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Fintech payday loan provider Savvy.co.uk has secured a £20m investment which will allow it to create a number of jobs.

In the last twelve years, Savvy.co.uk has lent more than £29m to in excess of 31,000 customers and currently employs 25 staff.
 
The new funding was provided to Stockport and Wilmslow-based Savvy by Cairn Capital.
 
The business will create roles primarily in its social media and digital marketing team, as well as in software development.
 
Group managing director Mark Bowker, who launched Savvy.co.uk in 2007 as an ethical alternative to payday loans, said: "This is a transformational investment for the company. It shows what a strong team – headed up by MD Natalie Blain - and product offering we have.
 
"Cairn Capital are a multi-billion investment fund so it’s amazing we have been able to attract such a such a strong corporate partner."

160-branch estate agency giant the Leaders Romans group has signed up to a new long-term commitment to use lead handling platform Callwell, the company led by former Countrywide MD Bob Scarff.
 
“Two years ago, Michael Cook of Romans was one of the very first people to ‘get’ Callwell,” says Scarff.
 
“He recognised that in a world where customers expect an immediate response, Callwell’s ability to turn emails into phone calls instantly would give his business that important edge.
 
“Over the past two years my admiration for the Leaders Romans business has grown and grown. I can’t say how proud I am to be working with such a terrific business.”
 
Callwell was initially rolled out with Romans’ lettings branches followed later by its sales operations. Leaders’ branches followed suit earlier this year. The new agreement means that by the end of 2019 all 160 branches within the group will be using the platform.
 
“Callwell helps us improve our customer service in many ways, but my favourite is the fact that we can so easily jump onto the overnight leads first thing in the morning,” says recently-appointed National Sales Managing Director at Leaders Romans, Kevin Shaw.
 
“We’ve dealt with viewing requests and valuation alerts before the competition have boiled the kettle for their morning coffee.”
 
Michael Cook, the company’s National Lettings Managing Director, says: “I am big fan of Callwell Score. It plays to the competitive nature of our people to be the best, but our customers are the winners as it increases speed and efficiency of how all enquiries are dealt with.
 
“With a live, real-time league table on everyone’s screen, it’s so clear to see who is performing and who isn’t.”

Online hostel booking site Hostelworld has appointed former ASOS marketing head Yale Varty as chief marketing officer.
 
Varty will be based in London, reporting into chief executive Gary Morrison and be a key member of the firm’s leadership team as it implements a “fresh growth strategy”.
 
“Hostelworld is a brand that shapes people’s lives and attitudes through travel, and the journey the company is embarking on is very exciting,” he said.
 
“When Gary reached out to me, I was inspired by his vision and what I could be part of, and I’m excited to play my part in driving our ambitious plans forward.
 
“Hostels have truly evolved since I last shared a dorm room. The industry is transforming at a rapid pace thanks to the way technology and connectivity facilitates travel today, compared to when Hostelworld sold its first hostel bed online 20 years ago.
 
“I look forward to working with my team to help travellers experience the world and meet new people in a fun, memorable, and safe way.”
 
Varty joins from ASOS where he previously led the marketing organisation and was responsible for driving the brand, and customer acquisition.
 
Prior to that, he began his career in consulting with Accenture in Seattle, working with companies in technology, e-commerce, retail and communications.
 
He then joined the travel industry to work at Expedia, where he held various positions within the marketing team.
 
Varty will head up Hostelworld’s London office but be a regular visitor to the firm’s Dublin headquarters.
 
Morrison said: “I’m really excited about adding someone of Yale’s calibre to my executive leadership team.
 
“His deep understanding of e-commerce, coupled with his background in the travel industry, is fundamental as we look to push boundaries in our sector.”
Turnover grew by more than £80m at the UK arm of a French food giant behind the Florette brand after three businesses were transferred to its control.
 
Agrial Fresh Produce, the new owner of Florette UK and Ireland, has reported a turnover of £127m for the year to 31 December 2018, up from £46.4m in the prior 12 months.
 
However it also made a pre-tax loss of £3.2m after making a profit of £1.5m in 2017.
 
In July 2016 the company completed the acquisition of Axgro Foods, a supplier of prepared beetroot products, while in August 2017 it snapped up Hazeldene Foods which makes salad and vegetable products. The group also contains Salads to Go.
 
A statement signed off by the board said: "The company's results reflect a series of significant internal changes and external events that have made the financial year particularly challenging.
 
"The results for the financial year are the first to include the trading performance of the three businesses transferred to the company on 31 December 2017.
 
"The increase in turnover is largely attributable to the inclusion of these additional manufacturing facilities."
 
The business added that its results were impacted by the higher cost of raw martials from European suppliers, the weather in the UK and across the continent having a "dramatic" effect on it strafing performance and the launch of a new product range.
 
The group's UK division employs 300 people in the Lichfield area and first opened in the town in 1999.
Premium ceramic brand Villeroy & Boch has appointed Gizem Ozcelik as the new Trade Marketing Manager.
 
