This exceptional make-up artist’s surreal work made her an Instagram hit

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Sat, 15th Sept 2018) London, Uk – –
Make-up artist Romanie-Jade Tulloch has amassed nearly 160,000 Instagram followers on her account with her surreal designs.

The 19-year-old, from Nottingham, said the artworks can take up to five hours to create.

Ms Tulloch, now an “Instagram influencer”, was awarded a Prince's Trust loan to get her career as a make-up artist off the ground.

At the same time her social media page “blew up”, she said, and now hopes to turn her hobby into a full-time job.

 

Chanel luxury goods maker chooses London for global office

Wikimedia/Pear285

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 14th Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

The luxury goods maker Chanel has told the BBC it's elected to set up its global office in the UK.

For the first time in its 110-year history, the brand is gathering the majority of its global business functions under one roof.

Chanel, renowned for its tweed suits, handbags and perfume, had global sales of over £7bn last year, and employs more than 20,000 people.

It has over 30 million social media followers on Instagram.

Chanel told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that it “wanted to simplify the structure of the business and London is the most appropriate place to do that for an international company. London is the most central location for our markets, uses the English language and has strong corporate governance standards with its regulatory and legal requirements”.

The decision – which is understood to involve dozens of jobs – means that Chanel has picked London as the base for its global team over other locations such as New York, or even its creative hub of Paris.

Chanel, whose Little Black Dress has come to epitomise the label's Parisian heritage, is retaining its head designer Karl Lagerfeld and his team in the French capital.

Burberry stops burning unsold goods
Chanel lifts the veil on its profits
Justine Picardie, editor-in-chief of Harpers' Bazaar and Coco Chanel's biographer, hailed the move as a mark of the global powerhouse's confidence in the UK's long-term prospects.

She pointed out that it also moves Chanel closer to one of its fastest growing customer bases with “spending on luxury goods by affluent London households being only second to Hong Kong, in terms of growth”.

She added: “Chanel leads the way. My strong intuition is that other (luxury brands) will follow.”

The reasons Chanel gives for its decision echoes those cited by the likes of banks and manufacturers who've opted to move operations to the UK over the years.

The news comes as many businesses voice concerns about the continued uncertainty over Brexit and future trading arrangements, and the impact that may have on investment and jobs.

Chanel's decision will be welcome news to British designers as London Fashion Week gets underway. They're potentially facing upheaval to their supply chains in the form of tariffs, delays at the border and exchange rate volatility in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Such concerns could, according to Paul Alger, of the Fabrics and Textiles Association, make buyers at catwalk shows hesitate to place orders, which would be due for delivery next spring.

The fashion industry contributed over £32bn to the UK industry in 2017, according to the British Fashion Council. That's an increase of 5.4% on 2016, making it one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy.

By Dharshini David

 

Volkswagen to halt the production of Beetles in 2019

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 14th Sept, 2018) London, Uk – –

The distinctive car became a global phenomenon, even starring in its own Disney film, after shaking off its links to Nazi Germany.

Volkswagen will halt the production of Beetles in 2019, marking the end of the road for one of the world's most beloved cars.

The German company will introduce two special editions of the vehicle before it stops making the model altogether in July.

Volkswagen is sidelining the Beetle, renowned for its distinctive curved shape and round lights, to focus on producing electric cars and larger family vehicles.

The company has not ruled out bringing the Beetle back in future but says it has no plans at this time.

Hinrich Woebcken, chief executive of the Volkswagen Group of America, said in a statement: “As we move to being a full-line, family-focused automaker in the US and ramp up our electrification strategy… there are no immediate plans to replace it.

“But, I would also say, never say never.

“The loss of the Beetle after three generations, over nearly seven decades, will evoke a host of emotions from the Beetle's many devoted fans.”

Volkswagen plans to offer the two final edition models in both coupe and convertible styles before production is stopped.

The cars will include nods to earlier versions and be priced at $23,045 (£17,577) and up.

Beetles became a global phenomenon after managing to shake off their Nazi roots.

The car, originally known simply as Volkswagen, was first developed by Ferdinand Porsche.

The move was supported by Adolf Hitler, who in 1937 formed the state-run Volkswagenwerk, or “The People's Car Company”.

