Microsoft’s Activision deal could face in-depth competition probe
Microsoft’s proposed takeover of games brand Activision Blizzard could negatively impact competition, according to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
The Xbox maker is set to acquire Activision Blizzard, which makes games including Candy Crush and Call of Duty, for $68.7bn (£39.2bn), making it the largest acquisition in Microsoft’s history.
But after an initial investigation the CMA has raised concerns the merger could harm rival console makers if they are they are refused access to Activision Blizzard games or given access on “much worse terms”.
“Microsoft could use its control over popular games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft post-merger to harm rivals, says Sorcha O’Carroll, senior director of mergers at the CMA.
“If our current concerns are not addressed, we plan to explore this deal in an in-depth Phase 2 investigation to reach a decision that works in the interests of UK gamers and businesses.”
Microsoft has said it is ready to work with the CMA on “next steps”, according to the BBC.
If the CMA does launch a further investigation it will appoint an independent panel to examine the deal in more depth. If the deal is deemed to substantially lessen competition the CMA could stop the merger from taking place or allow it to proceed only under certain conditions.
READ MORE: Microsoft Activision deal could lessen competition, UK watchdog finds
Lidl overhauls loyalty offer, raising maximum reward threshold
Lidl has changed the terms of its ‘Lidl Plus’ loyalty app, meaning customers will need to spend more to earn the biggest rewards.
To get the top discount shoppers now need to spend at least £250 in a month – £50 more, which will grant them 10% off a future shop of up to £200, meaning they could earn a £20 discount.
Previously, customer had to spend £200 in a month to receive a £10 voucher, which could be used on a future shop with a minimum spend of £10. This meant shoppers could buy £10 worth of shopping and use the voucher to effectively get the items for free. The new offer means people will need to effectively spend £350 to get the same £10 discount.
While the reward for spending £50 (free pastry) and £100 (£2 coupon) in a month remains the same, Lidl has also added in an additional reward for people spending £150. They will now receive a free Lidl W5 cleaning product. There is however now no reward for spending £200 in a month.
Lidl says the new scheme will mean “more customers get more rewards, more often”.
READ MORE: Lidl is shaking up its loyalty scheme from 1 September – here’s what it means for you
Starbucks enlists Reckitt’s outgoing CEO to drive ‘reinvention’ strategy
Starbucks has named Reckitt’s departing CEO, Laxman Narasimhan, as its new boss. He has been tasked will carrying out the “reinvention” strategy outlined by returning interim CEO Howard Schultz, who will step back into a non-executive role in six months.
The announcement of Narasimhan’s appointment at the coffee chain came hours after it was revealed he was stepping down from his role at Reckitt.
He will depart from the business behind brands including Durex and Dettol at the end of the month, after three years at the UK consumer goods firm.
Naraimshan will join Starbucks in the US as incoming CEO on 1 October and spend the first six months working alongside Schultz who took charge at the coffee giant for the third time in April.
Since returning, Schultz has already overhauled Starbucks’ senior leadership team and outlined his “reinvention” strategy, which Narasimhan will be expected to execute.
More “game-changer” plans will reportedly be revealed to shareholders on 13 September as the coffee chain looks to improve productivity and introduce innovations such as a platform to sell digital collectibles, according to the Financial Times.
READ MORE: Starbucks names departing Reckitt Benckiser chief as new CEO (£)
Shopper footfall slows in August as fears over cost of living rise
Total UK footfall dropped by 12.4% in August compared to the same month in 2019, pre-pandemic, as consumer confidence hits rock bottom. This is a 1.8 percentage point improvement on July, but marginally worse than the three-month average decline of 12.3%.
The latest BRC-Sensormatic IQ Footfall Monitor, shows high street footfall declined by 13.6% compared to three years ago. To provide a meaningful comparison, all figures are compared with the same period pre-pandemic.
