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Updated: 15 min 30 sec ago

Ex-Goldman Sachs Dogecoin millionaire joins UK healthcare company

39 min 56 sec ago

A Goldman Sachs manager who quit after making millions from the meme-based, crypto currency Dogecoin has reemerged as the Executive Chairman of a UK healthcare company.

Aziz McMahon will join SpectrumX as Executive Chairman, focussing on investor relations, corporate governance, and the formulation of the company’s new ESG policy. McMahon was formerly the head of emerging market sales at the US investment bank, but he resigned after profiting from Dogecoin’s meteoric rise this year.

Aziz McMahon, an early stage investor in the company, said, “having supported SpectrumX since the outset, I am excited to agree to an executive chairman role.”

“I look forward to ensuring the company continues its path of success as it becomes a public company, adhering to strict ESG standards, including carbon neutrality, transparent investor relations and the highest standards in corporate governance,” he continued.

SpectrumX is a UK-based healthcare and pharmaceuticals firm focused on bringing a new respiratory therapy, known as SPC-069, to market. It also intends to roll out of the most powerful hand sanitiser in the world to the NHS and other healthcare clients. 

Damien Hancox, CEO & Co-Founder of SpectrumX commented on McMahon’s appointment.

He said, “as an early-stage cornerstone investor, Aziz has been a key team member and advisor since our inception. We are delighted he has agreed to this appointment, where he will focus his abilities and wealth of experience on the development of our group as we enter this exciting new phase ahead of our listing.”

It is unclear how much money McMahon made from Dogecoin, the world’s ninth largest crypto currency by market cap, before leaving Goldmans after working there for more than 14 years.

However, the coin peaked at a price of $0.74 in May, shortly before McMahon resigned, having surged by 25,054 per cent in one year. Dogecoin has made gains of 4,091 per cent this year to date.

Read more: Watford FC to feature Doge on football shirts

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Categories: City of London

City hiring spree: Financial services sector's recruitment plans to break records this autumn

2 hours 50 min ago

Employers in London have ambitious plans to increase their headcount as they enter the fourth quarter, according to new research shared with City A.M. this morning.

Even though London’ outlook was the lowest of all regions in the fourth quarter of last year, at minus 13 per cent, businesses in the capital now have one of the highest recruitment looks in the country, at more than 40 per cent. a 53 percentage-point increase year-on-year. 

London’s outlook correlates with the finance and business services sector as the industry’s intention to hire is also breaking records, with an outlook of +46 per cent, according to recruitment giant Manpower.

In fact, as the UK adapts to life post-lockdown, employers in all 12 regions of the UK expect to add to payrolls during the next three months.

Source: Manpower

“Strong hiring intentions in the capital bodes well for the economy as a whole, so it’s great to see such strong numbers in London,” commented Jason Greaves, Director of Manpower.

He told City A.M. today that “employers across the capital are anticipating a shift which will see many more people return to the office, with coffee shops, restaurants and retailers all expecting a surge in footfall which goes hand in hand with increased demand for staff.” 

As London powers ahead of other regions, the national outlook is at an all-time high of +32 per cent, a 39-point increase compared to the fourth quarter of last year as the UK adapts to life post-lockdown.

This coming quarter, a record half of all employers (50 per cent) in the UK intend to increase headcounts.

Manpower’s survey is based on responses from 2,033 UK employers. The research asks employers in the UK if they intend to hire additional workers, maintain current headcount or reduce the size of their workforce in the coming quarter, October to December.

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Categories: City of London

Chinese Uber rival Didi's users drop by 30 per cent after US IPO saga

3 hours 1 min ago

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi has lost 30 per cent of its app’s daily users since its $4.4bn IPO in New York at the end of June, in the latest blow to the company following Beijing’s harsh regulatory crackdown for an alleged data breach.

Didi’s average daily users plunged to 10.9m in August from 15.6m in June, according to data from Chinese mobile data tracker Aurora Mobile, first reported by the Financial Times.

Meanwhile, its main competitors either experienced a surge in user numbers or a similar fall, as regulatory fears weighed on the Chinese tech industry.

