MoneySuperMarket, Vodafone, BT: 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.

MoneySuperMarket reveals Dame Judi Dench as the leader of its money saving squad

Dame Judi Dench has become the latest member of MoneySuperMarket’s MoneySuperSeven squad of money saving specialists.

It is the first time the actress has starred in a TV commercial, which sees her taking on the character of Eight, described by the comparison site as the “mysterious” leader of the MoneySuperSeven.

The latest iteration of the campaign, which launched last year, looks to help consumers tackle the rising cost of living.

As part of its latest push MoneySuperMarket is launching ‘Mission £1 Billion’ through which it is pledging to help the nation save £1bn by enabling them to compare and save on household bills, as well as car and home insurance.

The ad, by agency New Commercial Arts, has been shot by film director John Madden (through Pulse Films) who is best known for movies Mrs Brown, Shakespeare in Love, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

The TV ad launches today and will be supported by video on demand, cinema, out of home, radio, digital and social.

Lis Blair, general manager, insurance, marketing and customer at MoneySuperMarket, says: “Saving the nation money during the cost of living crisis is no mean feat, but we relish the challenge.

“When it comes to household bills, we know there are always more ways to save. That’s why we’ve launched Mission £1 Billion – a collective mission to energise the nation to find the best deals for all their household bills, not just car or home insurance. The more bills you compare, the more you could save – and there’s never been a more important time to make your money work harder for you.”

Vodafone and Three in UK merger talks

Vodafone and Three are in talks to merge their UK operations, bringing together the third and fourth largest mobile operators in Britain.

The two companies have been in contact, according to the Financial Times, but nothing has yet been agreed. They also met last year but nothing came from the discussions.

If a merger does it will likely be a joint venture analysts have suggested.

Vodafone is reportedly facing pressure from it one of its largest investors, Cevian Captial, to simplify the business and find deals in each of the markets it operates to improve returns. The company has lost 44% of its value over the past five years, although its share price has increased 3% since the start of the year.

Meanwhile, Three has struggled to gain scale. Despite increasing customer numbers since mid-2020, last week it posted flat quarter-on-quarter revenues of £582m.

Given the size of the two companies involved it will likely be highly scrutinised by the competition watchdog, but the FT suggests regulators will be more open to mergers than they were previously as significant investment is needed into network infrastructure. The European Commission previously blocked a proposed merger between O2 and Three back in 2016.

READ MORE: Vodafone in talks to combine UK arm with CK Hutchison’s Three (£) 

Marketers’ starting salaries get significant boost as demand outstrips supply

Marketers starting out in the industry have seen a pay boost of as much as 33% over the past year, fuelled by the “unprecedented” number of vacancies and a skills shortage. It means pay rises in marketing are far outstripping the rising cost of living.

The starting salary for marketing executive roles increased 17% to £27,000 in 2022, up from £23,000 last year, according to data from digital media and marketing recruiter Aspire shared exclusively with Marketing Week.

The salary for a senior marketing executive increased 16% to £36,000, while those taking on a marketing manager role saw their starting salary jump from £39,000 to £45,000, a 15% rise. The results are based on 3,400 vacancies registered with the agency between April 2021 and 2022.

Within events marketing, the average starting salary increased by an average of 29.3% compared to last year. Marketing events managers saw the biggest rise, with starting pay jumping from £30,000 to £40,000, a 33% increase. The salary for events marketing executives increased 30% to £30,000, while senior events marketing executives are taking home 25% more in 2022 (£35,000) than last year.

The salaries for more specialist marketing roles are also creeping up, with the starting salary for an SEO executive in 2022 up 14% to £25,000 compared to last year. The increase for an SEO manager jumped 17% to £35,000, while senior SEO managers can expect to get 13% more than last year, with a starting salary of £45,000.

“The record number of job vacancies and unprecedented demand for workers continue to have a very positive impact on starting salaries in the marketing industry, to the extent where, in some cases, pay is outstripping the rising cost of living considerably,” says Aspire founder and chairman, Paul Farrer.

“Major skills shortages mean employers are desperate for staff and enter bidding wars to recruit the talent they need. This has pushed up rates of pay further.”

As a result he says now is undoubtedly a “very good time to be working as a marketer”.

For more on marketing salaries take a look at Marketing Week’s Career and Salary Survey 2022.

