Guinness, No7, Dave: 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.

Guinness welcomes return of pubs as lockdown eases

Guinness has unveiled an ‘ode to the pubs’ in anticipation of indoor hospitality venues reopening across the UK.

The brand’s latest #LooksLikeGuinness campaign relates to the experience of being reminded of something we miss everywhere we look, to the classic song ‘Always On My Mind’. Bollards, socks on a washing line and a white cat sleeping on a black bin are among items that look like the distinctive stout.

The campaign ad – to be shown on television, online and on video on demand services, ends with friends meeting for a pint of Guinness, in a pub. Social media support will invite fans to submit their own lookalike pints of Guinness.

The ads follow a £30m support pledge from Guinness to the UK’s pub and hospitality businesses through its Raising the Bar programme. The brand has helped over 25,000 pubs so far and delivered more than 30,000 PPE kits. It also pledged £1m to help bar staff when the pandemic first hit.

“The past year has been tough for the hospitality industry, so we want to do all that we can to make sure that the opening week of indoor hospitality is as successful as it can be,” says head of Guinness GB Neil Shah. “We’re pleased to be able to mark this monumentous occasion with the #LooksLikeGuinness campaign – the reopening of the pubs has been a long time coming but as we say at Guinness, ‘Good things Come to those who wait’. We hope through programmes such as our £30M Raising the Bar programme, outlets can continue to operate in a safe and sustainable way.”

No7 launches DTC platform

No7 BootsNo7, the UK’s most popular skincare brand, has launched its new No7Beauty.co.uk website to allow consumers to explore and buy its products in new ways.

The new site promises to provide more personalised experiences, including multimedia videos and tutorials, and virtual consultations with beauty advisors. A diagnostic solution called Revieve will offer real-time analysis of selfies to provide tailored product recommendations.

“We are thrilled to be launching No7beauty.co.uk which will allow us to better meet the diverse needs of consumers who are looking for greater connectivity with brands and are more engaged and informed about beauty than ever before. As the UK’s number one skincare brand there are millions of women who already love our products and benefit from the services and advice we offer; our new website will make both even more accessible,” says No7 UK marketing director Katie Swift.

First time shoppers will be offered a 25% discount on products ordered from the website in its first two weeks of operation.

The brand is part of Walgreens Boots Alliance.

Dave and CALM help social anxiety fears as lockdown ends

UKTV Comedy TV channel Dave has partnered with mental health charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) to help people who are apprehensive about returning to ‘normality’ after a year in lockdown.

The channel says research shows 81% of UK adults are daunted by a return to their old work patterns and social lives. It has created conversational cue cards to aid social situations during Mental Health Week. Comedians from the channel have also created self-help videos.

Work, parties, and delayed visits to in-laws have been identified as key stress points for those in ‘lockdown limbo’.

“Coming out of lockdown is stressful for the best of us. We’ve been talking into a screen for the better part of a year and many are worried about having to interact in real life,” says UKTV genre general manager Steve North. “Gone are the days of being able to mute someone on Zoom or blame bad internet when you want to sneak out of an event. Dave is all about bringing people together to have a laugh – and we’re thrilled to be working with CALM to help encourage people to start having real life conversations again following an extraordinary year of lockdown.”

“There’s no denying lockdown has had a huge impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. In the 365 days following the first lockdown the CALM helpline has answered over 147,000 calls and chats. That is a call for help every 62 seconds, with chats and messages exchanged around topics such as isolation, anxiety, relationship concerns, health worries, financial stress and suicidal thoughts,” says CALM CEO Simon Gunning.

Subway launches pirate takeover of in-store radio

Subway is collaborating with the starts of Bafta-winning comedy ‘People Just Do Nothing’ to hand over control of its in-store radio network to the show’s pirate station Kurupt FM for a week.

The comedy group will be broadcasting shows daily from next Monday. Kurupt FM is the subject of the show, which ran for five seasons until 2019. The seven recorded shows are expected to reach an audience of 1.5m customers, and more fans online.

The shows feature chat, original music and MC-ing, all recorded in a branch of Subway. They will later air on the brand’s YouTube channel.

