Pret, Diageo, Facebook: Everything that matters this morning

Good morning and welcome to Marketing Week’s round-up of the news that matters in the marketing world today.

Diageo to support female creatives in new ‘returners’ scheme

Diageo is sponsoring the Creative Equals ‘Returners’ scheme, #CreativeComeback, designed to support women working in the creative industries who are returning to work after taking more than 12 months maternity leave.

As part of the scheme, 50 women returning to work as art directors, producers, copywriters, data analysts, designers and concept creators will take part in a two-week programme that aims to help place them back into work.

During the first week, participants will be brought up to speed with the latest creative and tech developments. In the second week, the group will have the opportunity to work on two briefs for Diageo-owned brands Baileys and Guinness.

Diageo CMO Sy Saller says gender-balanced workplaces benefit everyone.

“I am proud to sponsor the #CreativeComeback Scheme as when just 12% of creative directors are women it’s not enough to talk about our ambitions for change, we need concerted action to turn the dial. This year’s International Women’s Day theme ‘Balance for Better’ must be championed in the creative industries,” she says.

After the returners have completed the programme they are granted a two- to six-week placement or a flexible job with one of the Creative Equals founding partners.

Germany stops Facebook from merging user data

Germany’s anti-trust watchdog has blocked Facebook from combining user data from across its social platforms, including Instagram and WhatsApp, as well as from third-party websites without user consent, signifying a landmark decision on internet users’ privacy rights.

The Federal Cartel Office says the social networking giant is using the data to build a more unique profile for each user, therefore gaining market power.

From now on, Facebook will be required to get German users’ explicit consent to collect and combine data. The office has since demanded Facebook come up with proposals for how to do this and if it doesn’t comply, the regulator can impose fines of up to 10% of the company’s annual turnover, which would be about $5.5bn.

“If consent is not given Facebook will have to substantially restrict its collection and combination of data,” the office says.

“We are carrying out what can be seen as an internal divestiture of Facebook’s data,” Andreas Mundt, president of the antitrust office, adds.

“Facebook will no longer be allowed to force its users to agree to the practically unrestricted collection and assigning of non-Facebook data to their Facebook user accounts.”

The Financial Times reports that Facebook disagrees with the decision and intends to appeal “so that people in Germany continue to benefit from all our services.”

Other than combining data, Facebook also collects its from third-party websites such as Spotify, Kayak and TripAdvisor that have embedded Facebook trackers.

READ MORE: Germany blocks Facebook from pooling user data without consent

Pret A Manger’s charity to invest in new homeless shelter

Pret A Manger

Pret A Manger’s charitable foundation, The Pret Foundation, is opening a new shelter for homeless people with the help of West London Mission (WLM).

The Pret House at WLM St Luke’s – where almost a third of the city’s rough sleepers live – will provide accommodation, employment and access to expert advice to help homeless people transition into the private rented market. It will be home to up to 13 people at a time, who will live there for six to 12 months before moving into a privately rented home.

Pret says the aim of the scheme is to help at least 20 ex-homeless people off the streets by the end of the year, through this initiative.

Clive Schlee, CEO of Pret, says: “We set up the Pret Foundation with the singular purpose of breaking the cycle of homelessness, and to do that, we believe that people need three things: food, employment and shelter.”

“The opening of the Pret House at WLM St Luke’s is the next evolution in our efforts to help the ex-homeless live their lives independently. It’s been a five-year project in the making and we’re hoping it will have a meaningful impact on our Rising Stars and the wider community.”

Each resident will also have their own private room and will receive advice from WLM on how to get a bank account, save for a deposit, as well as develop wider literacy and computer skills. Additionally, they will join the Rising Stars programme, working in local Pret stores.

The Pret House is part of the company’s wider plans to help the homeless as part of its Rising Stars programme, which has been running for almost a decade. Pret also delivers unsold food to homeless shelters across the UK.

