Making the News This Week – 13 September 2019

This is your weekly round-up of news from the media which impacts on the independent retail sector.

Marie Claire UK to cease print publication after 31 years

The UK edition of Marie Claire is to cease publication after 31 years as the monthly women’s title joins a growing list of magazines that have succumbed to the shift to digital reading, revealed the Guardian.

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A version of the magazine – which is published by TI Media, the owner of titles including Country Life and Wallpaper – will continue online.

While TI Media pulled Marie Claire UK from the most recent Audit Bureau of Circulations figures, covering the period from January to June, the previous available figures for the final six months of last year show the magazine had an average circulation of 120,000 per edition. However, almost 35 per cent of those copies were given away free.

Earlier this year, TI Media closed the print edition of the celebrity gossip title Now, a mainstay of the weekly magazine sector since launching in 1996.

In March 2018, TI Media shut NEM as a print publication after 66 years to focus on its reinvention as a weekly digital franchise. However, a little over a year later, TI Media sold the title to the Singapore-based music media company BandLab Technologies, along with the rock magazine Uncut.

TI Media is looking to streamline its portfolio of titles after being acquired for £130 million by the private equity group Epiris in February last year.

At the time of the acquisition, Chris Hanna, a partner at Epiris, said the company would bring “clarity and simplicity” to focus on the most profitable titles.

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DIY Star Wars toy that costs £985 to build

With its first part costing just 99p the build-your-own model spaceship with a new De Agostini publication appeared to Star Wars fans like a stellar deal, wrote the Daily Mail.

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But the fantasy soon came crashing down when customers realised the 2ft-wide space- ship would take two years to build – and cost a total of £985.

The partwork by De Agostini advertises the ‘stunning’ X-Wing Starfighter ‘reproduced from [original] blueprints’, but fans soon worked out they will have to buy 98 editions at £9.99 to complete it.

De Agostini did not respond to the Daily Mail’s request for a comment.

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The Sun is officially Britain’s most read newspaper

“Your No1 Sun now reaches 32.8 MILLION people across print and digital — 5.4 million more than any other national newspaper,” the tabloid announced on Wednesday.

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The newspaper said that new figures from PAMCo, the industry’s data bible, showed that the Sun’s audience had grown by 11 per cent compared with the previous quarter.

Its newspaper was read by 2.6 million Brits every day, while 29 million relied on the digital edition for news each month.

In an editorial, the newspaper said: “Thank you to our loyal readers for coming back to us time and time again for the widest spread of news and exclusives — from showbiz and sport to hard politics — that Fleet Street has to offer.”

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Mirror beats Mail to become second largest daily news brand in the country

On the same day, the Daily Mirror advised that for the first time it had moved into the second position for daily news brands, according to the PAMCo statistics, reaching 27 million people across the paper and website.

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The Mirror had enjoyed a growth of 9 per cent since July’s rankings and was the only newspaper to retain its monthly print readership. Online, it saw a 10 per cent jump in mobile readership.

The PAMCo rankings also showed that the Mirror reaches more 15-34 year-olds than the Guardian – an age group often hotly fought for by advertisers.

Reach editor-in-chief Lloyd Embley said: “I’m delighted that the Mirror has been able to move into second place in the PAMCo rankings. Over the past few months our print and digital teams have been working more closely together than ever and I think both platforms are really feeling the benefit of this.”

Mirror Online editorial director Ben Rankin said: “The Mirror has become a true force to be reckoned with and it’s only just the beginning.”

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Express jumps in UK newspaper rankings with double-digit mobile growth

Wednesday’s edition of the Daily Express announced that it is continuing to rise in the daily news rankings according to the latest PAMCo scores, with a 23 per cent increase in its multi-platform readership since the previous report, knocking the Guardian from fifth to sixth place in the table.

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Its mobile audience also saw a 24 per cent increase, jumping ahead of the Independent.co.uk and Theguardian.com into third place for digital readership, comfortably ahead of the Mail Online which sank two places to seventh, it continued. The report also showed readers enjoy the Express for nearly an hour a day, with an average read time of 57 minutes per issue. Express editor-in-chief Gary Jones said: “We’re proud to be a trusted news source for so many people across the country, and we look forward to going from strength to strength in future.” Express.co.uk editorial director Geoff Marsh added: “We would like to thank all our readers, whether you’ve picked up the paper or are reading online, for supporting the Express.”

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Shop workers left with PTSD after violence towards workers hits five-year high

Shaken shop workers are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after violence towards retail staff hit a five-year high, a new report published in the Daily Star has found.

