Sunday, 20 May 2018

Mothercare Closures

Mothercare has confirmed it is closing 50 stores as part of a rescue plan, a move that will put 800 jobs at risk. The baby products retailer said it was in a "perilous" financial position.The store closures will leave it with 78 outlets in the UK by 2020. The retailer has already nearly halved its store numbers over the past five years. It had intended have 92 outlets by 2023, but has now accelerated its closure plans and will have just 73 by that year. The company plunged to a £72.8m loss in its most recent financial year, as it took hefty charges to pay for closing stores and reorganising the business. Mothercare saw falling numbers of shoppers in the second half of the financial year and had to discount to try to stimulate sales. However, over the year as a whole, like-for-like sales fell 1.3%. What is causing the problem at Mothercare?

TGI Walk Out

Workers at two branches of the American diner chain TGI Fridays are holding walk-outs over changes they say will cost them hundreds of pounds a month. The firm has introduced a new pay policy, which redistributes customer tips from waiters to kitchen staff. The 24-hour strike will affect branches in Milton Keynes and Covent Garden.The Unite union has forecast a "summer of disruption" by unhappy employees. The firm said it pays its staff fairly and is working to find a resolution. Flagging consumer spending on casual dining combined with rises in the minimum wage are squeezing profits at mid-market restaurants like TGI Fridays. In February the chain introduced a system that takes 40% of tips paid by customers on credit and debit cards for redistribution to back-of-house staff. Unite said the aim was to reduce staff turnover in kitchens by giving them a pay rise without increasing costs. But the union said it would cost waiting staff on the minimum wage up to £250 a month in lost income.

Royal Business

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding is anticipated to boost the UK economy by £120 million, research has revealed. Statistics have shown that the royal family has a huge impact on the economy and that the monarchy makes millions for the UK each year. Prince Harry and Ms Markle’s wedding which is due to take place on Saturday in Windsor is expected to cost £32 million but researchers anticipate that their nuptials could boost retail by £120 million due to the hype surrounding it. Merchandise inspired by Prince Harry and Ms Markle is anticipated to give shops a windfall boost of £120 million in 2018, according to research. This includes memorabilia, food and drink, newspapers and books and fashion sales such as bridal wear. There are already spoons, tea towels and cookies inspired by the couple.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Healthy Chocolate?

A Newcastle entrepreneur is hoping to take the market in ‘healthy’ chocolate bars after featuring on a popular BBC programme. Wajeeha Hussain, from Newcastle, spent eight years working at the Nissan plant in Sunderland after graduating from Northumbria University with a degree in computer science.But her true passion lay in making sweet treats, albeit sweets with a difference – healthier chocolate bars which are vegan, dairy free and soy free. Wajeeha has a history of diabetes in her family, so she has concocted a chocolate company called Chocolateeha, which makes bars from raw cacao nibs that have fewer calories. She was working for Nissan as a project manager in Washington when she began working on her business plan. Last July she moved back in with her parents so she could fund her dream, with her dad converting their garage into a base for her business. Wajeeha is having a pop-up event at the House of Fraser store in the Metrocentre on May 28 and 29 as she looks to start & grow her brand.

Weather Takes Bite Into Greggs Sales

Greggs shares tumbled on Wednesday after the bakery chain said that March's cold snap had hit sales. The Beast from the East forced the temporary closure of several stores and added to overall weaker trading in early spring. Like-for-like sales slowed to 1.3% in the first 18 weeks of the year, down from 3.5% for the same period in 2017. Although sales this month had rebounded, Greggs warned that full-year profits could be flat as a result. The company's failure to keep delivering annual profit growth sparked an investor exodus, with shares sliding almost 15% to £10.78,valuing it at £1.1bn.  Nick Bubb, an independent retail analyst, commented: "The overall message is that, despite tight cost control, underlying profits for the year are now likely to be only flat compared to last year, which is obviously a bit disappointing."Although one drive who got stuck in the snow on the A1 gained some positive publicity for the company as he delivered food to stranded motorists. 

Chocolate Wars

Waitrose is battling allegations of chocolate plagiarism in a hot-tempered dispute between rival factions of posh chocolatiers. The bosses of upmarket Hotel Chocolat have written to the supermarket’s chief executive in fury after it launched a range of bars they claim bear an uncanny resemblance to their own. Hotel Chocolat’s co-founder Angus Thirlwell said eagle-eyed chocoholics first spotted the alleged copycat bars in Waitrose earlier this week and alerted him to the similarity.All the Waitrose bars are roughly the same size as Hotel Chocolat’s and share a distinctive wavy edge that sets them apart from mass-produced bars with straight sides. Thirlwell said Hotel Chocolat had legal protection for its its curved-edge design from the European Union’s intellectual property office.

Rolls-Royce SUV

Rolls-Royce has become the latest luxury car maker to launch an SUV. Chief executive Torsten Müller-Ötvös said the new Cullinan, which will cost more than £200,000, was a "seminal" moment and probably the "most anticipated" Rolls-Royce ever. Bentley and Lamborghini have already launched SUVs, while Ferrari will follow next year. Automotive analysts said Rolls, which is owned by BMW, had to follow suit to keep up with changing consumer demand. The launch of the Cullinan, named after the world's biggest diamond that is part of the Crown Jewels, marks a shift away from the luxury saloon cars that Rolls-Royce is best known for. Mr Torsten Müller-Ötvös told the BBC its target group had changed significantly over the past decade.