Oct 23, 2020

Nearly 'one in ten' furloughed staff were asked to work

Nearly one in ten workers on furlough due to the pandemic have been asked to work by their boss, breaking the scheme's rules, a National Audit Office survey suggests. Intended to help those who could not work due to lockdown, the furlough scheme supported more than 9.6 million workers at its peak. "In future, the departments should do more while employment support schemes are running to protect employees and counter acts of fraud," Mr Davies said. The NAO is recommending that any future...

Oct 22, 2020

Unilever sales growth beats expectations as demand for hygiene products booms

Unilever drove its sales growth far above expectations in the third quarter, as consumers spending time at home bought up products from Lifebuoy soap to Hellmann's mayonnaise. Hellmann's benefited from households eating meals at home, with sales up by a mid-teens figure and a vegan version now available in 30 countries, Unilever said. Consumers had abandoned products such as deodorant and skincare during lockdowns earlier in the year, but these recovered somewhat in the third quarter, the...

Oct 22, 2020

British Airways owner IAG slashes flight schedules as losses hit €1.3bn

IAG, the owner of British Airways, has slashed its flight schedule for the rest of the year and said its operations lost more than €1bn last quarter. As a result, IAG's stable of airlines including BA, Iberia and Vueling now intend to fly just 30 per cent of last year's schedule in the final three months of the year - down from a previously planned 40 per cent. The airline conglomerate will now miss its target to break-even in terms of net cash flows from operating activities during the final...

Oct 22, 2020

British Airways owner IAG cuts flight numbers again

IAG, the owner of British Airways, has said it will operate fewer planes than planned for the rest of the year as the pandemic continues to hit demand. The airline group said it would fly no more than 30% of its usual flights compared to last year. In the same period last year, the group reported a €1.4bn profit. IAG said revenue in the quarter plunged 83% to €1.2bn, compared to €7.3bn last year. "Recent overall bookings have not developed as previously expected due to additional measures...

Oct 22, 2020

DMGT profits gain from advertising rebound

The group behind the Daily Mail newspapers said full-year profits were likely to beat expectations as it benefited from a smaller than anticipated hit to advertising revenues. DMGT - which spans news titles, events and data businesses - on Thursday raised its guidance for adjusted operating profit in the year to September to £85-£90m, compared with the company-compiled analyst consensus of £59m-£80m. Profits were boosted by stronger than expected advertising last month in the group's news...

Oct 22, 2020

Former Apple designer Sir Jony Ive to revamp Airbnb

The British designer, who led the team behind the iPhone, will help give the brand a makeover.

Oct 22, 2020

Facebook and Twitter chiefs ordered to testify over Biden article

Reuters/EPA. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter's Jack Dorsey will be ordered to testify over alleged censorship of a controversial New York Post article. The article revealed emails and photographs that the New York Post claimed were copied from the laptop of Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden. The move prompted accusations of censorship and pro-Biden bias from Republican lawmakers. Ten democrats sat out the session in protest over an earlier vote on Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court...

Oct 22, 2020

Gap to switch to franchise model in Europe

Gap is considering closing hundreds of stores in Europe in order to focus on reviving its US business and expanding its Athleta and Old Navy brands, putting up to 3,000 UK jobs at risk. "Franchisees already operate in 35 countries through 400 stores and we believe there is significant room to expand our franchise footprint," said chief financial officer Katrina O'Connell at a virtual investor event on Thursday. Ms O'Connell added that if it were not possible to transfer operations to...

Oct 21, 2020

Thousands unable to get an NI number because of coronavirus

"The government told me it was still legal to work but my employer keeps asking me for it," says Ciara Conalty, who moved to the UK from Ireland in June to work as a hairdresser. Ciara, 22, is one of thousands of people with the right to work in the UK who have arrived here since March but who have been unable to get a National Insurance number because the government has stopped issuing them. The hairdresser says she struggled to prove to her employer that she could work without an NI number...

