IL

Source: BI

This Skittles factory helped shape the economy of the small town of Yorkville, IL. The 19,000-person town gets tax benefits for building the giant candy factory. Today, the factory employs 425 people, who make millions of packages of candy and gum a year.

Self-Made Rich Kids Commanding Their Own Multimillion-Dollar Empires

Source: Be Amazed

Striking it rich and commanding your own multimillion-dollar empire may be one of your long term goals, but for some enterprising kids out there, they’ve already accomplished it by the time they left school!

Shopping centre owner Intu cuts forecast for rental income blaming the retail downturn

( via – – Fri, 3rd May 2019) London, Uk – –

The owner of the Lakeside and Trafford Centre shopping centres, Intu, has cut its forecast for rental income, blaming the retail downturn.

Intu said 2019 would be “challenging” due to a rise in rescue deals, as stores struggle to pay rent.

It added that retailers were also delaying signing new leases due to “political and retail” uncertainty.

Intu said its like-for-like rental income for the year would fall by between 4-6%.

In February, the company had said it expected rental income to drop by 1-2%.

Occupancy of Intu's shopping centres fell 1.1% to 95.6% for the first three months of 2019, compared to the previous quarter, due to a rise in retailers going into administration or agreeing rescue deals, known as company voluntary agreements (CVA) with creditors.

CVAs allow retailers to renegotiate rents at stores that remain open.

Intu said it had been affected by the closure of some New Look Men and HMV stores.

However, the company said that it was seeing new types of tenants paying higher long-term rents, such as Metro Bank opening up in Manchester Arndale, and the introduction of a “Market Halls” food court at Lakeside featuring food and drink from smaller independent businesses.

“Despite the current operating environment, I believe we have a very good business and am confident we can meet the challenges we are facing head on,” said newly-appointed Intu chief executive Matthew Roberts.

Retail woes abound

Many High Street retailers have run into trouble over the past two years.

Last year, the House of Fraser department store chain fell into administration, before being bought by Mike Ashley's Sports Direct.

In December, music chain HMV fell into administration for the second time in six years, blaming a “tsunami” of retail challenges, including business rate levels and the move to digital.

Last month, department store chain Debenhams announced a CVA and named 22 stores it planned to close next year as part of its plans to close 50 outlets.

A report in November by accountancy firm PwC found that about 14 shops were closing every day, with High Streets face their toughest trading climate in five years.

A net 1,123 stores disappeared from Britain's top 500 High Streets in the first six months of 2018, PwC said. It found that fashion and electrical stores had suffered the most as customers switched to shopping online.

Beyond Meat’s share price doubles in the vegan burger maker’s debut IPO

( via — Fri, 3rd May 2019) London, UK —

(Reuters) – Shares of vegan burger maker Beyond Meat Inc rose more than 160 percent in their market debut on Thursday, as investors look to cash in on the first publicly listed veggie meat company and the growing popularity of plant-based meat alternatives.

The stock opened at $46, well above its IPO price of $25. Shares surged minutes after starting to trade and were halted due to volatility. They traded up to $72 during the day, before closing at $65.75.

Beyond Meat, which has warned it may never turn a profit, closed with a market capitalisation of around $3.8 billion, based on shares outstanding including underwriters’ option.

Earlier on Tuesday, the company raised the size and price of its offering after increased demand from investors. The IPO raised $240 million.

The money raised from the IPO gives Beyond Meat firepower to compete with other rivals in the increasingly crowded imitation meat market, such as Silicon Valley startup Impossible Foods Inc.

Beyond Meat founder and Chief Executive Ethan Brown told Reuters on Thursday the proceeds would be used to expand marketing efforts, develop new products, establish production centres in Europe and Asia and open additional manufacturing facilities in the United States.

The Los Angeles-based company, which counts actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Microsoft Corp founder Bill Gates among its investors, aims to market its meatless burger patties and other products to meat-loving consumers. It avoids terms such as vegan or vegetarian and instead displays its products in the meat case of supermarkets.

