News

The Government is due to appoint Ofcom, which is responsible for regulating broadcasters, with the additional responsibility of regulating companies with online platforms.
 
The 2019 ‘Online Harms White Paper’ called for internet companies to take responsibility for the harmful user-generated content on their platforms, with a statutory duty of care enforced by a government regulator.
 
The Government has indicted that future legislation will protect freedom of expression by not targeting content which is legal and offensive. Instead, it will advise internet companies to lay out what content is permissible “in clear and accessible terms and conditions” and perform their own enforcement.
 
Facebook, its subsidiary Instagram, YouTube and other major social media platforms are perceived as the key targets of the proposals. In recent years, these platforms have attracted intense criticism for their tardy response in removing disturbing content, such as the widely shared livestream of the deadly terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand.
 
Ofcom is expected to be given the power to leverage large fines if these platforms fail to protect users – particularly young users – from illegal and other harmful content such as terrorist propaganda, child pornography and material promoting suicide. It will also be responsible for ensuring that the internet companies have the necessary systems and processes in place to fulfil their duty of care to their users.
 
Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan and Home Secretary Priti Patel said that Ofcom’s existing responsibilities as a communications regulator made it the appropriate choice to regulate internet platforms.
 
“With Ofcom at the helm of a proportionate and strong regulatory regime, we have an incredible opportunity to lead the world in building a thriving digital economy, driven by groundbreaking technology, that is trusted by and protects everyone in the UK,” Morgan said.
 
“We will give the regulator the powers it needs to lead the fight for an internet that remains vibrant and open, but with the protections, accountability and transparency people deserve.”
 
Ofcom announced the appointment of a new CEO, civil servant Dame Melanie Dawes, in preparation for its vastly expanded responsibilities. Ofcom’s internet CEO, Jonathan Oxley, welcomed the decision, commenting: “We share the government’s ambition to keep people safe online and welcome that it is minded to appoint Ofcom as the online harms regulator. We will work with the government to help ensure that regulation provides effective protection for people online and, if appointed, will consider what voluntary steps can be taken in advance of legislation.”
 
Julian Knight, the chair-elect of the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee, has warned that the government is failing to demonstrate the necessary urgency with regards to the issue.
 
“The DCMS Committee in the last parliament led calls for urgent legislation to prevent tech companies walking away from their responsibilities to tackle harmful content on their sites,” Knight said. “Today’s statement fails to demonstrate the urgency that is required.
 
“We called for the new regulator to be completely independent from Government, which is why we demanded a right of veto over the appointment. The regulator must take a muscular approach and be able to enforce change through sanctions that bite.
 
“That means more than a hefty fine, it means having the clout to disrupt the activities of businesses that fail to comply and, ultimately, the threat of a prison sentence for breaking the law.”
Easy Autocentres, which has a network of branches across the Midlands has been acquired by Goodyear UK.
 
Easy Autocentres includes the HiQ brand and was snapped up by the automotive giant for an undisclosed fee.
 
The company, which is registered in Kettering, Northamptonshire, was formed from a management buy-out from Goodyear in 2008.
 
Easy Autocentres is a fast-fit provider of tyres, exhausts, batteries and car servicing, operating from 17 sites across the Midlands.
 
Chris Kisby, managing director and majority shareholder of Easy Autocentres, said: "Having developed Easy Autocentres through acquisition over the past 12 years I am delighted to have concluded the sale to Goodyear.
 
"The Easy Autocentres business with its strong market presence in the Midlands provides Goodyear with an excellent platform to further develop its HiQ brand in the UK and I look forward to seeing the business continue to go from strength to strength under new ownership."
 
Goodyear UK is headquartered in Birmingham.
UK holiday park operator Bridge Leisure has invested in marketing technology by Force24 to personalise customer experience.
 
Force24 is a growing marketing automation platform that claims to currently send upwards of 15 million emails for clients each month.
 
Bridge Leisure says the investment will “boost both marketplace loyalty and new bookings” for its nine locations throughout the UK.
 