Oct 21, 2020

Royal Mail launches doorstep parcel collections in ecommerce boom

Demand for UK packages deliveries grows with surge in online shopping triggered by pandemic

Oct 21, 2020

Royal Mail launches 72p parcel pick-up service

Royal Mail will start collecting parcels and mail from people's homes from Wednesday as it tries to grab a bigger share of the parcel market. Royal Mail has seen parcel deliveries increase in recent years but is still on track to make a loss in 2020. Royal Mail, which already delivers parcels, is joining an already crowded parcel-collection market where it faces rivals such as DPD, Hermes and DHL. Its Parcel Collect service, which has been trialled in parts of the west of England, will be...

Oct 21, 2020

Amazon parcel scam targets woman eight months after her death

A man who received an unsolicited parcel from Amazon addressed to his wife eight months after her death says he is frustrated by the retail giant's response. David Henderson, from West Sussex, said Amazon told him a new account had been set up using Anna Henderson's name and address. After being contacted by the BBC, Amazon apologised and said it had contacted Mr Henderson to discuss the situation in more depth. "At the end of the day, they can wash their hands of it but an Amazon Prime...

Oct 21, 2020

William Hill blames volatile sports results for revenue hit

UK bookmaker highlights lack of crowds at sports events as a problem despite ‘robust’ growth after reopening its shops

Oct 21, 2020

City Bulletin: UK borrowing soars in response to pandemic

UK borrowing record, Netflix growth slows, Martin Wolf on the economy’s ‘long Covid’

Oct 21, 2020

Waitrose and Co-op cut prices for 'tough times'

In the run-up to Christmas and beyond, many people in the UK are facing tough economic times, said Waitrose, which is cutting prices on 200 of its most popular own-label products. "James Bailey, executive director at Waitrose, said:"This year has been incredibly challenging for consumers and we know times are tough for many, so we're reducing prices to provide our customers with great value on the items they buy most. "Despite offering lower prices, we're maintaining the quality, high welfare...

Oct 21, 2020

PayPal allows Bitcoin and crypto spending

PayPal has entered the cryptocurrency market, announcing that its customers will be able to buy and sell Bitcoin and other virtual currencies using their PayPal accounts. PayPal plans to roll out buying options in the US over the next few weeks, with the full rollout due early next year. All could be stored "Directly within the PayPal digital wallet", the company said. PayPal has one of the largest merchant networks in the world. PayPal has been granted permission for its operation from the...

Oct 20, 2020

Five ways the virus has changed Netflix

How is Netflix faring after that initial boost? Netflix added just 2.2 million new subscribers in the three months ended 30 September, as the surge of demand for its services prompted by the pandemic faded. Still, Netflix reminded investors that it's still on track for a record number of 34 million new subscribers in 2020 - or more than 200 million overall. Netflix said 78 million member households watched The Old Guard, a Netflix original, in the first four weeks after its launch, making it...

Oct 19, 2020

EU investigates Instagram over handling of children's data

Instagram is being investigated by Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner over its handling of children's personal data on the platform. The Irish regulator is investigating whether Facebook has a legal basis for processing children's personal data and if it employs adequate protections and restrictions on Instagram for children. "Instagram is a social media platform which is used widely by children in Ireland and across Europe," said Graham Doyle, a deputy commissioner with DPC. "The DPC has...

Oct 19, 2020

Sir James Dyson to sell Singapore penthouse at a loss

Sir James Dyson has agreed to sell his Singapore penthouse, just one year after buying it. Singapore's Business Times reported that he accepted an offer for $62m Singapore dollars from US-based billionaire Leo Koguan. The sale price is lower than the reported purchase price of S$73.8m. Sir James bought the flat last year after announcing he was moving Dyson's headquarters to Singapore. Dyson chose the historic St James Power Station in Singapore as the site of its new global headquarters late...

Oct 17, 2020

Advisers to G4S bidder GardaWorld in line for £312m payday

GardaWorld, the Canadian security group behind a £3bn hostile takeover bid for G4S, has accused the company of "Baseless optimism" about its prospects and pledged to make sweeping "Cultural change" if it takes control, its latest salvo as it seeks the backing of shareholders. Offer documents sent by GardaWorld to G4S shareholders on Saturday argue that its 190p-a-share bid - the same price at which it began the hostile campaign more than a month ago - is justified given the level of...