“People Just Do Nothing is one of the best loved comedy shows of recent years and Kurupt FM is a radio station that deserves way more listeners. We’re excited and energised in equal measure to be handing over control of the airwaves inside Subway restaurants. Our guests are in for a treat in more ways than one with our crave-able menu.”

BBC Studios appoints job share duo for Unscripted marketing role

Aoife Owen and Jessica Byars have been appointed to the role of brands and marketing VP at BBC Studios’ Unscripted business. The duo will job-share the role, as they have done in previous positions.

Owen and Byars were previously at ITV, where they were the controller of marketing, entertainment, ITV2 and ITVBe. At BBC Studios they will lead marketing, brand management and integrated commercial planning for all Unscripted content, brands and services. Unscripted is responsible for brands including Top Gear and the BBC Earth nature programmes.

“Aoife and Jess are a marketing super duo who have delivered some knockout TV brand campaigns. They also created a brilliant social purpose strategy for ITV2 partnering with the NHS to encourage young people to donate blood – and were instrumental in producing a campaign called ‘Black Voices’ where black contributors were given airtime to share their personal stories of racism. I’m incredibly excited to see what they bring to Top Gear and BBC Earth under our new Unscripted genre brands banner,” says BBC Studios CMO Nicki Sheard.

“We’re really excited to be joining the BBC Studios team at such a pivotal moment and at a time of such strong ambition. We’re lucky to be working on some of the most loved content brands and we can’t wait to help shape the next chapter with such a talented team,” says Aoife Owen.

“It’s great to be part of a job share and to be embarking on this exciting new role together. Our partnership enables us to balance our career in an industry that we love with spending time with our young children, and we’re so grateful for that,” adds Jessica Byars.

Thursday, 13 May

Lynx unveils £12m campaign to support repositioning

Lynx is splashing out £12m on a new campaign supporting its “total repositioning”, as the deodorant brand looks to drive relevance among a Gen Z audience.

‘The New Lynx Effect’ campaign has been designed to complement a wider brand overhaul encompassing a new look and feel on pack, as well as several new products. The concept is intended to champion ‘the everyday guy’ as he navigates the evolving world of attraction, but with a refreshed, respectful approach that does not rely on gender stereotypes. The idea is also to emphasise messages of confidence alongside equality, empowerment, connections and partnerships.

At the heart of the campaign is an ad featuring brand ambassadors heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua, YouTuber and media personality Chunkz, YouTuber Calfreezy and rapper Aitch. The advert, created by The Martin Agency, will run across TV, video on-demand and outdoor.

The campaign sees the Unilever-owned brand team up with Aitch on a 2021 summer playlist available exclusively on Spotify. Lynx followers will be able to access a Snapchat AR lens, inspired by the ad, transforming them into hot dog, aubergine and sunflower icons, to recreate the Lynx ad look.

Aitch is also recording a one-minute TikTok video, alongside the other brand ambassadors, and is inviting fans to use the platform’s ‘Duet’ feature to perform with him. Followers are being encouraged to dance, rap or mime along to the exclusive track and post their video on TikTok.

“Lynx continues to have legendary status because we understand the importance of staying relevant to our audience whilst helping guys smell and feel their best,” says Lynx senior brand manager, Josh Plimmer.

“Smelling even more iconic than before, we’re continuing to evolve to empower Gen Z in line with their values and aspirations so they can take on the world – one spray at a time. Our new ad, soundtrack and the continued support of our incredible ambassadors means Lynx-lovers can once again feel (and smell) their most attractive, to anyone.”

Burberry hails ‘increasing brand strength’ as Covid weighs on profits

BurberryBurberry says its brand strength has helped the business attract new and younger customers over the past year, despite the pandemic taking a toll on profits.

In the 52 weeks to 27 March, the luxury retailer made an adjusted operating profit of £396m, down 8%, while revenue decreased 10% to £2.3bn, impacted by store closures and reduced tourism. That being said, the brand saw a “strong recovery” in revenue during the second half of 8%, driven by a 7% increase in full-price store sales.

