News

Monzo has announced it is edging into the buy now pay later (BNPL) scene by offering its customers up to £3,000 worth of credit.
 
The fintech company is one of the first UK banks to launch into the fast-growing sector, following in the footsteps of tech companies such as Klarna and Clearpay.
 
Monzo said it has taken the “best bits” of BNPL schemes, credit cards, loans and overdrafts to create the “Monzo Flex” product.
 
Monzo Flex will be available to its five million customers on Thursday.
 
The number of consumers using BNPL schemes boomed in 2020, with the sector seeing £2.7 billion in transactions, according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
 
It is estimated that anywhere between five and 10 million consumers used a BNPL method while checking out last year.
 
Monzo Flex will allow users to purchase goods and services over £30 and, in a similar fashion to Klarna, will allow payments to be staggered over three instalments.
 
Customers can also choose to pay in six or 12 instalments, however these options will require them to pay interest of 19 per cent.
 
The fintech bank said that it would offer its customers pre-approved credit at the checkout after it conducts a “comprehensive affordability assessment”.
 
It will also allow its users to pay for a product up to 14 days after they buy it.
 
While there are growing concerns surrounding the BNPL sector and its lenders, Monzo is a regulated bank and therefore reports to credit reference agencies.
 
This means that other lenders, such as mortgage providers will be able to see a customer is using Monzo Flex.
 
Earlier this year, the UK government announced the BNPL space would be regulated by the FCA to product customers who opt in to using it after a review found there was cause for “potential harm”.
Jiffy, one of the UK’s leading ultra-rapid grocery delivery companies has announced it is releasing its own brand of fresh produce.
 
The move, which is the first by any rapid-delivery grocer in the UK, comes at the same time as an expansion for the company which will see it open dark stores in Stratford and Islington.
 
Jiffy’s new own-brand range includes everything from blackcurrants and bananas and strawberries.
 
The produce will come from family-run business Watts Farm based in Kent and Essex.
 
Both Watts Farm and Jiffy are committed to the entire “farm to fork” process, ensuring transparency and premium quality in all products.
 
“We are delighted to launch our seventh and eighth stores in London, with more to come before the year is out,” Jiffy founding partner Vladimir Kholiaznikov said.
 
“When we launched in April we had ambitious expansion plans, and I am thrilled to see these come to fruition and to be bringing the convenience of Jiffy to more Londoners.
 
“Launching our own brand fresh produce is a key part of our development, as we are committed to giving our customers the best possible choice, when and where they need it.”
 
Unlike its rivals, Jiffy’s riders are contracted riders with statutory wages and ride on electric and pedal bikes.
 
The uniform includes items from a recent partnership with On-Running, a Swiss piece of tech in the running shoe industry.
 
Jiffy has collaborated with charity City Harvest and tries to minimise food waste within the rapid delivery sector.
Brits are looking to make up for last year’s Christmas spent in lockdown.
 
Sitecore’s Holiday Shopping Trends 2021 Report shows 83% of Gen Z and 67% of Millennials are planning to go all out this holiday season, with 77% of Gen Z and 70% of Millennials saying this Christmas will be the highlight of their year. But with concerns of labour shortages impacting everything from food supply to the haulage industry, marketers and consumers alike need to plan ahead to ensure they don’t miss the mark this Christmas.
 
The report arms marketers with the insights needed to craft a better customer experience in time for the most important festive season yet. This includes the specifics of evolving consumer shopping behaviour, how the pandemic has made people more socially conscious, how to manage the risk of supply chain disruption, and what brands and retailers need to do to be successful this Christmas.
 
The major reasons for the excitement this year are the possibility of seeing extended family and faraway friends for the first time since the pandemic began and feeling that we deserve to celebrate after the year we’ve had.
 
When it comes to gift giving 58% of respondents across all generations would prefer experience-based gifts over ‘more stuff’, likely due to the amount of time people have been housebound for over the past year, but perhaps fortuitously given the challenges the haulage industry is facing. Similarly, given the upheaval and uncertainty of the pandemic, it is understandable that two-thirds of Gen Z (68%) and Millennial (64%) consumers would prefer gifts they ask for rather than a surprise this Christmas.
 