Beijing’s authorities opened an investigation into Didi for allegedly violating user privacy just days after its $4.4bn debut on the New York stock exchange in June, sending share prices tumbling 40 per cent and collapsing co-founder and CEO Cheng Wei’s net worth by around $1.2bn.

The fallout from the investigation has hit Didi’s business hard, in part due to the regulator imposing a ban on new customer sign-up which is depriving the app of about 4m new users a month, based on its usual rate.

But US shareholders are yet to find out the extent of the damage, as the company has held off reporting its second quarter earnings – lagging behind most of its Wall Street peers.

Shortly before launching its Didi probe, China’s digital regulator the the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) announced that Chinese firms with data on more than 1m users will face security checks before they can list on foreign stock exchanges.

This is coupled with China’s broader regulatory crackdown in recent months on Chinese tech giants and other business sectors including education for perceived monopolistic behaviour and unfair competition.

Xi Jinping’s government is concerned about listings in the US, where over 30 Chinese firms raised a record $12.4bn in the first half of this year, according to data from Dealogic.

But Beijing’s recent campaign against offshore listings of Chinese companies in the US has caused foreign investors to doubt the prospects of Chinese companies that IPO on Wall Street and in London.

The ongoing probe led Didi to call off plans to launch its app in continental Europe, including UK cities, at the end of last month.

A Didi spokesperson said: “We continue to explore additional new markets, liaising with relevant stakeholders in each and being thoughtful about when to introduce our services.

“As soon as we have any more news on additional new markets, we look forward to sharing.”

“We have established an international talent hub in the UK, recognising the exceptional quality of people in the market. Beyond that, any personnel matters remain strictly confidential.”

Didi has been asked for comment.

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Categories: City of London

Putin continues self isolation as dozens of staff succumb to Covid

4 hours 3 min ago

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he will continue self-isolating after dozens of his closest staff tested positive for coronavirus.

Earlier this week the Kremlin announced that Putin would begin self-isolating after someone in his inner circle, who the President had spent an entire day with, was infected. While Putin has reportedly tested negative for the virus and is fully vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V. he said that the outbreak amongst key staff is extensive.

“Cases of coronavirus have been identified in my immediate environment, and this is not one, not two, but several tens of people. Now we have to observe the self-isolation regime for several days,” he said on a video call at a meeting of the Russia-led Collective Treaty Security Organization.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, said that those infected were “mainly those who take part in ensuring the work and activities of the head of state, his security.” None of the cases are severe, he added.

Although Russia was the first country to roll out a coronavirus vaccine, less than 30% of the country is fully vaccinated, far short of the target of 60 per cent by the end of the month. Daily average deaths staying close to 800 over the past month with a total of 7.2 million infections and 195,835 deaths recorded since the pandemic began.

While the Russian premiere has rarely been seen wearing a mask in public the Kremlin has taken a tough approach to Covid safety. Visitors have to enter through a disinfection tunnel and journalists attending press briefings are required to take multiple tests.

Putin will remain in isolation for a few days.

Read more: Watch as Putin oversees war games with Belarus

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Categories: City of London

M&S to close French high street stores after Brexit red-tape

4 hours 12 min ago

Marks & Spencer will shut 11 of its French stores because of supply issues with fresh and chilled foods after Brexit.

The supermarket said it would close all franchise stores operated with partner SFH in the country by the end of the year.

Nine stores at travel hubs would remain open but supply chain problems meant there was “no workable alternative” for high street stores.

“M&S has a long history of serving customers in France and this is not a decision we or our partner SFH have taken lightly,” said Paul Friston, M&S international director.

“However, as things stand today, the supply chain complexities in place following the UK’s exit from the European Union now make it near impossible for us to serve fresh and chilled products to customers to the high standards they expect, resulting in an ongoing impact to the performance of our business.”

The retailer said red-tape at the border had caused delays that made it a struggle to get fresh food items including sandwiches to stores.

Stores run with partner Lagardere Travel Retail – in airports, railway and Metro stations – have not been affected by the supply chain woes.

The business will continue its French online operation, selling clothes and homeware. 

M&S announced in April it was removing the sale of all fresh and chilled products from stores in the Czech Republic and would double ranges of frozen and ambient items.