Retail parks saw footfall decrease by 4.1% versus 2019, but this is five percentage points better than last month’s rate and an improvement on the three-month average decline of 23.6%.
Meanwhile, footfall in shopping centres dropped 22.7% compared to three years ago. This is a 2.1 percentage point increase on last month and better than the three-month average decline of 23.6%.
While footfall in August continued its recovery towards pre-pandemic levels, the rate of improvement slowed, says Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium.
“Many people remain concerned about the rising cost of living and the price of their energy bills, which has kept them away from visiting high streets and town centres,” she adds.
“With consumer confidence at historic lows, stores continue to focus on converting customer footfall into retail sales. Big events in Birmingham and Edinburgh saw more notable advancements to footfall, as the Commonwealth Games and the Edinburgh Fringe brought more shoppers in.”
With the new Prime Minister coming into power shortly, she is urging the government to include a freeze in the business rates multiplier next year, “otherwise the 10% inflationary increase in rates bills will lead to higher prices for customers.”
BT Sport and Warner Bros. Discovery complete sports joint venture
Warner Bros. Discovery and BT Group have completed their deal to bring together BT Sport and Eurosport UK in a 50:50 joint venture.
While the channels will initially continue offering their separate propositions, work is underway to launch a new combined sports brand. This will then be offered alongside Warner Bros. Discovery’s entertainment offering.
The joint venture brings together live sports coverage in the UK and Ireland across the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, the Olympic Games, Premiership Rugby, MotoGP, UFC, boxing, WWE, tennis grand slams, cycling and the World Cup this winter.
Andrew Georgiou, board member of the joint venture and president and managing director of Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Europe, says: “Today marks the start of our journey to build a new sports destination for fans in the UK and Ireland.”
Snap to ‘substantially’ reduce marketing spend amid staff cull
Snap is poised to “substantially lower” its marketing investment to focus on “accelerating organic community growth and efficient advertiser acquisition”, as the company searches for profitability.
The social media platform will cut 20% of full-time staff – roughly 1,300 people – by “refocusing on strategic priorities” and “reduce investment” in its office portfolio in a bid to save $500m (£430m) in annual costs.
As part of the restructure, Snap has hired Google vice-president and UK and Ireland managing director Ronan Harris for the newly created position of EMEA president, with a seat on the executive team.
In its August investor update, Snapchat outlined plans to “substantially reduce or eliminate investments” not directly connected to its strategic priorities.
There will be a push towards “focused content investments” designed to drive community engagement. As such, the company is scrapping its Snap Originals shows to focus on content developed by its partners and creators on the platform.
This strategy also means “narrowing” investment in Snapchat’s smart Spectacles and discontinuing development of its flying camera Pixy. The standalone Zenly and Voisey apps will be wound down to focus on Snap Map and Sounds within Snapchat, while the platform’s Games product will receive “substantially reduced investment”.
The business blames the impact of macro-economic issues, including the slowing ad market and rising competition for “advertising dollars”. The investor update points to auction-driven direct response advertising being the easiest area for brands to make short-term savings, with rising inflation and geopolitical risks disrupting sectors “critical to growing advertising demand”.
Snapchat also blames Apple’s app tracking privacy changes for upending a decade of advertising industry standards, meaning new models need to be built to both drive and measure the direct response ad business.
The social media platform now plans to “invest heavily” in its ad platform in order to deliver measurable returns on ad spending, while diversifying revenue sources as it chases long-term growth.
READ MORE: Snapchat to cut a fifth of jobs
Pernod Ricard hails ‘record year’ buoyed by ‘dynamism’ in must-win markets
Pernod Ricard is celebrating a “record year” and its fastest growth rate for more than three decades, buoyed by “dynamism” in must-win markets.
Sales for the 2022 full year broke the €10bn (£8.6bn) mark, with profit reaching a record €3bn (£2.6bn). During the fourth quarter alone, sales hit €2.29bn (£2bn). In terms of success in “must-win” markets, sales grew 26% in India, 8% in the US and 5% across China, with travel retail up 48%.
