Watson’s Weekly 01-05-2021

This is an amalgamation of the “best bits” of the daily weekday newsletter/blog woven together to form a concise and coherent view on the things that matter in the commercial and economic news of the week. 

THE DAY IN BRACKETS REFERS TO THE EDITION WHERE THE STORY APPEARED IN WATSON’S DAILY. Clicking on the day will take you to the appropriate edition of Watson’s Daily.


  • Mini is the latest manufacturer to suspend production because of the shortage of chips (Thursday) and it joins the likes of Jaguar Land Rover, Ford, Nissan and Honda. Although Intel talked recently about major investment in new production facilities, it won’t be an overnight solution. Chip shortages are just going to continue for some time yet.
  • The UK replaced France as Europe’s #2 EV market (Monday) as battery EVs represented 7.5% of UK sales in Q1 this year – almost double the market share of Q1 last year.
  • The International Energy Agency reckons there will be 145m EVs on the road by 2030 (Thursday) that will negate the need for over 2m barrels of diesel and petrol by 2030 and save something in the region of 120m tonnes of carbon dioxide. I would be willing to put my mortgage on the fact that these stats will be wrong, but it does put a figure on what we already know – that there will be a lot of EVs whooshing around over the coming years and this just puts a figure on it!
  • Tesla posted record Q1 revenues (Tuesday) and did particularly well in China but a closer look under the hood (Wednesday) reveals that the results were boosted by taking some profit in Bitcoin and emissions credits while headwinds of more competition in China and elsewhere remain.
  • Lotus announced it would be going electric (Wednesday) and has just had a massive investment to boost its sales. It will be unveiling its final internal combustion engined sports car, called the Emira, on July 6th – and after that it’ll be all electric!
  • In other car-related news, Lyft sold its autonomous driving unit to Toyota (Tuesday) for just over half a billion dollars – not that long after rival Uber sold its own autonomous driving business last year. Talking of Uber, the company will be doing a UK recruitment drive (Thursday) in anticipation of strong demand when lockdown lifts and people want to avoid crowded transport.


  • Education publishing company Pearson saw Q1 sales rise due to the success of online learning (Tuesday)
  • Pet mania under lockdown has boosted the fortunes of companies such as Pets at Home and Chewy (Tuesday). Kantar says that over 50% of new pet owners are under 34, so this could underpin a longer term brighter future for these companies.
  • Creator platform OnlyFans has seen transactions have risen sevenfold (Tuesday) to £1.7bn due to the number of users ballooning from 20m pre-pandemic to over 120m under lockdown.
  • Spotify is expecting a slowdown in new subscribers (Monday) but it said that it was raising subscription prices (Tuesday)
  • Gousto said it would be recruiting another thousand employees (Monday), but I have to say that I think that it will face pressures more akin to the takeaway delivery companies and will lose ground, especially in the initial stages of lockdown lifting as people choose to go out rather than stay in.


  • In the US, summer rental prices are rising (Monday), casual dining venues are raising pay (Monday) and even offering signing bonuses! For instance, Chipotle Mexican grill is offering to pay college tuition fees to those who work 15+ hours a week after four months! I suspect that something like this may happen in the UK given that there are already reports of a shortage of restaurant and bar staff – and the venues haven’t even fully opened yet!
  • In the UK, spending is already hitting the UK high street as Barclaycard reported spending rising above pre-Covid levels (Monday). A recent report from Deloitte is the latest in a slew of reports to show rising consumer confidence (Monday). Train season ticket prices are also under review (Monday) in an effort to tempt commuters back and Parkdean is benefitting from the current staycation trend (Thursday).


  • The British Retail Consortium said that over 5,000 shops closed under lockdown (Friday) and 1 in 7 sites are still vacant over one year on from shutting down. The implication is that many shops will not reopen. Waitrose is deepening its relationship with Deliveroo (Wednesday) and will be increasing the offer of delivery from 40 shops currently to 150 by the end of summer. Sainsbury’s announced a loss (Thursday) due to Argos shutdown and Covid-related costs and it says that it’ll increase revenues by cutting prices (!). Dixons said it was going to shut down all of its airport outlets, but WH Smith raised money and is going to open an additional 100 outlets (Thursday), mainly in the US. I think that the investment in the US makes sense given the amount of domestic travel undertaken there and the likelihood that bookings will increase as the vaccine rollout continues.
  • In online retail, Kantar figures show that online grocery shopping is losing momentum (Wednesday) but there isn’t a slowdown for Amazon, which had stellar results (Friday) as its businesses fired on all cylinders.


  • US Big Tech had an outstanding week what with Microsoft and Google absolutely raking it in (Wednesday), Apple’s earnings helping it head in the direction of a $3tn valuation (Thursday) and Facebook’s supremacy in advertising powering its revenues (Thursday). Changes to Apple’s iOS could put the mockers on Facebook’s ad capability and the two are having a bit of a tussle about this currently. In China, Meituan is getting the Alibaba treatment from regulators (Tuesday)
  • HSBC (Tuesday), Deutsche Bank (Thursday) and Lloyds Bank (Thursday) were the latest banks to announce strong performances this week while British investment bank Peel Hunt announced a joint venture with Santander (Monday) that is designed to help them get a seat at the top table in bigger IPOs and fund raisings.


  • Law firm Mishcon de Reya is set for an IPO (Thursday), which makes me wonder whether other law firms – and other professional services firms, for that matter – will start to consider an IPO as a “quick” way of raising a lot of money that they could use to invest in the future.
  • The world’s biggest container shipping group, Maersk, said that its profits were likely to double for the year (Wednesday) due to higher prices caused by the logjam caused by the recent Suez Canal blockage. Maersk is often seen as a barometer of global trade as it transports about 20% of all global seaborne freight.
  • BT is now in talks with rivals to sell its Sport division (Thursday) as it looks to concentrate on rolling out broadband (and presumably to stop having to throw money every few years at renewing TV rights!).


  • Watson’s Yearly updates: These will be left until the next edition of Watson’s Yearly that will be published shortly