John Lewis set to cut nearly 800 jobs as it looks to ‘modernise’ stores
John Lewis is set to make more than 770 staff redundant as it undertakes a major restructuring of its store operations.
The job cuts will primarily affect employees in its carpet, curtain, blinds fitting and catering departments. The retailer plans to use a uniform menu across all its in-store restaurants, meaning it will no longer require chefs.
Those made redundant will be able to apply for 386 new posts, resulting in a potential net loss of 387 roles. Administration roles are to be transferred from stores to an office in Didsbury, Manchester that will also serve online customers.
The changes come soon after marketer Paula Nickolds took over as John Lewis’s first female managing director last month. The retailer’s sister company Waitrose recently announced plans to close six stores, putting nearly 700 jobs at risk.
Google sues Uber over self-driving car technology
Google’s self-driving car business Waymo is suing Uber over claims it stole intellectual property.
Waymo states in a US federal lawsuit that Anthony Levandowski, who runs Uber’s autonomous car unit, downloaded 14,000 files from Google during a previous role at the search giant. He went on to start his own self-driving car business, Otto, which Uber acquired in August 2016 for $680 million (£542 million).
“Otto and Uber have taken Waymo’s intellectual property so that they could avoid incurring the risk, time, and expense of independently developing their own technology,” the lawsuit states.
WPP exec predicts Facebook ad slowdown
Facebook’s recent problems with ad viewability and metrics will lead to a backlash from brands that advertise on the platform, according to a senior executive at advertising group WPP.
John Steedman, board director for WPP in Australia and New Zealand, warned that the recent misreporting controversies involving Facebook would lead to a slowdown in ad spend.
“Google and Facebook, as always, have been dominating the digital sector, but that said, Facebook may slow given misreporting issues,” he noted in a market overview report.
Steedman also referenced a recent speech by P&G chief brand officer Marc Pritchard that called for greater transparency and improved ad viewability standards in digital marketing.
Ryanair demands clarity over Brexit plans
Budget airliner Ryanair has warned it may have to make “significant capacity cuts” if there is not more clarity over the UK government’s Brexit plans in the next 12 months.
Ryanair’s CMO Kenny Jacobs told a press conference in London that airlines plan their strategies a year in advance and therefore “need to know how is this going to work” by the end of February or start of March 2018.
Jacobs also suggested that ministers had been slow to formulate plans since winning the EU referendum last year. The government recently began formal Brexit negotiations and has said it is committed to retaining liberal access to European aviation markets.
Sir Philip Green facing £14m lawsuit over BHS headquarters
Retail tycoon Sir Philip Green is facing legal action over the sale of BHS’s head office as the fallout from the chain’s collapse continues.
Dominic Chappell, whose company Retail Acquisitions bought BHS from Green for £1 in 2015, is suing for £14 million in relation to the Marylebone House headquarters.
The claim states that Green failed to honour an agreement to share the proceeds of the £35m sale of the building, which would have boosted BHS’s balance sheet by £8.5m. The retail chain went bust in April last year.
Thursday 23rd February
Instagram launches slideshow feature
For those not content sharing a single picture or video, Instagram’s latest update allows multiple photos and videos in one post. Users can add up to 10 photos or videos from an event, much like the gallery feature on Instagram’s owner Facebook.
In a blog post the social media site suggests sharing moments such as “your best friend’s surprise birthday party, from setting up to when they walk through the door” or creating “a step-by-step cake recipe that people can always find on your profile”.
But brands should be aware that image-based posts and videos can prove challenging to track in terms of using social media for insight.
Guardian editor-in-chief Katherine Viner slams Facebook
Viner took aim at the digital duopoly that is Facebook and Google for business models that value clicks over quality journalism.
She said that “commercial news organisations are falling into the trap of publishing click bait – cheap material that doesn’t serve their audience or society but services the click economy of the internet”, according to the report in AdNews.
Viner added that Facebook could easily build an algorithm that identified quality journalism, but instead chooses to use the data it mines to create “filter bubbles”.
Challenger bank Monzo raises £19.5m
Online-only challenger bank Monzo has attracted a fresh round of investment, valuing it at £65m.
The bank has raised £19.5m and is planning to raise an additional £2.5m through a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube. This comes a year after breaking crowdfunding records with huge demand smashing its £1m target in 96 seconds.
