Watson’s Weekly 15-03-2019

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. You will need a FULL SUBSCRIPTION to be able to click through all the links which take you to the relevant articles.


  • So May’s revised Brexit deal was rejected by MPs (Wednesday), they also took the prospect of a no-deal off the table (Thursday) – as well as the possibility of a second referendum (Friday) – but did vote for a Brexit delay (Friday). It looks to me like her Brexit deal has a glimmer of a chance of getting through next week as disgruntled eurosceptics face the very stark choice between digging their heels in and facing a long delay (and quite probably a softer Brexit) or getting behind May’s deal and getting on with things after a short extension. I would also have thought that MPs voting down a second referendum would mean that LibDem and Labour MPs would also have to face the same two options. This is a really good flowchart on the current situation regarding possible Brexit outcomes
  • Elsewhere, Turkey fell into recession (Tuesday), putting pressure on longtime political bruiser President Erdogan as opposition parties have criticised his ruling party for presiding over the country’s current 20% inflation rate and rising unemployment – so they can now add recession to the list. Mexico is trying to talk a good game to avoid recession (Tuesday) as AMLO made a speech 100 days into his presidency


  • Tesla made a swift U-turn following last week’s announcement (Tuesdaythat the company was going to close down virtually all of its sales outlets and go online in order to keep costs down. Later on in the week, it unveiled the Model Y compact SUV (Friday) which it expects to start delivering in autumn of next year. Tesla’s not had a great record of getting its predictions right on rollouts, but hopefully it’s getting better at this as it ramps up production generally
  • VW outlined its electric vehicle ambitions (Wednesdaytargeting 70 fully electric models by 2028 – up from an earlier target of 50 by 2025 – and 40% of group sales by 2030 to be battery-powered versus an earlier estimate of 25% by 2025. It did say that there would be big job losses as a result, however
  • Nissan announced that it would stop production of Infiniti vehicles at its Sunderland plant (Wednesday). Although this will “only” affect 200 employees out of 7,000 this isn’t going to be great for UK manufacturing sentiment and comes hot on the heels of Honda’s announcement about Swindon and JLR’s cull of 10% of its workforce


  • Mothercare decided to offload its Early Learning Centre brand (Wednesday) to pay down debt. The new buyer hinted that ELC shops might return to the high street as a result
  • Troubled fashion retailer French Connection announced its first profit in seven years (Wednesdayalthough sales have fallen. There will probably be a ceiling to the share price as everyone and their dog knows that 72-year old founder Stephen Marks is looking to offload his 42% stake in the company
  • Talking of troubled retailers, Superdry’s co-founder Julian Dunkerton upped the ante in his campaign to save the retailer (Friday) and Sports Direct made an offer of a £150m loan to Debenhams (Thursday) with strings attached


  • Spotify decided to bite the bullet and filed a competition case with the European Commission (Thursday) because of Apple’s unfair treatment of competitors on its App store
  • Google’s YouTube Music launched in India (Thursday) just weeks after Spotify launched there. It’s subscription price is cheaper than Spotify’s and it enters a competitive market with local giants Gaana (which is backed by China’s Tencent) and JioSaavn in addition to Spotify, Amazon Music and Apple Music


My favourite “alternative” stories this week were Man running race dressed as Big Ben has absolute nightmare in the wind – with hilarious results (The Mirror, Zoe Forsey https://tinyurl.com/yy6wscu4) and then Painting sow Pigcasso hogs the limelight at South Africa farm (Reuters, Alexandra Hudson https://tinyurl.com/yy8pg4ha). There’s nothing like making an already hard run even harder and everyone loves a talented animal!

Have a great weekend!