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Debenhams will shut all its remaining 101 stores by 15 May. Business, Media & Marketing News London.

   NEWS / 07 May 2021

Published: 07 May 2021

By Suzanne Evans, Director, Political Insight


The Royal Navy has being deployed to Jersey amid fears French fishermen will attempt to blockade the island's main port today. Boris Johnson sent two patrol vessels to St Helier last night following a phone call with Senator John Le Fondré, Jersey's Chief Minister. The move follows comments by a French minister that if a row over post-Brexit fishing rights is not resolved the country may cut off Jersey’s electricity supply.  
 
China has suspended "indefinitely" key economic dialogue with Australia, in a growing diplomatic rift between both countries. The BBC reports relations have been on the decline since Australia called for a probe into the origins of the virus and banned Huawei from building its 5G network. China responded by imposing sanctions on Australian goods like wine and beef. In a statement yesterday, a Chinese government commission accused Australia of having a "Cold War mindset".
 
Hong Kong nationals have bought some 270 homes in the prime London property market since the UK government announced a new visa welcoming three million residents from the former British colony, according to estimates by Benham & Reeves — one of London's biggest private letting agents. The figures suggest a 144% increase in purchases by Hong Kong nationals since July last year. Benham and Reeves says that in the period between July 2020 and April 2021, Hong Kong nationals bought 1,932 London homes, compared to 793 in the same period in 2019.
 
Britain will have to create 410,000 jobs in the small businesses sector (SME) by the end of the year to return to the pre-covid employment trajectory, according to a new study by accounting software firm Xero. The study indicates UK SME job losses have been almost double those seen from big businesses during the pandemic, with Xero finding that woman, the under-30s and those in customer-centric jobs such as hospitality hardest hit.
 
Almost all the UK’s 50 biggest employers have told the BBC they do not plan to bring staff back to the office full-time. 43 of the firms said they would embrace a mix of home and office working, with staff encouraged to work from home two to three days a week. 4 firms said they were keeping the idea of hybrid working, working from home some of the time, under review. Currently, people who can work from home are still advised to do so but that is likely to change in June when the government hopes to end all social distancing restrictions.
 
KPMG has told its 16,000 staff they can leave early one day a week as part of a move towards more flexible working after lockdown, the BBC reports. The accountancy giant said staff will work in KPMG offices for four days each fortnight, with the rest of their working week at home and client sites. Staff will also get an extra two-and-a-half-hours off per week over the summer "to promote wellbeing".
 
The UK’s leading aviation and travel bosses are urging the government to ditch “illogical” plans to force vaccinated travellers returning home to take covid tests. In a joint article written for The Telegraph, the chief executives of BA, Heathrow, easyJet, Manchester Airport Group and Jet2 say the “over-abundance of caution” by the Government is out of kilter with other European countries and threatens millions of Britons’ holiday plans. “Instead of taking advantage of the success of the vaccine programme, the Government risks closing the UK off from the rest of the world,” they warn.
 
Ryanair carried 1m passengers on more than 8,000 flights in April, the airline confirmed yesterday, a considerable increase from just 4,000 passengers in April 2020, and an improvement on the 5,000 recorded in February and March 2021. The rise in numbers is however minute compared to pre-pandemic levels in April 2019 when Ryanair carried 13.5m passengers.
 
Intellectual property investment firm Hipgnosis Songs Fund has acquired a music catalogue from Andrew Wotman, the recently awarded 2021 Grammy winner for Producer Of The Year. Wotman has co-written five of the Top 100 most-streamed songs of all time and worked with the likes of Camila Cabello, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Dua Lipa and Post Malone. The FTSE 250-listed fund did not disclose any financial details related to the acquisition.
 
The billionare Issa brothers have offered to offload 27 petrol stations as they seek regulatory approval for their £6.8bn acquisition of supermarket chain Asda. Last month, the Competition and Markets Authority said the move could mean higher petrol prices because the brothers also own EG group, which operates 395 petrol stations in the UK, and the takeover of Asda’s 323 petrol stations could give the combined businesses too much power. The CMA said yesterday that “there are reasonable grounds for believing that the undertakings offered, or a modified version of them, might be accepted."
 