Gambling Commission calls on operators to check age faster

Online gambling businesses have been ordered to verify the age and identity of website visitors faster, after the Gambling Commission unveiled new rules that intend to make gambling safer and fairer.

Previously, online gambling businesses were allowed 72 hours to carry out verification checks, but the new rules – to be implemented on 7 May – mean operator must verify customer age before the customer can deposit funds into an account or gamble with the licensee with either their own money or a free bet or bonus.

The gambling commission says customers must also be age verified before they are able to access free-to-play versions of gambling games on licensees’ websites.

The move comes after the regulator revealed a number of online operators were treating customers unfairly by requesting additional identity information when they attempted to withdraw winnings. About 15% of complaints made were about licensees not allowing a customer to withdraw funds until they submitted certain forms of ID.

READ MORE: New rules to make online gambling in Britain safer and easier

WFA calls for help to improve industry standards

The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has called on its member companies for suggestions that could help improve the media ecosystem in five key areas; eradicating ad fraud, ensuring brand safety, improving transparency, addressing walled garden issues and improving the user experience.

The initiative is part of the Global Media Board’s drive to improve the system in which advertisers spend billions of dollars every year. They also want to source ideas from the wider industry.

WFA’s global media charter includes eight ‘principles of partnership’ that highlight essential guidelines for a successful advertising ecosystem. But in a bid to enforce these guidelines and maintain a safe and effective digital environment, WFA is asking for member companies to submit proposals which must address the five key areas listed above.

Submissions close on 4 March and will be reviewed by WFA’s Global Media Board which includes representatives from Proctor and Gamble, Unilever, Adidas and Diageo.

Thursday, 7 February

Spotify

Spotify ramps up podcast ambitions as revenues rise

Spotify has acquired two podcast companies and set aside a further $400m to $500m (£308m) to spend on podcast-related acquisitions this year.

The takeover of Gimlet Media, which Spotify is thought to have paid around $230m for, and podcast publishing platform Anchor reinforces Spotify’s ambitions to diversify beyond music and “engage users in entirely new ways”, according to Spotify CEO Daniel Ek.

“The format is really evolving and while podcasting is still a relatively small business today, I see incredible growth potential for the space and for Spotify in particular,” he adds.

Spotify claims it is the second-biggest podcasting platform and that its podcasting users spend almost twice as much time on the platform. Based on radio industry data, Spotify believes it is a “safe assumption” that over time more than 20% of all Spotify listening will be non-music content.

“This means the potential to grow much faster with more original programming – and to differentiate Spotify by playing to what makes us unique – all with the goal of becoming the world’s number one audio platform,” Ek said.

“We are building a platform that provides a meaningful opportunity for creators, excited and engages our users, and builds an even more robust business model for Spotify in an industry we believe will become significantly larger when you add Internet-level monetisation to it.”

The acquisition comes as Spotify saw revenues rise 30% in the fourth quarter to €1.5bn as premium subscribers reached a record 96 million. Spotify attributes more effective than expected marketing for the rise in subscribers, with both its Google Home promotion and annual Christmas campaign helping attract paying members.

Over the six weeks of its Christmas campaign, it added almost 7 million subscribers, including a record day when it added 500,000. Its annual Wrapped brand campaign, where it explores stats about listening habits throughout the year, led to the highest ever traffic to the Wrapped site at 28 million in just one week (up from 20 million total in 2017).

Ad revenue was also up, growing 34% year on year to €175m.

Weather data-based ads aim to tackle rough sleeping in London

sadiq khan london homeless campaign

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has launched an ad campaign that aims to raise awareness of the impact adverse weather conditions can have on homeless people.

Digital advertising screens in more than 130 locations across London will use weather data from the Met Office to update dynamic elements depending on temperature as part of the Mayor of London’s rough sleeping campaign.

Using the tagline, ‘Whatever the weather, homeless people deserve better’, the adverts will be triggered by weather data from the Met Office, reminding the public of the conditions homeless people have to endure and encouraging them to refer rough sleepers to support services.