BT and Warner Bros. Discovery join forces for sport

Source: BT

BT Group and Warner Bros. Discovery have formed a 50/50 joint venture to create a new premium sports offer for customers in the UK and Ireland.

The deal will see the two business bring together sports content from BT Sport and Eurosport UK, offering viewers access to UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and Premier League matches, as well as Premiership Rugby, UFC, the Olympic Games, tennis Grand Slams including the Australian Open and Roland-Garros, cycling Grand Tours including the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia and the winter sports World Cup season.

BT TV customers will also receive non-fiction entertainment streaming service Discovery+ as part of the tie up, through which Eurosport’s live and on-demand content can be accessed.

As part of the deal BT Sport and Eurosport UK will be brought together to form a single brand, although they will initially keep their separate identities.

BT will receive £93m from Warner Bros. Discovery and up to around £540m by way of an earn-out from the joint venture, subject to certain conditions being met.

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s consumer division says the deal will help BT Sport realise its “next stage of growth”.

“We’re excited to be joining forces to bring the best of BT Sport together with Eurosport UK to create a fantastic new sports offer alongside all the entertainment that Discovery+ has to offer BT customers,” he says.

Andrew Georgiou, president and managing director of Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Europe, adds: “Combining [the new offer] with our growing portfolio of premium entertainment content promises to deliver consumers a richer and deeper content proposition, not only providing greater value from their subscriptions but bringing sport to a wider entertainment audience.”

Majority of employees left to handle mental health issues on their own

Two-thirds of people (66%) would not feel comfortable raising mental health issues with their employer, which is all the more concerning given one in three say their mental health has got worse over the past year.

The survey of 8,000 people by Nuffield Health also reveals a third of employees are given no physical or emotional support from their company.

As part of its drive to encourage more businesses to provide better support for employees’ mental health, Nuffield Health has launched the ‘Find Time For Your Mind’ campaign, calling for people to spend five extra minutes a day exercising and focusing on their mental wellbeing.

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, Nuffield Health it is also encouraging people to spend these five minutes with five other people as part of its ‘Find 5 with 5’ drive, which also looks to tackle loneliness and create more inclusive workplaces.

Gosia Bowling, national lead for emotional wellbeing at Nuffield Health says: “It’s worrying to see the majority of UK employees are being left to manage mental or emotional wellbeing issues on their own in the workplace.

“The pandemic has affected the mental health of many employees, so it’s more important than ever that employers find ways to create inclusive and connected workplace environments where people feel supported. Not only will this help productivity, but it will also boost happiness levels.”

With more employees working remotely and adjusting to new hybrid models she adds it is “critical” employers to find ways to ensure people still feel connected.

Thursday, 12 May

Source: Shutterstock

Disney claims to be ‘in a league of its own’ as streaming subs soar

Entertainment giant Disney attracted 7.9 million new subscribers to its Disney+ streaming service during the second quarter to 2 April, taking the company’s total subscriptions across all its direct-to-consumer offerings to more than 205 million.

The platform’s total subscribers have hit 137.7 million, up 33% compared to the same period last year. Across its DTC division, Disney also grew the number of ESPN+ subscribers by 62% to 22.3 million and Hulu subscribers by 10% to 45.6 million.

CEO Bob Chapek says the strong second quarter result was driven by the continued growth of the brand’s streaming services and the “fantastic performance” of its US theme parks. From a streaming perspective, Disney has bucked the trend for slowing subscriptions experienced by rival Netflix, which lost 200,000 subscribers in the first three months of this year.

“We are in a league of our own,” says Chapek. “As we look ahead to Disney’s second century, I am confident we will continue to transform entertainment by combining extraordinary storytelling with innovative technology to create an even larger, more connected and magical Disney universe for families and fans around the world.”

Disney generated revenue of $19.25bn (£15.8bn) during the quarter, up 23% on the same period last year. This figure includes £4.9bn (£4bn) in revenue from its DTC operations, up 23% on 2021. For linear TV networks, both domestic and international, revenues increased 5% to $7.1bn (£5.8bn), while ad revenue growth was fuelled by both the timing of the Oscars and increased rates.

After being forced to close under lockdown restrictions for the past two years, revenue driven by Disney’s parks and experiences rose to $6.7bn (£5.5bn), versus $3.2bn (£2.6bn) during the same period in 2021.

The DTC division did, however, make a loss of £887m (£726m) due to what Disney describes as higher programming, production, marketing and technology costs. These figures were partially offset by an increase in subscription revenue, which the brand puts down to subscriber growth and rising prices.

