Amazon lose nearly $500 million

October 24th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

amazoninstant Amazon lose nearly $500 millionAmazon lost nearly $500 million in the last three months. Oh no! The US company reported a loss of $437m in the three months to September, which is 10 times the $41m they reported for the same period last year.

Well that’s just careless.

Shares in the company dropped 5%. However revenues rose 20% to $20.58bn, missing market expectations of $20.85bn.

Amazon do tend to report losses, but the fall in share price could indicate investors have had it with the company’s direction.

Operating expenses went to $14.6bn from $12.4bn in the same three months of 2013, mainly due to chief executive Jeff Bezos going off shopping around, buying the likes of Netflix, Hulu and various other bits.

It’s not all gloom and doom though as it’s ‘the holiday season’ and the company expects net sales of between $27.3bn and $30.3bn for the next three months, even if it is – boohoo – down on the $30.89bn analysts had expected.

Asda face legal action for underpaying women

October 24th, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

ASDA logo Asda face legal action for underpaying womenWhile Tesco have been through the mill of late and many other supermarkets having a tough time, Asda have been fairly quiet, getting on with business.

Until now that is. The retailer is looking at huge legal action by the women who work in their stores who claim that they’ve not been paid the same as men who work in the distribution warehouses, even though their jobs are of “equivalent value”.

This case will look at how Asda decide how much they pay staff throughout the business and, if the women involved in this are successful with their claims, then the rest of the sector should start getting worried as there could be legal action against everyone else.

Over 1,000 employment tribunal claims have been submitted already and, a lot of the cases are being taken up by men who are employed by Asda as they would get a pay rise if the case is successful. Lawyers note: Asda has said it will vigorously defend itself from these claims and say that they do not discriminate.

Lauren Loughheed, the solicitor with Leigh Day who is leading the case, told the Beeb that the difference in pay could be as much as £4 an hour in difference. If the case sides with the workers, then there’s going to be some gigantic back payments.

An Asda spokesperson said: “A firm of no win, no fee lawyers are hoping to challenge our award-winning reputation as an equal opportunities employer. We do not discriminate and are very proud of our record in this area which, if it comes to it, we will robustly defend.”

Tesco’s woes are much worse than they thought

October 23rd, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

tesco extra Tescos woes are much worse than they thoughtTesco are in a much worse state than everyone initially thought. When is this all going to end? They have reported a much bigger accounting hole today after finding that the mistakes in booking income had gone back further than initially assumed. Profits have fallen by a whopping 92%!

As a result, they’ve scrapped their full-year profit outlook.

Thanks to all this, Tesco has lost 20% of their market value in the past month and naturally, the share value of the company has taken a hit too. In the first minutes of trading, shares fell by 7%.

It is all bleak news for the former godzilla of groceries as they were already under pressure from bargain retailers like Lidl and Aldi and people’s changing habits, shopping around online for the best price rather than relying on the local supermarket.

Tesco’s performance has been described as the worst performance in 40 years. Chief executive Dave Lewis, took time from screaming down his sleeve to say: ”Our business is operating in challenging times. Trading conditions are tough and our underlying profitability is under pressure.”

Only last month, when Dave Lewis took over the job, a £250m blackhole was found after the company had overstated their profits. Now it transpires that this practice goes back further than though, the figure keeps rising.

Normally, at this time of year, Tesco would be ramping up for the lucrative Christmas period, but instead, they’re calling in accountants to investigate the mess and sacking loads of senior management. It also looks like they’ll be selling off assets in a bid to get their finances looking healthy again.

We have talked about it before, but should Tesco break itself up in a bid to get back in the game?

Dyson unveil a humidifier for mad people

October 22nd, 2014 3 Comments By Ian Wade

dyson humidifier 114x300 Dyson unveil a humidifier for mad peopleDyson have unveiled a humidifier!

The until-now-quite-hoovery Dyson has launched the HumiMain (which doesn’t sound particularly catchy, but give it time) which uses its Air Multiplier fan technology and claims to tackle health issues around dry air and bacteria.

