John Lewis, Next, Asda: 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.


Next buys Joules in £34m deal

Two weeks ago, the fashion retailer Joules announced it was bringing administrators in after failing to find new investors.

Now, Next has bought the chain in a deal worth £34m, with an added £7m for its head office. The retailer says it plans on keeping around 100 Joules stores open, while 19 will be closed with immediate effect. The deal will save 1,450 jobs.

Next will now own a 74% stake in the retailer, with founder Tom Joule owning the other quarter. As part of the deal, Joules’ website will continue to sell its products, while Joules items will make their way to Next’s own platform from 2024, reports the BBC.

“We are excited to see what can be achieved through the combination of Joules’ exceptional product, marketing and brand building skills with Next’s Total Platform infrastructure,” says Next’s chief executive, Simon Wolfson.

In November, Next bought’s brand and IP as the furniture retailer collapsed, despite going public on the London Stock Exchange in 2021. It’s reported Next paid £3.4m in the deal.

READ MORE: Next rescues fashion chain Joules saving 1,450 jobs

John Lewis Partnership launches £500m joint venture to build residential rental homes

John LewisThe John Lewis Partnership has announced it is working with investment company Abrdn to build around 1,000 new rental homes across Bromley, West Ealing and Reading.

The £500m, multi-decade investment will allow the partnership to diversify its business as a “long-term joint venture”.

The investment will see the John Lewis Partnership develop and manage the homes. Meanwhile, in Bromley and West Ealing, Waitrose shops will be redeveloped to provide new homes and improved stores, if granted planning permission to do so. In Reading, the partnership plans on redeveloping a vacant John Lewis warehouse.

“Our partnership with Abrdn is a major milestone in our ambition to create much-needed quality residential housing in our communities,” says executive director for strategy and commercial development at the John Lewis Partnership, Nina Bhatia.

“Our residents can expect homes furnished by John Lewis with first-rate service and facilities. The move underlines our commitment to build on the strength of our brands to diversify beyond retail into areas where trust really matters,” she adds.

November footfall drops below pre-pandemic levels with Christmas around the corner

UK footfall decreased by 13.3% in November, compared with 2019 levels, according to SensorMatic IQ data.

High street footfall declined by 13.6%, a 2% drop on October’s footfall rate. Meanwhile, retail parks saw their footfall fall by 4.2%, just 0.5% lower than last month.

Shopping centres faired the worst, with a decline of 23.3%, versus November 2019, which is 1.4% lower than last month.

Breaking it down by country, Northern Ireland witnessed the lowest decline at 7%, Scotland at 15% and England at 15.4 %, while Wales saw a drop of 16.2%.

Compared against 2021’s levels, total footfall increased by 3.7%, high streets by 8% and shopping centres by 7%. Year on year, retail park footfall fell by 4%.

“Footfall took another stumble as the cost of living crisis put off some consumers from visiting the shops in November,” says British Retail Consortium’s chief executive Helen Dickinson, as consumers chose instead to stay at home with the impact of rail strikes, or “chose the World Cup over shopping visits”.

“Rising inflation and low consumer confidence continue to dampen spending expectations in the run up to Christmas. Despite retailers doing their best to keep prices as low as possible for their customers, financial concerns are trumping spending for many households,” she adds.

Asda reaches a million £1 kids and OAP meals

Asda scheme to offer children and pensioners £1 meals has reached a million meals sold as the supermarket chain offers support during the cost of living crisis.

Since June, one million meals have been sold through the ‘Kids Eat for £1’ and ‘OAP Winter Warmer Café £1 meal deal’ programmes. The meals are selling at an average of 50,000 a week.

Asda and The Asda Foundation is now investing a further £2.4m in supporting communities impacted by the cost of living crisis. The investment will help 2,000 grassroots community groups to continue their work, despite the increased costs they’re facing.

Alongside the investment, Asda has also offered its cafes as warm spaces with winter, with community groups able to access the spaces during weekday afternoons.

“We have launched these initiatives to support our customers and communities this winter as we know it’s going to be incredibly hard for many people due to rising living costs,” says Asda’s co-owner, Mohsin Issa.

BrewDog no longer a B Corp company

The brewery brand allegedly exited the certification after B Lab, the organisation that gives the accreditation, “requested additional measures”. Instead, an internal statement, viewed by CITY AM., said the brand has “decided to step aside from our B Corp certification for the time being”.

