Good morning and welcome to the Business Breakfast live blog for Tuesday, January 15. I’m Jonathon Manning and I’m running the blog this morning.
The business team’s live blog brings you all the breaking news from across the North East, the UK and beyond – basically anything and everything from the world of business.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has said he believes the casual dining sector will bounce back, despite being forced to close 12 of his own restaurants last year.
A dozen branches of Jamie’s Italian restaurants closed last year, including one in Newcastle. But Mr Oliver said he believed those operating in the mid-market would need to “stick out” the tough trading conditions before the sector returned to its former strength.
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Boohoo shows online retail still strong with huge sales spike
Online fashion retailer Boohoo has boosted its sales by 44%, outstripping its rivals on the high street.
The group, which owns the PrettyLittleThing and Nasty Gal brands, reported total group revenues of £328.2 million for the final four months of 2018, up from £228.2m a year earlier.
In the UK, which is its largest market, revenue rose 33% to £180m.
Its main Boohoo brand saw sales lifted 15% to £163.5m. Revenue at PrettyLittleThing rose 95% to £144.2m, while Nasty Gal sales jumped 74% to £20.6m.
Boohoo said it now expects revenues for the year to February 28 to rise by between 43% and 45%, ahead of its previous guidance of 38% to 43%.
Newcastle’s Frank Recruitment opens new office in Arizona, creating 50 jobs
Newcastle’s Frank Recruitment has boosted its international presence after opening a new office in the US.
The launch of the new Arizona office is the firm’s latest step in boosting its international footprint. The firm has 16 offices around the world, including eight in the US.
Frank Recruitment Group specialises in finding talent to work in the technology sector. The Scottsdale site will house three of the group’s niche brands and create 50 jobs in the area. As the base expands it is expected that its headcount will grow to 100 in the coming years.
The niche practices based inside the building will include Anderson Frank, which specialises in Netsuite recruitment. It will also house the group’s Amazon Web Services brand Jefferson Frank, as well as Nelson Frank, which specialises in ServiceNow.
Scottsdale is the group’s third US office to be opened in the last six months. The expansion has been overseen by Sunny Ackerman, Frank Recruitment’s president of the Americas.
Ms Ackerman said:
We have an ambitious growth strategy and have worked in the North American market for a long time. We’re always on the lookout for new burgeoning tech locations, and Arizona is one we’ve been interested in for a while.
All of the signs point to now being the right time to expand, and we’re thrilled to finally announce our latest office location in the greater Phoenix area. We can’t wait to give our existing customers in Arizona an even better experience, and bring new clients and employees on board.
FTSE and pound update
The FTSE-100 index opened at 6855.02.
The pound at 8am was 1.2883 dollars compared to 1.2870 dollars at the previous close.
The euro at 8am was 0.8903 pounds compared to 0.8917 pounds at the previous close.
Jamie Oliver defends launch of healthy deli range with Shell
Jamie Oliver has also defended a controversial tie-up with Shell, as he launches a roadside food-to-go range.
Mr Oliver has struck a deal that will see him bring 80 healthy food items to a wider range of people.
If this was a film, this would be like getting it into lots of cinema screens. This is where people go.
However, the £5m deal has attracted criticism for being at odds with Mr Oliver’s position as a UN environmental champion.
Defending his business deal, Mr Oliver said:
I think I’ve earned trust over the last 20 years and I would hope that people think I’ve thought about it correctly. I can stick up for what’s in the stores and where it’s come from.
The Jamie Oliver deli range will be available in 500 Shell service stations from the end of the month.
Jamie Oliver says casual dining set for a comeback
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has said he believes casual dining is primed for a comeback, despite tough trading conditions forcing him to close 12 restaurants last year.
Mr Oliver was forced to close a dozen of his Jamie’s Italian sites during 2018, including one in Newcastle, due to the harsh pressures facing the restaurant sector.
But the TV chef said those in the industry needed to wait out the tough conditions until mid-market restaurants returned to popularity. He added that he believed consumers would continue to use their “pleasure spend” on dining out.
Mr Oliver said:
So I think we will come back and it will come back strong and it will be relevant.
For myself and most of the others it’s just sticking it out and listening. I think lots of lessons have been learned but I still believe in the sector.
Jamie’s Italian had been closed to going bankrupt, before Mr Oliver had injected £13m of his own money into the business to keep it afloat.
Other restaurants had also been hit by the difficulties on the high street, with Gaucho, Prezzo, Byron, and Carluccio’s all closing sites last year.
Mr Oliver added that the industry had been hit by a number of tough challenges.
I think mid-market particularly was just in a perfect storm of rents, rates, over-saturation, and we’d just come out of a recession and went into Brexit-ville.
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