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Categories: City of London

Asos outlines plans for lower carbon footprint

4 hours 51 min ago

Online fashion retailer Asos has set out plans to minimise its impact on the planet over the next few years.

Under its Fashion with Integrity (“FWI”) 2030 programme, the company intends to become a verified net zero emissions business and use more sustainable and recycled materials by 2030. 

Consumers are increasingly concerned with fast fashion’s impact on the environment while  the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh in 2013 caused a spotlight to be pointed at textile factory conditions.

Asos is among online retailers to come under fire for promoting a throwaway fashion culture, where consumers do not re-wear items for long periods.

The company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals include a goal to be carbon neutral in its direct operations by 2025 and achieve net zero across its value chain by 2030.

Asos said it would ensure 100 per cent of its own-brand products and packaging were made from more sustainable or recycled materials by 2030, to become more circular.

It also pledged to be transparent and publish a detailed human rights strategy and implementation reports annually from 2023 and provide full public transparency of every own-brand product by 2030.

Leadership representation will also be a key focus moving forward, with an aim for at least 50 per cent female representation and over 15 per cent ethnic minority representation at every level by 2030.

Nick Beighton, CEO, said: “The responsibility for a sustainable future lies with all of us and businesses must lead the way. We will make sure we deliver products and brands that allow our customers to shop ethically and responsibly, safe in the knowledge that they are reducing their impact on the planet and contributing to a fairer world.”

The retailer’s news comes just after budget chain Primark set out its first measurable environmental impact goals on Wednesday.

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Categories: City of London

FCA probes three traders for market abuse around time of Brexit vote

5 hours 34 sec ago

The Financial Conduct Authority has issued formal warnings to three traders from an unnamed bank who carried out market abuse around the time of the 2016 Brexit vote.

The FCA accused the individuals of ‘spoofing,’ a practice where traders place orders on financial assets they do not intend to complete in order to manipulate markets.

In this case, the traders worked separately and together to place large futures orders on assets which pushed their price upwards. They then placed smaller, genuine orders on the assets to profit from the price increase.

In a statement the FCA said it “considers that the individuals’ behaviour constituted market abuse within the meaning of Article 12 of the Regulation and in contravention of Article 15 of the Regulation.”

Oliver Blower, CEO of VoxSmart, said “spoofing is an unfortune by-product of the fact that certain traders have always, and will always, look to manipulate the markets for personal gain. 

“But this does not mean that the industry is full of bad actors. More and more financial institutions are currently looking to reconstruct orders to try and figure out the exact sequencing that takes place,” he added.

The financial watchdog says the misconduct took place between June and the end of July 2016 with the Brexit referendum held on June 23.

The Brexit vote caused a spike in the price of the British pound which shot up to $1.50 when polls closed before crashing by as much as 9.09 per cent when the results were announced.

Read more: FCA chair urges investors not to take cryptocurrency advice from Kim Kardashian

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Categories: City of London

130 universities in UK: Half of new Cabinet studied at Oxford or Cambridge

5 hours 10 min ago

Almost half of Boris Johnson’s new Cabinet went to Oxford or Cambridge universities while over 60 per cent attended a private school.

New Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Housing Secretary Michael Gove and Chancellor Rishi Sunak all attended Oxford University.

Moreover, one in four of all Conservative MPs studied at one of the two prestigious universities, according to research that was sent to City A.M. this morning.

The percentage privately educated Cabinet members is down slightly on the Prime Minister’s previous cabinets, data from social mobility charity Sutton Trust suggested. The figure was 64 per cent in his first Cabinet in 2019, and 65 per cent in a 2020 reshuffle.

In its analysis of the educational background of the new Cabinet announced yesterday, the trust said the 2021 percentage for private education compares to 29 per cent when it comes to all MPs in the House of Commons.

The Sutton Trust said there has been a slight increase in the proportion of the new Cabinet educated at comprehensives, from 27 per cent last year to a third now.

While 46 per cent of those in the latest Cabinet studied at Oxford or Cambridge, the figure compares with 27 per cent of all Conservative MPs, 18 per cent of Labour MPs and 24 per cent of all MPs.

The trust said just over a quarter of Cabinet ministers attended both independent schools and Oxbridge.

