Everything that matters this morning


Urban Outfitters to let people borrow clothes

Urban Outfitters is entering the sharing economy with an online subscription service that will allow people to borrow six items to wear for a month before swapping them.

Aimed at millennials who are increasingly looking for more sustainable options, ‘Nuuly’ will launch in the US in the summer, with plans for a wider roll-out in the pipeline.

“Interest in sharing-economy platforms and recurring subscription relationships has grown across industries,” the company says.

“In apparel, the millennial consumer, in particular, is seeking out platforms that provide novelty, variety and breadth, while also supporting sustainability.”

Urban Outfitters expects Nuuly to have 50,000 subscribers and generate $50m in sales within the first 12 months.

Other labels including Levi’s, Gal Meets Glam, Anna Sui and Fila will also be available to rent for a monthly fee.

READ MORE: Urban Outfitters to rent out clothing

M&S profit down 10% as it speeds up store closure programme

Marks & Spencer has posted a 9.9% drop in profit for the full year ending 30 March 2019, however the retailer maintains it has made “good progress restoring the basics” and fixing a number of its legacy issues.

On a like-for-like basis, food revenue was down 2.3% and clothing and home revenue down 1.6%. Clothing and home grew 9.8% online, which helped to increase M&S’s online clothing market share by 0.3 percentage points.

However, M&S is speeding up its store closure programme with plans to shut a further 20 of its full-line stores, to a total of 85. It has already shut 35 and has warned this number will likely reach 100. It will also close 25 of its Simply Food convenience stores.

Profit before tax and adjusting items fell 9.9% to £523.2m. Pre-tax profits were only £84.6m in the year, in part due to a £440m hit from its store closure programme.

“As I have said, at this stage we are judging ourselves as much by the pace of change as by the trading outcomes and change will accelerate in the year ahead,” boss Steve Rowe says.

“While there are green shoots, we have not been consistent in our delivery in a number of areas of the business. M&S is changing faster than at any time in my career – substantial changes across the business to our processes, ranges and operations and this has constrained this year’s performance, particularly in clothing and home. However, we remain on track with our transformation and are now well on the road to making M&S special again.”

Evian launches global recycling initiative

Evian has launched a global initiative called ‘Flip It For Good’ which aims to engage consumers around recycling.

In partnership with National Geographic, the natural mineral water brand is asking consumers to post a video of themselves on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) ‘flipping’ any empty plastic bottle into the recycling bin.

For every video posted alongside the hashtag #flipitforgood, Evian will reclaim a bottle from nature, in partnership with the social business Plastic Bank.

The initiative is backed by National Geographic explorer Cory Richards, creative entrepreneur Luka Sabbat and tennis champion Stan Wawrinka, who have all posted videos of themselves ‘flipping’ bottles.

“By 2050 it is estimated there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean,” Luke says. “However, small actions really can have an impact which is why this is such a great initiative from evian encouraging people to do their part and recycle more.”

The ‘Flip It For Good’ initiative is part of a broader strategy by Evian to achieve its commitment to becoming a circular brand by 2025.

H&M celebrates equality with new collection

H&M is celebrating LGBTQI equality with the launch of a new capsule collection for women, men and non-binary individuals.

Featuring a range of slogan t-shirts, sportswear-inspired garments and accessories, 10% of the sales price will be donated to the UN Free & Equal campaign, which is the United Nations’ campaign for equal rights and fair treatment for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex people around the world.

“H&M strives to be a mirror of global society, one that fully embraces a central message of ‘Love for All’, standing up for people’s right to love whoever they want, wherever they are,” says Sara Spännar, global marketing and communications director at H&M.

“We are proud to continue our support for LGBTQI equality by celebrating love and raising awareness about the fight for equal rights, diversity and inclusivity.”

H&M’s capsule collection will be sold in stores and online worldwide and accompanied by a global media campaign.

Jamie Oliver restaurant empire goes into administration

Jamie Oliver’s restaurant group has gone into administration, resulting in the loss of 1,000 jobs.

All but three of the chef’s 25 UK restaurants, which includes his Jamie’s Italian chain plus Fifteen and Barbecoa, have closed after the group called in administrators from KPMG.

Only two Jamie’s Italian branches and a Jamie’s Oliver Diner, all at Gatwick airport, remain.

