Visits to UK rise amid fall in pound

Tourists outside Buckingham Palace watching as guardsmen take part in the Changing of the Guard in central London

The number of overseas residents visiting the UK rose to 3.5 million in June, up 7% from the same month last year, according to official figures.

While in the UK, the visitors spent £2.2bn, a rise of 2%, .

The increase comes as the weak pound makes the UK more affordable for visitors, but also follows terror attacks in London and Manchester.

Meanwhile, UK residents took 7.2 million trips abroad, a 4% increase.

And despite the fall in sterling they spent £4.6bn – 15% more than the same time in 2016.

April saw a record 3.7 million overseas visitors – up 19% from a year earlier – as the fall in the value of the pound made the UK a more attractive destination.

Over the April-to-June quarter the number of visitors from overseas rose to 10.75 million, up 8% from the same period a year earlier.

Kit Kat accused of copying Atari game Breakout

kit kats

Kit Kat’s maker Nestle has been accused of copying Breakout, the 1970s computer game, in its latest marketing.

Atari, the company behind some of the most popular early video games, has filed a suit alleging Nestle knowingly exploited the game’s look and feel.

Breakout was created as a successor to “Pong” by Apple founders, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs.

a game similar to Breakout but where the bricks are replaced with single Kit Kat bars.

In the advert, which is titled “Kit Kat: Breakout”, a row of people, of varying ages and appearance, share a sofa and play a video game during their work break. In the game depicted a primitive paddle moves side-to-side to bounce a ball into a collision with the horizontal bars ranged across the top of the screen.

Atari alleges that the similarity with its original game “is so plain and blatant that Nestle cannot claim to be an ‘innocent’ infringer”.

The legal complaint against Nestle, filed in a San Francisco court on Thursday, claims that the Swiss chocolate maker had hoped to exploit “the special place [Breakout] holds among nostalgic Baby Boomers, Generation X, and even today’s Millennial and post-Millennial ‘gamers'”.

Heineken-Punch Taverns pub deal cleared by CMA

Heineken bottles

Heineken’s takeover of Punch Taverns will not face an in-depth competition probe after the brewer offered to sell pubs to address concerns.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) had said there were 33 areas where pubs would not face sufficient competition if the deal went ahead.

But following the brewer’s offer to sell pubs in the affected areas the CMA said it was satisfied its concerns had been addressed.

Heineken will buy 1,895 Punch pubs.

Private equity firm Patron Capital will buy the remaining 1,329 pubs in the Punch estate.

“Heineken has offered to sell pubs in each of the affected areas to preserve competition and ensure customers in these locations do not lose out,” the CMA said in a statement.

“Before reaching a final decision, the CMA carefully assessed and consulted publicly on these proposed undertakings. The CMA is satisfied that its concerns have been addressed and has therefore decided that the merger will not be referred for an in-depth phase 2 investigation,” it added.

Heineken already owns 1,100 pubs.

The CMA’s preliminary investigation concluded that the deal would not damage the chances of Heineken’s competitors selling their own products, as the pubs being bought only make up 4% of the market.

It also felt that it was unlikely Heineken would reduce the choice of beer and cider available in the Punch pubs, as this could lead it to lose business.

Infosys chief executive Vishal Sikka resigns

Former Infosys chief executive Vishal Sikka

Vishal Sikka has resigned as Infosys chief executive and managing director, the company said in a statement Friday.

The firm’s chief operating officer U. B. Pravin Rao will take over the role on an interim basis with immediate effect.

Infosys is one of India’s largest IT services firms. Mr Sikka was appointed in June 2014 and tasked with turning around the struggling business.

Shares of the company tumbled 7% following the announcement.

Ford CEO doesn’t see robot army on roads anytime soon

SAN FRANCISCO — Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Hackett doesn’t foresee a robot takeover when it comes to the advent of autonomous vehicles.

Hackett outlined his vision for future mobility at Ford’s City of Tomorrow event in San Francisco on Thursday. Rather than predict an all pod-car streetscape within the next decade, he said technology will gradually augment current challenges, easing pain points such as limited parking and vehicle access that commuters deal with on a daily basis.

