Your commercial news round-up: Sainsbury’s Bank, Just Stop Oil protests, interest rates, Amazon

updated on 20 June 2024

Reading time: three minutes

Are you up to date with this week’s commercial news? NatWest announces its purchase of Sainsbury’s Bank, Just Stop Oil targets Taylor Swift and Stonehenge, economists predict that interest rates will hold and Amazon’s Coventry warehouse takes steps towards unionisation. Read this week’s commercial news round-up to find out more. 

  • NatWest has announced its purchase of Sainsbury’s Bank, gaining one million new customer accounts. The supermarket took full ownership of the bank in 2014 after starting the venture with the Bank of Scotland in 1997. As part of the sales agreement, Sainsbury’s Bank will pay out £125 million to NatWest and £250 million to Sainsbury's. While NatWest will take on credit cards, loans and savings accounts, it isn’t buying the brand itself, or its cash machines, insurance or travel money business.

During the consultation process, Sainsbury’s suggested that it would avoid redundancies by redeploying employees, with a spokesperson stating that "both parties are committed to exploring opportunities for ongoing employment with NatWest". Sainsbury’s isn’t the only supermarket that’s sold its banking operations this year. In February, Tesco sold its banking business to Barclays in a £600 million deal.

  • Just Stop Oil (JSO) activists spray-painted planes at Stansted airport yesterday (Wednesday 19 June), targeting private jets, including allegedly Taylor Swift’s. The focus on Swift’s air travel is partly due to X account CelebJets, which tracks Swift’s jet. CelebJets posted that the singer was responsible for emitting more than 8,000 tonnes of carbon. Swift’s spokesperson denied that she was on every flight, clarifying that her private jet is occasionally loaned out to others, while Swift’s lawyers threatened legal action against CelebJets.

In a post on X, JSO said that activists “cut the fence into the private airfield at Stansted where [Swift’s] jet is parked, demanding an emergency treaty to end fossil fuels by 2030”. JSO also targeted Stonehenge, again to demand the government end the extraction and burning of oil, gas and coal. The protestors threw powder paint over the heritage site the day before the summer solstice celebrations are held there. Restorers have since managed to clean the powder from the stone.

Find out more about the environmental implications of the Era’s Tour in this Wrestle with PESTLE.

  • From climate protests to interest rates, economists expect rates to be held at 5.25%, despite inflation hitting the central bank’s target for the first time in three years. They predicted the Bank will wait to see if inflation stays at 2% and have suggested that the first-rate cut will be in the autumn, not the summer. Laura Suter, personal finance director at financial services company AJ Bell, explained that: “It’s highly likely the Bank will want to wait to see the outcome of the election and the final economic plans before making that first cut.”
  • Finally, Amazon’s Coventry warehouse is taking steps towards unionising, as the General and Municipal Workers' Union (GMB) has begun a month-long ballot process. This follows over a year of strike action at the warehouse, where workers have demanded £15 an hour pay and the right to take part in negotiations. The GMB needs a majority to win, as well as 40% of the workers on site to vote “yes” in the ballot which is taking place between 8 and 15 July. If successful, the GMB will have the right to represent workers in pay and condition negotiations at the warehouse.

Yesterday, the warehouse staff began attending meetings with union representatives, as well as separate company meetings, to find out more about both possible voting outcomes. Senior GMB organiser Amanda Gearing explained that: “All of the messages we’re putting out have come from our leaders inside Amazon, and they’re saying they’ve had enough of being treated the way they’ve been treated and they want their voices to be heard.”

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