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McDonald’s and Coca-Cola urged to boycott Russia

Coca-Cola and McDonald’s are facing growing criticism for not pulling out of Russia in light of its attack on Ukraine.


The hashtags #BoycottMcDonalds and #BoycottCocaCola have been trending on Twitter, with many urging the global brands to stop operating in the country.

McDonald’s has 847 stores in Russia, according to information published on its website recently, the majority of which it owns rather than them being franchises.


Other western brands including KFC, Pepsi, Starbucks and Burger King are also facing criticism for failing to close their outlets and stop sales in Russia.

The BBC says it requested comment from all these firms, but none have responded.


Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble has discontinued all capital investments in Russia and is suspending all media, advertising and promotional activity in the country.


Jon Moeller, P&G’s president and CEO says: “We are significantly reducing our product portfolio to focus on basic health, hygiene and personal care items needed by the many Russian families who depend on them in their daily lives. As we proceed with the reduced scale of our Russian operations, we will continue to adjust as necessary.”

P&G has also suspended its operations in Ukraine to help protect its people locally. It is offering evacuation assistance, and financial and logistical support, we well as providing food, shelter and essential products to P&G staff in the country.

Moeller adds: “Our hearts go out to all people who endure the unspeakable human toll of war, and we condemn aggression in any circumstance. We join the world in praying for peace.”

Greggs returns to profit, saying it is emerging from the pandemic a ‘better’ business

GreggsGreggs says it has emerged from the pandemic as a “stronger and better” business as it posts a 34% increase in pre-tax profit compared to 2019.


The bakery chain made a profit of £145.6m in 2021 versus a loss of £13.7m in 2020 and ahead of the £108.3m profit it recorded in 2019.

Total sales for the company are up 5.3% on 2019 to £1.2bn, and far higher than the £811.3m it took in 2020 as it contended with store closures and the impact of the pandemic.

After trialling evening opening hours in 100 stores during 2021, Greggs now plans to roll out late opening hours to a total of 500 shops, which will be supported by marketing activity.

The brand sees the move as a “strategic opportunity” to compete in the food-on-the-go market in the evening, given market research shows that sales after 4pm accounted for 35% of food-to-go sales in 2021, which is the largest proportion of the market by time of day.

Given Greggs stores typically close around 6pm it says it currently accounts for just 1% by value for this ‘dinner time’ market, compared to nearly 8% of the lunchtime market and 11% for breakfast.

Further research shows 86% of demand during the evening is for take away food, according to the bakery chain, which believes it is therefore well positioned to compete. Currently 30% of customers surveyed say its existing menu options are suited to evening consumption, so it believes it can grow the evening trade to 17% of daily sales.

Digital expansion has also been a focus. Greggs extended its partnership with Just Eat from 600 to 1,000 shops nationwide and it plans to extend to a further 300 outlets this year. The brand says that while there was some slowdown in digital sales when stores reopened in 2021 following lockdown, delivery sales remained “strong and accretive” when walk-in sales increased again, extending the reach of its shops beyond people passing by.

Greggs says delivery also has the added benefit of a single order serving multiple customers, meaning basket size is an average of three times that of walk-in consumers.

The bakery chain has warned that inflation is “more significant” than its initial expectations and is impacting on raw material, energy and people costs.

Greggs CEO Roger Whiteside has said the business is working to mitigate the impact this has on customers to protect the company’s reputation for value. As a result it does not expect material profit to grow in the year ahead.

“Our results and achievements in 2021 show that we have emerged from the pandemic both stronger and better as a business,” says Whiteside.

“We have started 2022 well, helped by the easing of restrictions. Cost pressures are currently more significant than our initial expectations and, as ever, we will work to mitigate the impact of this on customers, however given this dynamic we do not currently expect material profit progression in the year ahead.

“Despite these near-term pressures, we continue to believe that the opportunities for Greggs have never been more exciting. Our investment over recent years has left the business well-placed to move quickly as the economy recovers and we drive our ambitious plans to become a larger, multi-channel business.”

Greggs opened 131 new shops in 2021, as well as closing 28, taking its total across the county to 2,181. It plans to open 150 new shops annually going forward, as it aims to hit its target of 3,000 shops in the UK over time.

Sainsbury’s to sponsor Great British Bake Off

Sainsbury’s has signed a multi-year deal with Channel 4 to become the exclusive broadcast sponsor of the Great British Bake Off franchise.

