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Following the path of the luxury cruise lines, Tui has begun focusing more sharply on the live entertainment offering at its Sensimar hotel brand.

With 1,400 new performers and backstage workers added to their crew, for the first time new programs will be created with guests from all nationalities in mind.
 
Their Sensimar hotels, geared towards couples without children, will also feature different entertainment and events to those designed for resorts in the Tui Family Life.
 
Tui Group managing director product and purchasing Garry Wilson said: “For the summer season in 2017, Tui teams have devoted a total of 18 months to planning and 120 days to training artistes and rehearsing choreographies.”
 
“The entertainment effort is always huge, especially for our concept hotels Sensimar, Sensatori and Family Life. About 1.25 million hours are invested in the run-up.”

A recent report from global FinTech company MyFirmsApp, compared the technical and digital capabilities of the US and the UK’s leading accountancy firms.
 
The report by the company’s chairman Gavin Disney-May gives agencies the potential weak spots in the UK finance industry and identifies opportunities for making new business approaches.
 
New technologies are disrupting relationships in a global phenomenon that is transforming how businesses are run and the way they interact with their customers. Fuelled by the emergence of social, mobile and cloud computing technologies, new customer-centric business and economic models are changing the way we do even the most basic of things.
 
On both sides of the Atlantic, there is a general consensus that over the next three years Artificial Intelligence (AI), advances in cloud computing, smarter smartphones and tablets and the development of mobile apps for business process innovation will profoundly impact the accounting profession.
 
In terms of the exploitable opportunities, the smartphone offers the accountancy industry huge potential for development and while the US leads the UK in terms of smartphone ownership, the UK is a pioneer in the development of apps for accountants, and developers are putting mobile first rather than moving a desktop and cloud software product onto the mobile platform.
 
It isn’t about IT per se; it’s about evolving and providing up-to-date modern services their clients want and expect and there is huge value and potential to be gained from mobile technology and apps. They cannot be ignored as consumers spent an incredible 900bn hours on Apps in 2016, and app store downloads are forecast to reach 284.3bn in 2020. A mobile presence modernises communication and differentiates the firm.
 
According to Gartner, intelligent apps are a top 10 strategic technology trend for 2017 and technologies like virtual personal assistants have the potential to transform the workplace by making everyday tasks easier and users more effective.
 
AI is one of the top nine industries in which the UK leads the world and as we are seeing in the UK, it is fast gaining traction and is already a big talking point for the profession.
 
Machine learning and chatbots will make e-assistants (or mobile i-assistants) a reality and their role will become invaluable answering routine questions anytime of the day or night. There is the potential for AI to solve staffing issues and at the same time, become the cheapest member of the team.
 
It is a misnomer to think that the US is more advanced in cloud technology adoption than the UK. While globally there is a massive push for the small business market to transition from their desktop accounting software to cloud based accounting applications, it is New Zealand and Australia that are leading the way, followed by the UK and with the US trailing behind with just 5% of small business having chosen the cloud option.
 
Rehmann is one of the largest accounting firms in the US and director of consulting James Carpp believes the US is now past the cloud tipping point and momentum is moving away from the personal computer to mobile devices, as well as from in-house solutions to SaaS solutions. This is supported by a recent polling of CPAs in small to mid-size businesses. 25% said they are on their way to full cloud adoption, almost 50% are working on it, and only 10% have no plans at this time.
 
It seems that there is a fundamental difference between British accountants and American accountants in that CPAs need to see concrete evidence, proof, a user case and ROI before they start paying attention to new solutions. UK vendors will be relieved to hear that American accountants don’t mind where the product comes from and, in fact, they positively prefer foreign vendors as they feel they demonstrate a certain “panache”.
 
During its long history, the accountancy profession has repeatedly demonstrated its capacity to adopt and adapt to changes in business practices, statutory regulations and technology. The flexibility and technical proficiency this demands is part of a professional DNA of both American and British accountants. However, in the digital age, the speed of change and its fundamental nature can make keeping pace difficult, even for the most well-resourced and tech-savvy firm.
 