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As attacks on staff rise, some have gone off sick and in some cases quit their jobs.

An investigation into the impact on the victims has led to calls for the government to do more to protect those working in the sector.

The report by City University of London said: “Shop workers report severe mental health consequences from violence, including long-lasting anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“The strain of constant abuse and fear of physical violence is causing some shop workers to change their shift pattern, their place of work or, in the worst cases, terminate their employment entirely.”

One store manager told the researchers: “I have been punched in the face by a shoplifter, threatened with a needle by a guy on drugs, been spat at and suffered verbal abuse more times than I can remember.”

According to the Home Office, assaults and threats against retail sector employees nearly tripled in one year – from 524 incidents per 1,000 premises in 2016, to 1,433 in 2017.

The report concluded: “It is evident that government action is urgently needed to protect employees and send a clear message that violence and verbal abuse will not be tolerated in our shops.”

Criminologist Emmeline Taylor, the report’s author, said: “Multiple data sources show that the frequency and severity of violence towards shop workers is increasing.

“Often ignored as ‘retail crime’ and therefore somehow victimless, let’s not forget that behind each and every statistic is a person who has directly experienced violence or verbal abuse while simply doing their job.

“More needs to be done to protect shop workers.”

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Boris Johnson’s pledge to recruit 20,000 extra officers will fail ‘unless half a million apply to join police’

Up to half a million people will have to apply to become police officers over the next three years in order to meet Boris Johnson’s 20,000 target, a senior officer has told the Independent.

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The newspaper said that new figures from PAMCo, the industry’s data bible, showed that the Sun’s audience had grown by 11 per cent compared with the previous quarter.

Its newspaper was read by 2.6 million Brits every day, while 29 million relied on the digital edition for news each month.

In an editorial, the newspaper said: “Thank you to our loyal readers for coming back to us time and time again for the widest spread of news and exclusives — from showbiz and sport to hard politics — that Fleet Street has to offer.”

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Duty-free purchases of cigarettes and alcohol to return under no-deal Brexit

Both the Daily Mail and Guardian advised that Sajid Javid has announced that the government will reintroduce duty-free purchases of cigarettes and alcohol with immediate effect if Britain leaves the EU without a deal on October 31.

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In the latest attempt to win public support for Boris Johnson’s Brexit stance, the Treasury said travellers to and from the EU would see prices tumble as excise duties were removed.

Under a no-deal Brexit, UK excise duty would no longer be due on alcohol and cigarettes bought when leaving Britain, the Treasury said, meaning a bottle of wine bought at Heathrow by a departing passenger would be up to £2.23 cheaper.

People returning from the EU would have the choice of continuing to purchase and bring home unlimited amounts of cigarettes and alcohol with duty paid – as is the case now – or to buy limited amounts at duty-free shops in EU countries instead. According to figures provided by the Treasury, someone buying two crates of beer would save £12.

The return of duty free will only apply if Britain leaves the EU without a deal because under the terms of the withdrawal agreement the UK would stay in the single market and the customs union for the duration of a transition period, and this means keeping the current system in place.

At the end of that period, the UK would have to decide whether to remain aligned with EU rules on duty free but leaving without a deal gives the government the freedom to set its own rules.

The Treasury said a consultation would be launched soon on its long-term duty-free policy.

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Ministers plan attack on vaping ads to deter children

Scotland could become the first country in Europe to crack down on vaping amid concerns that children might take up e-cigarettes, The Times revealed.

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Holyrood will consider restricting publicity and promotion by vape companies, preventing them from advertising on billboards, bus shelters or in leaflets.

Joe FitzPatrick, the Scottish public health minister, confirmed that the Scottish government was looking at ways to cut down children’s exposure to the products. He said: “This will make Scotland the first country in Europe to do so. The proposed restrictions will not apply to any public health campaign and the proposal is to allow advertising at the point of sale, provided it’s not seen from outside the premises.”

The planned legislation and regulation is meant to protect non-smokers and children from exposure to the electronic smoking devices, Fitzpatrick said. A consultation into advertising by vape companies would start by the end of the year.

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Calls for alcohol prices in supermarket to rise to help save pubs

Booze bought from supermarkets should be hiked up in price while alcohol purchased in pubs and bars should be cut, according to a new think tank report in the Sun.

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Under the Social Market Foundation’s proposals, cider bought in supermarkets would almost double in price from around £3.70 to £7.37, while vodka, whisky, beer and wine would also rise in price by between 5 per cent and 31 per cent.

But at the other end of the scale, the SMF says the price of spirits, wine and lager sold in pubs and bars should fall by up to 7 per cent.