Burberry says it has experienced an “excellent response to product”, alongside growth in its strategic categories and selling prices. The brand also highlighted its ability to tap into localised consumer segments through the roll out of “innovative selling formats” during lockdown. Burberry, for example, opened what it describes as a social retail store in Shenzhen Bay, China.

The luxury brand noted its recovery had accelerated in the fourth quarter, with comparable store sales increasing 32% year on year, despite an average 16% of stores being closed. Full-price sales grew 63% during the quarter, driven by China, Korea and the US.

CEO Marco Gobbetti says that over the past three years the brand has “transformed” and built a “new Burberry” anchored firmly in luxury.

“We have revitalised our brand image, renewed our product offer and elevated our customer experience while making further progress on our ambitious social and environmental agenda. In spite of Covid-19, we achieved our objectives for the period and delivered a strong set of results in FY21, ending the year with good full-price sales growth,” says Gobbetti.

“In this next chapter, supported by these foundations and the strength of our teams, we will accelerate our growth and deliver value creation while continuing to build a more inclusive and sustainable future.”

P&G commits $1m to improve LGBTQ+ inclusion in marketing

Procter & Gamble is committing more than $1m over three years to drive LGBTQ+ inclusion in marketing and accelerate acceptance.

The FMCG giant is teaming up with GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organisation, on The Visibility Project. The campaign aims to bring together the world’s top brands and agencies to advance LGBTQ+ inclusion in ads, create tools, techniques and resources for industry executives, and harness the power of advertising to accelerate LGBTQ+ acceptance.

Phase one of The Visibility Project will focus on recruiting Fortune 100 advertisers to sign on as partners and collaborate on a blueprint for LGBTQ+ inclusion in advertising that ensures brands prioritise impact, as well as accurate and authentic representation. The GLAAD Media Institute will then work with partner companies to consult on inclusion in ads, as well as overcoming internal barriers for increasing LGBTQ+ inclusion.

Based on learnings from the first stage, the project will launch industry best practices and thought leadership designed to inspire and compel other brands to increase inclusion in their own ads and the wider industry.

P&G describes The Visibility Project as its “most significant” programme aimed at inspiring the next generation of LGBTQ+ leaders and corporate advocates.

“Equality is not only a top priority at P&G – it’s a responsibility,” says P&G chief brand officer, Marc Pritchard.

“As one of the world’s largest advertisers, we’re committed to using our voice and reach to increase visibility of the LGBTQ+ community in advertising and media. We strive for accurate portrayal and will continue to take a stand to eliminate bias and advance equality. Through The Visibility Project, we hope to learn more about the unique needs of the LGBTQ+ community in order to elevate their visibility in our content and communication.”

The campaign is backed up by a study of 200 senior marketing and advertising professionals, conducted in February. The research found 81% of brands and 41% of agencies agree “an inauthentic execution of LGBTQ+ people and scenarios would lead to a larger backlash than not featuring them in ads at all.”

Furthermore, 61% of brands and 28% of agencies said they are “fearful of public backlash for including LGBTQ+ people in advertising.” Only 33% of brands and 46% of agencies were very likely to recommend using LGBTQ+ people and scenarios in advertising.

However, while fearful of getting representation wrong, 61% of brands and 60% of agencies strongly agree that companies which feature LGBTQ+ people and scenarios in advertising are “helping consumers understand and respect” the community.

The findings also reveal agencies are more supportive and accepting of LGBTQ+ inclusion than brands, giving them a strong role to advocate for change. Some 55% of agencies questioned said featuring LGBTQ+ people and scenarios is supported by their top management, compared to just 39% of brands.

Premier League set to sign £4.5bn deal with Sky, BT and Amazon

Football fansThe Premier League is poised to announce a £4.5bn TV rights deal with existing broadcast partners Sky, BT and Amazon running from 2022 to 2025.

The first time TV rights have come up for grabs since 2018, there was speculation the Premier League deal could have lost £500m to £900m in value had it gone to auction, the Guardian reports.

One of the reasons is that BT, previously the main driver of rights inflation in its battle to take games from its rivals, has settled on becoming a “viable second” player behind Sky. Furthermore, BT is in talks to sell a stake in BT Sport, which has lost around £2bn, while Sky’s owner Comcast is reportedly pulling away from big sports rights deals.