Oliver, who injected £4m into the business this year, says he is “devastated” and “deeply saddened” by the outcome.

“I appreciate how difficult this is for everyone affected,” Oliver says. “We launched Jamie’s Italian in 2008 with the intention of positively disrupting mid-market dining in the UK high street, with great value and much higher quality ingredients, best-in-class animal welfare standards and an amazing team who shared my passion for great food and service. And we did exactly that.”

Will Wright, a partner at KPMG and the joint administrator, adds: “The current trading environment for companies across the casual dining sector is as tough as I’ve ever seen. The directors at Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group have worked tirelessly to stabilise the business against a backdrop of rising costs and brittle consumer confidence.

“However, after a sales process which sought to bring new investment into the business proved unsuccessful, the team took the incredibly difficult decision to appoint administrators.”

READ MORE: Jamie Oliver’s empire collapses as 22 UK restaurants close

Tuesday, 21 May


Watchdog warns of social media fraud as currency scams triple

Scams involving currencies and crypto assets like bitcoin totaled £27m in the last financial year, with social media significantly helping scammers

Reports of scams more than tripled in the year ended April, with an average loss of £14,600 per victim, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has warned.

According to the FCA, scammers often used social media to promote their “get rich quick” online trading platforms. Celebrity endorsements and images of luxury items such as expensive watches and cars on social media posts were often used to promote schemes.

The watchdog plans to run a campaign to raise awareness of online trading scams.

“We’re warning the public to be suspicious of adverts which promise high returns from online trading platforms,” says Mark Steward, FCA’s executive director of enforcement and market oversight.

Due to the lack of regulation around online-only currencies, there is no compensation or protection for investors if things go wrong.

READ MORE: Millions lost in ‘celebrity-backed scams’

Ford cuts 7,000 jobs across departments including marketing

Ford is cutting 7,000 jobs worldwide, with up to 550 in the UK including a number of marketing and communications jobs.

The US manufacturer says the cuts represent 10% of its global salaried workforce and 20% of its management positions, including marketing and communications. It has not disclosed which departments would be the worst affected.

The cuts are expected to save Ford £471m a year, helping it navigate declining demand and a  shift to electric vehicles.

In a memo to staff on Monday, chief executive, Jim Hackett says the restructuring plan will start on Tuesday, with the majority of cuts finished by 24 May.

He writes: “To succeed in our competitive industry, and position Ford to win in a fast-changing future, we must reduce bureaucracy, empower managers, speed decision-making and focus on the most valuable work, and cost cuts.”

Other cost-saving initiatives include moving out of the multivan market and combining the headquarters of Ford UK and Ford Credit.

Ford first revealed plans for job cuts across its European operations in January but did not give further details.

READ MORE: Ford to cut 7,000 jobs including more than 500 in UK

Thomas Cook reassures customers amid fears of future

Thomas Cook is seeking to reassure holidaymakers that fears over its financial woes have been overblown and holidays are protected.

Its shares fell by a further 14% yesterday (20 August) to 10p, meaning the company’s market value has fallen 92% to £159m over the past 12 months.

Despite this fall, the holidaymaker is reassuring people on social media and in a statement that it is “business as usual”.

Last week, Thomas Cook issued a fresh profit warning and reported a half-year loss of almost £1.5bn after a goodwill write-off of £1.1bn.

Thomas Cook said in a statement at the weekend: “We have ample resources to operate our business and at the same time, as usual, our liquidity position continues to strengthen into the summer period.”

It added: “We’re responsible for taking over 20 million people abroad on holiday every year and we take that responsibility very seriously. As an ATOL-protected business, our customers can have complete confidence in booking their holiday with us.”

The company is seeking to cut costs closing 21 of its high street stores and putting its currency arm Thomas Cook Money under review.

It has blamed a series of problems for its profit warnings, including political unrest in holiday destinations, last summer’s heatwave and customers delaying booking holidays due to Brexit. But this is only part of the picture, the holidaymaker has also failed to keep up in the wake of increasing competition from online travel agents and low-cost airlines.

READ MORE: Thomas Cook reassures holidaymakers after shares plunge

Unilever unveils ‘detectable and recyclable’ black plastic packaging

Unilever has developed a new detectable black pigment that it says will allow its black plastic packaging to be recycled.

