Top 10 Stories of Last Week! 15/10/2018

This week’s news includes; Sears goes bankrupt, Canada legalises recreational cannabis, eBay sues Amazon for poaching its sellers and Netflix profits surge.  

Below are our top 10 stories that you need to know about. Be sure to check our twitter page and Facebook page for regular posts of important headlines. Get all the important stories and insights straight into your inbox by subscribing to our mailing list here.

Opinion articles of the week:

  • The Hill JPMorgan says US economy has better than 50/50 chance of recession in next two years.
  • BBC News What business does the UK do with Saudi Arabia?
  • Legal Cheek Brexit is bringing new opportunities to Dublin, say top lawyers.

1. SEARS COLLAPSE

US department store giant Sears has filed for bankruptcy. After failing to make a $134 million repayment, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Chapter 11 protection delays any repayment obligations owed to creditors in an attempt to keep the company alive. This allows the debtor to sell assets or reorganise debts to try to meet these obligations. Sear’s had previously tried to restructure its whopping $6 billion debt but has failed to do so. Now, 142 unprofitable stores will shut by the end of the year, in addition to the 46 previously earmarked for closure.

Sears has been shedding jobs in recent years as the retail giant fell into a downward spiral. Consumer footfall at the department store has been decreasing massively due to increased online competition. This was exacerbated by severe underinvestment in stores and a failure to keep up with trends. In the last five years alone, Sears has cut 160,000 jobs, down to 90,000. This was the result of a catastrophic few years financially. In the space of 3 years, revenue halved, falling by $14.5 billion to $16.7 billion in 2017.

In a bid to raise capital Sears sold off many of its prime locations. With less stores came less prominence and the allure of Sears continued to dwindle. As of August 2018, Sears had 860 stores with over 1,000 stores closing in the three preceding years. This is dwarfed by Walmart’s 5000 stores and Target’s 1800 outlets.

Founded in 1886, it was the largest retailer by revenue in the USA until 1989. (Yahoo Finance)

2. CANADA LEGALISES MARIJUANA

Canada has become the second country in the world to legalise sale of cannabis for recreational use. The world will be watching closely. Uruguay is the only other country where the licensed sale of cannabis is permitted nationwide. Only 9 US states have legalised recreational marijuana use. Canada has now become the first major economy to do so.

There has been much preparation for the legalisation of cannabis. Cannabis is only permitted to be bought and sold and consumed in designated areas. There are very few licensed retailers currently open; there is only one legal store in the whole province. In some provinces however, licensed online sales have already begun. There are a number of unlicensed stores which have been profitable to date but could be shut down.

Despite this, sales were so high in the first two days of legalisation, many shops ran out of supply. The financial gains from the legalisation will be closely monitored. Deloitte predicts that legal marijuana will become a £3.5 billion industry next year. The Canadian government expects to raise $400 million year in tax revenue. Critics have raised concerns about the health risks of marijuana and potentially increased numbers of intoxicated drivers. Sky News looks at whether legal cannabis could be a pot of gold.

3. EBAY SUES AMAZON

eBay has sued Amazon for allegedly poaching it’s sellers. Amazon representatives allegedly created eBay accounts and approached sellers on the platform to entice them to sell on Amazon. This eBay claims this is in direct contravention of its user agreement. Sellers were contacted over the phone to avoid eBay’s servers picking up the activity.

eBay describes it as an orchestrated, coordinated, worldwide campaign to illegally lure eBay sellers to sell on Amazon. The scheme was only uncovered after a seller contacted eBay to inform them that they had been approached by a Amazon representative through the platform.

eBay seeks compensation of an undisclosed figure and to stop Amazon persisting in the practice. Last month, eBay contacted Amazon demanding an end to the practice but has now filed a lawsuit. Amazon says it’s investigating the matter. eBay, founded in 1995 turned over $9 billion in 2017. By comparison, Amazon turned over $52 billion last quarter alone.

4. UBER VALUATION

Uber is gearing up for its IPO and it may be valued at $120 billion. A number of US banks are lining up to lead the process. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are favourites to secure the top positions. Despite Uber’s massive valuation and $7.5 billion annual revenue, it still is largely unprofitable and posted a $891 million loss last quarter.

