UK finance minister to court voters with ‘tough love’ welfare rules
Such cuts are usually a sign that a product is not selling well, or a new version of said product is on the way. In the Nook’s case, both scenarios may be true: Sales of ereaders and content have declined over the past two quarters, and both devices have been available on the UK market for nearly a year. But Jim Hilt, managing director of Barnes & Noble’s digital reading division, insists the changes are all positive, and that the price reductions are part of a bigger, more aggressive strategy to capture entry-level digital readers in the UK. Essentially, B&N is willing to take a deeper cut on hardware sales now for a longer-term gain in ebook sales, and ultimately a greater share of the UK ereading market. SEE ALSO: Barnes & Noble: When Great Isnt Good Enough “A number of people in the UK haven’t made the transition [to digital reading devices],” Hilt said in a phone interview with Mashable earlier this week. “There’s a perception that they’re priced too highly, or the quality of product hasn’t been sufficient.” Cutting the price of the Nook Simple Touch to 29 pounds in late April certainly helped move it off the shelves. Matthew Cashmore, the digital director of Blackwell’s, told Forbes that since the price reduction, the bookseller is struggling to keep the Nook Simple Touch in stock, and that ebook sales have gone “through the roof.” Cashmore added that the Nook has struggled to penetrate the UK market to date because it entered the market late, and has fewer retail partners than other manufacturers. “The price drop and the sale via many retailers has essentially brought the reader to the broader market.” By offering the Simple Touch at such a low price point, Hilt said the Nook was able to pick up UK customers who hadn’t yet made the transition to ereaders. It’s a hook-them-and-keep-them strategy: Hilt added that the company has a “strong ability” to keep first-time customers in the Nook family once they’ve purchased a device. However, he declined to say how much B&N is losing on each ereader sale. Whether the 49-pound price tag will have the same shelf-moving effect on the GlowLight ereader remains to be seen.
For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on * The UK blue chip index closed down 52.93 points, or 0.8 percent, at 6,512.66 points on Friday. * Italy’s president began talks on Sunday to pull the country out of a new political crisis, attempting to undercut a move by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to bring down the government and force new elections seven months after the last vote. * A possible shutdown of the U.S. government loomed large, with chances that Republicans and Democrats will strike a deal on funding the government before the fiscal year ends at midnight on Monday looking increasingly slim. * The Republican-controlled House of Representatives on Sunday passed a measure that ties government funding to a one-year delay of President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare restructuring law, while Senate Democrats vowed to quash it. * SSE : The utility company, at the centre of a debate in Britain over whether the industry charges too much to provide energy, said it expected to increase its dividend in the 2013/14 year above the rate of inflation. * Glencore Xstrata : The company is unlikely to pounce on OZ Minerals Ltd, a banker who knows both companies well said on Monday, playing down a report in a British newspaper that said Glencore was weighing a 750 million pound ($1.2 billion) takeover offer. * SUPERMARKETS: Britain’s biggest grocer Tesco is expected to report at best flat quarterly UK sales on Wednesday, while on the same day rival Sainsbury will likely report accelerating sales growth as online and convenience stores continue strong. * G4S : A powerful investor is pushing G4S to break itself up as the troubled security contractor attempts to recover from a string of blunders, the Sunday Times reports. Cevian Capital, Europe’s largest activist hedge fund, is pressing for the FTSE 100 company to explore the sale of its “cash solutions” arm, which provides about 25 percent of profits. * WOLSELEY : Britain’s biggest plumbing parts supplier is expected to shower investors with a special dividend of about 300 million pounds this week, repaying investors who rescued the company four years ago, the Sunday Times said. * LLOYDS BANKING GROUP : Martin Taylor, a former chief executive of Barclays, has been tipped as a possible contender to become the new chairman at Lloyds Banking Group, the Sunday Times said. * ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND : A radical plan to restructure RBS so that the government is able to sell the taxpayer’s stake at a profit has been put forward in a restricted report by the bank’s own broker, the Sunday Telegraph said. The report by UBS comes as the government is considering controversial plans to split RBS into a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bank housing its toxic assets, the newspaper said.
Nook Slashes Prices Again in the UK: Is It Struggling or Getting Aggressive?
The move, unveiled along with a new slogan “For Hardworking People,’ is likely to resurrect a long-running political row that critics say engenders divisive politics. Casting the Conservatives as the party of lower taxes, cheaper mortgages and economic prudence, Osborne, who has staked his reputation on reducing the largest peacetime budget deficit, left by the 1997-2010 Labour governments, will warn that higher living standards will not be instantly improved. “Family finances will not be transformed overnight,” Osborne will say according to remarks released by his office ahead of time. “We can make the recovery a lasting one. But it won’t happen by itself – many risks remain. We have to deal with our debts and see our plan through. If the recovery is sustained then families will start to feel better off.” While a recent poll shows Ed Miliband’s Labour Party leads the Conservatives by 11 percentage points overall, voters still consider Cameron the politician they trust with Britain’s economy, the world’s sixth largest. The gamble Cameron and Osborne are making is that the recovery, combined with a plan to guarantee the mortgages of homebuyers and potential tax cuts, could hand them victory in the election in May 2015. TO BUY, TO WORK Osborne, who will cast Labour as the party of profligacy, will force some 200,000 long-term unemployed people to do community service or search for a job daily if they want to receive state-funded unemployment benefits from April. “People understand in this welfare debate that there needs to be a bit of tough love and this is what this programme delivers,” Osborne told the BBC. The ‘Help to Work’ programme will cost 300 million pounds and be financed by savings to be announced later in the year.