This is also the first time the deal has been agreed since plans among the “big six” clubs for a European Super League crumbled within days last month.

The league has been hit hard by the consequences of the pandemic, with lost ticket sales and rebates to broadcasters for cancelled matches thought to have cost clubs up to £2bn. However, in light of the backlash to the ESL proposal, the Government wanted clubs to commit more money to the wider football pyramid. Yesterday, the Financial Times reported the 20 Premier League teams added £100m to the £140m in payments which already filter down to the lower leagues each season.

READ MORE: Premier League set for £4.5bn new TV deal with Sky, BT and Amazon

On The Beach bucks the trend as it pulls all summer holidays

Online travel agent On The Beach has put the brakes on selling summer holidays due to uncertainty over the spread of Covid-19.

Chief executive Simon Cooper says that while there is nothing the company wants more than to send customers on holiday, “the current number of unknowns” about the pandemic means On The Beach does not believe this is the “right time” for customers to book new holidays departing in the next few months.

“Unlike many of our competitors, we have no interest in selling holidays that are unlikely to happen, as our business model enables us to put customers first, rather than needing to get cash in the door to contribute to high fixed costs, and offering refunds in the form of a voucher when holidays get cancelled,” Cooper told the BBC.

The pause in sales will run until September and includes green list countries such as Portugal, where UK tourists will be able to travel to without needing to quarantine on their return from 17 May.

In contrast, EasyJet and TUI will begin offering holidays to countries on the amber and green lists. Amber means arrivals will be required to quarantine at home for 10 days and take a Covid test before departure and on arrival.

Travel operator TUI has said it will subsidise the cost of Covid testing for customers who book its package holidays, offering test packages priced at between £20 to £90. The company is also providing customers with free Covid insurance on all holidays.

Some 2.6 million customers have booked with TUI for the peak season, 69% lower than at the same point in 2019. However, the company believes that while some holidaymakers are deferring their break, a pick-up in demand has been “clearly evident”.

Jet2 has responded to the “significant demand for holidays” to Portugal by adding more flights and holidays from airports in England and Scotland. The holiday company says that after Portugal was put on the green list summer 2021 bookings to Faro in the Algarve and Madeira increased by more than 600% in the 24 hours.

Jet2 customer research found 52% of respondents feel confident about booking and travelling on holidays this summer and beyond, the highest reported level since March.

“We know that there is extraordinary demand out there for holidays to the sunshine, which is no surprise given the past year or so,” says Jet2 CEO Steve Heapy. “As things open up again, combined with positive vaccination and infection rates, one of the very first things people want to do is get away to relax in the sunshine.”

READ MORE: On The Beach pulls all summer holidays from sale

Klarna looks to ‘set the record straight’ with new campaign

Klarna London Portobello Buy now, pay later company Klarna is hoping to address misconceptions about the brand with a new outdoor and digital campaign that takes an “unapologetic approach” to the critics and sceptics.

Klarna has partnered with Spanish artist Ignasi Monreal on seven pieces of artwork, each based on a misconception about the business seen online or in the media. The payments brand, which has 14 million UK customers and partners with 13,000 retailers, says over the past few years it has seen a “rise in the number of misconceptions”.

To combat this, consumers are being invited to play the mythbuster challenge online or scan the QR code on one of the murals located in London, Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham. Once the QR code on the outdoor ad is scanned on a smartphone camera, consumers are directed to a digital gallery and virtually immersed into the paintings.

For each artwork, a mythbuster challenge is posed and the answers are hidden within the painting. Answers are hidden about Klarna’s name, average age and other questions about the brand. Consumers taking part in the game then have the chance to win prizes, including a weekend stay at Claridge’s and a £10,000 donation to hygiene poverty charity, Beauty Banks.

“Transparency is everything to us at Klarna and for too long misconceptions have existed about our brand, so we decided the best way to address this was head on and invite consumers to discover the truth,” says head of marketing AJ Coyne.

“Given the ridiculous nature of the myths, we decided to create some epic mythical paintings and display them proudly across the UK. That said, a traditional media approach is not sufficient to change behaviour, so instead we’re inviting consumers to debunk in real time via our interactive experience and discover the truth for themselves.”

