FINANCE

Tesco CEO resists calls to resign amid falling profits

BY Dan Berthiaume

Cheshunt, U.K. – Philip Clarke, CEO of leading U.K. grocery and general merchandise retailer Tesco plc is publicly resisting calls for his resignation following a 6% decline in annual profits and 3% quarterly drop in U.K. same-store sales. Tesco has reported falling profits for two consecutive years following 20 years of continual profit growth.

In addition, Tesco has been undergoing a turnaround plan in the past two years but still lost market share in its core U.K. market, and has been mostly unsuccessful in attempts to expand to new global market such as the U.S., and Japan. Sir Terry Leahy, one of Tesco’s top 20 investors, has been among those openly requesting that Clarke leave his position.

However, in public comments to the media, Clarke said he intends on staying at his job and that price cutting measures at Tesco are already starting to produce increases in volume. Tesco has cut prices on products including milk, eggs and chicken by 24%, with a reported resulting 30% boost in sales volume.

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OPERATIONS

Starbucks to move Europe headquarters to London

BY Dan Berthiaume

Seattle – Starbucks Corp. plans to move its European headquarters to London, from its current base in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The move will both concentrate some executives in the U.K., including some transferred from the Amsterdam office, and also increase the tax Starbucks pays in the U.K.

Starbucks paid an estimated $16.8 million in U.K. taxes during 2013 and has said it expects to pay the same amount in 2014. The company has received criticism in the U.K. for allegedly using complex accounting procedures to minimize the tax it pays there.

The U.K. is Starbucks’ fastest-growing market in Europe, and managing operations there more closely is one reason the company plans to move its headquarters. Starbucks expects to open more than 100 new stores in the U.K. during 2014, and moving its headquarters should create 1,000 new jobs in addition to the 7,500 U.K. workers Starbucks currently employs.

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STORE SPACES

Burger King launches in-store Wi-Fi upgrade

BY Dan Berthiaume

Miami – Burger King Corp. is launching AT&T Wi-Fi services for all of its U.S. restaurants. The upgraded platform, "Whopper Wi-Fi,” replaces and upgrades current restaurant Wi-Fi networks.

Benefits of the new, streamlined Wi-Fi platform include customizable set-up and consistent service at all stores.

"Whopper Wi-Fi is about improving the in-restaurant experience for our guests,” said Alex Macedo, president, North America, Burger King. “Most of our guests carry smartphones or tablets, and this upgrade makes their time with us easier and more enjoyable. We are committed to enhancing our digital platforms across the board and having Whopper Wi-Fi is just the beginning."

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