Over the year period, Pernod Ricard spent €1.7bn (£1.5bn) on advertising and promotions, up 22% on the €1.39bn (£1.2bn) invested in 2021.
According to CEO Alexandre Ricard, growth was driven by all regions, categories, price points and channels, while the “rapid deployment” of the digital transformation plan helped the business deliver at pace.
Sales rose 12% across the Americas and 19% in Asia/rest of the world during the year period, while in Europe “excellent growth” in the UK, Spain, Germany and Poland drove 19% growth.
Pernod Ricard claims to have delivered market share gains across most regions by leveraging its portfolio and geographical breadth, while also achieving price increases across all markets, on average in the mid-single digits. Sales were driven by “strong recovery” of the on-trade sector, resilience in the off-trade and a rapid rebound in travel retail.
The business reports 18% growth across its strategic international brands led by Jameson, Chivas Regal, Ballantine’s, Absolut and Martell, while its strategic local brands – such as Seagram’s Indian whiskies, Kahlua, Olmeca – also grew 18%.
Within the portfolio of speciality brands growth was more pronounced at 24%, led by Pernod Ricard’s American whisky, gin and Agave brands. Compared to 2019, the speciality brands have doubled their weight in sales. The only sour note was in the strategic wines sector, down 4% due in part to a lower harvest in New Zealand.
Looking ahead to 2023, Pernod Ricard is anticipating an “intense focus” on revenue growth and operational efficiencies amid the challenges of inflation.
BrewDog CEO blames ‘zombie government’ for closure of six pubs
BrewDog CEO James Watt has hit out at what he describes as the “zombie government”, after the brewer announced plans to close six pubs amid the cost of living crisis.
Citing the current “paralysis” of the state, Watt argued in a LinkedIn post that the government’s “bizarre leadership farce” is preventing it getting to grips with the current challenges, which he claims will cause more businesses to fold than Covid. He called on both Conservative leadership candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to “stop the charade”.
“I warned a few weeks ago, costs are rising to such a degree, with no prospect of any help from a clueless government, that these very difficult decisions have to be made,” said Watt. “It was going to be simply impossible to get these bars even close to financial viability in the foreseeable future.”
The six bars closing are Hop and Anchor in Aberdeen, Smithfield Market Arms in London, Hop Hub in Motherwell and its BrewDog bars in London’s Dalston and Old Street, as well as in Peterhead, Scotland, Sky News reports.
“Reality in the hospitality space is starting to bite and bite hard. And the government needs to get a grip, now,” Watt added.
While he described the decision to close the bars as “heart-breaking”, Watt praised the opening of the brewer’s biggest bar in Waterloo, which he claimed has “vastly exceeded” expectations. According to Watt, the pub attracted more than 20,000 visitors in its first two weeks and is the first bar in the portfolio to offer “hardworking” staff 50% of the profits the location generates.
The BrewDog boss was, however, quick to point out the project has its detractors, claiming cynics and the “Twitterati” have already written the bar off. Watt described the Waterloo pub as epitomising how the brewer wants to evolve its estate, as more than 20 locations are reportedly in the construction and planning.
READ MORE: BrewDog to close six pubs due to spiralling costs and ‘no prospect of help from clueless government’
Disney eyes ‘Amazon Prime style’ membership programme
Disney is reportedly considering the launch of a membership programme offering discounts and rewards to customers spending more on its streaming service, merchandise and resorts.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the service could follow the blueprint of Amazon Prime, which offers users free shipping, access to Prime Video and early access to deals for £7.99 a month.
The plans are understood to be in their infancy, with the WSJ unable to ascertain the cost of a potential membership or when it would launch. However, sources told the publication internally the project is being called ‘Disney Prime’ as a working title.
In a statement, Disney senior executive vice-president and chief communications officer Kristina Schake told the WSJ the business is looking at new ways to “customise and personalise” the entertainment experience and membership is “just one of the exciting ideas that is being explored.”