Wednesday, 12 May

TSB joins brands offering safe spaces for domestic abuse victims

TSB is introducing “safe spaces” for victims of domestic abuse across nearly 300 of its branches, offering people a safe environment to seek support.

The bank joins retailers Boots, Superdrug, Morrisons and Well pharmacies in the Safe Spaces scheme, which is run by domestic abuse charity Hestia.

The initiative, now available in more than 5,600 locations across the UK, offers victims somewhere to phone a helpline, contact a support service, or talk to a friend or family member. They can also speak to a staff worker, who have all been given specialist training, or can contact the local police if necessary.

“During lockdown victims of domestic abuse have had fewer opportunities to seek help safely,” says Carol Anderson, director of TSB’s branch network.

“For some, going into their local bank will be one of the few connections they have with the wider community.”

The bank has been piloting the scheme for six months in branches in Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire.

Hestia launched the Safe Spaces scheme in May last year in response to heightening demand for services during lockdown. In June, calls to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline were up 80%.

When lockdown was reintroduced in November, Hestia saw a 30% rise in demand for its services. The charity told the BBC that the majority of the Safe Spaces it has set up have been used.

READ MORE: TSB branches offer safe space for domestic abuse victims

VO5 launches first brand campaign aimed at men in five years

VO5 is telling men “if you’ve got hair, care” in its new advertising campaign, the Unilever-owned brand’s first above-the-line work aimed at male consumers since 2016.

The ad follows a middle-aged, balding man named Terry as he goes to the hairdressers. Terry cannot bear for the hairdresser to remove any of the hair that remains on his head, so the barber uses a tin of VO5 Matt Clay to style the tuft instead.

The 300second ad, created by Adam&eveDDB, will run across linear television, video-on-demand, social media and digital out-of-home.

“Using a balding bloke to promote a hair product might feel counter intuitive, but Adam&eveDDB discovered that the only thing men fear more than a dodgy hairstyle is losing it altogether,” says Unilever’s vice-president of beauty and personal care UK&I, Chris Barron.

“This campaign exists to encourage men up and down the country to make the most of what they’ve got (even if it’s less than they’d like) by celebrating every follicle and giving every lid some love with VO5.”

Selfridges expands retail experience into in-store weddings

With wedding plans thrown into disarray over the course of the pandemic, Selfridges is now offering customers the opportunity to get married in the retailer’s flagship Oxford Street store.

A newly acquired wedding licence will allow ceremonies to be hosted in the grade II listed building for a limited time this year. The ceremonies will take place in a dedicated Wedding Suite on the fourth floor.

Selfridges is offering three curated “micro-wedding” packages, titled ‘Just the Two of Us’, ‘Earth Lovers’ and ‘All-Out Extraordinary’. All three will be centred around Selfridges experiences, such as a wedding breakfast in its restaurant Brassiere of Light or a private screening in The Selfridges Cinema.

The retailer will also be temporarily rebranding its accessories hall, The Corner Shop, as The Wedding Shop, offering bespoke gift lists and enabling customers to make appointments for everything from wedding day makeovers to canapé consultations.

As part of resale initiative Resellfridges and Selfridges’ Project Earth commitment to explore circular retail models, The Wedding Shop will also offer a specially curated collection of vintage and pre-loved womenswear, menswear and accessories for the wedding party and guests, as well as those getting married.

According to online wedding planner Guide for Brides, Covid restrictions have halted or postponed over 150,000 weddings, over 60% of those scheduled to happen in 2020. With newly engaged couples therefore struggling to find wedding venues with availability, Selfridges says it has seen a trend for alternative, more intimate celebrations.

Rebecca Warburton, Selfridges director of events and customer experiences, says: “We’re driven by making our customers’ worlds brighter through unforgettable experiences. For those looking for a truly unique way to get married this summer, we’re excited to launch weddings at Selfridges. Bringing together some of our amazing experiences, we can’t wait to create custom packages in celebration of people’s love for each other.”