After the Second World War, the Allied countries who defeated Nazi Germany made Volkswagen a priority in an effort to revive the country's auto industry.

The saloon cars made their US debut in the 1950s, but sales were weak, in part owing to their links to the Third Reich.

The advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernback rechristened the car the Beetle in 1959, and began touting its small size as an advantage to consumers, according to the History Channel.

They attained further popularity with the 1968 Disney movie The Love Bug, which told the story of a racing car called Herbie with a mind of its own.

Andy Warhol created prints featuring the Beetle, and the model was also the most prominent car in the background of The Beatles' final album Abbey Road.

US sales ceased in 1979, but the vehicle continued to be produced in Mexico and Brazil, according to Car and Driver.

Volkswagen revived the “New Beetle” in the United States in 1997.

But sales of the car slipped 3.2% to 15,667 in 2017 in the United States, a fraction of the sales for the Jetta and Passat sedans.

At the Detroit Auto Show in January, the German automaker unveiled a revamped version of the Jetta and also touted the Atlas, a new mid-sized SUV.

Volkswagen continues to deal with fallout from the “dieselgate” scandal that broke in September 2015.

The company, having already paid out costly government settlements, is fighting billions of dollars in additional claims lodged by shareholders who saw their stock plummet in value.

It came after authorities cracked down on Volkswagen over the installation of so-called “defeat devices” into 11 million cars worldwide to fool regulatory emissions tests.

 

 

British Airways close to striking UK’s largest-ever pension buy-in deal of £4bn with L&G

Wikimedia/Juergen Lehle

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Thur, 13th Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

The trustees of BA's oldest retirement scheme are close to striking the UK's largest-ever pension buy-in deal, Sky News learns.

British Airways (BA) is on the verge of striking a landmark deal‎ to insure more than £4bn of its historic pension liabilities, underlining blue-chip companies' accelerating efforts to reassure investors about their vast financial obligations to former workers.

Sky News has learnt that the trustees of the BA-sponsored Airways Pension Scheme (APS) are close to a pension buy-in deal with Legal & General, one of the largest players in the Pension Risk Transfer industry.

Talks are understood to have been ongoing for months, and sources close to BA said they could be concluded within days.

If successfully completed, the £4.4bn deal would be the largest such transaction ‎ever seen in the UK, according to industry sources.

It would mark a significant step for BA in its efforts to exert a grip on its vast retirement obligations, built up over decades thanks to historically generous pension promises to employees.

The APS, which closed in the 1980s, has approximately 24,000 members, of whom only 200 still work for BA, according to a spokesman for the airline.

It has over £8bn in assets, meaning that the buy-in transaction would account for roughly 60% of the scheme.

A deal would also represent another giant stride by L&G into the sector as it competes with rivals such as Pension Insurance Corporation, Rothesay Life, Aviva and Scottish Widows.

In its most recent financial results, L&G said it had more than £7bn-worth of PRT deals in exclusivity, with the APS scheme understood to account for the majority of that figure.

Pension buy-ins are typically ‎structured by trustees securing a bulk annuity contract from an insurance company.

The insurer then agrees to pay to the trustees specific benefits to all or a proportion of a scheme's members and eligible dependants for the rest of their lives.

BA has been battling for years to shed its reputation as a giant pension scheme with an airline attached, and under Willie Walsh, the ‎chief executive of parent company International Airlines Group, it has seen its financial fortunes revived.

The company is, however, fighting on numerous other fronts, most notably in trying to salvage its reputation after the payment details of hundreds of thousands of customers were stolen last week.

Alex Cruz, the chief executive of BA, has apologised and promised to compensate affected passengers, but has ducked questions about whether he will quit over the hack.

BA has already embarked on other efforts to trim its pensions bill, announcing earlier this year that it would introduce a new company-wide retirement plan that it promised would deliver “a significant upgrade” to more than half its workforce.

It has closed its New Airways Pension Scheme to future accrual and its British Airways Retirement Plan to future contributions.

The company has some of the largest pension obligations in corporate Britain, with almost £24bn of assets in the two previous schemes at the end of last year.

Most final salary, or defined benefit, pension schemes have been closed by blue-chip companies during the last 20 years as they have wrestled with yawning deficits.

