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Augmented Reality (AR) is predicted to be one of the main areas for growth in the vehicle sales process over the next five years.

Dealer management system giant CDK global recently published the results of research into the new vehicle sales process.
 
It found that by 2021, 72% of dealers expect to use advanced immersive technology to present products to potential customers in the dealership and online.
 
Of those dealer principals surveyed, 83% said that by 2021 there will be fewer dealerships and groups are expected to consolidate to central hubs or in to high-footfall retail locations.
 
Neil Packham, president of CDK International, said: “CDK Global is working with retailers to look at future automotive trends.
 
“In just five years customers will expect dealers to use advanced technologies as part of the sales process. Augmented reality will become the norm, enabling customers to experience the full spectrum of products, options and specifications anytime at the touch of a button.”
 
Emerging Trends
  • Emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality will enhance how physical products are presented to customers online
  • It will add digital information to create an immersive and interactive experience
  • AR innovations already include Google Street View, which supports full virtual car dealership tours
  • The technology would give dealers the opportunity to present entire model ranges digitally in a smaller retail space
  • It allows customers to configure cars in a virtual dealership environment.

Accountancy firm RSM has enjoyed its first full year as what it calls a “unified, global brand” and reported 7.6% growth in global fee income.
 
The total fee income for the year increased to $4.87bn.
 
RSM launched its global brand in October 2015. RSM firms worldwide have “used the past year to embed and strengthen the RSM brand in their national markets, focusing on a unified vision to be the provider of choice to middle market businesses”, the RSM statement said.
 
The firm also reported a 20% rise in the number of cross-border referrals – the result of a “single, consistent and identifiable brand”.
 
The consulting service area increased by 8.1%, while tax services rose by 7.5%. The number of staff across the network jumped by 8%, with 41,420 people now working across 793 offices. The number of partners across the world increased by 5%.
 
With regard to firm growth, fee income in Latin America grew 21%, with 19% growth reported in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in both Asia Pacific and Europe rose by 8%, while Middle East and North Africa and North America regions increased by 7%.
 
Jean Stephens, CEO of RSM International, said: “RSM delivered confident growth throughout 2016, despite uncertainty in the global economic and financial landscape. Our global brand and increased resource and expertise sharing, coupled with further system and process integration, means clients are able to utilise the strength of the whole global network wherever in the world they have chosen to engage with us.
 
“2017 presents many challenges for middle market businesses: fluctuating exchange rates, cash flow issues, devaluations, and an uncertain economic and political climate, both locally and globally, to name just a few.”
 
“Clients need trusted support to realise new opportunities, with advice and insights from an adviser that has a deep understanding of their particular business environment. We have seen an increasing number of international, dynamic middle market businesses choosing to work with RSM. Delivering on our client promise of ‘The Power of Being Understood’ will be more pertinent than ever in 2017,” Stephens added.
Independent petrol forecourt operator, Eurogarages has made a host of acquisitions over the last two weeks, significantly enhancing its roadside presence across the UK.
 
As well as purchasing four forecourt sites from collapsed convenience retailer High Noon Stores in the west of the country, Eurogarages has acquired 78 roadside dining sites from the Kout Food Group, primarily operated as Little Chef diners.
 
While remaining at core a fuel retailer, Eurogarages has been significantly scaling up both the convenience and food-to-go offers across its 341 sites nationally and the 78 Little Chef sites will now allow it to develop a significant number of standalone food sites, to tap into the growing opportunity for casual dining and food on the move.
 
Intervias the parent of Eurogarages has said it will explore opportunities to being new brands to the Little Chef locations. This suggests that going forward the business will seek to refresh them with some of its existing partner food-to-go brands, such as Starbucks, Subway and Greggs. Potential may also exist to Eurogarages to include a broader food and grocery offer with the development of Spar branded convenience stores, giving a wider range of product choice to motorists.
Healthy fast food group Leon is to open a live performance restaurant in London’s Shaftesbury Avenue theatre district, with staff not only serving customers, but also singing for them.
 
Opening on 13 February, the restaurant will serve Leon’s usual menu of salads, wraps and hot food ‘hotboxes’, but will be staffed by a cast of 40 drama and musical theatre students (past and present), plus others with no formal training who showed undiscovered singing talent.
 
Staff will perform one live song number for every two or three tracks played, including covers of favourites such as Queen’s Somebody to Love, Sinatra’s That’s Life, and West End classics such as Les Miserables’ I Dreamed a Dream.
 
Décor will reflect the Theatreland surroundings, including a ‘red carpet’, a lift designed as a ‘royal box’, posters of classic musicals, photos of staff members dressed for performances, and the ‘Leon lady’ logo displayed draped in glitter.
 
Team members will also receive professional vocal training, masterclasses to prepare for auditions, and time off to attend auditions.
 
