Mike Ashley pushes MPs to probe the ‘collapse of Debenhams’
Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley has criticised MPs for not taking more of an interest in the “collapse of Debenhams”.
Writing to MP Rachel Reeves, in a letter seen by the Guardian, Ashley claims that “No one in parliament seems sufficiently interested about the Debenhams failure” and compared the perceived lack of action to the scrutiny around the collapse of Thomas Cook. Reeves is the chair of the business, energy and industrial strategy select committee, which is investigating the failure of travel giant Thomas Cook.
Ashley says in the letter that he is disappointed the committee was not “properly investigating” the situation at Debenhams. He alleges that politicians are only interested in their own PR when it comes to cases such as Thomas Cook and so are ignoring “cases which are just as bad if not worse”.
The Sports Direct boss adds: “It is very apparent that a head of steam is developing in the media and in the electorate that they will not tolerate these sorts of situations any longer, where businesses and advisers profit from playing the system at the expense of others.”
Ashley, via the Sports Direct group, splashed out £150m on acquiring around a 30% stake in Debenhams, which was lost when the retailer fell into administration in April.
Wetherspoons under fire for Brexit beermats
Pub chain J.D Wetherspoons is under fire for spending £94,856 on pro-leave messaging ahead of the 2016 EU referendum, despite failing to seek shareholder approval.
The company is accused of breaching the Companies Act by spending £18,000 on 1.5 million “Brexit beer mats”, £8,400 on 200,000 beer mats and £68,186 on another 200,000 beer mats, 5,000 posters and 500,000 booklets, according to Electoral Commission data.
The beer mats, which exhibited the message “‘vote ‘leave’ – take back control”, were distributed in more than 900 Wetherspoons pubs during the referendum campaign and featured criticism of International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde and the then chancellor, George Osborne.
It is alleged by legal experts that Wetherspoons should have sought shareholder approval as the spending constituted political expenditure under the 2006 Companies Act. Not only is political spending supposed to be approved in advance by shareholders, but companies are meant to declare any political spending above £2,000 in their annual reports.
Wetherspoons chairman and founder Tim Martin, who owns 32% of the business, has used the pub chain as a platform for his pro-leave views, which the Guardian understands some of the company’s investors have objected to.
During the EU referendum campaign Martin authored a two-page pro-leave editorial for the Wetherspoons News magazine, which ran alongside nine pages of Eurosceptic articles.
Uber experiments with cooking classes and dining ‘experiences’
Uber is testing a new feature that allows users to book cooking classes or learn how to make five-course meals, pitched as dining ‘experiences’.
Currently only available to Uber Eats customers in San Francisco, Uber Moments will allow customers to book classes via the app over the next month until 17 November. Options so far include a $75 (£58) class on making Chinese dumplings and a $55 (£43) class learning how to create a five-course Nigerian dinner.
Only last week (24 October), Uber Eats announced it was partnering with Costcutter supermarkets in the UK for its first foray into the grocery sector. The deal will enable more than 1,700 convenience shops to sell everyday items via the app.
The updates to Uber Eats follow the announcement by CEO Dara Khosrowshahi last month that Uber plans to combine all its different products into a revamped app in a bid to become “the operating system for your daily life”. Khosrowshahi described the app as “a one-click gateway into everything Uber can offer for you”.
Telegraph newspapers up for sale
The Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Telegraph newspapers have been put up for sale by their owners, the Barclay twins, who are reviewing their investments.
Sir Frederick and Sir David Barclay acquired the Telegraph Media Group (TMG) in 2004. The papers posted a £900,000 profit for the last financial year to 17 October, a 94% drop on the previous year. The Daily Telegraph averages a daily circulation of 310,586, while the Sunday Telegraph has an average circulation of 244,351 copies.
A source told the BBC that the brothers are looking to sell the newspaper over the next 12- 18 months. The Barclay brothers’ wider portfolio includes The Ritz hotel, Spectator magazine, delivery business Yodel and online retailer Shop Direct.
Facebook launches news section
Facebook is rolling out a news section on its app, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg claims is the first time the social network has formed a “long-term, stable relationship with publishers”.
Currently being piloted in the US, the news tab will highlight national stories Facebook and its team of in-house journalists think are a good fit for its users. Based on conversations with publishers, the social media giant has formed an editorially independent “curation team” to manage the ‘Today’s Stories’ section.
News will be personalised based on the news users read, share and follow. There will also be sections dedicated to a variety of different topics, such as business, health and sports.
Furthermore, there will be a ‘Your Subscriptions’ section for people who have linked their paid news subscriptions to their Facebook account.
Zuckerberg describes the introduction of the news tab as a sign Facebook is making “multi-year financial commitments” to publishers with the goal of creating a “sustainable model” for online journalism.
Campbell Brown, vice president of global news partnerships, says the introduction of the news tab function will aid in Facebook’s effort to “sustain great journalism and strengthen democracy”.