It alleges that “B Lab had requested additional measures from BrewDog and the BrewDog board decided that these were not something we could do at this time.”

In the internal memo, \CEO James Watt said: “B Lab had requested additional measures from BrewDog and the BrewDog board decided that these were not something we could do at this time. Though we remain committed to the values upheld by B-Lab, we believe our business is currently best served by focusing on the blueprint.”

“Brewdog is no longer a certified B Corp,” said a spokesperson for B Lab, which says it doesn’t comment on companies no longer a part of the accreditation.

READ MORE: BrewDog gives up B-Corp social and environmental certificate

Homeless charity All People All Places reimagines blue plaques in new campaign

The homeless charity All People All Places (APAP) has released a new awareness campaign with agency Cogent highlighting the people behind rough sleeping spots across north London.

The charity, which works to support people in overcoming homelessness, has places its “Homeless Plaque” in key locations to tell the stories of the people the charity supports.

“Homelessness is a complex and devastating issue. Whether people are forced to sleep on the streets, or have the constant stress of not knowing whose floor they will sleep on tonight, it is vital we’re able to support them in navigating their way beyond homelessness,” says APAP’s CEO George Dunstall.

He adds that the campaign is about “keeping the light on the rising issue of homelessness” while focusing on the positive stories the charity can tell.

Thursday, 1 December


M&S acquires intellectual property of personalised fashion platform Thread

Marks & Spencer has acquired the intellectual property of personalised shopping service Thread, to accelerate its own personalisation plans.

The acquisition includes the source code and algorithm developed by the platform, which will now be integrated into M&S’s online clothing offering, including across third-party brands.

The retailer reports it has already driven substantial value through its personalisation offering. It anticipates 20-25% of its digital interactions this year will be personalised. Outfit recommendations have proved particularly valuable, it says, with the “frequently bought together” recommendations estimated to be worth an incremental £20m of revenue over the last 12 months.

The integration of Thread’s technology into the M&S website represent the retailer’s “buy not build” approach, which will enable it to move quicker to adapt personalisation abilities, versus if it were to build these capabilities from scratch. The brand is hiring 30 of Thread’s former data scientists, software engineers and styling and creative teams.

“We’re taking personalisation to the next level to inspire our customers with tailored outfit inspiration,” says M&S co-CEO Katie Bickerstaffe.

“We already know the incremental value personalisation can bring and we anticipate that personalisation will generate more than £100m of annualised incremental revenue for the business.”

Advertisers cite soft KPIs as number one concern around agency performance evaluations

A lack of “measurable or objective” key performance indicators (KPIs) is the number one concern for advertisers around agency performance evaluations, finds a study from the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA).

The study involved more than 90 respondents from 82 multinational organisations (49 clients and 33 agencies), with brand respondents responsible for more than $69bn (£57.7bn) in global ad spend.

While there is dissatisfaction with the current mix of KPIs, agencies and advertisers both consider client satisfaction to be the most important performance indicator.  The research also finds advertisers are incorporating “nuance” into their evaluation processes. It notes that attributing success when multiple agencies collaborate on a campaign can be difficult. Over half (53%) of advertisers say they now test collaboration between agencies.

The WFA research also finds agencies are more comfortable with telling clients what is going wrong from their perspective. Almost seven in 10 (68%) of agencies are now comfortable telling their clients what needs changing at their end most of the time, compared to less than half (45%) two years ago.

However, less than half of agencies believe they should be paid based on performance evaluation.

“Advertisers need to work harder to become the client of choice by actively nurturing agency relationships. Doing this means starting ‘at home’ and looking at their own performance before blaming their partners,” says WFA director of global marketing sourcing services Laura Forcetti.

HSBC to close over a quarter of UK branches

HSBC will shut 114 of its banks in the UK from April 2023, which represents the closure of over one in four of its branches.

The bank has already closed 69 branches in 2022 and shut 82 in 2021. It claims use of its branches by regular customers has fallen by two-thirds in five years. It reported some of its branches were seeing less than 250 customers in a week.

