News

$7.6 billion Silicon Valley stock trading app Robinhood has finally been given regulatory approval to operate in the UK and the company has announced plans to set up shop in London.

Although the company is understandably tight-lipped about the plans, the FCA approval is a major step and the company can now begin recruiting for personnel.
 
The company has appointed Wander Rutgers as President of Robinhood International. He joins from London fintech Plum, where he headed up the startup’s investing and savings product, and prior to that is said to have led product, compliance and operations teams at TransferWise.
 
At Robinhood, Rutgers will lead the U.K. business and oversee the company’s new London office, which has already begun staffing up. Robinhood is currently busy hiring for multiple U.K. positions, including recruitment, operations, marketing/PR, customer support, compliance and product.
 
Robinhood is also building out a London-based user research team so it can better find product-market fit here.

Lotus has unveiled a revised version of its roundel logo as part of its revamp and revival following the acquisition by Chinese firm Geely.
 
The sports car maker has since developed the 1973bhp Evija electric hypercar as the flagship for a major line-up revamp, which will also include the brand’s first SUV.
 
To reflect the changes, Lotus has tweaked the famous roundel that has been used in various forms since Colin Chapman founded the firm in 1948. While maintaining the classic design, the logo has been simplified using just two bold colours – the firm’s classic British Racing Green and yellow – and the straightening of the 'Lotus' wording.
 
Marketing chief Simon Clare said the firm "looked back at the original Lotus roundel and thought about Colin Chapman’s philosophy: to simplify and add lightness.”
 
The new insignia is the eight variation of the roundel to be used over the years. The initial design was used from 1948 to 1985, featuring the Lotus name and an emblem formed by the intertwined initials of Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman. The only exception was in 1968, when the firm tried a black-and-white version.
 
A new roundel featuring bold overlapping lettering and no intertwined initials was introduced in 1986. The 'ACBC' symbol returned the following year, before the classic design was brought back in 1989. It then underwent minor revamps in 2009 and 2010.
A rentals platform that currently concentrates on the London market has unveiled plans to be the UK’s premier residential lettings company – and says it will open in New York next year.
 
Lifenest specialises in accommodation for students and young professionals in London zones one and two, offering rooms rather than complete properties, together with a flat-sharing service that matches tenants.
 
The company was launched in 2016, but has until now stayed under the radar, only yesterday announcing its expansion so far and its growth plans for 2020 and 2021.
 
Lifenest says its has tripled headcount so far this year in its headquarters in London’s iconic building, The Gherkin.
 
Next week it is due to launch a landlord acquisition campaign.
 
It plans to launch in the United States in the third fiscal quarter of next year, starting in New York, with launches in 2021 in Los Angeles and San Franciso.
 
Eventually it says it will offer “a consistent rental service” across the globe.
Outdoor lifestyle brand Fat Face has announced the appointment of the current editor of Drapers to take up a new marketing and communications director role.
 
Fat Face confirmed it has appointed Keely Stocker as its new marketing and brand communications director, due to take up her new role later this month.
 
Stocker has worked at Drapers since June 2005, when she joined as an administrator. She was made online editor in February 2009 and was named as editor of the magazine in October 2015.
 
According to Drapers, in her 14 years at the title, Stocker has “created, developed and executed Drapers’ multichannel brand strategy across print, online and live events”.
 
Stocker said she was “hugely excited to start a new chapter in my career. Fat Face has a brilliant team, and I’m looking forward to getting started.”
 
Ecommerce and brand director at Fat Face, Paul Wright, said: “We are thrilled to be welcoming Keely to Fat Face. Keely’s retail, brand and strategy credentials make her the perfect choice to further complement the Fat Face team.”
 
It follows significant changes in terms of senior staff at the retailer, with new chief executive Liz Evans coming to the business in March, replacing former boss Anthony Thompson. In June, design director Emma Shaw also left after eight years.
 
For the 26 weeks to December 1, 2018, Fat Face posted a 4% increase in EBITDA to £15.5m. International sales also surged 59% to £8.7m. 
 Food-to-go retailer Eat has named Mike Rainer as its new managing director.
 
The move follows the departure of CEO Andrew Walker, who has left the retailer to pursue other interests.
 
