Sunday, 20 March 2016

Sugar Tax

The government is to tax soft drink manufacturers who put large amounts of sugar in their products. The UK loves soft drinks. Altogether people got through 14.8 billion litres last year, or 232.9 litres each. In response to growing concern over obesity, Chancellor George Osborne is imposing a levy on soft drinks with more than 5g of sugar per 100ml. There's a higher rate for those with more than 8g per 100ml. Fruit juice and milk-based drinks are exempt. The Office for Budgetary Responsibility suggests the levy will add 18p or 24p per litre, or about 6p or 8p to a standard 330ml can. The sugar tax will be levied from 2018, which the government says will give manufacturers time to change their products.

Sainsbury's Bids for Argos

Supermarket chain Sainsbury's has made a formal £1.4bn bid for Argos owner Home Retail Group (HRG). In a statement, Sainsbury's chairman David Tyler said: "The UK grocery retail industry is undergoing a period of intense change in customer shopping behaviour and in the competitive environment.  "This combination with HRG presents an opportunity to accelerate our strategy, delivering compelling revenue and cost synergies."We will create a multi-product, multi-channel proposition with fast delivery networks that we believe will be very attractive to the customers of both businesses." Sainsbury's cash and shares offer values HRG shares at 172.3p each.

Domino's Delivery Robot

Domino's Pizza company has unveiled plans to trial the 'world's first' driverless pizza delivery robots, named the DRU - Domino's Robotic Unit - in Australia and New Zealand. Developed in Australia, and powered by technology from the Australian start-up, Marathon Robotics, the prototype has a friendly persona and lighting to help customers identify and interact with it. The Domino's Robotic Unit is a four-wheeled vehicle standing at just under a metre high with a heated compartment that can hold up to 10 pizzas. It is battery powered, uses on-board sensors to avoid obstacles on footpaths and can make deliveries within a 20km radius of a store, before returning to recharge.  Customers are given a code when they order, which they enter onto a keypad to unlock the compartment containing their pizza.

Alton Towers Galactic


Alton Towers is to open what it claims is the world’s first rollercoaster that combines a physical ride with virtual reality, giving passengers a “customised journey into space” via headsets that use groundbreaking technology. The ride, called Galactica, will launch in April and is the first major new ride at the Staffordshire theme park since 16 people were injured, including five seriously, in a rollercoaster crash last June. On the Galactica ride, each passenger on the 840-metre long (2,760ft) track wears a virtual reality headset that creates the illusion they are flying through space, with the movements on-screen coinciding with those on the track. As part of the plan to deal with lower visitor numbers, the park’s operator, Merlin Entertainments, has said it will close Alton Towers on quiet weekdays. In November, Alton Towers announced up to 190 redundancies after a downturn in visitor numbers after The Smiler crash.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Pizza Firms Making The Dough

Pizza delivery firms are cashing in with a price mark-up of up to 900 per cent, industry insiders have revealed. Sales are rising at a time when more people are trying to save money by eating in rather than dining out. Yet customers may be unaware that while they are being charged £12.49 for a large cheese and tomato Margherita pizza, it has been made with ingredients costing just £1.25. Some of the 900 per cent mark-up can be explained by the fact the Government takes its own cut, with VAT at 20 per cent.  The firms also have other costs, including rent, rates and wages. In common with all food businesses, raw ingredients make up a relatively small portion of the total costs. 

Zara Ungendered

The high-street giant launches Ungender line with unisex jeans, shorts, sweatshirts and t-shirts.The Spanish giant, owned by Inditex, joins the gender blending movement by releasing a 16-piece collection of unisex items including jeans, shorts, sweatshirts, shirts and jumpers - all in neutral colours (black, white, grey). The range is modelled by men and women and isn't labelled by gender, proving the practicality of unisex fashion. With prices ranging between £9.99 and £29.99, the gender-neutral range is now available in stores and online under the shop’s diffusion label, TRF.

Video Swamping The Internet

Video will account for 80% of all internet traffic by 2019, up from 64% in 2014, says technology giant CiscoFacebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says that 90% of the social network's content will be video-based by 2018. And network company Ericsson thinks mobile video traffic will rocket 55% a year between now and 2020. So how should businesses be responding to this new video world and what technologies are out there to help them? Developments in data-driven marketing and virtual reality (VR) will be among the major game-changers in the coming year and beyond, some observers believe. VR devices such as Google Cardboard, which can be bought for as little as $10 (£7), could be given away by companies to clients to view their videos. Samsung is bundling the Oculus Gear VR headset with its new Galaxy S7 smartphone.

Jim Jams

The only one real drawback about Nutella is the amount of sugar that's in there - and there's a lot. In every 100g of the chocolatey brown stuff there's a staggering 54 g of sugar - that's 13.5 sugar cubes worth (not to mention 32g of fat). Adults are supposed to consume no more than 30g a day, according to health guidelines. But now a father of five from Essex has created a much favourite version which is much healthier than the real thing and its competitors. Kevin Bath, who gave up a job in banking, is now making a low sugar alternative with his company Jim Jams. While he says a whole jar of Nutella has 54 cubes of sugar in total, his contains 83% less of the sweet stuff. When we looked around for healthier alternatives, nothing really stood out, so we thought 'here's a gap in the market.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Npower Job Cut

Energy firm Npower is to cut up to 2,500 jobs, more than a fifth of its UK workforce, with an announcement to staff expected this week. Npower, which is owned by the German energy giant RWE, employs 11,500 people in the UK and is one of the country's big six gas and electricity suppliers. The BBC understands sales and marketing roles will be the worst hit. The company, which has not made any official comment, posted a loss of £48m for the first nine months of last year. It has also lost about 200,000 UK customers.  RWE will announce Npower's full-year results on Tuesday when it is expected to detail the planned job losses. The German company, which also generates and distributes energy, has been hit by oil prices falling more than a third in the last year to around $38 a barrel.

Mighty Marmite

Unilever is launching the Mighty Marmite on-pack promotion to give away superhero-themed egg cups in the run-up to Easter. Running from 7th March, the marketing push - to encourage shoppers to consider the savoury spread as a breakfast option will see 'Marmighty' emblazoned across the front of cars, along with information about the giveaway and how customers can redeem their free egg cup. "We're excited to be launching our superhero Marmighty egg cups and we're confident these will help us communicate how Marmite, which is rich in B vitamins, is a hearty breakfast spread that is guaranteed to give your breakfast some 'oomph' said assistant brand manager Philippa Atkinson.

Pizza Profits

Domino's Pizza has revealed what it describes as "excellent" results for last year, driven primarily by the growth in its digital sales. The company also says its franchisees were helped by a "record low cheese price, favourable wheat price and a fall in fuel costs". Pre-tax profits were £73.16m, up from £62.1m in 2014. E-commerce sales now account for 77.7% of all UK deliveries and 48.6% of online sales are made using its app.  Domino's says online orders in the UK rose by nearly 29% last year and app-based orders shot up by more than 41%, with 11.5 million people now having downloaded the app in total. "The thing that customers want more than anything else is convenience and that means food that's delivered to their home," chief executive David Wild told the BBC.