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Thursday, December 3, 2020
British retailer Debenhams is set to shut down after more than two centuries, putting its 12,000 employees on the chopping block as the coronavirus crisis hammers the industry. The struggling department store chain was forced to close up shop after failing to find a buyer for its UK business. Sportswear retailer JD Sports Fashion had emerged as the leading contender to rescue Debenhams, but the company said it ended the talks on Tuesday. A spokesman for British prime minister Boris Johnson said the UK government “stand[s] ready” to support Debenhams’ employees and is “committed to supporting the retail sector.” Founded in London in 1778, Debenhams had already slashed about 6,500 jobs since May and slimmed down its store portfolio while struggling to stay in business, according to the BBC. News of the chain’s impending liquidation marked the UK’s second major retail failure in two days. British tycoon Philip Green’s Arcadia Group — which owns the Topshop, Burton and Miss Selfridge brands — fell into administration Monday, putting the company’s 13,000 jobs at risk. FRP Advisory, the firm overseeing Debenhams’ administration — an insolvency proceeding similar to Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US — said restructuring the business would be difficult
Cyber Monday was the biggest online shopping day in history as hunkered-down consumers increasingly turned to the web for holiday gift purchases — but it wasn’t as massive a bump as some expected. Shoppers spent 15.1 percent more than a year ago on Monday — or $10.8 billion — as online retailers led by Amazon hoovered up sales while consumers shunned brick-and-mortar stores amid the pandemic, according to Adobe Analytics. Still, the results were at the low end of the data research firm’s forecast for growth on Cyber Monday between $10.8 billion and $12.7 billion. In 2019, Cyber Monday spending rose by 19.7 percent to a record $9.4 billion, according to Adobe, which tracks online purchases at the top 80 retailers. Separately on Tuesday, a survey by the National Retail Federation found that the Thanksgiving holiday weekend was underwhelming when accounting for both sales online and at stores. The number of people who shopped online and in stores during the five-day period actually dropped by 3.6 million to 189.6 million, even as the amount they spent shrunk to an average of $311.75 from $361.90 a year earlier, according to the NRF. The trade group blamed an earlier start to the
Nasdaq is seeking US authority to require its listed companies to make their boardrooms more diverse — or be force them to explain why they can’t. The tech-heavy stock exchange said Tuesday it has filed a proposal with the Securities and Exchange Commission seeking the authority to demand that Nasdaq-listed companies to have at least two diverse board members who self-identify as female or as either an underrepresented minority or LGBTQ. If a company cannot do so, Nasdaq would not delist it but would demand an explanation, according to the filing. “Our goal with this proposal is to provide a transparent framework for Nasdaq-listed companies to present their board composition and diversity philosophy effectively to all stakeholders,” Nasdaq president and CEO Adena Friedman said in a statement. “We believe this listing rule is one step in a broader journey to achieve inclusive representation across corporate America.”​ If the SEC signs off, Nasdaq would expect that companies name one diverse director within two years while smaller non-US-based firms will be able to get around the rule by naming two female directors. Nasdaq will also partner with data firm Equilar to offer companies access to a platform that will connect them with diverse
Amazon says it’s kicked off its “largest holiday shopping season” ever as the coronavirus pandemic leads more consumers to buy their gifts online. In a blog post Tuesday, the e-commerce colossus said independent merchants on its platform raked in more than $4.8 billion in sales from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, up more than 60 percent from last year. The post was missing some key details — Amazon didn’t reveal how much money it made selling products itself over the blockbuster shopping weekend or how it fared compared to last year. It also didn’t break down sales figures for each individual day. The announcement nevertheless signals the holidays will only add to Amazon’s blowout performance amid the COVID-19 crisis. The Seattle-based giant posted record profits earlier this year as the pandemic drove up demand for online shopping and delivery services. Amazon isn’t alone — US consumers have already spent more than $106 billion this holiday season, including a record $10.8 billion dropped on Cyber Monday alone, according to Adobe Analytics. Amazon argues that its rising tide is lifting the boats of the small- and medium-sized businesses on its platform, who are selling an average of 9,500 products per minute in