In early 2021 HSBC had almost 600 branches, but these closures will take that figure down to 327. It has committed to investing tens of millions in updating and improving the branches which will remain open.  While the company is aiming to redeploy most of its staff, it expects to see around 100 job losses.

In October, HSBC reported quarterly profits which were $700m (£584m) above analysts’ estimates, after it saw a windfall from rising interest rates.

Commenting on the closures, HSBC’s managing director of UK distribution Jackie Uhi says: “People are changing the way they bank and footfall in many branches is at an all-time low, with no signs of it returning. Banking remotely is becoming the norm for the vast majority of us.”

READ MORE: HSBC to close more than one in four bank branches in the UK

Mulberry reports its shoppers are turning to Europe rather than London

Luxury fashion brand Mulberry warns it is seeing its visitors to its London shop drop by as much as a half, as wealthy consumers turn to Europe instead.

“We are losing 45-50 per cent of our potential business [in the London shop] due to the end of the tax free,” CEO Thierry Andretta said during the brand’s half year results yesterday (30 November) during which it reported a £3.8m loss, compared with profits of £10.2m in the same period in 2021.

The brand, which is best known for its luxury handbags, warned it was seeing wealthy visitors from the US and the Arab states opt to visit other European cities instead, where tax-free shopping is available.  Andretta added that the future of the London store, located in Bond Street may be “unviable” due to the drop in shoppers.

VAT-free shopping was scrapped in the UK in 2021 post-Brexit, before being briefly reintroduced by former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng earlier this year. Current chancellor Jeremy Hunt then scrapped it again. The government claims this decision will save the UK around £2bn a year.

Mulberry is not the only luxury brand to have expressed concern about the impact of the scrapping of VAT-free shopping, last month, rival Burberry said it was seeing tourists flock to European cities like Milan and Paris, where tax-free initiatives mean shopping is cheaper than in London.

READ MORE: Mulberry warns rich shoppers shunning London for Europe

ITN launches rebrand

Television production company ITN has unveiled a rebrand, which it claims represents its evolution “from a legacy British news organisation to a global player in news, factual, sports, education and branded content”.

ITN is the production company responsible for the daily news broadcasts on ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, it also produces documentaries and other content for British and international broadcasters, as well as for businesses and charities.

The rebrand includes a logo change, the first for the organisation since 1970. The old static logo depicting three linked letters has been replaced by a new animated logo. It also sees ITN shape its rebrand around a newly defined purpose and a new strapline “Truth to Life”.

The rebrand was led by agency partners Rudd Studio and Undivided.

“Our challenge was to pay homage to our powerful legacy as a trusted, impartial news provider, at the same time as rearticulating who we are and what we stand for today,” says ITN CEO Rachel Corp.

“We homed in on how we are a purpose-driven organisation with a mission to bring ‘truth to life’ and put people at the heart of everything we do.”

Wednesday, 30 November

Source: Shutterstock

Twitter drops Covid misinformation policy

Twitter has stopped taking down tweets which breach its Covid misinformation rules, despite having suspended more than 11,000 accounts as of September.

According to the BBC, the social platform stopped enforcing its Covid misinformation policy on 23 November, although it appears Twitter’s other policies relating to false information remain in place.

Under the original policy, accounts repeatedly tweeting “demonstrably false or misleading” content about Covid, which could cause “significant risk of harm”, were suspended for hours, days or indefinitely. Twitter figures suggest nearly 100,000 pieces of content relating to Covid misinformation were removed from the platform before the policy was dropped.

Last week, the platform’s new owner Elon Musk announced an “amnesty” on users who had been kicked off Twitter, including reinstating the accounts of people found previously to have spread Covid misinformation. The switch in policy comes as coronavirus cases are on the rise in the US and a fifth of the American population has not been vaccinated.

Earlier this month Twitter’s former head of trust and safety Yoel Roth described Musk as acting with a “lack of legitimacy through his impulsive changes” to the platform. In a New York Times opinion piece, Roth explained he resigned because a “Twitter whose policies are defined by edict has little need for a trust and safety function dedicated to its principled development.”

He did, however, point to the influence marketers have in curbing Musk’s decision making, stating: “His [Musk’s] ability to make decisions unilaterally about the site’s future is constrained by a marketing industry he neither controls, nor has managed to win over.”

