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Boston Consulting makes £2m for advice to Dexeu about Brexit

2018-05-19 14:43:43 admin

The Department for Exiting the EU — Dexeu — has handed a £2million contract for Brexit advice to Boston Consulting Group.

That makes the American management consultancy one of the biggest beneficiaries of Whitehall’s Brexit spending, with five contracts totalling £4.7 million.

The Evening Standard has been campaigning for better disclosure of Brexit consultancy fees since many departments obfuscated or refused to reveal their spending after Freedom of Information requests lodged by the newspaper in January. 

Despite the Boston contract with Dexeu having commenced in December, it did not appear in responses to our FOI requests. 

The payment only came to light today as it appeared on the government contracts website and was highlighted by tenders researcher Tussell.

It is unclear what services Boston Consulting is providing the Brexit department because of heavy redactions in the paperwork, but the document refers to “support for the Cross Government Delivery Co-ordination of the EU Exit Programme”.

Another FOI unearthed that Dexeu took on three secondees from Boston Consulting on civil service salaries in October. KPMG, Oliver Wyman, McKinsey, Deloitte and PwC have lent it staff for nothing.

Hidden charges

Brexit work handed by civil servants to consultants so far totals £29 million. But more is thought to be “hidden” under other categories.

A DExEU spokesperson said: “The Government is utilising the skills of the brightest and best across the Civil Service as we prepare to exit the EU.

“It is also quite standard for a Government department to draw on the advice of external specialists. We will continue to bring in expertise from outside as appropriate.”

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Royal Wedding 'spending splurge' worth £1bn to shops and bars

2018-05-19 14:43:34 admin

A “Super Saturday” spending splurge will provide a welcome boost to Britain’s suffering high streets tomorrow as the nation enjoys the back-to-back spectacles of the royal wedding and FA Cup Final.

Forecasters believe that the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle could add more than £1 billion to the coffers of shops, restaurants, hotels and bars over the course of the year.

The “Meghan effect” could easily exceed the impact of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton seven years ago as it falls on a weekend so there will be no loss of productivity. Their Friday wedding was declared a Bank Holiday by then-prime minister David Cameron.

For Harry and Meghan’s big day, pubs and bars have been given permission by the Home Office to stay open late tonight and tomorrow in a move that will dramatically boost takings.

Meghan mania: the Windsor branch of M&S is renamed in honour of the bride (Samir Hussein)

Clive Watson, chairman of the City Pub Group, which runs 35 pubs across London and southern England, said: “On a normal weekend 30 million pints will be sold but with the royal wedding and FA Cup on the same day I predict a 20 per cent uplift. The pubs will be opening up early for the build-up and once we have celebrated Harry and Meghan’s wedding we can roll on to the FA Cup.”

Tourist chiefs said they expected the wedding to kickstart another bumper visitor season as images of Windsor in forecast sunshine are beamed to a vast global audience. As many as 50,000 US visitors are expected to travel to Windsor.

Helen Brocklebank, boss of luxury goods trade body Walpole, said: “It’s not only the anticipated weekend spike for hoteliers and for British luxury retailers, crucially it is the halo effect, lasting long after the wedding. The US is the single biggest market for British luxury and already brands like DeMellier, worn by Meghan Markle, have seen a huge uptick in online sales from US customers.”

Extra tourism spending will be welcomed after a dismal start to the economic year with growth of just 0.1 per cent in a snow-ravaged first quarter. Huge volumes of Meghan and Harry souvenirs have been sold and the World Cup, which starts next month, is expected to provide a further excuse for consumers to relax the purse strings. 


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Tech tracker round-up: Uber chief product officer leaves, PayPal buys iZettle

2018-05-19 14:43:25 admin

Here the Evening Standard business team highlights all the major tech news today.

Top story sees Uber Technologies chief product officer Jeff Holden is leaving the ride-hailing company, an Uber spokesman said, the latest of more than a dozen senior executives to depart since last year.

