News

London-based fintech property startup Immo Investment Technologies has announced it has closed an €11M Series A funding round.

Immo, which purchase homes on behalf of buy-to-let investors has additionally raised over €100 million in real estate “buyer capital”.
 
It will use the buyer capital to fund the acquisition of properties — targeting private individuals who want to sell their property quickly. It then refurbishes these properties and puts them on the rental market as part of a fully-managed package, therefore returning a predictable yield to investors.
 
Immo says it has already evaluated over 10,000 for-sale apartments in the launch city of Hamburg. It claims its technology can accurately predict property sales prices, as well as current and future rental income prices.
 
“Immo buys residential properties directly from consumers on behalf of professional investors, thereby helping consumers sell their home in a fast, reliable, transparent and convenient way and providing investors with desired residential asset exposure at scale,” explains Hans-Christian Zappel, the startup’s co-founder and CEO.
 
“Immo tenants enjoy a well invested, fully furnished long-term rental product and a highly standardised and professionally managed lettings experience”.
 
As well as serving investors and tenants, Immo is also targeting property owners that want to sell their home quickly, with less hassle, and without the expense of using an estate agent. “With Immo, consumers go through one viewing, receive an offer within 24 hours and then sell to us without any agency fees and free of worries about financing risks or changing minds,” says Zappel.
 
Based on its machine learning model, Immo claims to be able to do the financial underwriting of a property “in a matter of minutes,” a process that when done manually can take days.
 
Meanwhile, traditional real estate brokers are arguably Immo’s most direct competitors, but they tend to charge high fees and don’t provide a standardised experience for sellers. “They sell the hope for a quick and convenient sale to a customer that is helpless. Immo actually delivers on that promise,” says Zappel.
 
He also argues that Immo isn’t currently competing directly with other “iBuyer” models, such as those operated by OpenDoor, Nested, and Casavo. “We are not in the same country market [yet],” he says, “but fundamentally these players are trying to address a similar problem for the consumer”.
 
“Immo’s C2B model – buying from consumers, selling to investors – is in our view superior to the C2C model [of] buying from consumers, [and] selling to consumers,” adds Zappel. One reason is that Immo is able to operate a “balance sheet light” model, in which properties don’t sit on its balance sheet and therefore is arguably less exposed than some other “iBuyer” models.
 
Immo generates revenue from investors that pay the startup a fee for sourcing, assessing and acquiring property assets. In addition, the company receives a subscription fee for ongoing portfolio management. “We don’t take any fees from the seller, nor from tenants,” says Zappel.

Carwow has appointed Sepi Arani as its new head of OEM just ten months after the former Audi future mobility operations manager joined peer-to-peer car sharing provider hiyacar.
 
The online marketing platform carwow said that the move was a continuation of its efforts to strengthen its senior team following a successful £25 million funding round led by Daimler in the summer and its ongoing 28-day crowdfunding round which raised £2m in just 60 minutes.
 
Arani will succeed John Davis in a role that will involve development of the business' OEM proposition; strategically across media, data and technical integration with brands and captive finance houses in the UK, carwow said.
 
He has previously worked for Audi, Audi AG and Volkswagen group both in the UK and internationally, with roles across sales operations, digital and strategy.
 
During his time at Audi he delivered the brand’s first online vehicle deposit platform for the e-tron SUV electric vehicle (EV) as well as launching Audi's future mobility brand, Audi on demand.
 
Hasan Nergiz, who was appointed as director of OEM at carwow back in March, said: “We are delighted to welcome Sepi to the team. He has unparalleled sector experience, having held senior positions in manufacturers in the UK and Germany, as well as having developed and delivered global e-commerce offerings.
 
“Coupled with his recent high growth start-up experience, he is ideally positioned to further strengthen our position in the market, in what is an incredibly exciting era for carwow and the automotive industry.”
 
Arani said: “I’m incredibly excited to join carwow as Head of OEM UK and apply my industry knowledge and expertise alongside my growth mindset and approach.
 