The APS had already been the subject of a reinsurance agreement struck last year to protect BA against the ‎prospect of members surviving longer than the funds set aside to pay their pensions.

‎In July, the Court of Appeal overturned a ruling in favour of the APS trustees that they could amend the scheme's rules to allow them to grant discretionary increases to retired members.

BA makes deficit repair contributions to the APS of about £55m a year.

Spokesmen for the APS trustees, BA and L&G all declined to comment on Wednesday night.

By Mark Kleinman, City editor

 

John Lewis profits wiped out in the first half after price squeeze on UK high street

Mankind 2k

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 13th Sept 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Profit at Britain’s biggest department store group John Lewis Partnership [JLPLC.UL] was wiped out in the first half as it was forced to match discounting by its struggling rivals on a fiercely competitive high street.

The employee-owned group, which has rebranded its department stores John Lewis & Partners and its supermarkets Waitrose & Partners, reported a 99 percent slump in first-half profit before exceptional to 1.4 million pounds, hit by its pledge to match prices and lower sales of big-ticket home items.

The group had warned in June that first half profits, which are always much lower and volatile than the second half, would be close to zero.

It indicated on Thursday that the second half of the year would also be tough going.

“With the level of uncertainty facing consumers and the economy, in part due to ongoing Brexit negotiations, forecasting is particularly difficult but we continue to expect full year profits to be substantially lower than last year for the group as a whole,” it said.

Profit at John Lewis’s 50 department stores and home shops was squeezed by its “Never Knowingly Undersold” promise as other retailers discounted heavily and a decision not to pass on all the cost inflation from a weaker pound, it said.

Competitor Debenhams (DEB.L) has issued a string of profit warnings and last month House of Fraser was bought out of administration by Sports Direct (SPD.L).

COOL HEADS REQUIRED
John Lewis Partnership Chairman Charlie Mayfield said the group was “not hunkering down and going on the defensive”.

“You don’t succeed by retrenching so if anything we are investing more and pushing on with differentiation,” he told BBC radio.

“The simple truth is that times like these call for cool heads and really determined ambition.”

Its upmarket Waitrose supermarkets were on track to grow profit for the full year, it said, driven by a improvement in like-for-like sales from the first to the second quarter and progress in rebuilding its gross margin.

But the growth would be offset by continuing pressure in its department stores and the cost of investing in the business.

Gross sales at Waitrose were 3.39 billion pounds in the six months to July 28, up 2.6 percent on a like-for-like basis, it said, while sales at John Lewis were 2.09 billion pounds, down 1.2 percent on the same measure.

By Paul Sandle

 

 

Keith Hellawell Sports Direct chairman in sudden exit

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 12th Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

Keith Hellawell, the chairman of Sports Direct, is to retire from the company later.

The sudden announcement was made as the company prepared to hold its annual general meeting of shareholders.

A year ago, he was re-elected by wonly 53% of independent shareholders and said he would step down at the next AGM if he did not win their support again.

The former chief constable of West Yorkshire Police had faced criticism about the way the company was run.

The company, founded by Mike Ashley, said Mr Hellawell, who had been on the board since 2009, would retire at the end of Wednesday's AGM.

He will be replaced by non-executive director David Daly, who was appointed to the board last year.

The company has not yet published the outcome of the voting at its AGM, which was not expected to be attended by Mr Ashley.

Mr Hellawell said: “Having overseen significant improvements in the working practices and corporate governance of the company, which includes a refresh of the board, now is the right time for me to step aside”.

“I have every confidence that the group will continue to go from strength to strength. I have enjoyed the challenges of Sports Direct and the support of Mike Ashley, many major investors, members of the board and senior staff, and wish them much success for the future.”

Ahead of the meeting three shareholder advisory bodies are said to have advised investors not to support Mr Hellawell's re-election to the board.

 

Multifamily Housing REIT to compete against buy-to-let landlords with £175m IPO

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Wed, 12 Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

An investment trust aiming to compete against buy-to-let landlords in the booming private rental market will fire the starting gun on its £175m London IPO on Wednesday, The Daily Telegraph understands.

Multifamily Housing REIT is thought to be planning to use £70m of the cash to buy an initial seed portfolio of around 650 flats homes and five commercial premises across 22 housing blocks, mostly in the north of England, the midlands and the south-west.

