RBS axes 680 jobs as part of cost-cutting drive
British state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) says it will close 259 branches and cut 680 jobs to reduce costs and encourage customers to use online and mobile services.
The latest round of closures at the Edinburgh-based bank follow 180 announced in March, putting 1,000 jobs at risk, with the bank claiming there’s been a 40% drop in people using branches since 2014.
British banks are set to close a record 762 branches this year, Reuters reported in August, drawing criticism for depriving customers of access to in-person services, particularly in poorer parts of the country.
Jane Howard, RBS’s managing director of branch banking, told Reuters by telephone that customers are increasingly using mobile and online channels rather than bricks-and-mortar branches, and RBS had to react to that.
Fortnum & Mason boss blames Brexit for lack of recruitable staff
The boss of Fortnum & Mason says its London store is struggling to recruit staff after the Brexit vote with the situation most acute in its restaurants.
Fortnum’s chief executive, Ewan Venters, said one in five of the chef posts across its six restaurants were unfilled as the fall in sterling’s value and concerns about anti-migrant attitudes deterred applicants.
“Brexit is an alarming issue for me in terms of our ability to hire and retain good people,” said Venters. The collapse in the pound’s value means wages sent home to relatives are worth less but the businessman also sensed a change in mood among workers from the EU. “They are asking: ‘Do I feel welcome?’ That’s more the problem today.”
EU citizens make up a quarter of the three million people working in the UK hospitality sector, according to a report by KPMG.
Unilever launches Dollar Shave Club in the UK
After months of speculation, it has finally happened – Unilever is launching its shaving subscription service Dollar Shave Club in the UK.
The concept is simple – Dollar Shave Club delivers a variety of men’s grooming products from just a couple of pounds per month through a regular subscription.
The Anglo-Dutch FMCG giant acquired the brand last year, and is well-known for its humorous adverts. Besides the subscription service, it also offers its own range of male beauty products.
The brand’s shaving and grooming products will be available for purchase beginning early 2018, but starting earlier this week (27 November), men across the UK can sign up to be among the first members.
There are a number of similar services in the UK so far, including Gillette’s Shave Club and Harry’s – which launched earlier this summer.
Benetton’s ‘shock tactics’ art director returns to the brand
A nun and priest kissing. Three raw hearts, with the words “white”, “black” and “yellow” written on each. Many people will remember Benetton’s advertising from the 1990s.
The man responsible for these campaigns was Oliviero Toscani, who was art director from 1982 to 2000. And 17 years later, he has returned.
While the brand has previously told Marketing Week that it was moving away from shock tactics to enter a “mature” phase, Toscani’s first ad is still political.
His first campaign since rejoining is an image of 28 schoolchildren in an Italian primary school, all from different ethnicities, all wearing Benetton, reading Pinocchio with their teacher.
“There were 28 schoolchildren from 13 different countries, and four different continents,” says Toscani. “They studied together, they were educated together and they will shape future society.” He says that his past work was also about engaging with issues, not shock tactics: “When we talked about Aids, it wasn’t controversial, it was the reality.”
Google sued by UK consumers over iPhone privacy issues
Google has been sued by a group of British consumers over claims that the company improperly collected personal data from millions of users of Apple’s iPhone.
The group, called Google You Owe Us, said in a statement Thursday (30 November) that it was the first case of its kind in the UK against a major tech company over the alleged misuse of personal data.
It says Alphabet unlawfully collected people’s personal information by bypassing the iPhone’s default privacy settings. The group claims Google used an algorithm to trick iPhones into releasing personal data from the Safari browser in 2011 and 2012.
The group claims each of the 5.4 million customers could get “several hundred pounds” if the case, filed in London Wednesday, is successful.
Google said the lawsuit isn’t new. “We don’t believe it has any merit and we will contest it,” the company said in a statement.
Facebook picks first non-US viewability partner
Facebook has selected its first viewability measurement partner to come from outside the US.
European ad verification firm Meetrics will now be able to provide advertisers across the world with viewability metrics for Facebook display ad campaigns across desktop and mobile. The companies are also working on providing video viewability measures in the near future.
Advertisers will be be able to see what percentage of ads hit various viewability thresholds, from the 50% minimum recommended by various trade bodies all the way up to 100%.
Martin Ott, managing Europe Central Europe at Facebook, says: “Our commitment to third-party measurement and verification is clear, we first started working with third-party measurement partners in 2008. Today, we are very happy to add Meetrics to this set, our 25th partner globally and the first viewability measurement partner to come from outside the US. We are looking forward to working with clients to deliver the most accurate metrics possible.”
Thursday 30 November
Just Eat reaches £5.5bn valuation
Just Eat has joined the FTSE 100 list of British companies with a valuation of £5.5bn, making it worth more than Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Marks & Spencer.
