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Business

Perhaps not really debts, but costs

Taxpayers will be forced to pay millions of pounds to sacked staff at The Body Shop as administrators oversee a drastic restructuring of the collapsed chain.

Well, OK, that’s what the law is. But what’s the real thing they’re trying to shed here?

It’s not, not really, the debt load. Because:

The Body Shop’s administration will increase scrutiny on Aurelius, which bought the retailer from Natura for £207m just three months earlier.

Aurelius emerged as the retailer’s top creditor before its insolvency and is understood to be in pole position to reclaim The Body Shop’s assets, shorn of debt, if no bidder materialises.

Well, yes, but it’s shorn of debt to itself – that’s what being the leading creditor means.

Yes, some of it will be owed to other people but unless Aurelius are preferred creditors they have to lose the same %ge as the other creditors. So, not really and not quite “shed the debt” perhaps.

As well as putting the future of hundreds of jobs at risk, the collapse has also left a swathe of the chain’s landlords bracing for closures.

Aaaaah….

He said: “The business will be significantly leaner and more profitable as debts are shed, stores are closed and property costs are renegotiated downwards.”

British commercial leases. Typical – only typical – 21 year terms, 3 year rent reviews, upwards only rent reviews. The only way out is administration (there’s a halfway stage which I can’t recall the name of but that requires the landlords to play nice). And commercial, retail, property prices have dropped, massively, these past couple of years.

At which point it might indeed be worthwhile taking the hit on that directly owned debt, plus that £20 million of equity they put in (which is, obviously, gone) in order to get back a business which has its retail rents cut by what, 50%? 70%? Could be that much.

The process slices out great gobbong chunks of their costs base. Huzzah!

Now, whether that was the original plan, or this is second best cobbled together since seeing the books in detail, who knows?

This would also be too strong a statement but I’ll make it anyway for there’s definitely a truth here. Which is that Body Shop going bust in Britain is really caused by upwards only rent reviews. Going bust is the only way out of them.

More of this please

English National Opera sacks singers during interval
Critics condemn handling of redundancies as ‘cruel, wicked and thoughtless’ after performers notified halfway through show

Us Dickensians will not be happy until the entire economy is run on these harsh lines. More!

Business lessons

Electric van maker once valued at £10bn collapses into administration

OK

Arrival had planned to make electric vans and buses at small, robot-led “microfactories” that would be cheaper to set up than traditional car plants.

Possbily there’s a reason the car makers use large plants? The economies of scale outweigh the costs?

Really quite astonishing

Yes, Yes, I know, we all make fun of Facebook because it’s for us elederly types now – the cool kids are elsewhere etc.

And yet:

Meta revealed close to half the world’s population has signed up to join the social media empire, with nearly 4bn people now using at least one of its apps on a regular basis.


Mr Zuckerberg also announced the social network giant, which turns 20 this month,

One company reaches half of humanity as its customer base in only 20 years?

That’s really pretty fucking impressive, isn’t it?

How long?

These sellers use “dropshipping” services so that they never own the stock they are sending to their customer, removing the traditional risk that comes with shifting products. Instead, once an order has been placed, an online seller orders directly from a warehouse, usually in China. It is then sent directly to their customer, and they pocket a chunk of the margin.

The dropshipper’s job is to market the item, sending it to the top of searches and pushing it on social media. It can be done in a few hours a week, as a “side hustle” alongside a day job or else from a beach somewhere – anywhere with an internet connection.

Now thousands of young entrepreneurs are turning to dropshipping to set up businesses fast.

If thousands are doing it then the margins aren’t going to last long, are they?

Even, to a reasonable approximation, by the time a newspaper writes it up the opportunity is gone, or at least going…..

Well, yes

The retreat of Britain’s two largest supermarkets from the banking world underlines the difficulty of competing with the “Big Four” — Barclays, Natwest, Lloyds and HSBC.

“At the end of the day, where do you want to put your money?,” says former Sainsbury’s chairman Sir Philip Hampton.

“You wouldn’t buy your potatoes from HSBC, probably because you’re not sure they have a particular capability of selling potatoes.”

As in, a brand name is great, but a brand name for what? Rolex is a great brand name, but how well would it work on baked beans?

I do like this though:

When Tesco and Sainsbury’s launched their banks in 1997, there were no smartphones. The cost of placing a branch in a supermarket was relatively minimal.

Now that competitive edge has gone.