The trust, set up by Harwood Capital’s real estate arm, will be the first listed vehicle to focus exclusively on pre-built rental homes.

The private rental market has ballooned in recent years amid a fall in home ownership and is mostly still in the hands of non-professional buy-to-let landlords.

It has begun to attract institutional investment from the likes of Legal & General and M&G but mostly in the form of so-called build-to-rent developments, which are generally targeted at upwardly mobile urban professionals willing to pay top dollar for the latest mod cons.

Multifamily Housing will buy existing rental homes rather than building them itself and is understood to be targeting the more affordable end of the market.

It plans to raise the cash by selling 175m shares at £1 each.

The REIT will be chaired by Nick Jopling, who previously ran Grainger, one of the UK’s largest professional landlords. David Lis, formerly head of equities at Aviva Investors, will also be on the board.

It has already identified a £422m pipeline of potential investments and is aiming to generate a dividend yield worth 4pc per year from the date of its admission, rising to 5pc from March next year.

Harwood was spun out of JO Hambro in 2011 and is still led by its former parent company’s founder Christopher Mills and now has around £4.5bn of funds under management.

By Jack Torrance

 

 

Cadbury prepares for hard Brexit by stockpiling ingredients

Wikimedia/Aaronpp6565

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 11 Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

Boss at firm’s owner Mondelez warns UK may face higher prices if deal is not agreed

Cadbury owner Mondelez International has revealed it is stockpiling ingredients, chocolates and biscuits in case of a no-deal Brexit.

Hubert Weber, the European boss of Mondelez, said the UK was “not self-sufficient in terms of food ingredients” and confirmed the stockpiling as part of contingency plans for a hard Brexit, according to the Times.

It marks the latest revelation over stockpiling before Brexit as fears mount that the UK may fail to agree terms of its withdrawal by the Brexit deadline next March.

Weber said: “Like the whole of the food and drink industry in the UK, we would prefer a good deal that allows the free flow of products, as that would have less of an impact to the UK consumer.

“However, we are also preparing for a hard Brexit and, from a buffering perspective for Mondelez, we are stocking higher levels of ingredients and finished products, although you can only do so much because of the shelf life of our products.

“We have a contingency plan in place to manage [a hard Brexit], as the UK is not self-sufficient in terms of food ingredients, so that could be a challenge.”

He said shoppers may face higher prices and fewer choices if a deal was not agreed and added he wished Britain was “at a different stage [in negotiations with the EU] at this stage”.

Europe is Mondelez’s biggest global division, accounting for 40% of revenue last year.

Firms across the industry are said to be stockpiling and making no-deal plans.

Matt Hancock, the health and social care secretary, said in July that officials were considering working with industry to stockpile drugs, medical devices and supplies in the event of a no-deal scenario.

Drugs giant AstraZeneca said in August that patients in the European Union may not be able to receive medicines from the UK post-Brexit if it does not “prepare well”.

By Press Association

 

 

JD Sports UK retailer report ‘record’ profits as it benefits from US expansion

 


QLM image

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 11th Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

The UK sportswear retailer lauds online and store investment strategy for a rise in profits as it benefits from US expansion.

JD Sports Fashion has continued to buck high street gloom with a 19% jump in first-half earnings as demand for “athleisure” wear rises and it expands overseas.

The retailer said profit before tax rose to £121.9m for the 26 weeks ended 4 August, from £102m in the same period a year earlier.

Peter Cowgill, executive chairman, said this was another “record” result and demonstrates its online and bricks and mortar investment was paying off.

“Against a backdrop of widely reported retail challenges in the UK, it is extremely reassuring that the profitability in the UK and Ireland Sports Fascias has been further enhanced,” Mr Cowgill said.

“This reflects the value of the investments that we have made over a number of years in developing a dynamic multichannel proposition which marries the best of physical and digital retail enabling customers to interact with us where and when they want and through the channel of their choice.”

JD Sport, the UK's largest sportswear retailer, also benefited from its £396m acquisition of Finish Line, one of America's biggest sports footwear and clothing retailers.

It agreed to buy Finish Line in March as part of its plans to expand in the biggest sportswear market.

