Business headlines: Mothercare; M&S; Virgin Media; BT; Vodafone; South Western Railway; Facebook; Pizza Express; Gail’s Bakery

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It’s vital to be aware of the latest news in the industry you’re working in or applying to. Here are some headlines you might find interesting:

Mothercare collapses into administration
Baby goods retailer Motherhood has gone into administration, with administrators from PwC stating that all 79 UK stores will be closed. PwC said that the firm had been making losses for a number of years, even though international franchisees are profitable. These overseas operations, which account for more than 1,000 stores in over 40 countries, will not be included in the administration. Mothercare opened its first store in 1961 and was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1972 but has struggled in recent years with the rise of online shopping and cheap supermarket clothing ranges. The collapse of Mothercare puts 2,500 jobs at risk.

M&S profits drop as clothing sales slow
Marks and Spencer have reported a 17% drop in pre-tax profits in the first half of its financial year, with total sales down 2.1% to £4.86bn. M&S blamed a decline in demand for its clothing and home products as a reason behind the low profits. Like-for-like clothing and home sales dropped by 5.5%; even more than the expected 4.3% drop. M&S said that it was seeing improvements in the second half of the year and noted that its food business was ‘outperforming the market’. The chain is currently undergoing a transformation under chief executive Steve Rowe.

Virgin Media switches customers from BT to Vodafone
Virgin Media is switching its mobile phone customers from BT to Vodafone’s network. Its current contract with BT, which is reportedly worth about £200m, is set to expire in 2021, but Virgin is launching 5G services with Vodafone before that time. Customers will not have to change sim cards and will benefit from a host of new services. BT’s shares fell 4.5% in light of the news.

RMT union announces 27-day strike of South Western Railway staff
Staff at South Western Railway (SWR) will go on strike for 27 days during December and on New Year’s Day in an ongoing dispute over train guards. The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RTM) union announced the industrial action, stating that SWR staff had been left with no other choice. RMT said strikes would continue to happen as long as SWR does not make assurances over the future role of train guards. SWR said it had previously agreed to keep guards on trains and that it’s ‘extremely disappointed’ by the planned industrial action.

Facebook introduces new branding
Facebook has rebranded its company name to FACEBOOK in an attempt to distinguish the company from its social media website by the same name. Its main social media website and app will keep its blue branding. The company has said the new logo which uses ‘custom typography’ will help Facebook’s other products and app look different. The branding will appear in different colours depending on which product it represents. For example, it will be green for WhatsApp and orange and pink for Instagram. Facebook says the change comes from a desire to ‘connect thoughtfully with the world and the people in it’.

The owner of the restaurant chain Pizza Express, Chinese investment company Hony Capital, has announced it will inject £80m into the firm as it grapples with a £1.1bn debt pile.

Luke Johnson, one of Britain’s most successful entrepreneurs, has hired bankers to prepare the sale of bakery group Gail’s, with the sale process expected to be launched in the next few months.

 Source: HN Global