The high speed train ferried 10.1 million travellers in 2013, up 2% on 2012.
The company has seen passenger numbers grow significantly over the last ten years, and has now carried 140 million since it started 20 years ago.
Eurostar also reported that its 2013 sales revenue had risen 7% to £857 million, while operating profit was up 4% to £54 million.
Eurostar chief executive Nicolas Petrovic reckons that “2013 has proved to be a record-breaking year for Eurostar and we are pleased with the sustainable growth in both traveller numbers and sales revenues reported today.
“After a period of economic uncertainty we are now starting to see more confidence in the business market. In comparison with this time last year when the overriding sentiment was still very cautious there are more encouraging trends and in some sectors there is clearly a greater appetite to invest and look for business.”
You know when your property management company charges astronomical maintenance fees, even though there’s a dead rat on the stairway and more mysterious leaks than even Edward Snowden could handle?
Well, if you’ve ever been at the mercy of sinister/lazy/overpriced property managers who charge regular fees for bugger all, you’ll be pleased to know that the Office of Fair Trading is looking into the ‘services’ they provide, to see if they actually do anything at all.
The investigation will cover local authorities and housing associations, as well as private property management companies.
The OFT will look into whether the market is working for leaseholders and freeholders and ask whether property management companies have the best interests of their leaseholders. (No). They’ll also ask whether we have much of a choice over which company deals with our building maintenance. (No). Then they’ll look into whether there are barriers to switching and enough competition in the property management market. (No).
The Competition and Marketing Authority (CMA) takes over some of the OFT’s duties in April and will be publishing a report at the end of the year. Rachel Merelie, who is leading the study, said:
‘Service charges for the maintenance of a building can be substantial and we want to make sure that leaseholders are getting a fair deal. We are concerned that management agents and freeholders may not be incentivised to keep maintenance costs down and that leaseholders may not receive value for money.’
We’re all used to hearing news that the high street is on its knees and retailers are openly weeping into the bins outside Claire’s Accessories as their empires crumble. And we’re all equally used to hearing how the cost of living has skyrocketed while our wages, er…haven’t.
But today, we can walk down the high street with a little spring in our step because the British Retail Consortium have announced that high street prices are falling at a record rate.
That’s right, we’re paying less and less in the shops, with goods costing an average of 1.4% less in February than in previous months. Some things went even lower, with clothing and shoes were 12% cheaper than last year.
February marked the tenth month in a row that deflation had occurred on the high street, and food inflation also feel slightly from 1.5% in January to 1.1%.
So can we look forward to paying even less for our stuff? Helen Dickinson from the BRC thinks so.
‘Many of the larger food retailers have been looking closely at their investment in promotions and price cuts, suggesting competition could intensify further.’
LET’S BUY EVERYTHING.
Welcome to the HUVr. That’s a hoverboard which a team claims to have mastered, thereby making a load of Back to the Future fans’ dreams a reality.
In the video below, you’ll see a promotional stunt showing off the HUVr, with celebrities like Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, musician Moby and rap god Schoolboy Q taking the thing for a ride.
The video assures us that we’re watching the real thing, but it clearly isn’t the case. First off, the celebrities involved send alarm bells off. Tony Hawk will do anything to promote his brand. Moby will do anything for money (remember when his ‘Play’ album soundtracked every single advert ever?) and Schoolboy Q is a rapper and everyone in hip hop knows that you don’t make money from records anymore, so you get paid elsewhere.
The project says:
“What began as a summer project in 2010 at the MIT Physics Graduate Program has evolved into one of the most exciting independent products to be developed out of MIT since the high-powered lithium-ion batteries developed by Yet-Ming Chiang in 2001. Our team consists of materials science, electricity & magnetism experts who’ve solved an important part of one of science’s mysteries: the key to antigravity.”
“The HUVr Board team ultimately aims to improve the efficiency, speed and sustainability of mass transportation. Yet rather than spend several more years closed off from the world while investing in research and development, the team and our world-class investors have worked to change the economics R&D by marketing this exciting consumer product in order to fund ongoing R&D.”
