Sep 19, 2019

Burger King ditches free toys and will 'melt' old ones

Burger King will no longer give away plastic toys with children's meals, amid pressure to reduce plastic waste. The fast food restaurant chain is also encouraging customers to bring in old promotional plastic toys, which it says it plans melt down to make other items. Burger King said it wanted to undertake "Significant action" to address the issue of plastic waste. Helen Bird, from sustainability campaign group Wrap, described Burger King's response as a "Bold move", welcoming the in-store...

Sep 19, 2019

Watchdog threatens to refer JD Sports takeover

JD Sports' takeover of Footasylum is facing greater scrutiny after the competition watchdog warned it may could result in "a worse shopping experience for customers". JD Sports was "By far" the biggest firm in the sports fashion sector, it said. Peter Cowgill, executive chairman of JD Sports Fashion, said: "We continue to believe that Footasylum would be a positive addition to the group, bringing a differentiated customer demographic and fashion-led product range that is complementary to our...

Sep 19, 2019

Huawei: Microsoft president seeks end to US tech ban

Microsoft's president has called on the US to end a ban on it supplying Huawei with Windows software for the Chinese company's computers. "We're one of a number of companies that has applied with the US Commerce department so that we can continue to provide our software operating system to Huawei for devices like laptops." US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in July his department would issue licences to exempt companies from the ban on selling technology to Huawei, as long as there was no...

Sep 19, 2019

Ryanair boss O'Leary's €99m pay sparks investor revolt

Nearly half of Ryanair's shareholders voted against a pay deal for Michael O'Leary that could hand the chief executive €111m. The Irish airline said that just 50.5% of investors voted in favour of the company's remuneration report. Mr O'Leary has been awarded 10 million shares which will pay out in five years if he doubles Ryanair's profit or share price. These are shares he can acquire for €11.12 and then sell at the market price if Ryanair's profits hit €2bn in any year up to 2024 or its...

Sep 19, 2019

Debenhams wins legal challenge over restructuring

UK department store chain Debenhams has won a High Court battle with a group of landlords who had challenged the restructuring process that brought the company out of administration in May. The case, brought by six landlords with funding from Mike Ashley's Sports Direct retail chain, claimed that the "Company voluntary arrangement" insolvency process approved by Debenhams' creditors treated them less favourably than other unsecured creditors. "We are delighted that the court has today...

Sep 19, 2019

Fish waste-based alternative to plastic wins Dyson Award

MarinaTex is an alternative to the single-use plastics such as those used in sandwich packets.

Sep 19, 2019

Amazon's Jeff Bezos promises climate-change action

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos has pledged to make the company carbon neutral and meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement by 2040. More than 15,000 Amazon employees have pledged to stage a "Walkout" protest against the company's environmental record, on Friday. To meet its pledge, Amazon said it had ordered 100,000 electric delivery vehicles to reduce its fuel consumption. As well as its online shopping and delivery operations, Amazon operates vast data centres and cloud computing...

Sep 19, 2019

Airbnb plans to list shares next year

The home rentals site Airbnb plans to list on stock exchanges next year, in what is expected to be one of the highest-profile share sales of 2020. One of the earlier so-called sharing economy sites, the Californian firm is facing criticism for hollowing out communities in popular destinations. The sharing economy includes firms that let ordinary members of the public rent out use of their property: homes, cars, tools, parking spaces, or skills, directly with anyone happy to pay for them. Two...

Sep 19, 2019

Next accelerates store openings after rent cuts

Retailer reiterates full-year profit forecast despite difficult start to autumn

Sep 19, 2019

Thomas Cook told extra funds needed to seal rescue

Travel firm Thomas Cook has been hit with a last-minute demand to find £200m in extra funding in order to secure its future. Thomas Cook's banks are insisting the cash-strapped travel firm must come up with the new contingency funds, in case it needs extra finance to draw on during the winter months. Thomas Cook's financial difficulties have mounted over the past year, culminating with the agreement in August of a rescue deal led by Fosun, that would see the Chinese firm back a £900m...

Sep 19, 2019

Thomas Cook lenders seek £200m to add to rescue

Thomas Cook's attempt to secure a £900m rescue deal have been hampered by demands from its lending banks to secure an additional £200m funding. In July, Thomas Cook presented a business plan to its lenders that showed it required £900m in financing. The rescue deal agreed by Thomas Cook will see £450m of capital put forward by Chinese conglomerate Fosun in return for control of 75 per cent of the group's tour operator business and up to 25 per cent of its airline. The demand for extra funding...

