Total Business Magazine

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

The wild west of e-commerce set to be tamed, fintech unicorn Revolut endure a PR nightmare and Debenhams stave off Mike Ashley bid...for now.

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

1. Cross-border e-commerce set to be regulated

This is an interesting one and probably a development that has been a long time coming. The world of trade in the e-commerce space has effectively been the wild west with no restrictions of trade across borders.

Until now.

75 countries have agreed to participate in World Trade Organisation talks on the now $3.5 trillion market. The background to this is that almost all of the existing consumer-facing trade agreements were written in the pre-digital era, but we now live in a very different world.

There is a growing need for some harmonising in this digital space and many others with the updating of laws and agreements in the future will only become more important in a modernising world.

2. Vodafone expands 5G rollout to 19 UK cities this year

The race for 5G roll out amongst the big telco’s is heating up with Vodafone announcing it’s 5G expansion across 19 UK cities in 2019.

With trials in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester already announced, Vodafone are moving quickly in the new network arms race.

And whilst they rollout these live tests, they are simultaneously trialling and installing 5G antennas and equipment that are able to handle the new speeds – speeds of up to 10gb per second.

The introduction of 5G for business and individuals is going to be huge, with data transfer speeds 10 times higher than that of 4G. To put that in perspective, downloading a movie with 4G/LTE could take 10 minutes. With 5G? Less than a second.

This does polarise opinion as there are some health concerns around these new powerful signals that are potentially damaging for your brain, but by the same token the opportunities globally that it will bring could keep that negative press quiet.

3. John Lewis cuts staff bonus to lowest level since 1953

John Lewis joins the list of high profile high st retailers in 2019, and were in the news week following the announcement that they would be slashing staff bonuses. It follows a severe slump in profits in the department store that hit 56%.

It’s the six consecutive year the bonus has been cut and in now sits at the same figure as it did in 1953 for all 83,900 partners who owned a percentage of the business. All partners, from the executive to the shelf stackers, receive the same percentage bonus.

Once again, this is less about the slashing of bonuses and more about the danger that large department retail stores are in. I feel a bit like the grim reaper with these pieces each week on the trouble they face, but it just goes to show that something fundamentally has to change.

4. Revolut Culture Under the Microscope

Revolut have been one of the darlings of the Fintech world, but last week they’ve had a shocker.

A few insiders have lit a fire on the unicorn, allegedly uncovering a toxic culture that includes unpaid work, unachievable targets, and high-staff turnover. Failure to meet KPI’shave apparently resulted in dismissals, regardless of the reason.

There is always a question mark around these hypergrowth company’s that rely on speed above all else. Whilst that might look good for their profit margin, it seems to have come at a cost for Revolut.

Whilst I’m all for disruptors in stale industries, this doesn’t bode well. Often PR storms do blow over, but this is pretty damning. Let’s see if they are able to recover this in the coming months.

5. Debenhams fights back against Ashley bid

Embattled retailer Debenhams announced they have secured a further £150 million in loans to keep itself afloat. That comes on the back of a bid from Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley (who is also a 30% shareholder) who called for an extraordinary meeting to wipe the current board and insert himself as the new boss.

It has been a torrid start to the year for Debenhams who announced an initial £40 million loan in February. That has been followed up by a second profit warning, admitting it would not meet a reduced target it had set in January.

Mike Ashley has been on a spending spree recently for many of the countries largest high street retailers. He certainly seems to have his hand in everything at the moment and whether this is good for competition or not, he clearly sees potential in the troubled industry.

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