CES opens amid gender row
The annual Las Vegas showcase of new technology, the Consumer Electronics Show, starts today, but its opening has been overshadowed by a failure to shake off criticisms about the diversity of its speaker line-up. All of its headline speakers for 2018 are men.
On Friday, CES’s organiser, the Consumer Technology Association, wrote a letter to its chief critic Gina Glantz, founder of the not-for-profit group Gender Avenger, promising to “redouble” efforts to bring female speakers on board – but not until next year.
Glantz originally voiced objections in November, and was followed up by numerous CMOs, including HP’s Antonio Lucio and Twitter’s Kristen Lemkau. The show said headline speakers must be CEOs or presidents of well known technology brands, saying “we feel your pain” that more of these are not women, but Glantz countered that it was up to the show to change its criteria.
Tesco expected to win Christmas retail war
This week will be a crucial bellwether for the state of the UK retail sector, as more than 20 brands release financial figures for the Christmas period. Analysts expect to see little growth, given the many predictions leading up to December that consumer spending would be held back by inflation and stagnant wages.
Tesco is thought to have performed well, with retail analyst Clive Black telling the Guardian the supermarket had “stabilised the business and got the basics right on availability and store standards”. The same can’t be said of Marks & Spencer, however, with analyst Richard Hyman arguing: “The M&S customer is not interested in getting more inferior product for lower prices.”
Next was the first brand to announce its sales figures last week, posting better than expected results, but this was followed by a profit warning from Debenhams. The remaining supermarkets and department stores John Lewis and House of Fraser are among those brands with results out this week.
Pubs had a good Christmas period
While retailers might not feel much Christmas cheer this week, good tidings are expected from the pub sector. Private pub groups such as Stonegate have already announced positive performance, with the Slug & Lettuce owner recording like-for-like sales growth of 5.5%, compared with 5.3% last year. Brokerage Peel Hunt also forecast good results from publicly owned pub groups, with companies such as Marston’s, JD Wethespoon and Revolution Bars due to announce results in January.
Longer Christmas Day opening hours, along with increased demand for premium drinks, were credited for the sales success at Stonegate by chief executive Simon Longbottom.
Volkswagen still number one car brand despite ‘dieselgate’
German car brand Volkswagen is likely to increase its lead over Toyota as the top-selling car manufacturer in the world, even though it continues to suffer repercussions from the ‘dieselgate’ scandal, when it admitted to building technology to help its cars cheat emissions tests. The reputation damage continues, with costs of buying back and refitting US diesel cars increasing, but that has not prevented it selling 10.7 million cars in 2017.
That internal estimate would stretch its lead over second-placed Toyota, which is forecast to have sold 10.35 million cars. It also represents an increase over VW’s 2016 sales of 10.3 million, when Toyota sold 10.2 million.
If the estimates, seen by German newspaper Bild Am Sonntag, are correct, VW will report revenue of €220bn (£195bn) for 2017, its highest ever and a €3bn improvement year on year.
Molson Coors buy Aspall cider
The demand for premium drinks is benefiting not only pub sales but also drinks brands themselves, judging by Molson Coors’ purchase of Aspall cider, revealed on Sunday. The Suffolk-based producer was started in 1728 and was still family-owned prior to the acquisition, worth £40m.
In its most recent figures from 2016, Aspall sales rose by 15% to £27.1m, and Molson Coors is now expected to drive further growth, both in the UK and and international markets. The brewer has promised investment in the company and its facilities, with the two heads of the family run Aspall business, Barry and Henry Chevallier Guild, remaining on board to provide “strategic direction” and “conscience” for the brand under its new ownership.
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