There is a race on among the UK’s big companies over who can cut their carbon quickest (just don’t call it greenwashing). See, for example, airline easyJet last year, which is offsetting its carbon emissions. Sainsbury’s is the latest to set out its plans. Outgoing chief executive Mike Coupe is committing £1bn to make the supermarket chain net zero by 2020. Plastic packaging, food waste, carbon emissions and water usage will all be cut; recycling, sustainable eating and biodiversity increased.
This is unambiguously A Good Thing, and Sainsbury’s should be applauded for doing it. But — obviously — more is needed and sooner is better, so long as reductions are sustainable. Sainsbury’s commitments (for now) largely relate to its own business (full details set out here). Suppliers are not covered. The grocer does say it will “work collaboratively with suppliers” and that it will ask them for their own carbon reduction targets. If they get them on board too, that really will be something.
The FCA told banks they had to sort out overdrafts, which were a “dysfunctional” market that suckered consumers. So the banks all went and announced their overdraft rates and coincidentally they all seem to be very similar, around 40 per cent. The FCA seems suspicious about this. Now the regulator has written to banks asking them to provide evidence of how they picked their prices. The answer better not be “I copied them”.
Regular housebuilder Crest Nicholson has its full-year results out this Tuesday morning, as does retirement housebuilder McCarthy & Stone. At Crest Nicholson sales fell from £1.12bn to £1.09bn, while pre-tax profits went from £169m to £103m, not helped by an £18m charge for fire risk. It warned on profits in October; on Tuesday it set out targets for the next three years. At McCarthy & Stone meanwhile revenues were up 8 per cent — but that was because the company extended its financial year by two months. Pre-tax profits were down 25 per cent.
Elsewhere on Tuesday there are updates from Virgin Money UK, where net interest margins stabilised but the mortgage book shrank amid fierce competition, and from Saga. Underlying pre-tax profits are expected to be inline with expectations there.
Segro, the warehouse group, said chief investment officer Phil Redding is stepping down from the board and will leave at the end of April. He has been at the group for 25 years and on the board for seven years.
Beyond the Square Mile
The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in China has risen to more than 100 and the number of people infected jumped by almost half on Tuesday to more than 4,500. The rapid spread of the deadly virus has far-reaching ramifications for the corporate world. From luxury goods makers to leisure groups, airlines and banks, companies with operations in China or which rely on Chinese customers are affected. This is a sector-by-sector look at the virus’s impact on business.
Airbus is on the brink of settling a bribery and corruption probe with regulators in the UK, France and the US, with analysts forecasting fines of more than €3bn following complex negotiations between the three agencies. A deal is expected in the coming days, according to people familiar with the matter. Airbus rival Boeing, meanwhile, has secured a $12bn loan from lenders. Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley all agreed to extend the financing which will give the aircraft maker more financial flexibility following the worldwide grounding of the 737 Max.
More than 350 Amazon employees have publicly criticised the company’s climate change record, defying policies that say doing so could cost them their jobs. In a post titled “Amazon Employees Share Our Views on Company Business”, published on the blogging platform Medium, named staffers called on the company to drop its cloud-computing contracts with clients in the oil and gas industry, which according to Amazon’s website include BP, Shell and GE Oil & Gas.
Closing quote — essential comment before you go
Alison Rose, Royal Bank of Scotland’s chief executive of three months, is to outline her vision for the bank on February 14. But it won’t read like a love letter. Reports have primed staff to expect up to 3,700 job cuts — 6 per cent of the total.
A world in which we all communicate through translation apps like Google Translate may, eventually, be more efficient. But it will also be a world poorer in genuine understanding.
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