News

Positive reports from multi-channel retailer The Works, which this week announced a revenue increase of 13.2% in the 52-week period ending April 28.
 
Specialising in arts, crafts, books, stationery and gifts, The Works has seen an overall like-for-like sales uplift of 3%, driven by both online and in-store sales.
 
The rollout of 50 new stores across the country has also been successful according to the report, with returns on new stores reported as strong.
 
The company’s click & collect service also saw a “particularly pleasing” performance over the year, and despite an “uncertain backdrop since January” due to political uncertainty, the firm is confident about future growth.
 
Kevin Keaney, chief executive officer of The Works, commented: “Overall, we have had a successful year as we continued to expand our store footprint and online proposition and introduce new customers to The Works.
 
“We achieved another record Christmas, solid like-for-like sales growth and further cash margin improvement in the year. Our differentiated proposition, offering a wide range of new products at outstanding value and delivered by our highly engaged colleagues, continues to be well received by our customers.”
 
He concluded: “The business has multiple growth levers and we remain confident in the future prospects for The Works.”
Top 100 law firm Keystone Law has announced strong profit growth and revenue in its first full year since listing on the junior market of the London Stock Exchange.
 
In the year ending 31 January 2019 the firm announced adjusted pre-tax profits of £5.1m, up 56.8% on the previous year, on revenues up 35.1% to £42.7m. It proposed a dividend of 6.5p, bringing its full-year dividend to 9p.
 
The self-styled ‘challenger’ law firm operates on a chambers model, with more than 270 self-employed lawyers working from their own offices and paid according to the revenue they generate. It listed on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange in November 2017. 
 
Commenting on the results, James Knight, chief executive, said: 'The benefits offered by the Keystone business model, as well as the increasing brand recognition within the legal profession, continue to make Keystone a highly attractive proposition for high calibre lawyers seeking a different way to develop their practice. As such I strongly believe that Keystone is well positioned to take advantage of the significant market opportunity in the UK mid-market legal services market, which we believe is ripe for disruption.'
 
The results statement reveals that the gross profit margin of the business slipped by half a percentage point, to 27.1% and that overhead costs increased by 21% in the year. 'This has been driven in part by the full year impact of costs associated with being a public company (£0.2m impact this year),' the announcement stated.
Staedtler(UK) has announced the appointment of Abbie Davies as Marketing Executive.
 
With a degree in Marketing from the University of South Wales, Abbie has held marketing roles with companies such as Barratt Homes and DeLaval, and joins Staedtler from South Wales Police where she was a Project Support Officer.
 
At Staedtler, Abbie will be providing marketing support for the education, commercial and trade channels, working with customers across the UK.
 
Abbie said, “I am thrilled to be joining Staedtler, a world-famous, dynamic and innovative company. My passion is marketing and I look forward to contributing to Staedtler’s continued growth in the UK.”
Barnardo’s has teamed up with retailer IKEA UK to announce a new three-year national partnership to support children and young people across the UK, with a focus on young carers.
 
The partnership brings together IKEA’s focus on creating better lives and better lives at home and Barnardo’s knowledge of children and young people, with the ambition of having a positive impact on the lives of the most vulnerable children and young people in society.
 
Launching this National Children’s Day UK, both organisations believe every child deserves a place to call home, a healthy start in life, a quality education, the right to play and a positive future. Play is essential to the cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being of children and young people.
 
Through a child-centred approach, IKEA and Barnardo’s will be led by children and young people to understand how they can better support them. As such, young people and children will be at the heart of the partnership, taking a lead on how support, funds and expertise should be used, from reimagining spaces and taking part in new activities, to challenging policy.
 
Hege Sæbjørnsen, Country Sustainability Manager at IKEA UK, said: “At IKEA, we believe every child deserves a place to call home, a healthy start in life, a quality education, the right to play and a positive future. Together with Barnardo’s we have an amazing opportunityto create a long-term positive impact on the lives of the most vulnerable children and young people in society through sharing expertise and resources, leveraging our unique skills and scale, and more traditional fundraising.
 
“We want to balance our expertise and knowledge in life at home and strength as a values-led business with Barnardo’s knowledge and expertise of the needs of young carers, providing the best opportunities to support them so that they can have the same opportunities as their peers. We will do this together with more than 12,000 passionate co-workers across our business.”
 