“We have a fantastic opportunity to support automotive brands as a strategic partner, not only in getting the right car to the right customer but also in furthering the true understanding of changing customer behaviours and needs as the industry moves towards online sales and electrification.”
Vacation marketer Ross Matthews has announced he has left Icelolly to take up the newly created post of CMO at Hoseasons owner Awaze.
 
Matthews, who will join the company in January, previously worked at MyTravel, Thomas Cook and Virgin Holidays in a variety of digital, e-commerce and marketing roles.
 
“Ross brings a wealth of travel experience with him, having worked with some of the UK’s leading holiday brands, and will be responsible for marketing and partnerships right across the business,” said Geoff Cowley, chief executive.
 
Matthews said: “The opportunity to work with market leading brands such as Hoseasons and Cottages.com, in addition to joining the highly experienced management team, were key factors in my decision to move.”
Home renovation and design platform Houzz, has revealed its top home design trend predictions for 2020.
 
 With a community of millions of homeowners and home renovation and design professionals around the world, Houzz has insights into how people are renovating their homes.
 
These trends were compiled by using Houzz data from hundreds of home design photos, past articles and information from professional designers. It brings together a collection of materials, colours and other home design ideas that we can expect to see a lot more of in 2020.
 
Houzz home design trend predictions for 2020:
 
Colourful kitchens - With homeowners starting to step away from the safety of a monochrome palette, kitchens look set to become much more colourful in 2020. We’re increasingly seeing colourful kitchen photos uploaded to Houzz showing that homeowners are choosing cabinets in a range of cheerful shades, from blues and greens to heathery purples. But it doesn’t stop there, surprisingly, one of the new search terms on Houzz this year was ‘yellow kitchen’; proving that homeowners are prepared to go bold with their colour choices. ‘Cream kitchen’ also made an appearance in the rising search terms list, marking a step away from the classic white kitchen.
 
Sustainability - Sustainability is becoming a more frequently requested feature by homeowners on Houzz, with 15% of renovators stating that ‘integrating green materials’ was a priority when completing renovations, according to Houzz research. The word ‘eco’ also made it into the 2019 most searched for keywords on Houzz. Many of the design fairs around the world this year saw designers rise to the challenge by experimenting with eco materials, recyclable products and putting a big focus on the life cycle of a product, and this looks set to continue to build in 2020.Black interiors - We’re seeing dark colours becoming more popular among the Houzz community, and this looks set to rise even further with searches for ‘dark’ and ‘black’ interiors appearing in the most popular list for the first time in 2019, with ‘black kitchen’ in particular increasing 46% year on year. A surprising addition to the most popular search terms this year was ‘black bathroom’ which wasn’t in the charts at all in 2018. Some of the most popular photos at the end of 2019 back up this emerging trend, with images featuring black painted walls, black metal-framed screens and even black slate wall covering all finding their way onto the site.
 
Bamboo - With a rising interest in all things sustainable, we've noticed bamboo starting to trend as an eco-material, cropping up in the most searched terms on Houzz for the first time this year, we’re also seeing more and more photos uploaded featuring this material. Technically a fast-growing grass, bamboo is a sturdy and renewable raw material that can be used for flooring, furniture and even woven into fabric. Professionals on Houzz flagged this trend earlier this year, and while this material isn't new, it's definitely enjoying a renewed interest going into 2020, thanks to its eco-credentials.
 
Green schemes - Another trend coming through strongly is the colour green, with designers calling this the ‘must’ colour in design for 2020. This year we saw a rise in searches for ‘green kitchens’, increasing by 50% since 2018, along with searches for ‘green bedrooms’ and ‘green bathrooms’ which both made their way into the most popular list for the first time.
 
Statement-making bathrooms - With Houzz research finding that bathrooms were one of the most renovated rooms in the UK last year, it isn’t surprising that homeowners are upping the ante when it comes to updating them. Gone are the days of the all-white bathroom and designers on Houzz are tapping into a desire for a bathing space homeowners can show off and, more importantly, retreat to for some quality relaxation time. Next year Houzz expects to see more luxury finishes, statement tiles and bold colours in bathrooms. For homeowners looking to make a bigger statement, we predict we will start seeing more pastel-coloured sanitaryware, in soft pinks, greens and blues.
 
