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Dixons Carphone to become Currys in major rebrand
June 14, 2021

Electricals retailer Dixons Carphone will rename all its UK and Ireland shops as Currys as part of a major rebrand. The group said Currys PC World, Carphone Warehouse, Team Knowhow and Dixons Carphone will all become Currys by October, with a new Currys website also set to be launched. The rebrand will be rolled out across more than 300 stores, with 13,000 colleague uniforms and some 300 vehicle liveries changed. It forms part of a recently announced £190m investment across the group, with revamped stores, an online push and staff training in technology. The group’s first new-look store was unveiled in Edinburgh’s Kinnaird Retail Park. Dixons Carphone will also change its name to Currys on the London Stock Exchange after the group’s annual shareholder meeting in September.   Alex Baldock, chief executive of Dixons Carphone, said the Currys rebrand decision was a “no-brainer”. He said: “It’s the best of the old and the best of the new.   “Since Henry Curry first started helping everyone enjoy the amazing technology of his day - the bicycle - in 1884, Currys has been the best-known and most trusted brand in tech.” Baldock admitted it is a “bitter sweet day” for brands such as Dixons, which will disappear from high streets and online under the rebrand. He confirmed that there will be no store closures as a result of the overhaul, and that the group’s international brands in markets such as Norway and Sweden will remain unchanged. Dixons Carphone has undergone a raft of rebrands over the years, with the Dixons name being ditched on the high street in 2006, when it decided to roll out a change to the then Currys.digital across its shops. Dixons was retained then as the brand for its online retailing operations, while it has also been used for Dixons Travel.  

Jaguar Land Rover sees pre-exceptional profits rise
May 21, 2021

Luxury car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover Automotive today reported strong underlying profitability and cash flow for the three months to March 31, 2021, its fourth quarter period – and solid results for the full year. The business, which employs around 14,000 UK staff at sites including Halewood in Merseyside and Castle Bromwich and Solihull in the West Midlands, continued to recover following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and retail sales in the fourth quarter were 123,483 vehicles, up 12.4% year-on-year. This was supported by a strong recovery in China, where sales grew 127% over Q4 last year, when the impact of COVID-19 peaked in that market. Full year retails of 439,588 vehicles were still down 13.6%, although sales in China increased 23.4% year-on-year. The award-winning new Land Rover Defender contributed significantly to retail sales, with 16,963 units sold in Q4 and 45,244 units for the full year. Pre-tax profit before exceptional charges increased significantly to £534m in Q4 and £662m for the full year, reversing losses in the same periods a year ago which were impacted by the start of the pandemic. The EBIT margin improved to 7.5% in Q4 and 2.6% for the full year, up 10.7 and 2.5 points, respectively, year-on-year. The improving performance mainly reflects recovering volumes, and favourable mix, cost performance – including lower marketing spend – and foreign exchange. In February 2021 the company announced its new global strategy to Reimagine the future of modern luxury by design and deliver double-digit EBIT margins by fiscal year 2025/26. As previously stated, this will entail £1.5bn of exceptional charges in the fourth quarter, including £952m of non-cash write downs of prior investments and £534m of restructuring charges expected to be paid in fiscal 2021/22. After these exceptional charges, the company reported a pre-tax loss of £952m for the quarter and £861m for the full year. Free cash flow of £729m was generated in Q4 to achieve positive free cash flow of £185m, after investment spending of £2.3bn, for the full year. Cash flow for Q2 to Q4 totalled £1.8bn to more than offset the £1.6bn cash outflow in Q1 when Jaguar Land Rover’s plants were closed for two months due to COVID. Adrian Mardell, JLR chief financial officer, said: “We are pleased to have been able to continue to generate improved cash flow and profitability in Q4, despite the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 on both retailers and the supply chain. “It was particularly satisfying to achieve a 7.5% EBIT margin in Q4 and positive cash flow for the full year. “The strengthened performance reflects the success of our efforts to improve quality of sales and the cost structure of the business, as well as a focus on driving cash flow through Project Charge+.” Profit and cash improvements from Charge+ in the quarter totalled more than £332m, including £155m of cost efficiencies and a £177m reduction in investment spending. This brings Charge+ savings to £2.5bn in fiscal 2020/21 and £6bn since the programme was launched in September 2018, substantially exceeding the initial targets set. JLR ended the year with total cash and short term investments of £4.8bn, resulting in total liquidity of £6.7bn, including a £1.9bn undrawn revolving credit facility (RCF), which runs to July 2022. JLR has also completed an extension for £1.31bn of the RCF to March 2024. During the year, JLR successfully launched its exciting new range of 21 Model Year vehicles, incorporating the very latest technologies. Twelve of the company’s models now have an electrified option, contributing to 62% of sales, including eight plug-in hybrids, 11 mild hybrids and the all-electric Jaguar I-PACE. The group said increasing COVID vaccination rates are encouraging for the ultimate recovery of the global economy and automotive industry from the effects of the pandemic. However, cases are still high in many markets while supply chain issues, in particular for semi-conductors, have become more difficult to mitigate and are now impacting JLR’s production plans for Q1. The company said it is working closely with affected suppliers to resolve the issues and minimise the effect on customers. For fiscal 2021/22, JLR expects sales to continue to recover. The company is still targeting an EBIT margin of at least four per cent and break even free cash flow after around £2.5bn of investment and approximately £500m of restructuring costs that have already been accrued. Chief executive, Thierry Bolloré, said: “In my first set of full year results as CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, I have been encouraged by the company’s resilience and strong recovery during a uniquely challenging year. “Despite the pandemic, this year has also seen significant positive change culminating in February with the launch of our Reimagine strategy focused on reimagining our iconic British brands for a future of modern luxury by design. “Our strategy is ambitious and it will make us more agile, efficient and sustainable.” He added: “Although it is still early days, we have made significant progress in implementing it. This has reaffirmed my confidence that we have the right strategy, the right people and the right product plans to deliver against our targets. “Jaguar Land Rover is well placed to emerge from the pandemic as a stronger and more resilient company that is able to navigate and capitalise on the opportunities ahead.”