The company is charging more for its Disney+ service both in the US and internationally. The average monthly revenue per paid by domestic subscribers rose from $6.01 to $6.32 (£4.92 to £5.17) due to an increase in retail pricing and a lower mix of wholesale subscribers. This figure was, however, partially offset by a higher mix of subscribers to multi-product offerings, Disney reports.

Internationally, the monthly price paid per subscriber for Disney+ increased from $5.14 to $6.35 (£4.20 to £5.20).

Tesco strikes deal to offer co-working in-stores

tescoTesco is joining forces with office operator IWG to offer flexible working at its New Malden supermarket in London, as the retailer looks for new ways to use redundant space.

The Guardian reports that from later this month IWG plans to trial a 3,800 sq ft flexible working area with room for 12 private desks, 30 co-working spaces and a meeting room. The idea is to fill space once given over to electric goods, DVDs and CDs, which are now increasingly sold online. If popular, the Spaces co-working concept could roll out to other Tesco stores.

“We are pleased to be working with IWG to offer customers the chance to work more flexibly from their local Tesco,” says Tesco head of strategic partnerships Louise Goodland. “We are always looking to serve our customers and communities better and we will be interested to see how they respond to this new opportunity.”

IWG research suggests 72% of workers would prefer to work flexibly, rather than returning to the office five days a week. Chief executive at the office operator, Mark Dixon, told the Guardian he believes new flexible working locations in suburban areas have the potential to “transform communities” as demand increases from people who want to live and work locally.

“People don’t want to spend hours commuting every day and instead want to live and work in their local communities,” he adds. “A Tesco Extra in a suburban location, in the middle of a vibrant local community, is the perfect location for flexible office space.”

The tie-up with IWG joins a growing list of partnerships forged by Tesco, including with sports equipment company Decathlon, Pets at Home, Holland & Barrett, Timpson and Vision Express.

READ MORE: Meeting now in aisle 14: Tesco pilots in-store flexible office space

Almost half of brands plan to hire remote marketing talent, study reveals

Joining work remotelyClose to half (47%) of brands looking to recruit marketers plan to hire remotely, according to new research from recruiter Hays.

The company’s quarterly insights survey finds 87% of marketers report their work-life balance has improved due to hybrid working. Some 61% of marketers surveyed say they prefer hybrid working, with only 5% opting to return to the office full time.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of companies surveyed say they are rethinking the way the workplace is used, from hot-desking to reducing office space, with proximity to the office no longer an important factor when recruiting talent.

In fact, 67% of those looking to hire marketers believe being closely located to the office is no longer as important as it was pre-pandemic.

“These positive indications that hybrid working is improving team wellbeing, as well as being taken highly into consideration when candidates are picking roles, means that hiring managers are taking, I believe, the necessary steps to attract the best talent,” says managing director of Hays Marketing Clare Kemsley.

“I strongly think that this flexible model of work is not a fleeting practice but is here to stay.”

Children’s exposure to TV ads for alcohol down 75%

The number of under-16s across the UK being exposed to alcohol advertising on TV has fallen by 75% since 2010, with exposure to gambling ads down by a quarter.

According to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), between 2010 and 2021 children’s exposure to all TV ads fell by almost two-thirds, from 226.7 ads per week in 2010 to 82.8 ads per week in 2021. Children also saw fewer TV ads than adults, around one ad for every four seen by adults.

Children’s exposure to alcohol advertising on TV decreased by 75%, from an average of 3.2 ads per week in 2010 to 0.8 ads per week in 2021, a faster rate of decline than children’s exposure to all TV ads.

Exposure to gambling ads on TV over the same period decreased by just over 25% from an average of 3.0 ads per week in 2010 to 2.2 ads per week in 2021. Relative to adults, children’s exposure to gambling ads has fallen year-on-year, from 36% in 2010 to 15.4% in 2021.

In England alone, the ASA found children’s exposure to TV ads has fallen 64% from an average peak of 227.5 ads per week in 2013 to 81.6 ads in 2021.

Children in England were exposed to the least amount of alcohol ads on TV per week, while under-16s in Northern Ireland saw the fewest gambling ads, from an average of 3.5 per week in 2010 down to 1.4 per week in 2021. This was the strongest rate of decline in exposure of all the four nations.

Scottish children saw the most TV ads overall, although the rate has “fallen dramatically” from 225.1 ads on average per week in 2013, to 92.8 ads in 2021.