Navy bedrooms - ‘Navy bedroom’ is a new search term that climbed into the most popular searches this year and looks set to lead in 2020. This possibly takes its cue from the trend for inky blue living rooms and kitchens of previous years, and gives a nod to the move away from Scandi-inspired minimalism and into darker and more atmospheric interiors.
Multi-channel value retailer The Works has revealed its trading update covering the 26-week period to October 27 2019.
 
Total revenue increased by 5.4 per cent year-on-year, and when excluding the impact of the prior year, sales were supposedly down by -1.9 per cent. This performance reflected the ‘difficult’ consumer backdrop over the period.
 
The Works heads into its peak trading period with ‘confidence’ in its Christmas offering, which includes a range of new products. A number of other propositional improvements undertaken in the first half and softening comparators are expected to support LFL improvement in the second half of the year.
 
Whilst like-for-like sales have improved over recent weeks, as the impact of the prior year’s Mega Trend eases, they were apparently not at a level previously expected.
 
Accordingly, The Works is taking a more cautious view on trading ahead of the Christmas trading period.
 
Kevin Keaney, chief executive officer of The Works, added: “The consumer environment has remained challenging and we have been trading against strong comparators…
 
“We have responded decisively to minimise the impact to our performance and are benefiting from easier comparators in the second half.
 
“We now look ahead to the busy Christmas period fully prepared and ready to deliver for our customers with a fantastic selection of good quality and great value products.
 
“Notwithstanding the current backdrop, we remain confident in our medium-term growth opportunities and we continue to invest to unlock them.” 
Fintech bank Revolut has launched two new metal card colours, Silver and Space Grey, available to order in-app.
 
Revolut Metal customers can now choose from five exclusive card colours (Black, Gold, Rose Gold, Silver and Space Grey) and link up to two Metal cards to their account with their subscription plan.
 
Cut from a single sheet of stainless steel, and weighing 18g – more than three times that of a regular card – the contactless Revolut Metal card is as much a statement as it is a pioneering payment method.
 
Revolut’s Metal plan provides customers with a host of exclusive benefits, including up to 1% cashback in any of Revolut’s 29 supported currencies and 5 supported cryptocurrencies, a dedicated concierge service for booking things like flights and festival tickets, and early access to new features, such as the recently launched commission-free trading feature.
 
In addition, Metal customers receive a number of perks, including no fee international ATM withdrawals up to £600 per month, access to over 1,000 airport lounges around the world, disposable virtual cards for added security when shopping online, unlimited foreign exchange, free international money transfers, 24/7 customer support, and free overseas travel insurance.
 
Revolut has signed up hundreds of thousands to Metal since the launch of the subscription plan in August 2018, with millions of customers using their Revolut card and app for useful everyday features such as instant spending notifications, budgeting controls, savings features, customisable security settings and sending money to friends and family around the world.
Holiday price comparison site Icelolly is in the process of sourcing a new chief marketing officer to replace Ross Matthews.
 
Matthews is leaving the company in December to join Hoseasons' parent Awaze UK in January in the same role.
 
Having started his travel career at Thomas Cook, he has also held roles at Virgin Holidays and Shearings, in addition to working for several non-travel related businesses in ecommerce roles.
 
Icelolly said the process of finding a replacement for Matthews was ongoing and an announcement as to his successor would be made 'in due course'.
When Stephanie Meltzer-Paul joined Dunkin’ a year and half ago, she prioritized brand loyalty, which in today’s digital space especially in fast breakfast and coffee, the issue was an urgent one.
 
Dunkin’ has made no shortage of investments over the past year, with espresso and its $100 million beverage-led transformation grabbing most of the headlines. But the brand has also spent heavy resources on bolstering digital assets, and the results really just started to materialize in September.
 
This year, Dunkin’ processed over 18 million On-the-Go Mobile orders in Q3, which is a healthy 25% increase versus the prior year.
 