Rainer, who was most recently chief financial officer at Eat, will remain in the role, but assume additional responsibilities as MD, while the business continues to trade as a separate entity. In May it emerged that Pret A Manger would buy the business, which operates around 90 sites, and had longer-term plans to convert the brand’s shops to vegetarian Veggie Prets.
 
Turnover at Eat had fallen from £99m in 2017 to just under £95m in 2018.
 
Walker said he was “unbelievably proud” of his last three years leading Eat “through a significant period of change”.
 
“Helped by the fantastic team from the ground up, we were able to turn around the business – evidenced by our last financial year, where we saw a significant improvement in our trading performance, sparking Pret’s interest,” said Walker.
 
“Mike was a key part of this success, so I leave Eat in very capable hands. I now look forward to taking a much-needed break before considering my options in the future.”
 
Rainer said he would be pleased to continue Walker’s work, steering the business through the next stage as it integrates with Pret.
 
“The vast majority of our colleagues will be staying on at the combined group and our customers will continue to benefit from our creativity and drive for excellence.”
Rockstar Energy Drink and Xbox have unveiled plans to launch the largest fan-inspired gaming on-pack promotion to date in support of the upcoming Gears 5 release.
 
The on-pack tie-up will launch in September and will run across Rockstar Original, Xdurance and Punched Guava variants (plain pack and 99p PMP) and the can collection will feature three original designs from UK-based illustrator Luke Preece.
 
Nicole Fawcette, Senior Global Brand Manager at XBOX Gears, said: “We’re so stoked to be partnering with Rockstar Energy once again on another artist series for Gears.”
 
In addition to offering daily prizes of consoles and games, the promotion gives gamers the chance to unlock exclusive in-game items and free XBOX game pass access by entering pull codes at www.gears.rockstarenergy.com/gb
 
Adrian Troy, Marketing Director at Barr Soft Drinks, says: “Gaming is massive amongst energy drinkers. With almost 40 million gamers in the UK, driving a market worth almost £6 billion, the gaming community has evolved way beyond teenagers to include more mature consumers with higher levels of disposable income. Significantly, many of them are now choosing food and drink with gaming in mind. The build-up to the launch of Gears 5 is massive and we’re confident that our partnership will capture the imagination of the UK’s gaming community. We’re delighted to be partnering with Xbox on such a huge launch.”
 
AG Barr will also be providing high-impact POS to create eye-catching in-store displays, drive sales and increase shopper footfall throughout the promotion.
Sales have soared at St Pierre, the food business behind the Paul Hollywood, St Pierre and Baker Street brands.
 
Now the company, which secured a multimillion-pound investment during the year is eyeing further growth.
 
St Pierre Groupe recently rebranded from Carrs Foods. It was established in 1986 as part of a large European bakery group.
 
For the year to 31 December 2018, the company reported turnover of £69.5m compared to £49.4m the prior period.
 
Pre-tax profits also increased from £5.2m to £6.9m.
 
Branded products make up most of the business, with the St Pierre line sold in the UK, Ireland and throughout the US, with the latter being its strongest market for growth.
 
Baker Street is sold primarily to the convenience and cash and carry sectors. It expanded during the year with a new wellness offer – which includes breads made with rye, nuts and seeds in a bid to fill a gap in the UK market for longer life products with healthier attributes.
 
The Paul Hollywood Ready to Bake line is to grow in the comping year, with new products lined up for new categories.
 
Jeremy Gilboy, founder of St Pierre Groupe, said: "Everyone at the St Pierre Groupe has worked very hard to build us into a fast-growing global bakery business and we are truly proud of our achievements.
 
"It's been an incredibly exciting year for the business. We've not only posted very strong financial results, but we were also recognised with a Queen's Award for Enterprise in International Trade - having become one of the ten biggest bakery brands in the US.
 
"We're planning on more of the same great progress in the next year as we concentrate efforts on increasing distribution in the UK, growing internationally and continuing to invest in our brand and marketing to keep on growing sales."
 
Earlier this year, the group secured a £6.7m investment from BGF and partner Lloyds Bank, facilitated by Grant Thornton. The funds were earmarked for accelerating international growth. 
A product launched by Manchester tech firm UKFast in 2017 has surpassed growth forecasts to become a standalone division, recruiting 20 new people to its team.
 