It is thought the new membership offering would be aimed at casual customers and sit alongside the D23 Official Fan Club, a programme aimed at Disney superfans.
Currently D23 Official Fan Club gold membership, priced at $99.99 (£86) a year, includes access to one gold member virtual and in-person event, early access to discounts, exclusive merchandise and an annual subscription to Disney’s 23 magazine. Back in 2019, the fan club members were given a discounted three-year subscription to Disney+, the WSJ reports.
The entertainment giant is poised to launch its Disney+ ad-supported tier in the US on 8 December. The new service will cost $7.99 (£6.53) a month, matching the current price of an ad-free subscription. The existing ad-free tier will increase in price to $10.99 (£9.01) per month, or $109.99 (£90.13) for a year.
READ MORE: Disney explores membership programme like Amazon Prime to offer discounts and perks (£)
Coca-Cola kicks off 2022 World Cup campaign
Coca-Cola is urging football fans to believe as it launches its campaign for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which kicks off in Qatar on 20 November.
The ‘Believing is Magic’ campaign, building on the company’s ‘Real Magic’ platform, aims to celebrate the “simple moments of connection” experienced by football fans, says Coke vice-president of global sports and entertainment marketing Brad Ross. The hero film follows a football fan who, after sipping a Coca-Cola, is transported to a street party celebrating her team’s World Cup victory.
The main ad is supported by three digital films exploring the promises fans are willing to make in exchange for winning the World Cup, from running to work every day, to shaving their heads and getting a tattoo.
Once the tournament begins, Coke plans to run further digital films celebrating fan superstitions, while new packaging will highlight “team colours and shared promises.” The ad campaign will be supported by “fan-focused content”, which will go live in the lead-up to the kick off in November.
The drinks giant is also working with FIFA on a tour that will see the World Cup trophy travel to 51 countries and territories, including 11 new countries. For the first time, the tour will take in all 32 qualifying nations.
Coca-Cola has been an official sponsor of the World Cup since 1978 and advertised at every World Cup stadium since 1950.
Netflix poaches Snap execs to head up ad-supported product
Netflix has poached two Snap advertising bosses to head up its ad-supported business set to launch in the coming months.
Snap chief business officer Jeremi Gorman has been appointed Netflix president of worldwide advertising, while Snap vice-president of sales Peter Naylor will become vice-president of advertising sales at the streaming giant.
In a LinkedIn post, Gorman said she is eager to “build an incredible team”, describing herself as a long-time Netflix subscriber. Prior to joining Snap in 2018, she served as head of advertising sales and head of entertainment ad sales at Amazon, preceded by stints as director of ad sales at Yahoo and sales boss at Variety magazine.
Naylor joined Snap in 2020 from Hulu, where he served as senior vice-president of advertising sales. He also held the position of executive vice-president of digital advertising sales at NBC Universal, where Naylor launched the broadcaster’s audience platform to monetise the ad inventory.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting Netflix wants to charge brands “premium prices” to advertise, the suggestion being the service could launch on 1 November. Buyers familiar with the proposition have told the publication Netflix plans to charge around $65 (£56) for reaching 1,000 viewers – cost per thousand impressions – which these brands claim is “substantially higher” than rival streaming platforms.
According to the WSJ, the streaming giant intends to cap the amount any brand can spend annually on its platform at $20m (£17m) to ensure no company advertises too much or customers see the same ads repeated too often.
Elsewhere, Advertising Age is reporting the ad-supported product will include limited targeting and no third-party measurement.
Last month details were inadvertently revealed about the future of the ad-supported product, which it is thought will prevent users from downloading films and series to watch offline. According to code found inside the Netflix’s iPhone app by developer Steve Moser, users also won’t be able to skip ads and playback controls will not be available during ad breaks.