READ MORE: Concern as Twitter stops enforcing policy against Covid-19 misinformation

Retailers forced to adapt as food inflation hits record high of 12.4%

InflationChristmas spending is set to be impacted by unprecedented price pressures as UK food inflation soared to 12.4% in November.

It marks the highest inflation rate on record for the food category, up from 11.6% in October, according to the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and NielsenIQ.

Overall shop price annual inflation accelerated to 7.4% in November, up from 6.6% in October, marking another record for shop price inflation since the index started in 2005. Non-food inflation also rose to 4.8% in November, up from 4.1% in October.

Rocketing energy costs have been driving up the price of fresh food such as meat, eggs and dairy. Coffee prices also shot up last month as high input costs filtered through to customers.

The BRC expects Christmas gifting to become more expensive than in previous years, with sports and recreation equipment seeing particularly high price increases.

Despite the likelihood consumers will reduce their spending this Christmas compared to previous years, there was recognition that many retailers are responding by offering seasonal savings and price cuts, while also increasing their own workers’ pay.

“While there are signs that cost pressures and price rises might start to ease in 2023, Christmas cheer will be dampened this year as households cut back on seasonal spending in order to prioritise the essentials,” says BRC chief executive, Helen Dickinson.

“Retailers continue to do all they can to support their customers and ensure everyone can enjoy the festive season by fixing prices of many essentials, offering discounts to vulnerable groups, raising pay for their own people and expanding their value ranges.”

Rivals challenge Octopus deal to acquire Bulb

Bulb green energyEon, British Gas and Scottish Power are seeking a judicial review challenging the government’s decision to approve the takeover of failed energy company Bulb by competitor Octopus Energy.

Legal counsel representing Scottish Power claims the marketing of the Bulb sale was “defective” and should be re-run to allow for alternative bids, the BBC reports. The lawyer representing British Gas pointed to an “abject lack of transparency” about the commercial terms of the deal.

These claims were disputed by lawyers representing Bulb’s administrators, which want to press ahead with the acquisition. Representing the failed energy company, Richard Fisher KC said he rejects what he described as Scottish Power’s “highly controversial” version of events and accused rivals of having chosen to “walk away” from the acquisition.

Other brands had expressed interest in the deal at the time, including Ovo Energy, which earlier in October launched an 11th-hour bid to buy Bulb having previously pulled out of the running.

Bulb was placed into “special administration” and run by the government through regulator Ofgem following its collapse in November 2021. However, last month Octopus finalised a deal to acquire Bulb’s existing 1.5 million customers. It is thought Octopus paid the state between £100m and £200m to acquire the Bulb business.

At the time, Octopus Energy promised to provide a “stable home” for consumers and the company’s 650 staff, committing to use Bulb’s technology and brand “for a transitionary period”.

READ MORE: Rivals row over deal for failed energy firm Bulb

Motorway ads banned over savings claims

TV and radio adverts from online car selling platform Motorway have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for claims consumers could save up to £1,000 by using the service.

A TV and radio ad, as well as text on the Motorway website, claimed consumers could save up to £1,000 on the sale of their car, because the site’s more than 3,000 verified dealers compete to make them the best offer. The text on the website linked to a survey of 2,079 customers who sold their car on Motorway between 1 March and 22 July 2021, 42% of whom were offered £1,000 or more than their initial quote from other sellers.

Rival We Buy Any Car challenged whether the claim consumers “could get up to £1,000 more” was misleading and could be substantiated.

In response, Motorway outlined its belief that the average consumer would understand the claim “could get up to £1,000 more” to mean a “significant proportion” of consumers who sold through its platform could achieve a price that was better by £1,000, compared to quotes given by other companies.

The brand provided copies of two reports compiled by different independent research companies over different periods as evidence for the claim. Motorway demonstrated it had updated its TV and radio ads to include details directing consumers to a page on its website containing verification information.

The ASA ruled, however, that consumers would understand the claim “could get up to £1,000 more” to mean that by using Motorway’s platform they could sell their vehicle for up to £1,000 more than by using other car-selling services, with that price difference being achieved in a significant proportion of cases.

The regulator also found it unclear whether the data sets used in the research comparison covered all Motorway’s competitors and noted the values provided by the respondents were self-reported.

The ASA ruled the ads cannot be broadcast again in the form relating to the complaint and told Motorway to ensure it held adequate evidence to substantiate comparative claims in future.