Debenhams will shut all its remaining 101 stores by 15 May, closing the door on more than 200 years of trade on UK high streets and costing 12,000 workers their jobs. The Debenhams brand will continue online after being bought by retailer Boohoo for £55m in January. The company’s roots go back to 1778 when William Clark opened a shop in London's West End, selling fabrics, bonnets and parasols. When William Debenham invested in the firm in 1813 it was renamed Clark & Debenham.
 
Barclays bank has told shareholders at its AGM that it intends to expand its investment banking arm saying the balance of corporate and investment banking helped offset a tough year for its consumer businesses. The investment bank benefited from volatile markets and companies raising cash during the Covid-19 crisis while consumer banking suffered from ultra-low interest rates and the economic slowdown. Chief Executive Jes Staley said Barclays was now the only UK global investment bank competing in both the US and the UK as many European rivals pull back and that it intended to capitalise on this trend.
 
UK consumers have been advised to stop using Peloton Tread and Tread+ treadmills after a US product recall of about 125,000 machines issued in the US following dozens of injuries and the death of a child. Back in April, Washington's Consumer Product Safety Commission said the machines should not be used around children or pets, Peloton called the warning "inaccurate and misleading". Now boss John Foley has now agreed to the recall and the Tread, which was also sold abroad, and apologised for the company's initial response. Shares in the company fell as much as 14%.
 
Stellantis, the new car manufacturer formed by the merger of Fiat Chrysler and PSA groups has seen revenue rise 14% in the first three months of the year to €37bn (£32bn), and the number of vehicles shipped up 11% to some 1.57 million units. In its trading statement issued yesterday however, the company warned the impact of the global shortage in semiconductor chips is prevented a stronger rebound; the shortage cut planned production by 190,000 units in Q1 amid rolling halts of some assembly lines. Eight of Stellantis' 44 global sites are currently affected. The merger, completed back in March, made Stellantis the world’s fourth largest carmaker.
 
Saudi Aramco has reported profits of $4.4bn for the first three months of the year, a rise of 30%, as crude oil prices recover. The oil company also confirmed an $18bn dividend payout, much of which will go to the Saudi government. Oil prices hit a 21-year low of around $21 dollars per barrel last year when the covid pandemic massively reduced travel but they have since recovered to over $63 a barrel.
 
KFC said yesterday it needs 20,000 part-time and full-time positions in its US restaurants to meet returning demand. The roles include cooks, restaurant management, customer service, shift supervisors and assistant managers. Sharecast News reports food chains are struggling to find workers for the busy summer months due to a shortage of willing staff, and that there is also pressure on the supply chain for KFC’s basic ingredient - chicken.
 
Space company Blue Origin has launched an auction for a ticket into space on 20th July for a suborbital trip 100km above the earth on its New Shepard spacecraft, involving a few minutes of weightlessness and sight of the planet's curvature. The flight will be Jeff Bezos' company’s first manned mission. Reuters reported in 2018 that Blue Origin was planning to charge space tourists  between $200,000 and $300,000 for the ride. Competitors such as Elon Musk's SpaceX and Virgin Galactic are also aiming to fly private customers soon, with the latter expecting to begin trips in early 2022.
 
Former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, now Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communication, says he is considering a ruling by the company’s Oversight Board upholding the social media giant’s decision to suspend former US President Donald Trump's Facebook and Instagram accounts but saying that the indefinite timeframe of the suspension "was not appropriate." The board has also said that Facebook should complete a review within six months to “determine and justify a proportionate response that is consistent with the rules that are applied to other users of its platform." Trump's accounts were suspended after the 6th January insurrection on the US Capitol. "We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post on his Facebook page at the time. Trump was also suspended from Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat. Twitter made its ban permanent.


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