Consumer decision-making is evolving
 
There are also indications that buying behaviours and attitudes to Christmas have shifted this year:
 
The pandemic has made 86% of respondents value time at home with their family and the simple pleasures in life more
In terms of gifts, 48% of consumers plan to buy fewer but make bigger and more considerate purchases for loved ones
These gifts will be funded by the fact that over half (51%) have more savings set aside as a result of decreased spending over the past year, though 73% say they now think more carefully about how they spend their money
Almost half (48%) of Brits are planning to start ticking gifts off their list by October, with almost a third (28%) already Christmas shopping – highlighting the importance for brands and retailers to capitalise on early-bird shoppers and get them their gifts in time
 
When asked about how they will find gift inspiration, the top-ranking responses were:
 
  • Browsing my favourite brands’ websites (39%)
  • Window shopping on the high street (31%)
  • Visiting small independent retailers (23%)
  • Local Christmas markets (21%)
These results should offer encouragement to retailers worried about the purported move to online shopping. To add further context, 74% of Gen Z, 69% of Millennials, 58% of Gen X, 49% of Baby Boomers and 46% of Traditionalists say they are ready to embrace pre-pandemic shopping, travel and holiday experiences.
 
A chance for independent and diverse voices to shine
 
The report findings offer hope to small independent retailers:
 
  • 45% of UK consumers plan to avoid big online retailers this year
  • 43% agree they would feel lazy if they resorted to purely online shopping
 
It’s clear that independent retailers must act fast to do everything they can to create a compelling shopping experience or risk missing sales:
 
  • 65% want the gifts they buy to mean something and have a story behind them
  • Even though UK consumers want to get most of their gifts from independent retailers, 59% said they are most likely to buy from Amazon at the last minute
 
Paige O’Neill, CMO, Sitecore, comments: “Brands and retailers will undoubtedly face supply chain disruption this year for reasons out of their control, which unfortunately could mean frustrated customers, negative reviews and a tarnished reputation. With shoppers buying gifts already, the time is now for them to take back control through innovations around stock analysis and communications across multiple platforms. In addition to this, finding ways to allow people to gift or queue for hot-ticket, low-inventory items will be key in keeping customers engaged.
 
“Our data shows many Brits want to shop with their ‘heart’, be considerate and buy quality gifts. But if brands and retailers see stock shortages and are struggling to keep up with online retail giants offering seamless and quick shopping experiences, consumer heads could be turned. The brands and retailers that will win this Christmas will be those that match the levels of service and speed of online, manage their supply chain risk well, and create exciting personalised in-person shopping experiences, demonstrating the values that set them apart.”
 
Another seismic change seen in the past year has been the rally against racial injustice in America and the UK. Over half (53%) of UK consumers now believe it is very or somewhat important that retailers offer more Black-owned and minority-owned products and services. However, this demand is not being met with only 16% saying they are seeing retailers act on this.
 
A pivotal moment for brands and retailers
 
For the report, Sitecore also spoke to UK brand marketing heads already busy preparing for the festive season. 83% admit performance this Christmas would make or break their brand, with 45% admitting this festive season would be the last chance to prove the value of maintaining a physical store presence.
 
And as brands are putting the finishing touches to their Christmas marketing campaigns, the report suggests UK consumers are open to brand communications if done right:
 
  • 55% plan to open targeted emails and mail from brands they like this Christmas
  • 44% want to be offered personalised suggestions from their favourite brands to help make this holiday season feel special
  • 44% are willing to share their browsing history with brands so they can make relevant offers
  • 30% favour suggestions that suit their lifestyle and tastes
  • 68% would value early discounts and deals       
  • 47% would like to see exclusive pre-sale deals for loyal customers
 
“We know that brands and retailers are hoping for a bumper festive season to make up for last year. But the only way they will achieve this is by listening to customers. To see success this Christmas brands must tap into customer data to understand how shoppers want to shop, and what they want to buy, to help them find the gifts they are looking for,” concludes O’Neill.
Boots has launched Boots Media Group, a new media and marketing service to help third-party brands deliver personalised campaigns out to customers.
 
The new group will allow the retailer’s supply partners to create targeted advertising campaigns based on data from its Advantage Card loyalty scheme, which currently has 17 million active members shopping at 2,300 stores and online.
 
Boots, which has previously had a successful partnership with Love Island during the summer said the new service will help brands “maximise ROI” on advertising spend by giving brands the ability to reach their target customers across the retailers’ digital platforms, stores and other third-party channels including on social media.
 
A dedicated account management team will work with brands that use Boots Media Group’s services.
 
Boots partnered up with commerce marketing organisation Threefold to deliver the new offering and the health and beauty retailer also said it will be expanding the resources dedicated to Boots Media Group by 50 per cent
 
Boots chief marketing officer Pete Markey told Retail Week that the retailer wanted to help its suppliers even more and start it started to think what if it could develop something like felt like you were dealing with an internal media agency at Boots, rather than a partnership marketing team.
 
He said they wanted something that “felt as professional and slick as personal as dealing with a really effective media agency.”
 
Markey added that Boots will continue to embrace new methods of marketing, following its sponsorship of Love Island this summer.
 
He said the show did very well for the business and that it featured exclusive supplier products in the villa and people were able to ‘shop’ the villa.
 
He said we can now expect to see a lot more like this from Boots around how customers can shop in new and exciting ways while also putting its supplier products front and centre.
 