Eagle-eyed viewers will look toward the shadows in the video to see bits of bad editing but, if they could do this, surely it would be the most wonderful invention of a generation.
It might be made from 4 legged chickens from hell, but the Advertising Standards Authority have rejected complaints that last year’s KFC Christmas advert ‘mocked elements of Christian worship.’
The snarky musical ad encourages people of all faiths to set aside their differences at Christmas and chow down on a grease-ridden bucket of genetically modified poultry.
The 30 Christian complainants got cross at the scene which features a group of carol singers, who trill the lines: ‘We turned up at your house again, singing all our stupid songs.’ In reply, the homeowner sings: ‘Normally I’d hose you down but now it just seems wrong.’
(STUPID CHRISTIAN SONGS! Songs about angels and the Baby Jesus – stupid?? Surely not!)
While it was a bit tongue-in-cheek, KFC maintained that they didn’t intend to mock any faith or religion, and that the homeowner was meant to be like Scrooge. As anyone with even a sliver of a sense of humour could interpret. But 30 outraged people didn’t see it that way.
Even so, it’s a triumph for common sense as the ASA found it ‘unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.’
You know what’s actually offensive? The new KFC Triple X-tra meal, aimed at REAL MEN, and containing a whopping, artery-rupturing 1130 calories.
Dame Sally Davies told a committee of MPs that the government needs to get tough with those who produce food and drink and that she believed “research will find sugar is addictive”, and that “we may need to introduce a sugar tax”.
Dame Davies said: “We have a generation of children who, because they’re overweight and their lack of activity, may well not live as long as my generation. They will be the first generation that live less, and that is of great concern.”
Yeah. Those poor children might not live to see retirement age, which has been pushed back thanks to irritatingly healthy people who live until they’re 103 and crap everywhere. Davies reckons that being overweight had been “normalised” and added: “I worry that we have re-sized a women’s dress size so that a size 14 now was a size 12 when I was student.”
“We have to find a new way – not of ostracising people who are obese and making them feel bad about themselves – but somehow of helping them to understand this is pathological and will cause them harm.”
Of course, ministers have been arguing about food packaging for a while and no-one can really agree to anything. More pertinently, does anyone really care? If manufacturers start sticking warnings on food that is bad for you, surely it’ll only end up being like the red triangle Channel 4 used to put on things that would guarantee you a sex scene? It wouldn’t be a deterrent, but rather, a hallmark for what you want.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “To help the nation to be healthier by eating fewer calories, including sugar, we are working with industry through the Responsibility Deal. This work has already delivered results but we have always been clear that, if food and drink companies fail to act, we will look at other options and are keeping all international evidence under review.”
Everyone’s been chattering about the controversial Paddy Power ad-campaign that features odds on the Oscar Pistorius murder trial. Clearly, it is in very poor taste, but is being tasteless illegal?
Either way, increased scrutiny has ensured that the campaign will be investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The ad, which you can see below, shows the head of Pistorius superimposed onto an Oscar statue and says: “It’s Oscar Time. Money back if he walks. We will refund all losing bets on the Oscar Pistorius trial if he is not found guilty.”
The ASA said they are launching the investigation after receiving 46 complaints in two days. Presumably, all the complaints focused on the fact that Paddy Power ostensibly appear to be trying to make some money out of the death of Reeva Steenkamp.
As ever, with anything vaguely topical, an online petition appeared and over 100,000 people signed it asking Paddy Power to withdraw the advert.
The petition said: ”The brutal death of a woman at the hands of her partner is not ‘sport’ or ‘entertainment’ and promoting the opportunity to make money from it is a vile and offensive act which anyone with a sense of human dignity and respect for human life must reject.”
“138 women died in the UK alone as a result of male violence in 2013. This type of random carelessness for the lives of women by Paddy Power is an affront to those women and their families.”