Uber has supposedly been looking to develop a new business unit for other services. This business will connect companies with workers in professions like security and hospitality. It will be through a platform similar to Uber’s current taxi model.  This model has however, come under much criticism as critics claim it exploits workers and denies them employment rights. (Business Insider)

5. NETFLIX BOOMS

Netflix shares soared last week as its growth figures smashed expectations. Over seven million subscribers were added in the last quarter taking Netflix’s total to 137 million. 135 million of these subscribers all pay monthly fees. What also stood out was the addition of non-US subscribers, a testament to its global expansion. Over 1 million new subscribers were from the US and 5.9 million subscribers from abroad were added. Share prices rose by as much as 14% in response to the news.

Netflix has been investing heavily in its own original content and this investment is paying off. It aims to spend up to $8 billion on content in 2018, with over $2 billion spent on original content. Netflix’s revenue grew 34% to $4 billion. These results helped Netflix bounce back from a weak second quarter.

6. AMAZON TO ADD UK JOBS

Amazon has announced plans to add over 1000 jobs in the UK. Over 600 “highly skilled” jobs will be created in Manchester. These will be in Amazon’s software, machine learning and cloud computing business. Other jobs will be added in the Edinburgh and Cambridge. Amazon describes these additions as “Silicon Valley jobs in Britain”. This will bring the tech giants total UK headcount to 27500 by the end of 2018 and it will have over 100 buildings. It recently increased minimum wages for its UK and US workers.

Amazon currently employs over 575,000 worldwide and turned over $53 billion last quarter. Amazon was the second company ever to pass the $1 trillion market cap mark. Its share price has since fallen significantly, bringing it down to a mere $872 billion. (BBC News)

7. PADDY POWER GETS PENALISED

Paddy Power has been fined £2.2 million by the Gambling Commission.  The gambling firm failed to implement sufficient money laundering checks and to protect customers. Gambling companies must have methods of monitoring potential problem gambling and must take action. The inquiry began in 2016 when a number of serious failings were highlighted. Two customers were allowed to gamble stolen money. Another three gamblers showed clear “extensive” signs of problem gambling and the company failed to act. The total fine will be comprised of £500,000 for affected parties and £1.7 million payment to the charity GambleAware. KYC (knowing your client) is crucial in practically all sectors and gambling is not exempt. Paddy Power is the UKs largest gambling website posting a £1.75 billion turnover last year. (This Is Money

8. CHEAPER TESLA MODEL 3 ANNOUNCED

Tesla is to release a new cheaper variety of the model 3. It is officially priced at $45,000 but advertised at $30,700 once incentives and fuel savings are taken into account. Tesla’s ad campaign has centred on its model 3 priced at just $35,000. A model this cheap is yet to be released. The most powerful version of the Model 3 released costs roughly $78,000.

Last quarter, Tesla met it’s ambitious production targets of 50,000 models. This boosted investor confidence but many analysts question the sustainability of this production. It is also worth noting how far production is from demand. From the initial pre-sale of Tesla’s model 3, it instantly became the most popular car ever. Over 500,000 pre-orders were booked in a few months.

For more on Tesla, check out our company watch page.

9. UNILAD SAVED BY LADBIBLE

After its collapse last month Unilad’s owner last month, LadBible has rescued the firm. Bentley Harrigan fell into administration last month after it struggled to keep up with its £10 million debt. The company also faced an imminent tax bill of £1.5 million. With this acquisition, Ladbible hopes to create a Goliath media publisher. The amount paid for the acquisition was not disclosed but 200 jobs were saved by this. Both platforms were founded by Alex Partridge, who sold his UniLad stake in 2014. Unilad has over 39 million Facebook likes. In August alone, Unilad and LadBible videos were viewed a combined 4.5 billion times online. (Sky News)

10. ASOS EXCELS

Asos posted strong sales figures, beating analysts’ expectations. In the year to August 2018, Asos posted sales of £2.4 billion, up by nearly 25%. Profits were also up 28% to £102 million. Sales of its inclusive fit sizes (tall, plus-size etc) were up by 37%. Share prices rose by 15% in response to the news. Asos is worth roughly £4.2 billion. Despite this growth, Asos shares are still 10% lower than at the start of the year.

Asos have been a leader the online sales revolution. Traditional fashion retailers have been slumping in recent years, shutting stores and cutting jobs. Conversely, Asos’s revenue has grown by over 20% per year over the past three years.

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