News

Dixons Carphone has admitted a huge data breach involving 5.9 million payment cards and 1.2 million personal data records.

It is investigating the hacking attempt, which began in July last year.

Dixons Carphone said it had no evidence that any of the cards had been used fraudulently following the breach.

There was “an attempt to compromise” 5.8 million credit and debit cards but only 105,000 cards without chip-and-pin protection had been leaked, it said.

The hackers had tried to gain access to one of the processing systems of Currys PC World and Dixons Travel stores, the firm said.

Dixons Carphone shares fell more than 3% in early trading.

Analysis by BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones

On the face of it, this is a very serious incident.

Usually when companies report a data breach they are very quick to reassure us that while names, email addresses and login may have been accessed, no payment information has been released.

This is not the case here with Dixons admitting that hackers got access to records of nearly six million payment cards.

The good news is that nearly all of them were protected by good old chip and pin – and there is no evidence of any fraud relating to the 100,000 non European cards which didn’t have that protection.

But there are still questions for Dixons Carphone to answer.

Why has a hack that apparently happened nearly a year ago only been revealed now?

And is there any connection to a previous data breach at Carphone in 2015?

Dixons insists that it only discovered this latest hack a week ago and it has no connection with any previous incident.

But the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) which fined Carphone Warehouse £400,000 for the 2015 breach will now be looking very closely at this latest failing of the merged companies.

Luckily for Dixons, the incident happened before the new GDPR rules, which promise much bigger fines, came into force.

The 1.2 million personal data records accessed by the hackers consisted of non-financial information such as names, addresses and email addresses.

Carphone Warehouse said it had no evidence that the information had left its systems or resulted in any fraud, but it was contacting those affected to advise them.

It added that it had brought in leading cyber-experts and added extra security measures to its systems.

Dixons Carphone chief executive Alex Baldock said it was “extremely disappointed” by the data breach and “sorry for any upset”,

“The protection of our data has to be at the heart of our business, and we’ve fallen short here.

“We’ve taken action to close off this unauthorised access and though we have currently no evidence of fraud as a result of these incidents, we are taking this extremely seriously,” he added.

Tough challenges

Bryan Glick, editor in chief of Computer Weekly, told the BBC that the breach was “right up there” as one of the biggest to date involving a UK company.

However, he cautioned against any panic. “If you’ve not heard from Dixons Carphone to warn you, the chances are you’re OK,” he said.

Carphone Warehouse is one of many High Street retailers feeling the strain of tough economic challenges.

Last month, it warned of a sharp fall in profits this year and said it would close 92 of its more than 700 Carphone Warehouse stores.

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has said it will replace champagne with sparkling wines from the UK from next month.

The company’s founder, Tim Martin, who campaigned for Brexit, said it was part of a transition away from products made in the European Union.

Under the plan, British wheat beer and alcohol-free beer will replace the current beers brewed in Germany.

Mr Martin said the new drinks would be cheaper than the European Union products that they are replacing.

He said: “There will be an inevitable transfer of trade post-Brexit to countries outside the EU, which will reduce prices in shops and pubs.

“The products we are now introducing are at lower prices than the EU products they are replacing.”

The move was part of a review all products over the next six to 24 months, he said, adding: “We intend to honour existing contracts with EU suppliers, some of which have several years to run.

“However, we are starting to make the transition to non-EU trade now.”

Mr Martin called the EU customs union “a protectionist system which is widely misunderstood”.

“It imposes tariffs on the 93% of the world that is not in the EU, keeping prices high for UK consumers.

“Tariffs are imposed on wine from Australia, New Zealand and the US, and also on coffee, oranges, rice and more than 12,000 other products,” he said.

Wetherspoon, which says it has 2 million customers visiting each week, will replace champagne with sparkling wines from the UK, such as from the Denbies vineyard, and Hardys Sparkling Pinot Chardonnay from Australia.

The chain sells fewer than 100,000 bottles of champagne a year.

“Champagne has lost market share to lower price sparkling wines,” Mr Martin said.

Wetherspoon sells 2 million bottles of sparkling wine annually.

Wine of choice

A representative of France’s champagne industry was unconcerned by the decision. “It seems to be economically driven, combined with Mr Martin’s strong expressed feeling about European products,” said Francoise Peretti, director of the Champange Bureau UK.

“UK consumers have clearly voted it [champagne] its sparkling wine of choice, making the UK the leading export market for champagne,” Mr Peretti said.

Wetherspoon said its new wheat beers brewed in the UK will include Blue Moon Belgian White, Thornbridge Versa Weisse Beer and SA Brains Atlantic White.

Alcohol-free Adnams Ghost Ship will replace Erdinger alcohol-free beer from Germany.