Plant-based substitutes for meat have been gaining popularity as more people shift towards vegan or vegetarian diets, amid growing concerns about health risks from eating meat, animal welfare and the environmental hazards of intensive animal farming.

Beyond Meat creates substitutes for meat by using ingredients that mimic the composition of animal-based meat, mainly employing pea protein that looks and cooks like beef or chicken.

Currently, some 70 percent of the company’s revenues are generated by its flagship Beyond Burger patties. The company also sells imitation sausages and vegan ground beef.

But Beyond Meat said it has struggled with production capacity issues in the face of growing demand, and interruptions in the supply of pea protein, which it currently sources from two producers in Canada and France.

“We’re looking very much at not only expanding the number of pea protein providers but also getting into new types of protein,” Brown said.

Brown said protein blends, including from mung beans, brown rice and sunflower seeds, would not only offer pricing protection and supply chain diversity, but also provide consumers with a variety of plant-based protein options.

But Beyond Meat is not the only company vying for health-conscious consumers.

Tyson Foods Inc, the No.1 U.S. meat processor, owned a 6.5 percent stake in Beyond Meat, but last week said it sold its holding, as it looks to develop its own line of alternative protein products.

Burger King and Impossible Foods last month started selling their vegan burger Impossible Whopper in 59 stores in and around St. Louis, Missouri, with nationwide sales expected by the end of the year.FILE PHOTO: Ethan Brown, founder and CEO of Beyond Meat, and guests ring the opening bell to celebrate his company's IPO at the Nasdaq Market site in New York, U.S., May 2, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Beyond Meat began selling its plant-based burger at more than 1,100 U.S. locations of fast-food chain Carl’s Jr in January.

In 2018, some $50 million of Beyond Meat’s revenues came from retail sales, including at Inc’s Whole Foods Market and Kroger Co supermarkets, while some $37 million was generated at restaurants.

Brown said the company planned to expand its network of restaurant and retail partners outside the United States, which currently account for 7 percent of revenues, but declined to provide further details.

In 2018, Beyond Meat’s net loss narrowed marginally to $29.89 million, from $30.38 million a year earlier. Net revenue more than doubled to $87.93 million in the same period.

Reporting by Bharath Manjesh and Tina Bellon

Bombardier Canadian aerospace firm puts Belfast wing-making plant up for sale

( via – – Thur, 2nd May 2019) London, Uk – –

Four thousand skilled jobs at risk in Northern Ireland as Canadian firm unveils sell-off

The Canadian aerospace firm Bombardier is to sell its wing-making operation, which employs 4,000 people in Northern Ireland, sparking concern among trade unions and MPs about the uncertain impact on highly skilled jobs.

Less than a week after trade unions called off industrial action, after Bombardierpromised to suspend plans for compulsory redundancies, the firm unveiled plans to sell its entire aerostructure operation.

A spokesman for the prime minister, Theresa May, said the government did not expect jobs to be affected but the trade union Unite said it was seeking stronger assurances from the government and the company.

In a statement, Bombardier announced the “strategic formation of Bombardier Aviation, consolidating all aerospace assets into a single, streamlined and fully integrated business”.Advertisement

“As a result, Bombardier will pursue the divestiture of its Belfast and Morocco aerostructures businesses,” it said.

The statement added: “Our sites in Belfast and Morocco have seen a significant increase in work from other global customers in recent years.

The Canadian firm has been trying to cut costs at its Belfast site, which makes wings for Airbus, and recently bought a wing-making programme in the US.

Bombardier said it did not expect any “new workforce announcements” as a result of the decision, first reported by the BBC, but the planned sale has raised concern among trade unions and local MPs.

A spokesman for the prime minister said that while the announcement was “unsettling”, the company had a strong order book and further job losses were not expected.

But Unite said it had sought assurances from business secretary Greg Clark that the company would retain its Northern Ireland operation if a buyer can’t be found.

Jackie Pollock, Unite regional secretary in Ireland, said the planned sale “will come as a shock to the entire Bombardier workforce in Northern Ireland.