In the UK, firms are developing new digital capabilities, such as “anytime, anywhere, any device access” and America is now following in response to trends in business and in government, such as ongoing digital tax initiatives.
Asda has relaunched a new brand for its entry level private label, called Farm Stores, which it believes will help to emphasise the low price and quality of its products.
 
The Farm Stores name will be used to replace all Smart Price products by 2018 according to press reports.
 
Commenting on the move an Asda spokeswoman said “We know how important quality produce at a great price is to our customers. We’re reconnecting with our heritage by bringing back the Farm Stores brand to Asda – a name that our customers remember and trust for great value quality produce.”
 
Asda previously used the Farm Stores name for its value meat and fish ranges until it was dropped in 2001.
Bikes to cars retailer Halfords has appointed Karmarama, now part of Accenture Interactive, as its new creative agency.
 
The business, formerly with Mother, moved to Karmarama after a pitch against FCB Inferno, Iris and J. Walter Thompson.
 
Halfords tasked agencies with producing an integrated creative platform that uses customer data and digital channels to expand on their current brand positioning ‘For Life’s Journeys’. Karmarama’s first task is to produce creative work that will drive penetration and market share for the brand in the UK.
 
Karen Bellairs, Chief Customer Officer at Halfords, said of the appointment: “We are delighted with the strategic and creative work that Karmarama delivered throughout the process. They acknowledged our business need for a truly integrated approach to our brand communications and demonstrated their ability to deliver work that will create impact and engagement across all communications channels.”
Tequila brand Jose Cuervo has been announced as the official sponsor for the UK's first Margarita Rumble event on April 30.
 
The competition will see mixologists from London’s top bars and restaurants compete to win the prestigious title of 'Best Margarita in London', and each cocktail will be made with Jose Cuervo as a tequila base.
 
The Margarita Rumble will invite guests to a fiesta where they can sample their favourite bars' own take on the classic cocktail as they battle it out for the title of being crowned London's best in town. Visitors will be able to choose from one of three sessions, and each person will be given a token on arrival, which they can put into the ballot box of their choice to vote for their favourite margarita. Musical entertainment will be provided by a Mariachi band, as well as Boiler Room DJs.
 
Jose Cuervo will be providing expertise on how to make the perfect Margarita with a masterclasses led by their tequila expert. Bars taking part in the Margarita Rumble include Café Pacifico, Chiquito, DF/ Mexico, The Alchemist, Tonteria, Barrio Bars and Wahaca. For one lucky competing bar or restaurant, Jose Cuervo will be offering a trip to the see the home of the Tequila brand in Mexico.
 
In addition, guests will be treated to Michelin starred chef James Cochran's innovative meat and vegetarian dishes, which are designed to complement the margaritas on offer.
User review website TripAdvisor is branching into retail, and has announced it will be opening a new branded store at a US airport.
 
The store, at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina, will sell travel products such as toiletries, neck pillows and drinks and could include some TripAdvisor-branded products.
 
It has partnered with Paradies Lagardère, which operates more than 850 stores and restaurants in 98 airports.
 
TripAdvisor has not disclosed the terms and conditions of this partnership, but Raleigh-Durham International Airport said the store could be open by 2018.
 
 A spokesman said: “TripAdvisor is excited in the near future to be opening a TripAdvisor branded travel essential store in Raleigh-Durham International Airport.”
Lidl is continuing with the roll out of its store NPD – Lidl of the Future, as part of its £1.5bn expansion programme across the UK.
 
All new stores consistently feature a state of the art, glass fronted design, maximising natural light exposure with the latest energy efficiency technologies to minimise environmental impact.
 
Internally the stores are more spacious, with much enhanced shopping and welfare facilities as well as advanced warehouse processes.
UK and Ireland business product wholesaler Vow has announced a change to its marketing team with the appointment of Helen Wade as Group Product Marketing Director
 
Wade joins the company from global brand Fellowes and has acquired a specialist set of skills across retail, contract and wholesale channels. She also brings valuable FMCG experience from her former life at Boots.
 
