Deathwatch: Crocs (Hurrah!)

July 23rd, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

crocs 300x137 Deathwatch: Crocs (Hurrah!)Crocs, the ghastly footwear, are in crisis.

Once upon a time, back in the last decade, Crocs became a thing, as the comfy waterproof clog-styled footwear-eyesores were bloody everywhere.

Today, they are looking at laying off 180 staff and closing 100 stores worldwide.

And no wonder. Look at them. Completely vile.

The company’s profits slumped more than 40% last year, with outlets in America and Asia noticing a big slump, whereas over in Europe there’s been a mild growth.

The company plans to simplify its range to save $10 million, although one would motion that they could simplify it easily enough by destroying every trace of Crocs in the universe.

Six months ago, Blackstone, the private equity firm, invested £117m in a 13.5% stake in the company, which has about 600 stores around the world, including three in the UK. They won’t be happy.

Andrew Rees, the Croc president, said: ”We have a clear, well-defined strategy for addressing these issues and improving performance. Work is under way already to drive significant change throughout our company.”

Originally conceived as a sort-of boat shoe, Crocs came to attention when the likes of Jack Nicholson and George Bush started hoofing about in a pair.

By 2009, profits took a dive, as everyone saw sense and went “URGH GET THEM AWAY FROM ME”.

Aldi is COMING

July 22nd, 2014 3 Comments By Lucy Sweet

aldi logo 252x300 Aldi is COMING First it was Lidl. Now Aldi are looking to expand in the UK and blitzkrieg the supermarket scene like a giant budget zeppelin.

Tesco, who are currently crying into a bag of their ill-fated own brand salt and vinegar doughnuts, will be quaking at the news that the German brand is planning a £600m expansion. It’s planning to open 60 new stores and a massive distribution centre in the Venice of the North – Barnsley – and it’s also making in-roads into city centre convenience stores.

This is Aldi’s biggest investment in the UK to date, and will double its workforce to 24,000.

Unlike Tesco, confidence is running high at Aldi, and they’re expected to announce a profit jump of 25% when it releases its figures in September.

Managing Director Roman Heini said that Aldi’s business model was simple and that gave them a chance to be close to the market. ‘I’m glad we don’t have huge complex beasts with online, banking and huge ranges.’

(He means Tesco).

Joint managing director Matthew Barnes added, rather evilly: ‘We have been happy for our growth to be below the radar. We are even more happy if the other grocers are not worried about us.’

(That means they’re going to ATTACK Tesco with cheapness).

Be afraid, retailers. Be very afraid.

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Facebook introduces another featured to the clutterThe hilariously convoluted social network, Facebook, is adding yet more features to the already bewildering array of things you can do. You won’t do them of course, but the options is now there, which means someone at FB HQ can feel like they’ve done some work.

Facebook have said that they’ve been listening (oh, we know that – what type of listening though? The one where you listen to an answer, or the one where you listen-in?) and some users have complained that there’s just not enough time to see all the stuff that gets thrown at your feed.

Of course, the real issue is your wall is filled with stuff that Facebook deem important, not you. That’s why loads of pages you’ve liked by magazines, business and whatnot, don’t appear on your timeline any more. It isn’t a case of not having time, but rather, being restricted access.

Either way, ignoring all that, Facebook have basically come up with an option to save articles so you can read them later. Daniel Giambalvo of Facebook said: ”Every day, people find all sorts of interesting items on Facebook that they don’t have time to explore right away.”

“Now you can save items that you find on Facebook to check out later when you have more time. You can save items like links, places, movies, TV and music. Only you can see the items you save unless you choose to share them with friends.”

So basically, there’s going to be a drop-down menu with an additional option in it. It will get stored and you’ll be given reminders from Facebook telling you that you’ve got unfinished admin. This is in addition to Facebook adding a ‘buy’ button to the network.

This new feature will be rolled out over the next couple of days.

What is the Royal Mail for?

July 22nd, 2014 5 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Royal Mail What is the Royal Mail for?Once upon a time, we couldn’t manage without the Royal Mail. Then, everyone started using emails as their primary channel for correspondence, but at least the post was still needed for parcels – you can’t email a huge box full of stuff.

However, the Royal Mail didn’t bet on growing competition for parcel delivery and now they’re warning everyone about a hit to their revenue expectations, like anyone is supposed to care.