Children in Wales watched the most television in 2021, although the amount has still fallen significantly, from an average of 19.9 hours per week in 2010 to 5.9 in 2021. Welsh under-16s were exposed to the most TV ads for gambling products, however these levels are still in decline, from 3.9 ads in 2010 to 3.2 ads in 2021.

The ASA is aware the decreasing levels of exposure to TV advertising reflects a wider shift in children’s viewing habits to online.

“Our latest report confirms the ongoing decline in children’s exposure to ads for age-restricted products, which is what our rules are designed to achieve,” says ASA chief executive Guy Parker.

“But of course that’s not the full story. Children’s media consumption habits are changing significantly, which is why we’re also focused on protecting them online.”

Later this year, the ASA plans to publish findings on the ads under-16s are seeing online and via social media as part of its “zero-tolerance approach” to age-restricted ads being served to children.

Coldplay responds to ‘greenwashing’ claims following deal with oil firm Neste

UK band Coldplay has become embroiled in a debate over alleged ‘greenwashing’ after sharing new details of its move towards “sustainable touring”.

Having announced a partnership with Finnish oil company Neste, Coldplay pledged to cut direct greenhouse gas emissions from its current tour by 50% compared to its previous tour.

The deal will see Neste provide Coldplay with sustainable aviation fuel to help reduce emissions from air travels, while the company’s renewable diesel will help cut emissions from the band’s tour transports and stage power generation.

However, the deal has triggered a backlash from environmental campaigners over claims Neste is tied to deforestation practices in the palm oil industry.

Senior director of the Transport and Environment campaign group, Carlos Calvo Ambel claims Neste is “cynically using Coldplay to greenwash its reputation”.

“This is a company that is linked to the kind of deforestation that would appal Chris Martin and his fans. It’s not too late, they should drop their partnership with Neste now and focus on truly clean solutions instead,” Ambel adds.

Responding to the criticism, Coldplay explained that prior to announcing the tour the band said it would try its best to make the process as sustainable and low carbon-impact as possible. However, the band accepts this is a “work in progress”.

“We don’t claim to have got it all right yet,” Coldplay said in a statement. “Before we appointed Neste as supplier of these biofuel products, we received their guarantee that they do not use any virgin materials in their production – most especially not palm oil. It’s still our understanding that they use renewable waste products only, like cooking oil and by-products from wood pulp manufacture.”

READ MORE: Coldplay labelled ‘useful idiots for greenwashing’ after deal with oil company

TUI holds back on low price deals as holiday bookings soar

TUITUI has warned holidaymakers not to expect “last minute” low price deals, despite summer bookings nearing pre-pandemic levels.

The travel brand reported bookings for summer holidays are currently 85% of 2019 levels, as customers have taken advantage of reduced Covid travel restrictions. The UK market performed strongly, with summer reservations up 11% on two years ago.

During the second quarter to 31 March, 1.9 million customers flew with TUI, an increase of 1.7 million customers versus the prior year. The bounce back in customer bookings has helped TUI halve its losses to €614.5m (£525m) in the six months to March 2022.

TUI Group chief executive Fritz Joussen, however, warns rising prices and the impact of higher fuel costs had restricted the company’s ability to offer cut-price deals.

“There will be practically no last minute offers at low prices this summer,” he says.

Joussen also shared expectations that TUI could return to profit by the end of the year.

“The high demand for travel and the very good business performance confirm our forecasts,” he states. “2022 will be a good financial year. Capacity almost reaches pre-corona level of 2019.”

Wednesday, 11 May


Tesco Mobile ads banned for ‘offensive’ language

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned ads from Tesco Mobile for being likely to cause “serious and widespread offence”.

The ads, which appeared across newspapers, Twitter and outdoor posters in February this year, included the phrases “What a load of shiitake”, “They’re taking the pistachio” and “For fettuccine’s sake”.

Tesco Mobile was aiming to show consumers the brand was not increasing consumer prices during contract, in comparison to other mobile networks.

The ASA received 52 complaints for the ads, challenging whether they were offensive due to their expletive allusions. Some complainants challenged whether the ads were inappropriate where they could be seen by children.

While Tesco Mobile said it reviewed the CAP Code and didn’t see the ads as in breach, JCDecaux, the outdoor advertising company, had reached out to CAP Copy Advice before publishing the ads and was advised the content was likely in breach of CAP Code.