Adrian Butler, VOW’s Managing Director, said, “Helen’s appointment reflects our increased emphasis on product marketing activities across all categories. The role is not only in line with VOW’s overall strategy and growth plans, but also endorses VOW’s value proposition and the commitment we made to our reseller customers at Green Light in December to bring more products to market throughout the year. This focus on product marketing will help our resellers realise even more opportunity through VOW’s unrivalled value chain.”
 
“Helen will lead the product marketing team and will be responsible for driving vendor opportunities across all brands. This strategic direction will also feed into our sales team thereby enabling our resellers with additional category growth prospects.
 
Helen will be supported by a Group Marketing Manager, Marketing Coordinators and a specialist E-marketing Manager. I’m looking forward to seeing how Helen’s role develops in the next few months."
The largest pizza delivery company outside of the US has announced that it is embarking on an ambitious growth plan which will see two new Master Franchisees and ten new stores open in the UK in 2017.

Telepizza’s take on iconic and original pizza recipes has earned a loyal fan base around the world, with the UK becoming its 20th market presence.
 
The new store is located in the Food Court of Treaty Shopping Centre, Hounslow, and will feature a menu that specialises in handmade to order, traditional pizza made with quality and fresh natural ingredients, with single slices and traditional snacks also available.
 
Experts in delivery, the store will also cater for dine in visitors to the food court. Alongside classic pizzas, made with sustainably produced, quality ingredients including British mozzarella and whole wheat dough, the Telepizza menu also features innovative Chef’s signature pizzas such as the Nachos pizza, bringing exciting new flavours to the UK market and appealing to consumers desire to ‘try something different’.
 
Telepizza international president, Giorgio Minardi, comments: “The launch of our first UK outlet marks an exciting step in our international expansion which continues to gain momentum. The UK is a hugely important market for us, with two new Master Franchise relationships and a further 10 stores planned in the next year. We know our Mediterranean heritage, outstanding customer service and focus on quality local ingredients, innovative flavours and great value will appeal to British consumers.”
 
Telepizza currently operates in 20 countries and recently posted €517 million in chain sales and €63.6 million in EBITDA. With ambition for further business growth through ongoing investment, Telepizza is continuously looking for potential JVC and master franchisees that seek to join this incredible opportunity.

GSK has announced the appointment of Louise Kristensen to the newly created role of Area Digital & E-Commerce Director, Consumer Healthcare Northern Europe.

Kristensen is now responsible for shaping and leading the Digital agenda for Northern Europe, covering GSK’s seven digital pillars of Search, Mobile, Content, Social, E-Commerce, Innovation and Analytics.

Partnering with digital agencies, digital media owners and E-retailers, Kristensen will lead the business in building and executing an area-wide Digital and E-commerce strategy across all key categories and brands, working with Marketing, Commercial, Global Category and Global Digital teams.

Kristensen brings with her a wealth of expertise and experience having worked with a number of high-profile companies in a strategic digital marketing capacity, both client and agency-side.

She previously lead the digital agenda at TBWA and more recently at Sun Life Financial Asia before setting-up her own consultancy where she worked across international markets including UK, China, Hong Kong and Indonesia supporting clients including Swiss Re and Tommy Hilfiger.

Commenting on Louise’s appointment, Anna Hale, Area Marketing Director, Consumer Healthcare Northern Europe said:“I am delighted to welcome Louise to the Northern Europe team and am extremely excited about the knowledge, experience and passion she brings to this brand new role. The creation of this role marks a step-change in our approach to digital; we want to revolutionise the whole consumer journey across all seven pillars, not just digital marketing but accelerating e-commerce too.

"Louise will help us to become industry-leading in our digital approach, ensuring that we put digital at the heart of everything we do; our thinking, our planning and our commercial execution. With Louise at the helm of our digital agenda, we can truly be bold and courageous in our delivery of innovative, consumer-centric campaigns that really challenge the very best of our FMCG competitors.”

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