It looks like the Royal Mail’s post offices are the only useful thing left, if you see any inherent value of owning a load of buildings that old people can queue up in while moaning to each other.

UK Parcels revenue fell 1%, invariably down to the old-fashioned thinking that the Royal Mail still employ – their rivals, collectively, offer far more flexibility. So now, they have said they’ll now have to control their costs and rely on money generated by letters sales to meet their full-year expectations. That probably means that they’ll stick the price of stamps up again as letter volumes declined by 3%.

Chief executive Moya Greene said: “In the first three months of our financial year we have delivered low single digit revenue growth in line with our strategy. Trading has been characterised by a good performance in letters, with the decline in addressed letter volumes better than our expected range, but a weaker than expected performance in UK parcels, largely driven by the intensifying competitive environment in the account, consumer/SME and export channels.”

“On costs, performance is better than expected. Given the increasing challenges we are facing in the UK parcels market, our parcels revenue for the year is likely to be lower than we had anticipated.

“However, through cost control measures and with continued good letters performance we expect to be able to offset the impact on profit such that our overall performance would remain in line with our expectations for the full year.

“Our parcels revenue will be dependent on our performance in the second half, which includes the Christmas trading period, and on no further weakening in our addressable UK parcels market.”

There’s going to be a lot of reviews into the Royal Mail by the Government, with particular interest in the ways state assets are sold, thanks to taxpayers getting stitched-up on the sale of the Royal Mail.

If it offers no value for money, and the only way they can make money is via letters which are in decline, and we’re all utilising other parcel couriers, the question remains – what is the Royal Mail for?

pop up 300x300 Pop up shops arent just annoying    theyre also worth £2.1bn The phrase ‘pop up’ surely has to be one of the most odious in recent memory, along with ‘heads up’ and ‘totes.’

But it turns out that rather than just being a trendy, half-arsed conceit pedalled by drinks brands, vintage stores and other self consciously hip companies, pop up shops are actually making money for the economy: £2.1bn, in fact.

Pop up shops are the children of the recession – temporary stores in empty properties or in town centres where rents are too high to sustain them – so it’s no surprise that they’re flourishing.

But a recent study by EE suggests they’re an economic force to be reckoned with. There are 9400 pop up shops in the UK, which employ 23,400 people – and they’re likely to grow by 8.4% in the coming year.

We’re spending money in them, too. The report predicts that the average customer spend will grow from £110 to £120 next year.

Mike Tomlinson from EE says that pop up shops are a ‘breath of fresh air’ and ‘truly embody the entrepreneurial nature of the UK.’

So think about that next time you’re in that shady branch of American Sweets, looking at a dusty box of Lucky Charms and wondering whether it’s all a front for money laundering.

white ps4 playstation 300x168 Why are we paying more for computers and TVs than Americans? WAIT A MINUTE. We good citizens of Blighty are paying a ton more for electrical products like laptops, games consoles and tellies than Americans – sometimes up to £402.

Which!!! pitted US prices against UK prices on 13 products, including TVs, games consoles, headphones and even computer software, and found that UK customers are getting the less fragrant end of the stick.

One Samsung TV was £402 more expensive in Britain, while a Macbook Pro 13 inch laptop was £194 more. Meanwhile, Xbox Ones and Playstation 4 cost £57 more than in the US. Software is also astronomical – Adobe Creative Cloud costs £114, and Microsoft Office is £89 more. And the list goes on…

Why? Well it’s not particularly clear. Which! attempted to contact a variety of companies to ask why Britain was paying over the odds and got nothing but mumbles, bumbles and fumbles. Most didn’t bother to reply, and Amazon said something incoherent about ‘different operating costs in each country.’

WTF, Richard Lloyd from Which!!!: “UK consumers are getting a raw deal by paying up to hundreds of pounds more for the same tech products on sale in the US.’ Manufacturers should play fair and explain why consumers are paying more for buying in the UK.”

Damn right.

Atari: Doing it for the gays

July 22nd, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

Atari are launching a new game aimed at the gays.

After a variety of complaints that some computer games are a bit too heterosexual, Atari have come up with a LGBT-friendly title for iOS and Android called Pridefest.

pridefest 500x291 Atari: Doing it for the gays

The game is a social sim that invites players to create their own pride parade in a city of their choosing.