The fast food delivery service works with 28,000 restaurants in the UK, delivering more than two million meals a week. During the first nine months of 2017 the company’s sales rose 45% to £385m and it expects to make profit of close to £160m this year.
Just Eat makes commission on each order – 13% for existing restaurants and 14% for new restaurants – plus a £699 sign-up fee.
The company has expanded into Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain and Switzerland, using big ticket sponsorships to raise its profile. Just Eat is shirt sponsor at Derby County football club and signed a £10m deal with the X-Factor on ITV.
Kellogg’s to cut sugar in kids’ cereals by up to 40%
Kellogg’s is to cut the amount of sugar in its three top selling children’s cereals – Coco Pops, Rice Krispies and Rice Krispies Multi-Grain Shapes – by between 20% and 40% by the middle of 2018.
The sugar per serving of Coco Pops will be slashed by 40%, meaning that each 30g serving of the cereal will contain 5.1g of sugar, compared to 9g with the old recipe.
The company plans to cut the amount of sugar in Rice Krispies by 20% and in Rice Krispies Multi-Grain Shapes by 30%. Kellogg’s has also announced it will stop selling its frosted coating Ricicles cereal and end on-pack promotions on Frosties aimed at children.
Buzzfeed cuts staff after failing to meet growth targets
Buzzfeed is to cut 20 jobs in the UK after failing to meet revenue targets. This is part of a wider global reduction of 100 roles, equivalent to 6% of staff working at the digital news and entertainment outlet.
According to reports in The Telegraph, staff were informed that following rapid international expansion Buzzfeed would seek to reduce costs and bring in new commercial staff with “wider experience”.
The newspaper also reports that the company will concentrate on “content for global audiences” while maintaining “core” UK coverage in politics, media, social justice and investigations. The majority of the job losses in the UK will be in Buzz, the division responsible for its fun listicle content, and also in the news team.
Last year Buzzfeed’s British busines doubled turnover to £20.5m, but reported losses of £3.5m.
Public Health England calls for ban of Coca-Cola’s Christmas truck tour
The chief executive of Public Health England is calling on local councils and shopping centres to ban visits from Coca-Cola’s promotional Christmas trucks amid fears over the level of sugar consumption amongst children.
Duncan Selbie criticised the soft drink giant’s annual PR stunt, which sees 14-tonne lorries decorated with fairy lights and fake snow visit towns, cities and landmarks around the UK. Public Health England research shows that most of the locations the trucks plan to visit have above-average rates of children with tooth decay or obesity.
Two Coca-Cola lorries are currently scheduled to visit 42 locations in England and Scotland in the run-up to Christmas, including Wembley and the O2. Coke will be offering all visitors free 150ml samples of Coca-Cola Classic, Diet Coke or Coca Cola Zero Sugar. Consumers will also be given the chance to project their festive selfies across the side of the truck.
The tour began on 11 November in Glasgow where a group of 44 protestors, amongst them the director of public health at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, urged Coke to only give away water and sugar-free products.
Coca-Cola defended the Christmas truck tour as a one-off, annual event, arguing that on average over 70% of samples given out are a zero-sugar option.
BBC seeks £1.4bn merger of commercial arms
The BBC plans to merge its programme-making arm and distribution business to create a single company worth £1.4bn.
The move will see its commercial production division BBC Studios combine with BBC Worldwide, which sells programme rights around the world. Kept under the BBC Studios banner, the merged company is expected to cut costs in administrative departments as the broadcaster seeks to absorb the £750m annual cost of free TV licences for over-75s from 2020 onwards.
According to reports in The Telegraph, the main aim of the merger is to bring the BBC’s commercial arm in line with rivals such as ITV and All3Media, which have integrated their production and distribution businesses.
Director general Tony Hall claims the merger will ensure the BBC is simpler and more efficient, making it better placed to invest in “forms of programming” that Netflix, Amazon and Apple will not, such as co-funding programmes with foreign broadcasters.
Formed last year, BBC Studios aims to boost the broadcaster’s commercial income by taking commissions from the BBC for programmes such as Blue Planet II and Strictly Come Dancing, as well as winning business from rival broadcasters and streaming services. However, no non-BBC commissions have been reported in the eight months since BBC Studios launched.
Wednesday 29 November
Maserati enlists Accenture Interactive as its global experience agency
Car brand Maserati has appointed Accenture Interactive as its global experience agency, becoming the agency’s first major client following a spate of acquisitions by consultancy Accenture as it looks to expand into marketing services.
Accenture Interactive has been tasked with enhancing the luxury vehicle manufacturer’s customer experience across all digital channels, thereby expanding its global sales and extending its brand equity around the world.