This would see the price of a pint of 4.5 per cent lager in a pub cut from £3.70 to £3.44.

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Paxman wants cigarette tax to fund litter fight

According to The Times, Jeremy Paxman is calling for a tax on cigarettes to fund an anti-litter campaign and prevent Britain from turning into “a rubbish dump”.

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In a speech at a waste industry conference in Birmingham, the broadcaster calls for a 0.5p levy on each cigarette to fund a £155 million campaign using posters to show the harm that litter does to animals.

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Retailers urge ministers to step in as high street store closures soar

Retailers and unions are calling for government action to help high streets after analysis by PwC and the Local Data Company revealed that a net 1,234 chain stores closed on Britain’s top 500 high streets in the first half of 2019 – the highest recorded level of closures since LDC began monitoring high streets in 2010, wrote the Guardian.

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Shopworkers union Usdaw, and some of the UK’s biggest retailers, including Tesco and Sainsbury’s, have demanded a review of business rates and other taxes to ensure there is a level playing field with online rivals.

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High street retailers seek cost cuts after latest footfall decline

The last three months has seen high street retailers suffer a dramatic decline in footfall, as shoppers move to out-of-town retail parks or online, advised the Guardian.

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Last month saw a 1.9 per cent fall compared to 2018, with the hot bank holiday weekend failing to reverse the decline. Retail data firm Springboard said retailers had suffered a 3.1per cent fall over the quarter. Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said retailers were ‘’stuck between weak demand… and rising costs’’.

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Improving people’s skills will revitalise UK high streets – report

Strengthening local economies will do more to revive Britain’s struggling high streets than sprucing up city centres or changing the tax system to help retailers, another report published in the Guardian said.

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The Centre for Cities think tank said the government should help towns and cities improve skill levels among local workforces in order to attract businesses and generate well paid jobs. Without the spending power these jobs provide, attempts to make high streets more attractive to consumers will fail, the report said.

Centre for Cities looked at 62 of the UK’s biggest cities and towns and found a strong link between high-skilled jobs and thriving high streets.

It said London and Manchester are busy because they have well paid workers whereas towns such as Mansfield and Barnsley struggle without enough prosperous consumers.

Centre for Cities chief executive Andrew Carter said: “Good jobs and a strong local economy are the keys to saving high streets. Any interventions that seek to improve cities’ amenities without boosting consumer spending power are doomed to fail from an economic perspective.”

Meanwhile, a separate report claimed the government missed out many struggling high streets in safe Labour seats when it chose towns for funding last month but included more prosperous towns in marginal constituencies.

Harper Dennis Hobbs, a retail property consultant, said only one of the 10 local authorities most in need of investment was included.

Of the remaining nine, including Salford in Greater Manchester and Gedling in Nottinghamshire, two-thirds were in Labour seats with majorities of 10,000 or more.

“These marginal seats will shape the makeup of the next parliament, and government investment in their high streets will arm the Conservatives with powerful local campaign messaging,” said Jonathan De Mello, head of retail consultancy at Harper Dennis Hobbs.

A government spokesperson said: “All 100 towns were chosen according to the same selection methodology. This included analysis of deprivation, exposure to Brexit, productivity, economic resilience and investment opportunities.”

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High street decline hitting women and the North of England hardest

The decline of UK high streets has disproportionately impacted women and people in regions outside of London, especially England’s North East and East Midlands, according to new research that appeared in the Independent.

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Women make up almost three-quarters of the loss of 108,000 retail jobs over the last seven years, while 40,000 warehouse roles created during that time by the rise in e-commerce have mostly gone to men, a report by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) found.

While the retail workforce in London grew by 16 per cent between 2011 and 2018, the North East and East Midlands have both suffered an 11 per cent drop.

Almost four in 10 retail workers are worried their employer will cut their working hours.

“Our research shows that the economic pain that comes with the decline of the high street is not being felt evenly,” said Fabian Wallace-Stephens, researcher at the RSA’s Future Work Centre.

However, he said the RSA is ‘optimistic’ that the high street’s decline can be reversed.

“If retailers collaborate more with each other, offer exciting in-store experiences and make customer service roles higher-skilled – with staff becoming more like in-store ‘influencers’ – then we still see a vibrant future for the British high street.”

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Dad fuming after Walkers Wotsits pack had only ONE cheesy puff inside

Several newspapers explained how a crisp-lover was left scratching his head after opening a bag of Wotsits – to find only one inside.

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Andy Stubbs bought the cheesy flavour corn puffs for lunch. When he shook it, he realised there was just one Wotsit inside.