“When you paint the robots as perfect and humans as imperfect, we’ve made a big mistake,” Hackett said. “We don’t need the robot to get around.”

Hackett, who formerly headed Ford’s Smart Mobility subsidiary before replacingMark Fields as CEO in May, has been tasked with formulating Ford’s mobility strategy in an increasingly competitive field. The company has invested in various transportation technologies, including lidar-maker Velodyne, mapping startup Civil Maps, bikeshare company Motivate, ride-sharing startup Chariot and autonomous driving startup Argo AI.

In July, Hackett said he was using his first 100 days as CEO to review Ford’s future product plans — which includes the introduction of a Level 4 self-driving vehicle for commercial use by 2021.

To make the most of technological innovations in transportation, companies must examine every perspective, Hackett said, and work to create an egalitarian system. While automated technology can ease problems such as crash avoidance, navigating traffic accidents and parking options, it can’t fully address problems of equal access on its own.

Hackett said a combination of analog and new technologies will be necessary to create a better transportation environment.

“Networks only get stronger by inclusion, there’s no gain by carving someone out,” he said.

Hackett acknowledged that some of Ford’s competitors in autonomous vehicle development have gained an advantage in data collection by operating services off of smartphones, adding that to deliver effective mobility services, Ford must be able to understand consumer patterns and preferences.

“We need to be able to piece together these attributes of what inside a city are the pain points for customers today,” he said. “We can then marry that technological capability to the stepping stones of the pain points in a city.”

Pensioners told to head to West Sussex for happiness

Arundel Castle in West Sussex

Its pleasures range from a visit to the stately Arundel Castle to flight delays at Gatwick airport.

Yet it seems West Sussex offers retirees the best possible lifestyle.

In a quality of retirement index, the county has overtaken Dorset as the top place for pensioners to live.

The research, from Prudential insurance, is based on a range of criteria including access to healthcare, crime and the weather.

The study looked at the 55 counties in England and Wales, but excluded Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The south coast county is already so popular with the over-65s that it has the second-highest inflow of pensioners, after Devon.

It also scores well for ongoing health, high pensioner incomes, and relatively sunny weather.

Dorset was in second place, with East Sussex and Devon next in the rankings.

Pensioners in Surrey enjoy the highest income, those in Gwynedd have the best access to healthcare, while residents of Essex get the nicest weather.

But the Isle of Wight has the highest concentration of pensioners overall.

Salmon sales surge as UK food exports hit record high

salmon steaks

Sales of British salmon helped the UK export a record amount of food and drink in the first half of the year, according to industry figures.

Exports of the fish jumped more than 53% by value to £408m, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said.

UK food and drink exports rose 8.5% to £10.2bn, helped by the fall in the pound after last year’s Brexit vote.

Whisky remained the top export, while salmon was second and beer rose to third after it overtook chocolate.

The pound has fallen by about 20% against the dollar since the UK voted to leave the EU in June last year, giving a boost to UK exports as they have become relatively cheaper.

However, the weaker pound has also pushed up costs for British businesses that bring in food and raw materials from abroad, the FDF said.

It said the UK’s food and drink trade deficit – the difference between how much the UK imports and exports – widened 16% to £12.4bn over the period.

Salmon is becoming more popular globally, according to Andy Bing, sales director of Loch Duart Salmon in North West Scotland.

“This half we’ve sold more than we ever have,” he said, adding that the firm’s main export markets were France, the US, Italy, and Switzerland.

UK salmon exports have grown after Chilean producers suffered problems in 2015 with algal blooms that killed a large amount of their fish, he said.

The firm is optimistic about the eventual post-Brexit trade deals that can be struck with EU countries.

“Europe needs lovely Scottish salmon just as we need lovely French wine and wonderful German cars,” he said.

However, he added that Loch Duart was “finding it difficult to plan without better guidance” from the government about Brexit.

The FDF warned that without a favourable Brexit trade deal, UK exports could become less competitive.

Two of the biggest importers of UK food and drink are Ireland and France.

If there is no deal and World Trade Organization (WTO) tariffs with the EU are brought in, “food and drink would face significantly higher tariffs than most other products,” an FDF spokesman said.