Meanwhile, Paddy Power’s website encouraged “savvy punters” to have a “courtroom flutter”, signing off with: “One thing’s for sure, trial verdicts don’t come much bigger than this.”
Thus far, Paddy Power are not for shifting, saying: ”We are not planning to take down our betting on the Pistorius trial verdict. We have a long history of offering odds on major global news events and the Oscar Pistorius trial is no different.”
Do you like trainers? Do you like The Beatles?
Then today is your lucky day, as Vans have just announced a range of footwear based on the Hey Jude hitmakers’ Yellow Submarine animations.
One can choose from a range of styles, with a couple also available for toddlers, so you can foist your obsession onto the next generation.
Vans sez: “The world’s most iconic band of all time, taps into the Off the Wall spirit in a collaboration for the ages. Vans and The Beatles join forces in March 2014 to release a collection of footwear showcasing the unique artwork from the legendary Yellow Submarine album and film.
Released in 1968, Yellow Submarine represents the perfect blend of good music and unique artwork highlighted on four original Vans Classics. This collaboration is the first of its kind and delivers an offering of artwork and colors taken directly from the album cover”.
There’s also a handy link for more information on The Beatles too. They’ve literally thought of everything. As they’ve got Ringo on them, careful you don’t start walking out of time.
Buzzfeed – the Sunday afternoon repeats of the internet – have seemingly stumbled across some Bitterwallet japery. If you look for PC World on Google, the official tile shows this as the companies logo.
And if you hover over the image, what will you see?
There it is. Our name.
You can try it for yourself as, at the time of publication, Google or PC World haven’t actually managed to remove it or correct the error.
We’re puerile enough to be thrilled by this and we’re happy that someone has finally managed to find our little Easter Egg.
The brand mark, entitled Reebok Delta, aims to reflect the company’s new ‘singular focus on fitness’
It’s already being used online, and will be applied to all the brand’s clothing and footwear based in training, running, outdoor, yoga and aerobics
Apparently, adding the Delta symbol represents “the positive and transformative change that fitness can have on a person’s life”, according to Reebok, and the three arms that form the triangular device relate to the physical, mental and social changes that fitness inspires in people. Of course they do.
Matt O’Toole, Reebok chief marketing officer, says, “The new brand mark signals a clear purpose for our brand and it will be a badge for those who pursue a fuller life through fitness.”
“It is our symbol of change – an invitation to take part, and to unlock your true potential. It’s not a logo, it’s a symbol…a way of life.”
TRAINERS WITH A TRIANGLE ON – A WAY OF LIFE.
We’ve already had Jamie and his empire of Italian chain restaurants that charge £15 for an underwhelming bowl of pasta. But who is the next sweaty, corpulent and bad tempered chef to gain UK wide domination?
Step forward Gallic bad boy and uber-wanker Marco Pierre-White, who has put down his beefy stock cube for five minutes and signed a deal to roll out 50 new restaurants in his name across Britain in the next five years.
The deal is with a hotel development company, and will incorporate his two brands – Marco-Pierre White’s Steakhouse Bar and Grill and Marco’s New York Italian restaurant. The latest will be in the Indigo Hotel in Manchester, which will open next year. There are already three successful restaurants in Birmingham, Liverpool and Newcastle, and he plans to spread like a culinary PAN-demic around other major cities very soon.
The depressing onslaught of the celebrity chef continues unabated, and their cache means they can charge £60 a head for food that couldn’t give the Berni Inn a run for its money. And the chef with the name above the door (and on the walls, and on the menu) is invariably conspicuously absent.
But will this be different? Well. Jay Rayner, food critic of the Observer, visited White’s Steakhouse in London and said ‘everything we ate was awful in that “someone must be punished” sort of way’.
All the cars have been learning their routines for the annual vehicle pageant, the Car of the Year awards. They have their little dance routines and speeches sorted and, triumphant, Peugeot’s 308 saw off the competition and is now the best car in the world. Not bad for a little hatchback.