Wetherspoon will continue to serve Kopparberg cider from Sweden, as the company has said it will transfer production to the UK post-Brexit. “In similar situations we will work closely with suppliers of niche products,” Mr Martin said.

The pubs sell 6 million bottles of Kopparberg each year.

 

A plumber has won a legal battle for working rights in a Supreme Court ruling expected to have huge ramifications for freelance workers.

Gary Smith had worked solely for Pimlico Plumbers for six years.

Despite being VAT-registered and paying self-employed tax, he was entitled to workers’ rights, the court ruled.

The ruling will be closely read by others with similar disputes, many of whom work for firms in the so-called gig economy.

An employment tribunal was “entitled to conclude” that Mr Smith was a worker, the court ruled.

As a worker Mr Smith would be entitled to employment rights, such as holiday and sick pay.

The Supreme Court ruling means that an employment tribunal can now proceed to examine his action against Pimlico Plumbers as a worker, including a claim that he was unfairly dismissed.

Mr Smith, from Kent, began his battle with Pimlico Plumbers when he wanted to reduce his hours following a heart attack in 2010.

He wanted to cut the five-day week, which he had been signed up to work with the firm, to three.

However, the firm refused and took away his branded van, which he had hired. He claims he was dismissed.

‘Wild West’

Pimlico Plumbers chief executive Charlie Mullins condemned the ruling.

“This was a poor decision that will potentially leave thousands of companies, employing millions of contractors, wondering if one day soon they will get nasty surprise from a former contractor demanding more money, despite having been paid in full years ago.

“It can only lead to a tsunami of claims,” he added.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This case has exposed how widely sham self-employment has spread. Bad employers are using every trick in the book to deny staff basic rights.

“It’s time to end the Wild West in the gig economy. The government must get tough on rogue bosses and give unions the right to organise in more workplaces.”

Nirav Modi, whose jewellery has been worn by Hollywood and Bollywood stars, is seeking political asylum in London following fraud allegations, the Financial Times has reported.

The Indian jeweller went missing in February after allegations emerged of a $2bn fraud at the Punjab National Bank.

Indian police issued a warrant for his arrest.

The firm’s Indian stores were closed, and assets were seized including bank accounts and luxury cars.

Over the past eight years Mr Modi has established an international jewellery brand with stores in London, New York and Hong Kong, selling diamond encrusted necklaces and earrings.

Stars such as Kate Winslet, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Naomi Watts, have been seen wearing his products. Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra advertises the brand.

The success made him one of India’s richest people, with a personal wealth of $1.75bn, according to Forbes.

Earlier this year Punjab National Bank (PNB), India’s second-largest state-run bank, alleged Mr Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi had defrauded it of around $2.2bn.

The banks said they had used unapproved guarantees, issued by rogue PNB staff, to borrow from other lenders.

Both Mr Modi and Mr Choksi have denied any wrongdoing.

The Financial Times said that Mr Modi is now in London and seeking asylum from “political persecution”. The report cites UK and Indian officials.

The Home Office said it could not comment on individual cases.

Discount retailer Poundworld is expected to appoint administrators, putting 5,100 jobs at risk.

Talks with a potential buyer R Capital have collapsed meaning that the chain felt it had no other option but to put the company into administration.

Poundworld, which has 355 stores, and serves two million customers a week, also trades under the Bargain Buys brand name.

Deloitte is expected to be appointed to oversee the administration.

Poundworld has been losing money for the past two years. Losses for the financial year 2016-17 were £17.1m, up from £5.4m the year before.

It’s the latest High Street retailer to run into trouble.

Just last week, department store chain House of Fraser said it would close 31 of its 59 shops, citing the need to adapt to “fundamental change” in the retail industry.

A combination of falling consumer confidence, rising overheads, the weaker pound and the growth of online shopping have made it tough for traditional retailers.

Electronics chain Maplin and toy chain Toys ‘R’ Us both collapsed into administration earlier this year.

Other High Street chains such as Mothercare and Carpetright have been forced to close stores in order to survive.

Restaurant chains such as Italian chain Carluccio’s, pizza restaurant Prezzo and burger chain Byron have also had to close stores as they battle a triple-whammy of falling trade, higher costs and increased competition.

Independent retail analyst Richard Hyman said Poundworld was simply not managing its business well enough. “The clue’s in the name: These days having a fixed price in the title is a disadvantage but it is not a killer disadvantage.

“Importing products is not peculiar to Poundworld but others have been getting round this by getting manufacturers to put fewer biscuits in the pack, for example.

“The bigger picture is there are too many retailers with too many stores for the market to feed.”