Over a seven-week period since the completion of the acquisition, Finish Line has contributed £4.8m to its operating profit.

The company has also benefited from a trend called “athleisure”, which has made the wearing of sports clothing outside of the gym fashionable.

Total like-for-like sales, including online, grew by 4%, JD Sports said, while like-for-like store sales “were marginally positive”.

It said outdoor brands – including Blacks and Go Outdoors – saw total like-for-like sales, including online, also marginally positive after a “very challenging” second quarter due to the heatwave hitting customer numbers.

While many retailers are renegotiating rents and closing stores to remain profitable, JD Sports said it continues to see value in a high street store portfolio because of the “social nature of consumers' shopping trips and impulsive nature of their buying decisions”.

Although it does not plan to close stores, it is working with landlords to ensure its “portfolio of leases has the maximum flexibility and the lowest committed cost possible”.

As for the second half of the year, JD Sports expects sales “at similar levels to those in the first half supporting our continued confidence in the robustness of the JD proposition,” Mr Cowgill said.

He added: “We remain confident that we are well positioned to deliver an outturn in line with current market expectations which, including a part year from Finish Line, range from £337m to £345m and we also remain encouraged by our prospects for future growth.”

Shares in JD Sports were little changed in early trading in London.

UK economy grew by 0.3% in July helped by World Cup and warm weather

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 10th Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

The UK economy grew by 0.3% in July after being helped by the heatwave and the World Cup, according to the Office for National Statistics.

In the three months to July, the economy expanded by 0.6%.

“Services grew particularly strongly, with retail sales performing well, boosted by warm weather and the World Cup,” said Rob Kent-Smith from the ONS.

“The construction sector also bounced back after a weak start to the year,” he added, but production contracted.

“The dominant service sector again led economic growth in the month of July with engineers, accountants and lawyers all enjoying a busy period, backed up by growth in construction, which hit another record high level,” said Mr Kent-Smith.

The 0.6% growth rate for the three months to July was at the top end of forecasts, and marks a pick-up from the 0.4% rate seen in the three months to June.

 

 

Alibaba’s Jack Ma to step down as chairman in one year

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Mon, 10th Sept 2018) London, UK —

BEIJING (Reuters) – Jack Ma, the charismatic co-founder of China’s largest e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, will step down as chairman in one year to concentrate on philanthropy and education, passing on the reins to trusted lieutenant Daniel Zhang.

Ma, who turned 54 on Monday, has long flagged plans to step back, insisting that Alibaba management should be relatively young and his retirement is not expected to affect the running of the company.

But it is still extremely rare for a founder of big and transformative tech firm, especially one with a cult-like status like Ma, to retire so early.

“There’s only Bill Gates who has done the same. No other tech founder in the world has just resigned like that at the top,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, Shanghai-based founder of the Hurun Report, which publishes an annual influential list of China’s richest people.

Hoogewerf added that in China, Ma was a figure like no other, with friends ranging from movie stars to billionaire moguls, though he often outshone them all. “He’s the big one, he’s the one that brings them together.”

Ma will give up the chairman role in exactly one year on Sept. 10, 2019 and complete his current term on Alibaba’s board of directors following the company’s annual general meeting in 2020, the company said. He relinquished the role of chief executive in 2013.

Zhang, 46, has been CEO since 2015 after serving as chief operating officer and is known as a key architect of Alibaba’s “Singles Day”, the Nov. 11 event that has become the world’s largest online shopping event. Zhang, a former accountant, will also continue as CEO.

“Under his stewardship, Alibaba has seen consistent and sustainable growth for 13 consecutive quarters… Starting the process of passing the Alibaba torch to Daniel and his team is the right decision at the right time,” Ma said in a letter released by the company.

Ma, a former English teacher with no technical background, co-founded Alibaba in 1999 with 17 others and has become one of China’s richest people with a net worth of $36.6 billion, according to Forbes.

The company, founded at a time when the industry was still dominated by state-owned firms and entrepreneurship was seen as a risky career path, has grown to have more than 66,000 full-time employees and a market value of some $420 billion.

“He put a human face on technology, and took China onto the global stage, not as a state-owned enterprise, crucially,” said Duncan Clark, managing director at Beijing tech advisory BDA and author of “Alibaba: The House that Jack Built.”