“Many of the company’s 3,600 employees will be left asking what this will mean for their long-term future of their jobs.

She said the union would be discussing efforts to protect the company’s “highly-skilled” workers with the government and the company.

“It doesn’t matter whose name is above the gate – what matters is that we safeguard jobs and skills in this critical industry.

“The UK government must stand ready to ensure the retention of jobs and skills at these sites, Bombardier is simply too important to the Northern Ireland economy to allow anything less.”

Bombardier said it would look for a buyer that would “operate responsibly and help us achieve our full growth potential”.

It promised to work closely with employees and unions during the sale process.

In November, Bombardier said it would cut nearly 500 jobs, a move that followed several rounds of redundancies and which Unite said “exceeds our worst fears”.

Unions called off a strike ballot at the end of April after the company backed away from plans to make some of the redundancies compulsory.

By Rob Davies

Wagamama name former boss of HBOS Andy Hornby as new CEO

( via– Thur, 2nd May 2019) London, Uk – –

The man who led Halifax Bank of Scotland at the time of the financial crisis is returning as CEO of a UK-listed company.

Andy Hornby, the former boss of bailed-out lender HBOS, will be paid up to £2.96m a year when he ends a decade-long absence from the stock market to become chief executive of The Restaurant Group.

Mr Hornby's appointment, confirming a story first reported by Sky News, will also see him receive a golden hello worth £945,000 to compensate for lost bonuses at current employer, betting giant GVC.

The Restaurant Group owns brands including Wagamama, Frankie & Benny's, Garfunkel's and Chiquito.

Mr Hornby spent two-and-a-half years leading Halifax Bank of Scotland, which had grown into Britain's biggest mortgage lender before it agreed to an emergency takeover by Lloyds TSB during the financial crisis in 2008.

Lloyds Banking Group, as the business then became, was swiftly bailed out with a £20bn capital injection from the government and Mr Hornby left as the deal was being consummated.

A review by regulators in 2015 concluded that the ultimate responsibility for the failure of HBOS “rests with the board and senior management”.

In January 2016, it was announced that the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority were to investigate certain former senior managers at the bank, who were not named. The investigation is continuing.

It was launched following an independent report by Andrew Green QC, which criticised the past failure of regulators to investigate a number of executives, including Mr Hornby.

Earlier in his career, Mr Hornby had held senior roles at supermarket Asda – and nine months after leaving HBOS, he returned to retail as chief executive of then privately backed Alliance Boots, owner of Boots the Chemist.

He quit after less than two years, later resurfacing as boss of bookmaker Coral, and subsequently holding senior roles after its 2016 merger with Ladbrokes and 2018 takeover by GVC.

Mr Hornby has won plaudits internally for his work running the day-to-day operations of some of the UK's biggest gambling businesses.

He is taking over at the helm of The Restaurant Group from current boss Andy McCue, who said in February that he was to step down due to “extenuating personal circumstances”.

Mr McCue's departure comes after the group completed the acquisition of Wagamama in December, despite objections from a vocal minority of shareholders.

TRG has a market value of just over £700m, having seen its shares fall by more than a third during the past 12 months. Shares were up 1% on Mr Hornby's appointment.

In March, the group reported better than expected full-year results but signalled that it would seek to exit poorly-performing outlets over the coming months.

It operates more than 650 sites across the UK.

Mr Hornby will receive a basic salary worth £630,000 plus an annual bonus of up to £945,000 and long-term share awards worth £1.26m a year, together with a supplement in lieu of pension benefits worth up to £126,000.

He said he was “delighted” to be joining the company though he recognised the sector “faces considerable challenges”.

Chairman Debbie Hewitt said: “Andy's extensive retail background, proven hands-on operational expertise, and experience of integrating businesses position him well to provide the leadership required to deliver the next phase of our strategy.”

The timing of Mr Hornby's start date has yet to be confirmed.

By John-Paul Ford Rojas, business reporter