Business chiefs fear worsening UK economy
Business leaders are pessimistic about the future of the UK economy as fears over Brexit continue to rise among those at the top of their industry.
According to research by Ipsos Mori, which surveys senior leaders at the UK’s 500 largest listed and private companies, businesses are worried about the year ahead. It finds 74% are pessimistic about 2019 – an increase of 8% from last year with many becoming increasingly concerned about Brexit.
Ipsos Mori asked chairmen, chief executives and other senior managers if they thought the prospect of Brexit was worse today than they predicted 12 months ago with 67% saying their company was worse off, up from 56% a year ago.
Ben Page, chief executive of Ipsos Mori says: “Britain’s largest businesses feel Brexit is having a more profound impact on British business than our business leaders thought it would a year ago — 67% of ‘captains’ think that their company is worse off.”
The Prime Minister is still negotiating with the EU but many are concerned about the prospect of a no-deal being reached as the proposal cut-off date for Brexit – 29 March 2019 – looms closer.
Iceland founder criticises HMRC ‘red tape’ as ‘just madness’ after facing potential £21m fine
Iceland’s founder has hit back at HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) criticism of the shop’s Christmas saving scheme.
The frozen-food giant offered low-paid staff a Christmas savings scheme which meant employees who opted in would have money deducted from their pay, which was put in a separate account that staff were able to have returned on demand.
However, the plan meant some employees’ pay fell below the minimum wage and despite being voluntary HMRC has accused the company of breaching minimum wage rules, threatening it with a bill of at least £21m as a result.
Iceland’s founder and chief executive, Sir Malcolm Walker, described the dispute as “just madness”, according to The Times
The alleged underpayment is of about £3.5m a year for six years with Iceland potentially being forced to pay £21m – double the amount of the alleged underpayment.
Walker told the Times that he was challenging HMRC’s claims and was prepared to go to court if necessary but also wanted to tackle the “growing red tape” for businesses.
He said he had prepared a document entitled The Campaign for Common Sense detailing the “growing red tape and bureaucracy affecting business”, but said that few in government were interested in tackling the problem.
Nākd unveils first ever TV advert with £1.5m campaign
Natural Balance Foods is launching its first ever TV campaign for its Nākd snack bars.
The health food company is investing £1.5m into its “Mind Blown” campaign which launched yesterday (1 January).
Created by agency Recipe, the campaign consists of 20- and 30-second TV adverts which see various people try a wide-range of the snack bars. One spot includes a man bringing his girlfriend into a doctor’s surgery after her mind has “been blown” by trying a Blueberry Muffin Nākd bar.
Jamie Combs, founder of Natural Balance Foods, says: “2019 is a big year for Nākd and we are passionate about bringing our customers the best tasting bars and exciting new flavour combinations, with the wholefood message at the heart of everything we do.”
The brand will also be running campaign activity throughout the year, including in-store promotions and social media activations.
Greenwoods Menswear becomes latest victim of struggling high street
Greenwoods Menswear, which was rescued from administration less than 18 months ago, has gone into liquidation, becoming the latest victim of the struggling high street.
The 158-year-old menswear shop has stores predominately in the north of England with many local papers reporting the permanent closure of their town’s local Greenwoods.
Greenwoods, which in the 1990s had about 200 shops, went into administration in September 2017 but was acquired by Versatile International Trading which saw 40 of its stores saved.
A notice posted in store windows suggests that the Greenwoods name may not survive. It reads: “All outlets of Versatile International Trading Ltd t/a Greenwoods Menswear have now closed for business permanently.”
Greenwoods is the latest in a long line of high street retailers to struggle amid soaring rates, and competition from online retailers such as Amazon and comes after the appointment of administrators to HMV.
Rail companies face protests after ticket price hike
Rail companies are facing a backlash over an increase in rail prices with passengers staging protests at stations across the UK.
The fare increase comes into force today, with commuters banding together on social media to organise protests under the banner #RailRevolution.
The rise in England and Wales – the highest since January 2013 – will mean an average 3.1% increase on tickets in England and Wales with the price of some annual season tickets going up by more than £100.
The increase comes after a year of strikes and poor time-keeping with demonstrations set to take place at stations including King’s Cross in London, Norwich and Sheffield.
Andrew Jones, the rail minister, said fare rises had been higher under the last Labour government: “For the sixth year in a row fares are only rising with inflation. Labour’s 13 years in office saw inflation-busting fare rises of up to 7.5%.”
One in seven trains have been delayed by at least five minutes in the past 12 months – the network’s worst performance since September 2005 – according to the Press Association
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