The trust said its analysis includes 30 ministers and assumes Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg and Attorney General Suella Braverman will attend Cabinet.

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Categories: City of London

Co-op sales fall 3.2 per cent amid food shortages

5 hours 42 min ago

The Co-op has warned that full year profit could be hampered by ongoing supply chain issues after sales fell by 3.2 per cent in H1 2021.

Group revenue stood at £5.6bn for the first half of the year, up 4.2 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels, but a cut below the heights seen last year on the back of Covid-19 lockdowns.

The group reported an underlying operating loss before tax of £15m, down by £71m compared to 2020, and cautioned that ongoing Covid costs and supply chains issues will continue to apply pressure for the rest of the year.

Steve Murrells, Chief Executive of the Co-op, said: “as we continue to experience the effects of the Covid-19 crisis, it is clear that things will never be the same again.

“As a business and as a society, it is crucial that we learn from the last 18 months, particularly as we turn to the momentous task of rebuilding Britain and face into the continuing disruption to our business and our supply chains,” he added, thanking the company’s 62,000 staff for their hard work.

News of the lacklustre half year results come after Murrells told the times that “the shortages are at a worse level than at any time I have seen.”

Empty supermarket shelves have become a common occurance at supermarkets across the company driven by labour shortages and logistics issued caused by Brexit and Covid-19.

Co-op is retraining staff as lorry drivers to help fill vacant roles after road haulage bosses said there is a shortfall of around 100,000 drivers, partly caused by the exit from the UK during the pandemic of thousands of EU drivers who have not yet returned.

Co-op’s share price is up 0.5 per cent today despite its uncertain forecast concerning full year financials.

Read more: Co-op chief: Brexit and Covid have caused the ‘worst food shortages I have ever seen’

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Categories: City of London

Full-time return to office not on the cards, say 70 per cent of Brits

6 hours 12 min ago

Just over 70 per cent of all Brits do not feel a return to full-time office working is on the cards after the pandemic, according to new YouGov research shared with City A.M.

The majority of those questioned by YouGov said they would favour to either work from home full-time, or have a hybrid arrangement.

But the poll, commissioned by the BBC, also found concern from senior leaders that creativity and collaboration could suffer if employees were staying at home.

‘Gradual return’

Speaking in June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he expected to see a “gradual return to work over the summer”, but the Government has not ruled out a return to mandatory home working.

In the Covid-19 Autumn and Winter Plan, the Government said it would “consider asking people once again to work from home if they can, for a limited period” in a Plan B scenario if data shows the NHS is “likely to come under unsustainable pressure”.

The YouGov/BBC poll of 1,684 people and 530 senior leaders in business also saw a majority thinking their productivity would not suffer if staff continued to work from home, with 75% of people thinking their manager will allow them to continue not coming into the office.

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Categories: City of London

SpaceX launch: E-com billionaire and three ordinary civilians are on their way to space

6 hours 22 min ago

A SpaceX rocket ship blasted off from Florida last night carrying a billionaire e-commerce executive and three less-wealthy private citizens he chose to join him in the first all-civilian crew ever launched into Earth orbit. Watch the full report.

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Categories: City of London

THG targets separate IPO for beauty business

6 hours 36 min ago

UK e-commerce company THG said this morning it will spin off its beauty division in a separate listing in 2022, and is also considering stock market listings for its other main ecommerce business, as well as its technology and logistics divisions.

A stock market listing comes after THG Beauty – which counts brands such as Lookfantastic, Glossybox and Espa in its portfolio – was one of the fastest growing parts of the business in the first half of the year, with sales of £461m in the six months to the end of June, up from £296m in the same period last year.

“A separate listing for THG Beauty will position the business very well to focus investment in its key growth areas, including own-brand portfolio expansion,” the company said this morning. “The decision of whether to separately list THG Nutrition and the timing will remain under consideration.”

The decision to spin out its beauty business comes just a year after Manchester-based THG (previously The Hut Group) listed on the London Stock Exchange, raising £1.88bn in the largest UK IPO since 2015.

Shares in THG surged as much as 15 per cent in May this year when the group, founded by Matthew Moulding, raised another $1bn further equity led by Japanese investment giant SoftBank.