Irritatingly, the Peugeot scored 307 points (they really should’ve added an extra point on) versus the second-placed BMW battery-electric i3, which got itself 223 points. They were followed by the battery-electric Tesla Model S (216 points) and the Citroën Picasso (182 points).
The points were awarded by a panel of 58 Car of the Year judges across 22 European countries.
“We feel this vindicates our radical choices made with the 308,” said Maxime Picat, Peugeot chief executive. “Also it was the company’s attempt to improve quality beyond anything that went before that was one of the key reasons the 308 has won this award.”
This is good news for the company, as PSA Peugeot Citroën haven’t been doing too well recently, having to get bailed out by the French Government and the Chinese manufacturer Dongfeng Motors. Each of them will be putting £660 million into PSA Peugeot Citroën in return for a stake in the company.
Either way, if you’re looking for a new car, it is obvious that you should check out the 308. Be warned though, the dashboard layout isn’t for everyone and the steering wheel is tiny, like it is designed for a child. However, there’s a load of people who love the new design, so there you go.
Before you book your summer holiday, it might be a good idea to acquaint yourself with the latest online travel scams – of which there are many.
According to a new report from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, travel-related internet scams are diddling customers out of about £7 million a year, and last year there were 5000 reported cases of holiday fraud.
So what should we be looking out for? Well, fake ads for apartments and villas are very popular amongst Internet fraudsters. 3 out of 10 victims fell for imaginary accommodation advertised on Facebook, so before you get the credit card out, it’s a good idea to check that your dream destination actually exists, and isn’t just a stock photo of some random guy’s house in Tenerife.
21% of cases involve people falling for airline ticket fraud, where people pay for tickets in advance, with the promise of a booking, and the booking is never made. And because these ‘companies’ rely on paperless ticketing, fraud is rife – particularly on flights to Africa.
The solution? Check, check and double check. ABTA says you should do a thorough background check of any holiday company before you book, and read all customer reviews in case there are any grievances or evidence that other victims that have been scammed.
Anyway. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
Privilege checkers are always asking celebs and politicians about the price of a pint of milk. But now there’s an easy answer, thanks to Tesco, who have sparked a price war over the white stuff by charging just £1 for four pints.
Tesco has undercut its rivals Morrisons and Sainsbury’s by 39p – and they’re using milk as a weapon in the latest bid to compete with their budget rivals. Asda already sell four pints for a quid, but this is the first part of Tesco’s concerted effort to win back customers and offer them cheaper deals.
CEO Phillip Clarke admitted that Tesco had ballsed up by not helping customers enough during troubled times. He said: ‘Businesses which don’t change with the times don’t succeed and we did not change enough, not enough for our customers. But now we have changed.’
They’re claiming that their price cuts, which come with the not-very-catchy slogan ‘Prices Down and Staying Down’ could save customers £100 a year. They’ve also slashed prices on onions, carrots and other everyday fruit and veg.
But the National Farmers Union are furious, claiming that Tesco is ‘devaluing milk’ and causing problems for already cash-strapped dairy farmers. They called on the other major supermarkets not to follow Tesco’s lead.
Still, in the meantime, knock yourself out. Go mad for the milk. Have a bath in it, wash your hair with it, have cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner! It’s cheaper than water! (almost).
Frozen food giant Birds Eye is launching a new branding and packaging as part of a £60 million Europe-wide relaunch.
They’ve ditched the salty dog Captain Birdseye and his keen crew of suspiciously young seamen (which is probably wise, in this Yewtree era), although there’s no word on whether that polar bear character has been given his P-45 yet.
The campaign, called The Food of Life, aims to ‘champion real food and the way real people eat and interact at meal times’. Shall we have a look at it?
Birds Eye are also trebling their digital spend, and increasing its presence on social media. Overall, the company should be spending approximately £16m in 2014 alone.
That means you’ll be hounded by them, day and night, like a seafarer who can’t unsee the terrors of the ocean.