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.

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.”

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.

DIY firms Homebase and B&Q suffer sales slump

B&Q store

The UK’s two biggest DIY chains, B&Q and Homebase, have both reported a slide in sales this summer.

B&Q said sales at its established stores fell 5% in the three months to July amid a drop in demand for garden furniture and other summer products.

The fall dragged shares in B&Q owner Kingfisher down 4.1%, making it the biggest faller on the FTSE 100.

Meanwhile, Homebase reported a similar drop in quarterly sales under its new Australian owner.

George Salmon, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “It looks like Kingfisher isn’t alone in having difficulties in the UK.

“The group’s flagship B&Q chain saw like-for-like sales fall 4.7%, which is similar to the 4.3% fall at Bunnings UK, the new owner of Homebase.”

As well as the Bunnings DIY chain, Wesfarmers also runs the supermarket chain Coles and the Kmart and Target chains in Australia.

Sales of summer products dropped nearly 11% at B&Q, partly because customers bought more of those items during the warm spring.

Kingfisher said it remained cautious about the economic outlook for the UK in the second half of the year.

However, its other DIY chain, Screwfix, continued its stellar run, with sales at existing stores rising 10% in the period.

Homebase’s results were partly dragged down by its transition under its Australian owner.

Bunnings UK, which bought Homebase for £340m last year, is changing the DIY retailer’s discounts and rebranding more stores under the .

In the first financial year since acquiring the chain, Bunnings UK booked a £54m loss on revenue of £1.2bn.

Bunnings Group managing director Michael Schneider it was braced for a “long slog” in the UK.

“The opportunity for the Homebase stores is going to be more clarity and consistency in execution,” he said. “There’s no silver bullet.”

Roaming downtime hits customers on Three in Europe

Three logo

Roaming services are currently down for all customers on the Three mobile network in France, Portugal and Luxembourg, the operator has said.

On Twitter, several customers reported they had been experiencing problems for two days.

Three has apologised and said it is working on a solution.

The BBC understands that the issue does not lie with Three’s own network, but rather with its roaming partners in the three affected countries.

Emergency services are still contactable via 112, Three has said.

“I’m travelling alone and can’t make any calls or send any texts,” wrote .

Another said: “I’m driving to Paris tomorrow, and I’ve got to follow road signs because I have no connection for my Google Maps.”

BBC journalist Dougal Shaw – on holiday in France – also that he had been affected.

“I got lost in a market,” he wrote.

Asda sales grow again after three-year slump

Asda logo

Supermarket chain Asda has reported its first quarterly like-for-like sales growth for three years.

Sales rose 1.8% in the second quarter after a bumper Easter, Asda owner Walmart said.

Figures were boosted by a combination of price cuts, more customers and rising inflation.

Last year Asda reported its worst quarterly performance on record when sales tumbled by 7.5%.

Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon said the world’s biggest retail was “encouraged” by the UK result.

“In June, I visited Asda to see the progress being made. Customers are responding to investments in price and store experience by visiting the stores more often and increasing their basket sizes,” he said.

“There’s still much more to be done, but we’re clearly headed in the right direction.”

Asda is the third-largest UK supermarket chain behind Tesco and Sainsbury’s, .