READ MORE: Netflix hires Snap execs Jeremi Gorman and Peter Naylor to lead its push into advertising
Ryanair could grow stronger from a recession, says CEO
Ryanair is poised to take customers from its rivals during tough economic times, says chief executive Michael O’Leary.
“A deep recession in the UK or an energy crisis will certainly affect overall demand, but within that – as has happened in the last four or five recessions – you see people trading down from high-fare airlines like BA and Easyjet, to low-fare airlines like Ryanair,” O’Leary says. He compared this to shoppers trading down from shopping in Sainsbury’s to budget supermarkets like Lidl and Aldi.
He predicts Ryanair will “grow very strongly this winter” in the face of a potential recession. He also claims the airline may overtake EasyJet as the biggest in the UK, after announcing its biggest-ever UK winter flight schedule.
Ryanair follows a fuel-hedging strategy, meaning it agrees to purchase oil in the future at a predetermined price. This strategy will allow the company’s fares to stay lower than its rivals, claims its CEO.
O’Leary also forecasts that short-haul aviation will not return to pre-Covid levels until 2025. He has repeated his prediction that the cheapest airline fares are now a thing of the past.
“The era of low fares is not over but the £9.99 fares, really cheap and cheerful fares, are over for a couple of years,” he says.
READ MORE: Ryanair will benefit from recessions, says Michael O’Leary
Persil ad banned due to misleading environmental claims
A TV ad from Unilever’s Persil misled consumers by claiming the product was “kinder to the planet”, finds the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The ad for the washing liquid stressed the need for practical action on the environment, with a voiceover stating: “At Persil, we know that change doesn’t just happen in the comments section. For real change, we all need to roll up our sleeves and get dirty.”
The voiceover went on to outline Persil’s ability to wash clothes at lower temperatures and explain the bottles are made from recycled plastic.
“Tough on stains, kinder to our planet. Dirt is good,” the voiceover on the ad concluded. A complainant challenged whether the claim Persil was “kinder to our planet” could be substantiated. The UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP) states the basis of environmental claims must be clear.
While the code specifies that absolute claims must be supported by a high level of substantiation, comparative claims such as “greener” or “friendlier” could be justified if the advertised product provided a total environmental benefit over that of the advertiser’s previous product or competitor products, and the basis of the comparison is clear.
Persil stated the claims made in the ad were comparative, however, the ASA contended the basis of that comparison was not clear. The ads watchdog also found the washing liquid ad contained several strands of an environmental message and the meaning and basis of the claim “kinder to our planet” was unclear.
The ASA told Unilever the ad must not appear in its current form and to ensure the basis of environmental claims was clear in future ads, and that such claims were based on the full lifecycle of the products, unless stated otherwise.
Revolution Beauty to suspend trading after failing to complete audit
Revolution Beauty will have its shares suspended in September, as the beauty brand confirms it will not be able to file its audited accounts by the end of the month.
The brand went public on London’s AIM market in July 2021 and since then its shares have collapsed almost 90%.
At the beginning of the month the beauty brand said there were no major financial concerns behind the delay, but nine days later said its auditor, BDO, had raised “certain accounting issues”. It also warned that “group profitability for 2022 could be materially reduced” due to potential adjustments, including stock, bad debts and revenue recognition.
The brand had already warned that issues like destocking by key retail partners, increasing raw material costs, and it stopping sales in Russia and Ukraine would hurt sales and profits this year.
Earlier this month, online fashion business Boohoo increased its stake in Revolution Beauty from under 3% to around 12%. This makes Boohoo the third-largest investor in the brand after co-founders Adam Minto and Tom Allsworth.
In May, Revolution Beauty changed its chief financial officer, from Andrew Clark to Elizabeth Lake, who joined from Everyman Cinemas.
READ MORE: Revolution Beauty shares to be suspended as results miss deadline
Eurostar to suspend direct route to Disneyland
Eurostar is axing its direct train between London and Disneyland Paris, citing a need to concentrate on its “core routes”.
