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Daily business and finance update 7th February 2023

Another retailer bites the dust

Good morning. Three months after she made history as the UK’s shortest-serving prime minister, Liz Truss returned to the spotlight with an interview on Spectator TV. She explained that she doesn’t regret going for the job, doesn’t want to be PM again, and is speaking out now because “there aren’t enough people making the case, full stop” for the growth agenda.

Big Stories

Another retailer bites the dust

Scottish clothing and homeware chain M&Co will close its 170 stores this spring, resulting in the loss of nearly 1,900 jobs. It comes after the company appointed administrators for a second time in December, after previously collapsing in 2020. The M&Co brand has been bought by Peterborough-based AK Retail Holdings, the owner of the plus sizes brand Yours Clothing, Long Tall Sally and Bump It Up Maternity but the deal excluded physical shops. Like many high street retailers M&Co struggled to recover from pandemic lockdowns with revenues dropping by 75% in the first year of Covid. But the company’s mainly older customer base has been slower to return to in person shopping and it's faced rising energy and labour costs.

More tech layoffs

Dell has become the latest tech giant to announce job cuts as the industry prepares for a global economic slowdown. The company says it will eliminate about 6,650 roles, or 5% of its workforce, as it faces plummeting demand for personal computers. Dell told staff that attempts to save money with hiring freezes and travel curbs, were not enough. Industry website layoffs.fyi says that this year alone more than 290 tech companies have announced 88,000 jobs cuts, compared with nearly 160,000 for the whole of 2022.

British startup valuation cut

Meal-kit delivery service Gousto has cut its valuation in its latest funding round, according to Sky. Founded in London in 2012 by two former investment bankers, the company offers subscriptions to meal kits including ingredients and recipes. Gousto’s investors include celebrity fitness trainer Joe Wicks and the world’s largest tech fund Softbank. In 2021 its valuation reached $1.7bn but sources say that it has now taken a significant haircut.

‘Britcoin’ on the horizon

The introduction of a so-called 'Britcoin' digital pound as an alternative to cash could be in the next decade, as a government consultation paper has found one is "likely to be needed in the future". The Bank of England is one of the many central banks exploring a digital version of its own currency. A government-backed digital currency could bring a host of benefits including being impossible to counterfeit and allowing for cheap transfers that could boost economic activity. Britcoin would differ to crypto like Bitcoin that the government thinks are highly speculative and not a replacement for traditional currency. Instead it would be a stablecoin, that is pegged to the value of the pound which would make it less volatile.


Back to work: Postal workers at Royal Mail called off a planned 24-hour strike over pay next week after receiving legal challenges by the company.

Awkward: Bankrupt crypto exchange firm FTX is demanding refunds of donations made to politicians before its spectacular collapse last year.

Offside: Manchester City have been charged by the Premier League with more than 100 alleged breaches of financial regulations.

AI competition: Google announced an artificial intelligence chatbot called “Bard” that will compete directly with rival ChatGPT, an AI service created by OpenAI.

Lights off: A power network company covering London and the southeast of England could be hit by strikes next month.

Flying low: Plane manufacturer Boeing is planning to slash around 2,000 jobs this year, primarily in finance and human resources, to simplify its corporate structure.

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