However, the free market think tank, the Institute for Economic Affairs, said it would not be a “disaster” if the UK failed to strike a deal with the EU.

Jamie Whyte, IEA research director, said: “In fact, we could unilaterally eliminate all import tariffs, which would give us most of the benefits of trade and export to the EU under the umbrella of the WTO rules.”

A UK government spokesman said it wanted to reach a deal with the EU “allowing for the most frictionless trade including in food and drink as possible”.

  1. Whisky
  2. Salmon
  3. Beer
  4. Chocolate
  5. Cheese
  6. Wine
  7. Gin
  8. Beef
  9. Pork
  10. Soft drinks

Source H&M Customs and Excise

In the first half of the year, UK food and drink exports rose faster to EU countries, up 9%, than to countries outside the EU, with growth of 7.6%.

But the market which saw the most growth in the first half was South Korea, up 77%, in the main due to beer exports.

Food Minister George Eustice said: “We have ambitious plans to produce and export more of our fabulous foods around the world and more businesses are trying exporting for the first time.

“Last week we announced further market access to China for pork producers and UK beef will soon be heading to the Philippines. We will continue to work with industry to open new opportunities.”

Detroit 3 to tout performance and vintage cars at Woodward Dream Cruise

DERTOIT — Ford, Chevy and Dodge will turn to the Woodward Dream Cruise, a classic-car celebration in suburban Detroit, on Saturday to generate some marketing buzz on their offerings.

Ford signed on in June on as the event’s one-year presenting sponsor, replacing Chevrolet’s previous six-year sponsorship. The extravaganza is expected to draw around 1.5 million people.

While Ford will host its mainstay event, Mustang Alley, a pony car display, it will also introduce a new driving-skills exhibit. The Driving Skills for Life program will teach drivers safety techniques through a virtual reality app, made to simulate the experience of driving a Ford vehicle.

For more Dream Cruise coverage from Autoweek, the auto enthusiast affiliate of Automotive News, click here.

“This year we are expanding Mustang Alley west for the first time to create a larger footprint than years past,” a spokesman for Ford said. “We’re also adding the Driving Skills exhibit as a free event to draw in more people.”

Dodge, on the other hand, wants racing enthusiasts to take a shot at smoky burnouts during Roadkill Nights “Powered by Dodge.” The thousands of people expected at Roadkill Nights can also take a thrill ride with a professional driver in a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, Charger SRT Hellcat or Viper.

Chevrolet will occupy its traditional spot at the “triangle” — where Woodward and Old Woodward meet north of Detroit in Birmingham — to show off its pickups and the Camaro and Corvette.

Although the event entertains thousands with food, music and speedsters, Ford also sees it as an opportunity to extend its marketing reach.

“Dream Cruise is all about the sheer joy and freedom of the automobile, and Ford has always celebrated car culture,” Ford marketing chief Mark LaNeve said in a statement. “From Fiesta to GT, we’re obsessed with making driving fun and we’re committed to celebrating that passion with enthusiasts of all ages in the birthplace of motoring.”

Here are additional details about the brands’ plans:

Ford Performance

    • Mustang Alley , in its 19th year at the Dream Cruise, features an array of muscle cars and the 2018 Mustang.

    • Vaugn Gittin Jr. will show off his toy collection, including an RTR Mustang and Formula D race car.

    • At multiple spots along Woodward, Ford will display its performance catalog, including the 2018 Mustang Shelby GT, Focus RS and F-150 Raptor.

    • The Driving Skills for Life exhibit will help new drivers master their vehicles by simulating the experience of driving through virtual reality.

    • Ford car clubs that don’t have a separate location on Woodward can show their vehicles at the enthusiast meetup at Memorial Park in nearby Pleasant Ridge.

    Dodge Showcase

      • Dodge’s celebration of old-style muscle, Roadkill Nights, started on Aug. 12 on one-quarter mile of Woodward in Pontiac. It will continue through Saturday Aug. 19.

      • An M-1 course neighboring the Roadkill Nights track will host a car show, simulators and dyno tests. Last year the event drew around 30,000 spectators.