As part of this deal THG agreed to sell a 20 per cent stake worth around £1.6bn in Ingenuity, its tech and logisitcs platform, to SoftBank, which now owns around 8 per cent of the group.

Ingenuity’s ‘commerce’ revenues surged 166 per cent year-on-year to £18.3m in the first half of 2021, and now the group is mulling a potential listing for this part of the business, it hinted this morning.

Overall group revenues were £958m, beating average analysts’ forecasts of £942m.

CEO Matthew Moulding said a decision on whether to list THG Nutrition, which reported revenue growth of 27 per cent to £328m in the first half, up from £258m last year, “will remain under consideration.”

Outlining how it had begun the process of separating its beauty business, THG said it would at first operate as a majority-owned subsidiary and that the group “retains ultimate discretion and flexibility to determine any subsequent IPO, or other structural option for Ingenuity, with the objective to maximise value for all shareholders”.

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Categories: City of London

Half of UK workers would hide health issue from employer

6 hours 42 min ago
Almost half of UK employees would not talk to their employer if they were experiencing a health issue, having a detrimental impact on business performance and culture, according to new research shared with City A.M. this morning.

As many as 43 per cent of individuals reported that they wouldn’t feel confident discussing any health issue with their employer, with many worrying about what it would mean for their career and relationships within the workplace, not-for-profit healthcare provider Benenden Health found.

Almost a third of businesses (28 per cent) accepted that they would have concerns about offering support to those in need, with as many as a fifth (19 per cent) revealing that they have previously hired someone with pre-existing health conditions but wouldn’t do so again, perpetuating the cycle of hidden health issues at work whilst open conservations and effective support are not forthcoming.

With more than half of all UK employees (51 per cent) revealing that they have a health issue, long-term condition or disability, the firm is warning that fear and stigma around health in the workplace means millions of workers may not be getting the necessary – or any – support from their employers. This could lead to absences, lower productivity and employees ultimately leaving their job.

Mental health and high blood pressure

The survey of 2,000 employees and 500 business owners revealed the most common ailments that workers have not disclosed to their employer to be poor mental health, high blood pressure and arthritis.

More than a third of employees (36 per cent) also disclosed that they have lied to an employer about taking time off for an appointment, with almost half (44 per cent) of 16-24 year olds doing so, making it difficult for businesses to ensure workers are getting the appropriate support.

The reasons why employees would be reticent to discuss their wellbeing at work were also revealed, with a third saying they would worry that people would think they couldn’t do their job (29 per cent), more than a quarter believing they might lose their job (27 per cent), a fifth concerned that they would be talked about and one in ten (9 per cent) worrying that people wouldn’t want to be their friend.

For some, these concerns were based on experience, with 15 per cent of employees believing that they have been overlooked for a job in the past due to a health issue, long-term condition or disability.

“It is disappointing that so many people still feel they can’t speak to their employers about their wellbeing and that a sizeable number of decision makers reinforce this with dated approaches to hiring people with long-term health issues,” commented Naomi Thompson, Head of OD at Benenden Health.

“This stigma is especially prevalent in the workplace, with businesses too often unable to identify wellbeing issues, employees concerned about the implications of discussing them and a continuing lack of tangible support, all of which contribute to lost time and productivity for businesses as well as unaddressed poor employee wellbeing,” Thompson told City A.M.

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Categories: City of London

Staff shortages: Care homes may shut as vaccine deadline for care workers is today

6 hours 48 min ago

Care homes may be forced to shut because of staff shortages as the deadline for care workers to get vaccinated looms today, Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, warned this morning.

Green told Radio 4’s Today programme: “There’s a real crisis around recruitment in the social care sector which has, in the pandemic, gotten a lot worse. Lots of things the Government has done, including the mandatory vaccination process, hasn’t helped.”

“We are also going to see millions of pounds going out of the sector because of the national insurance contributions rising and we won’t see that extra money coming in until about 2023,” he said.

Green added: “We all accept we want as many people as possible to be vaccinated. But I do feel the Government has gone forward with the social care compulsion without understanding the implications. Without having a thought-out plan on how they are going to deal with staff shortages.”

“Care homes are now in a difficult position, facing the reality of do they have enough staff to maintain safety and quality of care?