Chief executive Tom Blomfield tells City A.M. it will expand the business and double its current staff of 85 over the next year.
Relief fund for small businesses
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has announced help for small business that could be affected by a change to business rates – the tax businesses pay on non-residential properties such as shops, restaurants, factories, pubs and offices.
He said it’s part of a wider and longer term re-examination of the business rates system after it became clear to Javid “that more needs to be done to level the playing field and make the system fairer”. The new measures will be announced in the 8 March budget.
Defending the gig economy
Uber and Deliveroo chiefs claim employment benefits, such as holiday pay and minimum wage, would result in less work and reduced flexibility as they defend the ‘gig economy’.
Dan Warne, UK and Ireland managing director of Deliveroo, said the model is important to ‘riders’ because 85% of them used it as a supplementary income stream.
Five million people work in the gig economy yet brands that use these self-employed labour models face a number of obstacles. In October, an employment tribunal in the UK ruled that Uber can no longer classify its drivers as self-employed and must pay them the national minimum wage, as well as providing statutory workers’ rights.
Wednesday 22nd February
British Gas starts customer loyalty scheme
British Gas is set to launch a £100m customer loyalty scheme that will include discounts on energy or Sky entertainment packages.
The scheme will be offered to millions of customers and will launch in April, according to a memo sent to staff and seen by the BBC.
Sarwjit Sambhi, British Gas managing director of UK Home, says in the memo: “We will be giving existing customers strong reasons to stay with us… This reinforces our commitment to listen to our customers and respond to their changing needs.”
Facebook launches ‘WhatsApp Status’
Facebook’s messaging app WhatsApp has overhauled its status feature to allow users to share their statuses in the form of videos, pictures and GIFs.
The feature was tested with users in November last year and will become available on iOS, Android and Windows platforms starting 24 February.
WhatsApp Status comes with end-to end encryption and ensures that the status disappears within 24 hours of being set. Privacy settings will allow users to control who sees their status. The new feature is very similar to Snapchat Stories – which allows users to post videos and photos to their friends and only remains live for 24 hours.
The announcement couldn’t come at a more inopportune time for Snap Inc, as the company is expected to go public next month and is currently meeting with potential investors.
YouTube introduces new auditing measures to improve ad quality
Google’s video service will now offer independent audits of campaigns to show brands when ads were served, viewed and validate the internet traffic.
YouTube’s new measurement regime was accredited by industry group Media Ratings Council, which works with digital and traditional media suppliers to impose uniform standards for advertising metrics.
Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard, who has recently demanded more transparency in the digital media supply chain, reacted positively to the news.
“Google’s announcement to bring more media transparency is important progress that will help move the industry forward,” Pritchard was quoted as saying in YouTube’s announcement on Tuesday. “At P&G, we are encouraged by Google’s actions, which should make a positive impact on creating a clean and productive media supply chain.”
Yahoo’s sale to Verizon cut by $350m due to cyber attacks
Verizon has cut the price of its $4.8bn (£3.9bn) takeover bid of Yahoo’s internet business by $350m after two large data breaches were revealed at the internet company last year.
Attackers stole personal data including names, passwords and email addresses in 2013 and 2014 but the breaches were not found until after the Verizon deal was agreed.
The US telecoms giant is buying Yahoo’s internet business, made up of its email service, news and finance service, and the Flickr and Tumblr social networks. The remaining company, which owns major stakes in the Chinese retailer Alibaba and Yahoo Japan, will be renamed Altbaba.
Peugeot may get government incentives to keep Vauxhall plants in UK following Brexit fears
Peugeot could be offered incentives including cut-price rates and training for staff to maintain the Vauxhall plants in Britain if it buys General Motors’s (GM) loss-making European arm.
The Telegraph says new incentives could be put on the table in the hope of protecting the jobs of 4,500 staff at Vauxhall’s plants in Ellesmere Port and Luton. These factories are seen as vulnerable as Peugeot-owner PSA Groupe holds talks about a potential $2bn purchase of GM’s Opel and Vauxhall divisions, with cuts feared if a deal is secured.
Last year, the government offered Nissan “assurances” to maintain its UK plant after the Japanese carmaker’s boss Carlos Ghosn raised concerns about its future in the wake of the Brexit vote.
Tuesday 21st February
HSBC cuts pay of senior executives as 2016 profit slumps
HSBC has cut the the pay of its top executives by £1m as Europe’s biggest bank is being investigated for money laundering offences.