Uber has officially gobbled up its $2.7 billion Postmates order. The tie-up, which had been on hold from its announcement in September until earlier this month as both companies complied with the government’s request for more details, was completed on Tuesday, the companies announced. Folding in Postmates to its already strong delivery business — fueled largely by Uber Eats, which recently added grocery deliveries to its growing list of offerings — increases Uber’s stake in the US delivery market by 8 percentage points to 37 percent. Market leader Doordash has a 45-percent share of the US food delivery business, according to Edison Trends. Postmates will continue to operate as a separate brand, Uber confirmed, but will share “a more efficient, combined merchant and delivery network” with Uber Eats. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement that food delivery and supporting local businesses is especially important “during crises like the one we face today.” “We’re thrilled to bring these two teams together to continue to innovate, bringing ever-better products and services for merchants, delivery people, and consumers across the country,” Khosrowshahi said. Uber’s delivery ambitions have taken on greater importance this year, as pandemic-related lockdowns have pummeled its ride-hail business while boosting
Tech entrepreneur Mark Towfiq claims he was warned his billionaire neighbor Bill Gross had a “short fuse” before they became embroiled in a bitter squabble, reports say. Towfiq, a former software executive, told a California courtroom Monday he got a warning about the retired bond king from Patrick Boyd, who sold the Laguna Beach house to Gross in 2018. The two are embroiled in a bizarre and nasty feud that started over an outdoor glass sculpture — with Towfiq claiming Gross blasted music, including the theme song to “Gilligan’s Island,” in an effort to get him to drop a complaint about his neighbor’s 10-foot tall installation. Towfiq testified that after he told Boyd about some pipes that had been left on the property before Gross moved in, “he said, ‘I don’t want an angry billionaire with a short fuse to be upset with me,’ or something like that,” according to Bloomberg News. Towfiq also reportedly said that he’d “seen the news of how he’d treated his family, his employees,” referring to reports of Gross’ nasty divorce from his ex-wife that involved dead fish and fart-scented spray. Moreover, Towfiq revealed he was a client of PIMCO — the investment firm Gross
Apple has slipped to No. 4 in the global smartphone rankings after being leapfrogged by Chinese upstart Xiaomi. The iPhone maker, who had recently trailed only Samsung and Huawei in global market share, has fallen out of the top three, according to sales estimates from research firm Gartner. Apple’s sales of 40.6 million iPhones in the quarter ending September — before the new iPhone 12 line was released — represented just over 11 percent of the overall smartphone market . Xiaomi, meanwhile, saw sales jump 35 percent over the quarter, taking a 12 percent chunk of the market with its 44.4 million devices sold. Samsung kept a firm grip on its first place standing, nearly doubling Apple’s sales with 80.8 million smartphones sold. Despite seeing growth slow by more than 20 percent from last year, Huawei kept its hold on second place. The new figures showed a reduced appetite for new phones during the pandemic, with sales down 5.7 percent from the same point last year. But Gartner senior research director Anshul Gupta said that some recovery may be on the horizon. “Consumers are limiting their discretionary spend even as some lockdown conditions have started to improve,” Gupta said. “Global
Samsung’s priciest smartphone may be the next victim of the coronavirus pandemic. The South Korean tech giant is reportedly considering discontinuing the Galaxy Note — known for its large size and stylus for note-taking — as COVID-19 has dented demand for ultra-expensive phones. Instead, Samsung will bring a stylus to its Galaxy S series and to its foldable phone in 2021, Reuters reported. Development efforts that would have gone to the Note will now be focused on Samsung’s folding phones, sources told Reuters. Tom Kang, an analyst at research firm Counterpoint, said sales of Samsung’s Note series are expected to fall by a fifth to 8 million this year while sales of the S series are likely to drop by 5 million to less than 30 million. “Premium demand has decreased this year and many people are not looking for new products,” he said. The Galaxy Note 20 was launched in the United States this year with a $999 price tag, on par with the Galaxy S20 while the iPhone 12 starts at $799. Samsung first launched the Note in 2011, breaking new ground in the market for larger screen models and helping it overtake Apple Inc to become the