It’s not the first time the company have used this design, as they originally brought out the bladeless Air Multiplier fan in 2009. In 2011 it updated the fan as a heater and is now launching the technology as a humidifier.

And so they should, seeing as they’ve thrown £37.5 million at the project, and went through 643 protoypes.

Apparently the humidifier uses Ultraviolet cleansing technology to kill 99.9% of bacteria used in the product’s water. Do we really want that much bacteria killing? Either way, great news for nutters out there who feel like they’re being swamped by micro-bugs.

There’s a climate control system to measure the temperature and moisture in the air, while a fancy-sounding piezoelectric transducer in the base vibrates at up to 1.7 million times a second – breaking the water down into microscopic particles which are drawn up into the loop amplifier and projected.

According to Dyson, the machine can run for up to 18 hours on a single tank of water: “It projects clean, hydrated air around the room evenly and quietly. Helping you keep healthy in the winter, and doubling up as a fan to keep you cool in the summer.”

It’s being launched in Japan first, as they have a culture of humidifiers, and will be launched in the UK next March. Perfect for summer, if you’re a lunatic.

Homebase: creeping toward demise

October 22nd, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

HOMEBASE LOGO 300x300 Homebase: creeping toward demiseHomebase have been in grotty shape for a while now and the company that owns it - Home Retail Group – have decided to accelerate the number of stores being closed following a review.

By 2019, 323 outlets of Homebase will be shut down because they are “unprofitable or are in decline”.

The review of Homebase noted “inconsistent store operating standards” and level of sales across the chain that resulted in a “challenged financial model”.

In plain English, that means they’re rubbish and they’re going to get rid.

That’s not to say all the Homebase shops will be vanishing (although, this is edging toward a Deathwatch) as there are plans to reorganise the remaining stores with 26 Homebases getting a refit.

Tellingly, the Home Retail Group does not plan to refit all of its stores. Looks like the pressure is on for those getting a facelift because, if they don’t work, then Homebase may well get binned off forever.

In a bid to get people into Homebases, the company will put a load of Argos and Habitat concessions within them.

online shopping Shops still play part in online shopping solutionsShoppers still prefer to have a gander at goods in real shops before purchasing them online, a new survey has said.

According to findings, 65% of shoppers prefer to check out a thing in a shop before pressing ‘buy’ online.

The report by Geometry Global, called The Connected Shopper study, interviewed 9,486 people across 12 countries, and found there is a continued reliance on physical stores with 88% of shoppers who visit a physical store first citing seeing the product in real life as the primary reason for visiting.

Of the 12 countries studied, China topped the list in number of online purchases (5.88) with European countries trailing significantly; the countries making the least purchases online were France (2.40) and Spain (2.17).

Checking prices (65%) is the second reason why shoppers visit physical stores.

Actual online shopping only grew by 5% in 2011 to 7% in 2014. Which isn’t all that really.

The elegantly named Cesar Montes, EMEA CSO of Geometry Global, said: “Our findings confirm that we haven’t yet witnessed the complete online shopping revolution some had predicted. There are a number of reasons for this: the high street still occupies a central and vital function in the consumer’s journey to purchase.

“In addition, there remain a number of obstacles to consumers fully accepting online shopping, such as security concerns, payment methods and unwillingness to engage with brands via social media.”

The study also noticed that 63% of users really are not going to ‘friend’ brands online. So stop trying to engage, you big bad corporates. However 70% liked ads tailored to them. Little wonder when some companies deliveries are so poor.

Frozen food is uncool say the young

October 21st, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Frosty Freezer 300x225 Frozen food is uncool say the youngYoung people don’t dig frozen food.

Or so that’s what a new survey claims, as it discovered that 18-34 year olds were twice as likely to dislike food stored in the freezer than those codgers over 35.

These fascinating findings come from IGD ShoperVista, who surveyed over 4,000 UK adults about their food storage solutions.