The popular holiday operator says it will primarily market to historic, current and prospective self-catering and touring holidaymakers with Force24’s personalised email messages.
 
Its first investment into marketing automation technology, Bridge Leisure says the goal is to provide a range of different customers with targeted information relevant to them.
 
Rachel Elliott, senior marketing manager at Bridge Leisure, said: “In an increasingly fast-paced and competitive tourism industry it is crucial to ensure we maintain a differential and show just how valued our customers really are.”
 
Speaking on the investment, Elliot added: “We can gather so much compliant insight about people who have, or might like to, enjoy a break with us. We can use this intel to drive more personalised conversations that lead to the getaways our customers are really looking for, and the continued growth of our national brand.”
 
“As soon as we met Force24 we were really impressed by both the platform – particularly the potential that comes with email and landing page snippets – and the team. Their level of support is excellent, which is imperative for a business who cares so much about customer service.”
Unmind, the workplace mental health platform, has announced it has raised $10m in a Series A funding round.
 
Led by Berlin-based Project A, with the continued support of Felix Capital, the funding – which is one of the largest series A rounds for a European mental health tech business – will support company growth, and its commitment to measurably improve the mental health of employees in workplaces around the world.
 
Since its launch in 2016, the company has seen fast-growth, growing revenue by more than 300% in 2019. Today, it counts some of the UK’s most iconic businesses as customers, including John Lewis & Partners, ASOS, Just Eat, British Airways, and Slaughter & May to name just a few.
 
The company is now supporting employees in more than 50 countries, and over 350,000 people have access to its services.
 
Built on the premise that prevention is better than cure, the platform focuses on helping employees get the most from their personal and professional life.
 
Available anytime, anywhere, employees can measure and then manage their mental health by accessing tools and training based on their individual needs.
 
Dr. Nick Taylor, Co-founder of Unmind and Clinical Psychologist said: “Our mental health is one of the most incredible things about being human.
 
“At Unmind, we believe that looking after our health means caring for the whole human, and by weaving work and wellbeing into one, we can build organisations where everyone can fulfil their potential. This funding will help us to meet growing international demand, offer new services to our users, and further realise our vision of a world where mental health is universally understood, nurtured, and celebrated.”
 
Antoine Nussenbaum, Partner and Co-Founder, Felix Capital added: “Over the years we’ve seen an enormous shift in how we think and talk about mental health – but little has been done in terms of practical solutions. Unmind continues to demonstrate how their technology is being used to help organisations and their employees measure, manage, and improve their mental wellbeing.
 
“We fundamentally believe in their ethos and we think it’s pertinent that in 2020 businesses start tackling the problem by taking meaningful actions. Supporting Unmind’s growth and success as it looks to scale and expand their business is the first step that we can do to ensure that we are part of this global movement.”
 
Thies Sander, Founding Partner, Project A comments: “Unmind is a world-leader in digital mental health and continues to innovate across all verticals and geographies in a highly competitive space. This is driving greater demand for innovative solutions to a growing problem and we believe that Unmind is best-placed to meet this considerable opportunity”. 
 The cosmetics sector has been readily catering for the increasing demand for ‘free-from’ products in recent years.
 
Fragrance-free, paraben-free, natural and vegan products have all grown in popularity and interest among consumers – and beauty brands have taken note.
 
A snowball effect has seen the culmination of this trend present itself in the form of ‘clean’ beauty, with the promise of so-called ‘less toxic’ formulas and ‘healthy’ alternatives to traditional beauty products.
 
Brands across the world have tapped into the movement, from Coty-owned Covergirl to No BS Skincare, and retailers have created categories dedicated to ‘clean’ products.
 
Revlon’s new ‘clean’ Prime Plus Perfecting + Smoothing Makeup Skincare Primer product has attracted unwanted attention from cosmetic scientists due to its accreditation.
 
The product was awarded the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) green Skin Deep score, meaning it has the ‘lowest hazard’ ingredients list possible.
 
