Good morning. Yesterday luxury goods billionaire and world’s richest man Bernard Arnault appointed his eldest daughter Delphine to run Christian Dior, the second biggest brand in his $410bn LVMH group. In all there are five Arnault children vying to succeed their father as the CEO in a situation worthy of the TV show Succession.
Retailers continue to surprise
Yesterday two major retailers reported better than expected Christmas trading numbers suggesting UK consumer spending is remaining resilient despite the rising cost of living.
The country’s second biggest supermarket Sainsbury’s, which also owns Argos, reported a 7% jump in revenue in the six weeks to 7 January and said it now expects profits to be at the upper end of its target. Trading was helped by shoppers going “all out for a big Christmas dinner” and returning to Argos stores amid the rail and postal strikes.
Sportswear group JD Sports posted a 20% increase in revenue over the festive period thanks it says to more young people living at home and using the extra disposable income to buy trainers – specifically Nike Air Force Ones which sold 600,000 in the past three months. The company expects profits will top £1bn for the first time this year.
Former UK employees take on Twitter
A group of 43 fired Twitter staffers have accused the company of being unlawful and unfair following mass layoffs after Elon Musk’s takeover last year. The law firm representing the ex-employees said the redundancy process began on 18 November by treating them as if they had already been dismissed, despite the law being that people earmarked for losing their jobs must be consulted for at least 45 days. It said immediately cutting off employees from internal company systems effectively suspended them from their jobs when Twitter had no legal right to do so. In the US, Twitter at least 200 legal complaints from fired workers.
FTSE 100 edges closer to record
The UK benchmark stock index rose by 0.4% yesterday to 7,725, the highest level in over four years and within 2% of the 7,790 record reached in 2018.
Stock markets worldwide have had a strong start to 2023 following signs that inflation pressures in the US and Europe could be softening and therefore central bank interest rate rises could be less aggressive.
The FTSE 100 outperformed US indices last year as it's dominated by banks and oil companies which do well when interest rates and energy prices are rising. Whereas across the pond the stock markets are led by high growth tech companies which shed their value in 2022 over concerns on the health of the global economy.
Microsoft eyes artificial intelligence startup
The tech giant is reportedly in talks to invest $10bn into OpenAI the owner of the potentially revolutionary AI tool ChatGPT that can do everything from write software code to exam essays. The tool went viral when it was released in November with over 1m people signing up to test the chatbot in the first five days.
Microsoft already invested $1bn in OpenAI in 2019 but thinks an even closer relationship would help it better compete with tech rivals like Google. One application of ChatGPT could be to disrupt Google’s search dominance and therefore potentially making billions.
Crypto fallout: A British investor said to have lost £1m in the collapse of cryptocurrency trading platform FTX is among 13 people to have made fraud reports to UK police.
Walking out: Around 100,000 civil servants are to stage a 24-hour strike next month in an escalation of a bitter dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.
Cutting back: Credit Suisse is considering cutting its bonus pool by 50% as the embattled investment bank seeks to cut costs.
Mailer error: Royal Mail told customers to pause sending mail abroad as it works to return to regular service following a cyberattack.
Shrinking assets: BlackRock plans to dismiss about 500 employees, roughly 2.5% of its global workforce, as the world's biggest asset manager grapples with sharp declines in the stock market last year.
Making amends: The Church of England has committed £100m to a fund it is setting up to compensate for its historical benefit from the international slave trade.
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Fact Of The Day
Prince Harry’s memoir Spare sold 400,000 copies on its first day on sale making it the UK’s fastest-selling nonfiction book, despite many excerpts being leaked in the press ahead of its official release.