UK seeks full cyber warfare capability, experts
Addressing the annual conference of his ruling Conservative party, Hammond said Britain was spending increasing amounts of its defence budget, the fourth largest in the world, on cyber intelligence and surveillance. “Last year our cyber defences blocked around 400,000 advanced malicious cyber threats against the government’s secure internet alone, so the threat is real,” he told delegates. “But simply building cyber defences is not enough: as in other domains of warfare, we also have to deter. Britain will build a dedicated capability to counterattack in cyberspace and if necessary to strike in cyberspace.” He did not go into details on who was attacking Britain’s infrastructure, but government sources have said a large number of such assaults have originated in China or Russia. Separately, he told the Mail on Sunday newspaper that clinical “cyber strikes” could disable enemy communications, nuclear and chemical weapons, planes, ships and other hardware. “Our commanders can use cyber weapons alongside conventional weapons in future conflicts,” he said in the newspaper. Hammond told the conference the government would recruit hundreds of experts in the coming months from a variety of backgrounds, including civilian computer experts, to join what he called a new Joint Cyber Reserve. The “reservists” would work alongside existing experts in various government agencies such as the Ministry of Defence and the GCHQ electronic surveillance agency. Hammond did not say how much the recruitment programme would cost, but the outlay is expected to run to hundreds of millions of pounds. In July, a group of lawmakers said Britain was losing the battle against cyber crime, saying online criminals in 25 countries had chosen the UK as their number one target. Government documents have spoken of foreign states seeking “to conduct espionage with the aim of spying on or compromising our government, military, industrial and economic assets as well as monitoring opponents of their regime”. (Reporting By Andrew Osborn and Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by)
UK: Three times as many online searches for hotels at home than away
Greenlight’s findings follow on from preliminary hotel figures released by business advisory and accountancy firm BDO LLP in July, highlighting the health of the UK hotel sector a year on from the Olympics. They showed a 6.7% year-on-year increase in occupancy from 75.3% to 80.4% in the regions whilst occupancy rates in London increased by 10% from 79.2% to 87.1%, indicative, says the firm, of the UK hotel sector being in good shape to take advantage of the nascent economic recovery. Most popular domestic hotel-related search terms Greenlight’s research shows that on the domestic front, London was the biggest draw. Cumulatively, online searches for hotels in the UK capital accounted for 13% of queries. Brighton followed with 4%. Greenlight’s report reveals the ten most popular domestic hotel-related search terms as being: ‘hotels in london’ (90,500 searches) ‘london hotels’ (74,000 searches) ‘cheap hotels in london (60,500 searches) ‘blackpool hotels’ (33,100 searches) ‘hotels in york’ (33,1000 searches) ‘hotels in edinburgh’ (27,100 searches) ‘hotels in manchester’ (27,100 searches) ‘hotels in brighton’ (27,100 searches) ‘brighton hotels’ (27,100 searches) ‘cheap london hotels’ (22,200 searches) Most visible websites for domestic hotel-related searches Greenlight charted the most visible players online for hotels in long-haul, short-haul and domestic destinations. For domestic hotel-related queries, Laterooms.com was the most visible site in the organic* listings, attaining a 22% share of visibility. Booking.com was the most prominent advertiser in the paid listings**, with 70%. Interestingly, of the 10 most visible sites in Greenlight’s natural search listings, four were hotel chains, compared to just two in the paid listings. The report’s 12 month retrospective view of online searches for hotels shows queries peaked in March, the highest thus far for 2013, when they totalled 3.7 million, up 85% on February’s volume of 2 million, the lowest this year. ENDS Notes to Editors: *Natural /organic Search – Listings in search engine results pages that appear because of their relevance to the search terms **Paid Media — an Internet advertising model used on websites, in which advertisers pay their host only when their ad is clicked. With search engines, advertisers typically bid on keyword phrases relevant to their target market. Greenlight’s ‘Hotel Sector Report — Issue 17’ profiles consumer search behaviour in this sector, providing an exclusive snapshot of the online search and social media market, from the size of the potential audience to the top performing companies. The report assesses which brands, websites and advertisers are the most visible in natural, paid media results and social media and hence have the greatest share of consideration when consumers go to Google UK to search for hotels in long-haul, short-haul and domestic destinations.