Poundworld, which has its headquarters in West Yorkshire, was formed in 2004, but it says it can trace its origins “back to 1974 and a market stall in Wakefield, West Yorkshire”.

Investment company TPG, which bought a majority stake in Poundworld in 2015, also controls the restaurant chain Prezzo whose landlords and creditors agreed a restructuring last month.

A formal administration announcement will be made later on Monday.

Nordic Entertainment Group is officially launching new corporate brand and website today. A leading Nordic’s region entertainer, NENT Group reaches millions of people every day with their streaming services, TV channels and radio stations, and their production companies create exciting content for media companies around the world. From live sports to movies to series to music and own original shows – explore who they are and what they do and follow them for more news and updates. 

 

MPs on the Treasury Committee said they had “lost confidence” in TSB boss Paul Pester after the bank’s IT meltdown.

Nicky Morgan, who chairs the committee, has called on the TSB board to give “serious consideration” to whether his position as chief executive is “sustainable”.  Thousands of customers were unable to access their bank accounts following a botched computer switchover last month.  Richard Meddings, TSB chairman, said Mr Pester had the board’s full support.

He told Ms Morgan,

We recognise that we still have areas where we need to improve performance for our customers and we do not underestimate these remaining issues

She had written to Mr Meddings on behalf of the committee to say the MPs had “lost confidence in [Mr Pester's] ability to provide a full and frank assessment of the problems at TSB, and to deal with them in the best interests of its customers”.  “If he continues in his position, this could damage trust not only in TSB, but in the retail banking sector as a whole,” the letter said.

Commenting on the correspondence, Ms Morgan said TSB’s public communications had often been complacent and misleading since its IT problems began.  “This tone has been set from the top – by Paul Pester – and whether intentionally or not, he has not been straight with the committee and TSB customers,” she said.  “Pester’s statements that ‘everything is running smoothly for the vast majority of our […] customers’ and that ‘there will be no barriers’ to customers switching accounts, and his denial that there were problems on TSB’s fraud reporting line, are all examples of this.”  The call comes after the Financial Conduct Authority said on Wednesday that it was investigating TSB and criticised Mr Pester for giving an “optimistic view” of services after the meltdown.  On Wednesday Andrew Bailey, FCA chief executive, told the MPs that TSB bosses were “in a hole and they have got to get themselves out of that hole”.

 

A new category has been approved for companies traded on the London Stock Exchange, which will allow oil giant Saudi Aramco to list shares in London.

London has been accused of watering down corporate governance rules in order to accommodate the huge listing.  The Institute of Directors said the move put the “UK’s global reputation as a leader in good governance” at risk.  London is vying with New York for the state-owned oil firm’s listing, expected to be the world’s biggest.  The proposed share flotation will see 5% of the state-owned company sold in an Initial Public Offering.  Aramco has yet to confirm where, or indeed if, it will float the shares, with some reports it may instead shelve the flotation in favour of private share sales.

Deeply Disappointed

London has been accused of watering down corporate governance rules in order to accommodate the huge listing.  The Institute of Directors said the move put the “UK’s global reputation as a leader in good governance” at risk.  London is vying with New York for the state-owned oil firm’s listing, expected to be the world’s biggest.  The proposed share flotation will see 5% of the state-owned company sold in an Initial Public Offering.  Aramco has yet to confirm where, or indeed if, it will float the shares, with some reports it may instead shelve the flotation in favour of private share sales.

However, the Institute of Directors said it was “deeply disappointed”, calling the move “a reduction in standards”.  The Investment Association said it was pleased some investor concerns were reflected in the finalised rules, but it continues to oppose the inclusion of companies in the new category in major equity indices such as the FTSE 100, as this would force UK savers to invest in them.

The Investment Association’s chief executive Chris Cummings said,

Savers must have confidence that a company is run for all shareholders

Mr Cummings added that he expected the FCA to review the new category after two years.  Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, has proposed an Aramco share sale as part of his economic reform agenda.  A sale is part of wider plans to help the country ease its dependence on oil exports.  Companies will be able to seek admission to the new category on the London Stock Exchange from 1 July 2018.

Fuller, Smith and Turner P.L.C. is an independent traditional family brewer founded in 1845 and is based at the historic Griffin Brewery in Chiswick, London, where brewing has taken place continuously since 1654. As of today [8 June 2018], the Company runs 179 Tenanted pubs and 209 Managed Pubs and Hotels, with a focus on delicious fresh, home-cooked food, outstanding cask and craft ale, great wine and exceptional service. The Company also has 781 boutique bedrooms in its Managed estate. The Fuller’s pub estate stretches from Brighton to Birmingham and from Bristol to the Greenwich Peninsula, including 174 locations within the M25. Fuller’s owns The Stable, a craft cider and gourmet pizza restaurant business, which has 17 sites in England and Wales.