US regulators said it needed to toughen up its defences against financial crime. The warning comes after a £1.2bn fine from the US in 2012 for poor anti-money laundering controls and for “flouting US sanctions”.
HSBC Holdings also reported a 62 percent slump in annual pre-tax profit, following writedowns from its restructuring. This sent its Hong Kong shares down 3.5%.
Snapchat starts selling its Spectacles online
Snap investors were left disappointed yesterday (21st February), after Snap chief executive, Evan Speigel, failed to provide any information on the company’s future or advertising share at its first investor roadshow. This comes after the US company announced it is yet to make a profit in light of its IPO.
However, while investor news was quiet, its product news has an exciting update. Customers in the US will now be able to buy Snapchat’s Spectacles online for $130. Until now the only way to buy the products was through yellow vending machines that appeared in random cities, unannounced and for a limited time.
Samsung will reportedly sell ‘refurbished’ Galaxy Note 7s
Samsung will reportedly sell refurbished Galaxy Note 7s in Vietnam and India, despite the fact they were recalled last year after problems due to over-heating that caused some to explode.
Korean outlet Hankyung reports that the company will sell the “refurbished” phones, but with smaller batteries inside.
According to the report, Samsung has 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7s left over for refurbishing. The refurbished devices will have new cases, and batteries with a capacity between 3,000 and 3,200mAh.
Gender pay gap will take 24 years to close, study shows
A new study by PwC shows that it will take until 2041 at the current rate of progress to close the gender pay gap. The research found that closing the gender pay gap in the UK could boost female earnings by about £85bn a year, or £6,1000 on average per working woman.
The UK now ranks 13th out of 33 OECD countries, and is second only to Canada in the G7.
However, the report also found that closing the gender pay gap would take until 2041 going off current trends. Job segregation between men and women is one of the biggest factors contributing to the gap.
Monday 20th February
Google to make it harder for users to find pirate websites
Search engines such as Google and Bing will make it harder for UK internet users to find pirated films and music, as well as restrict the ease of illegally streaming sport.
Both search engines have signed up to a new voluntary code of practice, which will ensure offending websites – such as Pirate Bay – are demoted in search results.
The entertainment industry reached the agreement with the tech giants after talks were brokered by the government. The code – said to be the first of its type in the world – is expected to be in operation by the summer.
Eddy Leviten, director general at trade body the Alliance for Intellectual Property, says: “Sometimes people will search for something and they will end up unwittingly being taken to a pirated piece of content.
“What we want to ensure is that the results at the top of the search engines are the genuine ones. It is about protecting people who use the internet, but also protecting the creators of that material too.”
Amazon set to hire 5,000 staff in UK push
Amazon is planning to create more than 5,000 full-time jobs and launch a new apprentice programme to offer 1,000 work placements.
The new UK jobs will include software developers, engineers and technicians at its head office, with roles also on offer at its customer service centre in Edinburgh and at a new fashion photography studio in Shoreditch.
There will be a particular focus at its product development centres in Cambridge, Edinburgh and London, with new staff required to work on emerging technology such as drone delivery.
In December, Amazon revealed it had trialled a small private drone delivery in Cambridge by delivering a TV streaming stick and a bag of popcorn to a garden, 13 minutes after the order was placed. The new jobs signal Amazon’s intentions to ramp up this programme, according to The Telegraph.
Uber to launch internal investigation following sexual harassment claims
Uber will launch an internal investigation on sexual harassment after a former female engineer wrote a blog about the sexism she experienced while working for a year at the company.
Former Uber engineer Susan Fowler alleged many women in the company were consistently sexually harassed by male employees. She claims complaints are dismissed by HR.
Her chief claim was that one manager had inappropriately sexually propositioned many women, but Uber management repeatedly “refused” to punish him as he was a “high performer”.
Read the response of Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick below:
YouTube kills off its 30-second unskippable ad format
Long seen as an annoyance by users, YouTube has announced it will end non-skippable 30-second ads that appear before a YouTube video.
“We’re committed to providing a better ads experience for users online. As part of that, we’ve decided to stop supporting 30-second unskippable ads as of 2018 and focus instead on formats that work well for both users and advertisers,” says a Google spokesman.
However, this news doesn’t mean all unskippable ads are going to go away. Formats that include 15- and 20-second ads will stick around on YouTube.