FASTdesk® – a remote desktop platform – is on track to achieve a revenue run rate of £400,000 this year, helping hundreds of businesses manage remote working for their employees, enabling them to securely access data, applications and desktops remotely from any device.
 
Responding to the business world’s adoption of remote and flexible working, the FASTdesk team is searching for 20 new recruits across technical and commercial roles, including Citrix engineers and account managers.
 
UKFast CEO Lawrence Jones said: “FASTdesk’s rapid growth over the last 18 months resembles the early years of UKFast. In 1999, we helped clients take their first steps online. Roll on 20 years and we are pioneering ways for our clients to work remotely.
 
“The demand for flexible working solutions is driving the decision to make FASTdesk a standalone division. It needs its own oxygen to achieve its true potential.”
 
FASTdesk is growing its team of customer service, business development and technical experts, who are joining the umbrella company at UKFast Campus.
 
Jones continues: “Companies evolve and so do the needs of their workforce, so it’s important for businesses to offer flexible working options. I’ll always be a big fan of teamwork and the energy generated within an office environment, but there are clearly many cases where working remotely makes perfect sense.” 
Hamburger chain Byron has revealed a new logo, which forms part of a wider redesign for the struggling UK brand.
 
The new logo aims to bring people back together, with each letter of 'Byron' representing a person around a dining table, accompanied by the tagline 'All Hail the Table'.
 
The brand redesign comes at a tricky time for Byron, which has faced financial difficulties and a wave of restaurant closures in recent years – not to mention a scandal involving its treatment of immigrant workers in 2016 that put a serious dent in its reputation. It looks like the chain is hoping the rebrand will help improve public perceptions – but will it provide the fresh start the company needs?
 
The new look is set to roll out to restaurants later this year. You can watch the logo in action, and see how the letters or 'people' in the logo come together around a table, in the video below. Alternatively, see our guide to logo design to see how the best logos have created impact.
 
Byron’s CEO Simon Wilkinson said, "The rationale behind the logo stems from our desire to bring people back around the table, to connect with each other and share quality time with friends. The logo is quite a literal translation of this, and brings Byron’s sense of fun to the visuals.
 
"As the UK dining scene continues to evolve, our logo represents the way we hope people will experience Byron in the future – together. It's a very simple idea, but one that we really believe in."
 
It's also worth noting that Byron has had a pretty experimental approach to its branding in the past. In the chain's early days, the logo often appeared in different iterations across different locations. So perhaps this new look also represents the brand becoming more unified.
 
The new logo unveil also coincides with a shake-up on the brand's social media. The chain's Facebook page looks to have been removed, and the brand's Twitter handle (unverified but linked from the official website) is new this month. Its only activity so far is a note to its rival, GBK, saying its burgers were better. It seems a slightly aggressive way to turn over a new leaf – is Byron perhaps looking to start a rivalry in the style of McDonald's vs Burger King?
 
The company's Insta account remains the same – presumably because those likes are too precious to lose. The new logo is in pride of place as its profile picture, but so far, there aren't any posts about it. 
Victoria’s Secret’s Ed Razek, the long serving chief marketing officer who didn’t want to cast trans or plus size models, is leaving the company.
 
Razek gave a rather explosive interview to Vogue last fall, in which he came out with all sorts of explosive quotes, saying VS should not cast “transsexuals” in their blockbuster fashion show, as it was “fantasy,”, and also dissing Savage x Fenty’s diverse, fabulous show during New York Fashion Week as “pandering without question.”
 
Now, Razek is retiring, according to the New York Times, which seems like a blessing for the beleaguered brand.
 
On top of Razek’s remarks, VS has seen itself embroiled in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal — Epstein was financial adviser to the company’s chief executive, Leslie H. Wexner, although Wexner says they severed ties some time ago.
 
L Brands, the parent company, has said it will be investigating the relationship between the two, hiring outside lawyers.
 
Meanwhile, the Victoria’s Secret fashion show will no longer be televised, or perhaps happen at all. Razek’s farewell note, in which he informed the company of his retirement, was titled “So long partners.”
 
The chief marketing officer’s departure is the end of an era indeed, with Razek presiding over the epoch of the VS “Angels,” including Gisele, Doutzen Kroes, and Adriana Lima.

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