Vauxhall could close more than 100 UK dealerships amid falling car sales

Company is renegotiating franchise agreements with dealerships in bid to improve profits
Vauxhall will cut back its dealership network amid rapidly falling UK car sales and changing consumer behaviour.
The company will terminate contracts with all of its 326 dealerships and renegotiate them in order to make its network more profitable. Vauxhall’s European sister company Opel is carrying out a similar exercise across the Continent.
The exact number of Vauxhall dealerships that will survive in the UK is not known but is likely to be between 200 and its current figure, the company said.
Read more Vauxhall 'could shut dealerships', threatening thousands of jobs Vauxhall’s sales plunged by more than a fifth last year and were down 18 per cent in the first three months of this year. Across the industry, UK car sales as a whole slipped 5.6 per cent in 2017.
Consumers now do far more of their research into making a new car purchase online, lessening the demand for dealerships..

UK wages rise faster than inflation for first time in a year

Wages grew faster than inflation for the first time in almost a year in February and the jobless rate fell to just 4.2 per cent according to the latest official data.
The Office for National Statistics reported that wages were up 2.8 per cent in the three months to February on a year earlier, higher than the 2.7 per cent rate of consumer price inflation over that period.
Real wages turned negative in April 2017 as inflation – due to the plunge in the pound in the wake of the Brexit vote – jumped.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in February ticked down to 4.2 per cent, from 4.3 per cent previously.
However, the wages data was weaker than the 3 per cent growth that many City of London analysts had anticipated, sending sterling down to $1.4338.
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Pound sterling hits post-Brexit referendum high as UK prepares for next round of EU talks

Strong pound pushed FTSE 100 down on Tuesday morning
The pound hit its highest level against the dollar since the Brexit vote in June 2016, rising to $1.4364 by mid-morning.
Sterling’s surge has been attributed to optimism ahead of wages and unemployment data, released on Tuesday morning, weakness in the dollar, and reduced concerns around the possibility of a hard Brexit as the UK and EU get ready for the next round of negotiations.
Read more Sterling rises as Mark Carney signals hawkish stance on rates The strong pound pushed the FTSE 100 down by three points at the open.
Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Think Markets, said: “Traders have pushed the currency higher ahead of the important upcoming wages and unemployment data, perhaps there is a real optimism amidst them.
“We do think it is a bold move because most of the bets are based on the hopes that the health of the job market would permit the Bank of England to adopt a more aggressive stance towards their monetar..

JD Sports shares pop as retailer reports record yearly profit

Retailer chasing further growth with recent acquisition of leading US brand
JD Sports shares rose more than 6 per cent in early trading after the group reported what it said were “record results” for the year to 3 February.
Pre-tax profit rose 24 per cent to £294.5m, from £238.4m the year before, while revenue increased by 33 per cent to £3.2bn from £2.4bn.
Read more JD shows up rival Sports Direct with US deal JD Sports unveils $550m deal to buy US athleisure business Finish Line JD Wetherspoon posts rise in profits but warns of tough year ahead The company said like-for-like in-store sales rose 3 per cent, but the lion’s share of sales came from its website, with growth of 30 per cent.
“This is an excellent result demonstrating our capacity for continuing growth in both existing and new markets, and the strength of our offer in store and online,” said JD Sports boss Peter Cowgill.
“The investments we have made over a number of years in developing our multichannel propositio..

Primark owner ABF says sugar business to blame for 30% drop in profit

Group plans to open nine new Primark stores across the globe in second half of the year
Associated British Foods (ABF), the owner of discount fashion giant Primark, has reported a 30 per cent drop in profit despite increased sales across almost all its businesses during the first half of the current financial year.
The group said decline in its sugar operation was to blame for the dip in overall pre-tax profit, which fell to £623m from £895m in the first half of 2017. Shares dropped more than 1.7 per cent at the open.
Read more Primark: The corporate symbol of a discount Brexit Britain? ABF owns AB Sugar, which has been struggling for some time due to falling sugar prices as a result of the EU removing sugar sales quotas. On Tuesday, the company reported operating profit from the sugar business fell 27 per cent to £90m in the 24 weeks to 3 March, while revenue dropped 13 per cent to £938m.
Primark delivered an 8 per cent rise in revenue, to £3.5bn, and a 6 per cent increase in..

China’s Economy Grows, and Its Trade Gap With the U.S. Widens

China’s Economy Grows, and Its Trade Gap With the U.S. Widens SHANGHAI — China’s economy grew at a healthy pace in the first three months of this year, propelled by strong household spending and heavy government investment in infrastructure.
It was also helped — albeit much more modestly — by a factor that could exacerbate the country’s tense relations with Washington: China is selling a lot more to the United States, and its purchases from America aren’t keeping up.
China’s National Bureau of Statistics announced in Beijing on Tuesday morning that the economy had expanded 6.8 percent in the first quarter compared with the same quarter last year. That was well ahead of the pace necessary to hit the government’s target of 6.5 percent growth for the entire year.
The country’s quarterly growth figure has become so implausibly smooth and predictable in recent years that economists generally look for other ways to gauge China’s economic health. One of those is trade, which at one time was a..

Senate Bill to Curtail Labor Rights on Tribal Land Falls Short

Senate Bill to Curtail Labor Rights on Tribal Land Falls Short Photo The Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, where a labor group is trying to organize workers. The casino is operated by the Mashantucket Pequot tribe on tribal land. Credit Christopher Capozziello for The New York Times Organized labor managed an increasingly rare feat on Monday — a political victory — when its allies turned back a Senate measure aimed at rolling back labor rights on tribal lands.
The legislation, called the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act, would have exempted enterprises owned and operated by Native American tribes from federal labor standards, even for employees who were not tribal citizens.
The A.F.L.-C.I.O. said passage of the measure, the subject of several years of tribal lobbying, would have amounted to the most aggressive erosion of labor protections since 1940s.
The bill fell six votes short of the 60 needed to break a filibuster.
The House passed the measure in January. It is unclear if the Sen..

'Cradle to grave' millennial renters should have German-style tenancy protections, says think tank

According to the Resolution Foundation, if the decline in the UK home ownership rate continues, a third of people currently in their twenties and thirties will still be renting their homes by the time they retire
Millennials who face the prospect of renting for their entire lives should be given German-style long-term security of tenure and limits on hikes in their rent, a leading think tank has argued.
In its latest report, the Resolution Foundation estimates that if the decline in UK home ownership rates seen since 2000 continues, a third of people currently in their twenties and thirties will still be renting their homes by the time they retire.
Lifetime renting is unremarkable in countries such as Germany and Switzerland, which have home ownership rates far below the UK’s current 63 per cent level.
Read more The real reason why the Tories can’t solve the housing crisis But those countries have much stronger rights for tenants compared to the UK, where tenants can usually be ..

London falls out of top 10 most expensive business travel destinations thanks to stronger euro

All UK locations on list dropped down the rankings, with Aberdeen seeing a particularly marked fall, while Monaco, Basel and Paris became pricier
London has fallen out of the top ten most expensive cities in the world for business travel, thanks to a strengthening euro, new research has found.
The UK capital was overtaken by Monaco, Basel and Paris this year, dragging it down to sixth place in Europe from third the year before.
All of the UK locations included in the list compiled by data and software company ECA International dropped down the rankings.
Read more Inflation falls in February as transport and food prices decline Aberdeen fell from 13th to 39th in the European rankings in two years, partly due to a downturn caused by lower oil and gas prices.
Simon Franklin, daily rates manager at ECA International said: “Whilst the price of business travel to London has remained relatively static over the past few years, the strong performance of the euro in the past year has se..