Jan 14, 2021

Twitter boss: Trump ban is 'right' but 'dangerous'

Twitter boss Jack Dorsey has said banning US President Donald Trump was the right thing to do. Twitter has been praised and criticised for freezing Mr Trump's account. In a long Twitter thread, Twitter's chief said he did not celebrate or feel pride in the ban - which came after the Capitol riot last week. "We made a decision with the best information we had based on threats to physical safety both on and off Twitter," Mr Dorsey said. Incoming US President-elect Joe Biden has said he wants...

Jan 14, 2021

Amazon faces legal challenge over Prime cancellation policy

Amazon is being challenged by consumer watchdogs in Europe and the US over its use of manipulative "Dark pattern" design to promote its Prime service. The study from the NCC said that on each of the six pages in the cancellation process, the consumer "Is nudged towards keeping their Prime membership". Amazon Prime is a digital subscription service with more than 150 million members globally. In a statement, Amazon said it "Makes it clear and easy for Prime members to cancel their subscription...

Jan 14, 2021

Tesco: Brexit disruption 'is a challenge not a crisis'

Tesco saw "Record" sales over Christmas as customers spoiled themselves in lockdown with online orders of deluxe range products. Sales of vegan Christmas alternatives also surged, it added. Tesco said customers had "Looked for more opportunities to treat themselves" as the UK faced strict restrictions over Christmas. "In response to unprecedented demand for online groceries, colleagues delivered over seven million orders containing more than 400 million individual items over the Christmas...

Jan 14, 2021

Whitbread sales halve as pandemic hits travel demand

Whitbread, the owner of Premier Inn hotels, said the coronavirus pandemic had caused its sales to more than halve as changing government restrictions and lockdowns knocked demand for travel. Overall accommodation sales dropped 55 per cent below last year's levels in the three months to November 26, which included strict government restrictions and a lockdown in England from November 5, the group said on Thursday. Occupancy levels reached a peak of 58 per cent for the quarter during September...

Jan 14, 2021

City Bulletin: Centrica reports on ‘resilient’ second half

Because of Covid UK corporate electricity demand was around 15 per cent weaker than normal in the second half compared to an impact of around 30 per cent in the second quarter, Centrica said. AB Foods said the recent extension of the UK and German restrictions means an expected revenue loss at its Primark chain of £1.05bn. AB Foods had said in late December that Covid restrictions would cut Primark sales by £650m. While other divisions were ahead of budget, Primark sales dropped 30 per cent...

Jan 14, 2021

Pandemic wipes out £540m of Primark sales as Boohoo charges ahead

Lockdown hit could reach over £1bn if stores remain closed until February

Jan 14, 2021

Tesco affirms commitment to Northern Ireland

Tesco has maintained its annual profit forecasts despite a jump in Covid-19 costs and slower Christmas sales than some analysts expected. The rising costs came as the chain reported same-store sales in the UK, where it is the market leader, rose 8.1 per cent in the six weeks to January 9. For the third quarter as a whole, UK sales grew 6.7 per cent, with strong growth online, as Tesco expanded the number of delivery and collection slots available. Like peers, Tesco said trading was helped by...

Jan 14, 2021

Primark refuses to go online despite £1bn lockdown loss

Primark owner Associated British Foods has warned its fashion chain could lose more than £1bn-worth of sales if the current store closures under lockdown continue until the end of February. "In a statement Primark said:"Making the assumption that all of the stores currently closed remain closed until the financial half year, at 27 February 2021, the loss of sales caused by temporary store closures would reach some £1.05bn. "This is up from our previous estimate, based on announced closure...

Jan 14, 2021

Super Nintendo World opening delayed by Japan's virus outbreak

The opening of Nintendo's first theme park has been delayed because of rising coronavirus cases in Japan. Japan has expanded its state of emergency, due to last until at least 7 February, beyond Tokyo to include Osaka prefecture, where the park is located. The opening, at Universal Studios Japan, had already been postponed from mid-2020 because of the pandemic. Nintendo posted a video tour of the park in December, starring Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario, Zelda, and Donkey Kong, among...