Sep 18, 2019

The robot that cleans floors and tells jokes

More than 100 fully autonomous cleaning robots are coming to Singapore this year, made by local manufacturer Lionsbot. Ella's job is cleaning the floors at the National Gallery.

Sep 18, 2019

Lord of the Rings returns to New Zealand with Amazon TV show

New Zealand is poised for another Middle-earth-tied economic boost after Amazon Studios picked the country as the location for its much-anticipated Lord of the Rings television series. The show is widely tipped to be the most expensive ever made, at a cost of at least $1bn. The Amazon unit wants to tap the huge success of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, also shot in New Zealand. Amazon Studios, which bought the rights to the television series two years ago, said the new adaptation will...

Sep 18, 2019

Cobham: National security fears threaten defence takeover

The government is to intervene in a US private equity firm's takeover of UK defence and aerospace firm Cobham, citing national security concerns. Advent International made a £4bn offer to buy Cobham in July and shareholders approved the deal last month. Cobham's founding family raised concerns about the company's future and its connections with UK defence. "Following careful consideration of the proposed takeover of Cobham, I have issued an intervention notice on the grounds of national...

Sep 18, 2019

New algorithms aim to stamp out abuse on Twitter

A new tool can identify Twitter accounts engaging in bullying with over 90% accuracy, according to researchers. Jeremy Blackburn, a computer scientist on the research team, said the algorithms used information from Twitter profiles and looked for connections between offensive accounts. "We built crawlers - programs that collect data from Twitter via a variety of mechanisms," he said. "We gathered tweets of Twitter users, their profiles, as well as [social-]network-related things, like who...

Sep 18, 2019

British Airways pilots call off next week's strike

British Airways pilots have called off the next strike in their dispute, which had been scheduled for 27 September. The strike followed failed negotiations between the union and the airline over a pay offer of 11.5% over three years. Balpa said the strikes on 9 and 10 September had demonstrated the anger and resolve of pilots. "Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said:"Someone has to take the initiative to sort out this dispute and with no sign of that from BA, the pilots have decided to...

Sep 17, 2019

Smart meter rollout delayed for four years

The government has pushed back the deadline for smart energy meter rollout by four years until 2024. Customers are not obliged to have a smart meter fitted, but energy firms must have offered them to all UK households by the end of the new deadline. Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, thinks extending the smart meter rollout deadline is a "Common-sense move" that is good for customers. The Minister for Climate Change, Lord Duncan of Springbank, said: "We remain on track for...

Sep 17, 2019

Apple Irish tax case appeal heard by EU court

A European Union court is due to hear appeals against a decision to order Ireland to recover unpaid taxes of €13bn from Apple. In 2016, the European Commission found an agreement between Dublin and the technology giant was against EU law. It said the Irish government allowed the company to attribute nearly all its earnings from EU sales to a head office in Ireland that existed only on paper. Both Ireland and Apple are appealing against the ruling.

Sep 17, 2019

Bridgend site set to produce Land Rover Defender-inspired 4x4 from Ineos

Ineos Automotive has chosen the Ford Bridgend site for the production of its new 4x4 vehicle, according to mounting speculation. Ford will close its plant in 2020 with the loss of 1,700 jobs, but it is understood 500 new jobs could be created through Ineos. Ineos plans to build a vehicle inspired by the Land Rover Defender, which went out of production in 2016. The Welsh and UK governments have been in talks with Ineos to encourage the company to start production in Bridgend. Ineos has 171...

Sep 17, 2019

Ocado retail sales growth accelerates ahead of M&S tie-up

Ocado's retail sales returned to double-digit growth in the third quarter as the UK online supermarket recovered from a major warehouse fire last summer and shrugged off the general malaise in the sector. Melanie Smith, the newly appointed chief executive of Ocado Retail, said the results "Show the resilience of Ocado following the Andover fire and the momentum the business now has". Ocado and M&S announced a deal in February for the department store group to buy half of Ocado's retail...

Sep 17, 2019

Amazon launches HD music streaming

AFP Amazon Music has become the first of the "Big three" streaming services to offer music in CD-quality audio. Until now, Amazon, like its main rivals Apple and Spotify, only streamed music in compressed formats like MP3 and AAC. Some smaller services like Tidal, Deezer and Qobuz already offer lossless, high-fidelity streaming. All three of the major record labels have signed up, with music by Fleetwood Mac, Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift, Stormzy and Ed Sheeran now available in Ultra HD. The...