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said: “We are delighted to announce our partnership with IKEA and we’re excited to see how it develops in the next three years. 
 
“Like us, IKEA understands that having a happy, safe childhood gives a child the best start at a bright future. We are proud to partner with a company that appreciates Barnardo’s values and ambitions.  
 
“With young people at its heart, this partnership will make a positive impact on the lives of some of the most vulnerable children and young people in the UK.”
 
Barnardo’s vital front line services are all within a short distance of every one of IKEA’s 22 stores across the UK, making it easy for store teams to engage directly with local Barnardo’s representatives and young people. Some stores have already made great progress building relationships locally, for example, IKEA Glasgow and IKEA Edinburgh have today launched a textile take-back scheme giving customers the chance to donate unwanted clothing and soft furnishings to their local Barnardo’s centre.
 
Meanwhile, co-workers at IKEA Warrington have been using their home-furnishing expertise to help refurbish a property which supports young people transitioning from the care system. More stores are in the process of planning their own local activity over the coming months.
 
Throughout the duration of the partnership, IKEA will provide plenty of opportunities for co-workers and customers to engage and participate, starting with Barnardo’s collection tins appearing in all IKEA UK stores on National Children’s Day UK this Sunday 12th May.
Mapping agency Ordnance Survey has launched trials with Mobileye, an Intel-owned technology firm which specialises in computer-vision technology to map roads and the objects around them.
 
The trials, which will use cameras mounted on vehicles to spot and identify roadside infrastructure - such as traffic lights, lamp posts and manhole covers - will be used to build new mapping data that will one day be used as a key part of the technology at the heart of driverless cars.
 
Fleets of cars and vans are to be fitted with the Mobileye 8 Connect camera, which will gather information from journeys, including the appearance of roadworks and the location of drainage grates. This is similar to mapping work being done by TomTom for its GPS services, gathering detailed road information with one eye on the autonomous vehicle future.
 
Mobileye chief executive Professor Amnon Shashua said: “A future of smart cities and safe streets is within reach when we equip governments and businesses with high-precision mapping data. We look forward to seeing the continuing progress of our trials.”
 
Ordnance Survey interim chief executive Neil Ackroyd said the new data could be used as a “building block for Britain’s infrastructure for many years”, including the expected rollout of autonomous vehicles.
 
“At OS we strive to create environments that support new technologies and data services across the public and private sector.
 
“The OS collaboration with Mobileye further enhances our commitment to supporting Britain as a world-leading centre for digital and tech excellence.”
 
Utility company Northumbrian Water has confirmed it will join the trials, becoming one of the first UK firms to try the technology. It will add the data-capturing cameras to its vehicles to capture data in the North East.
 
The company said being able to see more detailed maps of roadsides could help prevent incidents where maintenance work damages water pipes or cabling.
 
Clive Surman-Wells, the firm’s operations solutions manager, said: “We’re really excited and proud to be the first utility company to have the opportunity to try this new technology.
 
“There are so many benefits that have the potential to really change the game when it comes to helping manage our networks and keep our customers’ water flowing.”
 
Ordnance Survey is also involved with a similar environment analysis project to create unified digital maps of underground pipes and cables in north-east England and London.
 
It is anticipated that the mapping will eventually lead to a national register of underground assets, which could help save lives and reduce the disruption caused by accidental damage to the hidden utility pipes and cables.
Direct Line is highlighting the inherent dangers in the motor insurance industry by reporting on the rise in what it costs to repair a car and sluggish motor insurance premiums
 
The FTSE 100 giant said cost inflation — measuring the rising expense of repairing damaged cars — would be at the upper end of a 3% to 5% range.
 
This is because repair bills Direct Line gets from third-party claims have been higher, with garages charging more because of the higher cost of parts from Europe after the fall in the pound.
 
At the same time, a price war between insurers — good news for insurance shoppers — has hampered Direct Line’s attempts to grow premiums.
 
Gross written premiums for motor fell by 4.2% year-on-year to £386.9 million for the three months ending March. Home insurance was more stable, rising 0.6% to £44.6 million.
 
The company has launched a number of “pricing initiatives”, to win customers without leaving it vulnerable to losses.
 
Incoming chief executive Penny James said: “The first-quarter was characterised by significant operational progress in a tough trading environment.
 
