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Top Headlines - part 68

UK Retailer Tesco Spending $1.6 Billon To Revamp Image

UK Retailer Tesco Spending $1.6 Billon To Revamp Image

BUSINESS

  • Tesco holds 30% market share in UK but profit slipping compared to competitors
  • $1.6 billion investment to be used to remodel 430 supermarkets, re-label Value product line, introduce 2,000 new products, and increase products available online
  • Tesco plans to add 20,000 new jobs by 2013

Tesco, Britain’s largest retailer, will spend $1.6 billion revamping stores to win back market share.

Tesco currently holds 30% of the UK retail market but recently has found profit slipping compared to competitors J Sainsbury Plc., William Morrison Supermarkets Plc. and Asda, which is owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

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Ford Focus Electric Not Faring Well in US Auto Market

Ford Focus Electric Not Faring Well in US Auto Market

BUSINESS

  • Focus Electric launched in New York, New Jersey and California; to debut in 19 metropolitan areas before being sold nationwide
  • Ford survey shows customers uneducated on difference between fuel-efficient cars
  • Electric, plug-in hybrid vehicles expected to be only 1% of US vehicle sales through to 2017

US automaker Ford has rolled out its Focus Electric without much fanfare, and it may be paying the price as in the first quarter of 2012 only two dozen vehicles were sold.

So far, the Focus Electric has been launched in New York, New Jersey and California. It will next debut in 19 metropolitan areas before being sold nationwide.

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Online Travel Giants Expedia, TripAdvisor Under Fire For Rating Systems

Online Travel Giants Expedia, TripAdvisor Under Fire For Rating Systems

BUSINESS

  • Expedia to conduct thorough overhaul of rating system 
  • Total number of verified reviews available to Expedia customers to total over 7.5 million
  • TripAdvisor criticized for its instant 1-to-5 rating system

Online travel booking site Expedia is modifying its review system after recent controversial hotel ratings. The driving factor behind this initiative is increased pressure from the hotel industry, which is trying to fight against unfavorable ratings from competitors and sometimes fake or paid-for review writers.

Expedia.com says it will conduct a “thorough overhaul” of its hotel reviews feature. “As part of this overhaul, Expedia will incorporate all verified reviews from its sister company, Hotels.com, into its collection, which will bring the total number of verified reviews available to Expedia customers to total more than 7.5 million,” writes Hotel Online.

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$8 Billion Annually Invested Into US Airport Security Procedures

$8 Billion Annually Invested Into US Airport Security Procedures

WORLD

  • TSA sees 70% failure rate in detecting threats in random tests
  • US Travel Association says 66% of travelers would fly more if security procedures were less intrusive
  • Economist debate concludes US should return airport security to pre-9/11 levels and spend savings on “intelligence, investigation and emergency response”

Currently, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has an $8 billion annual budget and a 70% failure rate detecting threats related to weapons and bomb components in random tests, according to the Economist magazine.

These findings beg the question of whether the multi-billion dollar airport security measures in the US are doing more harm than good.

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Sony Cuts 10,000 Jobs Worldwide To Reduce Costs

Sony Cuts 10,000 Jobs Worldwide To Reduce Costs

BUSINESS

  • Sony to layoff 6% of global workforce in restructuring
  • Sony saw record annual net loss of $6.4 billion in 2011
  • Sony CEO sets target to increase sales 10% or $105 billion by March 2013

Japanese electronics giant Sony Corp plans to cut 10,000 jobs and restructure the company in an effort to reduce costs and revitalize itself. The layoffs represent 6% of the company’s global workforce.

At a press conference, Chief Executive Officer and President Kazuo Hirai explained a strategy intended to make Sony profitable again. In addition to reducing employees, Sony will spend $1 billion on restructuring.

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Apple iPad to Maintain Grip on Global Tablet Market

Apple iPad to Maintain Grip on Global Tablet Market

BUSINESS

  • iPad sales to reach 73 million units in 2012 for over 61% market share
  • Global tablet sales to jump 98% to nearly 119 million
  • Android to reach 37% market share by 2016

Apple’s domination of the tablet PC market is set to continue through 2012, with Android unable to reproduce the success it enjoyed in the smartphone sector, according to information technology research group Gartner.

In its recent global sales report, the research firm estimates that global tablet sales will jump to close to 119 million by the end of the year, nearly doubling last year’s figure of 60 million units.

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AT&T Sells Majority of Yellow Pages Print Unit To Focus on Mobile

AT&T Sells Majority of Yellow Pages Print Unit To Focus on Mobile

FINANCE

  • AT&T maintains 47% stake in Yellow Pages, rest sold to private equity firm Cerberus
  • Yellow Pages saw sales fall 16% in 2011
  • AT&T to focus on mobile, TV and internet

US phone carrier AT&T Inc. is selling its majority stake in its Yellow Pages Unit (YP Holdings LLC) to private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP for $950 million.

The deal includes 1,200 print Yellow Pages directories, the online directory yp.com, AT&T’s local ad network and the YPmobile app. It does not include AT&T AdWorks. The print version of the Yellow Pages reaches 150 million homes and businesses in 22 states.

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US Spending Sees March Consumer Sales Rise 3.9%

US Spending Sees March Consumer Sales Rise 3.9%

ECONOMY

  • S&P Retail Index up 0.8% in March
  • Apparel, discount, department stores see year-on-year increases in March
  • Retailers believe April sales will slow; International Council of Shopping Centers says sales could rise 3% - 4%

Earlier Easter preparations and spring temperatures stirred a spending frenzy as March sales rose for the 13th time in fifteen months. March sales rose 3.9% according to Retail Metrics, a figure higher than the 3.3% analysts were seeking.

Excluding Walgreen's decline, March's total sales reached 6.5%.

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Australia's “Down Under” Tourism Comes Out On Top

Australia's “Down Under” Tourism Comes Out On Top

WORLD

  • Domestic tourism contributed over $73 billion annually to Australian economy
  • Travel to Australia from China up 4.5% over last year
  • Potential to add $9 billion to Australia's tourism economy by 2020

According to a new report recently released by Tourism Research Australia (TRA), domestic tourism was responsible for contributing more than $73 billion annually to the national economy.

Further, results published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicate that tourism’s direct contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was $34.6 billion in over 2010 – 2011. Despite the high Aussie dollar, natural disasters and global economic challenges, the numbers equate to an increase of about 2.7% in total tourism GDP over 2010 – 2011.

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Ford’s $600 million Chinese Plant Expansion Key to Asian Market Domination

Ford’s $600 million Chinese Plant Expansion Key to Asian Market Domination

BUSINESS

  • Ford investing $600 million into automotive plant in Chongqing, China
  • Chongqing plant to produce 950,000 vehicles each year, up by nearly 60%
  • Growth of China’s auto market expected to slow down but continue to grow steadily

US automotive giant Ford will invest $600 million into its Chongqing, China, manufacturing base in hopes of profiting from the world’s largest automotive market. Funding from Ford and venture partner Changan Ford Automobile will enable the Chongqing plant to produce 950,000 vehicles each year, or up by 350,000 vehicles for a nearly 60% production increase.

The $600 million will raise the total amount invested in the Chongqing facility to over $4 billion. With this investment Ford hopes to keep pace with Volkswagen and General Motors, the top foreign auto manufacturers in China. In 2011, Ford’s sales in China came in at around 20% of General Motors, which sold 2.5 million vehicles and continues to boast record sales.

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