Jan 14, 2021

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: Does stylus spell end of the Note?

Samsung's new flagship Galaxy S smartphone works with its stylus for the first time. "There's increasing logic for Samsung to converge the Galaxy S and Note platforms, because there's so little differentiation between the two kinds of devices now," said Ben Wood, from the CCS Insight consultancy. "My concern is that every time Samsung has announced its Note products in the past, it has planted a seed in consumers' minds that the Galaxy S products have become kind of the old ones." Product...

Jan 14, 2021

Tesco: price vice

Sluggish growth looks set to return for Tesco once it returns some extra cash to shareholders. Among locally listed rivals, Sainsbury's is winning over investors: its share price has outpaced Tesco's since September. Booker, the wholesaler Tesco bought back in 2017, proved a deadweight during Christmas trading. Once sale proceeds are distributed, Tesco simply returns to fighting old battles with German discounters Aldi and Lidl. Tesco proudly touts its Aldi Price Match strategy.

Jan 14, 2021

Samsung S21 Ultra: First look at the new device

Chris Fox takes a first look at the Samsung S21 Ultra, which works with the S Pen stylus.

Jan 14, 2021

CES 2021: Smart pillows and internet-connected smoothies

The product tracks movements in the night to automatically adjust its height.

Jan 14, 2021

New BBC chair ready for fight with streaming rivals

The incoming chair of the BBC said the broadcaster risks becoming a mouse that will be crushed by the "Elephants" of the global media industry unless it shrewdly marshals its resources for a digital age. "If you stood back and realised the power of Tencent, Baidu, Apple and Amazon and looked at the BBC on its own, you would say it is severely challenged and threatened," Mr Sharp told parliament's digital, culture, media and sport committee. On some of the most contentious issues regarding the...

Jan 13, 2021

Uganda elections 2021: Social media blocked ahead of poll

Uganda has blocked access to social media and messaging apps ahead of Thursday's hotly contested election. The run-up to the election has been marred by tension and violence. On Monday, the government described Facebook's action as high-handed and said Thursday's elections would be free and fair. During the 2016 election, the government blocked social media on polling day and for several days after, which led to the proliferation of VPN use in the country, our reporter says. "Violence, terror...

Jan 13, 2021

Asos UK sales up more than a third as rivals close stores

The online retailer has benefited from shoppers returning fewer items during the pandemic

Jan 13, 2021

Lockdown Christmas hits: Lidl pink prosecco and takeaways

Lidl, Just Eat and Asos say demand for fizz, takeaways and clothes all rose during December.

Jan 13, 2021

City Bulletin: Revenues surge at online clothing retailer Asos

Fewer happy returns have lifted Asos, with the online fashion retailer saying full-year earnings will be at the top end of current market expectations thanks to improved festive season trading. Orders were up 56 per cent in Germany, by 58 per cent in the UK and by 39 per cent in the Netherlands as the company said it had made "Significant market gains in most of our countries". Guidance for a full-year adjusted ebitda margin of approximately 10 per cent was slightly below market expectations,...

Jan 13, 2021

William Hill expects £30m loss due to lockdown closures of betting shops

Online revenues rise as gamblers switch to placing bets at home

Jan 13, 2021

Morrisons to be first UK supermarket to pay minimum £10 an hour

Retail trade union Usdaw negotiated the £10 per hour basic rate which is 50p an hour above the voluntary Living Wage Foundation rate. "The new consolidated hourly rate is now the leading rate of the major supermarkets," said Joanne McGuinness, Usdaw national officer. Morrisons said for the majority of its workers the pay increase will be approximately 9%. Part of the increase will result from changing the company's annual bonus scheme from a discretionary yearly payment into a guaranteed...

Jan 13, 2021

Apple and Google data: Are we staying at home?

People are leaving their homes more than during the first days of the March lockdown, according to data from several sources. Data from Apple's mobility report shows that on the first Friday of the most recent lockdown, people were driving and walking around at twice the rate of the first lockdown. It's worth noting that in both the Google and Apple reports, people appear to be moving around a lot less during lockdown three than in lockdown two in November. It's important to note that...