The brand, owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, will work with a team from across the Accenture Interactive business, including creative agency, Karmarama, which Accenture bought last year.
Jacob Nyborg, Maserati’s head of marketing, said: “High-quality brand experiences change the nature of our relationships in a positive way, and we want to engage with our customers across all channels, from media to after-sales, in more meaningful ways.”
Uber’s losses widen, while Waymo trial put on hold
Uber has confirmed further losses in the third quarter, as litigation costs mount, in documents sent to shareholders that also outline the formal launch of SoftBank’s $7bn to $10bn investment into the company.
The deal process, while complex, is now underway and should be completed by early January.
The documents, which were sent to thousands of Uber shareholders, show that the investors include SoftBank and Dragoneer, as well as new investors TPG, Sequoia and Tencent.
Meanwhile, the self-driving car trial between Uber and Waymo has been been put on hold after evidence emerged that Uber had stolen trade secrets from the Google-owned business.
A former Uber employee is accused of downloading 14,000 documents from Waymo, an allegation Uber denies.
Virgin Media owner Liberty Global eyes ‘mega merger’ with Vodafone
Virgin Media’s owner Liberty Global is looking to sell the Swiss and Austrian arms of its business in a move that would help set it up for a $175bn (£131bn) merger with telecoms giant Vodafone.
The cable firm is understood to be in early stage discussions to dispose of UPC Austria and UPC Switzerland. While it may not lead to a transaction it is viewed as the latest move by Liberty Global as it eyes a potential deal with Vodafone that would enable the businesses to combine the mobile and fixed-line networks.
Major hurdles to a merger remain, however, and there aren’t believed to be any active talks between the the two businesses at the moment.
Victoria’s Secret targeted by hackers
Hackers plan to target Victoria’s Secret customers over the busy Christmas shopping period, according to reports in The Daily Telegraph.
Security experts have warned that cyber criminals are offering tools to hack the brand and its customers.
A potential security breach has also been brought to light after research by Israeli firm CyberInt found hackers are selling customers’ accounts, although it could not verify if the accounts were genuine. It is thought the hackers are based in Russia given the accounts are up for sale in rubles.
Social media on the rise among under-13s
Under age social media use is on the rise, according to a new study by Ofcom, which finds half of children aged 11 and 12 now have social media accounts despite the minimum age for most being 13.
The fact awareness of the age restrictions is low among parents is perhaps fuelling the issue, with about eight in 10 of the parents whose kids use Instagram or Snapchat unaware of an age limit.
The report finds 46% of children aged 11, 51% of those aged 12 and nearly a third (28%) of 10-year-olds now have a social media profile.
More than half (54%) say they used social media to access online news, second only to TV (62%). The majority (73%) suggest they are aware of “fake news”, however, with around 40% suggesting they have seen such a story.
The NSPCC wants the Data Protection Bill to be amended to force social networks to design child protections into their services, which will be voted on by ministers in two week’s time.
Tuesday, 28 November
New report shows the gender pay gap at EasyJet
On average, male EasyJet employees earn over 50% more than their female counterpart, according to a new report. And the budget airline has also revealed that 89% of those in its top pay bracket are men.
The main reason for this is the fact pilots are predominantly male. In fact, of EasyJet’s 1,500 pilots, only 86 are female, with the average pilot salary around £92,400.
Compare this to cabin crew and 69% are female, with an average salary of £24,800. However, EasyJet says it is aiming to make 20% of its pilots female by 2020.
The report is part of new UK regulations that require all businesses with more than 250 employees to publish their gender pay gap levels by April 2018.
Tumblr CEO David Karp announces his departure
Tumblr CEO David Karp is leaving the Verizon-owned social media brand after an 11-year stay.
In an email to staff, Karp said he’s leaving Tumblr “in better hands than my own” with the CEO role set to be filled by current president and COO Jeff D’Onofrio.
Karl founded Tumblr, which has around 373m registered accounts, back in 2007. He sold it to Yahoo in 2013, which was subsequently acquired by Verizon last year.
But despite having such a high number of registered users, Tumblr has no where near the same level of monthly active users as platforms such as Snapchat or Instagram.
It will be interesting to see how D’Onofrio repositions Tumblr’s advertising business.
Sky’s CEO calls for a crackdown on Facebook and Google
Pay-TV giant Sky’s CEO Jeremy Darroch has made some stinging remarks about Facebook and Google. In a speech, he has called for European regulators to crack down on the pair for avoiding paying the proper tax and their suspect record around extremist propaganda.
“Google and Facebook are allowed to operate online with no regulation, no accountability and little transparency,” he said.