It transpires that many of the younger age group only used the freezer to store meat with a close use-by date and “unwanted food gifts”. Many considered food in their freezer an “insurance policy” for when no better options are available, and keep fun stuff like poppers and six-box of Magnums in their freezer instead.

Despite not being fans of frozen food, a quarter of 18-34-year-olds feel they have insufficient room in the freezer. Only 14% of over-35s also felt this to be an issue. Over half of those questioned in both age groups, said that they used their freezer for frozen food rather than freezing home cooked leftovers.

Yet it seems for the younger group, which represented only those who live away from home and do not have children, whatever is in their freezer is gash. Also: defrosting is a bit of a drag.

It all may sound a bit bleedin’ pointless, but this information comes as part of the IGD’s ‘Working On Waste’ campaign, which is trying to tackle these issues and change modern attitudes to leftovers and leaving something in the freezer for the best part of five years.

IGD chief executive, Joanne Denney-Finch says: “In its first year, Working on Waste will reach around 650,000 employees in one month through meal planning advice, top tips, what to do with leftovers and much more,”

“As an industry, we employ 3.6 million people and it is these employees that will form the bedrock of our campaign, taking learnings from their company into their households. A lot of progress has been made already by companies across the industry to help consumers reduce household food waste. However, seven million tonnes of food and drink is still being thrown away by UK homes every year.”

Tesco sales falling at fastest rate in groceries

October 21st, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

tesco 300x210 Tesco sales falling at fastest rate in groceriesThe trouble at Tesco simply won’t go away, with reports that the retailers sales are falling at the quickest rate in the grocery industry. As we all know, Aldi and Lidl’s successes are taking a huge toll on the supermarket.

Tesco sales fell by 3.6% in the 12 weeks to October 12th, reducing their market share from 30.1% a year ago to 28.8%, according to Kantar Worldpanel. It might not seem like a lot from the outside, but in the industry, this is bleak news. Or great news if you’re a rival.

 

In simple terms, to turn this around, analysts at HSBC reckon that it will cost Tesco £3bn to get things sorted in the UK. The good news for customers is that this should mean a drop in prices on goods by 5 or 6%. It would also mean 20% more staff and an improvement in the quality of their food.

Sainsbury’s are struggling too, with their sales down by 3.1% in 12 weeks, with Morrisons’ sales down by 1.8%. Asda, who have been quietly getting on with business as usual of late, have seen their sales increase by 1%. These figures are all knocked into a cocked-hat though, as Aldi’s sales have shot up by 27.3% and Lidl’s by 18.1%.

According to a detailed new survey of shoppers, Tesco’s brand in the UK is “severely compromised” thanks to a general and widespread disillusionment from customers with Tesco’s service. Research from the firm Lazarus shows that Tesco currently have the lowest overall customer satisfaction metrics in the grocery industry. As a brand, it has been labelled as “tarnished”.

Who are the worst at delivering parcels?

October 21st, 2014 7 Comments By Mof Gimmers

parcel delivery Who are the worst at delivering parcels?Many consumers have had bother when receiving their online deliveries. Parcels can be late, go missing entirely, contain damaged goods or in some cases, thrown on a roof for you to fetch.

According to Which!!!, 60% of us prefer to shop online for the convenience, even though 26% of us have had trouble with the delivery process. Seems like a gamble we’re willing to take because we’re all fantastically bone idle.

The biggest problem is late deliveries and not being able to choose a delivery time.

However, not all companies are bad. Some are in fact, rather good. According to a Which!!! poll, the best in the business are WexPhotographic.com, JohnLewis.com, LizEarle.com and RicherSounds.com.

Which!!!’s Richard Lloyd, said: “One of the attractions of shopping online is the convenience of having your items delivered but we’ve found the experience can be anything but convenient. We want shops to do more to ensure that the service is first class, first time. Retailers need to respond to consumers’ demands and stamp out dodgy deliveries.”

So with that, let us look at the best and worst companies when it comes to delivering your purchases.

