The week’s news included; Disney buys $1.5bn stake in Epic Games, Barclays to buy Tesco Bank in £600m deal, Chicken shop owner loses trademark battle against Tesla.

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: 

  • Forbes – Inside The Super Bowl Of Marketing
  • BBC News – Neuralink: Can Musk’s brain technology change the world?
  • Sport Five – What Is Athlete Sponsorship And How Does It Benefit Brands?
  • City A.M. – Business failures are at a 30-year high – but are we past the peak?

1. DISNEY BUYS $1.5BN EPIC GAMES STAKE

Disney is investing $1.5 billion in Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite. This forms part of a new strategic partnership to create an entertainment universe where Disney and its brands are more heavily integrated into gaming. Disney will work with Epic to create games with content from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and other franchises. This marks Disney’s biggest investment into gaming. Epic Games is going from strength to strength as it also recently struck a deal with Lego to create a survival crafting game. It has also boasted victories in court against Apple over its unfair app store fees (see previous top 10). 

2. BARCLAYS BUYS TESCO BANK 

Tesco is selling its banking business to Barclays in a deal worth an estimated £600 million. Barclays will take on Tesco’s 2800 staff as well as its credit cards, loans and savings accounts business. Customers will not see any disruption to service and will be contacted in due course. Barclays also agreed to continue to market a number of services under the Tesco brand for 10 years. Tesco will keep some of its services such as travel money, ATMs and insurance. 

Supermarket banks enjoyed strong growth in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. In the past decade however, branch banking has been on the decline and mobile challenger banks like Monzo and Starling have risen to prominence. Last month, Sainsbury’s also announced it was pulling out of the banking business to focus on its core food business.

3. PREMIER LEAGUE FACING LEGAL ACTION OVER NEW RULES

The Premier League is facing legal action from its clubs over new proposals around commercial deals with associated entities. Associated-party transaction (APT) rules would introduce new measures that prevent clubs from inflating the price of commercial deals to artificially increase their incomes. For example, football clubs can artificially increase the value of their sponsorship deals to boost their revenue. This practice allows clubs to spend more on players. These proposals by the Premier League have been considered as unlawful by some clubs and a club has threatened arbitration proceedings to prevent these changes being adopted. Sky News looks closer at the issue. Check out our previous article exploring some changes around related-party deals.

4. CHICKEN SHOP OWNER LOSES TESLA TRADEMARK BATTLE 

A UK chicken shop owner has lost a trademark lawsuit against Tesla, costing him £12,000. In 2020, the owner, Mr Ali, registered the trademark for his new takeaway, “Tesla Chicken & Pizza”. Electric car maker Tesla did not oppose his trademark initially. In 2021 however, Tesla sought to trademark its name for food, drinks and takeaway in the UK. The chicken shop owner opposed their trademark as Tesla could seek to invalidate his trademark. Tesla did seek to invalidate his trademark and claimed he took unfair advantage of their reputation. Mr Ali argued that the name for his business was inspired by the inventor, Nikola Tesla, not the carmaker Tesla. The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) ultimately agreed with the carmaker and ordered him to pay £4000 to Tesla. Mr Ali had also spent £8000 in legal fees. Mr Ali said he would have appealed but did not want to spend any more money fighting the case.

5. US STREAMING GIANTS LAUNCH JOINT PLATFORM 

ESPN, Fox and Warner Bros Discovery are planning to launch a joint streaming platform. The platform will offer live sports through an app and can be bundled with the companies’ other platforms, Disney+, Hulu and Max. It will include access to many channels operated by the three streaming giants such as ESPNEWS and TNT. The offering is expected to cost around $45 per month but no price has been set as the plans are still in their infancy. Disney owns ESPN and ABC networks while Warner Bros. Discovery owns TBS, TNT and TruTV. Traditional cable companies are shifting to keep up with modern trends in order to stay profitable. With each party holding a third of the new venture, this could prove a positive move for all involved. 

6. THE BODY SHOP CALLS IN ADMINISTRATORS

The Body Shop is calling in administrators for its UK arm as hundreds of jobs are now in jeopardy. Private equity firm Aurelius, bought the chain last year for £207 million is seeking to restructure and make the business more viable. The Body Shop has suffered from weak sales for some time and has been selling off businesses across the world. Large parts of The Body Shop’s European and Asian businesses have already been sold. There are roughly 200 stores in the UK. The expected number of job losses has not been determined yet as the company is still preparing to appoint administrators.

7. MCDONALDS MISSES SALES TARGETS AMID BOYCOTT

McDonald’s has announced that they missed key sales targets due to boycotts over its support of Israel. A franchise of the fast food chain offered free meals to Israeli soldiers following October 7, sparking calls for a boycott. Its business across the Middle East has consequently nosedived. Around 5% of McDonald’s franchises are in the Middle East. Sales in China, India, France, Malaysia and Indonesia have all declined. While franchises in many of these countries distanced themselves from the actions of the Israeli franchise, the damage was done. Global growth fell nearly 5% in Q4 compared to Q3. McDonald’s shares fell 4% in response to the news. Starbucks and Coca-Cola have also found themselves on the boycott list and are also feeling the hit. 

8. SNAP CUTS 500 JOBS

Social media company Snap is slashing roughly 500 staff after posting heavy losses. The move will make the company leaner and “reduce hierarchy”. Snap said roughly 10% of its workforce will be cut. Snap’s headcount was roughly 5000 at the end of 2023. The company had already slashed 20% of its workforce in August 2022 but this hasn’t stemmed losses. In Q4, Snap lost $248.2 million and lost $368 million in Q3. 

Snap has been struggling to reach profitability for some time. Its Augmented Reality (AR) spectacles failed to take off and the company is struggling to find ways to profitability. Snap’s shares are down 90% from its IPO. Furthermore, Snap’s CEO Evan Spiegel, along with other social media CEO’s, faced a grilling from Congress over child safety. 

9. PRET CLOSES VEGGIE STORES

Pret a Manger is closing its final vegetarian-only stores as it introduced more meat-free options to its main stores. Pret’s last three stores will now be converted into regular Pret a Manger stores by the end of February. The sandwich chain first trialled its veggie-only stores in 2018 and had 10 outlets by 2019 and had plans to open more. After the pandemic however, footfall declined to city centres where most Pret stores operate. Ultimately, Pret had to begin closing the branches as they became unviable and other stores offered more meat-free options for customers. Despite this, Pret has been performing well recently as it posted its first annual profit since 2018 and opened new stores.

10. BP PROFITS

BP has posted one of its highest annual profits ever, topping a huge $13.8 billion. This is down significantly from its record year in 2022 where it posted $27.2 billion in profit but still better than expected. Q4 2023 was particularly strong, seeing profits of $3 billion. Energy firms have seen their bumper profits decrease since the highs spurred by the invasion of Ukraine. Despite this, they are still reaping the benefits of higher energy costs. BP Competitor, Shell, also saw its annual profits decrease from $39.9 billion to $28.2 billion in 2023.