“They are in the position of either having to transgress the law or expose people they support to levels of staffing that are not going to deliver the safety you’re required to.

“There’s the inevitability that in some areas, if you can’t get the staff, then there will be care homes that close,” Green concluded.

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Categories: City of London

Bitcoin protests break out in El Salvador

6 hours 49 min ago

Protests in El Salvador turned violent as thousands of demonstrators expressed their anger about Bitcoin becoming legal tender.

Yesterday, anti-government marchers took to the streets bearing signs which read “no to dictatorship” and “we were defrauded by Bitcoin”. Bitcoin ATMs, installed ahead of the crypto currency becoming legal tender earlier this month, were burned by demonstrators.

La actividad en el centro histórico de San Salvador transcurre sin sobresaltos mientras un cajero Chivo es consumido por el fuego tras las manifestaciones contra la bitcoinización de El Salvador. Video LPG/Michael Huezo.

— La Prensa Gráfica (@prensagrafica) September 15, 2021 A Bitcoin ATM is burned in El Salvador.

The decision to legalise the use of crypto payments across the country was spearheaded by El Salvador’s charismatic young leader, President Nayib Bukele, who proposed the scheme to help to make remittance payments cheaper and faster. Businesses are legally required to accept Bitcoin payments alongside the dollar.

However, recent polling suggests the policy is unpopular with 67.9% of 1,281 people surveyed saying they disagree or strongly disagree with the change. To make matters worse, the day of the rollout was plagued by technical hitches and a slump in the price of Bitcoin which led to around 1,000 protestors marching on the capital.

El Salvador’s official Bitcoin wallet, which comes pre-loaded with $30 of free crypto, has just half a million users.

Yesterday’s protestors also challenged Bukele’s authoritative leadership style after the country’s judiciary approved him to run for a second term in office despite constitutional limits.

“It’s important to say this morning: Enough already! What the government is doing is arrogant, it is authoritarianism,” protester Dora Rivera told Reuters.

Despite the setbacks, the price of Bitcoin is up 2.5 per cent in the past 24 hours and stands at $48,217.89.

Read more: Welcome to the one country where Bitcoin can be used as cash

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Categories: City of London

Superdry losses shrink despite subdued high street footfall

6 hours 56 min ago

Superdry said store and wholesale revenues were recovering well despite high streets remaining quiet.

The fashion retailer reported a pre-tax loss of £37m for the year to April 24, compared with a £167m loss from a year earlier.

Revenues fell 21.1 per cent to £556m for the year after a number of lockdowns across key regions.

“Like most brands with a physical presence, our performance over the past year has been impacted by the significant disruption of Covid-19, but I am really proud of how the business has stepped up and returned to revenue growth in the fourth quarter,” Julian Dunkerton, chief executive of Superdry, said.

“I’m in no doubt that we’re turning the corner and there’s a lot to be excited about.”

Full year adjusted loss before tax was £12.6m, compared to £41.8m for the 2020 full year, as cost saving measures and government support helped to offset trading shortfalls. 

Trading had been “encouraging” since the reopening of high street stores while the e commerce margin had benefited from a return to a full price stance, Dunkerton added.

Sales for the latest 18 weeks from the end of April were 1.9 per cent ahead of sales from last year, 29.6 per cent below pre-pandemic levels from 2019.

The fashion brand would “take a big step forward” when its global flagship store opened in Oxford Street later this autumn, the boss said.

The retailer’s board decided not to propose a final dividend for the financial year.

Superdry had successfully taken advantage of the popular social media app TikTok to appeal to Gen Z consumers, Chris Daly, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Marketing said.

“Fundamental to the company’s success has been its prioritisation of e-commerce, which has helped mitigate the impact of enforced store closures in lockdown,” Daly added.

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Categories: City of London

Going underground: London has a new tube map

7 hours 6 min ago

South London’s tube map is about to get a whole lot messier.

The opening of two new stations – Battersea Power Station and Nine Elms – means Harry Beck’s tube map masterpiece needs a makeover.

The stations will open this coming Monday as a Northern Line spur, with passengers changing at Kennington.

The two stations bring the total number of London Underground stops to a lofty 272.