“It is no longer good enough to say the internet is untouchable and beyond the norms that the rest of our society has to operate to. That includes, by the way, the tax that firms operating in the internet economy are expected to pay.”
He added: “When paying taxes, employing people and complying with the law are competitive disadvantages, you know that you have a problem.”
Cyber Monday sales impress in the US
In the US, Cyber Monday (27 November) sales are expected to have made this year’s one-day event the biggest-ever internet shopping day.
Last year sales clocked in at $5.6bn. However, yesterday’s haul is expected to have hit around $6.6bn in sales, according to Adobe Analytics. Measuring 80% of all online transactions from the top 100 US online retailers, it said sales from smartphones hit an impressive $1.12 billion.
The world’s biggest shopping event remains China’s Singles’ Day, with Alibaba reporting sales of $25.4 billion this year.
Nintendo clocks up another mobile game hit with Animal Crossing
In the first six days of release, Nintendo’s mobile game Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp has been downloaded at least 15 million times. Based on the popular Animal Crossing series, players in the game create personalised camps and build communities.
Although this launch isn’t as big as the 32 million downloads Super Mario Run generated in its first six days, it’s still positive news for Nintendo, which is trying to grab a slice of a mobile games market expected to be worth $65bn by 2020.
“Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is yet another example of the Nintendo brand’s power to drive massive adoption out of the gate on mobile, even without the huge marketing push that Super Mario Run received,” said Sensor Tower analyst Ruika Lin.
Monday 27 November
Black Friday footfall plummeted from 2016
The appeal of Black Friday appears to be wearing off British shoppers, with footfall on the high street significantly down on 2016. The annual day of discounting was imported from the US several years ago, but with consumers growing wise to the fact that deals now extend before and after the last weekend in November, there were 4.2% fewer shoppers out on the streets last Friday according to data from Springboard.
The worse-than-expected performance is an ominous sign to kick off the Christmas retail period, which is expected to be tougher than previous years thanks to Brexit uncertainty, inflation and rising interest rates on credit cards. Online purchases in the week before Black Friday were up 11.3%, reflecting the number of early discounts on offer.
Citizens Advice lays into subscription services
Citizens Advice, the charity tasked with advising the UK public on their consumer rights, has criticised the high cost and difficulty of cancelling many subscription services such as gym memberships and streaming services. Its research of 600 consumers reporting problems found they paid £160 on average over three months for subscriptions they wanted to end.
Specific issues highlighted by Citizens Advice include companies demanding long notice periods of up to six months or requiring consumers to cancel by contacting them in a specific way. Some people do not understand they are signing up for a recurring payment when they make their initial purpose, the charity says.
The report is part of a new Citizens Advice campaign to make consumers aware of their rights around subscriptions, including how to challenge unfair terms and conditions.
Just Eat to join FTSE 100, Merlin to drop out
Just three years after becoming a public company, online food ordering service Just Eat is set to join the FTSE 100 index of the UK’s most valuable businesses when the new list is decided tomorrow. Alton Towers owner Merlin Entertainments looks set to drop out.
Just Eat’s market capitalisation is now higher than that of Sainsbury’s, having risen by a third since January. This was helped by gaining regulatory approval for the takeover of its rival Hungryhouse.
Merlin, meanwhile, said earlier in the year it was suffering from low demand at its theme parks due to the recent increase in terror attacks. It also suffered a PR crisis in 2015 when Alton Towers ride Smiler crashed, leaving people with life-changing injuries.
Santander to end Ferrari F1 sponsorship – reports
Reports in Spain suggest Santander won’t be continuing its headline sponsorship of the Ferrari Formula 1 racing team after this year, said to have been worth £250m over seven years. It comes after the team and its driver Sebastian Vettel lost out to Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton on the F1 world championship this season.
The Guardian reports claims from Spanish news site El Confidencial that the decision sponsor the team in the first place could have been due to the former chairman being an F1 fan, although Santander has previously claimed the sponsorship delivered a return on investment.
Santander also has a range of other sport sponsorship properties, including athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill, golfer Rory McIlroy and former F1 driver Jenson Button.
BT makes 40% margin on payphones, Vodafone claims
You might have forgotten that coin-operated high street payphones still exist, unless you happen to pass by the locations in London’s Soho that are still regularly decorated by salacious calling cards, but research commissioned by mobile phone operator Vodafone suggests BT makes £36m revenue a year from them, at a profit margin of 40%. Vodafone is arguing the government should reduce the charges paid to BT by providers of 0800 numbers.
BT still has 47,000 payphones, which were a monopoly business from when the company was publicly owned, but plans to reduce them by 20,000. BT does not report the income from its payphone business, but denies the suggestion that it makes a “huge profit”, saying payphone calls have decreased by 90% in the past decade.