Your commercial news round-up: energy bills, Dominos, Royal Mail, student loans, Roblox and iRobot

updated on 11 August 2022

Reading time: three minutes

There’s lots to be getting stuck into in this week’s commercial news round-up, including acquisitions, employment and tech – what’s on your radar?

  • UK energy bills could reach £4,266 in 2023, according to consultancy Cornwall Insight. In line with the higher estimate, the average household could see their monthly bills increase from £164 to £355. Cornwall Insight said the predicted figure is based on Ofgem’s decision to change the price cap every three months instead of six, as well as higher wholesale prices. Ofgem has said that any forecast made at this stage is not “robust” and has “limited value”. The latest price cap, which sets the amount that suppliers can charge customers for their energy use in England, Scotland and Wales for October, is set to be revealed at the end of August. Ofgem has asked for “extreme caution” to be applied to any predictions that are made at this stage given the speed at which wholesale prices are moving.
  • Dominos has decided to close its Italian stores following a lack of success in the pizza capital of the world after seven years of operations. Its Italian franchise partner ePizza SpA had 29 branches across Italy but in April it filed for bankruptcy. Reductions in sales, higher running costs, high debts, as well as increasing competition from traditional pizza restaurants now offering delivery via apps all allegedly played a part in the success of the US brand’s demise in the country, according the bankruptcy filings.
  • More than 115,000 Royal Mail workers are due to strike four times across the coming weeks in a dispute over salaries. Nearly 98% of workers voted in favour of walking out, with the strikes due to take place on 26 and 31 August, and 8 and 9 September. The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said that “postal workers are being pushed to the brink”, adding ​​“we can’t keep on living in a country where bosses rake in billions in profit while their employees are forced to use food banks”. Management has responded to the strike action by introducing a 2% pay rise but the CWU said that “there will be serious disruption until you get real pay”.
  • The Department for Education has announced that student loan interest rates in England and Wales are due to be cut to 6.3% from September amid growing concerns over the rising cost of living. This is the second cut this year, with interest rates having been cut from 12% to 7.3% in June. The change will automatically be applied for borrowers and will affect those on undergraduate (plan 2) and postgraduate (plan 3) loans. Andrea Jenkyns, the universities minister, said: "We understand that many people are worried about the impact of rising prices and we want to reassure people that we are we are stepping up to provide support where we can.”
  • Online gaming platform Roblox has accused toy company WowWee Group Limited of copying its “wildly successful avatar intellectual property to create and sell a line of physical dolls to exploit Roblox’s investment, creative efforts, and popularity in the marketplace for their own profit.” The complaint was filed in the federal court in California on 2 August. Roblox claims that over the past two decades it’s created “one of the top online platforms for games and other experiences”.

In other tech news, Amazon is due to buy iRobot, the Roomba vacuum maker, in a deal worth $1.7 billion. The deal is part of Amazon’s plans to grow its home electronics products, with Roomba joining its Alexa and Ring doorbell devices. 

Check the News every Thursday for this weekly commercial news round-up.

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