Tesla’s stock price surged early Tuesday after the company behind the S&P 500 said the electric-car maker would be added to the index in one go this month. Shares in the world’s most valuable automaker climbed about 5.1 percent to $596.55 as of 8:59 a.m. after S&P Dow Jones Indices announced that Tesla will join the Wall Street benchmark all at once on Dec. 21 rather than in two tranches. S&P made the decision after consulting investors on how Tesla should be incorporated into the index because of its massive $538 billion market value, which makes it one of the most valuable additions ever. Splitting Tesla’s addition into two rounds a week apart could have made the change easier to handle for index funds, which will have to buy about $73 billion worth of shares in the company in order to track the S&P 500’s performance. But S&P said Monday that it decided to go with a single round based on the “wide range” of responses it received from investors, “as well as, among other factors, the expected liquidity of Tesla and the market’s ability to accommodate significant trading volumes on this date.” The index firm said it will announce
The benchmark S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq and climbed to fresh records Tuesday as Wall Street’s persistent optimism about the course of the coronavirus pandemic kept the market’s rally going into December. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 185.28 points to 29,823.92, clawing back Monday’s 271-point loss after the blue-chip index posted its best monthly gain since 1987 in November. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq each jumped as much as 1.5 percent to hit new all-time intraday highs of 3,678.45 and 12,405.79, respectively, and both closed at records. The gains indicated investors were holding onto hopes that a COVID-19 vaccine will bring an end to the pandemic and return the economy to normal in the coming months. Partner drugmakers Pfizer and BioNTech boosted those hopes Tuesday by announcing they had asked European regulators for conditional approval of their shot, a day after Moderna asked the US Food and Drug Administration to clear its vaccine for emergency use. “Whether that optimism can continue into the end of the year is another thing,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA. “A lot of good news is now priced in and many countries are navigating through a complex second wave of COVID-19, some with more success
Pfizer and BioNTech have asked European regulators for conditional approval of their experimental coronavirus vaccine — and officials say they could make a decision by the end of the month. The companies said they submitted an application to the European Medicines Agency on Monday for a conditional marketing authorization for their COVID-19 shot, which was shown to be 95 percent effective in a late-stage clinical trial. The European Union drug regulator will hold a meeting no later than Dec. 29 to decide whether to recommend the approval as long as the drugmakers submitted enough data for officials to reach conclusions about the vaccine’s quality, safety and effectiveness, the agency said Tuesday. The European Commission could grant a formal authorization valid in all EU member states “within days” after the drug agency makes its decision, according to regulators. Pfizer and BioNTech say the process could allow their vaccine to be used in Europe before the end of the year if it goes their way. The companies called the submission another important milestone in their quest to produce and distribute a vaccine that could bring an end to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. The application came less than two weeks after the drugmakers
Welcome to our grand opening — and yes, we will probably be shutting down soon. A handful of New York City restaurateurs recently have been opening new eateries, even as some admit they will likely close within days or weeks as state officials impose fresh pandemic restrictions. A few, meanwhile, claim they’ve found the secret sauce — negotiating favorable rents that they say will keep them alive during the pandemic and beyond. Last Wednesday, Gray Hawk Grill, whose executive chef, Anthony DiCocco , has cooked for celebs including Jennifer Lopez, Sir Elton John and Mary J. Blige, opened its doors at 1556 Second Ave. on the Upper East Side. The American-style venue, whose go-to items will include baked clams, butternut squash soup and filet mignon, is the culmination of a 25-year dream for veteran restaurant manager Steve Millan. “I wasn’t going to walk away from something that I’ve dreamt of doing for so many years,” Millan told Side Dish. The pandemic caught Gray Hawk Grill by surprise. Millan signed the lease a week before the March lockdown. Then came the construction build, which took longer than planned because of the outbreak. “We thought 25 percent indoor-seating capacity would lead to