The route, which takes three hours from St Pancras station to the theme park, will be suspended from 5 June 2023 for the duration of the summer.
“While we continue to recover financially from the pandemic and monitor developments in the proposed EU entry-exit system, we need to focus on our core routes to ensure we can continue to provide the high level of service and experience that our customers rightly expect,” says the high-speed train operator.
The company says tickets for beyond the June suspension date had not yet been put on sale, and so no existing customer bookings would be affected. The Disneyland route has been in operation since 1996.
New rules affecting British travellers to the EU will come into force next May. These rules will mean travellers from outside the bloc will have their fingerprints scanned and photograph taken, instead of having their passport manually stamped.
Eurostar partly attributes the decision to suspend the Disneyland route to complications posed by “an uncertain border environment”.
“As we follow the evolution of the entry/exit system (EES) offered by the EU, we want to focus our efforts on providing a reliable service with an experience that meets our customers’ expectations,” the business says.
READ MORE: Eurostar to suspend direct trains to Disneyland Paris
Churchill Insurance launches ‘Bring Chill to the Nation’ campaign
Churchill Insurance’s canine brand mascot ‘Churchie’ has returned to screens in a bid to ‘Bring Chill to the Nation’.
The campaign, launched by Saatchi & Saatchi, shifts the focus for the insurance company’s brand platform away from when things go wrong and towards the sense of assurance and chill that having insurance coverage can bring. The campaign video, ‘Enjoy the Leap’, highlights how the company can reassure consumers in times of a big decision.
In the ad, Churchie takes a worried consumer into his chilled-out world, the ‘Chillscape’. The ad also features a spin on his famous ‘Oh yes’ catchphrase, one that is more fitting with the reassuring tone of this new campaign.
The campaign is running across TV, YouTube, radio and digital out-of-home.
“As we evolve our marketing campaigns, in a world that faces huge challenges, our new advert provides a moment of escapism for viewers. The creative delivers this with our beautiful new Chillscape – a dreamlike space, a world of serenity and optimism,” says Churchill brand head of marketing and product owner Kirsty Hoad.
“Our campaign moves our focus from the rare but intense stress of things going wrong and needing to use insurance, to the more frequent stress of choosing something new in life, for which you need new cover.”
Elon Musk subpoenas Twitter whistleblower ahead of trial
Billionaire Elon Musk has summoned Twitter’s former head of security and whistleblower Peiter Zatko ahead of his trial against the social media giant, as he fights to get out of his $44bn acquisition deal.
Zatko, who was fired by Twitter at the start of 2022, last week filed an 84-page complaint accusing the company of covering up security flaws and fake accounts.
The whistleblower alleges that Twitter violated an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission regarding cyber security precautions, and suggested deception at the company around fake or spam accounts – something that could help bolster Elon Musk’s court case.
Zakto has also alleged that Twitter had “foreign agents” on its payroll with “unsupervised access to the company’s systems and user data”.
Musk, who reneged on his agreement to buy the social media company after claiming it had been dishonest about the number of fake accounts on its platform, is seeking information about these allegations to support his case.
Twitter has denied Zatko’s “false narrative”, accusing him of using “opportunistic timing” to cause harm to the company after being fired.
At a court hearing last week, a Twitter attorney said Musk’s argument around spam accounts was “legally irrelevant” as a way to end the acquisition deal, because the company has always claimed its spam counts were estimates.
READ MORE: Musk subpoenas Twitter whistleblower as he battles to end takeover deal
Stake.com clashes with partner Everton FC over gambling promotion
Everton FC has told shirt sponsor Stake.com not to use the club’s branding and imagery to promote a controversial betting offer, as both brands face criticism from football fans and campaign groups.
Stake.com is offering a $10 free bet to international customers who wager $5,000 within a single week, as part of its ‘Everton Road to Glory Cash Drops’ promotion. The deal is linked to the club’s match results and is unavailable to UK customers.
