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Live Reporting

By Dan Ascher and Tom Espiner

All times stated are UK

  1. Justin King backs Asda bosses

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    More from former Sainsbury's boss Justin King who has spoken out in support of Asda, which has told its more than 100,000 employees to sign a new contract or get the sack.

    Mr King, who worked at Asda, told Today the new retail environment, where the working practices of some online retailers were "almost Victorian", had made life extremely competitive for traditional firms.

    "All legacy retailers - and Asda are one - have some legacy arrangements with their workforce which simply don't reflect the modern world that we're in.

    "Many online retailers don't pay their workers anywhere near as well as the mainstream retailers," he said.

    To compete, it was necessary to take tough decisions. "Sometimes you have to do the right thing for the whole business."

  2. Challenges for next Bank of England governor

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    Minouche Shafik

    The BBC is reporting that Egyptian-born Dame Minouche Shafik is the current government's favoured candidate to succeed Mark Carney when his term ends in January.

    However, the government feels it would be inappropriate to name a successor to one of the most important economic posts in the UK before the results of the election on 12 December.

    Gervais Williams, senior executive director and fund manager at Miton Group, told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that it was challenging time to become Bank of England governor.

    "What’s been interesting about the last ten years is we’ve had some growth, but that's mainly been driven by infrastructure investment by the Chinese. Now that’s dropped away, we’ve actually seen world growth come down considerably and therefore either low interest rates or sustained low bond yields is implying that actually growth is going to be very tough going forward.

    "It’s a really challenging moment to take over. We’ve really got to find a way of invigorating not just domestic growth but particularly productivity improvement. Productivity has been flat-lining for the last ten years."

    Read more about that here.

  3. What's that letter about my pension?

    Kevin Peachey

    Personal finance reporter


    New "wake-up" packs are being sent by pension providers to people aged 50 and over, from today.

    The new, slimmed-down packs have a summary of pension savings, contributions, and possible exit fees - and outline the recipient's options. They will be sent at least every five years.

    Packs were previous sent by providers to their customers, but the City regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), said they should be easier to read, and sent more frequently.

    People have had more flexibility over what they do with their pension savings since 2015, with many deciding to take small pots in cash or drawdown from larger pots in retirement, rather than buy an annuity (a retirement income for life).

  4. Brexit stockpiling helps manufacturers

    Workers on production line

    A rush to stockpile goods ahead of the aborted 31 October Brexit deadline helped manufacturers last month.

    New data show that orders did not fall by as much as some had feared.

    The purchasing managers' index (PMI) produced by IHS Markit/CIPS rose to 49.6 last month, up from 48.3 in September.

    A figure below 50 indicates the sector is contracting but, nevertheless, it is the highest level recorded since April.

  5. Lookers shares crash

    New car lot

    Shares in Lookers have plunged by 15% in their first hour of trading today after the chain of dealerships revealed numbers that suggested it would post a loss for the second half of the year.

    In a statement this morning, it also said that its boss and operations chief would step down. It's finance director also walked out in July.

    The firm said new car sales have fallen by 3.2% in the third quarter.

    Lookers' chairman, Phil White - who will run the firm until a new chief exec is found - said: "It is disappointing to report this downturn in trading, but we have taken action to drive the future financial performance of the group.

    "The board is resolute in its determination to restore the Group's fortunes with market leading practices in the sector."

  6. Ex-Sainsbury's boss calls for VAT hike

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    Justin King

    The former boss of Sainsbury's, Justin King, has said it is unfair that High Street retailers are forced to pay business rates when their online rivals, which don't have the same costs, do not.

    Speaking to Today, he called for business rates to be halved and said a 2% increase in VAT should be introduced to pay for the shortfall.

    He said it was unfair that only bricks and mortar retailers pay business rates.

    "The services that those business rates pay for are used by online retailers," Mr King said.

    "They drive on the roads that are maintained by them, the brown cardboard boxes they deliver are collected by dustmen or taken to tips paid for by those business rates."

    He said it would not change prices for consumers buying from High Street shops.

    "All taxes are paid by consumers," he said.

    "Retailers in our high streets up and down the country pay business rates, that's passed onto consumers in pricing.

    "So if they see a reduction in their business rates but VAT has gone up - and that is of equivalent value - you won't see any price moves at all."

  7. Share prices climb in London

    Trader in front of screens

    The FTSE 100 index gained 0.4% just after markets opened in London, adding 29 points to hit 7,277.

    Meanwhile, the FTSE 250 was up 0.3%, or 66 points, at 20,087.

  8. Can the Thomas Cook brand be resuscitated?

    Thomas Cook shop

    Chinese investment house, Fosun, which owned the bulk of Thomas Cook before it collapsed in September, has put in a bid to buy the defunct travel agent's brand, according to the FT.

    The paper reported that Fosun is close to acquiring the brand and its intellectual property assets, which would allow the business to be resuscitated as an online travel agent, just months after it collapsed.

    Rival travel agent Tui has also put in a bid for the brand, it said.

  9. 'Reasonable, not sparkling' US jobs numbers

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    workers in a car

    Closely-watched data is due from the US later, showing the health of the jobs market.

    A poll by Reuters shows that economists expect the US economy will have created 89,000 new jobs in October, slower than 136,000 new jobs created in the previous month.

    Gervais Williams, senior executive director and fund manager at Milton Group, told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that this data series has been "quite good".

    "Employment has been excellent across the world, although many of those jobs have been quite lowly-paid jobs.

    "We think perhaps the data is beginning to slow.

    "Unemployment in the US is already below 4% so from that point of view perhaps we'll get reasonable figures, not sparkling figures".

  10. 'Problem building in cash networks'

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    Row of cash machines

    The boss of Link, which manages the UK's network of cash machines, has warned that there is a "problem building" in the system.