Currently in development for tablets and smartphones, the mobile game involves designing parades with “attractions and entertainment” in order to increase the happiness of a town. How jolly!

No doubt you could fill it with leathermen singing Male Stripper and your community will benefit greatly from it. Although one imagine it could bring the overall vibe down if you choose Sinitta to headline your Pride, like London did. That sort of madness leads to self-harm.

Players will be faced with a series of puzzles and challenges as they aim to unlock new decorations and festival supplies in order to increase the vibrancy of their respective parade.

Atari CEO, the humourously named Todd Shallbetter said: “We are excited to be developing Atari’s first LGBT-themed game that will give players of all backgrounds the chance to play a fun and unique game that represents a passionate cause.”

This move marks an interesting new direction for the beleageured Atari.

The company responsible for classic titles such as Pong and Centipede filed for bankruptcy protection in 2013, and then took to specialising in social casino sims and various mobile games thereafter.

Now, like everything else, it’s relying on the gays to help ‘em out.

Deals of the Day: Tuesday 22nd July 2014

July 22nd, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

mario 3d tanooki 229x300 Deals of the Day: Tuesday 22nd July 2014It is holiday season, which means that you might be in the market for a handheld gaming console, so you can go to somewhere filled with culture and lovely weather, and ignore it all by staying in an airless hotel and swearing at a tricky platform game. Who needs outside, anyway?

So with that, we’ve spied a deal where you can land yourself a Nintendo 2DS and 4GB Card for £69 with code (possibly going for £64 or you can use ClubCard boost) at Tesco! The 2DS is a streamlined version of the 3DS and will play games for the 3DS, as well as being backward compatible for DS games. Bonzer! Get on that here.

EVEN MORE DEALS!

Breaking Bad complete series on Blu Ray for £61.80
Killzone: Shadow Fall PS4 (Preowned) £7.99 online (£8 Instore) @ Grainger Games
LG G2 £275 inc delivery @ Amazon
Fast and Furious 1-6 Blu Ray + UV box set only £17.50 @Amazon
Dell Inspiron 15 Now just £166.47 Delivered
Planet of the Apes: 40-Year Evolution (5 Movie Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Boxset) £12.49 delivered
Piranha Trading UK Black, White, Beech, Walnut and Maple Computer Desks for £48.95
Watch Dogs (PS4/Xbox One) £29.99 Delivered
Hisense Sero 8 Quad Core Tablet – IPS, 1gb ram, 16gb flash, Kitkat 4.4 – £79.99 delivered
6 pre-owned Blu-rays for £10 – loads of good titles
Free Lego movie DVD for new topcashback members

FOR THOUSANDS OF DAILY DEALS, VISIT HUKD!

Stop being bad! says the internet

July 22nd, 2014 3 Comments By Ian Wade

illegal downloading 269x300 Stop being bad! says the internetThem people who constantly download and share pirated content will start receiving warning letters from their internet service providers from next year.

Anyone whose connections are believed to have been used to hawk copyrighted material, could receive up to four letters a year, although there are no sanctions as yet for those who continue to ignore the warnings.

The aim of the letters is to boost consumer awareness of the wide array of legitimate online content services and help reduce online copyright infringement, or in other words, stop people nicking stuff.

The warning system, known as the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP), is the result of years of negotiations between ISPs and industry bodies representing the UK’s creative industries, including the Motion Picture Association (MPA) and the BPI (British Recorded Music Industry).

There had been the original enforcement regime, which was outlined in the Digital Economy Act, which was rushed through parliament under the previous Labour government in 2010.

That Act called for an escalating series of sanctions on persistent file-sharers, starting with sending letters to illegal downloaders and culminating in slowing down the connection speed of offenders or temporarily suspending their connections.

Yet no one really gave much of monkeys, as it was heavily opposed by ISPs, who argued that the anti-piracy measures were inconsistent with European law and would breach the privacy of their customers, as well as driving up costs for providers and consumers.

The consortium of companies that make up Creative Content UK, said it will play an important role in educating consumers about the huge range of entertainment content that is available from legal and licensed sources.

It will also operate within the wider context of programmes aimed at combating copyright infringement, such as the blocking of illegal sites and working with advertisers and payment processors to cut off revenues to such sites.

Let’s tolerate some words from Business Secretary Vince Cable: “The creative industries in the UK are one of our brilliant global success stories. Yet too often that content is open to abuse by some who don’t play by the rules.”