Select sites will also provide instant access to StreetLink – a website, app and telephone service through which members of the public can send an alert that connects a person sleeping rough to local services for support.

Launched at the end of November, the campaign has already raised more than £200,000, with Londoners also making a record 9,165 referrals to StreetLink since it got underway.

A similar temperature-triggered radio advert features former rough sleeper, Gordon, reading the evening’s weather forecast, followed by an appeal for the public to consider the hardship of life on the streets during winter months. Gordon now works as an actor for Cardboard Citizens, a theatre company and homeless charity, and is studying for a BA in performing arts. He initially received support from homeless charity Crisis, who helped him off the streets.

Like the advertising screeners, the radio advert uses weather data from the Met Office, allowing different versions to run depending on the forecast – one for sub-zero temperatures, another for zero to five degrees.

Commercial radio ad revenue tops £700m for the first time

Commercial radio generated a record £713.3m in ad revenue in 2018, above the previous high of £679.2m in 2017, according to new figures from industry body Radiocentre. The 5.1% increase year on year marks the third consecutive year of record revenues for the medium.

Sky remains the UK’s biggest spender on radio advertising with an investment of £17m last year. Much of the growth is due to online companies increasingly investing in radio, with Amazon increased its radio ad spend by 36% and online estate agents by 110%. Online recruitment spend was up by 38%, while the broadband, up 70%, and mobile, up 43%, sectors also enjoyed big increases.

Elsewhere, insurance brands increased spend by 142%, while cosmetics and personal care brands also increased spend.

Siobhan Kenny, CEO at Radiocentre, says: “It’s good to see technology brands investing heavily in radio advertising as they recognise the high audiences we deliver. Confidence in the power of radio is continuing to grow among a wide range of sectors, including those that have previously been reluctant to use a non-visual channel such as clothing and cosmetics.

“These trends as well as an abundance of great content have helped to drive record ad revenues and growing audiences for commercial radio in 2018.”

Commercial radio also saw its audience grow to 35.6 million listeners in 2018, recording its highest share of listening since 2001 at 46.5%, according to Rajar. The BBC’s share of total radio listening slipped to 50.9%, suggesting it will be overtaken by the commercial sector in the next year if current trends continue.

Huawei AI composes classical music

Huawei has used artificial intelligence to compose the final two movements of Schubert’s famous Symphony No. 8., commonly known as the ‘Unfinished Symphony’, which has remained incomplete for 197 years.

Huawei’s completed version was created by running an AI model using the Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphone. Analysing the timbre, pitch and meter of the existing first and second movements of the symphony, the AI model then generated the melody for the final, missing third and fourth movements. Huawei worked with Emmy award-winning composer Lucas Cantor, to arrange an orchestral score from the melody.

“At Huawei, we are always searching for ways in which technology can make the world a better place,” says Walter Ji, President of Huawei’s consumer business group in Western Europe. “We used the power of AI, to extend the boundaries of what is humanly possible and see the positive role technology might have on modern culture. If our smartphone is intelligent enough to do this, what else could be possible?”

Wednesday, 7 February

Graze

Unilever adds to snacks business with Graze acquisition

Unilever has acquired healthy snacking brand Graze for a rumoured £150m as new CEO Alan Jope looks to accelerate the FMCG giant’s growth.

According to Sky News, Unilever paid just £150m for Graze, half the £300m its owner Carlyle Group was hoping for. The acquisition gives an insight into Jope’s strategy to focus on brands with expansion potential as it looks to fuel growth amid ongoing tensions with investors about its performance and the botched move to shift its HQ to the Netherlands.

Graze, which was founded in 2008, started out as a snack-delivery box service. It has since expanded into retail with distribution in chains including Boots and Sainsbury’s, and sells online. That direct-to-consumer offering is likely to be of particular interest to Unilever as it looks to new distribution channels for growth.

Nitin Paranjpe, president of Unilever’s food and refreshment business, says: “Graze is a truly multichannel brand, offering personalisation, convenience and great nutrition, brilliantly meeting the needs of millennial consumers.