The supermarket has cited the show’s “mass appeal” as the driving force behind the partnership, which is the biggest in the show’s history.

Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference range will be the broadcast sponsor for the 13th series of Bake Off, as well as all spin-off shows, including Bake Off: An Extra Slice, Bake Off: The Professionals, Junior Bake Off and any specials.

The spots, which will be created by Wieden + Kennedy, will feature Taste The Difference products with a twist that links them to Bake Off.

Mark Given, Sainsbury’s CMO describes Bake Off as “an iconic show with mass appeal” that will allow the brand to “celebrate and showcase the quality and innovation that Sainsbury’s is known and loved for”.

Rupinder Downie, brand partnerships leader at Channel 4, adds: “Partnering with such a quintessentially British show plays perfectly into Sainsbury’s longstanding heritage as one of the nation’s most loved brands.”

The 12th series of Bake Off drew in an average audience of 8.8 million viewers per episode on Channel 4, while the final reached 9.3 million.

The deal was brokered by Channel 4’s commercial arm 4Sales and Sainsbury’s media agency PHD.

M&S launches marketing push for Sparks

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has kicked off a marketing campaign for Sparks, highlighting the digital shopping experience it offers as part of a wider push for its loyalty scheme.

The ‘Yes you can’ campaign, features the first TV ad for Sparks, which showcases the benefits of being a member and using the M&S app.

The ad kicks off by highlighting the Scan & Shop feature, which allows M&S Food customers to pay via the app rather than queuing at the check-out, before showing other aspects such as click and collect in-store and the treats customers can earn.

The ad, which features singing cabbages and a rapping box of fromage frais pouches, is set to a reworking of Can I Kick It? by A Tribe Called Quest, with lines including ‘Can I scan it? Yes you can. Can I bag it? Yes you can.’

M&S Food and masterbrand marketing director, Sharry Cramond, says: “Customers get the best of M&S when they shop through our app – including free treats and personalised rewards from Sparks. The ‘Yes you can’ campaign brings to life how seamless using the app is for both clothing and food and showcases what is made possible – from queue-less shopping to easier Click & Collect. The campaign messages are delivered in such an engaging way – simple, repetitive, and catchy. And who can forget the singing cabbage (my personal favourite).”

Sparks now has more than 14 million members since relaunching in July 2020.

As part of the wider push for Sparks, M&S has also launched The Big Sparks Giveaway, through which one customers at every M&S store will win their shopping basket every day between now and next Wednesday. There is also £1.5m worth of M&S gift cards to be won, alongside 4.5 million free giveaways on customers’ favourite product.

Throughout March, M&S is also doubling the donations made to all Sparks charities.

Müller and Waitrose to scrap coloured milk caps

Müller and Waitrose have joined forces to scrap the coloured caps used on milk bottles as they cannot be recycled.

The blue, green and red caps, which indicate whole, semi-skimmed and skimmed milk, will be replaced with clear caps.

The coloured plastic currently used cannot be recycled back into food grade packaging, which could remove 1,560 tonnes of recycled high density polyethylene from the market.

Müller, which buys a fifth of all milk produced on Britain’s farms, says its research shows consumers support the change if it further improves the availability of food grade recycled plastic material.

Just over half of all shoppers look for the colour of milk caps when selecting milk in-store, while others look at the label or remember the location on shelf. But eight in 10 shoppers say they would choose a bottle of milk using a clear milk cap if it could be recycled into food grade material, over a coloured one that could not.

Müller and Waitrose will be trialling the switch in 331 shops from 4 to 30 April.

Source: Shutterstock

UK supermarkets pull Russian products from shelves

Tesco has become the latest UK supermarket to promise the removal of Russian products from its stores as the war in the Ukraine intensifies.

Yesterday (6 March), a Tesco spokesperson said the UK’s biggest supermarket would no longer be “buying products from businesses that are wholly Russian owned”.

Tesco joins rivals Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Morrisons, Co-op and Asda in withdrawing Russian products from sale. Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Morrisons and Co-op have all promised to remove Russian-made vodka from their shelves, with Sainsbury’s also to remove Karpayskiye black sunflower seeds.

A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s said the supermarket will “stand united with Ukraine”, and has therefore decided to remove from sale all products that are 100% sourced from Russia.

The grocer will continue to sell JJ Whitley vodka products, however, as the manufacturer has said it will be moving all production away from St Petersburg to Chorley in Lancashire.

