News

Hotter Shoes is set to become the first UK-based footwear brand in its category to integrate Augmented Reality in its app, enabling customers to try products for fit, colour and design virtually all from home.
 
The business has accelerated its transformation to become a digital-first retailer in the last 12 months, investing heavily in its AR functionality working since last year.
 
Hotter’s app now has many products available for virtual AR experiences and the retailer plans to add more product ranges as the business continues to transform its customer experience via digital platforms.
 
The launch of the AR app functionality coincides with the opening of the retailers stores post Covid, where for the first time, each location has industry-leading 3D foot measuring technology, meaning that a bespoke shoe fitting service will be available for Hotter customers both in-store and at home.
 
Hotter Shoes chief commercial officer Victoria Betts, said: “We’re thrilled to be leading the way in the industry, as we continually focus on innovation to provide the very highest quality customer service alongside developing fantastic product ranges.
 
“Coupled with the technology now available across all of our stores, we will be offering convenience, precision fitting and high quality service every step of the way. Each of our stores will hold less inventory than before the pandemic as we recognise customers will expect a more experiential service than ever before when shopping on the high street.”
 
The retailer invested £120,000 into its app, in addition to the £250,000 investment in its footprint technology to deliver a precision fit experience to customers.
 
The shift to online transactions during the pandemic and Hotter’s investment in technology has driven 90 per cent of its new customers to be acquired through digital channels.
 
The shoe retailer has also reported a 40% rise in transactions completed via its app, both on iOS and Android devices year-on-year.
Italian restaurant chain Carluccio’s has announced plans to open 500 new cafe sites over the next five years.
 
The chain, owned by Boparan Restaurant Group, has revealed the new cafe plans as it opens its first in the Caffè Carluccio’s chain at a St Albans Sainsbury’s.
 
The company said that it is aiming to roll out the concept in more Sainsbury’s stores, as well as travel hubs, city centres and neighbourhood locations across the country.
 
It said that its plan is to take on coffee shop chain Costa, creating a ‘genuine challenger brand’.
 
Satnam Leihal, managing director of Boparan Restaurant Group, commented: “We acquired Carluccio’s in May 2020 and are rebuilding the much-loved brand by evolving the concept whilst adhering to its authentic Italian routes.
 
“Our customers tell us they want Carluccio’s to be part of their everyday and as such we are delivering a multi-channel and multi-format strategy for the brand.
 
“With Caffé Carluccio’s offering two blends of the best quality Italian coffee, alongside an accessible all-day menu with sandwiches made fresh daily, we are elevating what a coffee shop in the UK can be.”
 
Supporting the brand is the Caffè Carluccio’s app, allowing ordering, delivery, menu access and location finding.
Nationwide Building Society has teamed up with communications agency, VCCP to launch campaign 'Lessons From The Game'.
 
The integrated campaign will air in the run up to the UEFA Euros Football tournament and will drive awareness for their partnership with the FA Respect Programme, demonstrating how integral grassroots football can be in helping to build a mutual respectful society.
 
Like so many sports, the pandemic has significantly impacted grassroots football with independent research showing that nearly 4,000 local clubs will struggle to survive post-pandemic even though 75% of parents expressed that their children had missed the ability to play.
 
Launching with a hero 60” film, the campaign features young football player ‘Finton’ and his grassroots football club Urmston Meadowside FC. Finton’s own voice narrates the story of his grassroots footballing career. With the help of British poet Mike Garry, Garry took Finton’s own words and re-arranged them into a poem, a process referred to as ‘found poetry'.
 
Alongside the hero TVC, the campaign will run for three weeks across digital and print and OOH and will also highlight moments of mutual respect from the tournament to reinforce the same values that Nationwide Building Society cherishes. Media planning and execution was managed by Wavemaker.
 
“All too often football gets a bad rap. But you only have to visit one of the thousands of grassroots football clubs to see the positive role football plays in helping young people to develop core values of acceptance, inclusion, kindness and mutual respect for their teammates, officials and coaches - skills and values that players learn on the pitch but take into wider society too. Finton’s story encapsulates that perfectly and if we all follow his example, we will keep the beautiful game beautiful for generations to come” said Head of Advertising at Nationwide Building Society, Paul Hibbs
The payments landscape has evolved rapidly during the past 18 months.
 
The boom in e-commerce as people have been socially distancing due to COVID-19 has resulted in consumers thinking differently about how they pay online.
 
And the checkout has taken on new relevance in stores as well, with speed and convenience now even more critical for shoppers.
 
Paysafe have recently released a report as to how the payments landscape has shifted during COVID-19, and what this means for the future of online and in-store commerce. Danny Chazonoff, Chief Operating Officer at Paysafe here shares some key insights from that report.
 