Mayor Andy Burnham to ‘revolutionise’ transport as he unveils latest plans
May 10, 2021

Newly re-elected Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, will seek to transform the region’s transport system. Putting ‘transport revolution’ at the centre of plans for his second term, Burnham said he will be accelerating plans for a ‘London style’ transport system so that all parts of Greater Manchester have buses integrated with Metrolink by May 2024 – a year earlier than originally planned Ahead of the first meeting of the Mayor’s new Bee Network Delivery Board,  he also announced 95 new electric vehicle charging points by the end of this year, with plans for a further 200 charging points next year, in partnership with government He has pledged to complete 100km of cycling and walking routes by the end of the year and a new bike hire scheme to launch in November, with the preferred delivery partner unveiled in June Burnham is also opening negotiations with Network Rail to agree a plans to make all rail stations in the city-region accessible by 2025, ‘or to give Greater Manchester the funding and power to do it.’ Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Across the world, the most successful city-regions have one thing in common – an affordable, integrated and accessible transport network. “People in Greater Manchester have made clear that they won’t settle for second best any longer – that is why on day one of my second term as Mayor I’m vowing to accelerate the delivery of a world-class transport network for our city-region and its people.  It is absolutely critical to our future economic and social prosperity. “People here deserve a transport network where you can seamlessly travel across our city-region on buses, trams and trains – without spending a fortune each time. “We will deliver this alongside hundreds of new Electric Vehicle charging points, a bike hire scheme and world-class cycling and walking corridors which will make everyday trips to school, to work and to the shops safe, easy and fun. This will benefit our people and our planet as we step up our plans for carbon neutrality.” The Mayor has also written to Rochdale Council to offer his support for the creation of a new partnership to drive the regeneration of Middleton Town Centre, and is asking TfGM to accelerate the development of a business case to bring Metrolink to Middleton. The new partnership will be tasked with preparing a masterplan for the town centre, including funding proposals to bring Metrolink to Middleton.