Current Trading: 

  • Managed Pubs and Hotels like for like sales up by 2.5% (2017: +6.6%) in first nine weeks
  • Tenanted Inns like for like profits up 2% (2017: +5%) for first nine weeks
  • Own beer and cider volumes down 3% (2017: +7%) in first nine weeks
  • Acquired four well-located City bars from We Are Bar Group
  • Acquisition of Bel & The Dragon, comprising six iconic pubs that are a perfect fit with Fuller’s premium pub portfolio
  • Investment in new pilot brewery and improved visitor experience will increase innovation from our brewing team and truly showcase our iconic Chiswick brewery to the burgeoning ranks of beer enthusiasts
  • Resilient, well-balanced business model, clear vision, excellent balance sheet and strong management team combine to put Fuller’s in a good position to continue to deliver growth.

Commenting on the results, Chief Executive Simon Emeny said: “The year has seen another good performance with a solid set of results, particularly from Fuller’s Inns. It has been a year of building for the future – with a number of internal projects coming to fruition. In February we were delighted to acquire Dark Star Brewing, a craft cask brewer in Sussex, and since the year end we have purchased an additional 10 excellent sites.

While we are still in a time of national and global uncertainty – and we do not underestimate the related wider market and economic issues that we will have to navigate over the months ahead – we believe we are in a strong position.

Pursuant to Listing Rule 9.6.11, the Company announces that, with effect from 1 July 2018, Peter Swinburn will take on the role of Senior Independent Director. He will be taking over from John Dunsmore who has held this position for the last seven years. John Dunsmore will remain on the Board until the Annual General Meeting in July 2019.

Ministers have described their backing for a new runway at Heathrow Airport as an “historic moment” for the UK.  The cabinet signed off the plans after they were approved by the government’s economic sub-committee, which is chaired by Prime Minister Theresa May.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced £2.6bn in compensation for residents and noise abatement measures.
Environmental groups oppose the plan, which Mr Grayling says will only happen if air quality commitments are met.
Heathrow runway to ‘change lives forever’

“The time for action is now,” Mr Grayling told MPs, who will be asked to vote on the expansion plan by 11 July.

He insisted the decision was being taken in the national interest and would benefit the whole of the UK – with 15% of new landing slots at the airport “facilitating” regional connectivity.

He said the £14bn runway, which could be completed by 2026, would be funded entirely privately – but MPs warned that taxpayers would end up footing the bill for billions in road improvements and other upgrades and warned that the UK’s carbon emission targets would be threatened by the increase in traffic around the enlarged airport.

The debate on expanding Heathrow has been going on for nearly 20 years.  The last Labour government backed the idea, and won a vote on it in 2009, but that plan was scrapped – and the idea of expansion put on hold for five years – by the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition formed after the 2010 election.  But the idea of expansion was resurrected and has been subsequently backed by the Conservatives. Ministers approved a draft national airports policy statement in October setting out the conditions for a new runway.

Parliament has yet to give its approval for detailed planning to begin.

Opponents have threatened a legal challenge while Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who is MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip in west London, has vowed to “lie down in front of bulldozers” to prevent it.  Ministers whose constituencies would be directly affected might be given a “get out of a jail card” – by being allowed to miss the vote or even vote against.

Campaigners argue that a new runway will breach the UK’s legal limits on air pollution and increase noise pollution with an extra 700 planes a day.  It will result in huge disruption to residents of nearby villages, such as Longford, Harmondsworth and Sipson, with hundreds of homes likely to be knocked down.  Robert Barnstone, from Stop Heathrow Expansion, told the BBC it was a “disappointing” day and the government was “failing people and failing the environment as well”.

The expansion is estimated to create about 60,000 new jobs and generate about £70bn in total economic benefits by the 2050s.

Mr Grayling said it would provide a “vital legacy” for the British economy and said he had accepted 24 out of the 25 recommendations made by the Transport Select Committee to improve the plans.

Residents whose houses are knocked down will get compensation worth 125% of their value – as well as legal fees and stamp duty costs paid for – while £700m would be available to fund noise insulation measures for those who decide to stay.

He said a ban on night flights was an “absolute requirement” and non-negotiable while he said landing charges paid by airlines must stay at current levels.
“This runway cannot be built if it does not meet air quality rules,” he added.

Sir Howard Davies, whose 2015 review recommended a new runway as long as environmental and community impacts were addressed, said “significant” concessions had been made on reducing early morning flights and minimising the impact on residents on the proposed flight path.