London’s congestion charge, Amazon and Deliveroo, JD Sports, Shell, Nestlé: your commercial news round-up

updated on 25 June 2020

The week’s news has been dominated by the government’s announcement that UK lockdown measures will be eased on 4 July, including a reduction in the two-metre social distancing rule and the opening of pubs, restaurants, hotels, hairdressers and barbers. As such, this commercial news round-up aims to bring you other important news from the business and legal world that may have understandably slipped under your radar.

  • London’s congestion charge has increased by 30% from £11.50 to £15 and will apply from 7:00am to 10:00pm, seven days a week. The temporary measures were introduced on Monday under the terms of Transport for London’s (TFL) £1.6 billion bailout by the government. TFL warned that car traffic in the City’s charging zone has returned to pre-coronavirus levels and believes the measures introduced could reduce car trips by a third.

Meanwhile, a scheme which previously reimbursed NHS staff who were making additional journeys into the zone to tackle the pandemic is being extended to other key workers, including ambulance workers and care home staff.

  • In April the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) revealed that it would “provisionally” approve Amazon’s plan to buy 16% of Deliveroo – first announced in May 2019 – in a bid to prevent the collapse of the online food delivery company. The CMA announced that it is no longer worried about Amazon’s investment plans, following its initial concerns that the £440 million deal would prevent Amazon from launching a rival company to Deliveroo, which would ultimately increase competition and potentially reduce prices for consumers.
  • JD Sports has bought back its Go Outdoors chain in a £56.5 million deal to “preserve as many jobs as possible” and rescue it from administration. Having previously pushed Go Outdoors into administration, JD Sports now aims to retain the “majority” of the Go Outdoors stores with a large-scale restructuring plan.  
  • Shell is also set to undergo a major restructuring by the end of the year as it plans to move its focus to zero-carbon activities. The oil giant revealed its plans following cuts to its dividend for the first time since the Second World War and its goal to become carbon neutral by 2050.
  • After Nestlé announced that its KitKats in the UK and Ireland will no longer be Fairtrade, it was revealed that around 27,000 cocoa and sugar farmers will not receive annual premiums worth £1.6 billion. No longer working with the Fairtrade Foundation, Nestlé will use the cocoa from the same farms under its own cocoa sustainability programme (Cocoa Plan) for its KitKats, with the sugar being sourced mainly from the UK. CEO of the Fairtrade Foundation Michael Gidney said: “This is profoundly disappointing news.

“The farmers have been trading their way out of grinding poverty thanks to a commitment from Nestlé to buy Fairtrade over these past 10 years. Nestlé withdrawing their support will have a huge impact. Farmers asked very clearly for Nestlé to continue sourcing from them on Fairtrade terms. Nestlé has said they’re willing to source from them, but not on Fairtrade terms.”

  • Cyber security experts have expressed their concerns over data breaches following the government’s plan for pubs and restaurants to keep a register of all visitors when they open at the beginning of July, according to City AM. The new rules released earlier in the week require all hospitality venues to record the contact details of visitors for 21 days in a bid to track and trace coronavirus infections. Senior threat research evangelist at F5 David Warburton said: “The likelihood will be that iPads and spreadsheets will be used for simplicity. There’s a high chance these systems will have little to no authentication attached to them and will be stored on cloud platforms which can all too easily be made public accidentally.” He added: “By combining multiple data breaches of visitors to various establishments, hackers could retrospectively build a record of their movements and even who they were with at the time.”

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