Wednesday 03/04/19

  1. In BREXIT AND CRYPTOCURRENCY NEWS, we have a look at the latest in the Brexit saga and why Bitcoin had a bit of a pop
  2. In NEWS ON RETAIL AND CONSUMER TRENDS, US shopping centre vacancies are up, Burger King signs a deal with Impossible Foods, music revenues from streaming make up for shrinking CD sales and Superdry’s Dunkerton sticks it to the board
  3. In GAMING NEWS, Tencent wades in to cloud gaming
  4. In OTHER NEWS, I bring you a world-record-breaking bagpiper. For more details, read on…



So we see the latest on Brexit and why Bitcoin suddenly shot up…

Theresa May deals triple blow to Tory hardliners (Financial Times, George Parker and Sebastian Payne) heralds what could be a move towards a soft Brexit as Theresa May announced she would not accept a no-deal on April 12th and will seek out a “further extension” to Article 50 when she meets the European Council next Wednesday 10th April. She announced cross-party talks with Jeremy Corbyn to hammer out a mutually acceptable deal. As you’d expect, it’s not going to be easy as EU draws up strict conditions for long Brexit extension offer (Financial Times, Jim Brundsen, Alex Barker and Mehreen Khan) shows that things on the continent aren’t that clear-cut either, despite what the headline might imply, as member

states are discussing the merits and demerits of a long extension and whether or not the UK would be participating in the upcoming European Parliament elections. The whole sorry saga rumbles on!

The more eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that Bitcoin had a sudden uplift yesterday and Talk of bumper Asian order helps Bitcoin break $5,000 (The Times, James Dean) contends that it broke through the $5,000 threshold for the first time since November because of a chunky buy order from an Asian investor. The cryptocurrency has been trading in a range of $3,000 to $4,000 since late last year but shot up by 22.8% from its level on Monday. Oliver von Landsberg-Sadie, chief exec of BCB Group, said that an order for 20,000 bitcoins worth $100m washed through the market across three digital currency exchanges. * SO WHAT? * This sounds like a one-off, but if we see a few more of these kinds of orders in the near future, Bitcoin might be set for another frenzy.



US mall vacancies rise, Impossible Foods signs a distribution deal with Burger King, music revenues rise on streaming and Dunkerton returns to Superdry…

I think it would be fair to say that we are used to seeing downbeat/depressing news about retail in the UK but US shopping centre vacancies rise to eight-year high (Financial Times, Alistair Gray) shows that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows stateside either as the rise of e-commerce and collapse of private equity-backed chains have led to a rise in vacancy levels. Shopping malls have suffered particularly acutely so far this year – and with names like Gap and Victoria’s Secret among many household names slated to close outlets – the immediate future isn’t looking bright. * SO WHAT? * This is indeed a tricky state of affairs and when you have so many retailers either going bust or announcing big store closure programmes it gives other waverers an excuse to downsize as well – so momentum starts to build. I am of the belief that we are all in a shake-out phase that will last a few years as retailers adapt to changing consumer behaviour and that high streets and malls won’t die – they will just repurpose in order to provide goods and experiences that you just can’t get online. The intervening period will be painful, however, and even well-established brands won’t be able to rest on their past glories.

I mentioned this on my Youtube channel yesterday (because it came out after I published Watson’s Daily) but Burger King deal fuels plant-based meat group (Financial Times, Tim Bradshaw and Emiko Terazono) heralds a big moment for Impossible Foods as it is now seeking additional funding after signing a distribution deal with Burger King for its “Impossible Burger 2.0”, which was unveiled at CES Las Vegas earlier this year. Impossible believes that its burger offering could be rolled out nationwide by the end of this year. * SO WHAT? * This is the latest exciting development in the world of meat-alternatives as competition in this area is beginning to

sizzle quite nicely. Other than Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat also has its own popular burger (and sausage) offering and is making plans for an IPO to fund its international expansion plans. Nestle will will launch its own Incredible Burger via its Garden Gourmet brand in eight European countries later this month, with an eye to expanding in the US in autumn with its Awesome Burger (under the Sweet Earth brand). Unilever also recently bought meat-substitute company The Vegetarian Butcher, so you’d think they will be launching something as well down the line. Putting it bluntly, I think this is a MASSIVE growth area. I tried a Beyond Meat burger when it was launched in the UK last year and I was astounded by how good it was and how closely it tasted like “the real thing” – and I am very much a meat-eater (and a very keen cook). When you consider that meat and dairy give us only 18% of calories but utilise 83% of farmland and produce 60% of greenhouse gas emissions, according to recent research cited in Science Magazine, the arguments for just even having a go and skipping a meal or two with meat and using meat-substitute become quite compelling.

You may not necessarily be aware of this but Global music revenues grow at fastest rate in more than two decades (The Guardian, Mark Sweney) shows that the global streaming revolution has more than compensated for the falling popularity of CDs. The latest figures show that recorded music revenues increased by 9.7% last year – the fastest rate of growth since at least 1997 – bringing the highest level of income for the music industry since 2006, when CD sales accounted for over 80% of global revenues. Streaming revenues via the likes of Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music have shot up by 34% year-on-year and now account for 47% of the total global market for recorded music. * SO WHAT? * This just goes to show how important streaming has become to our daily lives and the continued demise of CDs and DVDs.

Then in Dunkerton putsch ousts entire board of Superdry (Daily Telegraph, Ashley Armstrong and Chris Johnston) we see that the company’s co-founder, Julian Dunkerton, was successful in his bid to return to Superdry in order to turn its fortunes around following a vote held yesterday. Dunkerton stepped down from the board last year and is now going to be the interim chief exec of the company and brings Peter Williams, chairman of Boohoo, with him. Good luck to ’em!



Tencent wades in on cloud gaming and TikTok’s popularity continues…

Tencent follows Google into cloud gaming with ‘Start’ pilot (Financial Times, Louise Lucas) highlights Chinese tech behemoth Tencent’s move into cloud gaming as it turns out that it is testing a new service called “Start”. At the moment, it’s available in Shanghai and Guangdong and promises to put high-quality gaming on any device because all the action happens on the company’s powerful servers

in data centres rather than the player’s own device. Sony, Microsoft and Amazon are all positioning themselves for cloud gaming and last month Google unveiled a cloud gaming service called Stadia, which is expected to launch later on this year. * SO WHAT? * I think that this is the future of gaming. Funnily enough, I think that the popularity of the Switch console has shown just how much people like the ability to swap between small screen and big (TV) screen and cloud gaming is a natural extension of this. It does make me think that the next generation of games consoles will be the last, however, as their need will continue to diminish over time.



And finally, in other news…

I thought I’d sign off today with something musical in Man plays bagpipes in 100 countries – a world record (Inside Edition Gotta love a bit of bagpipe music!

Some of today’s market, commodity & currency moves (as at 0830hrs green is up, red is down). THIS IS INTENDED AS A ROUGH GUIDE ONLY!

FTSE 100 *Dow Jones *S&P 500 *Nasdaq *DAX *CAC-40 *Nikkei **Shanghai **
7,375 (+0.81%)26,171 (-0.32%)2,867 (+0.01%)11,796 (+0.99%)5,441 (+0.66%)21,723 (+1.03%)3,177 (+0.20%)
Oil (WTI) p/bOil (Brent) p/bGold Per t/oz£/$€/$$/¥£/€$/₿

(markets with an * are at yesterday’s close, ** are at today’s close)