Venus declares today ‘Vulva Appreciation Day’ alongside product launch

Venus wants to help combat embarrassment and remove the taboo around “pubic grooming” with the launch of its Venus for Pubic Hair and Skin Collection.

The razor brand’s survey of 2,000 women in the UK aged 18-45 saw nearly two thirds say they wished there was more accurate descriptions and imagery in society of women grooming their pubic area. Some 74% said they think they should be able to use words like “vagina” and “pubic” in public without feeling shame.

Venus, a Procter & Gamble-owned brand, has therefore declared today to be ‘Vulva Appreciation Day’ as part of its launch campaign for the new range. The campaign will be led by the brand’s ‘Skin Squad’ of body positivity brand ambassadors, and will include a series of educational content on the brand’s social media pages, as well as a sponsorship and collaboration with podcast The Happy Vagina.

“While many women don’t regularly talk about their pubic hair and skin, 98% of UK women choose to remove at least some of their pubic hair in some way,” says Venus’ senior communications manager, Olivia Hughes.

“Our new collection not only offers women more options for public grooming than we ever have before, but starts a new conversation about using language that accurately and respectfully represents the female body. Whether hair is there, growing or gone, we want to encourage women to have open and honest conversations about their public areas and grooming, removing misinformation and tackling stigma at the same time.”

DMA publishes data privacy framework for marketers

The Data and Marketing Association UK (DMA) has published a set of seven key principles for the global data and marketing industry, serving as both an ethical framework and best practice guidance.

The ‘Global Privacy Principles’, produced together with the Global Data and Marketing Alliance (GDMA), offers a series of aspirational commitments for marketers to adopt. According to the DMA, they will help brands and organisations to cultivate a better customer experience built on accountability, transparency, trust and respect for privacy.

A key aim of the new principles is to strengthen existing self-regulatory privacy codes worldwide through best practice guidance.

“The UK DMA, and other industry associations that comprise the GDMA, came together to develop an ethical framework that can be used by businesses, large and small, to demonstrate their commitment to enhancing data privacy standards,” says Chris Combemale, CEO of the DMA UK.

“The Global Privacy Principles will help organisations across the globe to place the customer at the heart of everything they do. We want to inspire data and marketing professionals worldwide to continue building consumer trust in the data and marketing industry.”

DMA research in the UK has shown that increased trust in the data and marketing industry encourages consumers to share their data and provide invaluable insights into their preferences, and even consumer behaviour in general.

Tuesday, 11 May

Monzo to offer employees paid leave for pregnancy loss

Monzo has become the latest brand to offer employees paid leave for pregnancy loss, one of just a handful of UK companies do so.

The online bank has updated its policy to allow either partner to take up to 10 days’ leave if they lose a baby after miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion as part of its mental health drive.

The policy also allows employees to take time off no matter what stage in the pregnancy the loss happens. Staff can also request additional time off to be approved by their manager if they do not feel two weeks is long enough.

UK employment law states businesses only have to allow parents leave if they lose a baby after 24 weeks, the point at which it is considered a stillbirth. A loss before this time is considered a miscarriage and does not entitle them to paid leave. It is up to individual employers to offer compassionate leave, annual leave or unpaid holiday.

Monzo is the first bank to add pregnancy loss to its policy. It follows Channel 4, which introduced its pregnancy loss policy offering two weeks’ paid leave at the end of April. The broadcaster said at the time it believed its policy was “the world’s first dedicated pregnancy loss policy for employees”.

READ MORE: Monzo bank to offer employees paid leave after pregnancy loss

Pret to open shops in Tesco

Pret A Manger is set to open shops within Tesco stores as it looks to broaden its appeal beyond office workers.

The first concession will open in June at Tesco’s Kensington store in London, with another three expected to open in the summer. Some of these will also be in London but the brand is looking outside the capital too.

The Pret shops in Tesco will serve food freshly prepared on site, as it does in its existing stores, as well as coffees and teas.

It follows the launch of Pret’s frozen croissant range which hit Tesco shelves earlier this year as the company looks to expand the brand.