Stubbs said: “It’s not often you get a one-Wotsit bag of Wotsits, is it? When I held the bag, I could feel it was full of air. I shook the packet around and realised there might only have been one Wotsit inside. So I showed it to Jane and the boys and we all cried our eyes out.”

A packet of Wotsits should contain an average of 42 puffs inside.

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Is it Quality or QUANTITY Street? Nestlé shrinks festive treat AGAIN

Nestlé will be cutting the size of its Quality Street tubs for another year, with tubs shrinking from 720g to 650g, most papers warned.

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Beleaguered customers have complained they’ve been hit by ‘shrinkflation’, as the tubs shrink by 70g but the RRP remains the same at £7.74.

In 2009 Quality Street – then sold in tins – weighed 1.2kg, before gradually getting smaller.  In 2017, the tubs reduced in size and weight from 780g to 750g. In 2018, the sweet Christmas staple that is shared across the nation remained the same price at £5 but was reduced from 750g to 720g.

But eagle-eyed shoppers will notice the original 720g tub has been downsized to 650g as the family-sized box falls victim to “shrinkflation”.

Defending the move Nestle said it has reduced the number of toffees in the selection box to boost the chocolate ratio with a brand new treat.

Ellie Worley, of Quality Street, said: “We’ve got a new sweet, a new [packaging] design, and are developing the brand ahead of the Christmas season.

“As ever, we have Quality Street available in lots of different formats, shapes and sizes this year, including the 650g tub and much larger tins for those who want even more to share with friends and family.”

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Cadbury’s calls on customers to design its next chocolate bar

Chocoholics have a unique opportunity to concoct the chocolate bar of their dreams courtesy of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, revealed the Independent.

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For the second year in a row, the chocolate manufacturer is launching its annual Inventor Competition, enabling budding chocolatiers to create their dream bar and next addition to the Cadbury Dairy Milk family.

Applicants can select from over 90,000 different flavour combinations online, where they can design and name the chocolate treat of their dreams. Ingredients on offer range from classics such as raisins, almonds and raspberries, to more unorthodox tastes, such as Dijon mustard, tomato, spicy chilli, popping candy and rose.

Willy Wonka wannabes have until September 30 to submit their creation. Three shortlisted candidates will then be invited to the Cadbury Chocolate Centre of Excellence in Bournville, the home of Cadbury, where they will work with chocolate experts to experiment with their ingredients and make their creations a reality.

The three bars will then be made available nationally in UK shops for around three months to enable chocolate lovers to sample the new creations and vote online for their favourite.

The winning bar will subsequently be added to the brand’s leading Dairy Milk range.

Last year’s winner, the Cadbury Dairy Milk CHOCA-LATTE, will be arriving in UK stores this month.

Claudia Miceli, senior brand manager at Cadbury, said: “We are thrilled to be re-launching the Cadbury Inventor Competition for a second year and seeing what other delicious creations our fans come up with.”

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Tobacco giant BAT to axe 2,300 jobs in shake up

BAT is to axe 2,300 jobs globally as part of a sweeping restructuring designed to support a shift to so-called “next-generation” products as more and more people quit smoking, the Daily Telegraph reported.

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The FTSE 100 tobacco giant announced it would shed layers of management, reorganise its business units and simplify its structure to create a “more efficient, agile and focused” company.

The moves are the first key decision by new boss Jack Bowles, who took the top job earlier this year. The restructuring will be complete by January and will affect 20 per cent of senior jobs in the company, or around 2,300 roles.

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Sainsbury’s puts tills back at store that baffled shoppers

Sainsbury’s has put tills back at its Holborn branch in central London just three months after removing them because customers were struggling with the concept and then queuing at the helpdesk manned by a lone human, The Times explained.

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The supermarket had introduced shopping by Smartphone at the store, with customers having to download an app and scan items themselves as they picked them from the shelves.

The experiment resulted in long queues at the helpdesk as shoppers encountered problems with scanning goods or tried to pay for their groceries in the traditional way.

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Grocers prepare to air lift food in case of no-deal Brexit shortages

Some of the country’s biggest grocers are ramping up their preparations to deal with a disorderly Brexit by drawing up plans to import fruit and vegetables by plane if Britain’s ports and roads grind to a standstill, the Daily Telegraph reported.

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Steve Murrells, the boss of Co-op, said airfreight “may be a necessity in fresh food if you’re importing products from warmer climates and countries”.

He added: “The most important thing is to get the stock. We will use whatever logistic methods [we have] at our disposal.”

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