“Life has changed,” says KBW bank analyst Ed Firth. “Banking used to be a branch based business and therefore the supermarket’s had competitive advantage because they effectively had branches everywhere.

“But it’s not a branch based business anymore. You don’t have the synergies that you had when they set off.”

That’s someone thinking about the economic basics. Something far too rare.

Well, yes, obviously

Labour’s plan to ban new oil and gas drilling is “economically senseless” and threatens to bring forward rig shutdowns by a decade, a major North Sea operator has warned.

Amjad Bseisu, chief executive of Enquest, said blocking new drilling licences would put jobs and investment at risk, while bringing forward shutdown costs for the taxpayer.

It’s also going to kill tax revenues. But there’s no stopping people in the grips of an ideological delusion.

We have our answer here

Robert Bull, the bungalow tycoon nicknamed “Bob the Builder”, is being chased by creditors just nine months after being crowned as one of Britain’s richest men with an estimated fortune of £1.9bn.

Now, his holiday park empire is being broken up bit by bit, as those who lent Bull money seek to reclaim more than £725m in debts.

The second paragraph explains the first, no?

As with the Murphonomics of the state, you can put up a prettygood show with a rising debt pile but it will come back to bite you on the arse at some point.

Bull’s network of single-storey villages was spread out across the country, including in the South East and Cornwall, where his acquisition of holiday parks was fuelled by billions of pounds in loans.

Trademark law is difficult

A Norfolk couple have won a battle with one of the world’s richest men over the name of their home and gardening business.

A tribunal ruled in favour of Victoria and Lawrence Osborne, L V Bespoke, this week after the French luxury goods giant LVMH launched a trademark dispute against the couple.

LVMH, whose brands include Louis Vuitton and Dior, is owned by Bernard Arnault who vies with Elon Musk for title of the world’s richest man.

Victoria and Lawrence Osborne registered the name of their business, L V Bespoke, as a trademark in 2021 after setting up the company during the pandemic.

However, they subsequently received a legal letter objecting to their trademark on behalf of Louis Vuitton which claimed the couple’s logo could cause “consumer confusion”, according to legal documents.

If you don’t defend a trademark then it ceases to exist as a trademark (in essence at least). Which always does mean that there will be cases over the edge into silliness.

For decades you’d see letters in the papers . “Sir, you reporter referred to biro, it is Biro, a registered trade mark of….” etc. That’s just what is necessary to keep Bito as a trademark. Gotta defend it.

Ooops

Two major airlines have discovered loose bolts on multiple Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft, raising new concerns over the jet model.

US regulators grounded some 171 Max 9s on Saturday after a panel blew off an Alaska Airlines plane mid-flight from Portland, Oregon, forcing pilots to scramble to land the plane safely.

United Airlines – the biggest operator of the model, with 79 Max 9s in its fleet – announced on Monday night that its assessments of the jets had revealed loose bolts in panels that are similar to the part that came off during the Alaska Airlines flight.

And the claim at least is that this was a problem stemming from the factory…..

About those Boeings

More than 170 Boeing passenger jets have been grounded after a refrigerator-sized hole opened up in a plane mid-flight.

Phones, magazines and even the shirt off a child’s back were sucked out of an Alaska Airlines service from Oregon to California on Friday, prompting concerns about the Boeing 737 Max 9 plane used by commercial airlines all over the world.

….

The plane had only been in service for a month, having been certified in October, according to FAA records.

Brand spanking new, eh?

Might solve itself actually

But experts say new net zero rules intended to boost the eco-credentials of office blocks, and the continued trend of working from home, means the outlook is bleak.

“Valuations have been hugely affected by the uncertainty of future office demand and ESG considerations,” Greenshields says.

New rules came into force in April requiring all office buildings to have an energy efficiency rating of at least E in order to be let out. The minimum threshold will ratchet up quickly over time, which will require many owners to sink more money into upgrades.

That which doesn’t – or can’t – meet the new standards removes from the market, that then right sizes the remaining supply to demand.

Maybe – and it’s a crazy way to do it too, but it could happen….

Rather like unemployment and a declining economy. If GDP falls then, in theory, all could take a small paycut. Or some could take a 100% pay cut by being unemployed. All office space could decline in value, or some to zero……

Gosh, really, Business leaders?

The UK government should stop ignoring the science and block a bee-killing pesticide from being used, business leaders have said.