POP ROUTINES AND KUNG FU
He is also known for his eccentric personality and has donned wigs and costumes to perform highly choreographed pop routines at company events. Last year he starred alongside Chinese action star Jet Li in a short kung fu film.

In the letter on Monday, Ma said he had been planning his exit for ten years and has previously said he wants the company to last 102 years, choosing a specific number to motivate employees.

After he steps down, he will continue to mentor management as part of the “Alibaba Partnership”, a 36-member group of core company managers.

 

 

The group has the ability to nominate the majority of directors on the company’s board, and currently five of Alibaba’s eleven board members have been nominated by the partnership.

Other members include Eric Jing, chief of Alibaba payment affiliate Ant Financial [ANTFIN.UL], Joe Tsai, executive vice chairman of Alibaba, Simon Hu, chief of Alibaba Cloud, and Lucy Peng, who heads Alibaba’s Southeast Asia business.

Since handing over the CEO role, Ma, who is married with three children, has concentrated on philanthropy and promoting Alibaba internationally at business and political events.

In 2014, he and co-founder Joe Tsai set up a charitable trust focusing on the environment and health, funded by share options they own that represented about 2 percent of Alibaba’s equity at the time.

Last year Ma invested 300 million yuan ($45 million) in a rural education project in China. He has also established a scholarship program in Newcastle, Australia.

Ma, who owns roughly 6 percent of Alibaba’s stock and also controls Ant Financial, is stepping back amid more challenging times for Chinese tech companies as sales growth in China’s eastern mega-cities shows signs of slowing.

Alibaba saw sales at its e-commerce business swell 61 percent in the latest reported quarter, but its profit margins have been squeezed by big-ticket investments as it battles to maintain its dominant position in e-commerce and payments.

The company, which is battling arch rival Tencent Holdings Ltd for pole position in the food delivery market, recently said it will merge units including Ele.me and Koubei and raise funds for the combined business.

Alibaba also has investments in sports content, microchips and facial recognition technology and has been positioning itself as a serious player in cloud computing.

By Cate Cadel, Adam Jourdan and Sayantani Ghosh

 

 

The Gucci knockoff that is totally legal

 

Youtube/Vox

Knockoffs are everywhere in fashion. So is the controversy they inspire.

Allbirds says Steve Madden copied their sneakers. Gucci says Forever 21 ripped off their green-red-green stripes. Adidas says Zara knocked off their Yeezys.

In the Constitution, Congress has the power to stop copying by giving authors and inventors “the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”

But there’s a catch. These protections must “promote the progress” of creative industries.

Conventional wisdom holds that copying kills innovation and hurts industry progress. But within the fashion industry, experts like New York University law professor Christopher Sprigman say the ease of copying is actually good for creativity.

 

 

The rent parties from 1920s Harlem making a revival in the UK

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Sat, 8 Sept, 2018) London, Uk – –

Rent parties were held in 1920s New York when African Americans faced disproportionately high rents. They threw wild jazz parties for paying guests to make up the money before the rent collector came round.

British choreographer Darren Pritchard is putting on performances inspired by these rent parties, to highlight housing inequalities in the UK today.

 

British Airways boss apologises for hacked firm’s security systems

Wikimedia/Juergen Lehle

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – -Fri, 7 Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

The chief executive of British Airways has apologised for what he has called a very sophisticated breach of the firm's security systems.

Alex Cruz told the BBC that hackers carried out a “sophisticated, malicious criminal attack” on its website.

The airline said personal and financial details of customers making bookings had been compromised.

About 380,000 transactions were affected, but the stolen data did not include travel or passport details.

BA said the breach took place between 22:58 BST on 21 August and 21:45 BST on 5 September.

Communication
Mr Cruz told the BBC's Today programme: “We're extremely sorry. I know that it is causing concern to some of our customers, particularly those customers that made transactions over BA.com and app.

“We discovered that something had happened but we didn't know what it was [on Wednesday evening]. So overnight, teams were trying to figure out the extent of the attack.

“The first thing was to find out if it was something serious and who it affected or not. The moment that actual customer data had been compromised, that's when we began immediate communication to our customers.”

BA said all customers affected by the breach had been contacted on Thursday night. The breach only affects those people who bought tickets during the timeframe provided by BA, and not on other occasions.