Ten Best Online Shops

1. WexPhotographic.com
2. JohnLewis.com
3. LizEarle.com
=RicherSounds.com
5. AO.com
=Lakeland.co.uk
=Toolstation.com
8. ChainReactionCycles.com
=Coopelectricalshop.co.uk
10. AbeBooks.co.uk
=Screwfix.com
=Wiggle.co.uk

The Worst Online Shops

90. Shop.BT.com (BT Shop )
= Halfords.com
= Isme.com
93. ToysRUs.co.uk
94. HMV.com
95. PCWorld.co.uk
= TomTom.com
97. Homebase.co.uk
98. WHSmith.co.uk
99. DIY.com (B&Q)

Tesco misled auditors to inflate results

October 20th, 2014 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

tesco bag 300x187 Tesco misled auditors to inflate resultsEveryone is still laughing at Tesco as their woes continue apace. The latest is that, according to leaks, investigators from Deloitte and Freshfields have discovered that a number of execs at the supermarket deliberately misled auditors and accountants to try and hide their dismal financial results.

This is all revolving around the £250m accounting scandal and various sackings that Tesco have found themselves lumbered with.

So what’s the skinny? Well, it is thought that Tesco booked supplier payments that were reliant on condition of them hitting sales targets – ones that they were never, ever going to meet. It seems like this practice has been going on for a while, but were increased just before Tesco’s spectacular slump.

To make things worse, it looks like Tesco’s South Korean wing has been selling the personal data of more than five million customers to insurance companies, which is likely to end in prosecution. Things are so toxic in that area that Tesco’s Asian operations could be sold off. However, that can’t happen while there’s an investigation going on.

As a result, Tesco’s share price has fallen by 48% since the start of 2014.

Tesco are a complete shambles at the minute, but it is very, very difficult to feel sorry for them after they aggressively muscled out countless independent retailers out of the market over the years. So, in short – Haw Haw!

Iceland unveil the £5 lobster

October 20th, 2014 4 Comments By Ian Wade

lobster Iceland unveil the £5 lobsterPeter Andre isn’t the only orangey red thing Iceland are throwing at you this season.

The frozen food giant is going to offering a cooked whole lobster for a fiver as part of the Christmas line-up.

Coming ‘atcha from November 5th, it’s the first time the prawn-ring and 89p pizza vendor has offered whole lobster.

Lobster has been on sale in the past at Waitrose (for a sinister £6.66), Tesco and Ocado, but this is the cheapest the high street has seen.

Iceland will also be offering what it reckons is the “best value turkey dinner in Britain”, whose chief component is a turkey crown for 12 priced at £14.

Iceland proudly claim a family of eight could buy a full turkey dinner, with starter and pudding, for £29.39, or £3.67 per head.

Iceland themselves aren’t doing too badly either, seeing as they’ve essentially been doing the cost-cutting thing for years, that Aldi and Lidl are now being praised for. Hurrah!

WH Smith to launch card shop

October 17th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

whsmith WH Smith to launch card shopWH Smith are going to experiment with a new high street format!

The high street stationer, who somewhat astonishingly managed to post a 9% rise in their annual profits despite seeming like a half empty shell of itself flogging dead media and £1 Whole Nuts, is looking into starting a number of greetings cards affairs called Cardmarket.

WH Smith have 725 travel stores and a further 604 on the high street, seem to think that starting up a card shop is the way ahead. They must be making a pretty penny with their funkypigeon.com business wing, eh?

The company, as a whole, chorused: “In contrast to our existing greeting cards offer, which is at the premium end of the market, these stores will provide customers with a value-based proposition in this growing part of the market. The trial will be in relatively low rent, short term leases in non-prime pitch locations.”

The end of that quote is a completely unsexy amalgamation of words isn’t it?

Like-for-like sales in both parts of the group have been consistently negative since 2005 but the retailer’s policy of focusing instead on margins is admired by City analysts.

So yes, those sleeping giants that you think are just cathedrals of magazines for tramps to flick through, are actually going okay thanks.