Oct 17, 2020

Tesco needs evolution not revolution

A 91 per cent rise this year in the cash burning retailer's stock saw it overtake Tesco as the UK's most valuable grocer in late September, despite it having a weekly online order capacity one-quarter of the size. The debate over Tesco Online's margins however, does perhaps miss one wider point. A more speculative suggestion from UBS is that Tesco could look to monetise its online platform by allowing brands to pay to bump themselves up to the top of the search function. Tesco doesn't need a...

Oct 16, 2020

Twitter: Major outage affects users around the world

Twitter has experienced a major outage, with users across the world affected. The company said there was no evidence that the outage was caused by a security breach or hack. Users in countries including the US and UK were unable to use the platform for more than an hour. "We know people are having trouble Tweeting and using Twitter. We're working to fix this issue as quickly as possible," Twitter said. According to DownDetector.com, reports of problems with Twitter began to spike at about...

Oct 16, 2020

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon reveals first loss since 1984

JD Wetherspoon has reported its first annual pre-tax loss since 1984 as it laid bare the impact of coronavirus restrictions on the pubs industry. It revealed a £105.4m loss on sharply lower sales in the year to 26 July. London and Essex will come under Tier 2 restrictions while Liverpool has already been placed under tougher Tier 3 rules. "Mr Martin said:"There's massive confusion in the UK now because you've got the 'rule of six', Tier 2, Tier 3 - everyone's confused. Wetherspoon's full-year...

Oct 16, 2020

John Lewis triples cost-cutting target

UK retail chain John Lewis will introduce more budget ranges, expand online food delivery and offer new services like insurance and property letting as part of plans to make £200m of annual profit within the next two years. Unveiling the conclusions of a strategic review that began in March, group chair Sharon White also said John Lewis would make £300m of cost cuts - three times the £100m saved by her predecessor's overhaul announced last year. The employee-owned business, which operates 42...

Oct 16, 2020

British Airways fined £20m over data breach

The fine is the largest ever issued by the Information Commissioner's Office.

Oct 16, 2020

John Lewis chairman Sharon White targets new services to deliver growth

Boss Sharon White says the partnership is looking to online and a new range of services to deliver growth.

Oct 16, 2020

Coronavirus infections still rising rapidly

There are an estimated 27,900 new cases a day in England, the Office for National Statistics says.

Oct 16, 2020

Twitter changes policy after Biden article block

The Hacked Materials policy initially blocked Twitter users from sharing content that had been acquired as a result of a hack. Twitter's Vijaya Gadde has now said posts will be flagged as containing hacked material, rather than blocked. "We put the Hacked Materials policy in place back in 2018 to discourage and mitigate harms associated with hacks and unauthorised exposure of private information," tweeted Vijaya Gadde, legal, policy and trust & safety lead at Twitter. Hacked content will no...

Oct 15, 2020

Ryanair cuts back winter flight schedule

The airline is closing its bases in Cork, Shannon, and Toulouse for the winter, but expects to maintain 65% of routes with reduced frequencies. Ryanair's group chief executive Michael O'Leary said the airline deeply regretted the schedule cuts, which he said had been forced on it by "Government mismanagement of EU air travel". "We continue to actively manage our cost base to be prepared for the inevitable rebound and recovery of short haul air travel in Europe once an effective Covid-19...

Oct 15, 2020

City Bulletin: Heineken-owned pub group fined £2m for breaking tie-in rules

A Heineken-owned pub group has been fined £2m after "Seriously and repeatedly" breaking the legally-binding Pubs Code over almost three years. Star Pubs and Bars, which operates the pub estate business of Heineken in the UK, is in trouble over so-called pub tie rules. The Pubs Code Adjudicator said Star had "Persisted in forcing its tenants to sell unreasonable levels of Heineken beers and ciders" when tenants wanted to break the tie with the brewer. Pub group Marston's is at the other end of...