More business news
Tesco has reduced its profit forecast following the discovery of an error in its accounts that overstated the group’s profits for the first six months of the year by £250m. Tesco has asked Deloitte to undertake an independent and comprehensive review of its accounts. Four of Tesco’s most senior employees have been suspended pending the result of the review.
GlaxoSmithKline has been fined £297m by the Chinese authorities for bribing doctors in the country. GlaxoSmithKline has published a statement of apology to the Chinese government and its people and says that it has taken steps to comprehensively rectify the issues identified in its operations. These steps include changing the incentive program for its salesforce, significantly reducing and changing engagement activities with healthcare professionals, and stepping up scrutiny of its invoicing and payments.
Administrators say that 362 Phones 4U shops are to close permanently and 1,697 staff employed at these locations will be made redundant. Another 720 people have been retained in the short term to assist with the closure programme. Dixons Carphone has agreed to offer roles to the 800 people working in Phones 4U concessions located in Dixons Carphone outlets. In addition Vodafone is to take on 140 Phones 4U stores and 887 employees, while EE has paid £2.5m to acquire 58 of the stores, preserving 359 jobs. Phones 4U was placed into administration following the decision of Vodafone, 02 and EE to stop supplying the retailer.
The snooker hall and sports bar operator Rileys has gone into administration. The administrators have closed 15 Rileys venues and made 124 people redundant. The company’s remaining 44 venues continue to trade as normal while the administrators work to stabilise the business.
Twitter is to add a ‘Buy Now’ button to tweets that will allow users to purchase products and services directly from suppliers without leaving the social network. In preparation for this Twitter has updated its terms and conditions with regard to suppliers’ relationships with users, including their responsibility for order fulfilment, shipping and returns.
Time Inc is rebranding its wholly-owned UK publishing arm IPC Media to Time Inc UK. Time Inc UK’s chief executive Marcus Rich said, “We are proud of what we have achieved at IPC over many years and we are excited to extend that success as a more integrated part of Time Inc. We firmly believe our business partners will benefit from the strategic clarity that comes from one company brand and we are looking forward to exploring new opportunities as Time Inc UK.” The company publishes more than 60 print and digital magazine titles including Horse & Hound, Wallpaper, Country Life, What’s on TV and Woman.
Co-operative Group’s members have voted overwhelmingly to radically reform the group’s governance structure. The new structure will see the business led by a group board of 11 people (reduced from 20) composed of a majority of independent directors. The board will be made up of an independent non-executive chair, five independent non-executive directors, two executive directors, (including the group chief executive) and three member-nominated directors. Earlier this year Co-operative Group’s chief executive resigned, calling the business ‘ungovernable’.
Ryanair has launched a business class service. The low cost airline says that its Ryanair Business Plus offers Europe’s business travellers ‘a tailored package, including flexible ticket changes, a 20kg bag allowance, fast-track at airports, priority boarding and premium seating’.
Carphone Warehouse and Dixons Retail have completed their merger. The new Dixons Carphone plc shares have started trading on the London Stock Exchange and the combined identity is now displayed in the group’s 3,000 shops. Dixons Carphone has also unveiled its new corporate website and Twitter feeds.
Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty First Century Fox has withdrawn its $80bn bid for Time Warner.
Reckitt Benckiser is to spin off its RB Pharmaceuticals as a stand-alone business with a separate listing on the London stock market. The company says that the demerger will allow it to focus on its core strategy to be a global leader in consumer health and hygiene.
Unipart Automotive Ltd, one of the UK’s largest independent suppliers of car parts, workshop consumables and garage equipment, has gone into administration and 1,244 people have made redundant. The business had been in financial difficulty for some time. Unipart Automotive was previously known as Partco, and was sold by Unipart Group to H2 Equity Partners in 2011. Unipart Group is a separate business and continues to operate as normal.
MTR Corporation has won the £1.4bn eight-year contract to operate Crossrail, the new 72 mile route connecting Reading and Heathrow with Shenfield and Abbey Wood. MTR is expected to employ around 1,100 staff and will start running the service from 31 May 2015. MTR currently runs the Hong Kong metro.
BT has launched a new cloud-based service for businesses that brings together all of a company’s fixed lines, mobile phones and internal office phone systems and delivers them on a mobile phone. BT says that BT One Phone will use 4G and BT’s 5 million wi-fi hotspots to provide all the same functionality of an office-based phone system to an employee’s mobile phone.
Companies House is to make all of its online data available free of charge from early 2015. Businesses and members of the public currently have to pay up to £1 per search to research and scrutinise the activities and ownership of companies and connected individuals. In 2013/14 customers searching the Companies House website spent £8.7m accessing company information on the register. The Government says that by making the data freely available and free of charge the UK becomes a more transparent, efficient and effective place to do business. It hopes that the move will also open up opportunities for entrepreneurs to come up with innovative ways of using the information.
Plans to privatise the Land Registry have been shelved. The Land Registry was created in 1862 and records the ownership of land and property in England and Wales. The Government had hoped to raise more than £1bn from the sale, but has now decided that ‘further consideration would be valuable’ before going ahead.
Transport for London has named Keolis Amey Docklands as the new franchisee of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). The contract is worth in excess of £700m and entitles Keolis Amey Docklands to operate and maintain the DLR network until April 2021. Keolis Amey Docklands is a joint venture between the French transport group Keolis and the infrastructure and services company Amey, which is owned by the Spanish conglomerate Ferrovial. Serco has operated the DLR since 1997 but was unsuccessful in its bid to retain the franchise. The other unsuccessful bidders were Stagecoach and Go-Ahead/Colas.
Danish international discount grocery retailer Netto is returning to Britain in 2014 in the form of a joint venture between Dansk Supermarked and Sainsbury’s. The trial will consist of 15 Netto stores to be opened by the end of 2015, with the first opening their doors in the North of England. If the trial proves successful the next stage of the joint venture will see the new format rolled out across the country.
Mothercare has rejected a £266m merger approach by the US mother and baby retail business Destination Maternity.
Administrators have been appointed to the company that owns the brands La Senza and Pinkberry in the UK. Marnixheath operates 55 La Senza stores and three Pinkberry outlets, employing 752 staff. The administrators are continuing to trade the businesses as normal for the time being whilst discussions take place with interested parties in respect of a sale. Marnixheath was previously known as Alshaya UK, changing its name in January 2014.
The fashion chain Jane Norman has gone into administration for the second time in three years, putting more than 150 jobs at risk.
Wonga, the UK’s biggest payday lender, is to pay compensation of over £2.6m to around 45,000 customers for unfair and misleading debt collection practices. An investigation by The Financial Conduct Authority found that Wonga sent letters from fake law firms to customers who were in arrears threatening them with legal action. In some instances, Wonga also added charges to customers’ accounts to cover the administration fees associated with sending the letters. Wonga will not be fined for its activities because the misconduct occurred before the FCA became responsible for regulating payday lenders.
The state pension age will be raised to 67 in 2026, a decade earlier than previously planned. The Chancellor says the change will save the UK in excess of £50bn. As a result of the Pensions Act 2011, women’s state pension age will be equalised with men’s at 65 in November 2018. It will then rise to 66 in October 2020.
Ofcom has taken over responsibility for the regulation of the UK’s postal services from the previous regulator Postcomm. Ofcom is now responsible for safeguarding the UK’s universal postal service, which includes the requirement for Royal Mail to offer a six day a week, one price goes anywhere, postal service throughout the UK. Ofcom already regulates the television, radio, telecommunications and wireless industries.