“That is why we are working with industry to ensure that intellectual property rights are understood and respected. Education is at the heart of this drive so people understand that piracy isn’t a victimless crime – but actually causes business to fail, harms the industry and costs jobs.”

Everyone involved seems quite into it, as Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI described it as “a real step forward for digital entertainment in the UK”, and Dido Harding, chief executive of TalkTalk, said it would help consumers “make the right choices about how they access content”.

Figures published by communications watchdog Ofcom last year revealed that more than 1.5 billion files were downloaded illegally in the UK in 2012, accounting for almost a quarter (22 per cent) of all content consumed online.

Only a quarter of the people who consumed the most illegal content said they would stop if they thought they might be sued, according to Ofcom, and one in five said they would stop if they received a letter from their ISP telling them that their account had been used for copyright infringement.

Although one would imagine you’d have to shifting some serious amounts of unpaid-for and effectively stolen goods for the ISPs to take notice.

Four strikes and you’re… well… nothing will happen.

EE apologise for being annoying

July 22nd, 2014 3 Comments By Ian Wade

zzzw EE apologise for being annoyingEE has apologised after it hassled customers with texts over the weekend.

How much hassle? One user complained of receiving more than 90 marketing messages from Orange, one of EE’s brands, in a four-day period.

Well EE have certainly done themselves no favours in the past, and this latest wheeze looks like seeing off what customers they had left.

These text messages were reminders that the customers were eligible to add to their plans numbers that they can call for free, and the usual old toss that corporate text messaging throws out.

Naturally, customers took to social media and had a good moan about it.

The messages read: “Hi from Orange. Congratulations: you can now add another Magic Number.” It included a link customers could follow to do so.

Trying gamely to underestimate the levity of this shitstorm, a member of EE’s community team named as Miles wrote on Sunday that the firm was “having an issue” with the text message service.

“This reminder should only be sent once, but some customers are getting multiple reminders. If you’ve received any of these duplicate messages, please accept our apologies for any inconvenience. Remember: you’re not charged to receive magic number reminders.”

Is this the final straw for you, remaining EE customers? You better answer quickly or you’ll get asked the same question 90 times.

FIFA 15 to have ‘emotional intelligence’

July 21st, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

Gamers are getting excited for EA Sports’ new trailers for the forthcoming FIFA 15.

Of course, people who don’t like the FIFA franchise can’t fathom why it stays so popular. The simple answer is NEW KITS. Such is the life of a football fan.

Naturally, there are gaming developments, most of which are too boring to relay here. However, there’s one new feature which is exciting – ‘emotional intelligence’.

Basically, FIFA 15 is going to put more focus on the players and fans emotions, so playing feels more like you’re at the ground or watching it on telly.

The video below shows commentators reacting to what the fans do, while players learn to encourage each other or, even better, learn to develop frustrations and hatred. Splendid.

FIFA 15 is scheduled for release across all formats in September, just in-time to make a Christmas No.1 bid.

uk coins Consumers more concerned with corporate tax avoidance than ethical issuesWhen you are selecting a product, what criteria do you use to choose one product over another? Leaving personal preference aside, things like price and quality are front runners. But then what? After sustained campaigns by organisations such as Tax Research UK or Ethical Consumer, the importance of corporate tax avoidance on purchasing decisions may just surprise you.

New research by YouGov for KPMG’s newly launched Consumer Insights Panel suggests that corporate tax avoidance is more important to consumers in their buying decisions than other ethical considerations, like treatment of suppliers and staff.

The survey of 2,000 people found that although price (52%) and quality (39%) were top determining factors, one in four (25%) cited corporate tax avoidance activities as something they would take into consideration when selecting brands and products. This means that a company’s attitude towards paying tax therefore holds greater sway than treating suppliers (18%) and staff (17%) fairly, environmental impact (15%) and charitable giving (2%) in the eyes of consumers.

While this is bad news for tax avoidance offenders- the most high profile of whom, such as Starbucks and Amazon, have suffered boycotting campaigns, others like John Lewis have been using their tax-paying status as a marketing tool. And it seems to be working. However, consumers sometimes feel their right to choose is being impeded by their lack of knowledge. Half of respondents said they wanted greater transparency over which multinational company owned which brand names, to help them choose the most tax-ethical brands.