This information was shared with the agency working with Tesco Mobile, not the brand directly.

The Daily Express, which featured the ads alongside the Daily Mail, said whilst it was clear that the words “shiitake”, “pistachio”, and “fettucine” alluded to expletives, they believed that was not as offensive as using the expletives themselves.

Neither the Daily Express, Associated Newspaper Ltd or Twitter received direct complaints about the ads.

While acknowledging that the words did not explicitly state the expletives, “shiitake” and “pistachio” were closely linked to their swearing counterparts.

The first complaint, that the ads were offensive due to alluding to expletives, was upheld to all ads bar the third full-page ad in the Daily Express and Daily Mail that stated “For fettuccine’s sake” and the second complaint, that the ads were inappropriate for children, was upheld against the Twitter and billboard ads.

Advertisers respond to Queen’s speech

Yesterday’s Queen’s speech, read by Prince Charles and setting out the government’s legislative agenda for the next year, has prompted a reaction from advertisers.

The Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) director general, Phil Smith, noted the “enormous change” the speech heralds for the advertising sector, with “alterations to the UK’s data regime and measures on digital competition both having far-reaching consequences”.

He states that when seen alongside the continuation of the Online Safety Bill and progress of the Online Advertising Programme, advertisers are “facing government action on multiple fronts which will shape our industry for years to come”.

Smith also criticised the government’s decision to go ahead with the sale of Channel 4: “Opposition to privatisation from ISBA members has been unanimous. Channel 4’s unique remit provides UK advertisers, which fund the broadcaster through advertising revenue, with highly valued, younger and diverse audiences.”

He adds that following Channel 4’s decision to set out of its own proposals to “turbocharge” its existing remit, the ministers should “think again” about pressing ahead with the sale, “that commands neither wide parliamentary, nor public, support”.

The Data and Marketing Association (DMA) has also reacted, welcoming the overall inclusion of reform to UK data protection laws, but criticising the lack of clarity over the measures.

Following the Queen’s speech, the DMA is calling for urgent clarity from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on what text the data reform bill will contain.

DMA CEO Chris Combemale says: “The data, marketing and creative industries remain in limbo, unsure of what form the UK’s data protection reforms will take.”

He adds that data-driven innovation can still deliver further growth across the digital economy “without compromising the UK’s data adequacy status or current privacy protections, but the government must move forward urgently and publish the results of the ‘Data: A new direction’ consultation and the text of the legislative reforms.”

Combemale also notes how the industry “welcomed” many of the proposals put forward in the consultation.

Corona launches its first non-beer beverage

Source: Corona

AB InBev-owned Corona has announced its first non-beer beverage with the launch of Corona Tropical, its first sparkling alcoholic drink.

It’s a category on the incline, with research showing the global alcoholic infused sparkling water market size is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 12% in the next few years.

The brand has created the product in part to give its customers the “Corona lifestyle, beyond beer”.

The beverages come in several tropical themed flavours – guava and lime, raspberry and lemon and grapefruit and lemongrass – with no added sugar and less than 100 calories in each can.

Global vice-president Felipe Ambra says the brand is encouraging consumers around the world to embrace this new lifestyle “outside of beer” and that it is the brand’s mission to “bring paradise to people everywhere, and our newest innovation does just that”.

The new product comes with an immersive campaign as the brand is installing pickable, real fruit billboards in some cities, starting with London, to give people the chance to “immerse themselves in both the taste and feel of a tropical paradise”.

Digital bank Chase named as official banking partner of 2022 Commonwealth Games

J.P. Morgan’s digital bank Chase has been announced as the official banking partner of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Launched in the UK in September 2021, the bank’s first major sponsorship will see Chase become the presenting partner for cycling and women’s cricket T20, and the official partner for Team England, Team Scotland and Team Wales.

The partnership will also build on Chase’s ‘Rewarding Futures’ community impact initiative, which has so far “transformed” 24 primary school libraries in Birmingham.

Chase believes this partnership will help strengthen its platform to extend its investment into community-based programmes in the Birmingham and West Midlands.

Chase UK CMO Deborah Keay says the Games represent a huge opportunity to engage, unite and inspire in the UK, “providing an opportunity for everyone to celebrate sporting achievements, as well as delivering a lasting legacy for local communities”.

CEO at Birmingham 2022 Ian Reed comments: “They are clearly committed to investing in the local community and we look forward to working together to make a positive impact on people’s lives and leave a lasting legacy.”