Each performer secured their role after impressing a professional panel, made up of Helen George (from BBC’s Call the Midwife), Alexander Armstrong (TV presenter and comedian with Armstrong and Miller), Anna Shaffer (actress in the Harry Potter movies) and Jay Aston (Eurovision winner with the band Bucks Fizz).
 
First opened in Carnaby Street in 2004, rapidly-growing Leon was founded by John Vincent, Henry Dimbleby and chef Allegra McEvedy. It now has 42 stores across the UK, plus one in Amsterdam.
 
“We did it!” says Vincent, who was also on the audition panel. “In just six weeks we auditioned, hired and trained a team who can both prepare the full range of Leon’s menu AND belt out a show tune or pop classic in between times.
 
“I’ve watched them perform both individually and as an ensemble. I’m biased as I’m from a household that LOVES musicals, but it’s going to be incredible.”
Fashion retailer H&M has long been pushing the use of eco-friendly production since the 90’s when it first started using organic cotton, and previously developed other sustainable fabrics in-house like Denimite (a fabric made from recycled denim) and lyocell (a material made from eucalyptus wood fibre).
 
For this year's H&M Conscious Exclusive collection, the brand introduced its most innovative sustainable material yet. At first glance, this pleated dress worn by Natalia Vodianova might pass for chiffon, but it's actually made from Bionic, a recycled polyester made from plastic shoreline waste.
 
Pernilla Wohlfahrt, H&M’s head of design and creative director, said: “For the design team at H&M, this year’s Conscious Exclusive is a chance to dream and create pieces that are both quirky and beautiful. It’s great to be able to show just what is possible with sustainable materials like we have done with the delicate plissé dress made of BIONIC."
 
In addition to a full collection for women and relaxed formal wear for men, the collection will for the first time include children’s pieces, as well as a Conscious Exclusive fragrance made from organic oils.
 
The collection will be available in around 160 stores worldwide and online from 20 April.
 
Across all of H&M’s product ranges, 20% are now made from more sustainable materials.

A new campaign from the National Beef Association (NBA) is encouraging young farmers to embrace the beef sector.
 
Those aged between 16 and 25 with an interest in the industry have an opportunity to become a member of the NBA for £40, as opposed to the standard membership of £75.
 
“We are delighted to encourage a new generation of farmers to become more involved in the work we carry out on behalf of the industry,” said NBA development manager Rosie McGowan.
 
“The NBA’s key focus is to act as the voice of the beef industry and we feel it is vital that the younger generation is represented.”
 
She said that recruiting new, young members was just the first step in what the association is hoping to achieve. “Throughout the year we intend to create a number of young farmer focus groups and arrange speakers to talk on topics such as careers, succession planning and the future of the beef industry,” she explained. “We are also looking into coordinating innovation groups to trigger new ideas and practices.”
 
In conjunction with the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), the NBA will be hosting its annual Future Beef Farmer competition at its Beef Expo in Stoneleigh on 18 May. Individuals and groups of people aged 16 to 36 are invited to demonstrate their knowledge across all aspects of beef production at the event. The Expo is also designed to bring together the best in British commercial and pedigree cattle, equipment, knowledge-sharing, and show classes for all areas of the industry.
Drug developer Redx has outlined plans for a share placing to raise approximately £15m.
 
Redx is a drug discovery company, focused on the development of proprietary, small molecule therapeutics in cancer, infection and autoimmune disease.
 
The company is proposing to raise £12m, before expenses, by way of a placing of up to 20.5 million shares at 37.5p per share and a subscription of 11.5 million shares at 37.5p per share by institutional investor Lanstead Capital together with a related sharing agreement. The net proceeds of the placing and subscription is expected to be around £11.5m.
 
The placing is being conducted by way of an accelerated bookbuild process. Cantor Fitzgerald and WG Partners are acting as joint bookrunners in connection with the placing.
 
In order to provide shareholders that do not take part in the placing and subscription with an opportunity to participate in the proposed issue of new shares, meanwhile, Redx is also providing all qualifying shareholders with the opportunity to subscribe for open offer shares to raise up to a further £2.93m before expenses. 
 
Redx intends to use the proceeds to progress its drugs through clinical trials, undertake pre-clinical studies and for general working capital purposes.
 
Notes:
Redx Pharma (formed in September 2010) has three subsidiaries:
 
Redx Oncology Ltd launched in April 2012
Delivering multiple development candidates across a range of mechanistic approaches in cancer treatment.
Redx Anti-Infectives Ltd launched in April 2013
Discovering and developing new therapeutics in the area of infectious disease generating a pipeline of novel antibacterial & antiviral drugs
Redx Immunology Ltd launched in May 2015.
Modulating the immune system with novel small molecules to treat a range of diseases with high unmet medical need.
Next time you run into a Storm Trooper at the shopping centre in Stratford, fear not, it more than likely to be a product of the new relationship between Disney UK and Westfield.
 
