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Co-op: Roaring back and in the black but is it just a bit too busy?

The institution has delivered a punchy set of results and is once again doing what the Co-operative should do, but its bosses should be wary of overreaching themselves
The Co-op’s back.
The institution’s latest set of numbers paint a picture of a business that has at last shaken off a long tail of yuck left by disasters (banking snafus, awful executives, dodgy directors) that could have brought the thing crashing down.
At first glance the phrase ‘what's not to like’ springs to mind.
Read more Co-op group is back in the black as it reveals members got £74m reward Co-op's new app could mean no need for checkouts Disgraced ex-Co-op Bank chairman Paul Flowers banned from City A £132m loss turned into a £72m headline profit. At the underlying level, which strips out ‘one off’ nasties to focus on the performance of the core business, profits rolled in at £65m against £52m. Debt fell to £775m from £885m. Overall revenues were flat, but there were plenty of bright spots.
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UK productivity growth hit a 10-year high in the second half of 2017, show official figures

The increase was largely driven by a fall in the number of hours worked
UK productivity rose 0.7 per cent in the final three months of 2017, and with the third quarter figure revised up to 1 per cent, together they represent the strongest growth since the second half of 2005, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The ONS said the period between October and December last year was “the second consecutive quarter in which productivity growth has exceeded the pre-downturn average of 0.5 per cent per quarter”.
Read more UK productivity growth hits six-year high However, productivity was calculated on an output per hour basis, and so the increase was “largely driven by a fall in average hours worked”, the ONS said.
Meanwhile, revised estimates of labour productivity of the G7 show the UK continues to lag behind other major economies – UK labour productivity was around 16.3 per cent below the average for the other G7 economies in 2016.
“This is a second successive qu..

Gender pay gap deadline: 78% of UK companies pay men more than women, figures reveal

Around 1,500 organisations failed to report figures before the deadline of midnight on Wednesday
Almost eight in 10 large UK companies and public sector bodies pay men more than women, the latest gender pay gap reporting has revealed.
After the deadline to publish passed at midnight on Wednesday, around 1,500 organisations with over 250 employees had yet to report.
More than 10,015 companies met the deadline, with 78 per cent of those revealing that they pay men more than women, on average.
Read more Gender pay gap latest: 1,500 firms fail to meet reporting deadline Of the remaining employers, 8 per cent claimed that they have no gender pay gap and 14 per cent reported one in favour of women.
More than 15 per cent of employers left it to the last minute, sending their information between Tuesday at 4pm and the cut-off point. A further 10 companies had submitted their figures after the deadline by 8am on Thursday.
Companies that fail to publish their mean and median gender pa..

Vodafone beats O2, EE and Three to take biggest share of 5G spectrum

Rival O2 took all the 4G spectrum up for auction
Ofcom has raised £1.36bn from its auction of mobile airwaves for 4G and future 5G services, the regulator announced on Wednesday.
The communications watchdog auctioned off airwaves in two frequency bands: 2.3 GHz (gigahertz), usable by current mobile phones for 4G service, and 3.4 GHz, which is one for the bands earmarked for 5G service in the future.
Vodafone had the biggest win, taking 50 MHz (megahertz) of 5G spectrum, paying £378.2m for its share.
Read more Everything you need to know about 5G EE won 40 MHz of 5G spectrum at a cost of £302.6m, and Hutchison, owner of the Three network, took 20 MHz of 5G, costing £151.3m.
Meanwhile, Telefonica, which owns O2, won all 40 MHz of 2.3 GHz spectrum, used for 4G, at a cost of £205.9m. The Spanish group also paid £317.7m for 40MHz of 5G spectrum.
The total £1.36bn raised will be paid to the Treasury.
Airspan Spectrum Holdings, which is backed by Japan’s SoftBank, also took part..