Asda will also be removing products that originate from Russia from its shelves, impacting an estimated 100 products across spirits, fish and some sweets.

Meanwhile, Waitrose’s sister retailer John Lewis is removing a line of Russian-made pizza oven pellets from sale in its department stores.

To offer additional support, Sainsbury’s will also be renaming its chicken kievs to chicken Kyiv, matching the Ukrainian spelling of its capital city. Packaging for the dish is expected to change in the next few weeks.

Asda, meanwhile, has announced a £1m package to support displaced Ukrainian families in Europe and the UK.

The package includes £100,000 to support national UK-based refugee support groups, a £250,000 donation to Unicef to support the setup of an emergency Blue Dot centre in the Ukraine, and making Asda Foundation grants of up to £580,000 available to support local and grass-roots refugee groups across the UK.

Asda will also send essential supplies, including George-branded clothing, nappies, toiletries, period products and food, to a supplier site in Poland for onward distribution in Ukraine.

“We stand with our customers and colleagues who are shocked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine – and our thoughts are with those people whose lives are affected by this crisis,” said Asda co-owner Mohsin Issa.

Zara, Samsung, Mastercard join brands withdrawing from Russia

A number of brands across the fashion, finance and technology industries suspended their Russian operations over the weekend, joining a rapidly growing list of firms withdrawing their business in response to the Ukraine invasion.

The owner of fashion retailer Zara, Inditex, has shut all 502 stores in the country across its eight brands, including Bershka, Stradivarius and Oysho. The closures are expected to impact over 9,000 Russian employees, but Inditex has said it is drawing up plans to support them, according to the BBC.

The business joins fashion brands H&M, Boohoo and M&S in its decision. Meanwhile, a number of luxury fashion giants have also elected to temporarily close their Russian stores, including LVMH, Hermes, Kering, Chanel and Burberry.

In a LinkedIn post, Chanel said: “Given our increasing concerns about the current situation, the growing uncertainty and the complexity to operate, Chanel decided to temporarily pause its business in Russia.”

In the financial sector, Visa, Mastercard and PayPal have all suspended operations in Russia, with PayPal citing “violent military aggression in Ukraine”.

Visa and Mastercard bank cards issued by Russian banks will continue to operate normally within Russia until they reach their expiry dates. However, cards issued abroad will no longer work at businesses or ATMs in Russia. The two businesses control around 90% of credit and debit payments globally outside of China.

Elsewhere, Russia’s biggest smartphone supplier, Samsung, is suspending shipments to the country, while Activision Blizzard is suspending sales of and within its games.

Other brands to have already halted business within the country include Apple, Ikea, Netflix, General Motors and Jaguar Land Rover, among others.

On the other hand, some international businesses are struggling to cut Russian ties. Oil giant Shell has had to defend its decision to purchase Russian crude oil at a discounted price, stating there was “no alternative”, while telecoms business BT has had to continue its relationship with Russia’s state-backed operator so people in the UK can continue making calls to the country.

Waitrose backtracks on digital-first loyalty overhaul

waitrose onlineWaitrose is to make a significant change to its newly relaunched loyalty scheme, as customers complain the programme is “discriminating” against those without access to the digital app.

As such, the supermarket is reintroducing a printed vouchers system, the Grocer reports.

“Thousands” of customers have reportedly complained since the relaunch, particularly those of an older age group, as they were told their physical MyWaitrose card could no longer redeem rewards.

“We know this is a big change for our customers,” a Waitrose spokesperson said.

“Digital first does not mean digital only and, now that we have a better idea of which customers are engaging using smartphones, we’ll be identifying customers’ preferred ways to receive their offers, including print at home, vouchers in the post and coupons printed at till.”

The changes are expected to roll out within the next two weeks, alongside a simplification of the app and increased training for store staff.

Waitrose relaunched its MyWaitrose loyalty scheme last month to increase the personalisation of its offers, while scrapping its free newspaper and coffee offer.

The new scheme will see the supermarket double its investment in offers and discounts, with members to receive offers on a weekly and monthly basis. Customer savings are to increase by 112%, Waitrose claimed.

READ MORE: Waitrose forced to make u-turn on loyalty scheme following flood of customer complaints

Bullring owner to shift shopping centres away from fashion

Source: Shutterstock

Hammerson, the owner of shopping centres including Birmingham’s Bullring and London’s Brent Cross, is planning to move its properties away from fashion retailers and towards healthcare, hospitality and flexible workspaces.