Disney and Westfield will unveil a number of branded play areas throughout 2017, the first of which will be this spring with the launch of specially designed Winnie-the-Pooh and Friends branded family rooms across both shopping centres, transforming them into the beautiful 100 Acre Wood.
 
Two fun Mickey Mouse themed play zones are scheduled to open in the summer in each centre. Each Mickey Mouse play zone will offer both physical and interactive play features for pre-schoolers. A Frozen-themed play zone will follow in the autumn at Westfield Stratford City.
 
The play centres will follow a Star Wars-inspired fashion campaign, which launched yesterday (8 February), to kick off the partnership between Disney and Westfield. The campaign features iconic Star Wars characters alongside models showing the new season’s fashion trends at Westfield, which is now live on out-of-home sites across London, online and within the Westfield centres.
 
Anna Hill, chief marketing officer, The Walt Disney Company UK & Ireland, said: "We are delighted to be partnering with Westfield to add Disney magic to these fantastic shopping centres. We know how much our characters and stories resonate with families of all ages so they are the perfect choice to bring fun, original and innovative entertainment to the thousands who visit Westfield each day."
Theme park operator Gulliver’s has unveiled plans for a £37m family theme park in South Yorkshire which could create hundreds of jobs; and they have been recommended for conditional approval.
 
Gulliver’s Valley Resort would be a year-round theme park experience, aimed at two- to 13-year-olds and featuring rides, attractions, soft play and indoor fun, alongside a variety of accommodation options.
 
The proposed resort is earmarked for the former Pithouse West opencast colliery site near Rotherham, once destined for the Yes! Project and later Visions of China. Up to 215,000 sq ft of buildings could be constructed on the near-240-acre plot of land.
 
In a report to be scrutinised by Rotherham Council next week, the proposed development is recommended for approval despite constituting "inappropriate development within the green belt".
 
Very special circumstances are considered to exist due to the "economic benefits of the development in terms of increased local employment opportunities and the increase in numbers of tourists and visitors to Rotherham".
 
The presence of retail, leisure and hotels within the out-of-town proposal is not expected to have an adverse impact on any nearby centres, while the development's visual, noise and ecological impact were also held to be acceptable.
 
Communities secretary Sajid Javid will have the final say on the scheme as the project is based on green belt land, while a section 106 agreement is also needed.
 
Designed, built and managed by Gulliver's, the central theme park, would incorporate areas arranged around a main "fairy-tale castle".
 
The theme park is categorised in five ride areas providing more than 40 rides and attractions, many of which are at the three existing Gulliver's parks including a wooden roller coaster, log flume, rapid rides and pirate ship.
 
As well as the Gulliver's Valley Theme Park and Gulliver's Adventure Park attractions, there would also be a number of hub features, including Splash, Nerf, and Adventure zones as well as Gully Town Tots and Main Street.
 
The Lilliput Castle Hotel is the centrepiece of the park providing a family venue of up to 100 bedrooms as well as forming the main catering hub.
 
The remaining area of the site would be developed to provide complementary facilities to the main theme park uses, including two further family hotels, 12 holiday lodges, camping, a spa and fitness facilities and an ecology centre.
 
A total of 1,728 car parking spaces are provided.
 
Phased construction is expected to extend over a 12- to 15-year period, starting in 2017, if the recommendation to approve is followed.
 
Gulliver's World is a second generation family business, which began as a model village in the Peak District and now operates parks in Matlock Bath, Warrington and Milton Keynes.
Liverpool FC has announced the appointment of a new marketing director to develop and grow the club globally.
 
Markus Breglec has taken on the newly created role.
 
Prior to joining the Reds, Breglec held a senior position with consumer electronics company HTC and has over 19 years’ experience devising strategies for globally recognised brands such as Nike, Sony and Adidas.
 
He led the global award-winning sponsorship strategy for HTC’s partnership with the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.
 
The new marketing director will create strategies to drive growth, inspire innovation and foster collaboration. Fan engagement will be fundamental to this new role and Breglec will call upon his experience across sports and consumer electronics.
 
Billy Hogan, LFC's managing director and chief commercial officer, said: “Marketing is a critical element of our commercial success and ultimately grows the club which enables us to support our on pitch ambitions. The primary focus for Markus will be to bring the club closer to our hundreds of millions of fans around the world. He has proven expertise which makes him a leader in his field and we’re delighted that he will be joining us.”
 
Breglec added: “I am very excited to join Liverpool FC and with it the greatest and most deeply connected football family. The Reds are the beating heart in world club football with an unprecedented fan connection, amazing history and great future ahead. I very much look forward to further help grow the club, drive innovation and engage supporters globally.”

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