UK car registrations fall for 12th consecutive month as demand for diesel plummets

New registrations for petrol cars remained steady
The number of new cars registered in the UK dropped in March for a twelfth consecutive month, according to new figures from the industry’s main trade body.
According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), 474,069 new cars were registered last month, representing a 15 per cent decline compared to the same period in 2017.
The SMMT said it saw the biggest number of new car registrations ever recorded in the UK in March 2017 as customers looked to buy vehicles before changes to car tax rates, or Vehicle Excise Duty, introduced last April.
Read more Plastic-backed fridges must be removed from sale, says Which? Demand for diesel cars plummeted the most, with a 37.2 per cent drop in new diesel cars compared to the same period in 2017. New registrations for petrol cars remained steady, with a rise of 0.5 per cent.
The SMMT said it was concerned by the drop in demand for diesel cars and warned that vehicle tax changes ..

World's largest miner BHP Billiton quits global coal lobby group

The miner came under pressure last year to leave any associations with policies that fail to match the company’s support of the 2015 Paris climate accord
Global miner BHP Billiton said on Thursday it had made a final decision to leave the World Coal Association (WCA) over differences on climate change but would remain a member of the US Chamber of Commerce.
BHP has largely quit mining coal for power plants, but is the world’s largest exporter of coal for steel-making. It said in December it had taken a preliminary decision to withdraw from the WCA, pending a full review.
The miner came under pressure from Australian green groups last year to leave any industry associations with policies that fail to match the company’s support of the 2015 Paris climate accord.
Read more Microplastics found in fertilisers being applied to farmland “In light of the material difference identified by the review and the narrow range of activities of benefit to BHP from membership, BHP has reached a f..

Gender pay gap latest: 1,500 firms fail to meet midnight deadline for reporting pay data

Employers who failed to report before the deadline could face legal action, the ECHR has said
Around 1,500 organisations failed to report their gender pay gap data by the deadline of midnight on Wednesday, 4 April, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (ECHR).
With 10,015 meeting the deadline, firms continued to publish data on Thursday, and 10 more had reported by 8am.
There was a late surge in organisations reporting on deadline day, with more than 15 per cent filing their pay gap reports between Tuesday at 4pm and the cut-off point.
Read more To truly tackle the gender pay gap the Tories need to do much more ECHR boss Rebecca Hilsenrath said the group was pleased with the rate of reporting. However, she added: “It’s the law, it’s not an option.”
Early analysis shows that 78 per cent of firms reported that they pay men more than women, while 8 per cent reported no median gap and 14 per cent reported a gap that favours women.
On Wednesday, the equalities mi..

Plastic-backed fridges must be 'urgently' removed from sale, says Which?

Which? said its own, more stringent, tests found that no plastic backing sample was able to withstand a flame for 30 seconds
A watchdog has called for plastic-backed fridges to be “urgently” removed from sale after finding they pose a fire risk and could even hasten the spread of a blaze.
Which? said an industry-wide investigation of more than 500 of the most popular refrigeration appliances on the market found that backing material on 45 per cent of them was made of unsafe plastic which posed a potential fire risk.
The research also found that a number of models backed with plastic which manufacturers previously claimed was flame-retardant could speed up the spread of a fire, the consumer group said.
Read more Plastic-free events show how sport can cut out ‘huge amounts of waste' All plastic-backed fridges, freezers and fridge-freezers on the market pass existing safety standards but Which? said the tests were “inadequate, not fit for purpose and do not come close to repli..

Magners maker C&C throws lifeline to 2,000 workers at Bargain Booze owner Conviviality

Irish drinks group will by wholesale arm but experts say struggling firm not out of the woods yet
Almost 2,000 jobs look set to be saved at Bargain Booze owner Conviviality after an 11th-hour proposal from Magners owner C&C.
Under the deal, the Irish drinks group, which also owns the Bulmers and Tennent’s brands, will acquire Conviviality’s wholesale arm through a pre-pack administration.
This involves a buyer taking over certain assets from a struggling business before it appoints administrators.
Read more Bargain Booze owner set to go into administration risking 2,500 jobs C&C said it plans to buy Conviviality brands Matthew Clark and Bibendum.
Drinks giant AB Inbev will provide additional financing for the deal. PwC is handling the sale and administration.
Michael Mulligan, a partner and insolvency specialist at law firm, Shakespeare Martineau, said the struggling company was not safe yet.
“Whilst a deal is on the cards, the business is still teetering on the brink of ad..