Liz Claydon, head of consumer markets at KPMG said “In the past, one of the reasons that companies haven’t been transparent about corporate branding is that the link can potentially be seen to be damaging.” However, she added that “most big multinational companies now absolutely want to link their products to their corporate brand.” Presumably, however, she means the ones who aren’t avoiding all their UK corporation tax…

Ditch the wheatgrass smoothies and save £440

July 21st, 2014 1 Comment By Lucy Sweet

Wheatgrass 250x250 Ditch the wheatgrass smoothies and save £440 Crazy people who believe in the healing power of superfoods are spending far too much on their health fix, says Which!!!

Instead of spunking all their hard earned wages on goji berries and wheatgrass and other dubious inedibles, our favourite consumer vanguards suggest that people should try cheaper alternatives, like kiwi fruit and sardines.

In what has to be their most niche report yet, Which!!! found that swapping blueberries for kiwis and salmon for sardines could help healthy types save £440 a year and still stay alive longer (while not having any fun.)

Lean, mean, tanned and toned Richard Lloyd from Which!!! paused his Tracy Anderson workout DVD and said:

‘You don’t need to break the bank to eat healthily. We’ve found you can swap some superfoods for cheaper alternatives and save a packet while still getting the vitamins you need.’

Thanks Richard! And now we can spend that lovely £440 on beer and pipes of Pringles.

Sainsburys now running on old shit

July 21st, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

sainsburys 300x192 Sainsburys now running on old shitA branch of Sainsburys in the West Midlands has become the first retail outlet in the UK to come away from the National Grid.

The Cannock branch of the supermarket chain is being powered by food waste alone, and is working together with recycling company Biffa on new technology, allowing them to run solely generated from anaerobic digestion.

As of today, the store will run solely from outta date food and stuff that would otherwise end up in landfill.

The supermarket has stressed that they still donate any food to charity and also animal feed and  items that simply cannot be re-sold on to the customer. Fr’instance Waste bananas from its Prescot Road store in Liverpool go to Knowsley safari park to feed the monkeys.

Sainsbury’s is already the UK’s largest retail user of anaerobic digestion, generating enough energy to power 2,500 homes each year. Food waste from the chain’s supermarkets around the UK is delivered by lorry to Biffa’s plant in Cannock, and turned into bio-methane gas which is then used to generate electricity that is directly supplied to the supermarket via a newly constructed 1.5km-long electricity cable.

This is all amazing news, although anyone fancying diving into the skips at closing may be advised to be careful and stay sharp in case they end up becoming electricity.

pensions 300x187 Osborne reveals new pension plans (not his, sadly)New rules for private pensions have been announced, allowing the retired greater freedom to fritter away their cash.

The rules were launched by Trouble-haired chancellor George Osborne, following his announcement earlier this year when he scrapped a rule forcing people to buy an annuity, and thus freaked out insurers the land over.

Osborne is keen to allow people to tap into the cash they set aside during their working life by reducing tax penalties imposed on those who withdraw their savings in a lump sum.

On Monday, the government confirmed its intention to go ahead with such plans, seen as the biggest reform of pensions in a generation, and added details to its proposals following a consultation with industry, employers and consumer groups.

Osborne said: ”It’s right to support hard working people that have taken the long-term decision to save for their future and I’m pleased that the responses we had to our proposals on making pensions more flexible have been overwhelmingly positive,”

“The government believes that the overall impact … is likely to be limited,” it said. “It is expected that there will still be a strong continuing demand for high-quality fixed-income assets, including government and corporate bonds.”

It all sounds quite good, but there are worries that the changes will allow pensioners to piss away all their savings while giddy in the first flush of freedom. Osborne, with his legendary charm, has rejected this idea.

It was all panic when Osborne first announced the shake-up earlier this year, it hit the share value of firms like Legal and General, Aviva and Standard Life who run annuities businesses. The shares have since recovered slightly, but remain below their pre-announcement levels.

The finance ministry said that after consultation, the industry estimated that only 10-20 percent of people in defined-benefit pension schemes would transfer out of them. Some pension schemes might need to hold more liquid assets as a result, however.

A summary of the consultation said the financial guidance provided to retirees would be provided independently and funded by a levy on regulated financial services firms.

All good news for anyone with a pension then. Oh.