16th November 2021
Good morning Product shortages have dominated headlines of late, so it’s refreshing to hear reports of a surplus…of avocados in Australia. The country that invented smashed avocado on toast is swimming in the fruit after lockdown dented demand from brunch cafes and a bumper harvest boosted supplies. As a result avocado prices have plummeted which is good news for Millennials saving for their first homes.
- Changing shells – Energy giant relocates to London
- Grocery wars – Amazon takes on UK supermarkets
Energy giant relocates to London
What’s going on?
Royal Dutch Shell is packing up from its Amsterdam headquarters and moving to London in a major overhaul to its tax and legal structure. It means the CEO and other top executives will move to the British capital and the company will have to drop the “Royal Dutch” from its name.
Why is this important?
Background: Shell was created by the merger of Royal Dutch Petroleum Company and the UK's Shell Transport and Trading Company in 1907. For almost a century the two companies were run side by side with separate leadership until an accounting scandal in 2004 led to one joint management team.
Today the dual Dutch and British roots have resulted in a complex corporate structure where it’s registered in the UK but headquartered in the Netherlands. It also has two different types of shares - a Dutch share and a UK share - and this affects the way dividends to shareholders are taxed.
Why are things changing? There has been pressure for years from shareholders for Shell to get its house in order. This has now reached a head in the face of the acceleration away from fossil fuels. The move is designed to make payments to shareholders easier, while Shell says it will also help it to make the business more agile as renewable energy become more of a focus.
Shell’s announcement is part of a recent trend of large multinational companies simplifying their operations.
Although the company will say it’s just business, there is also a deep political impact. The Dutch government are "unpleasantly surprised" by the proposal, the UK government sees it as a vote of confidence in the post-Brexit British economy.
The proposals will need the support of at least 75% of shareholders at a meeting on 10 December.
Amazon takes on UK supermarkets
Amazon has announced plans to open 260 supermarkets by the end of 2024 as it sets its sight on dominating the UK grocery market.
The stores will all be so-called ‘Just Walk Out’ meaning that thanks to smart technology customers can shop and walk out without queuing. The final bill is then automatically deducted from the customer’s Amazon account.
Amazon’s ambition to grow its empire from an online retailer to physical stores started with the acquisition of the upmarket Whole Foods supermarket chain in 2017.
Since then, it’s been plotting how to expand its footprint and opened its first Amazon branded cashier-less supermarket in London in March and now has six.
Now its accelerating growth to catch up with the likes of Tesco, Sainsbury’s and the Co-op in the UK before going into the rest of Europe.
In a strong sign of intent Amazon has even poached top executives from Tesco to help its roll out.
So why is Amazon so keen to get into the notoriously thin margin food business? Well research shows that grocery customers buy more products over a longer period of time compared to other categories.
The success of hi-tech stores could threaten shop floor jobs not just in supermarkets but in other sectors that have a lot of outlets, for example banks.
Rival supermarkets will be watching it closely, with some already trialling till-less stores.
Stat of the day
100 companies (and their customers) are responsible for 70% of global emissions
Other stories to keep you in the loop
- £11.05 per hour in London: 300,000 Brits get pay rise following hike in real living wage
- Serco hands frontline staff £100 bonus as profits roll in from Covid-19 and immigration work
- Ride-hailing app Bolt 'lets drivers name their price' after Uber's 10% London hike
- HS2 rail extension to Leeds set to be scrapped
- Cineworld revenue hit pre-pandemic levels in UK and Ireland
- Premier League nears record sale of US TV rights for about $2bn
- Oatly shares fall 20% after ‘quality issue’ warning and delivery delays
Interesting links from around the web