Boots Media Group is the latest innovative initiative launched by the retailer within recent months, including its trial partnership with Deliveroo and its Online Doctor service.
Pete’s appointment as Marketing Director took effect on 1st September and he reports directly to UK Managing Director, David Smith.
 
Pete’s move to his new role this month coincides with his 20th anniversary with the company. During his career with Continental Tyre Group he has held various positions. He joined the company in the Supply Chain division before moving across to Business Process and then on to the Marketing department where he has been working for 15 years. Here he has worked in product management, branding, trade marketing and most recently he headed up the Marketing Communications team.
 
As the company’s new Marketing Director, based at Continental’s UK head office in West Drayton, Pete will have overall responsibility for the marketing strategy across passenger, truck and commercial speciality tyres in the UK and Ireland. Continental believes Pete’s in-depth knowledge of the market, coupled with his wide ranging and lengthy marketing experience in the company will prove of great value to the business.
 
Commenting on his new role Pete said, “It’s a particularly exciting time to lead the marketing strategy for the UK and Ireland as Continental focuses on sustainable mobility and its transformation in digitalisation and electrification. I am also inspired by further ‘market-leading’ new products and services that we are introducing in the coming years. Working with a really great team I am looking forward to taking on the challenge.”
 
David Smith, Managing Director at Continental Tyre Group, adds: “Pete is a great asset to the company, he is an innovative thinker and brings a high level of creativity and wealth of knowledge to the role. It’s great to be able to promote Pete from within Continental following his progression along the company’s development path. With Continental at such an active point in its history I’m looking forward to seeing how he and his team can further elevate the brand and propel growth.”
Virgin Wines UK has entered into a marketing partnership with Moonpig Group to launch a range of products with the UK's leading online greeting card and gifting platform.
 
The UK's largest direct-to-consumer online wine retailer said it would launch a range of 32 different wines as part of the first of a kind partnership with Moonpig.
 
Customers would now be able to purchase a bottle of or gift wine either as a standalone transaction or as an add-on to a card purchase.
 
"We've long admired Moonpig and are delighted to be working with them on this exciting and innovative partnership. Both businesses are committed to delighting customers with outstanding quality and value and we are confident this beautifully packaged range will prove to be extremely popular," said Virgin Wines boss Jay Wright.
 
"We are looking forward to a long and successful relationship with the whole Moonpig team."
 
The options available to customers would include individual bottles, wine selections, gift boxes and exclusive wine selections for Moonpig's customers.
 
The partnership became effective immediately following Friday's announcement.
Wagamama owner The Restaurant Group has chalked up a significant increase in like-for-likes since the reopening of indoor trading but its dine-in business is still down on 2019.
 
Delivery is picking up the slack, with like-for-like delivery sales reported up 146% and like-for-like takeaway sales up 90% in the last eight weeks (period ending 29 August).
 
Predictably, The Restaurant Group’s (TRG) strongest brand was Wagamama, achieving +21% like-for-like growth on 2019.
 
The company - which also owns Chiquito and Frankie & Benny's - announced it is on track to open an additional three new Wagamama restaurants in the UK during the current financial year, as well as three new delivery kitchens. In total, TRG is targeting a total Wagamama estate of 180-200 restaurants, and 20-30 delivery kitchens.
 
But The Restaurant Group chief executive Andy Hornby warned that the firm is tackling ‘labour availability and supply chain’ issues.
 
TRG’s pubs (+12%) and leisure (+18%) business units also achieved double digit growth in like-for-like sales versus 2019 over this period. Within pubs, performance was supported by investment in 30 covered outside areas and an online booking system.
 
In the leisure division, delivery and takeaway performance was described as being “very strong” with delivery and takeout sales accounting for 16% of sales compared to only 4% in 2019 (for the eight-week period ending 29 August), with virtual brands now accounting for about half of off premise sales.
 
The leisure division has been the focus of restructuring with a 60% reduction in sites.
 
TRG’s concessions business, which is predominately located in airports, was impacted by significantly reduced passenger numbers, with sales down by -53%.
 
Total sales over the 27 weeks ended 4 July 2021 reached £216.8m, compared to £227.2m during the 2020 equivalent.
 
Edison Group analyst Richard Finch points out that the results for the half to June do not invite comparison owing to Covid-19 disruption and considerable changes in the estate.
 
“Positive news from Restaurant Group with double-digit % market outperformance across the board since May reopening accompanied by confirmation of substantial liquidity (£235m+ cash headroom) to pursue clear growth opportunities," he says.
 
"Encouragingly, the company reports considerable opportunity from 21% reduction in local competition, rapid development of the delivery market and continued strong roll-out, notably 5 to 7 Wagamama (sites and delivery kitchens) a year from 2022 (target 180 to 200 sites from current 144)."
 