Yes, really, business leaders

In a letter to Mark Spencer, the farming minister, Anabel Kindersley, the chief executive of Neal’s Yard Remedies, Tim Mead, the head of Yeo Valley, as well as the boards of Lush and the Body Shop have asked him to block Cruiser SB from use.

Ah, those business leaders. The ones that always were going to arise once the hippies had money.

Everyone’s fucked here

Ryanair has found “fake parts” in two of its aircraft engines during scheduled maintenance checks, becoming the latest airline to be impacted by a brewing scandal.

The parts were discovered during checks in Texas and Brazil over the past few months and have since been removed from the engines, the low cost carrier’s chief executive Michael O’Leary told Bloomberg News.

It comes as the global aviation industry is grappling with a fake parts scandal that has left airlines and regulators scrambling to assess engines and trace equipment.

Aviation regulators have accused an obscure London company called AOG Technics of supplying thousands of engine parts with faked certification documents for Airbus and Boeing models,

Anyone who thinks that it’s only the one company. AOG, that’s been fiddling the docs is mad. Insane. There’s simply too much money in it for only one fiddle. Thei airlines aren;t in on it – they know that if they were their insurance disappears. But the supply chain? Only the one?

Larff.

How damn fucking stupid are these people?

It calls for policymakers to reform the governance of UK businesses by changing the Companies Act and adding a duty for directors to consider the social, economic and environmental impact of their business alongside profitability and returns for shareholders.

Such a measure could drive growth, it said, as businesses that consider all their stakeholders – such as B Corps, social enterprises and co-operatives – outperform their peers with faster growth, higher levels of innovation, more investment, and greater levels of staff engagement.

If these varied lovelinesses increase corporate growth then they’re already included in shareholder interests. The Act only needs to be changed if they don’t increase growth.

Bleedin’ lucky at that

Alex Chesterman, the founder of Cazoo, will have his shareholding in the company almost wiped out as bondholders take control of the loss-making online car seller.

Cazoo bondholders have agreed to swap the debt they own for shares in the company, swamping existing shareholders who will own just 8pc of the online used car dealer after the transaction.

The dilution will shrink Mr Chesterman’s existing holding from 24pc to less than 2pc.

You go bust, you lose the company. Shrug.

Those bastards at Google

I bet there will be at least someone taking the wrong lesson from this. The bastards at Google with their market power!

Google’s 36% search revenue share with Apple is 3x what Android OEMs get

Wrong lesson. That’s a market of bastard Apple’s market power.

Think about it. Money flows to the one with the power….

Ah

Rene Benko’s wild ride at the helm of Signa

Lots of real estate bought with cheap money, problems ariving……and then the tell:

Early backers included the diamond dealer Benny Steinmetz

Ah, yes, the wheels were going to come off that one then.

Buying lots of real estate with cheap money could well work, of course. As long as te debt was paid down before interest rates rose. That means calling a halt to expansion. Which isn’t what happened and isn’t what we’d expect to happen given that involvement – according to my prejudices anyway.

Sigh

For news outlets, the emergence of the new technology brings back uncomfortable memories of the growth of tech giants like Facebook and Google, which upended the way people consume news and cannibalised revenues in the process.

Dang it.

It would really help if newspaper publishers understood who has screwed their business. It’s e-Bay, Monster.com, Rightmove and Autotrader.

For local papers (nationals are different, they’re also not all going bust) classifieds were a significant profit driver. Really significant. And that’s the bit that’s disappeared to online. That’s also what is killing local newspaper finances. Losing that local monopoly on classifieds.

Fuck all to do with Facebook and Google.

Well of course it’s a disaster without me

Before she was one of the thousands of employees Musk laid off from Twitter at the end of last year, Melissa Ingle worked on a team responsible for civic integrity and tackling the spread of political misinformation on the platform. She also wrote algorithms to moderate harmful content. Ingle, who is now a senior data scientist at an IT company, said she couldn’t believe how bad these problems are now.

“The things that we were protecting against then are exactly the things that we’re seeing all over the site right now,” she said. “When it comes to political misinformation, you have to be on top of that stuff at all times, or it just spreads everywhere.”

And so the sources of all the how bad Twitter is stories. Elon laid off 6,000 or so highly vocal tossers. All these pieces are being written by talking to some subset of these tossers.

Hey, Twitter might well be worse than it was. Could be. But “Ms. I Got Laid Off” ain’t a good source.