READ MORE: £ Pret aims to cater for all tastes by moving to Tesco

Morrisons sees ‘encouraging signs’ of recovering profit lost due to Covid

Morrisons has posted a 2.7% rise in like-for-like sales for the 14 weeks to 9 May as it heralds the “renaissance of the supermarket in Britain” during the pandemic.

The supermarket’s online business, including Morrisons.com and its partnership with Amazon, is also performing well, with year-on-year growth at 113%.

Morrisons incurred a further £27m of Covid-related costs during the quarter, but says there were “encouraging signs” of lower direct costs and the recovery of profit lost due to the pandemic in areas such as fuel and food-to-go as the period progressed.

It now expects profit before tax and exceptionals for this year to be higher than the £431m it would have achieved for its 2020/21 financial year had it not waived the £230m business rates relief.

Morrisons says it has also made “substantial progress” on driving sustainability as part of its Fix, Rebuild, Grow, Sustain strategy during the period. This includes committing to be supplied by net zero British farms by 2030 and removing all plastic bags from stores over the next year.

Morrisons CEO David Potts, says: “The pandemic is not yet over, but it is in retreat across Britain and there is much to be positive about as something approaching normal life begins to take shape. Our forecourts are getting busier, we are seeing encouraging recent signs of a strong rebound of food-to-go, take-away counters and salad bars.”

The supermarket yesterday (10 May) unveiled a new-look loyalty scheme, which offers customers “instant money” off rather than points.

Greggs sales show signs of recovery as lockdown ends

Greggs has seen a strong recovery in sales following the easing of restrictions.

In the 10 weeks to 13 March sales were down 23.3% compared to the same period two years ago, but in the eight weeks to 8 May this drop had reduced to 3.9%. Given its stores were closed for much of 2020, the bakery chain is reporting like-for-like sales performance on a two-year basis, against the comparable period in 2019.

Total sales in the 18 weeks to 8 May 2021 were £352m, compared to £280m in 2020 and £373m in 2019.

Greggs’ delivery business, which it has now rolled out to 800 shops, is continuing to grow, representing 8.2% of company-managed shop sales over the past eight weeks.

The brand opened 34 new shops during the same period, with a particular focus on retail parks, roadside locations and petrol stations as this is where performance has been strongest. Greggs has also closed 11 shops in the year to date, meaning it now has a total of 2,101.

The brand says: “Sales have recovered well in recent weeks as out-of-home activity levels have increased, albeit in the absence of competition from indoor seated catering operators.

“If restrictions continue to ease in line with current plans then we now expect our overall sales performance for the year to be stronger than we had previously anticipated. Costs have been well-controlled and the rate of cost inflation we are experiencing is in line with our plans for the year.”

Tesco slammed for sustainability-linked finance scheme

Tesco has been criticised for its scheme offering early payment to suppliers that reduce their carbon emissions and progress against their sustainability goals.

By offering “preferential financing rates” to these suppliers by way of incentive for them to make positive changes, the supermarket has been accused of trying to “legitimise late payment culture”.

Talking to The Times, Safeway’s former finance director, Simon Laffin, has asked whether Tesco is “going green by being mean”.

Tesco outlined plans for the sustainability-linked supply chain finance scheme in April after developing it over 18 months in partnership with Santander. It is described as a “voluntary programme” and will launch in September.

At the time, Ashwin Prasad, Tesco’s chief product officer, said: “This programme not only provides suppliers with a real incentive to set science-based emissions reduction targets, it will help embed sustainability goals throughout our supply chain and support the UK in realising its climate change targets.”

READ MORE: £ Tesco attacked for linking early payments to suppliers’ green targets

Monday, 10 May

HotelChocolat

Hotel Chocolat trading update boasts strong revenue growth

Hotel Chocolat Group has posted a 60% increase in revenue for the eight-week period that includes both Mother’s Day and the Easter weekend.

Despite physical retail locations being closed under lockdown (the period in question ended on 25 April), the Group’s performance is 19% higher than the most recent comparable pre-Covid trading period in 2019.

The growth was driven principally by digital sales and subscription products. The Group’s board now expects trading for the full year ending 27 June 2021 to be comfortably ahead of expectations and will be repaying the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) funding received from the UK Government this financial year.