Football fans and anti-gambling campaign groups have lambasted the promotion for encouraging irresponsible betting, with many questioning Everton’s involvement due to the use of the club’s imagery on Twitter.
According to the Guardian, the football club claims to have been unaware of the promotion ahead of launch, and has since told its sponsor not to use pictures of its players and shirts as part of it.
A petition calling on Everton to remove Stake.com as a sponsor and to stop promoting gambling firms has so far received over 30,000 signatures since launching in June.
Earlier this year, the government abandoned plans to introduce a ban on football teams displaying the logos of gambling sponsors on their shirts as part of wider reforms to Britain’s gambling laws, with clubs now asked to voluntarily make the decision themselves.
However, from October betting adverts will no longer be able to feature sports stars and social media influencers, or teams’ official kits and stadiums.
READ MORE: Stake.com told not to use Everton branding in $5,000 betting offer
‘Every Table Has a Story’ in Starbucks’ new UK brand campaign
Starbucks UK is embracing hybrid and flexible working in its latest integrated brand campaign, which positions its coffee shops as inclusive places for people to work, connect and pursue passions.
‘Every Table Has a Story’ is fronted by a film illustrating a year in the life of creative entrepreneur Kay, as she weathers highs and lows at the same Starbucks table. The campaign aims to tap into a “renaissance” of coffee shop working, particularly among young people.
The film will run across cinema, broadcaster video on demand (BVoD), online video, social media and owned channels. The wider campaign will highlight other stories, from graphic designer Ibby to activist Kate.
The campaign was created by Iris and produced by Sweetshop Films. Media buying is handled by Havas Media. The launch brings to a close Starbucks’ and Iris’s five-year partnership.
Store closures at seven-year low
The number of UK store closures over the first half of 2022 was at its lowest level in seven years, according to accountancy firm PwC, after falling by a third compared with the first six months of 2021.
Produced in partnership with the Local Data Company, the research includes 3,000 high streets, retail parks and shopping centres in the UK. It only covers businesses with more than five outlets – including retailers, gyms, hairdressers and banks – and not independent shops.
Over 6,000 stores closed across the period, while store openings remained below pre-pandemic levels. The UK therefore saw a net loss of 2,200 outlets, with an average closure rate of 12 stores a day.
“The good news is that we’re back on high streets,” PwC’s director of retail strategy Kien Tan told the BBC. However, he warned that inflation will leave businesses with higher bills to pay, so further closures could be on the way.
READ MORE: Store closures at lowest level for seven years
Cadbury encourages sign language take up
Cadbury is encouraging consumers to learn some British Sign Language (BSL) in its latest integrated campaign for Cadbury Fingers, which comes as part of the brand’s campaign series ‘For Fingers Big and Small’.
Created by agency VCCP London in partnership with the National Deaf Children’s Society, ‘Sign with Fingers Big and Small’ highlights the difference BSL can make in helping deaf people feel included in shared moments.
A 30-second hero film features a deaf teenager using BSL to describe the moments she misses out on due to her disability. To highlight the difficulties faced by deaf people, some subtitles are hidden from view by her mother, steam from the kettle and her younger brother. The film will play across video on demand, connected TV and YouTube.
Accompanying the film, the campaign features “little lessons” in BSL to help people start learning words and phrases, such as ‘fancy a cuppa?’ and ‘what a goal’. Animations of these phrases will run across digital out of home, YouTube, and social media.
“Cadbury Fingers are the much loved chocolate biscuits made for sharing and we’re on a mission to ensure no one misses out on those everyday shared moments like enjoying a cuppa or an afternoon biscuit with friends and family,” explains senior brand manager for Cadbury biscuits, Susanne Nowak.
“Helping people learn some British Sign Language (BSL) will play a really important role in helping deaf BSL users feel included, and while BSL involves much more than just the use of hands, fingers are a fundamental part of signing.”
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