It is the first major Tube extension this century and is set to anchor the raft of new development around the former power station in what was once one of London’s least trendy districts.

But like the rest of south London, the area has seen a recent revival, with young professionals flocking to Vauxhall, Stockwell, Brixton and the surrounding areas.

Construction on the new line began in 2015, and cost £1.1bn.

The first tube will leave Battersea Power Station at 5:28am on Monday morning, with six trains an hour during peak times doubling to twelve trains by the middle of next year.

Read more: Lofty Crossrail to Heathrow fares to be capped at standard Tube rates

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Categories: City of London

John Lewis posts £29m pre-tax loss after restructuring costs

7 hours 25 min ago

John Lewis has reported a pre-tax loss of £29m for the year’s first half, after restructuring costs.

However, the high street giant said its half year results ending July 31 marked a significant improvement on last year’s pre-tax loss of £635m. 

Profit before exceptional items was £69m, up £124m on the comparable period last year, when the partnership made a £55m loss.

The company made a loss of £52m, up £121m, when compared to the first half of 2019/2020, which it said was a “more meaningful benchmark” given the pandemic.

Sales were up six per cent driven by online growth with almost 75 per cent of John Lewis’ sales via e commerce.

The company is in the first year of a five-year plan to return the business to sustainable profit of £400m a year.

“As we look ahead, there is significant uncertainty. Like the whole of retail, we are managing global supply chain challenges and labour shortages. We are seeing inflationary pressures, which we expect to persist,” partner and chairman, Sharon White, said.

The company said total sales hit £5.87bn across its John Lewis and Waitrose operations.

Exceptional costs were £98m in the half thanks to £24m in property costs, mostly settling lease obligations arising from shop closures, and £54m in redundancy costs.

John Lewis made savings of £66m in the first half and was in receipt of £58m of business rates relief.

The company had to make “difficult but necessary decisions” to slash costs including shutting eight John Lewis stores and consulting on closing a delivery hub.

A number of head office roles were reduced and the retailer is considering having fewer managers in stores.

The company will hire 500 workers next year to operate a new Fenny Lock warehouse.

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Cabinet Reshuffle: The ins and outs around Boris Johnson's Cabinet table

7 hours 33 min ago

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reshuffled his top team, bringing a raft of new faces into his Cabinet.

Most of the big moves were made on Wednesday afternoon, with junior ministerial appointments continuing Thursday.

But who is in and who is out?

The Ins Liz Truss – Foreign Secretary

The South West Norfolk MP has come a long way since becoming an internet meme thanks to a very strange speech about cheese. That oration aside, she’s widely believed to have done a good job as Trade Secretary, managing the rollover of existing EU trade deals with third countries into specific UK deals. She’s known as being a hawkish, libertarian free marketeer – so we are unlikely to see a change in tone on China and Russia.

Michael Gove – Housing Secretary

Aberdeen nightclub sensation / dry-as-dust reforming Tory Michael Gove has moved across to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, taking Treasury up and comer Kimi Badenoch with him. Planning reform under the Tories has been relatively piecemeal but is a totemic issue amongst Gove’s wing of the party, and hopes are high he’ll take the same reforming attitude that a) improved schools and b) angered unions at education to this department.

LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 15: Britain’s Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment Nadhim Zahawi arrives at 10 Downing Street on September 15, 2021 in London, England. The British prime minister replaced several cabinet ministers shortly after introducing his social care plan and a corresponding tax rise that is unpopular with some members of his party. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Nadhim Zahawi – Education Secretary

The Baghdad-born Zahawi was co-founder of YouGov and took that organisational and entrepreneurial talent into his role overseeing vaccine deployment in the past year. That has widely been considered a success (just check the two holes in your arm) and many believe Zahawi will at some point be elevated to higher office than education. For now, not being Gavin Williamson will do.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan – International Trade Secretary

Trevelyan kept schtum when her previous Cabinet appointment, as International Development Secretary, went up in smoke alongside her DfID department last year after its merger with the Foreign Office. She’s rewarded for her loyalty with a globe-trotting role that – as per earlier – did nothing to harm previous incumbent Liz Truss’ reputation.