Balenciaga admits ‘grievous errors’ as backlash over ad campaigns rumbles on

Balenciaga says it takes responsibility for “a series of grievous errors” relating to two campaigns claimed to have sexualised children and featured documents relating to child sexual abuse.

The luxury fashion brand is suing the team behind an advert – now axed – starring actors Nicole Kidman and Isabelle Huppert, which featured documents relating to a US supreme court case examining whether child sexual abuse imagery legislation curtails freedom of speech.

Balenciaga claims all items in the shoot were provided by third parties, which “confirmed in writing” these props were fake office documents. However, the brand says it appears these documents were “real legal papers most likely coming from the filming of a television drama.”

The fashion label is suing the shoot’s designer Nicholas Des Jardins and producer North Six for $25m (£21m), claiming they engaged in “inexplicable acts and omissions” that were “malevolent or, at the very least, extraordinarily reckless”.

The backlash against Balenciaga also refers to the ‘Gift Shop’ campaign, which featured children holding teddy bears wearing what appeared to be bondage garments. One image also depicted a child alongside an assortment of empty wine glasses. Last week Balenciaga apologised for any offence caused and admitted it had made the “wrong choice”.

Since then, however, brand ambassador Kim Kardashian put out a statement saying she is “shaken by the disturbing images” and as a result is “re-evaluating” her relationship with the brand. Fashion news site Business of Fashion has also rescinded the Global Award it was due to present to Balenciaga’s creative director Demna, the Guardian reports, describing the images as “wholly inconsistent” with its values.

Balenciaga has since said it takes “full accountability” for what it describes as a “lack of oversight” and is “revising” its collective ways of working following the backlash.

READ MORE: Balenciaga apologises for ads featuring bondage bears and child abuse papers

Tuesday, 29 November


Nestlé ramps up its responsible marketing strategy

Nestlé is restricting its marketing to children under the age of 16, claims the company as it looks to make its marketing more responsible.

The food and drink giant is introducing a new ‘Marketing Communication to Children’ policy that will prohibit the company from directly advertising confectionary and ice-cream to children, as well as restricting water-based drives with added sugar.

Nestlé’s previous commitment to responsible marketing banned targeting children aged six and below. This new amendment will be applied to TV and online platforms, including social media, and gaming platforms where more than 25% of the audience is under 16.

The policy will come into effect on 1 July 2023 globally.

Meanwhile, today (29 November) Nestlé will announce its 2025 targets and value creation model for investors. Commenting ahead, CEO Mark Schneider says the company has made “significant progress” in recent years. He says the company is aiming “to deliver consistently in turbulent times”.

“We will continue to invest for future growth, investing behind our brands, delivering impactful innovation, leveraging digitalization and improving speed and agility,” he adds.

Andrew Tenzer to leave Reach after six years

Reach’s director of market insight and brand strategy, Andrew Tenzer, is leaving the company after six years leading across brand and insight.

He first joined the publisher in 2017 as head of group insight, before taking on his current role in 2020. He moved to Reach from BBC Global News where he was head of insight, and previously worked at Channel 4 as research manager.

His next move isn’t confirmed, and it’s unknown whether Reach will be replacing his position.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved – producing award winning research which has shone a light on the advertising and marketing industries, driving brand strategy for our iconic brands, and most recently launching Reach’s first ever dedicated youth content brand ‘Curiously’,” says Tenzer.

On his departure, Reach’s chief revenue officer Piers North says: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Andrew for all of the great work that he and his team have created for us over the last six years.”

“Andrew’s unique insights have always helped us to engage with our customers and give us a challenging, creative and thought-provoking position.”

Children are being exposed to age-restricted ads as more than a million claim to be over 18 online, says ASA

More than 1.6 million social media accounts belonging to children falsely claim to be over 18, says the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA). This mean they’re being exposed to age-restricted ads, such as gambling, alcohol or HFSS products.

While most social media platforms say users should be at least 13, children are setting up their profiles at increasingly young ages, with the help of their parents too, claims the ASA. Some 3.6 million accounts owned by young people are also misreporting their age, the watchdog claims.

The ASA’s ‘100 Children Report’ monitored the devices of 97 children to look at the circumstances where they were being exposed to age-restricted ads.

