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Marks & Spencer buys collapsed fashion brand Jaeger | Business News

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Marks & Spencer buys collapsed fashion brand Jaeger | Business News

Marks & Spencer has bought collapsed fashion brand Jaeger, which had been part of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill stable of retailers now in administration.

Richard Price, boss of M&S’s clothing and home division, said: “We have set out our plans to sell complementary third-party brands as part of our Never The Same Again programme to accelerate our transformation and turbocharge online growth.

“In line with this, we have bought the Jaeger brand and are in the final stages of agreeing the purchase of product and supporting marketing assets from the administrators of Jaeger Retail Limited. We expect to fully complete later this month.”

The possibility of a deal was revealed last week by Sky’s City editor Mark Kleinman.

No purchase figures were disclosed but the PA news agency reported it was believed to be around £5m.

The agency also reported that the deal would mean no store staff from Jaeger were expected to keep their jobs and physical sites – currently closed due to lockdown restrictions – would be expected to close permanently.

Last week M&S chief executive Steve Rowe gave a Christmas trading update and explained why the business was teaming up and buying new brands.

He said: “M&S wants to build a curated set of brands and merchandise largely for our online business but also through filling some of that excess space we have in stores.

“We’ve got no intention of turning M&S into a department store at all. This is about finding and partnering with adjacent brands. Adjacent in terms of style, adjacent in terms of customer base that enhance the M&S offer and make it the place to go to for an online shop.”

The brand was part of the clothing empire owned by Philip Day, the Dubai-based tycoon who was forced to appoint administrators to Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group (EWM) last November.

At the time, London-based Jaeger had 76 stores and concessions, employing 347 staff.

Retail has been one of the sectors worst hit by the economic impact of the pandemic, with chains from Marks and Spencer and John Lewis to Boots and DW Sports announcing thousands of job cuts.

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Jack Ma appears in public for the first time since October | Business News

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The Alibaba Group logo is seen during the company's 11.11 Singles' Day global shopping festival at their headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, November 11, 2020

Chinese tycoon Jack Ma has appeared in public for the first time in nearly three months – after speculation about his whereabouts following a clampdown by Beijing on his business empire.

The founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba was seen on Wednesday speaking by video in an online ceremony for an annual event for rural teachers.

The 50-second video made no mention of his disappearance.

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Alibaba is known for its annual Singles Day sales extravaganza

He had last appeared publicly on 24 October when he took aim at China’s regulators in a Shanghai speech, saying they had an old-fashioned “pawnshop mentality” and were hampering innovation.

In November, authorities pulled the plug on plans for what would have been a record-breaking £26bn stock market float for finance giant Ant Group – founded by Mr Ma – with two days to spare.

Last month, anti-monopoly regulators warned executives at Alibaba and five other tech giants not to use their dominance to block new competitors.

More recently, Mr Ma was replaced in the final episode of a reality TV show on which he had been a judge.

The events had prompted online speculation about whether the ruling Communist regime wanted to make an example of the 56-year-old tycoon.

Hong Kong-listed shares in Alibaba – known for its annual Singles Day sales extravaganza – rose 8.5% after Mr Ma resurfaced.

Jack Ma performs onstage during Alibaba's 20th anniversary party as the co-founder of the Chinese e-commerce giant steps down from his role as the company's chairman, at a stadium in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China September 10, 2019.
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Jack Ma does not usually shun the limelight

The tycoon had previously often appeared in public to speak at conferences and other events, though less frequently than in 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Alibaba and Mr Ma’s charitable foundation both confirmed that the businessman, a former English teacher, had participated in the event on Wednesday.

The video also contained footage, dated 10 days ago, of him meeting staff at a school in Hangzhou.

The topic “Jack Ma makes his first public appearance” and his video address to teachers began trending on Chinese social media.

Mr Ma has stepped down from corporate positions at Alibaba and Ant Group but retains significant influence over the companies.