Many of the trends we’ve seen during the pandemic are not new; instead, the pandemic has accelerated some of the shifts that we had already identified pre-COVID-19.
 
And the majority of businesses have already reacted to changing consumer preferences by upgrading their checkouts to a degree. But, as we now start to look beyond the pandemic, they must consider if consumers will continue to keep up their rate of online spending beyond the pandemic, and how the increased exposure to eCommerce may have changed consumers’ spending habits in the long term. These were the two focuses of our recent Lost in Transaction report – a survey we commissioned among 8,000 consumers on how their payments habits have changed in the past 12 months. Here are some of the key takeaways from the research:
 
In-store shopping
 
There will be something of a rebound in in-store shopping post-COVID-19, but we will not see a return to pre-pandemic levels. Overall, 44% of consumers plan to reduce the amount of spending they do in stores in the future compared to pre-COVID-19, although only 9% say they now plan to shop exclusively online in the future. This ‘online only’ figure spikes in the US (15%) and UK (11%), and is significantly lower in Austria (4%) and Germany (6%). And the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines will have an impact on how and when consumers will return to the high street. More than half (57%) of all consumers plan to reduce the volume of in-store shopping they do until they have a vaccine, and 8% say that they will not visit any stores until they are vaccinated.
 
Approximately a third of all consumers are planning to permanently reduce how much they do other in-person activities as well, such as attending concerts or sports events (34%) or going to bars and restaurants (31%). And where consumers are returning to stores and venues, how they check out is increasingly important. 43% of consumers have noticed which businesses have made efforts to update their checkout in the wake of COVID-19 and which have not, and 39% say they are less likely to shop in stores that haven’t made efforts to make the checkout process safer.
 
Online spending habits have changed
 
Increased familiarity with online payments, and shopping more with online merchants they do not have a relationship with, has changed the way some people want to spend online. While debit and credit cards still remain the most popular online payment methods overall, 86% of consumers said that they had changed the way they were paying online during the past 12 months, and 59% of consumers told us that they had tried at least one new online payment method in the same period.
 
Overall, more a third of consumers (38%) say they are more familiar with alternative payment methods than pre-COVID-19 and 31% are now more likely to use them. For example, 23% of consumers used a digital wallet for the first time in the past 12 months. When asked why their payment habits had changed, being able to track their spending more accurately (26%), wanting a more secure experience and greater protection from being a victim of fraud (25%), and exploring new technology generally (22%), were some of the main reasons given by consumers.
 
Confidence in online payments security
 
Having made more transactions online, consumers appear to be more confident in the security of online payments than this time last year. 37% of consumers believe that either the correct balance is being struck between the security and convenience of online payments (26%) or they would like payments to be more convenient even at the expense of security (11%), compared to 23% that thought this 12 months ago.
However, increased security is still the primary concern for the majority of consumers, with 40% saying that they would accept any security measure if it eradicates fraud. Nearly six in ten (59%) consumers feel more comfortable using online payment methods that do not share their financial details with the merchant. And a consequence of the growth in trust of online payments is a lower tolerance for being a victim of fraud. Less than half (45%) of consumers agreed that a certain level of risk of fraud is inevitable when shopping online, compared to 56% that agreed the same in 2020.
Cox Automotive Europe has created a new sales director role as part of a move to strengthen its senior leadership team working with customers.
 
Sam Watkins, currently commercial director for Manheim Vehicle Services (MVS), has been promoted to the new sales director role, reporting directly into James Leese, chief customer officer for Cox Automotive Europe.
 
Watkins takes up her new sales role on June 7.
 
As part of her new role, Watkins will assume responsibility for several areas of Cox Automotive Europe’s enterprise sales approach, continuing to bring its sales functions ‘closer together’ and promoting its connected proposition to customers and prospects, said Cox Automotive.
 
Leese commented: "Many of our larger OEM and fleets customers are now looking for connected solutions across the UK and Europe.
 
"We are well-placed to offer these solutions using multiple products and services across the Cox Automotive portfolio.
 
"We need to ensure we are structured appropriately to work with both existing customers and prospects to meet their requirements.”
 
During her time at MVS, Watkins played an ‘instrumental role’ in retaining and winning major new contracts from vehicle manufacturers, finance, and fleet operators, as well as opening ‘wider opportunities’ for Cox Automotive in other business areas, the company said.
 
Prior to joining Cox Automotive, Watkins has held senior positions at several vehicle manufacturers and as a dealer principal in the retail sector.
 
She was also chair of the Vehicle Remarketing Association (VRA) for two years up to January 21, and currently remains as a board director.
 