In 11,424 instances where online ads were served to the children in the study, 3.8% were age-restricted ads. There were also 73 instances where ads were served to children who self-reported as being 17 or younger, or on an online platform where children account for more than 25% of users. The ASA says these 30 advertisers are likely breaching targeting rules.

The report also surveyed 1,000 children about their social media usage. Some 93% of young people aged between 11 and 17 have an account with Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitch, Twitter and/or YouTube. 94% of these users access social media platforms on a device only they use.

The ASA will be contacting the advertisers who either broke the rules, or were seen to be advertising to children who had self-reported to be of an adult age.

“With many children registering on social media with a false age, it’s vital that marketers of age-restricted ads consider their choice of media, use multiple, layered data to target their ads away from young people and monitor the performance of their campaigns,” says director at the ASA and CAP, Guy Parker.

“Targeting solely on the basis of age data is unlikely to be enough.”

Musk accuses Apple of halting its advertising on Twitter

Source: Shutterstock

Elon Musk yesterday (28 November) said Apple had “mostly stopped advertising on Twitter”. Tweeting the allegation, he asked: “Do they hate free speech in America?”

The public criticism of Apple by Musk comes as a host of advertisers pull out of Twitter, or view it with trepidation, following a turbulent year for the platform.

Musk also accused Apple of threatening to “withhold” Twitter from the Apple App Store.

In the first quarter of 2022, Apple was the top advertiser on Twitter, spending $48m (£40m) on ads on the platform, according to The Washington Post.

In his tweets, Musk said Twitter’s revenue had dropped massively, which he blamed on activists pressuring advertisers to move away from Twitter.

READ MORE: Elon Musk says Apple threatened to remove Twitter from App Store

Platforms won’t have to remove ‘legal but harmful’ content as Online Safety Bill is amended

The much anticipated Online Safety Bill has been amended, meaning platforms will not be required to remove “legal but harmful” material. Content that comes into this category, for example, could be posts about self-harm and eating disorders, as well as misogynistic content.

Instead of being required to remove content, platforms will be told to introduce systems allowing users to control and filter out harmful content themselves.

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan told the BBC the bill is not being “watered down”, saying “these are massive, massive corporations that have the money, the knowhow and the tech to be able to adhere to this”.

Labour’s shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell criticised the amendment, saying it gives a “free pass to abusers and takes the public for a ride” that it was “a major weakening, not strengthening, of the bill”.

READ MORE: Online Safety Bill: Plan to make big tech remove harmful content axed

Monday, 28 November

Amazon, Aldi and M&S join Asda at top of Christmas effectiveness rankings

Asda continues to top System1’s Christmas effectiveness rankings this year with its ad featuring Will Ferrell’s Buddy the Elf character, which achieved the research firm’s top score for its potential to drive long-term brand impact.

Trailing in second, third and fourth place are the ads of Amazon, Aldi and M&S. Like Asda, all three ads achieved an “exceptional” star rating of 5.9, the highest score System1 can award. However, Asda’s ad also demonstrates the strongest potential to drive short-term sales growth, pushing it into the top spot.

In fifth place is Lego’s Katy Perry-fronted ad with a score of 5.8, followed by The National Lottery (5.7), Disney (5.5), Lidl (5.4), Barbour (5.3), Tesco (5.2), Cadbury (5.2) and Boots (5.2).

This year an unprecedented 16 Christmas ads achieved five star scores. Ordinarily just 1% of ads in System1’s testing reach the top rank, and in 2021 only two Christmas ads made the cut: Aldi’s ‘A Christmas Carrot’ and Coca-Cola’s annual ‘Holidays are Coming’.

Given the quality of this year’s ads, brands which usually score highly – including John Lewis, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and M&S Food – have been pushed out of the top 12.

“Marketers had a tricky job this Christmas thanks to the cost of living crisis and most of them got their ads bang on target,” says System1’s chief customer office, Jon Evans. “We’ve been testing Christmas ads for a decade and we’ve never seen as much five star work.”

Primark to invest £140m in developing UK store estate

Primark plans to open at least four new stores and create 850 new jobs in the UK over the next two years, increasing its overall selling space by more than 160,000sq ft.