“In the past year, we have added over 1 million customers to our database, an increase of 47%,” says Hotel Chocolat co-founder and CEO Angus Thirlwell.

“It feels great to have our physical locations back open again and we have a strong pipeline of exciting new products to launch over the summer. I’m pleased we are able to look forward to further growth and significant investment this year with strong job creation, particularly in our UK chocolate making and supply teams.”

Huawei’s global podcast aims to ‘cut through political noise’

Tech and telecoms brand Huawei has launched ‘The Tech Podcast’ to offer listeners first-hand perspectives, debates and forecasts from academics, policy makers, inventors and entrepreneurs.

The first episode, set to air today, features guests Karen Bradley MP and entrepreneur and philanthropist Sherry Coutu discussing the technical opportunities and challenges involved in rebooting the economy.

“Our new podcast will help listeners cut through the political noise and give a platform to real technology experts in this space,” says Huawei UK director of communications Paul Harrison.

He says Huawei has a “formidable research and development mindset”, so believes it is “well placed at the centre of tech discussions today”.

The podcast is produced in collaboration with UK podcast studio Fresh Air Productions and will be available on Spotify, iTunes and other podcast platforms.

Sky Media pilots Shoppable Ads with Sky Mobile

SkyMobileAdA Sky Media pilot for its Shoppable Ads proposition with Sky Mobile focuses on addressable television ads that will feature a unique QR code that will direct viewers to a brand’s website.

With QR codes now commonplace after their widespread use by the NHS during the pandemic, coupled with the increased usage of so-called m-commerce (‘m’ for mobile), Sky claims its Shoppable Ads concept will deliver a smooth and simple pathway from television screen to a brand’s homepage.

The proposition is fully measurable using Sky’s household viewing data and measurement capabilities, with research showing that Sky-subscribing households are 30% more likely to buy a product online after watching a television advert.

“As the pace of m-commerce innovation quickens, we’re able to leverage dual screening behaviours to capture attention and supercharge immediate, measurable response,” says Sky Media’s director of products and advertising innovation Dan Cohen.

“At Sky Media, we’re pleased to be leading the industry in this space as the only broadcaster that is able to link sales directly with our viewing data.”

Sky Media’s in-house creative team has overseen the layout, colour scheme, positioning, size and screen time for the QR code’s URL, tailored to fit with individual brands’ requirements.

The pilot scheme will continue for the remainder of this month, ending on 3 June.

Dogecoin value drops after Elon Musk calls it ‘a hustle’

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk was responsible for a 36% drop in the price for dogecoin over the weekend after his guest appearance on Saturday Night Live.

Taking part in a sketch with cast member Michael Che, Musk cheerily described the cryptocurrency as “a hustle”.

The comment came just a couple of days after he tweeted “Cryptocurrency is promising, but please invest with caution!”

The dogecoin price duly dipped to $0.416 on the crypto exchange Binance, down from $0.65 before the show.

READ MORE: Dogecoin tumbles after Elon Musk calls it a ‘hustle’ on ‘SNL’ show

Retailers’ carbon emissions fall by almost 50%

British Retail Consortium (BRC) research shows a 49% drop in carbon emissions from leading retailers since 2005, far beyond an initial target of 25%.

There were also notable drops in carbon emissions in stores and store deliveries, 46% and 84% respectively (when controlled for growth).

It’s also been confirmed that the steering group of the BRC’s Climate Action Roadmap, with 70 retailers pledging to help the UK retail industry and its supply chain reach Net Zero by 2040, will be chaired by Co-op Group CEO Steve Murrells.

The steering group also includes executives from Sainsbury’s, Iceland, Ikea, Mountain Warehouse, Dunelm and Feelunique and is supported by partnerships with Crown Estate, DP World, Google, IBM and PwC.

“It’s a fantastic achievement to have halved greenhouse gases from our stores and lorries in little over a decade,” says the BRC’s head of sustainability Peter Andrews.

“However, we recognise we can do much more by helping drive decarbonisation across our supply chains and supporting our customers, the British public, to live lower carbon lifestyles through the products they buy.

“Our Climate Action Roadmap sets out our path to net zero operations and supply chains by 2040.”

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