“Accelerating our presence in healthy foods and out of home, this is an excellent strategic fit for the Unilever food and refreshment business, and a wonderful addition to our stable of purpose driven brands. We look forward to working with the Graze team to grow the business, leveraging their tech and ecommerce expertise for our wider portfolio, and offering more consumers the opportunity to snack in a healthier way.”

Hotel booking sites to change how they display results after CMA probe

Hotel booking sites including Expedia, Booking.com, Agoda, Hotels.com, ebookers and trivago are to make changes to how they display search results and prices after an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority.

The move comes after concerns were raised around issues including pressure selling, misleading discount claims, hidden charges, and the effect commission has on how hotels are ordered on the sites. The CMA took action after becoming concerned that such practices were giving a false impression of a room’s popularity or misleading people by not showing the full cost of a room upfront. This could stop people finding the best deal and potentially put companies in breach of consumer protection law.

All the companies have co-operated and voluntarily agreed to:
– Make search results clearer to explain how hotels are ranked
– Not giving a false impression of availability or popularity, for example by highlighting that other customers looking at the same hotel may be searching for different dates and not including sold out hotels in search results.
– Make clearer discounts and only promote deals that are available at that time.
– Display all compulsory charges such as taxes, booking fees or resort fees in the headline price.

Andrew Tyrie, CMA chairman, says: “The CMA has taken enforcement action to bring to an end misleading sales tactics, hidden charges and other practices in the online hotel booking market. These have been wholly unacceptable.

“Six websites have already given firm undertakings not to engage in these practices. They are some of the largest hotel booking sites. The CMA will now do whatever it can to ensure that the rest of the sector meets the same standards.”

Apple retail boss Angela Ahrendts to leave

Apple retail boss Angela Ahrendts is to leave the company in April after five years. The company says she is taking on new “personal and professional pursuits” although did not detail what these might be. Deirdre O’Brien, the HR boss, will add running the retail unit to her remit.

Ahrendts joined Apple in 2014 after serving as CEO of luxury giant Burberry for almost eight years. She was credited with turning Burberry around, with her partnership with chief creative officer Christopher Bailey key to refocusing the brand on the luxury market.

At Apple, she overhauled its stores, redesigning them so they offered more open floor plans and focusing on customer service by bringing its ‘geniuses’ out from behind counters. According to eMarketer, average sales per square foot at Apple rose from $4,630 in 2013 before she joined to $5,600 last year.

O’Brien has worked at Apple for three decades. She will now be responsible for its 35 online stores, 506 retail stores and 70,000 retail staff across five continents as Apple faces challenges including slowing iPhone sales growth.

“The last five years have been the most stimulating, challenging and fulfilling of my career. Through the teams’ collective efforts, Retail has never been stronger or better positioned to make an even greater contribution for Apple,” says Ahrendts. “I feel there is no better time to pass the baton to Deirdre, one of Apple’s strongest executives. I look forward to watching how this amazing team, under her leadership, will continue to change the world one person and one community at a time.”

Snap revenues rise and losses narrow as it benefits from online ad boom

Snap Inc, the company behind Snapchat, posted record quarterly revenue in the final three months of 2018 and narrowed its losses as it benefited from the continuing online ad boom.

Revenues in the quarter rose 36% year on year to $389.8m, while pre-tax losses narrowed to $191.7m, from $350m a year ago. Snap also stabilised daily active user numbers at 186 million after two quarters of declines caused by a site redesign that Snap CEO Evan Spiegel says is starting to pay off.

He adds: “In 2018, we focused on building a foundation to scale the business over the long-term by driving sustainable product innovation, scaling our advertising platform, and hiring the leadership team that will help us achieve our future goals,” said Evan Spiegel, CEO. “We ended the year with user engagement stabilizing and have started rolling out the new version of our Android application to a small percentage of our community.”