Sep 17, 2019

HTC bets on former Orange executive to boost sales

HTC, the Taiwanese company that built the first mobile phones for Android and Windows, has hired a new boss. Yves Maitre, of Orange, takes over from Cher Wang, to become HTC's first chief executive who is not a co-founder. It hit its peak share of the market in 2011, after partnering with Google on its Nexus handsets - but now, less than 1% of smartphones shipped are from HTC. "It's no secret that HTC was once one of the biggest companies when it came to smartphones," Ben Wood, chief of...

Sep 17, 2019

Smart meters: What is going on?

Smart Meter GB Smart meters are promoted as technology to make householders' lives easier and cheaper, as well as a gateway to a connected British energy network. Ultimately, most homes in the country will eventually use smart meters. The big selling point for smart meters is that it means an end to estimated meter readings, or residents having to read the meter themselves. The first generation of smart meters do not necessarily continue working if a customer switches supplier. The latest...

Sep 17, 2019

Amazon Echo screen flicker angers owners

BBC News has seen dozens of complaints about screen flickers affecting the Amazon Echo Spot and Amazon's response. Under EU law consumers must be given a minimum two-year guarantee "As a protection against faulty good or goods that don't look or work as advertised". The Echo Spot retails at £119.99 on the Amazon website. "Generally we would always advise consumers who have goods which are clearly faulty to go back to the retailer in the first instance to make their claim under the statutory...

Sep 17, 2019

Gatwick Airport commits to facial recognition tech at boarding

Gatwick has become the UK's first airport to confirm it will use facial recognition cameras on a permanent basis for ID checks before passengers board planes. The London airport said the tech should reduce queuing times, but added that travellers would still need to carry their passports. On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Gatwick told the BBC that it had taken the decision after reviewing feedback provided by passengers involved in the earlier test. A spokeswoman for Gatwick said it had designed...

Sep 17, 2019

Thomas Cook files for US bankruptcy protection

Thomas Cook, the UK tour operator, has filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the US to safeguard itself against legal action by US debtholders. On Monday, Thomas Cook delayed until next week two crucial hearings in the UK at which creditors will vote on the restructuring, pushing it close to its planned finalisation of the deal in October by which time it will need funds in order to buy hotel capacity for next year's holiday season. The rescue deal will see £450m of capital put...

Sep 17, 2019

Facebook to use Met Police videos to recognise shooters

Facebook is to use footage from police body cameras to train its algorithms to recognise videos of real-life shootings. The technology giant will give the cameras to Metropolitan Police Specialist Firearms Command officers. The Metropolitan Police said it was "Happy to help" develop the technology. Banned more than 200 groups dedicated to white supremacy. "In March, we started connecting people who search for terms associated with white supremacy on Facebook Search to resources focused on...

Sep 17, 2019

Facebook to block altering of headlines in adverts

The Conservative party says it is reviewing how its Facebook adverts are produced. The social media firm took down Conservative party online adverts which had added a different headline to a BBC News story about education spending. The headline shown in the Conservative advert on Facebook replaced the original headline on the BBC story - and contradicted the contents of the story. Facebook said these political adverts had "Misused" the advertising platform - and they are now covered up on...

Sep 17, 2019

M&S is still in the soup despite Ocado solution

Probably because food solutions are, well, just food - and M&S still has not worked out how to sell it online. At first glance, Ocado's numbers suggested its warehouse robots were a ready-made solution to shifting M&S ready meals. Ocado Retail, now structured as a 50:50 JV, reported an 11.4 per cent rise in revenue in the quarter to September 1, despite a fire at its Andover warehouse in February. Having fallen 25 per cent in a year and out of the FTSE 100 index amid online competition, they...

Sep 16, 2019

Bondholders may struggle to check out of Thomas Cook

While a life insurance contract is simple to settle - a person is either alive or dead - the shades of grey in the death of a company make CDS much more unpredictable. Thomas Cook is trying to reorganise its debt in a way that will trigger losses for bondholders. This is exactly the scenario where CDS should pay out. The analogy evokes the high priests of the CDS market: an industry panel of in-house lawyers known as the "Determinations committee", drawn from nine banks and five fund...