The product contains more than 25 ingredients, including butylene glycol, dimethicone and polysorbate.
 
In a statement for the launch of the new product, Revlon’s President and CEO Debra Perelman, said: “More than just buying differently, consumers want added assurances about the products they buy and their ingredients.
 
“Building on our longstanding partnership with EWG and commitment to health, Revlon understands the changing needs of consumers and is leading the way in bringing clean and transparent beauty to consumers at an accessible price point.”
 
However, former cosmetics formulator and author, Perry Romanowski, called out the brand on social media for ‘dubious marketing’.
 
In a recent interview he said: “I call the EWG fearmongers. Essentially, they attract attention by scaring consumers about products unnecessarily, passing along a lot of misinformation or biased information.
 
“Scary stuff gets more attention online, and the reality is that standard cosmetic products are perfectly safe, they’re safety tested, consumers don’t really have to worry the way they do about their products.
 
“But groups like the EWG campaign for safe cosmetics and, quite frankly, a lot of cosmetic marketers thrive on this fear marketing.”
 
He added that when it comes to ‘clean’ beauty, these products are no safer than other products, companies just imply that they are.
 
“The obvious thing is when you say yours is clean you’re implying that everyone else’s is dirty or somehow unsafe,” added Romanowski.
 
Fellow Twitter users also reacted to Revlon’s new ‘clean’ product launch and its EWG certification with similar concerns.
Whirlpool UK Appliances Limited has announced the appointment of Charmaine Warner as Brand Manager for Whirlpool.
 
Ms Warner joined Indesit Company in 2014 as National Account Manager, managing the relationship with major retailer, Tesco and the white goods range on its non-food e-commerce platform. She maintained this role after the acquisition of Indesit Company by Whirlpool UK Appliances Ltd and introduced the Whirlpool brand to Tesco.
 
In 2018, Ms Warner joined the marketing department in her role as Refrigeration Trade Marketing Manager. This role included being responsible for Hotpoint, Indesit and Whirlpool refrigeration, introducing new products and ranges, in addition to liaising with the brand teams to meet the company objectives.
 
Prior to her time at Whirlpool UK Appliances Ltd, she spent nine years at Homebase in a variety of buying roles, including a position focussed on white goods that involved developing and launching product ranges.
 
Ms Warner said of her new appointment: “Through my previous roles within the industry, I have gained an insight into a number of different areas, including buying and marketing, which I believe will be really beneficial in my new role as Brand Manager for Whirlpool.
 
“The Whirlpool brand’s premium positioning will be a key focus in 2020, in addition to building and maintaining retailer relationships, both major and independent, to increase distribution and awareness of Whirlpool and its innovative appliances.”
 
Marco Falaschetti, Marketing Director, Whirlpool UK Appliances, added: “Whirlpool is at the forefront of home appliance technology with product innovation the driving force to achieve long-term growth and profit. Charmaine has extensive experience and a wealth of knowledge of the company and the white goods industry. Charmaine is a valuable addition to the brand team.”
Young’s Seafood is launching a new pack design across its core range of products, in a move designed to “bring in a younger, socially aware audience”.
 
The “modern” design features a “sharper colour palette and fresh photography”.
 
The brand has also placed its “Fish for Life” logo on the front of the new packs, to signify its “commitment to doing things the right way by caring for its people, planet and partners in all its ventures”.
 
The new packs will also feature traffic light Guideline Daily Amounts, as the brand said health is a growing concern for many consumers.
 
The new design will be rolled out across the brand’s core products, including Scampi, Simply Breaded Fillets, and Admiral’s pie.
 
Jason Manley, marketing director of Young’s, said: “This branding overhaul is designed to inspire a younger audience to love fish and publicly reasserts our commitment to operating as a responsible business.
 
“Our core range is a £62 million brand, so having consistency is vital in order for us to ensure its lasting prominence within its category alongside our successful Gastro and Chip Shop ranges.
 
“We believe this new packaging is a vital step in bringing these family favourites to the tables of many more consumers.” 
UK homewares retailer Dunelm has announced that it has seen a growth in both profits and customers over the first half of this financial year.
 