Mr Cruz added: “At the moment, our number one purpose is contacting those customers that made those transactions to make sure they contact their credit card bank providers so they can follow their instructions on how to manage that breach of data.”

The airline has taken out adverts apologising for the breach in Friday's newspapers.

BA data breach: What do you need to do?
By Simon Read, business reporter

 

What data was stolen?

BA says hackers stole names, email addresses and credit card information – that would be the credit card number, expiration date and the three digit CVV code on the back of the credit card.

BA insists it did not store the CVC numbers. Security researchers are now speculating the card details were intercepted, as opposed to being harvested from a BA database.

What could the hackers do with the data?

Once fraudsters have your personal information, they may be able to access your bank account, or open new accounts in your name, or use your details to make fraudulent purchases. They could also sell on your details to other crooks.

What do I need to do?

If you've been affected, you should change your online passwords. Then monitor your bank and credit card accounts keeping an eye out for any dodgy transactions. Also be very wary of any emails or calls asking for more information to help deal with the data breach: crooks often pose as police, banks or, in this instance they could pretend to be from BA.

Will my booking be affected?

BA says none of the bookings have been hit by the breach. It said it has contacted all those affected to alert them to the problem with their data, but booked flights should go ahead.

Will there be compensation for me?

If you suffer any financial loss or hardship, the airline has promised to compensate you.

‘Atrocious'
BA customers have expressed their frustration with the airline on social media.

Mat Thomas said he placed a booking on 27 August, but had not been contacted about the breach.

“Atrocious that I had to find out about this via news and twitter,” he tweeted.

“Called bank and had to cancel both mine and my wife's card. Probably won't get it back before we fly (ironically).”

Gemma Theobald tweeted: “My bank… are experiencing extremely high call volumes due to this breach! Couldn't do anything other than cancel my card… not how I wanted to spend my Thursday evening.”

The company could potentially face fines from the Information Commissioner's Office, which is looking into the breach.

Rachel Aldighieri, managing director of the Direct Marketing Association, said: “British Airways has a duty to ensure their customer data is always secure. They need to show that they have done everything possible to ensure such a breach won't happen again.

“The risks go far beyond the fines regulators can issue – albeit that these could be hefty under the new [EU data protection] GDPR regime.”

The National Crime Agency and National Cyber Security Centre also confirmed they were assessing the incident.

Shares in BA owner IAG fell by 2.5% in early trade on Friday.

‘Flesh wound'
This is not the first customer relations problem to affect the airline in recent times.

In July, BA apologised after IT issues caused dozens of flights in and out of Heathrow Airport to be cancelled.

The month before, more than 2,000 BA passengers had their tickets cancelled because the prices were too cheap.

And in May 2017, serious problems with BA's IT systems led to thousands of passengers having their plans disrupted, after all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick were cancelled.

“It does not indicate that the information systems are the most robust in the airline industry,” Simon Calder, travel editor at the Independent, told the BBC.

However, he does not think that BA will be affected in the long term by the breach.

“The airline has immense strength. Notably it's holding a majority of slots at Heathrow, and an enviable safety record, so while this is embarrassing and will potentially cost tens of millions of pounds to resolve, it's more like another flesh wound for BA, rather than anything serious.”

 

 

Argos collaborate with Google Assistant to launch voice shopping service in the UK

Flickr/Scott Lewis

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – -Fri, 7 Sept, 2018) London, Uk – –

The days of flipping through an Argos catalogue could well and truly be over. The retailer has today become the latest British brand to launch a voice shopping experience with Google Assistant.

Google Assistant, the search giant's voice assistant for smart speakers, can now search the web for Argos products and reserve them for its “click and collect” service.

By saying “Okay Google”, users are able to wake up the voice search function to find products sold by Argos.

The move brings voice shopping to UK customers directly through Google Assistant on Google Home smart speakers and on millions of Android smartphones.

It also places it in direct competition with Amazon's Alexa voice shopping service.

Voice shopping is forecast to be worth £3.5bn to the UK by 2022. Argos said it has seen smart speaker sales grow by 150pc year-on-year, while a recent Ofcom report said that 13pc of homes now have a smart speaker.