Cox Automotive insight and strategy director Philip Nothard was elected as the new chair of the Vehicle Remarketing Association (VRA), succeeding Watkins.
 
Watkins added: “I am delighted to move into this role at a crucial point in the expansion of our enterprise sales function. Enabling the success of our customers by providing wide ranging value driven solutions underpins the approach of Cox Automotive’s sales strategy.”
Channel 4 has announced the appointment of Amber Kirby to the newly created role of Marketing Director, reporting to CMO Zaid Al-Qassab.
 
Kirby will lead Channel 4 Marketing, and is responsible for delivering the broadcaster’s brand strategy across its network of channels, as well as all marketing campaigns.
 
She will be based in Channel 4’s National HQ in Leeds and oversee the Marketing, Brand & Partnerships, Media & Continuity, and Audience Integration & Marketing Operations teams.
 
Taking up the post on Monday 7th June, as Channel 4 gears up for coverage of the Tokyo Paralympic Games 2021 and an autumn schedule of programmes to follow.
 
She joins Channel 4 from Eurostar where she was Director of Brand & Customer Experience. Prior to that she held the position of Vice President of Marketing & Customer Experience at Virgin Holidays.
 
Kirby began her career in consumer goods at Procter & Gamble, rising to Marketing Director before moving into retail at Boots as Global Brand Director.
 
Al-Qassab, CMO at Channel 4 said: “I am delighted to welcome Amber to Channel 4. Her experience in creating a customer focused approach to marketing, and in building brands, is a great fit with our Future4 strategic direction.”
 
Kirby added: “With stunning award winning creative, it is a brand that is brave, bold and different and I am truly passionate about the meaningful difference that Channel 4 makes to ‘create change through entertainment’, a real purpose. Overall, I am thrilled to be part of the team just in time for the Paralympics.”
HealthTech Visionable has appointed a CTO and its first CFO following rapid growth in 2020.
 
The London company, which has developed a digital collaboration platform enabling clinicians to deliver better patient outcomes, welcomes Christèle Brouste as CFO and Antony Martin as CTO.
 
Visionable raised £17 million of investment last year and is aiming to expand into new markets and territories.
 
As Group Director of Finance at Babylon Health, Brouste built and led the financial organisation of the business to ensure strategic, commercial and operational goals were met. Her wealth of experience includes senior roles at both Apple and Cisco, working closely with leadership teams to support business investment and development plans.
 
Based in New York, USA, Martin replaces Rachel Dunscombe, who will remain in an advisory capacity, as CTO. He will work on expanding the company’s existing portfolio of products and manage the rollout of Visionable’s partnerships.
 
Martin has over 25 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and 20-plus years working in US-based companies, having held senior technology roles at video communications company Vidyo and cloud solutions provider Dialogic. 
 
CEO and co-founder Alan Lowe said: “Christèle and Antony’s experience will be invaluable to Visionable as we enter an exciting next chapter in our growth. 
 
“Both have a proven ability to grow companies, teams and technologies at a rapid pace which will help us take our video collaboration platform to the next level. 
 
“I have no doubt that they will contribute both personally and professionally as Visionable advances its range of products and services and I look forward to working closely with them and the rest of the leadership team to improve access to healthcare for all.”
 
Brouste added: “I wouldn’t have moved positions for any other company. Visionable and the inspiring co-founders, Alan Lowe and Lord Victor Adebowale, are making such a huge impact on the healthcare sector and they have a vision I can fully embrace and support. 
 
“This role allows me to utilise my experience in driving growth and laying the right foundations for making a tangible difference to healthcare. Visionable is a truly unique company that I’m very excited to be a part of.”
 
Martin commented: “Visionable is a dynamic company with a clear vision, at an exciting stage in its growth trajectory. 
 
“I am looking forward to working with the team on the opportunities and challenges ahead and to applying my experience in video technology to develop Visionable’s capability even further for the benefit of healthcare providers and patients.”
WineGB has announced a number of board changes.
 
Simon Robinson has announced that he is to step down as WineGB’s chairman at the beginning of August, after four years at the helm. The position will be filled by Sam Linter, Managing Director and Head Winemaker at Bolney Wine Estate, who has served on the WineGB Board for some two years.
 
Robinson said: "Some time ago, I indicated that the board has been considering succession planning. This meant not only trying to ensure that there is balanced producer representation, which was a key aim when WineGB was formed, but that also good skills are available to the board, and that the board is diverse and inclusive. While these changes cannot happen overnight, I always believe it right to lead from the front. Hopefully I've left WineGB in a much stronger state and that we've created a resilient, united and effective organisation to represent producer interests."
 
