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The week’s news included; Sunak’s Brexit deal explained, Canada bans state employees from TikTok, Banks introduce stricter crypto asset purchase restrictions, Daily Mail announces redundancies as readership sinks.

Below are our top 10 stories that you need to know about. Be sure to check our twitter page, Facebook page and Instagram 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: 

  • Industry Fashion – Can Adidas ‘Sportswear’ help plug the Yeezy-shaped hole in its finances?
  • City A.M. – Fintech won’t be derailed by recessions – but it still needs strong regulation to thrive
  • The Fashion Law – Fashion: How Companies Are Rebranding in the Wake of the Pandemic.
  • Retail Gazette – What can marketing experts learn from Dreams partnership with Team GB?

1. SUNAK AGREES NI BREXIT DEAL 

Rishi Sunak has penned a new Brexit deal with the EU which seeks to resolve the ongoing problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol. The Northern Ireland Protocol has been a sticking point in the Brexit negotiations since the 2016 vote.

The new deal, dubbed the Windsor Framework, will introduce a new system to resolve this. New trade routes will be set up which will see goods from Great Britain heading to the Republic of Ireland (ROI) or Northern Ireland (NI). Goods due for delivery to ROI, an EU state, will enter via a red route. All goods will go through customs checks before crossing the Irish sea. Goods due to stay in NI will pass through a green route. No checks will be applied here and goods will travel seamlessly. This ensures NI is not treated differently to the rest of the UK and it also reduces bureaucracy. It also ensures goods do not flow to ROI without proper customs checks.

Additionally VAT rates decided in Westminster will apply to NI and they are no longer subject to the decisions of Brussels. Sunak and many Tory MPs hailed the deal as a great success. The new deal still has to get support from the Democratic Unionist Party in NI and Brexiteer Tory MPs. See BBC News’ summary of the deal for more information.

2. CANADA BANS STATE EMPLOYEES FROM TIKTOK

Canada has banned TikTok from all government-issued devices over security concerns. The nation’s chief information officer claims the app poses an “unacceptable level of risk”. TikTok has been a cause for concern for Western governments over the past years. This is due to its links to the Chinese government. TikTok is owned by Chinese media giant ByteDance and Chinese data laws make it susceptible to being used as a vehicle for espionage according to some experts. Furthermore, there are concerns about its collection of data and privacy.

Canada’s move follows similar action by the US and EU who both banned government employees from using the app. President Trump even sought to ban the app throughout the US entirely. Another attempt to ban TikTok is currently being discussed amongst US lawmakers. TikTok refutes the arguments that it poses a privacy risk and claims it will seek to address any concerns law have.

3. BANKS INTRODUCE CRYPTO PURCHASE LIMITS

Banks are introducing some restrictions on cryptocurrency purchases to protect consumers. Nationwide has set a £5000 daily limit on crypto asset purchases using debit cards. Customers will also be unable to buy crypto assets using Nationwide credit cards. HSBC also introduced a ban on crypto asset purchases using credit cards. Many other banks already had similar limits in place including Santander and Lloyds. The banks introduced these restrictions amid growing regulator concerns about the risks crypto assets pose to consumers. Banks will be under increasing pressure from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to protect consumers from losses.

4. GOLDMAN SACHS ASSET MANAGEMENT BOOST

Goldman Sachs has tabled a bid to buy Subway. The asset management arm of the investment bank has issued an indicative offer to buy the fast food chain. Subway has 37000 outlets across more than 100 countries. The chain could be valued at up to $10 billion.

This news also comes as Goldman Sachs revealed it was considering selling its consumer platforms business. The consumer platforms business, which includes the Apple Card and Greensky has lost the bank nearly $3 billion in 3 years. Goldman is seeking more “stable” income streams in growth areas like wealth and asset management.

5. TESCO SUED FOR NEGLIGENCE

Tesco is being sued in the UK over negligence and unfair treatment in its clothing factory in Thailand. Workers of VK Garment Factory made F&F jeans for Tesco’s Thai arm. It transpired that workers were forced to work 99 hour weeks in terrible conditions and for unlawfully low pay. VK is also under investigation for fraud. Bank accounts were opened in workers’ names and fake paper trails were created to give the appearance that they were paid minimum wage. The workers were paid below the minimum wage and only in cash. Workers have been awarded compensation by the Thai labour court but they are seeking damages from Tesco for negligence. Tesco said it was not involved in VK’s day-to-day operations and was not aware of any issues at the time. Tesco ended their arrangement with VK in 2020.

6. WHSMITH CYBER ATTACK

WHSmith has been hit by a cyber attack which has seen private company data compromised. While customer data is not thought to have been affected, it is a significant concern for the business. Fortunately for WHSmith its trading activities were also not affected by the breach. An internal investigation has been launched into the attack. Cyber attacks are becoming increasingly common but companies are investing more to mitigate the impact of attacks when they arise. WHSmith for example, keeps customer data on a separate system to its private company data, meaning it was not affected by the current incident.

7. DAILY MAIL REDUNDANCIES

The Daily Mail has announced a new round of redundancies as readership numbers decline. Journalists will now be expected to write for all three outlets under the Daily Mail umbrella, namely; Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and MailOnline. The three brands have traditionally been segregated and competed against one another. Now, many junior journalist roles are expected to be made redundant. Senior staff are likely to remain in order to help retain the identity of each outlet. The exact number of redundancies has not been revealed yet.

The Daily Mail is the best selling newspaper in the UK. It’s print readership however, is down 12% compared  to last year. The cost of paper has risen steeply which has also severely affected their bottom line.

8. ARGOS DEPOT CLOSURES

Sainsbury’s is set to close two Argos depots putting 1400 jobs in jeopardy. A distribution centre in Essex and another in Manchester will be closing. Affected staff can apply for jobs in other areas of the company. Sainsbury’s said this was to modernise its merchandise operations and reduce its major Argos warehouses from 5 to 3. Unite union has said there is “no economic justification” for the closures and accompanying job losses.

9. RAIL FARES RISE

Train tickets in England and Wales have risen by 5.9% . While the figure is well below inflation, commuters say they are not receiving value for money. An annual season ticket from Brighton to London will rise by roughly £300 to £5616. Train services have been hit by strikes and other issues resulting in a largely unreliable service. 4.5% of planned trains were cancelled in Q4 of 2022, the highest rate recorded (from 2014). Campaigners have called for rail fares to be frozen or dropped until services are improved.

10. LLOYDS PHARMACY CLOSURES

Lloyds Pharmacy has said that all 1300 of its sites could be closing, putting 17000 jobs at risk. A strategic review of all of its UK store base is underway and could see all pharmacies sold off. 237 sites that operated within Sainsbury’s supermarkets had already been earmarked for closure.  Lloyds is owned by private equity group Aurelius Group.