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‘UK’s worst chain’ Britannia Hotels cut nearly 1,000 jobs after near £10m loss

The hotel chain has blamed the Covid pandemic for its financial situation

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Britannia Hotels has been forced to axe nearly 1,000 jobs after reporting a crippling revenue loss of nearly £10m.

Turnover at Britannia Hotels – which operates Sachas Hotel, Britannia Hotel and Britannia Airport Hotel in Manchester – also fell by more than £80m during its latest financial year, newly-filed documents claim today.

The documents also detail a pre-tax loss of £9.5m for the twelve months to March 31st 2021, compared to a profit of £13.7m in the prior year.

Its turnover also fell from £120.4m to £38.3m over the same time period.

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A statement signed off by the board reads: “Sales have reduced 68% for the year. This reflects the impact Covid-19 has had on performance and the trading conditions throughout the economy in 2021.

“Our priority continually remains to maintain occupancy levels and manage operating costs so that the business is well placed to exploit further investment in new properties.

“The hotel industry in the UK is becoming increasingly competitive and this brings an increased risk of losing major sales accounts to competitors.

“We ensure that we retain the necessary flexibility not only on our prices in order to respond to market conditions but also to allow us to adapt and overcome the ever evolving challenges of operating hotels in the current socio-economic environment.

“In addition, we employ tight controls on our costs, particularly labour costs, in order to ensure that the company maintains its competitive position.”

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On the future of its hotels, the company added: “The directors remain confident that the company is in a good position to meet the challenges an opportunities of the future.

“The hotels have managed to maintain their competitive edge through the economic downturn and continue to take steps designed to attract new business and improve market share going forward.

“The directors have carefully considered the availability of working capital and likely levels of trading over the next twelve months.

“They are confident that the business is well placed to meet the challenges including the current geopolitical uncertainty, cost of living crisis and the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

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Ikea ‘collect near you’ hubs to launch in several Greater Manchester Tescos

It’s the retailer collab we didn’t know we needed…

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Steve Webel / Flickr & Tesco PLC / Flickr

A number of Tesco supermarkets in Greater Manchester are set to host Ikea ‘collect near you’ points as part of an ‘exciting’ new pilot.

Tesco Extra Stockport and Tesco Extra Bolton Horwich will both see IKEA ‘collect near you’ bays installed in their car parks in an attempt to reduce delivery costs from the furniture retailer.

Customers will be able to meet with a delivery driver at the designated collection bays to pick up their orders in a move that IKEA says will ‘make it easier than ever’ to shop with them.

Seven Tesco stores in total have been selected for the collaboration’s initial rollout, including sites in Liverpool, Blackburn, and Doncaster.

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Tesco Blackburn will be the first supermarket to launch the trial next month on October 10th, with other sites set to follow later this year.

Tesco is set to run the trial for an initial period of six months.

An Ikea spokesperson said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with Tesco to test and trial more convenient, accessible and affordable collection services in the UK.

“The pilot will launch in Bolton and Stockport later this year. While we are unable to share exact dates at the moment, we will be sure to share further details in the coming months.”

Retail analyst Natalie Berg named the collaboration as ‘interesting’, writing on Twitter: “Really interesting IKEA/Tesco collab. Ikea gets the need to become more accessible (despite the ££) and imagine more pressing now w/ consumers shying away from big-ticket buys and consolidating trips.”

However, she added that customers will still need to spend £200 for the ‘free’ collection.

The full list of trial sites is:

  • Tesco Blackburn Superstore.
  • Tesco Doncaster Extra.
  • Tesco Cambridge Newmarket Road Superstore.
  • Tesco Dereham Extra.
  • Tesco Bolton Horwich Extra.
  • Tesco Stockport Extra.
  • Tesco Liverpool Old Swan Superstore.

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Toys ‘R’ Us relaunches in the UK just in time for Christmas

Shoppers can browse a selection of over 14,000 toys from 100 suppliers

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Toys ‘R’ Us has officially relaunched its UK website with thousands of toys and gadgets up for grabs.

The online shop has over 14,000 toys from over 100 suppliers for sale, including toys by Lego, Marvel, Star Wars, Crayola and Play-Doh.

Free delivery is available for all orders over £20, while next-day delivery is up for grabs on orders placed before 6pm.

A message on the website reads: “We’re back! We can’t wait to develop and grow with you and your loved ones, over the coming weeks, months and years!”

The store has also re-opened its sister site Babies ‘R’ Us, which sells everything from pushchairs, prams, children’s clothing and baby carriers.

This news comes nearly a year after the retailer initially announced it would be returning to the high street – in October 2021, its parent firm signed a long-term exclusive licence agreement to relaunch the stores across the UK from 2022 onwards.

After struggling to keep up with the new age of online shopping, Toys ‘R’ Us was forced to close all of its UK and US stores back in 2018, much to the dismay of those who grew up with the retailer throughout the 2000s. 

Toys ‘R’ Us Australia chief executive Louis Mittoni, who has spearheading the UK launch, said in a statement at the time: “I’m very excited to welcome over 100 years of retailing experience in our new team, who will lead the relaunch our iconic brand back into the UK market in the next few months.

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“We have an amazing toy and baby buying team, which I believe is the best in the country.

“With this team now in place, we’re hitting the ground running and have been reaching out to the supply base to see with whom we can align on this amazing journey.”

Toys ‘R’ Us launched in the UK in 1985, when it emerged as the ‘world’s first toy supermarket’.

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Ian Brown’s brutal response to fan who asked why he played gig without a band

A number of fans have criticised the singer for performing alone without a band

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@jasonmansell7 & @aidankeating03 / Twitter

Ian Brown gave a savage response to a fan last night following the controversy surrounding his solo Leeds gig over the weekend.

The Stone Roses frontman kick started his first UK tour in a decade at the Leeds O2 Academy on Sunday, with him due to perform at Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse this Friday (September 30th). 

However, many fans were left disappointed by Brown’s performance thanks to the absence of the rest of the band, with one concert-goer describing it as him ‘[doing] karaoke and butchering his own tunes.’

Alongside of a video showing Brown singing alone on an empty stage, fan Steven Latham wrote: “Gutted to see @ianbrown turn up to his £40 a ticket, sold out gig at Leeds tonight WITH NO BAND.

I’m a life long fan but it was bad. #ianbrown does karaoke and butchers his own tunes. Most were too p****d to care but I had to get out after this one.”

Another fan slammed the singer for not giving musicians the opportunity to make some money ‘after a difficult few years’, writing: “Musicians and crew need work after a difficult few years.

“Ian Brown can afford to employ people but don’t quite get why he chooses not to?”

However, this comment seemingly touched a nerve with Brown, who scathingly replied in a now-deleted tweet: “I have a crew of 12 out on the road with me [sic] What’s it got to do with you you jealous p***k?”

Ian Brown / Twitter

The singer also took the time to respond to other fans who enjoyed last night’s concert in Glasgow, with him writing: “GLASGOW. HATERS HATE AND LOVERS LOVE!”

Other concert-goers praises Brown’s performance last night, with another fan noting: “Far more honest to play to a backing track on your own, than be in a band pretending to be 100% live yet playing along to a backing track.”

A second added: “This was an amazing show. Cool and surprising concept for Ian Brown to just present himself, the man and king on stage. He sounded great. Fans had a great time.”

Ian Brown’s headline tour continues tonight in Edinburgh, with following shows scheduled for Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and London.

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