Currently, automatic sorting machines used in waste facilities in the UK use near infra-red light that cannot detect carbon black pigment found in ‘standard’ black plastic – making it impossible to recycle.

However, the FMCG giant has developed a lower carbon black plastic for its TRESemmé and Lynx products allowing them to be successfully recycled.

Sebastian Munden, general manager of Unilever UK and Ireland, says: “We’ve been working on a solution for black plastic for some time, and this move to using detectable black plastic in our TRESemmé and Lynx bottles means we will potentially be removing around 2,500 tonnes of plastic from the waste stream.”

Unilever’s innovation was made in collaboration with RECOUP, WRAP and waste management giants Veolia, SUEZ, Viridor and TOMRA and the FMCG giant has pledged to make the technology accessible to other companies.

WHSmith boss to step down

WHSmith group chief executive Stephen Clarke is to step down in October, after 15 years with the firm, six of those in the top job.

He will be replaced by Carl Cowling, currently managing director of the WHSmith high street business.

The announcement comes as the firm’s results showed like-for-like sales climbed 1% in the 11 weeks to 18 May. Sales fell 1% in the high street stores but were up 1% in its travel business, where it plans to open around 20 new units in the UK, including 10 hospital stores.

Clarke says: “We remain confident in the outcome for the full year.” He adds he has no immediate plans after leaving the retailer other than to “take a break”.

Clarke is credited with turning  around the stationers fortunes after it struggled with competition from supermarkets and websites such as Amazon. Under Clarke, the company refocused attention on higher margin travel stores in airports and railway stations.

£ READ MORE: Stephen Clarke to step down as WHSmith chief

Monday, 20 April

Ryanair profits plunge 29%

Profits at Ryanair have fallen by 29% to €1.02bn (£894m) for the full year to 31 March despite the airline growing its customer base by 7% to 139 million people.

The rising number of passengers was offset by a 6% decline in fares to an average of €37 (£32) as a result of “short-haul capacity growth” and the absence of Easter in the fourth quarter. Ryanair did, however, grow its revenue by 6% to €7.56bn (£6.62bn) and added 406 new routes.

The company describes its full year 2019 results as “a year of investment” in its people, support systems and wider business in a bid to grow to 200 million passengers by 2024. The airline’s costs, excluding fuel, rose by 5% following a €200m (£175m) increase in staff costs, which included a 20% hike in pilot pay.

Following safety fears, Ryanair has delayed the introduction of its first five B737-MAX aircraft until winter this year. However, the airline states it has the “utmost confidence” in these aircraft, which it claims boast 4% more seats, are 16% more fuel efficient and generate 40% lower noise emissions.

Looking at the full year 2020, Ryanair remains “cautious on pricing”, although it expects traffic will grow by 8% to 153 million passengers. The company adds that its performance for the coming year will be heavily dependent on peak summer fares, pricing during the second half of the year, the absence of “security events” and no negative Brexit developments.

Co-op rolls out £10m campaign uniting food, insurance and funeral care

The Co-op is uniting its food, insurance and funeral care marketing for the first time with a £10m advertising campaign that champions bringing investment back into communities.

The campaign, created by Lucky Generals, weaves the Co-op’s commercial and community messaging into one overarching marketing strategy featuring a new strapline: “It’s what we do.”

The campaign message is focused on how the supermarket creates “products of differentiation”, from its 100% British meat commitment to reinvesting millions of pounds back into community initiatives through its membership scheme.

The first TV ad appeared on Saturday night (18 May) during ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent, with three ads appearing in one ad break. This is being supported by hyper-local targeting, driving personal relevance and linking to local causes the Co-op supports.

The campaign will include 120 out-of-home executions with a message tailored to each area, while 222 local cinemas will serve ads with dynamic end-frames, again showing specific causes in that area.

“Building stronger communities by being a stronger Co-op is what we do. We already run our businesses differently to most and this means we can do things that benefit our members and their communities and not just a small group of institutional investors in the City of London,” says chief membership officer Matt Atkinson.

“The success of our ethical-led business means we can re-invest our profits and our plan is to use our profits to rally people to come together to care for their local community. This is about the power of co-operation and it’s what we’ve been doing for 175 years.”