Elon Musk says he would reverse Twitter’s Trump ban

twitterAfter speculation of what an Elon Musk owned Twitter means for free speech, the billionaire has said if his bid is successful, he will reverse the platform’s ban on Donald Trump.

Speaking at the FT’s Future of the Car conference, Musk called the ban on the former US president “morally wrong and flat-out stupid” after the account was “permanently suspended” in January 2021, as Trump was accused of inciting further violence following the storming of the Capitol.

He added: “I would reverse the permanent ban, but I don’t own Twitter yet so this is not a thing that will definitely happen.”

Musk has also said that he and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey are “of the same mind” when it comes to account bans, saying permanent bans should be “extremely rare and reserved for accounts that are bots or scam accounts”.

Trump has already said he has no intention of returning to Twitter and is instead focusing on his own platform, Truth Social. Musk said the ban on Trump’s Twitter account had not silenced him, but instead amplified his voice among the far right on Truth Social.

Speaking at the event, he also said he wants Tesla to become the world’s largest car maker by 2030.

READ MORE: Elon Musk would reverse Donald Trump’s Twitter ban

Tuesday, 10 May

Sales fall in April as consumers ‘put the brakes’ on spending

Sales are falling in the UK as the cost of living crisis continues. The four weeks from 3 April to the 30 April saw a 0.3% drop in sales, compared to an increase of 51.1% in April 2021. This is below the 3-month average growth of 3.2% and the 12-month average growth of 6.4%.

The figures come from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) in collaboration with KPMG. The sales figures are not adjusted for inflation.

“Sales growth has been slowing since January, though the real extent of this decline has been masked by rising inflation,” notes Helen Dickinson.

She adds that shoppers have “put the brakes” on their spending

Sales within shops also dropped last month. UK retail sales decreased 1.7% on a like-for-like basis from April 2021, when they had increased 39.6%.

Online sales also took a hit. Food sales decreased by 13.9% during April, compared with growth of 11.3% in April 2021.

However, good weather boosted non-food sales in categories such as garden goods and fashion, says Dickinson. Over the three months to April, non-food retail sales increased by 1.8% on a like-for-like basis and 6.9% on a total basis.

Susan Barratt, CEO of IGD says, with factors like emergence from lockdown and mismatched dates for Easter “it’s difficult to draw firm conclusions”.

“The mood of shoppers is bleak and IGD’s Shopper Confidence Index remains very low,” she says. “With around 70% experiencing rising food, energy and petrol bills, shoppers are becoming divided in how they cope with the cost-of-living crisis and one in seven of the least affluent households claim to be missing more meals.”

Morrisons wins battle to acquire McColl’s

Morrisons has won out against rival EG Group to acquire McColl’s convenience store chain. The deal means the supermarket chain will acquire all 1,160 stores, which include 270 Morrisons Daily stores.

The business will also take on all of McColl’s 16,000 staff and its 2,000 pension scheme members. McColl’s was put into administration by PwC yesterday (9 May). The action was initiated by McColl’s lenders on Friday.

As part of the deal, Morrisons has agreed to pay off McColl’s £170m debts.

Morrisons chief executive David Potts says he was “disappointed” that McColl’s was put into administration but believed that the deal was a “good outcome”.

“This transaction offers stability and continuity for the McColl’s business and, in particular, a better outcome for its colleagues and pensioners,” Pott says. “We all look forward to welcoming many new colleagues into the Morrisons business and to building on the proven strength of the Morrisons Daily format.”

Morrisons had initially seen its first offer for the convenience store chain rejected, and for some time it looked like a sale to EG Group, co-owned by the billionaire Issa brothers, was likely. However, Morrisons cinched it after they reportedly put through a last-minute offer for McColl’s.

Cathedral City launches new brand identity

Cathedral City cheese has launched its new brand identity, its the first major branding revision in six years.

The refreshed branding retains the recognisable burgundy packaging that Cathedral City is known for, but features a redesigned modern city scene and the addition of a signature from the Master Cheese Grader at the brand.

Parent company, Saputo Dairy UK, which also owns brands like Clover and Utterly Butterly, unveiled the redesign, which had started rolling out at the beginning of this month.

The new look is designed to help the brand’s products stand out on shelf and make it easier for consumers to find which variety they want, the company says.

Head of marketing of cheese, Neil Stewart says the new packaging “celebrates” what sets Cathedral City apart.