Robinson has been Chair of WineGB since its inception, and before then Chairman of English Wine Producers. He played a pivotal part in founding Wines of Great Britain when EWP merged with UK Vineyards Association in 2017. He is owner and Chairman of Hampshire-based Hattingley Valley Wines.
 
Nick Wenman from Albury Vineyard, who joined the Board last year has stepped up as Deputy Chairman, replacing Peter Gladwin, whose retirement from the role was announced in March. Both Simon Robinson and Peter Gladwin have been appointed Honorary Vice President of WineGB, recognising the significant contribution they have both made to WineGB.
 
Linter said: "It's an honour to have been appointed as chair of WineGB. We have an amazing association full of creative and talented people and it continues to be an exciting time for our industry as we move forward into this new phase for WineGB.
 
"During my tenure as chair of WineGB I want to ensure we bring greater diversity within the board and association as a whole, so that we get the best possible people with the widest range of skills, as well as seeking greater collaboration and communication with the whole membership."
Burton’s Biscuit Company has been acquired by CTH, a Belgian holding company related to the Ferrero Group.
 
As part of the deal to buy the company from Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, Ferrero will take over Burton’s six production facilities in the UK, located in Blackpool, Dorset, Edinburgh, Livingston, Llantarnam and the Isle of Arran.
 
Headquartered in St Albans, Burton’s has a history in the British biscuit market dating back to 1935. The company currently employs approximately 2,000 people across the six plants and generated sales in excess of £275m during the last 12 months.
 
Brands under the Burton’s umbrella include Maryland Cookies, Jammie Dodgers, Wagon Wheels, Paterson’s and Thomas Fudge’s.
 
The acquisition represents the latest step in an ongoing move by Ferrero to enlarge its offering in the sweet biscuits market. In October 2020 the Italian confectionery group bought part of Fox’s Biscuits from 2 Sisters Food Group for £246m. The deal included the purchase of manufacturing sites at Batley and Kirkham. Other recent acquisitions by Ferrero in the sector include Biscuits Delacre and Kelsen Group.
 
Ontario Teachers’ bought Burton’s in 2013 and have since grown the business through investment across the branded, retailer brand and third-party global brand portfolios, in addition to organic initiatives and bolt-on acquisitions.
 
In March 2021, Burton’s announced the creation of more than 40 new jobs at its flagship bakery in Llantarnam, citing ‘record levels’ of demand for its biscuit brands.
 
It also recently boosted the workforce at its Stalbridge bakery in Dorset, which produces the Thomas Fudge’s range, by almost 10% taking the total number of employees at the site to 153.
Young’s Seafood is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its invention of Scampi (who knew?) with a major campaign to promote the product, its history and how Young’s Scampi became Britain’s favourite.
 
The campaign, which includes TV and online advertising, retailer promotions, social media and influencer work and PR, will see Young’s epic, movie-like ‘Masters of Fish’ creative transformed into ‘Masters of Scampi’ for the month of June, showcasing the full Young’s Scampi range and providing inspiration for new ways to enjoy the nation’s favourite.
 
Young’s invented Scampi in 1946 as a result of a post war lobster shortage. A chef at the Ritz hotel in London wanted to serve lobster to his guests, and Young’s were able to offer him langoustine as an alternative. The chef cut the langoustine into pieces and deep fried it and Scampi was born. Shortly after Young’s started selling frozen Scampi and ever since it has become a firm family favourite in homes, restaurants and chip shops across the UK.
 
And its enduring popularity shows no sign of fading, with over a million new shoppers adding scampi to their basket in the last year. Young’s Scampi, as the undisputed No1 brand in the category, has seen sales top £37million across its full branded range for the first time ever, including Gastro Wholetail and Jumbo Wholetail, Young’s Scampi and Popcorn Scampi Bites.
 
Keely Wade, marketing manager at Young’s Seafood, said: “We’ve been perfecting fish for more than 200 years and this couldn’t be more true for our Scampi journey.”
 
“From the invention of Scampi 75 years ago to now, we’ve continually innovated to ensure there’s a delicious Scampi option for everyone and every occasion.”
 
“Our innovation doesn’t just stop with the recipes, in 2018 Young’s committed to significant cuts in its use of paper packaging and reducing plastic packaging by 10%, including the removing all black plastic by the end of 2020. As part of this, Young’s was able to replace 127 tonnes of other plastics with recyclable materials, including our Scampi bags.”
 
“We listen to our customers to make sure we’re providing the tasty, environmentally friendly options they want at the same time as presenting them with delicious new ways to enjoy Scampi and we hope they’ll join us in celebrating this delicious British favourite.”
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