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  • Business and finance update 13th May 2024

Business and finance update 13th May 2024

UK exits recession

Good morning. Today we're talking about the UK no longer being in a recession, a British AI firm’s big fundraise and Boohoo’s poor year.

Big Stories

UK exits recession

The UK economy showed signs of recovery in the first quarter of 2024, bouncing back from a short-lived recession with a growth rate of 0.6%. This marks the strongest economic performance since late 2021, exceeding economist expectations. However, despite this positive development, the outlook remains cautious. While sectors like retail, transportation, and healthcare fuelled this growth, underlying concerns persist. The UK appears to be experiencing recessions more frequently compared to the latter half of the 20th century, hindering long-term economic progress. These repeated periods of stagnation, interspersed with brief slumps, are placing a strain on public finances and leading to a decline in living standards. As the country gears up for elections, the "battle of ideas" on how to address this concerning trend is likely to be a key focus point for campaigning politicians.

British AI boost

British self-driving car startup Wayve has secured a record-breaking $1bn investment, the largest ever for a European AI company. Tech giants SoftBank, Microsoft and Nvidia are backing the firm, founded in Cambridge in 2017. Wayve's unique approach teaches cars to drive using real-world video data from partners like Asda and Ocado instead of relying on programmed rules. This approach aims for autonomous navigation in urban environments with minimal human intervention. The significant funding signifies a major boost for Wayve and the UK's AI sector. It follows a trend of growing investment in self-driving car technology, with the UK alone seeing £475m invested and 1,500 jobs created between 2018 and 2022.

Boohoo falls out of fashion

Online fashion retailer Boohoo reported a widening annual loss of £160m amidst a challenging market environment of high inflation and declining consumer spending, which caused a 17% drop in sales. The company attributed the performance to a strategic shift through the expansion of their commission-based marketplace model. As part of a turnaround plan Boohoo has introduced cost-cutting measures targeting savings of £125m including 1,000 job cuts. However, the company faces stiff competition from a resurgent high-street shopping trend and an increasingly saturated market for affordable clothing. Additionally, recent months have seen Frasers Group, owned by Mike Ashley, significantly increase its stake in Boohoo, potentially adding another layer of complexity to the company's future.


Cutting back: Carpetright is axing more than 25% of its head office staff as it grapples with a protracted downturn in trading.

Banking boost: Monzo has raised $190m in new funding, taking its valuation to $5.2bn, as the digital bank eyes up international expansion and new products.

New high: The FTSE 100 closed at a new record high record amid a global stock market rally driven by renewed optimism on interest rate cuts from major central banks.

Changing leadership: The controversial co-founder and CEO of BrewDog is to step down after 17 years at the helm of the Scottish brewer and bar chain.

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Number of the Day

£1 million

The loss made by ITV on its drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office, despite it being the UK's most-watched TV show of the year so far.

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