“We’re extremely excited about our new, modernised branding, which will enhance this emotional connection with our huge consumer base, while also welcoming new people into the Cathedral City family,” he says.

Cathedral City is ranked as the UK’s number one cheese brand. According to Kantar statistics, it is bought by 44.4% of UK households.

Pret A Manger launches range of scarves

Pret A Manger has launched a range of scarves, inspired by its salads. The sandwich chain is collaborating with high-end designers Richard Quinn, Daniel W Fletcher and Ashish on the new fashion range.

Pret launched the scarves on its Instagram yesterday (9 May), alongside the tagline “Get well dressed this season”. The launch is tied in with the chain’s new spring menu, with each scarf being themed around a new item. The scarves are inspired by the tamari and ginger aubergine salad bowl, the pesto pasta salad and the miso chicken and greens bowl.

The business is donating the proceeds of the sales to The Pret Foundation, its charity that works to tackle homelessness. Items from the designers featured in the range would normally set consumers back hundreds of pounds; however, each of the scarves in the Pret range will be priced at £30.

This move from Pret comes after lunchtime rival Greggs launched a fashion range in collaboration with Primark. The 11-piece range sold out in many stores.

Unlike the Greggs range, the Pret scarves are not being launched through a retail store. Instead, consumers will have to purchase the range directly from the brand’s online store.

READ MORE: Pret steps into fashion with designer scarf collection

Tinder launches pop-pub aimed at singles and their dogs

Tinder is launching a pop-up pub experience, aimed at bringing singles and their dogs together. The Bark and Spark are pubs aimed at celebrating “dogs being our ultimate dating partner”.

The dating app will open three of the pubs this weekend (14 and 15 May) in London, Manchester and Edinburgh. The pubs will encourage dog-owners and dog lovers to connect over their shared love of canines.

Having a dog in a Tinder profile picture can generate 5% more matches, the brand says. Huskies are the most popular dogs among daters, followed by Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds.

Tinder’s senior director of communications, Laura Wilkinson-Rea says the company is “excited to be bringing together dog lovers and their dates IRL by launching our first pop up pub experience, The Bark & Spark.”

She says the pub will answer singles’ “calls for shared experiences and [provides] a low-pressure way to make real world connections”.

Monday, 9 May

Source: Shutterstock

Morrisons and Asda-owner battle for McColl’s takeover

Morrisons has reportedly put forward a last-ditch bid for McColl’s Retail Group, disrupting the expected sale of the collapsed convenience chain to Asda co-owner EG Group.

The last-minute offer came on Sunday (8 May) and, according to the BBC, has now been met by EG Group with a revised proposal, which includes taking on the funding of McColl’s pension schemes.

Accountancy firm PwC is set to become McColl’s administrator this morning (9 May). A sale to EG Group, co-owned by the billionaire Issa brothers, was expected to follow soon after, as Morrisons’ originally proposed rescue deal was rejected by lenders late last week.

A Morrisons’ spokesperson said the rejection was a “disappointing, damaging and unnecessary outcome”, claiming the grocer’s proposal would have kept the “vast majority” of jobs and stores safe.

However, the UK’s fourth largest supermarket has since put forward an improved offer, Sky News reports. The bid would see McColl’s lenders repaid immediately in full, as per their principle demand.

Morrisons is already in a partnership with McColl’s, as the convenience store chain’s sole supplier for grocery products – including the relaunched Safeway brand. Around 200 of McColl’s 1,100 convenience stores and newsagents also trade under the Morrisons Daily brand.

Meanwhile, EG Group owns thousands of petrol stations and convenience shops in the UK, Ireland, Europe, Australia and the US.

READ MORE: Morrisons and EG Group table final rival bids for McColl’s

The Body Shop forms ‘Youth Collective’ to help steer boardroom

The Body Shop has put together a ‘Youth Collective’ to provide its executive leadership team with insight into the views and ideas of young people and address the lack of diversity in boardrooms.

The group of 12 people will be formed equally of internal colleagues and members from other B Corporations, all of whom will be under the age of 30.

Members will work in collaboration with The Body Shop CEO David Boynton and the leadership team, offering their opinions on areas including long-term strategy, campaigns and “blue sky” open discussions.

The model was tested by the company during Cop26 last year, following research showing in 2020 the average age of a FTSE 150 board was over 59.