River Island celebrates ‘diverse faces of the modern family’ in new campaign

River Island This is Family campaign

River Island is looking to shine a spotlight on the diverse make-up of modern families in a new campaign that aims to challenge what ‘family’ means in 2019.

The campaign, created by Studio Blvd, follows on from its ‘Labels are for Clothes’ campaign and aims to underline its commitment to challenging stereotypes and celebrating inclusivity. It is based on data that shows the traditional nuclear family represents less than a third of families – with blended, non-biological, multi-ethnic, same-sex parent and single-person families growing significantly.

The marketing activity will run in-store and on River Island’s owned channels, as well as in digital and social.

Angela Asiedua, head of brand marketing at River Island, says: “Our #ThisIsFamily seeks to re-address outdated labels and family stereotypes. At River Island, celebrating our customers alongside championing diversity and inclusivity is at the heart of everything we do as a brand. It’s our hope that this new campaign continues that story.”

Display ad viewability drops in Christmas quarter

Viewability rates for display ads fell slightly in the final quarter of 2018 as competition for premium slots impacted rates.

According to data from ad verification provider Meetrics, 57% of display ad impression in the UK actually reached users, down from 59% in the previous quarter. That figure was also slightly below the European average of 58% and well below France on 63%. However, it is a better viewability rate than in Italy, on 45%, and Germany on 55%.

The viewable view time of display ads also fell in the fourth quarter to 25.6 seconds, down from 26.3 seconds in Q3. Meetrics counts a view as 50% of the ad space being in the visible area of the browser for at least one second for static display ads and two seconds for video ads.

“The decline in viewability can be explained by seasonal factors. Many companies want to place their ads for Christmas business, but the premium slots are limited, of course. If ad verification measures are not used to counteract this, branding advertising will more often end up in advertising spaces where it has no viewability or impact and the viewability rate drops,” says says Philipp von Hilgers, Meetrics’ managing director.

Tuesday, 5 February

Social media sites face crackdown to protect children

social media

Social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter could be forced to sign a compulsory code of conduct in order to protect children from harmful content online.

The plan will be announced in government today by minister for digital and creative industries, Margot James.

The move follows the death of 14-year-old Molly Russell whose parents say killed herself after being exposed to images of self-harm on Instagram.

In an open letter published in The Telegraph, Instagram boss Adam Mosseri admitted the platform is not yet where it needs to be on the issue of suicide and self-harm, but he says it is taking steps to make the platform safer for vulnerable users.

Alongside the use of engineers and trained content reviewers to make it harder for people to find self-harm images, and measures being introduced to stop related images, hashtags and accounts being recommended, it is also now applying “sensitivity screens” to blur images containing cutting. It will not be removing these images entirely though “as we still allow people to share that they are struggling even if that content no longer shows up in search, hashtags or account recommendations”, he says.

It will, however, be looking to offer more support to those people who might be struggling with self-harm or suicide, such as by connecting them with organisations like the Samaritans.

READ MORE: Social media sites will be forced to protect children (£)

HMV brand rescued as buyer is found

HMV has been rescued from administration, with a Canadian music entrepreneur set to take over 100 shops in a move that will safeguard 1,500 jobs.

Doug Putman, who runs the Canadian music retailer Sunrise Records, has bought HMV, seeing off competition from Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley. As part of the deal, 27 of HMV’s stores will close  with the loss of 455 jobs while a further 122 warehouse jobs will be lost in the weeks to come.

HMV collapsed into administration at the end of 2018. At the time it blamed tough conditions on the high street, alongside competition from streaming sites such as Netflix and Spotify.

Putman says: “We are delighted to acquire the most iconic music and entertainment business in the UK and add nearly 1,500 employees to our growing team. By catering to music and entertainment lovers, we are incredibly excited about the opportunity to engage customers with a diverse range of physical format content, and replicate our success in Canada.

“We know the physical media business is here to stay and we greatly appreciate all the support from the suppliers, landlords, employees and most importantly our customers.”