Ozcelik, who qualified at Bocconi University in Italy before studying for a masters at ESCP in France, will act as the new Sales & Marketing Coordinator for the UK Bathroom and Wellness market.
 
Villeroy & Boch believe Ozcelik, having previously worked in advisory at KPMG and in marketing at the Coca Cola Company, will bring a wealth of experience to the trade sector of the company.
 
Ozcelik will be responsible for all Trade Marketing enquiries, and the focus of the role will be on driving Marketing activity within the UK market.
Home improvement company Kingfisher, has announced the appointment of Bernard Bot as its new Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
 
Bot will take up the role on 21 October 2019 and will be appointed to the Board of Directors on that date. He will also become a member of the Group Executive team.
 
Bot joins most recently from Travelport Worldwide, a global technology platform for the travel industry that was NYSE-listed until June 2019. As Travelport’s CFO, Bot was responsible for finance, strategy, transformation and investor relations. He was integral to the repositioning of the company from a traditional travel content distributor to a digital-led commerce platform.
 
Prior to that, Bot was CFO of Aer Lingus where he was responsible for all aspects of finance, IT and procurement. Between 2005 and 2014, Bot held various positions at express delivery company TNT Express NV, including Group CFO and Interim Group CEO. Between 1992 and 2005, he worked at McKinsey & Company where he rose to become a Partner and leader of McKinsey’s worldwide Post and Logistics group. Bernard is a non-executive director of A.P. Møller – Mærsk A/S and a member of its Audit Committee.
 
Bot has significant experience in large-scale transformation programmes, logistics and supply chain management, technology and digital services. He is a seasoned CFO, having held this role at companies listed in the US, UK, Ireland and the Netherlands and has worked at international businesses throughout his career. Bot is a Dutch national, who also speaks fluent English and French, and will be based at the company’s headquarters in Paddington, UK.
 
The company has also announced that John Wartig, who joined Kingfisher as interim CFO on 8 April 2019, has been appointed to the newly created role of Chief Transformation and Development Officer. He will remain on the Group Executive team, with direct responsibility for transformation, IT, business development and property, and will report to Thierry Garnier, Kingfisher’s CEO.
 
As well as his interim CFO responsibilities, Wartig has also steered Kingfisher’s Transformation Office since joining the Company. He has instilled a heightened focus on the implementation of Kingfisher’s change programme at Kingfisher France, and in measuring the performance and delivery of key transformation milestones around IT and supply chain. John also has significant experience of complex transformations across different geographies, as well as an established track record of actively managing large property portfolios.
 
Wartig will commence the role of Chief Transformation and Development Officer on 21 October 2019.
 
Thierry Garnier, CEO of Kingfisher, said: “Bernard is a highly experienced CFO whose credentials and track record are ideally suited to Kingfisher. He played a central role in the successful transformations at both TNT and Travelport, where he also gained a deep knowledge of technology and digital services, and he has a career-long understanding of logistics and supply chain optimisation. His career at international businesses has also given him strong capital markets expertise as the group CFO of companies listed in the US, UK, Ireland and the Netherlands. We look forward to him getting started later this month.
 
“I am also delighted that John will be staying at Kingfisher as our Chief Transformation and Development Officer. In the short time he has been here, he has made a notable impact both in finance and in our ongoing transformation, our IT capabilities and our property portfolio. The knowledge he has built up already, as well as his expertise in these strategically key areas, will be extremely valuable for the business going forward.”
 
Bernard Bot commented: “I’m very happy to be joining Kingfisher. The business has strong financial characteristics and significant growth opportunities. I look forward to working with the Kingfisher team to capture these for the benefit of all stakeholders.”
 
John Wartig added: “I’m delighted to have been given this key role to make significant improvements to our change management programme, particularly around IT and supply chain. These are areas that I’ve been closely involved in over the last six months and we’ll now build on these under Thierry’s leadership.” 
London estate agent Chestertons is claiming that September was its busiest month ever.
 
The firm says it was a second consecutive month for breaking its own records.
 
The firm said that its performances in August and September have helped it achieve its best-ever quarter-three results, up 11% on the same period last year.
 
Chestertons says its success comes despite low sales volumes across London, and is due to growing its market share.
 
Its lettings division has also enjoyed both its busiest month in September and busiest quarter ever in terms of tenancies agreed and revenue.
 
Managing director Guy Gittins said: “Our sales team are working harder than ever to put deals together and progress them through to completion and this hard work is reflected in these latest results, which every single person at Chestertons should be immensely proud of.
 
“Our sales figures show that while there are of course people hesitating and taking a ‘wait-and-see’ approach to Brexit, there are also plenty who are not willing or cannot afford to put their lives on hold and are prepared to commit to purchases when the asking price is right.”
The John Lewis Partnership has announced plans for its two brands, John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners, to be integrated so the Partnership will be managed and operated as a single business.
 
As part of its plan called ‘Future Partnership’, the retailer said this will “enable a faster delivery of better products and services for our customers” and that the influence of its customer-facing Partners will help improve the customer offer.
 
Through these changes, which come into effect from 3 February 2020, there will be a reduction of around 75 senior management roles and the plan will ultimately lead to an overall cost saving of around £100m over time.
 