Customer director, Ali Jones, believes the Co-op needs to decisively seize the opportunity to show leadership in an era where consumers are increasingly demanding that businesses take action to improve their communities.

Online ads complained about three times as much as TV

Online adverts made up 90% of the campaigns amended or withdrawn by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in 2018, with online ads also outnumbering TV cases by 3:1.

This figure includes paid ads online and companies’ ad claims on their own websites, social media spaces, apps, advergames, as well as video-on-demand and mobile.

The ASA amended or withdrew a record number of ads in 2018, resolving 33,727 complaints about 25,259 ads. Of this number 16,059 complaints, up 41% on 2017, were about 14,257 online ads, an increase of 38%. Some 10,773 complaints, up 14% on the previous year, were about 5,748 TV ads, an increase of 23%.

Overall, the ASA secured the amendment or withdrawal of 10,850 ads, which is up 53% on 2017.

Given the rising number of complaints coming from online, ASA chief executive Guy Parker explains that the ASA’s new five-year strategy – More Impact Online – will focus on strengthening the regulation of online advertising and using new tech to protect the public.

An example would be the recent roll out of new child avatar technology, which simulates children’s browsing activity to identify ads being served to kids online, resulting in action against five gambling operators.

“Our recent use of new avatar technology is a taste of what’s to come under the new strategy and we look forward to working with our partners to increase further the impact we’re having online,” Parker adds.

Government to champion UK advertising at Cannes

The UK Government’s Department for International Trade (DIT) is teaming up with industry leaders to showcase the best of UK advertising at the Cannes Lions festival of creativity (17-21 June).

The Creativity Is GREAT campaign, supported by the likes of the Advertising Association, Clear Channel UK, Channel 4, Framestore, London & Partners, M&C Saatchi and Newsworks, is designed to support the growth of UK exports of advertising services.

The campaign activity will include two trade missions, the first run by London & Partners supporting 20 high growth London-based adtech and martech businesses, and the second coordinated by the IPA, which will bring a further 20 advertising agency SMEs.

For the first time, UK advertising will host an activation space in the Palais Piazza developed by M&C Saatchi and Framestore. The Creativity Is GREAT activity will also span networking spaces for UK advertising companies in Le Jardin de Clear Channel and the Little Black Book beach, as well as further pop-up activities at venues including the Channel 4 Villa.

Special events will take place with delegates from other territories around the world including China and South Korea.

“DIT is a passionate advocate of the value of the UK’s creative offering, and a strong presence at Cannes Lions gives our most creative and cutting-edge companies the opportunity to show the world’s top influencers and buyers just how imaginative, innovative and inspiring Britain is,” says Conrad Bird, director of campaigns and marketing at the Department for International Trade.

“At Cannes Lions, CMOs and their advisers come to meet new people, understand new trends and new innovations and DIT will be here banging the drum for Britain. We are delighted to be working with the UK advertising industry under the ‘Creativity is GREAT’ banner to give the UK an even higher profile, more influence and a more effective presence this year.’’

BBC unveils film for 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup

The BBC is collaborating with South London rapper Ms Banks on its 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup film with a view to inspiring the next generation of female athletes.

Ms Banks’ re-working of early 2000s track ‘Remember The Name’ was developed, created and produced by women and with women at the forefront. The idea behind the film is that long after the tournament in France comes to a close, the nation will ‘Remember The Name’ of each of the athletes.

Devised by in-house creative team, BBC Creative, the trailer debuted during Saturday’s (18 May) episode of Football Focus, which was broadcast live from Wembley ahead of the Men’s FA Cup final.

The creative is part of the BBC’s Change the Game campaign, which aims to shine a spotlight on women’s sport across the summer. Every game of the tournament in France (7 June – 7 July) will be broadcast live on the BBC, with all 52 matches from France shown across BBC platforms including BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four, BBC Red Button, BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport online.

“We are delighted to have worked with the immensely talented Ms Banks on this campaign which celebrates the incredible stories and talents of the players,” says James Parry, head of marketing at BBC Sport and Events.

“Ms Banks brought her own unique style to the project, creating a track that we think encapsulates everything that is so exciting about this summer’s Women’s World Cup. Having recently launched our Change the Game campaign, we are proud that this summer the BBC will we be showing more women’s sport than ever before, a feeling we think this track reflects perfectly.”

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