Currently, Dunkin’ mixes about 4% of its total orders through mobile, up from 3% in 2018. And that comes with an 80% retrial rate, the company said.
 
The chain promotes Perks benefits within its mobile app after the guest’s order and then follows up with direct email marketing. “This is the goal for guest ordering—to give them the option to join Perks or not,” Meltzer-Paul said. “But, ultimately, we do want to get them over to our Perks program for an even bigger unlock.”
 
Dunkin’s NextGen restaurants are built around the digital-ordering boom, and the results reflect that. Hoffmann said there are some markets where it balloons from the 4 percent average to 20–25 percent.
 
Its NextGen remodel program cleared the 400-store bar in mid-October. Dunkin’ is on pace to have 500 opened by year’s end between new builds and remodels. The restaurant, in addition to an eight-headed tap system, modern décor package, front-counter bakery, and more efficient coffee line, also features an enhanced pickup area that has helped lift mobile orders.
 
Dunkin’s Q3 same-store sales rose 1.5% in the U.S. Revenue bumped 1.7% to $355.88 million and the chain’s performance in Q3 was driven by premium beverages, such as espresso and cold brew, as well as its national value platform, Go2s.
 
Mainly, though, quality improvements are driving the results. Dunkin’ sold more than 5 billion cups of coffee last year across its 9,500-plus restaurants.
 
In November, Dunkin’ plans to launch plant-based breakfast sausage sandwiches with Beyond Meat. Chief executive officer David Hoffmann sees it as a prime chance to accelerate a movement. “I believe Dunkin' is a brand that can democratize trends,” Hoffmann said. “We did it with espresso, and we believe there is an opportunity to do more when it comes to giving consumers great-tasting, on-trend innovation like plant-based proteins at an affordable price. This is exactly how we want to use our platform.”
Morrisons is to launch what it claims is the UK’s first supermarket vegan pork pie.
 
The Vegan ‘No Pork’ Pie will be available as of 9 December from Morrisons’ pie shop counters, priced at £1.75 for one or £3 for two. They will be baked at the pie shop counters.
 
Morrisons said the recipe was a “closely guarded secret” known by only six staff, but said it replicated a pork pie through its meaty taste, crumbly pastry texture and classic appearance.
 
“So many people across the UK are fond of eating a pork pie at Christmas. Our vegan and vegetarian customers previously couldn’t enjoy a pork pie, but with our new meat-free product, they can enjoy a great-tasting alternative,” said Morrisons pie buyer Steven Halford.
 
Other meaty favourites have previously been given a makeover by the retailer, including the ‘Corn-ish’ pasty, Vegan footlong sausage roll, ‘No Chick-In’ Jalfrezi and No Moo-zerella dippers.
The recently retired CEO of the UK’s third largest pharmacy Well has revealed in a recent interview how the growth of one of its rivals forced the company to accelerate its own digital plans.
 
Former chief executive John Nuttall said that Well had spotted the “rapid growth” of Pharmacy2U and its activity, which prompted Well to bring forward its own digital roll out.
 
Nuttall said Well noticed online-only competitor Pharmacy2U’s rate of growth was “particularly rapid, and we thought, actually, we need to accelerate our plans to look at this”.
 
Well began its digital transformation in 2017, with the announcement of an online repeat prescription service and a prescription delivery app. Since then it has continued its deployment of a hub-and-spoke dispensing model across its 780 branches and launched a digital subscription service called “Eddie”, for patients to order monthly supplies of Viagra Connect without having to speak to a pharmacist.
 
The multiple is only “part way through [its] digital transformation”, Mr Nuttall said, but bringing forward Well’s plans “was the right thing to do”.

PREVIEW
If this is news to you, we can help
SEARCH THE UK'S MOST COMPREHENSIVE DATABASE
OF COMPANY AND MARKETING INDUSTRY INFORMATION
CLICK TO CONTINUE
THIS IS THE NEWS, COMPANY DATA, PEOPLE MOVES, TENDERS AND INSIGHTS FROM THE INDUSTRY 7 DAYS AGO