“Trading performance since re-opening supports an increase in our FY21 EBITDA expectations,” the company says.
 
However, the group warned of inflationary cost pressures in food and drink, cost inflation from certain commodity markets, distribution cost increases and material market driven increases in utility costs.
 
In March 2021, TRG agreed new long-term debt facilities raising net proceeds of £166.8 million of new capital, with the purpose of investing its existing estate while opening new restaurants and pubs.
 
“We have made good progress in the past six months, securing the refinancing and recapitalisation of the Group in the first quarter before focusing our attention on the re-opening of the business and welcoming back dine-in customers as government restrictions eased," says chief executive officer Andy Hornby.
 
"I am particularly proud of the way that our teams have pulled together to support one another, ensuring a great experience for our customers and delivering a strong LFL sales outperformance versus the market.
 
"Whilst there are some well documented sector challenges to navigate in the short-term, particularly around labour availability and supply chain, we believe the Group is well positioned for the long- term.”
CBD retailer Love Hemp has secured a new listings deal with e-commerce giant Amazon.
 
Love Hemp has announced it has been invited by Amazon to join its limited range of CBD products.
 
As an official Amazon vendor, Love Hemp will also have its own virtual store through which Amazon and the Company will conduct marketing activities to drive awareness and visibility of Love Hemp products.
 
The deal will support Love Hemp’s continued growth across Europe, These orders will be shipped across the UK and into Europe.
 
Tony Calamita, chief executive officer of Love Hemp Group, commented: “Securing an invitation, and fulfilling the compliance required, to list our products on Amazon is a significant achievement for Love Hemp.
 
“It is further validation of our brand strength and product quality as well as the rapidly changing sentiment of retail giants to offer premium CBD products to their consumers.
 
“Our presence on amazon.co.uk opens a new major online sales channel for Love Hemp. We look forward to building on this initial order and the successful opening of the Love Hemp virtual store.”
Matillion has become Manchester’s latest unicorn after raising £108 million in Series E funding.
 
The cloud data integration platform fuels cloud analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning in large global enterprises.
 
The round was led by General Atlantic with participation from Battery Ventures, Sapphire Ventures, Scale Venture Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners.
 
It is Matillion’s second triple-digit round of 2021, bringing the total amount raised to $310m at a valuation of $1.5 billion.
 
Matillion unlocks the data supply chain, allowing enterprise data teams to work together to source, enrich and share data which may be coming in from more than 1,000 sources.
 
“Enterprises need to effectively close information gaps by rapidly transforming operational data into analytics-ready datasets that fuel business intelligence, AI, and ML innovation,” said CEO Matthew Scullion.
 
“With Matillion, large organisations are empowered with a data operating system that is purpose-built for the enterprise, enabling a broad spectrum of data users – from data scientists and engineers to marketers and business analysts – to make data useful.”
 
Hundreds of large enterprises including Western Union, FOX, Sony, Slack, National Grid, Peet’s Coffee and Cisco use Matillion’s cloud-native, low-code solutions to transform raw data into an analytics-ready asset, ready to power business intelligence, visualisation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning projects.
 
“As organisations look for ways to harness data to make better business decisions, the market for cloud data integration and transformation is expanding,” said Chris Caulkin, managing director and head of technology for EMEA at General Atlantic.
 
“We believe that Matillion’s low-code ETL platform simplifies the process of constructing data pipelines and preparing data for analysis, enabling citizen data scientists and data engineers alike to play a valuable role in extracting data-based insights.
 
“We look forward to supporting the team through its next phase of growth and expansion.”

Aunt Bessie’s has changed the recipe of its frozen roasted potatoes.
 
The frozen brand has relaunched its ‘Roasties’ with a new recipe it claims is its “crispiest and fluffiest” yet, alongside a new look, to roll out from mid-September.
 
The change will be backed by a £2.1m extension to the brand’s advertising campaign, with its TV tag to “emphasise the products’ improved taste and quality”.
 
The new recipe would “ensure Aunt Bessie’s continues to play a leading role in driving the performance of the segment over the Christmas period”, said Aunt Bessie’s senior brand manager Andy Dale.
 
It comes after the brand’s sales suffered over the first year of the pandemic – its retail value was down 4.9% (£6.3m) to £123.6m in 2020 [Nielsen 52 w/e 26 December 2020].
 
Sales continued to fall but to a lesser degree in 2021, with the brand down 2.1% over the 52 weeks to 14 August [Nielsen].
 
The overall improved performance had been supported by sales in roast dinner categories which were up 6.9%, a spokesman for the brand stressed, adding within roasts the brand’s share was up 2.5%.
 
And within the brand’s range, value sales of roasties alone were up 8.7% over the period, they added.
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