The two brands will now be managed by a single Executive team led by the Chairman, with seven new Director roles and there will no longer be divisional boards or separate Managing Directors for John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners.
 
As well as this, Paula Nickolds, currently Managing Director of John Lewis & Partners, will become Executive Director, Brand; responsible for the continued enhancement of the Partnership’s brands and leading the development of customer experience and future innovations.
 
Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, Sir Charlie Mayfield, said: “In the last three years we have delivered significant innovation and driven efficiency, maintaining market leading service standards and growing customer numbers. However, the lesson of the last two years is that we need more innovation, faster decision making and bolder steps to align our operating model with our strategy.
 
“There will be considerable change in many areas of the Partnership as we bring the two businesses much closer together. These are necessary and these changes will be difficult for some of our Partners and we will implement as carefully and sensitively as we can.    
 
“We are confident, as a Board, that when the programme is complete, the Partnership will be better positioned to break out from the cycle of declining returns that are affecting most established retailers. We will be a more modern and more unified business with a leadership team and cost structure that will enable the business to thrive in the long-term.”   
 
Sharon White, Chairman designate, added: “I am passionate about working together as one Partnership. There is huge potential to unlock from Partners working across our two great brands, providing brilliant service to the many customers who shop at both Waitrose & Partners and John Lewis & Partners. And I am very excited to be taking forward the Partnership in this next phase of its transformation when I join at the start of next year.”
A new survey into UK productivity has calculated the inefficiency of meetings across the business sector and the cost of this to companies.
 
According to findings unveiled by international productivity software developer MatchWare, 103 minutes are wasted on average in the planning, implementation and follow-up of every meeting, leading to almost £50bn worth of wasted time each year. MatchWare has analysed thousands of meetings in an attempt to streamline these processes.
 
UK employees attend an average of 4.4 meetings per week, amounting to a total of 228.8 meetings per year per worker and a ‘meeting universe’ of 7,436bn across the workforce of 32.5m. With five people attending a typical meeting, this totals 1.487bn meetings across the UK each year. Bearing MatchWare’s analysis in mind, the 103 mins – 1.72 hours – translates into 2.558bn hours wasted.
 
When referenced against the average national hourly wage of £18.22, the staggering figure of an equivalent cost of £46.6bn wasted demonstrates the extent of a problem that is prevalent across UK business. Without taking international markets into consideration, the concept of productivity, or lack thereof, in meetings is a troublesome one.
 
Ulrik Merrild, Sales Director at MatchWare, said, “These huge figures put into context the problem of inefficiency across the whole of the business sector, when it comes to the management of meetings. From planning, through to output, there is an inordinate amount of time being wasted by UK companies through a variety of archaic processes, which do not effectively build a structured meeting workflow and output.
 
“We know from our clients that this problem is prevalent in big businesses, which host regular meetings with large numbers of staff and this is prohibitive. But by driving meeting accountability and accessibility, whilst providing an agile software that can be adapted to meet individual client requirements, time can be dramatically reduced across the whole meeting process.”
 
The findings coincide with the launch of MatchWare’s fifth generation of its international enterprise meeting software, MeetingBooster.
 
MeetingBooster 5.0 is the new industry standard for meeting management, making business meetings more efficient and accountable. It facilitates a standardised meeting process, with the ability to assign pre-meeting tasks, allocate actions during meetings, and deliver professional minutes in customisable layouts, all within a single web-based solution.
 
Helping clients build a structured meeting workflow and output, MeetingBooster 5.0’s technology provides an end-to-end management solution to combat the inefficiencies of agendas, minute-taking and the delegation of post-meeting actions. Its transformation of the whole meeting ecosystem has revolutionised the way that its clients do business. 83 percent of current MeetingBooster users say that meeting attendees were more engaged and better prepared following the introduction of the software.
Dunelm has hailed a “particularly strong” first quarter after it boosted sales on the back of new store openings, an online push and organic growth.
 
However, shares in the furniture and homewares retailer took a hit in early trading after it warned that trading in September was “mixed” due to a “softer” market.
 
For its first quarter period ending September 28, Dunelm saw total like-for-like sales across its stores and ecommerce arm surge 6.4% to £255.6 million.
 
Like-for-likes for the retailer’s store estate on its own increased 2.9 per cent year-on-year to £219.9 million, while online sales jumped 34.7% to to £35.7 million.
 
Total group sales on the hand, which factors in closed businesses in the company, increased 5.8% year-on-year to £262.6 million.
 
Dunelm said it was continuing to test its new digital platform “with a small percentage of our customers”, with the intention of transferring all web traffic to the new site before Christmas.
 
“We are pleased with our performance in the first quarter, building on the strong growth delivered over the last year,” chief executive Nick Wilkinson said.
 
“Our customers continue to respond well to our specialist product and service offering and we are excited by the numerous opportunities ahead of us.
 
“Despite the recent softness in the homeware market and the increased political uncertainty, we are confident we can continue to win market share and our expectations for the full year remain unchanged.”

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