Total Business Magazine

This Week’s 5 Must-Read Stories You May Have Missed

The winners and losers in the world of billionaires, HMV collapses (again) and Next defies the odds over Christmas.

We caught up with our newest columnist – business transformation expert, author of ‘The Interim Revolution’ and Founder of Sullivan and Stanley, Pat Lynes, to discuss the biggest news stories you wouldn’t have wanted to miss last week.

  1. The World’s Biggest Billionaire Winners & Losers of 2018

In what was a tumultuous year for the markets, 2018 was a seemingly good one for wealth creation on the whole. 31 individuals jumped into the Bloomberg Billionaires Index despite global trade tensions hitting companies worldwide.

I always find it interesting to see who the biggest winners and losers were, considering all that went on in 2018. It was no surprise that Jeff Bezos’ net worth grew by roughly $24 billion to $123 billion on the back of a huge year for Amazon, after a number of big acquisitions and their seemingly unstoppable growth. Another big winner was game maker Tim Sweeney, who’s release of the viral video game Fortnite earned him $7.2 billion, while Singaporean billionaires fared the best overall, gaining $2.5 billion.

American billionaires on the whole did not share the same success, namely due to December’s market rout. Following the very public trouble at Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth plummeted nearly $20 billion in 2018.

Of the 10 biggest losers, China made up three of them with Wang Jianlin, Jack Ma and Ma Huateng all having a rough year.

It will be interesting to see what this looks like this time next year, especially with further market disruptions on the horizon.

  1. 2,200 jobs at risk as HMV collapses and goes into administration

Much like the news of Royal Mail last month, it’s hardly surprising that HMV is set to fall into administration for the second time in six years.

The appointment of administrators KPMG was confirmed following a hearing before a High Court judge on Friday evening and now buyers were being sought to take over the business that employees 2,200 workers.

Executive chairman Paul McGowan commented: “During the key Christmas trading period the market for DVD fell by over 30% compared to the previous year and, whilst HMV performed considerably better than that, such a deterioration in a key sector of the market is unsustainable”.

It’s sad that a company that was first opened in Oxford Street in 1921 has fallen on such hard times. The reality is that their product offering is being hit from both sides; people don’t buy CD’s, they stream on Spotify. People don’t buy DVD’s, they watch Netflix. Digital downloads have all but swallowed up HMV’s market share and a tough Christmas period would have confirmed growing concerns about their future.

  1. Next Enjoys A Christmas Boost

But not every retailer had bad news this Christmas.

Next announced that full-price sales for the festive period were up 1.5% between 28 October and 29 December and reported a 14.9% increase in online sales for the year, which far outperformed those of its shops. This bucked a well-publicised trend amongst other retailers who struggled through the holiday season.

Once again it goes to show the importance of a strong digital offering. Next have obviously invested in this area and its paid off with their share price jumping 6% following their announcement that since simmered to 3% later in the day. While this isn’t the end of the difficulties for retailers in 2019, the need for organisations to continue to experiment and innovate in a changing world has never been more vital.

  1. Apple Warning Sends Shockwaves Across the Market

So apparently people aren’t upgrading their iPhones as quick as they have in the past. A sales warning saw Apple shares drop nearly 10%, marking the first time in more than 15 years that it has adjusted it’s guidance to investors.

CEO Tim Cook pointed to China as the main reason for the sales troubles.

“While we anticipated some challenges in key emerging markets, we did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in Greater China,” he said.

It’s a good sign that Apple’s rivals are creating some competition by producing quality phones without the crazy price tag some of the latest iPhones have. This might be the healthy pressure that Apple needs to once again be the innovation machine at the cutting edge of tech we all fell in love with.

I think Apple has peaked a bit and now you have companies like Huawei who are creating great products with much better battery life, probably the biggest weakness of the iPhone at the moment, eating up some market share.

  1. Cathay Pacific Business Class Blunder

An online ticketing error saw Airline Cathay Pacific offer the comforts of a business class seat that would normally be worth £12k, for just £537.

And people quickly snapped a few up before they had realised the mistake and quickly moved to rectify it. But in what might turn out to be a very good (but expensive) PR stunt, Cathay promised those quick-clicking travellers that they could keep their tickets. The Hong Kong-based airline tweeted, “Yes — we made a mistake, but we look forward to welcoming you on board with your ticket issued. Hope this will make your 2019 ‘special’ too!”

We’re not sure how many flights Cathay issued at the severely discounted price, but regardless it’s not a bad Christmas present for those who got in quick.

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