Dunelm, which operates nationally, reported profit before tax of £83.6m for this financial half, up 19.4% from this period last year (£70m).
 
The company also reported an 8.8% growth in unique active customers, as well revenue growth of 6% up from £551.8m to £585m.
 
In its report this week, the company emphasised the success of its new digital platform, which it said “enabl[ed] a new phase of growth” for the retailer.
 
Nick Wilkinson, CEO of Dunelm, commented: “We have made good progress over the first half, following a strong performance last year, which is reflected in the significant growth delivered in both sales and profits.
 
“We continue to build strong foundations for future growth. The successful launch of our digital platform accelerates our ability to innovate our customer proposition and we remain focused on operational improvements across all areas of the business.
 
“We also continue to broaden our customer base and following the successful sponsorship of ITV’s This Morning, which concludes in March, we are excited about our new sponsorship deal with Channel 4’s First Dates programme, starting later this week, which will enable us to reach more customers with the Dunelm brand.
 
“The third quarter has started well, with a successful winter sale across the total retail system. As a result, we expect full year FY20 profit before tax to be slightly ahead of the top of the latest range of analyst expectations.
 
“We are monitoring the Coronavirus outbreak carefully. To date we have not assumed any material disruption to our supply chain or any financial impact in the year.
 
“We have plenty to look forward to over the remainder of the year as we strengthen the Dunelm offer and help more customers to create the home they love.”
River cruise operator AmaWaterways has unveiled a new trade marketing team.
 
Natasha Warren and Sarah Le Goff have joined river line’s ranks in Guildford.
 
Warren has been appointed marketing manager, covering for Sarah Thomson who is due shortly to take maternity leave.
 
She joins from Royal Caribbean, bringing 15 years’ experience working across various marketing, trade and sales support roles.
 
Le Goff, meanwhile, has been appointed agency support executive.
 
She arrives from the American Automobile Association’s East Central division where she was group trip planner.
 
Her previous roles include working as a programme manager and sustainable tourism consultant.
 
At Ama, she will be dedicated to supporting and developing the line’s business through the trade.
 
Both Warren and Le Goff’s roles are trade-focused, the line added.
One of the most exciting new launches in competitive racing is clearly pulling some top talent into its orbit.

Extreme E the new electric off-road SUV racing series scheduled to launch in 2021, has recruited Red Bull executives Kester Wilkinson and Nina Dreier as events manager and marketing manager.
 
Wilkinson joins the Extreme E team from D3 events, one of the sports event agencies owned by the UK arm of the energy drinks giant. He has coordinated the production of events for Red Bull, Hyundai, Shell and Land Rover, along with overseeing Red Bull’s cliff diving and Hardline mountain biking series.
 
Wilkinson will head up the events team at Extreme E ahead of the championship’s inaugural race in Senegal next January, working with the logistics and sporting teams. His main responsibilities will be ensuring that the key event infrastructure and resources are in place for the delivery of a safe and competitive event, which also aims to perform to the highest possible standards in sustainability.
 
Ali Russell, Extreme E’s chief marketing officer, said: “Kester has hit the ground running, having already completed invaluable research trips to Saudi Arabia and Senegal. Kester’s past experience with running large-scale global events will hold him in good stead when it comes to being tasked with managing our Extreme E races in some of the most remote corners of the globe.”
 
Dreier is a former sports marketing specialist at Red Bull UK, running national and international Red Bull Sports Marketing event properties such as Red Bull Soapbox Race.
 
Russell added: “Since joining the team, Nina has been busy working on our global marketing campaign and managing various activities within the marketing department. With just under a year to go until Extreme E gets underway, Nina will ensure that our marketing strategy is in line with the championship’s objectives while simultaneously creating a strong championship identity.”
 
Extreme E will see electric SUVs competing in extreme environments around the world which have already been damaged or affected by climate and environmental issues. Along with Senegal, the five-race calendar will also take in Greenland, Nepal, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.


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