Good morning. Could months of rail disruption be coming to an end? Late last night the RMT suspended a series of National Rail strikes later this month after the union received a new pay offer.
Greggs on a roll
The bakery chain announced it will open 150 locations this year. The chain already opened over 100 stores in 2022 and is on track reach take its total footprint to 3,000 in the next few years. The news came as the company reported a 23% jump in revenues last year to £1.5bn although profits only rose 2% to £148.3m due to rising staff and energy costs. Greggs prides itself as delivering value for money food on the go but double-digit inflation meant it's increased prices several times in recent years – its famous sausage rolls have gone from £1 in 2021 to £1.20 today.
Love of shopping
UK retail sales rose by an annual rate of 4.9% in February, up from 3.9% the previous month, according to the British Retail Consortium, with spending boosted by Valentine’s Day. The three categories that saw the biggest pick-up in sales were health and beauty, food, and jewellery and watches. Economists think that although consumers have become more price-sensitive with overall inflation running at nearly 10%, they are still ready to celebrate special occasions.
More Meta cuts
The owner of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, is reportedly planning a fresh round of layoffs and will cut thousands of employees as soon as this week, according to Bloomberg. The world’s largest social networking firm is eliminating more jobs, on top of a 13% reduction in November, in a bid to become a more efficient organisation. In its earlier round of cuts, Meta slashed 11,000 workers in what was its first-ever major layoff. Insiders say that employees are experiencing heightened anxiety and low morale lately with some worried about whether they will receive their bonuses, due to be paid later this month, if they lose their jobs beforehand.
Yesterday more than a million French workers went on strike against President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64. It was the sixth day of protests since January in a move designed to bring France to a standstill. Strikes caused severe disruption to transport, with the education and industrial sectors also joining demonstrations. France’s pension age is already amongst the lowest in Europe with other developed economies raising the retirement age in recent years amid longer life expectancy. Italy, Germany and Spain have moved towards raising the official retirement age to 67, while in the UK it is currently 66.
Keeping the lights on: For the first time ever National Grid ordered two of five emergency coal-fired generators to produce electricity amid freezing weather.
Rate rises: The head of the US central bank has warned that officials could raise interest rates farther and faster than previously expected in order to stabilise prices.
Journo-bot: The owner of the Daily Mirror says it has started using artificial intelligence to write articles.
Product innovation: KitKat cereal is to arrive in UK supermarkets next month, with maker Nestle promising it “maintains the essence” of the popular chocolate bar.
Rallying support: Women's tennis is set for a £125m investment after launching a partnership with private equity firm CVC Capital.
Pressing undo: Elon Musk has backpedalled after mocking a disabled Twitter worker, who was fired, on the social media platform.
Energy support: Charities have ramped up pressure on the government to implement a “social tariff” for energy that could cut energy bills by up to £1,500.
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Number Of The Day
How long it took for tickets to the Eurovision final to sell out. The song contest will be held in Liverpool in May and tickets are being quoted at up to £12,000 by third party sellers.