The economy shrank unexpectedly in November as election uncertainty delivered a blow to output (The Times £). The economy grew at its weakest annual rate since 2012 in November amid political chaos over Brexit (Sky News). The economy slammed into reverse ahead of the General Election as political uncertainty hammered business (The Daily Mail). The UK’s economy grew by just 0.1% in the three months to November, according to the Office for National Statistics (The BBC).
The pound fell below the $1.30 mark yesterday as currency traders ratcheted up the odds of an interest rate cut this month (The Times £). Pressure is mounting on the Bank of England to cut interest rates after figures showed the economy went into reverse in the month before the general election (The Telegraph).
Women working at Asda are paid on average 6.5% less than their male colleagues, the supermarket chain announced yesterday. In a submission to the government, Asda said that it had closed its median gender pay gap by 1.1% in 2019. (The Times £)
The government has been urged to rethink its tax and benefit rules for low-paid workers after it emerged that some staff at the bakery chain Greggs could get to keep just a quarter of their £300 annual bonus as a result of universal credit deductions. (The Guardian)
Greggs’ charity work and staff profit-shares show others how ethical business can reap rich rewards, writes The FT. “Sceptics of responsible capitalism often warn that diluting the focus on profits leads to weaker companies and slower growth. Long may Greggs continue to prove them wrong.” (The Financial Times £)
The BBC’s Panorama programme looked at how to save the UK’s crisis-hit High Streets – The BBC says: “To tempt us back and rejuvenate the High Street and its shops, planners and retailers will have to work together to build a much more enticing offer to get us off our computer screens and bring us back from out of town shopping centres.” (The BBC)
Former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy says business is ready to invest in the UK after the general election result. Despite previously arguing for the UK to remain in the EU, Leahy says he believes the Tory majority means Boris Johnson can deliver Brexit and businesses can finally plan for life outside the EU. (The Daily Mail)
A flurry of high-profile stock market listings are expected to bombard the City this year as investors’ enthusiasm rebounds. Household names including Asda, Poundland, O2 and Jaguar Land Rover are on the watchlist of companies that could go public in 2020. (The Daily Mail)
Shoppers have been warned about the risks of buy now, pay later schemes by a helpline that expects a call about debt every four minutes in January. The Money and Pensions Service, which is backed by the government, said it was gearing up for its busiest period of the year. (The BBC)
England’s players were not the only ones to feel deflated after the Rugby World Cup. A disappointing tournament was part of a cocktail of negatives that left the City Pub Group nursing a nasty hangover yesterday (The Times £). Train delays and poor attendances during the Rugby World Cup will cause profits to be ‘slightly below expectations’ at the City Pub Group (The Daily Mail).
The Guardian looks at how crisp flavours went from simple to sensational. It was five decades after crisps were invented that flavouring was applied: cheese and onion. Now you can buy varieties from bratwurst to spiced cola. But what inspired this explosion? (The Guardian)
Walmart India has cut executive jobs as it tries to carve out a path to profitability in the midst of an escalating battle for market share. (The Financial Times £)