Jan 13, 2021

PizzaExpress reveals it fell to £350m loss even before pandemic

PizzaExpress has revealed that it fell to a £350m loss even before pandemic restrictions hit the business as it battled to meet interest payments and increasing overhead costs. PizzaExpress has enough liquidity to see it through 18 months of low dine-in sales and some regional lockdowns, its directors noted in the report. Restaurant owners have issued dire warnings about the prospects for the sector after figures published by the Office for National Statistics in December showed that...

Jan 13, 2021

Debenhams axes Oxford Street flagship as it closes more stores

Debenhams' flagship Oxford Street store is one of six that will not reopen once the current round of Covid-19 restrictions are eased, as hopes fade for a rescue of the UK department store group. "While it remains our intention to reopen as many stores as possible to complete the stock liquidation . . . the announcement of a renewed national lockdown last week means that a number of stores where we have been unable to agree lease extensions will be permanently closed," they added. Staff in...

Jan 13, 2021

Reflation offers salvation as UK stocks come in from the cold

FTSE needs more than Brexit relief to keep outperforming; fewer returns mark a return to a form at Asos

Jan 13, 2021

Airbnb cancels reservations in Washington area ahead of inauguration

Airbnb has cancelled reservations in the area around Washington DC during the inauguration week after US authorities asked people to stay away. Airbnb said: "We are aware of reports emerging yesterday afternoon regarding armed militias and known hate groups that are attempting to travel and disrupt the inauguration." Airbnb said it wanted to make sure that hate groups were not using its site. Additionally Airbnb said that since 6 January it has been trying to identify individual customers who...

Jan 12, 2021

Smart locks: Convenience comes with security doubts

Wi-fi lets you monitor and control the lock when you're away from home, and see the face of your Amazon delivery person who wants to get in. Connecting with wi-fi also allows your lock to talk to Alexa or Siri, and turn on your lights and adjust the thermostat when you get home. Another challenge for manufacturers has been extending battery life, currently about six months for locks using wi-fi. "Wi-fi is very challenging. It's kind of the holy grail of Internet of Things devices," says Rob...

Jan 12, 2021

Samsung bets on bespoke fridges to lure millennials

Samsung plans to start selling personalised fridges in the US, Middle East and Europe later this year. "Customers had few options among products made by a traditional manufacturing system," said Jaeseung Lee, Samsung's president and head of digital appliances business. While Samsung has its own Bixby voice assistant, Mr Lee said it is open to working with rivals Amazon and Google to connect their systems to its gadgets. Big electronic companies have benefitted during the pandemic as more...

Jan 12, 2021

City Bulletin: The Hut Group boosts sales guidance — for third time

The Hut Group has boosted sales guidance for the third time since its flotation in September. The Manchester-based ecommerce retailer said a strong start to the year meant revenue growth of between 30 and 35 per cent, up from previous guidance of 20 to 25 per cent growth. The company's cosmetics business drove the beat, delivering 66 per cent sales growth in the fourth quarter, while its food supplements divisions performed in line with expectations with 40 per cent growth. Current quarter...

Jan 12, 2021

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Netflix apologises for Bloody Sunday tweet

Netflix has apologised and removed a promotional tweet for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina which referenced "Sunday Bloody Sunday". Sunday Bloody Sunday is also the name of a 1983 song by Irish rock band U2, which was written about the Troubles and taken from their third album War. After the tweet was published on the Sabrina Twitter account, several users encouraged Netflix to research the history of Bloody Sunday and remove the post. In the 1980's, U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday" made the...

Jan 12, 2021

Royal Mail names areas hit by Covid postal delays

Royal Mail has published a list of areas where there have been delivery delays due to its workforce being affected by the Covid pandemic. Royal Mail listed 28 areas where post might be late, with 27 in England and one in Northern Ireland. In a service update on Tuesday, Royal Mail said: "Due to resourcing issues, deliveries in the following areas are likely to be limited." "Royal Mail said:"Despite our best efforts and significant investment in extra resource, some customers may experience...