Rivals Amazon have already implemented a voice shopping service for British households. Ocado launched a voice shopping app for its Alexa voice assistant and Echo smart speakers last year.

Argos chief executive John Rogers said while voice shopping is still in its infancy, it makes sense to launch a service to cater for tech savvy customers.

“We are Google's biggest commercial customer and we want to be the first to market,” Mr Rogers said. “Over 70pc of our digital sales are thought mobile and most are fulfilled in our stores. With this you can go through a Google Home device or mobile to click and collect with voice.”

For now the voice experience is fairly rudimentary, allowing users to simply search for products and reserve them. In the future, Mr Rogers said Argos could add a payment option to the voice controls.

Tesco has also been experimenting with using voice for shopping, although its service does not directly use Google's Assistant. It works through a third party tool, known as If This Then That, meaning users need an extra app. Earlier this year, Asda said it would let users add products to their online basket using Google Assistant.

By Matthew Field

 

 

Burberry to reuse, repair and recycle unsaleable products after green criticism

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(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur 6th, Aug, 2018) London, Uk – –

Company will reuse, repair or recycle unsaleable products and end use of real fur

Burberry is to end its practice of burning unsold clothes, bags and perfume and will also stop using real fur after criticism from environmental campaigners.

The British fashion house destroyed unsold products worth £28.6m last year to protect its brand, taking the value of items destroyed over the past five years to more than £90m. It has previously defended its practice by saying that the energy generated from burning its goods was captured.

However, the company now says it will reuse, repair, donate or recycle unsaleable products. It will also end the use of real fur and says the debut collection from its new chief creative officer, Riccardo Tisci, will not feature any fur. Existing fur products will be phased out.

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Burberry’s chief executive, Marco Gobbetti, said: “Modern luxury means being socially and environmentally responsible. This belief is core to us at Burberry and key to our long-term success. We are committed to applying the same creativity to all parts of Burberry as we do to our products.”

It is a common practice among fashion firms to destroy unsold items to prevent them being stolen or sold cheaply.

Earlier this year it emerged that the Swiss watchmaker Richemont, which owns the Cartier and Montblanc brands, had destroyed nearly €500m of its designer timepieces over the past two years to avoid them being sold at knockdown prices.

However, Burberry shareholders have questioned why the unsold products were not offered to the company’s private investors. Greenpeace said the practice of burning unsold goods showed “no respect for its own products and the hard work and natural resources that are used to make them”.

Burberry reiterated that it takes its environmental obligations seriously and in May joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular initiative to prevent waste in the industry.

By Julia Kollewe

 

 

Asda to scrap price guarantee scheme

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(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 6th Aug, 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Asda will next month abandon a scheme which refunds shoppers the difference if the goods they purchase are more expensive than in rival supermarkets, following other chains that have scrapped similar programmes.

Asda, the British supermarket arm of Walmart (WMT.N) that has agreed to a takeover by bigger rival Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L), said the scheme was no longer relevant and it would instead invest directly in lowering prices.

Its move follows market leader Tesco’s (TSCO.L) decision in June to scrap its “Brand Guarantee” scheme. Sainsbury’s abandoned its “Brand Match” scheme in 2016.

The “Asda Price Guarantee” (APG) was launched in 2010, promising customers that their basket of shopping at the supermarket would be 10 percent cheaper than at Britain’s other big grocers. If not, Asda would refund them the difference plus 10 percent in a voucher to be used in stores.

“Today, the APG, whilst still the iron clad promise it always was, has become less and less relevant to customers with less than 1 percent of customers using it,” said chief customer officer Andy Murray.

“(Customers) have more price information at their fingertips than ever and they vote with their feet if they feel a retailer is off the mark on price,” he said.

All of Britain’s big four supermarket groups, including fourth-ranked Morrisons (MRW.L), have been trying to narrow the price gap with German discounters Aldi and Lidl but are still losing market share to them.

Asda said it has invested over 100 million pounds in price cuts over the last year and plans another round of reductions in October.

Sainsbury’s agreed a 7.3 billion pounds takeover of Asda in April. The two firms have said combining will enable prices to be lowered by about 10 percent “on many of the products customers buy regularly”.

Last month Asda reported a fifth straight quarter of underlying sales growth.

By James Davey