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Inflation ticks higher as clothes prices edge up | Business News

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Ban on petrol and diesel arrives decade early

Inflation rose to 0.6% last month as clothing prices edged higher following extended Black Friday discounting the month before.

The consumer price index (CPI) measure of inflation was up from 0.3% in November and a little higher than the expected figure of 0.5%.

Clothes prices increased fractionally during December over a period when they usually fall.

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Petrol prices rose

Price movements “have been unusual” in 2020 “and appear to have been affected by the impact of coronavirus”, the ONS said.

“The overall price rises in December 2020 follow increased discounting in November 2020, as Black Friday sales may have spread further across the month,” it added.

Also contributing to the uptick in inflation were higher air fares – despite travel restrictions – as well as increased petrol prices, according to the ONS.

Jonathan Athow, ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics, said: “Clothing prices put upward pressure on inflation in December, despite some evidence of continued discounting.

“Transport costs, including air, sea and coach fares, as well as petrol prices, rose as some travel restrictions eased during parts of the month.

“These were partially offset by falling food prices, most notably for vegetables and meat.”

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Inflation remains well below the Bank of England’s 2% target but some experts think it could climb above that level later in the year as the economy reopens while supply chains remain under pressure.

However the Bank is unlikely to want to raise interest rates to tackle price rises for fear of choking off the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis that has crushed activity over the past year.

Jeremy Thomson-Cook, chief economist at Equals Group, said: “We are going to be talking a lot more about inflation in 2021 than we did 2020.

“Both Brexit and COVID-19 are factors that have caused substantial pain for businesses and their supply chains.

“Rising prices as demand works against supply constraints is already being seen in certain imports.”

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Yellen urges Congress to ‘act big’ on virus stimulus and not worry about debt | Business News

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Treasury Secretary-nominee Janet Yellen gives testimony virtually during the Senate confirmation hearing. Pic: AP

President-elect Joe Biden’s choice as US Treasury secretary has urged Congress to “act big” and ignore surging national debt in the face of the continuing coronavirus crisis.

Janet Yellen, the former chair of the US central bank, made her remarks at a Senate finance committee hearing to confirm her appointment as the Trump administration nears its end.

She told lawmakers that the incoming administration would focus on winning quick passage of its $1.9trn pandemic relief plan, which is to be funded by borrowing, on top of the near $3trn in support delivered during the crisis to date.

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Treasury Secretary-nominee Janet Yellen gives testimony virtually during the Senate confirmation hearing. Pic: AP

Republicans on the committee argue the package, which includes sending cheques of $1,400 (£1,030) to individual Americans earning less than $75,000 annually, is too big given the size of the US budget deficit.

That hit a record $3.1trn last year with US national debt standing at $27trn (£19.8trn).

Critics also pointed to fears that the package of measures, which need the approval of Congress, would also include Mr Biden’s plan for a $15-per-hour minimum wage.

Ms Yellen dismissed suggestions the wage proposal could spark a wave of redundancies, saying she expected little to no effect.

She added that many of the lowest-paid had done the most to keep the country’s supply chain functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the broader issue of financial support for consumers and businesses she said: “More must be done.

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“Without further action, we risk a longer, more painful recession now and long-term scarring of the economy later.”

She said of budget concerns: “Right now, with interest rates at historic lows, the smartest thing we can do is act big.

“In the long run, I believe the benefits will far outweigh the costs, especially if we care about helping people who have been struggling for a very long time.”

Ms Yellen, set to be the first woman to become Treasury secretary, is expected to win confirmation of her appointment on Thursday following a vote in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

In financial disclosure forms filed with the committee ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, she listed more than $7m in speaking fees she had received from several Wall Street firms including Goldman Sachs and Citigroup since leaving the Federal Reserve two years ago.

Ms Yellen has agreed to recuse herself from Treasury matters involving firms that have paid her for talks.

Biden inauguration: Watch and follow events on Sky News from 1pm on Wednesday, with the ceremony starting at 4pm

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