The £140m investment also includes plans to extend and invest in the retailer’s existing 190 UK stores, including refurbishment, upgrades, and relocations. A second dedicated Primark Home space will be opening in Primark’s Liverpool store, following the launch of its first in Merry Hill last year.

According to CEO Paul Marchant, the investment reaffirms Primark’s commitment to the future of UK retail. Noting the business’s international expansion plans, he says: “The UK is our biggest market and, as we continue to grow and expand our business internationally, we remain as committed as ever to investing in our stores to offer more customers our great value clothing, beauty, homewares and much more.”

On top of its UK estate, Primark stores can currently be found in 13 other countries. The business has opened 27 new stores in its current financial year overall, with the aim to reach 530 by 2026.

“Busy towns and cities benefit us all – we want to see thriving high streets and shopping centres where people come together and enjoy spending time,” Marchant adds.

Elon Musk teases launch of blue, grey and gold Twitter ticks

Source: Shutterstock

Twitter is planning to launch a new verification system on Friday (2 December), which will use different coloured ticks to identify government and company accounts.

Writing on Twitter late last week, the social media company’s new owner and CEO Elon Musk said company accounts would be identified with gold ticks, while the accounts of government bodies and figures would feature grey ticks. Accounts will be “manually authenticated”, in what Musk described as a “painful, but necessary” process.

Blue ticks will be available to all other individuals, whether they are celebrities or not. However, Musk said these accounts can have a “tiny” secondary logo showing they belong to an organisation if verified as such.

The announcement follows Twitter’s attempt earlier this month to give blue ticks to anyone who paid $7.99 per month, which had to be pulled after triggering an onslaught of imposter accounts. It is unclear whether individuals will still have to pay the monthly fee to acquire a blue tick on their account under the upcoming system.

Virgin Media O2 rolls out free mobile data to Big Issue vendors

Source: Big Issue Group via Hope&Glory

Virgin Media O2 is extending its partnership with social enterprise Big Issue Group by offering its entire network of street vendors free O2 SIM cards and data vouchers this year.

Vendors of the Big Issue street newspaper are almost exclusively vulnerable people looking to develop financial independence and make their way out of poverty and homelessness. Last year O2 gave over 200 vendors free data plans, enabling them to take contactless payments at a time when 52% of magazine sales are via contactless.

On average, vendors who use contactless make 35% more than those who do not.

“We know from the success of last year that this connectivity is crucial to facilitating mobile payments in an increasingly cashless society as well as helping vendors to stay connected to loved ones and get access to key services,” says Virgin Media O2’s chief commercial officer, Gareth Turpin.

The initiative comes as part of the business’s wider commitment to tackling data poverty, as highlighted in O2’s festive ad campaign this year. Partnering with national digital inclusion charity Good Things Foundation, the business is providing free mobile connectivity to those who need it through its National Databanks.

Nearly half of UK apprentices drop out due to ‘poor quality’ training

UK apprentices are dropping out of courses in their thousands each year as a result of insufficient and ineffective training, the BBC reports.

Think tank EDSK estimates nearly half of apprentices fail to complete their courses, with the majority citing their “poor quality”. Aged 16 and over, apprentices have to be given one day a week “off the job” to receive teaching and training, but EDSK found many get less than required and some apprentices get no training at all.

The think tank’s investigation reveals firms are allowed to consider online lectures and homework as “training”, meaning apprentices can go “weeks, sometimes months” without training from a mentor or industry expert.

The 2021-22 academic year saw almost 348,000 people begin apprenticeships. According to EDSK estimates, more than 100,000 will leave or have already left.

This year Marketing Week’s Opening Up campaign has outlined ways in which the marketing industry can open itself up to more people of diverse socio-economic backgrounds, with apprenticeships identified as a key opportunity. However, it is imperative that apprenticeships are conducted correctly and include the training and guidance necessary.

According to Marketing Week’s 2022 Career and Salary Survey, the uptake of marketing apprenticeships remains painfully slow. More than half (57.9%) of marketers work for a brand with no marketing apprenticeship.

Of the 4,463 marketers surveyed, 21.2% say their company does not currently see the value in apprenticeships. A further 10.4% say it is too complicated to develop a programme, while 6.6% cannot get buy-in at the highest level.

READ MORE: Warning apprentices quitting over quality of schemes