    Banks pay cash machine operators a fixed fee each time one of their customers makes a withdrawal. But with fewer people now using cash, more and more ATMs are being removed.

    "We will need help from the government to make sure we maintain free access to cash for years to come because consumers are using cash less - but as consumers we're going to need cash for decades in the future," said John Howells.

    Link has launched a scheme that will fund up to 50 new cash machines in communities that ask for them.

    But Ron Delnevo from the ATM Industry Association says it's not enough.

    "It's a nice little initiative - and I applaud it - but it's not going to solve the problem," he told Today.

    "We've lost 7,000 or 8,000 free ATMs in the last two years and we're going to lose another 2,000 or 3,000 in the next few months."

    He favours cash, saying: "Cash is intimate, its warm, its personal, it's all the things we want life to be."

  11. Top execs leave car dealer Lookers after 'challenging' weeks

    The chief exec and operations boss have left Lookers, which runs over 150 car dealerships across the country.

    Andy Bruce has run the firm for five years but he has walked away from the company after a "challenging" few months.

    "After nearly two decades with Lookers, it is now time for me to move onto new ventures and allow new leadership to take the business into its next chapter," Mr Bruce said.

    Chief operating officer Nigel McMinn, who has been with the firm since 2013, said: "I have enjoyed helping to build the business at Lookers and working with a great team of people."

    The company said profits would be lower than it expected at £20m.

  12. Tesco pledges to remove a billion pieces of plastic

    Man carries Tesco bag reading "Bags of help"

    Tesco is to remove one billion pieces of plastic from products by the end of 2020 as it seeks to reduce its environmental impact, the UK's biggest retailer has announced.

    The supermarket will end its use of small plastic bags, commonly used to pack loose fruit, vegetables and bakery items, and replace them with paper ones.

    It will also remove plastic trays from ready meals, secondary lids on products such as cream and yoghurt, sporks and straws from snack pots and drinks cartons, and 200 million wrappers used to pack clothing and greetings cards.

    Where non-recyclable and excess packaging cannot be removed, for example where it prevents food waste, the retailer has pledged to reduce it to an absolute minimum.

  13. WeWork faces discrimination case

    Adam Neumann

    A former senior employee at WeWork has accused the former boss, Adam Neumann, and the company, of discrimination.

    Medina Bardhi, his former chief of staff, argues she feared for the health of her unborn baby because he smoked marijuana on chartered planes.

    She also said she was replaced by a man being paid more than twice her salary when she took maternity leave and says she began suffering discrimination after telling Mr Neumann she was pregnant with her first child.

    Her complaint is filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

    "WeWork intends to vigorously defend itself against this claim," the company said in a statement. "We have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind."

    Ms Bardhi said she was fired about six months after giving birth to her second child and just weeks after raising concerns about discrimination in connection with her pregnancy and maternity leave, which Mr Neumann described as a “vacation".

  14. 'New RBS boss faces big challenge'

    BBC Radio 5 Live

    Alison Rose

    It's Alison Rose's first day as chief exec of RBS today.

    She takes over from Ross McEwan who stepped down yesterday but Ms Rose faces "quite a big challenge", accroding to Gervais Williams, senior executive director and fund Manager at Miton Group.

    "All banks are under enormous financial pressure," he told Radio 5 Live's Wake Up to Money. "They've got too many costs, which they have to address and they are not as responsive."

    He noted that the bank is 62% owner by the taxpayer, which means: "[It] doesn't just pay tax, it's owned by us all."

    Nevertheless, he said: "The business in quite good shape compared to where it was when Ross took it on."

  15. Asda's contract changes legal 'in principle'

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    Asda store

    Thousands of Asda workers could be out of work by the end of the weekend if they don't sign a new contract that offers a small pay increase but scraps paid breaks and forces staff to work bank holidays.

    "In principle it's legal," says Sarah Crowther QC, an employment barrister at Outer Temple Chambers.

    But she says some employees may be able to bring a claim in an employment tribunal.

    Either, they can claim unfair dismissal if they have two years of service, in which case Asda would have to prove there was a good business case for making the changes, Ms Crowther told Today.

    Or they could claim that they were indirectly discriminated against if they feel they have been disproportionately affected by the changes," she said. That often applies to older people or those with caring duties," she noted.

  16. Rugby World Cup gives pub sales a boost

    BBC Radio 5 Live

    Rugby ball

    It's a big weekend for rugby, with the final between England and South Africa kicking off at 9am tomorrow, which is 6pm in Japan where the world cup is being held.

    But the early starts haven't stopped pub-goers from celebrating with a pint.

    Stuart Green, who owns the Cabbage Patch pub in Twickenham, said beer sales at his pub had quadrupled.

    "We have ordered lots and lots of more beer in," he said.

    But some have been more restrained. He says non-alcoholic beer sales have increased 10-fold recently.

    He said his staff now poured hundreds of pints of the stuff, whereas the number used to be counted in dozens.

  17. 'NDA use makes Whirlpool look bad'

    BBC Radio 5 Live

    The damage caused by a dryer to a flat in Shepherd's Bush, London
    Image caption: The damage caused by a dryer to a flat in Shepherd's Bush, London

    Whirlpool has been accused of silencing customers who were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements banning them from revealing details of fires involving their tumble dryers.

    And the optics of that are not good, according to corporate lawyer Fiona Colwell, a partner at Paul Robinson Solicitors.

    She told Wake Up to Money the public perception is that Whirlpool put its own corporate position ahead of public safety.

    "From the public's perspective it does not look very good on whirlpool's part that they're trying to silence individuals," she said.

    "At the end of the day Whirlpool have got corporate responsibility to deal with this matter," she said, noting that the firm could apologise without admitting liability.