Watson’s Weekly 22-03-2019

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.


  • There was much to-ing and fro-ing about Brexit both in the UK and in Brussels this week (Friday), but the current state of affairs is such that if MPs vote to support May’s deal next week, the deadline date will be extended from March 29th to May 22nd to give everyone time to prepare for the transition. If MPs vote it down, however, May will have to come back to the EU with a Plan B by April 12th. With MPs calling for May’s resignation, an online petition calling on the government to revoke Article 50 crashing the government website last night because it got so many signatures, the unusual alliance of the TUC and CBI pleading for an alternative to no-deal and many other dramas going on right now it’s anyone’s guess as to which way this is all headed…
  • The US kept interest rates unchanged (Thursday) and the UK did the same (Friday) while UK unemployment remained at its lowest level since 1975 (Wednesday


  • Fidelity National Information Services’ (aka FIS) bought Worldpay, the UK’s leading payments processor, for $43bn (Tuesday) in the latest round of consolidation between payment processors. This comes hot on the heels of US payments processor Fiserv’s acquisition of rival First Data for $39bn in January as processors get together to build enough scale to compete with the big banks. Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank confirmed that they were in talks to merge (Monday) and JD Sports decided to buy Footasylum for £90m (Tuesday) only weeks after JD Sports bought an 8.3% stake in the troubled company
  • Levi Strauss had a successful flotation on the NYSE (Friday), ride-hailing company Lyft started its investor roadshow ahead of its impending flotation on the NYSE on Monday (Tuesday) while rival Gett (Tuesday) and Pinterest (Friday) edge closer to their own flotations


  • As far as positive news was concerned, The Entertainer announced some strong results (Friday), citing parental resistance to children spending too much time on digital devices as being a factor and very robust online sales
  • On the other hand, things were less good for Ted Baker – which announced profits had fallen for the first time since the financial crisis (Friday) – and Next (Friday) which also saw falling profits on the one hand and a very strong performance of its online business on the other. Julian Dunkerton’s bid to make a swashbuckling comeback to the company he co-founded hit some resistance as Institutional Shareholder Services, the world’s biggest proxy voting agency, put its support behind the existing management of Superdry (Wednesday)
  • There was also more bad news for UK restaurant chains as BRG is to shut down a number of Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner outlets (Friday) as part of a CVA and Office Outlet (which used to be “Staples”) fell into administration (Wednesday)


  • Google announced its new game streaming plans (Wednesday) while Tencent spent a lot of money trying to wean itself off gaming revenues (Friday) and Instagram announced a new shopping capability within its app (Wednesdaythat looks like a great idea for revenue generation
  • There was some rare good news for the UK car manufacturing industry as well with Mitsubishi considering moving some production to the UK if Brexit goes OK (Thursday) – good news for Nissan’s Sunderland factory because that’s where the car would be manufactured as part of a shareholding agreement between Nissan and Mitsubishi. Toyota and Suzuki also announced that small Suzuki estate cars will be rolling off Toyota production lines in Burnaston (Thursday) as part of a global manufacturing collaboration next year. They will be the first Suzuki cars to be produced by the company in Britain.


My favourite “alternative” stories this week were This gymnastics spinning class will have you defying gravity and burning 600-700 calories an hour (Inside Edition, Stephanie Officer https://tinyurl.com/y2a8rlpkwhich looks like the most ridiculous spin class ever devised and the rather spicy Venomous hot chilli sauce which mimics spider bite will give you muscle spasms (The Mirror, Zahra Mulroy https://tinyurl.com/yxlrjbel). Yum!

Have a great weekend!