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  • Daily business and finance update 29th March 2023

Daily business and finance update 29th March 2023

Next rescues another retailer

Good morning. A rare alignment of five planets will be visible in the night sky this week in a phenomenon dubbed a “planetary parade”. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Uranus will appear to line up in an arc shape below the crescent moon. Anyone on Earth should be able to see it, even if you live somewhere with light pollution.

Big Stories

Next rescues another retailer

High street giant Next has bought struggling retailer Cath Kidston out of administration for £8.5m. Next will buy the brand name but all four Cath Kidston stores will close putting 125 jobs at risk once the stock is sold off. Founded in 1993 by its eponymous founder, Cath Kidston became known for its floral vintage home-furnishing patterns. But like many retailers it was hit hard by the pandemic and filed for administration in 2020. It was bought by investor Hilco Capital in June last year. In recent years Next has taken advantage of the slew of high street collapses to add to its stable of brands. The company has taken over fashion group Joules, furniture brand Made.com and maternity retailer JoJo Maman Bebe.

Food inflation continues to soar

Shortages of fruit and vegetables helped drive grocery inflation to a record 15% in March, up from 14.5% the previous month, according to the British Retail Consortium. It’s another sign that the cost-of-living crisis is far from over. The data comes as broader UK inflation rose unexpectedly in February for the first time in four months, led by food and drink prices. Shoppers are visiting discount grocers Aldi and Lidl to try to make their money go further, as well as putting fewer items in their baskets.

Striking back

Just in time for the Easter holidays, there’s a new raft of strikes planned. That’s bad news for holidaymakers flying via British Airways, with the airline set to scrap 320 flights — about 5% of its schedule — at Heathrow Airport during Easter week as security workers plan a 10-day strike for better wages. Separately, around 133,000 civil servants announced strike plans, plus there’s the potential for more school disruptions with education heads rejecting a government pay offer. With several strikes already in the calendar for April, the pressure is rising on prime minister Rishi Sunak’s government to end months of industrial action across the country.

Billionaire returns

Jack Ma the founder of ecommerce giant Alibaba made a rare public appearance this week, two years after he mysteriously disappeared. Ma is one of China’s best-known billionaires and in 2020 criticised the country’s regulators amid the government’s intense crackdown on the tech sector. He has since been spotted in various countries, including Japan and Spain. China has faced weak economic growth over the past year due to its now-scrapped zero-Covid policy. The government has been trying to kickstart the economy and allowing Ma to return could be a recognition from authorities that it needs private businesses to do that.


Paying to tweet: Twitter boss Elon Musk has announced a shake-up of the social media platform's paid Twitter Blue feature.

Crypto fallout: FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was charged with bribing Chinese officials to unfreeze assets relating to his failed cryptocurrency business.

Big screen rescue: Cineworld, the world's second-biggest cinema operator, has been approached by the buyout titan CVC Capital Partners about a takeover of parts of the struggling group.

Paying later: Apple has launched its own buy now, pay later business.

Going to court: JPMorgan's CEO, Jamie Dimon, is being deposed over his bank’s links to disgraced former financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Heavy fine: William Hill will pay a record £19.2m penalty for “widespread and alarming” social responsibility and anti-money laundering failures.

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300 million

The number of jobs artificial intelligence could replace according to a new report by Goldman Sachs.

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