Sugar Puffs RIP

October 17th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Sugar Puffs RIP. That’s right - Sugar Puffs have been modified to have less sugar and – oh God – are being renamed. Are Mumsnet behind this? This reeks of people complaining about the word ‘sugar’ on a children’s breakfast.

The legendary treat will now be called Honey Monster Puffs. Look at the state of them.

honey monster Sugar Puffs RIP

The new look puffs will feature a revised recipe with less sugar and 20% more honey, and also features traffic light nutritional labelling on front of pack, which no-one will read. And besides, isn’t honey the same thing as sugar?

The puffs’ owners, Halo, said it was taking a “responsible and transparent” approach to nutrition and wanted to help consumers make informed decisions. Honey Monster Puffs contain 8.6g of sugar in a 30g portion – down from the 9.3g of the previous recipe – which is less than Krave (9g), Coco Pops (11g) and Frosties (11g).

Halo said the sugar content of the brand had been reduced by almost 40% in the past decade. That’s no fun is it? Some things are great purely because they’re really, really bad for you. Anyway, this is all part of a relaunch for the cereal, which has gradually been crashing saleswise over the last few years.

“We feel the product ­relaunch, coupled with our move to bring the product name in line with the Honey Monster character, can help grow our share of the cereals category,” said Halo Foods marketing director Andy Valentine.

The Honey Monster will be back, as he’s the dude on the packaging, and as is always the way these days, they’re hoping to ‘tap into nostalgia of the brand’. Jeez.

A key element of the marketing will be encouraging children to get outside and be active, and allowing them to be au fait with a big yellow monster coming in to nick their breakfast, who has urine that smells exactly like the cereal he’s promoting.

converse Converse to sue everyone for ripping off Chuck TaylorsConverse’s ‘Chuck Taylor’ trainers have been worn by pretty much everyone in rock ‘n’ roll and as a result, are one of the most iconic trainer designs in the world.

With that, just about everyone has ripped them off. Walk into any high street clothes vendor and chances are, they’ll have their own non-branded range of ‘Chucks’.

And Converse are suddenly very unhappy about it.

They’re so unhappy that they’re going to sue a whole load of people, including Ralph Lauren, K Mart and Wal-Mart for infringing their design. Seeing as Converse first released the shoes in 1917, they’ve certainly taken their time in doing something about it.

The company’s chief exec Jim Calhoun said he’s got no objection to fair competition, but, “we do not believe companies have a right to copy the Chuck’s trademarked look.” The company have sent 180 legal cease and desist notices to protect their brand.

Basically, Converse are protecting the design of the rubber toe cap and the stripes that appear on the mid-sole of the trainer. The cease and desist letters, thus far, are being ignored by other companies.

Same-day delivery Amazon is now a thing

October 15th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

Screen shot 2010 12 22 at 15.03.25 Same day delivery Amazon is now a thingAs of today, customers ordering stuff from Amazon will be able to get it the same day.

In its boldest impression of ‘a shop’ yet, you’ll be able to purchase online before 11.45am and then collect at one of the company’s 500 collection points.

Also, as part of its ‘Pick-up Location’ programme Amazon also said that users will be able to order by 7.45pm to pick up from 6.30am the following day. It will initially be free to members of Amazon’s £79 per year Prime premium service and £4.99 per delivery for non-members.

Amazon reckons that this drives people back to high streets where they spend more money in other shops. Usually a few bob in Poundland and some slap-up sausage rolls from Greggs.

Chris North, managing director of Amazon.co.uk said “We know that customers want a variety of different delivery options and many are choosing collection from pick-up locations as their preferred delivery method. You can certainly expect us to continue to add more and more pick up locations to the thousands already in existence.”

“We know that Prime customers love fast delivery and the convenience to pick up their order at a time and place that suits them best,” said Mr North. He claimed “This new service brings together both of those great benefits.”

Amazon reckon they now have over 6000+ pick-up points, which themselves have doubled in number in the last year.