      • A celebrity drag race will take place that evening at 6:30 p.m., featuring Roadkill hosts and celebrities from “House of Muscle” and “Hot Rod Garage.”

      Chevy Showcase

        • Chevy will have Heritage displays of its pickups aand the Camaro and Corvette as well as Redline Edition models and the full Chevy lineup at the confluence of Woodward and Old Woodward in Birmingham.

        • The triangle formed by Woodward and Old Woodward will also showcase the new Camaro ZL1 NASCAR Cup Series Race.

        • At 13 Mile and Woodward, Chevy will have a Performance and Motorsports display including concepts that feature performance parts and accessories. Race cars will also be on display here.

        • The Corvettes on Woodward Event — a main attraction for Corvette owners in past years — has been canceled this year, with hopes of resuming in 2018.

Trump ‘scraps infrastructure council plan’

Steve Mnuchin, Elaine Chao and Donald Trump

President Trump is scrapping plans for a business panel on infrastructure, according to US media reports.

A White House official said the infrastructure panel, which was still being formed, would not go ahead.

The decision comes after two other White House business councils were dissolved on Wednesday amid an exodus of chief executives.

Business leaders quit over Mr Trump’s handling of violent clashes in Virginia involving white supremacists.

Bloomberg, CNBC and political newspaper The Hill reported that the president’s planned Advisory Council on Infrastructure “would not move forward”.

Mr Trump’s reaction to last weekend’s clashes at a far-right rally – which left one woman dead and nearly 20 people wounded – has sparked outrage and generated global headlines.

On Monday, Mr Trump belatedly condemned the white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups that rallied in a small Virginia town on Sunday.

But in a rancorous news conference on Tuesday he backtracked and again blamed left-wing counter-protesters for the violence too.

That prompted business leaders to quit his manufacturing and policy councils, and drew criticism from the bosses of other large US firms including Apple and JP Morgan.

Mr Trump signed an executive order last month establishing the Advisory Council on Infrastructure.

At the start of the year he said he was planning the council and named two well known New York property developers to lead the group.

Representatives for Steve Roth of Vornado Realty Trust and Richard LeFrak of LeFrak, whom Mr Trump named last winter, could not be reached immediately.

BMW and Daimler may consider merging car-sharing units

FRANKFURT — German carmakers Daimler and BMW may be in talks to combine their car-sharing services Car2Go and DriveNow, the chief executive of car rental company and DriveNow partner Sixt hinted on Thursday.

Daimler and BMW have discussed pooling their car-sharing businesses to better compete against ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft which have started offering pay-per-use mobility services that are more convenient than car ownership.

Asked whether Sixt was involved in merger talks with Daimler and BMW, CEO Erich Sixt said: “At the last press conference I made clear that we are not involved. Today I can only say ‘no comment’. This is of course a slightly different statement from the last one. Why things are dragging on is not down to us.”

In May Sixt had said it was not involved in any merger talks, but added that its 50 percent DriveNow stake had been valued at around 480 million euros ($560 million).

Car2Go declined to comment. No one at DriveNow was immediately available for comment.

On being asked whether BMW was in talks to combine its car-sharing business with Daimler’s, a spokeswoman for BMW said, “We are in constant talks with our partners and are of course evaluating the strategic options for our activities and stakes.”

Demand for car-sharing services has taken off in a number of major cities including London, Frankfurt, Berlin, Milan and Helsinki, where customers can use free parking, a major cost and convenience factor.

More than a third of clients who tried BMW’s DriveNow car-sharing business in London sold their own car and only 20 percent were determined to keep their privately owned vehicles.

BMW and Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler are now working on developing autonomous cars, vehicles which could enable them to upend the market for taxi and ride-hailing services.

The market for ride-hailing services currently makes up around 33 percent of the global taxi market, and could grow eightfold to $285 billion by 2030, once autonomous robotaxis are in operation, Goldman Sachs said.

Sixt said its DriveNow business had grown its customer base from 815,000 people at the end of 2016, to 950,000 at the end of June. As of August 2017, Car2Go had 2.7 million members, who have access to 13,900 vehicles in eight countries in North America and Western Europe and in China.