Holden oversaw Uber Elevate, the company’s flying car operation, which is now headed by Eric Allison but declined to elaborate on the reason for his departure.

New chief executive officer Dara Khosrowshahi has been shaking up the company since taking over Last August aiming to improve Uber’s reputation after a string of scandals.

Uber, along with Lyft, scrapped mandatory arbitration to settle sexual harassment or assault claims earlier this week, giving victims several options to pursue their claims including public lawsuits.

Uber also launched a new app for its drivers last month, in an effort to improve an often contentious relationship.

Uber’s chief legal officer, Salle Yoo, and head of external affairs Dave Clark left the company in September.

Uber is also searching for a chief financial officer who can help take the company public in 2019. The CFO position has been vacant since 2015.

Elsewhere PayPal has agreed to buy Swedish financial technology startup iZettle for $2.2 billion.

The deal will allow the Californian company to expand into the retail payment terminals business in international markets, where it will compete with Silicon Valley firm Square founded by Twitter chief Jack Dorsey.

Stockholm-based iZettle, which had advanced plans to go public, offers small businesses a miniature credit card reader that turns smartphones or tablets into payment registers.

It is present in 12 countries in Europe and Latin America and offers other services for managing small businesses.

By joining forces with PayPal, which operates in 200 countries, iZettle will be able to accelerate its expansion, including into the United States, the companies said.

iZettle chief executive and co-founder Jacob de Greer and the company’s management team will continue to lead the business. This year the company expects to process $6 billion in payments, resulting in gross revenue of $165 million.

Finally London has cemented its position as a global tech hub.

The UK was in the top three countries for total capital investment in digital tech companies last year, behind only China and the US, according to the Tech Nation annual report.

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Food delivery firm Deliveroo spends £5 million dishing up own dining brands

2018-05-18 14:39:24 admin

Deliveroo is to create a series of its own restaurant brands to snare hungry Britons with niche cuisines.

The food delivery firm is to use its Editions sites, the kitchens it runs which are not open to the public, to host chefs for new brands. Its first will be a Sicilian-style pizza brand, Nonna’s Square Pizzas, launching in Cambridge this month.

Currently, Deliveroo bikes existing restaurants’ food from their premises or from its 74 UK Editions satellite kitchens on unfashionable sites, allowing restaurants to effectively expand their footprint without opening a new site.

Deliveroo is spending £5 million on the initiative to develop new chefs, help existing restaurant partners and serve areas with cuisines, expected to be more niche than pizza, it knows there is local demand for. There is also the possibility that the sites will be used for collaborations with celebrity chefs.

The firm this month announced it is spending £10 million on free accident insurance for riders, and this week handed £10 million in share options for staff, fuelling speculation of a stock market float in the long term. 

Caleb Merkl, vice president of special projects at Deliveroo, said: “At a time when there are so many barriers for chefs wanting to turn their dream into reality, Deliveroo will use our expertise to help restaurants to expand and help budding chefs to have their first shot. For consumers this is nothing but good news, with more amazing, restaurant-quality food available more of the time.”

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Mothercare to pay for two top salaries as boss Mark Newton-Jones rejoins

2018-05-18 14:39:15 admin

Ailing toy and baby-clothes seller Mothercare, which is looking to cut 800 jobs, will have two bosses on top salaries after the dramatic return yesterday of its sacked chief executive. 

Mark Newton-Jones, who was ousted by its then chairman Alan Parker last month, is now back, on a £480,000 salary a year. This is the same as he was due to be paid, but down on the £612,000 he earned last year. 

David Woods, brought in to succeed him, will now be managing director, earning £430,000 a year. Parker has since left the business. 

Mothercare, which has been struggling with changing shopping habits and rising costs, plans to close 50 stores and cut rent bills on a further 21.

The plans to slim down the business are tied to a complex £113.5 million refinancing deal. It made a pre-tax loss of £72.8 million on sales of £654.5 million for the year to March 24.

Mothercare said: “Mark has taken a significant pay cut. Mark has a major role as part of the team to return to Mothercare to a more stable footing.”

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