The announcement came as the business reported a £429m loss for 2021. It follows a difficult few years for the group and other retail landlords amid pandemic lockdowns, which forced some retailers to close business and others to delay rent payments.

Fashion will drop from occupying more than a third of Hammerson’s portfolio to around a sixth in future, while as much as a fifth could switch to becoming homes, hotels and offices. Last year, only around 30% of the group’s deals were in fashion.

Redundant department stores and other unwanted retail space may also be repurposed for private clinics and NHS spaces, educational operators and leisure operators.

“The pandemic has accelerated trends in our operating environment, with people engaging with physical space in new ways,” explained CEO Rita-Rose Gagné.

“Our new strategy recognises the unique position that Hammerson has in urban locations and the opportunities to leverage our experience and capabilities to create appealing destinations, serving occupiers, customers and communities.”

READ MORE: Bullring owner seeks to reinvent its shopping centres after £429m loss

Iceland boss admits supermarket will not hit sustainability targets

The managing director of Iceland Foods Group, Richard Walker, has said the supermarket will not achieve its pledge to become plastic-free in its own-label products by 2023.

Iceland made the promise in 2018, but Walker said the supermarket has been waylaid by the pandemic, the move towards online shopping, and other retailers being “slower in coming over to our way of thinking” than he had initially thought.

In interview with the Observer, he said: “Our initial pledge was to be plastic-free in own-label by 2023. We won’t get there. We are trying day and night as hard as we can but it is clear it’s going to be a very, very big ask.”

Walker admitted he knew the target would be likely impossible to achieve from the very beginning, but went ahead anyway.

“I would much rather have 30,000 colleagues pointed to the north star and resolute in that we are trying to do the right thing,” he said.

Walker also said critics asking how a business selling packaged ready meals and fizzy drinks in plastic bottles could ever be seen as green were missing the point, even as he admitted to being a “hypocrite”.

“Our business is not sustainable. We are a high-volume, mass-market retailer, full of contradictions. What we are trying to do is use ourselves as a platform to drive a bit of change and share with everyone else, including our competitors,” he said.

“I am a hypocrite. The business is not sustainable but we are trying to do good where we can and I don’t think that is a bad plan.”

He also questioned the choice of other supermarkets to charge higher prices for sustainable alternatives, stating that making green choices “only for the rich” would make climate solutions impossible to scale.

Nevertheless, Walker said he is optimistic about Iceland’s plans to become a more sustainable business in future.

Meanwhile, Walker revealed Iceland will be extending its new convenience store format, Swift, into four London locations over the next few months, following a trial in Newcastle last year.

READ MORE: Iceland boss Richard Walker on the retailer’s struggle to go green

‘Should’ve Gone to Specsavers’ returns with brand purpose focus

After two years off-screen during the pandemic, ‘Should’ve Gone to Specsavers’ has returned to TV as part of a £4m campaign.

‘Should’ve 2.0’ aims to evolve Specsavers’ famous strapline into a platform which communicates the brand’s purpose of changing lives through better sight and hearing, while spotlighting its growing range of services.

Created in-house by the Agency, the campaign is led by a 30-second TV ad, in which a delivery driver lugs a large package to the top of a tower block of flats, before being told he has the wrong address.

Four supporting 10- and 15-second shorts are running on YouTube, with Specsavers’ audiology service brought under the Should’ve umbrella for the first time with a film in which one block resident receives a pizza delivery for 200 people.

The campaign will reach a broader audience than ever before, with activity across TV, cinema, digital, out-of-home, print, radio and in-game. Media was planned and bought by MGOMD, and will run throughout March and April.

In a media first, Channel 4 and ITV have their own Should’ve Gone to Specsavers moments as their continuity announcers get their scripts mixed up, announcing shows for the wrong channel. Specsavers has also made its first foray into gaming, with in-game billboards across sports, motorbiking, fashion and lifestyle games.

“Should’ve took a break during the last two years as we focused on delivering urgent care online and in the communities we serve,” says Chris Carter, marketing and ecommerce director of Specsavers UK, Ireland and Spain.

“This gave us time to take stock and develop Should’ve into a brand platform that better reflects who we are today, but without losing any of its magic. I think the Agency has achieved this brilliantly, showing how it can take us into the future as we continue to grow and meet customers’ needs wherever they are.”

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