Nadine Dorries – Culture Secretary

Perhaps the most surprising appointment, the former racy novelist and I’m a Celeb contestant is now tasked with taking on the BBC, managing the almost inevitable privatisation of Channel 4, and generally taking a frontline role in the – sigh – culture wars.

Read more: Dowden defends Channel 4 privatisation push as ‘needed’ to fend off streaming giants

The sideways LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 15: Dominic Raab, Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs arrives at 10 Downing Street on September 15, 2021 in London, England. The British prime minister replaced several cabinet ministers shortly after introducing his social care plan and a corresponding tax rise that is unpopular with some members of his party. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) Dominic Raab – Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister

A former human rights lawyer of some repute, Raab did a good job as Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State during the pandemic, notably stepping in for the PM when he fell into intensive care with Covid-19. But failing to get back from a holiday to manage the evacuation of British personnel and Afghan allies from Kabul doomed him. He managed to secure the new DPM title as part of heated negotiations with the Prime Minister yesterday.

Oliver Dowden – Co-Chair of the Tory Party

Moving from Culture Secretary to party boss may seem like a demotion but Dowden, who worked at Conservative HQ at the start of his career, is reportedly very excited to get stuck into election planning. His appointment is a reminder that this Government is never long out of campaign mode.

The outs Gavin Williamson

What more is there to say about Gavin Williamson’s education tenure? Between a botched exam results algorithm rollout and confusing black sports stars Marcus Rashford and Maro Itoje, his copybook was blotted to the point that surviving a reshuffle would have been truly staggering. But don’t rule out a comeback – he remains frightfully ambitious, and a master of the political dark arts.

Robert Jenrick

A Boris loyalist to the point of the surreal at points, his fealty failed to save him after getting too close to scandals as Housing Secretary – and getting too close to Richard Desmond. He may well be back in due course.

Robert Buckland

Thoroughly well-respected and competent, Buckland was moved on from the Justice Department largely to make space for others. He didn’t go quietly – writing a letter to the PM demanding more cash for the system to deal with backlogs and improve rehab work.

The post Cabinet Reshuffle: The ins and outs around Boris Johnson's Cabinet table appeared first on CityAM.

Categories: City of London

Tobacco firm Philip Morris secures £1bn takeover of inhaler maker Vectura

8 hours 29 min ago

Philip Morris, the maker of the world’s most popular cigarette brand Malboro, has sealed its £1bn takeover of asthma inhaler maker Vectura with a bumper share purchase.

In August, the Vectura Directors supported a takeover bid from Philip Morris International to purchase Vectura at a price of 165 pence per share after a fierce bidding war. Today, Philip Morris has announced the additional purchase of shares from the company’s investors, upping its total stake to 74.7 per cent, well above the 50 per cent needed to complete the deal.

Commenting on the Offer, Jacek Olczak, PMI’s Chief Executive Officer said the company had reached “an important milestone” in its acquisition by becoming the “unconditional” and “majority shareholder.”

“We are very excited about the critical role Vectura will play in our Beyond Nicotine strategy and look forward to working with Vectura’s scientists and providing them with the resources and expertise to grow their business to help us achieve our goal of generating at least $1 billion in net revenues from Beyond Nicotine products by 2025,” he added.

As part of today’s announcement Philip Morris encouraged the remaining shareholders to accept its offer which will remain in place until the end of the month.

The sale has caused controversy in the health industry with an open letter signed by 35 health charities, public health experts and doctors from around the world urging Vectura shareholders to reject the purchase offer last month.

This morning, Sarah Woolnough, the chief executive of Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation commented on the sale, saying that Vectura has “sold out millions of people living with lung disease.” Woolnough previously stated that the deal would create perverse incentives for Philip Morris to sell additional cigarettes in order to profit from asthma treatments.

By accepting a takeover bid from big tobacco firm PMI, Vectura has sold out millions of people living with lung disease & chosen to prioritise short-term financial gain over people’s health. We have written to govt reminding them not to engage with Vectura on p/health policy ????????

— Sarah Woolnough (@swoolnough) September 16, 2021

Philip Morris has stated its committed to a smoke free future and has upped revenue from quit-smoking products to 28 per cent.

Read more: Philip Morris gets green light for £1bn Vectura takeover after bidding war

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Categories: City of London