Cookies, PayPal, Daily Mail, Wetherspoons, ‘shop out to help out’: your commercial news round-up

updated on 01 April 2021

Aspiring lawyers must be able to showcase a number of important skills through applications, work experience and during your career, but one of the key skills that all law firms want to see in their future lawyers is commercial awareness. While you’re not expected to know everything about the law, you are expected to demonstrate commercial acumen at each stage of the application process. Don’t let yourself down by ignoring this factor. Get started today by reading our short round-up of some of the week’s stories below.

  • An alternative to third-party cookies is being tested, with Google aiming to offer users increased privacy, while still enabling advertisers to target a valuable audience. The new system, which is called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), organises people into groups based on their browsing habits without threatening the privacy of individual web users. Meanwhile, digital advertisers are proposing other alternatives to compete with Google’s FLoC.
  • US PayPal customers now have the opportunity to “checkout with crypto”, including Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. Speaking to Reuters, PayPal’s Chief Executive Dan Schulman said: “Enabling cryptocurrencies to make purchases at businesses around the world is the next chapter in driving the ubiquity and mass acceptance of digital currencies.” Customers paying with cryptocurrencies via PayPal will not pay the standard transaction fee of 2% on top of the RRP that is required when using fiat currency.

Elsewhere, Mastercard has been fined £31 million after being accused of running a cartel alongside four other companies to lessen market competition for pre-paid cards, thus breaking competition law.

  • Deliveroo’s flotation on the London Stock Exchange was the biggest since the initial public offering (IPO) of Glencore in May 2011, but shares in the food delivery company have since crashed, following concerns raised regarding its gig economy worker model and loss-making history. While Deliveroo had been aiming for a share price of up to 460 pence, investors were offered shares at 390 pence each, which eventually fell by 26% to close at 287 pence. Fears have been raised over the future strength of the City’s tech IPO market.
  • Meanwhile, shares in the Daily Mail’s publishing group increased earlier this week following Cazoo’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange. The Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) has a 20% stake in the used car service, which has been valued at £5 billion, and forecasts its share to be worth around £1 billion. DMGT’s Chief Executive Paul Zwillenberg said: “Our strategy gave us confidence in our portfolio and the financial flexibility to invest in Cazoo, including leading a funding round in March 2020 at a time of global uncertainty. We are delighted by the rapid progress the business has made and the capital appreciation on our £117 million investment.”
  • Wetherspoons’ expansion plans have been revealed with 18 new pubs to be opened and additional refurbishments to take place once pubs can fully reopen later this year, under the government’s lockdown guidance. The pub chain explained that its £145 million development will depend on the pandemic and a future of no more lockdowns. The initial investment will create 2,000 jobs and take around 24 months to complete. It is also set to be followed by a further £750 million project to build 15 pubs and develop 50 existing pubs each year for 10 years, creating another 20,000 jobs.
  • The government is being urged to introduce a ‘shop out to help out’ scheme to support independent shops with fewer than 10 employees that are due to reopen on 12 April, following significant pressures due to covid-19 lockdowns. UK fashion and retail names, including Charlotte Tilbury, are pushing for the scheme, which they’ve suggested should mirror last summer’s eat out to help out scheme – that is, the government should cover 50% of the costs of goods, capped at £10, bought by these physical independent stores every Monday to Wednesday for a month this summer.

    In 2020 non-essential retail stores lost an estimated £22 billion in sales, according to the British Retail Consortium, with Ross Bailey, founder of Save the Street, claiming that independent shops have been the hardest hit by the pandemic and the government’s enforced restrictions. Bailey said: “Independent shops do not have the same kind of lobby groups that big pubs, transportation and aviation industries do. Even the technology sector – which has done incredibly from lockdown regulations – has benefited from matched funding from the government, while tiny businesses that are the backbone of this country have seen nothing.”
  • Meanwhile, several Western brands are facing boycotts across China, including H&M, Nike and Burberry, after concerns were raised about the forced labour of Uighurs. According to Bloomberg, six H&M stores were closed by retail landlords in Urumqi, Yinchuan, Changchun and Lianyungang, with the backlash threatening one of the retail giant’s largest markets. China accounted for 5.2% of H&M’s total sales in 2020, while H&M group’s net sales fell by 21% in 2021’s first quarter (ie, 1 December 2020 to 28 February 2021) – a figure that has naturally been affected by worldwide lockdowns.

Be sure to check the News every Thursday for this weekly commercial news round-up. Follow @LawCareersNetUK on Twitter and like us on Facebook for instant business news updates.