The retailer says the initiative demonstrates a “belief” that a more diverse range of voices and the amplification of their views in “spaces where they can make a real difference” will help to “future proof” the company, as well as develop the next generation of leaders.

“I believe one of the most important roles today’s business leaders have is to ensure that we act as custodians of our companies. We must do everything possible to make sure they are fit to pass on to the next generation of leaders,” says CEO Boynton.

“While we may not always feel comfortable with the feedback from the Youth Collective, I have no doubt that creating a new formal mechanism to allow them to voice their opinions will be invaluable and make us a better business.”

The group will meet with the board four times a year to discuss a given question or discussion point and make recommendations.

The move ties into The Body Shop’s broader commitment to help young people ‘Be Seen and Be Heard’, which includes its UK campaign to secure the vote for 16-year-olds.

Scottish Power calls on government to intervene in energy sector

gas cookerScottish Power’s CEO Keith Anderson has warned of mass fuel poverty this winter and more collapsing energy companies if the government does not provide households with further bill relief.

Anderson told the BBC the government’s plan to give each household a £200 loan towards its energy bill would not be enough, as an expected rise in energy bills in October to between £2,500 and £3,000 a year could see suppliers make huge losses and many customers unable to pay their bills.

Anderson also warned regulator Ofgem that setting the new price cap too low could risk further suppliers collapsing or foreign-owned firms leaving the market – including Scottish Power’s parent company Iberdrola, a Spanish firm.

Instead, he called for millions of households to have their energy bills reduced by £1,000 this October. This could be paid for by adding £40bn to all household energy bills for the next decade, which would protect the most vulnerable from fuel poverty, he said.

“We need to be realistic about the gravity of the situation – around 40% of UK households, potentially 10 million homes, could be in fuel poverty this winter,” Anderson explained.

Elsewhere, a survey of 41,000 people by finds 25% of energy customers who were in credit and on price-capped tariffs have seen their direct debits double or more, even though the price cap rise is set at 54%. That figure rises to more than 30% of British Gas, Octopus Energy and Shell Energy customers.

READ MORE: Millions face winter bill increases, warns energy boss

Peloton shares hit new low ahead of quarterly results

Peloton Interactive shares fell to an all-time low on Friday (6 May), despite installing former Spotify and Netflix CFO Barry McCarthy as CEO in February.

According to CNBC, the fitness technology firm’s stock dropped more than 13% at one point to a low of $14.70 (£11.91). By end of trading, shares were down 8%.

In comparison, Peloton’s IPO price in 2019 was $29 (£23.50). The firm’s market capitalisation has plummeted from around $50bn (£40.5bn) in early 2021 to just under $5bn (£4.1bn) by Friday morning.

The share price drop followed an article published in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday evening, reporting that Peloton is targeting potential investors to take a stake in its business of 15-20% to help fund its turnaround.

After seeing demand for its in-home exercise equipment soar during lockdown, a more significant than expected slow in business as the pandemic eased left Peloton with a huge cost base which squeezed profitability.

The firm slashed its outlook in November last year and is forecast to make an adjusted EBITDA loss of $132.5m (£107.4m) in its third quarter results this week.

READ MORE: Peloton shares hit all-time low as pressure mounts under new CEO Barry McCarthy

BT’s new brand campaign taps into horror tropes

BT has moved its broadband brand campaign into the horror genre with its latest evolution, which illustrates the benefits of its hybrid broadband being backed up by EE’s mobile network in the event of a service drop out.

Created by agency Saatchi & Saatchi, ‘Broadband Nightmares’ brings to life the struggles of an internet drop out through the perspective of a dad. The spot opens on a router blinking with an orange light, before descending into a mock horror film.

The ad ends on a shot of the BT and EE routers side by side and the line:  “Together BT and EE bring you unbreakable Wi-Fi. Only BT’s hybrid broadband is backed up by EE, the UK’s best mobile network.”

The 30-second TV spot will be supported with activity across out of home and video on demand, as well as digital and social channels.

Pete Jeavons, marketing communications director at BT and EE, says with people spending more time at home as hybrid working increases, it has become “so important” to have reliable internet.

“Our new and refreshed campaign highlights our unbreakable Halo 3+ hybrid broadband and reminds our customers and viewers that BT and EE provide the enviable connection needed to get on with the day,” he says.

The new campaign follows last year’s ‘Broadband Rage’, which promoted BT’s broadband as the UK’s first “unbreakable” home Wi-Fi.



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