Cadbury gives up a trademark on its purple wrappers

Cadbury has given up a trademark for its purple wrapper after losing an appeal last month.

It means rival chocolate brands could now use a similar colour for their packaging.

Cadbury’s original trademark application aimed to protect the colour of the wrappers, but the BBC suggests the description put forward by Cadbury was too broad and was likely turned down as trademark offices “don’t want to give anyone a monopoly on the colour purple”.

Alexandra Brodie, partner at law firm Gowling WLG, says: “In December of last year the Court of Appeal found for Nestlé and held that Cadbury’s attempt to future-proof its trademark holdings by broadening the description of the mark, registered since 1995, was invalid due to the wording being too broad.

“Reading the writing on the wall, Cadbury, on 28 January 2019, surrendered its mark. Cadbury do still have other ‘purple’ marks on the register but they suffer from the same defect and so we doubt very much that Cadbury would try to assert them. What does this mean? Well, other chocolate makers can use purple for their chocolate offerings in a hue that is closer to Cadbury’s traditional purple. Of course there have always been other purple chocolate brands such as Milka or Nestlé’s Quality Street. Cadbury could still try to enforce its rights in the Cadbury purple relying on unregistered rights such as ‘passing off’ but it will be very difficult.”

Alphabet’s sales rise 22%, fuelled by increase in online advertising

Google memo

Google’s parent company Alphabet has reported a 22% rise in fourth quarter sales to £39.2bn (£30bn), driven by an increase in online advertising.

Yet despite the increase, shares in Alphabet dropped by more than 3% in after-hours trading. That was in part a reaction to Alphabet’s rise in capital expenditure, which hit $7bn, meaning that over the course of last year spend increased to $25.1bn, compared to the $13.1bn it spent in 2017.

The money has been invested in data centres and offices, to hire more engineers and on content for platforms such as YouTube, according to Alphabet. The fact spend has increased significantly “shows growth isn’t quite as capital light as had been hoped” though, says Hargreaves Lansdown equity analyst George Salmon.

READ MORE: Alphabet shares drop despite 22% sales rise

IPA issues urgent call for political ad register

The IPA has issued an urgent call for a platform-neutral, industry-owned register to track all online political ads, as it says misleading political advertising is tarnishing the ad industry.

It comes as online platforms continue to run microtargeted Brexit-related political ads online that are unregulated, despite moves by some to improve transparency in the UK. It follows the IPA’s push last year for a publicly accessible and searchable register of all political ads across media.

The IPA suggests online platforms including Google, Twitter and Facebook should be responsible for populating the industry-owned register by providing all their political ad campaign data and metadata as feeds. It also believes the register should be updated in real time and be machine-readable, with full details of content, targeting and spend. In order to cover the cost of the register is suggests the online platforms should charge a fixed fee for each individual political ad creative used, irrespective of the scale of use.

The platform is to be overseen by the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (JICWEBS).

Paul Bainsfair, director general of the IPA, says: “Last year we endorsed transparency in the world of political advertising online as the next best thing to regulation. For this reason, we called for a publicly accessible and searchable register of all political ad messages, alongside a moratorium on microtargeted political advertising online. We still call for this, however, given that only small steps are currently being made by the online tech platforms and that they continue to wield such power on voter decision-making, we find it incumbent upon us to call for more urgent action in the form of a register of online political ads. Funded by the tech platforms themselves.”

He adds: “Ultimately, no individual platform has the remit, authority and longevity to ensure fairness, transparency and consistency across the board. For this, we need a single body with the resources, cross-industry relationships and regulatory oversight. Which is why we – alongside the acknowledgment by the House of Lords that industry bodies should commit to signing up fully with JICWEBS, suggest that this comes under their jurisdiction.”

Monday, 4 February

Ikea to lease furniture as it develops a ‘circular’ business model

Ikea will start leasing furniture for the first time this month as it tries out new ways of doing business.

The trial will initially involve office furniture for businesses but it hopes to eventually expand into kitchens and the consumer market.