The motor market remained highly competitive, with market premiums failing to keep pace with claims inflation.”
Footasylum, is reporting an industry leading return on advertising spend (ROAS), following an investment in artificial intelligence.
 
It states that its ROAS is 30 times higher than the industry average of 286%.
 
The firm has been working alongside Data analytics company Peak to introduce AI and machine learning algorithms into its social media advertising campaign. Using Peak’s system, it creates a predicted customer view of people most likely to be engaged with, and be in the market for, Footasylum’s products. These customer segment profiles are then used to target lookalike audiences via social media in order to acquire new customers to the Footasylum brand.
 
“We’re gaining a lot from being an AI-driven retailer, and the results of our recent social advertising campaigns speak volumes. AI and machine learning are complementing our marketing efforts perfectly, allowing us to speak to customers at the right time when they are ready to make a purchase, and scaling communication back when they aren’t,” explained Tom Summerfield Head of Commerce at Footasylum.
 
“The aim is to increase efficiency and effectiveness and only invest in marketing at the right time to make a big impact, which is a core part of our strategy moving forward. We’re now excited to expand our use of Peak and find out how AI can influence other areas of the business."
 
Richard Potter, CEO of Peak, added:“So many challenges faced by retailers today can be unlocked by using data to really understand behaviours and build relationships with their customers.
 
“Footasylum is a great example of a retailer using data and AI to drive forward innovative new marketing methods to engage with customers in the right way, at the right time, with the right offer. These results are only the start of their story, and it’s brilliant to see their customers responding so well to new tactics and technologies.”
N Brown Group’s Simply Be brand has become the first ever channel sponsor of E4.
 
In the year-long deal, ten second idents for Simply Be will appear before every show on E4 between 6am and midnight.
 
Simply Be will also be able to use the E4 logo alongside their own branding.
 
“It was great to work with Simply Be to create bespoke solutions to reach their target audience via E4. They are a brand that encourages everyone to be whoever they want to be in a positive way and this fits perfectly with E4’s light hearted tone of voice and strong youth credentials,” said Rupinder Downie, Channel 4’s Partnerships Controller Sponsorship.
 
The partnership includes a digital media package on All 4, targeting young audiences and E4 programming as well as social media content, tapping into E4’s multi-platform audience.
 
“At Simply Be we are committed to empowering our customers and making them look and feel the best they possibly can,” added Ed Watson, Chief Brand Officer at N Brown Group.
 
“As a brand we are ahead of the curve, authentic and unapologetic and E4 totally mirrors this, being full of energy, existing to entertain and make their audience feel amazing.
 
“Being the first brand to hold a partnership with the channel is completely aligned with our strategy; we’re on a journey to inspire, influence and connect with our customers and feel that E4 is the perfect environment to do this.”
Market research company Omnisis has announced the appointment of Hannah McCreesh as its first marketing manager.
 
McCreesh was previously head of content at Podcast Websites and prior to that was communications and PR officer at care provider Dimensions UK.
 
Founded in 2002, Manchester-based Omnisis offers custom-built online surveys, data services and analysis.
 
Brian Cooper, managing director at Omnisis, said: “I am thrilled to welcome Hannah into her new role as marketing manager. It’s time to shout louder about we do and raise our profile within the market research industry and outside – and appointing Hannah is the first step to achieving that.”
Food ordering service Just Eat is celebrating the simple pleasure of ordering a takeaway, rather than the shame of having just eaten it.

The company hopes that housing all its creative under the McCann umbrella will produce a more unified position that will help it stand out from rivals such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats.
 
The ad features a couple on the couch deciding whether to order a takeaway, while every character on every TV channel is chanting the earworm jingle “Did Somebody Say Just Eat?”
 
Many TV shows tributes play cameos including Family Guy, GoT, Aliens etc who all sing along while the couple decides what to do.
 
Tailored versions of the TV ad will run in the UK, Ireland, Australia, Spain and Denmark. Followed by extensive digital, OOH and radio campaigns. Different iterations will launch later in the year in Italy, France and Switzerland.
 
In the UK, the spot will launch today (9 May) during Channel 4’s Gogglebox and ITV show Britain’s Got Talent.
 
‘Did Somebody Say Just Eat’ is the first big-budget campaign from the brand since it moved it unified creative in the markets under a single agency, in a move spearheaded by recently-installed chief customer officer and interim chief exec Peter Duffy.


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