Torbjourn Loof, chief executive of parent firm Inter Ikea, told the Financial Times:
“We will work together with partners so you can actually lease your furniture. When that leasing period is over, you hand it back and you might lease something else.”

He added: “And instead of throwing those away, we refurbish them a little and we could sell them, prolonging the lifecycle of the products.”

The trial is the first in a series of tests that Ikea hopes could lead to “scalable subscription services” for different types of furniture. Loof explains: “You could say leasing is another way of financing a kitchen.It’s interesting if you as a consumer say, ‘I can change and adapt and modernise my kitchen if that’s a subscription model’.”

The leasing trial in Switzerland is part of a mission to develop a circular business model to re-use and turn products into new items as the company tries to reduce its climate footprint by 15% by 2030.

READ MORE: Ikea to trial furniture leasing in business overhaul

Ryanair slumps to loss amid plans to restructure

Ryanair posted a net loss of €19.6m (£17.2m) for the last three months of the year and will now restructure the company.

Ryanair expects its profit for the year to the end of March to fall by upto 31% due to a mix of summer strikes, higher oil prices and short-haul overcapacity in Europe.

The company is also restructuring in a move it says will see it move to a group structure not dissimilar to British Airways owner IAG. A small management team will oversee the development of four airline subsidiaries – Ryanair DAC, Laudamotion, Ryanair Sun and Ryanair UK, each with their own CEOs and management teams.

Michael O’Leary will become group CEO, a role in which he will concentrate on the development of the group, alongside a small group legal and finance team.

Chairman David Bonderman is set to retire after more than 20 years with the business. Bonderman will leave in the summer of 2020 and be succeeded by Stan McCarthy, who joined the board in 2017.

Canada record shop boss joins bidding war for HMV

A Canadian record shop boss has made a late bid to take over the collapsed UK music store chain HMV.

Doug Putman, owner of Canada’s Sunrise Records stores, is reported to be entering the race to buy the retailer, according to trade paper Music Week. The move would mean he goes up against Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley, who has also placed a bid.

HMV collapsed in December, its second administration in six years, although some stores are continuing to trade while negotiations are held.

Putman bought HMV’s Canadian business in 2017, expanding his small chain into a national operation with 80 outlets. The businessman is rumoured to be considering replacing the HMV brand with his Sunrise Records if the deal goes through.

READ MORE: Canada’s vinyl king Doug Pitman joins race to buy HMV

Debenhams could close 20 more stores as it looks to advance CVA plans

Debenhams is advancing plans for an insolvency measure called a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) that would see it shut a further 20 stores, according to the BBC.

Debenhams revealed in October that it was increasing its store closure plans from 10 to 50 shops, which would occur over a three- to five-year period. Under a CVA, the closures would be accelerated and 20 shops could be shut in 2019.

However, the closures reportedly depend on how many stores it can achieve rent reductions on. Debenhams, which has 165 stores and employs around 25,000 people, is one of many big high street stores that have been struggling with the the rising rent on stores.

READ MORE: Debenhams may close stores this year under restructure

Scottish Widows launches campaign to help consumers visualise their future

Scottish Widows has launched a new campaign to help consumers “visualise” their future.

The life insurance company’s new ads, created by adam&eveDDB, encourage the public to save for the future self with the company’s pension plan.

The series of three 10-second TV ads aims to encourage people to see a positive future. It shows the Scottish Widow pass by buildings that have projections displaying the important life moments that have taken place inside the houses. The advert ends with the tagline ‘taking on your future together.’

Richard Warren, director of brand communications at Scottish Widows, says: “We know from our extensive research that people want to be able to visualise their future to help them plan better, and the new campaign helps them identify with life goals and take action to achieve them.

“We have evolved and modernised the Scottish Widows brand’s look and feel over the past three decades, while retaining our strong 200-year heritage of helping millions of people plan for their financial future and protect their families.”

The ads will also air on social media and will be used across consumer, adviser, employer and workplace communications.

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