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Tiso outdoor pursuits retailer chooses Eurostop connected retail systems to support business growth

Scotland’s leading outdoor pursuits retailer invests in Eurostop stock management and EPOS systems for faster and more accurate management of stock replenishment and promotions

Eurostop has announced that Tiso, Scotland’s leading outdoor clothing & equipment retailer, has selected Eurostop connected stock management and EPOS systems for over 13 stores. Tiso chose Eurostop e-rmis, its stock system, e-pos touch and the business intelligence module, e-cubes, to provide the detailed stock management and replenishment that it requires to manage the variety of items sold in store and online. Over recent years Tiso has increased both its number of outlets and product range, stocking a wide variety of clothing, footwear and equipment for adventurer sports, including alpine biking, climbing, skiing and general outdoor pursuits. The recent investment in Eurostop retail systems supports further expansion plans.

Tiso selected Eurostop’s e-rmis system to enable tracking of items from warehouse to store in detail. Eurostop’s system manages the entire replenishment process, from when items are picked using a wireless scanner, to packing and delivering to stores. Integration with the stock system provides head office with up-to-date sales data of all product lines across all store and online channels. In addition, detailed business insights from sales data using Eurostop’s e-cubes module aids merchandise planning.

Chris Tiso, Chief Executive of Tiso Stores said; “The replenishment facility within e rmis was exactly what we were looking for. It gives us far greater control of store replenishment, so we have an accurate view of the business.
“Customised reporting gives us a handle on the stores’ performance, especially with our expansion plans. Our new Aviemore store will have even greater floor space for customers to try out products and investing in Eurostop systems provides us with the technology in store to provide an even better customer experience from trial to purchase.”

As part of the connected systems for stock management, Tiso has installed Eurostop’s new e-pos touch, with added functionality to manage promotions and offers at the till point.
Eurostop’s e-rmis also enables Tiso to load products easily onto the system in bulk from one spreadsheet, with SKU, colours and sizes. Purchase orders can also be created in the same way, by importing a spreadsheet with supplier details, items, cost prices and quantity saving time and reducing errors in re-keying.

Phillip Moylan, Sales Manager at Eurostop said; “Retailers like Tiso have built successful businesses by staying true to their founding principles of loving the products that they sell and providing great customer service. Eurostop’s connected retail systems have been developed to underpin a retailer’s operations with accurate stock management to support sales and buyersE. Having the information at their fingertips enables them to react to customer demand and provide a great service.”

Are banking biometrics about to take off?
BankingSecurities

Are banking biometrics about to take off?


Are banking biometrics about to take off?

We’ve all been there; sitting at a computer struggling to remember a password, or entering the wrong pin number at a cash point while a queue forms behind you. Thanks to the rise in biometric technology, consumers can look forward to a decreased reliance on remembering alphanumeric passwords.

Through the integration of the technology into smartphones, people around the world have been using their fingerprints to unlock their devices for years and today millions of people are familiar with biometrics and its benefits. The recent unveiling of the iPhone X and Apple’s facial recognition system moves things one step further.

These applications have shown consumers how easy it is to use their biometrics to access their personal devices. This has created a consumer who is comfortable with the technology and have it integrated into other elements of their life, like banking or at the checkout – a point reinforced when looking at a recent study, where 86 percent of consumers said they are interested in using biometrics to verify, identity or to make payments. The financial sector has begun to react to this growing level of acceptance.

MasterCard recently announced its commitment to guaranteeing that every one of its customers will have access to biometric authentication services by April 2019 – a decision made off the back of their own research with Oxford University, which found 92 percent of banking professionals wanted to introduce biometric ID, and 93 percent of consumers would prefer biometric security to passwords. As we have seen before, new technologies challenge traditional business models and transform the way organisations interact with their customers – this is no different.

Many established financial institutions and economies around the world are now getting behind biometrics. In India, NCR has been involved in a nationwide rollout of next-generation ATMs offering biometric user authentication, in addition to cash recycling and other features that could prove beneficial for banks and customers.

Bahraini Fintech firm Eazy Financial Services offers the next step in the evolution of biometrics journey of creating a seamless customer experience. The company has been working with NCR on the region’s first biometric payment network. The system will allow consumers to register their fingerprint with their bank and use this biometric data to initiate ATM or point-of-sale transactions, removing the need for a card. The combination of security and convenience this technology delivers is an attractive proposition for a customer.

Today’s digitally driven consumers want the way they shop and bank to be consistent across every channel, including how they identify themselves when making a payment. As biometric identification increasingly becomes standard across smartphone devices, the combination of these two technologies is starting to win the battle for hearts and minds when it comes to simplicity, convenience and seamlessness across all channels.

However, there are still some hurdles to overcome as far as biometric technology is concerned, particularly when it comes to customer acceptance and security. One of the biggest causes of failure for technology is low adoption, and even though the figures show that consumers want to see more of the concept, the solution must be simple, logical and easy to use it if it’s to be adopted.

Like any burgeoning technology, biometric authentication still has its fair share of challenges to meet and questions to answer. But these obstacles are quickly being overcome, partly through the work of mobile phone manufacturers, which is paving the way for biometrics to become a vital component of the 21st-century payments landscape.

Lloyds Bank trials British Sign Language translation technology
BankingSecurities

Lloyds Bank trials British Sign Language translation technology

New technology provides innovative way of interacting with Bank literature Lloyds Bank has become the first financial services company to undertake a trial with Signly – a British Sign Language (BSL) translation tool. Lloyds Banking Group’s Innovation Labs trialled the technology to understand how Signly could offer an alternative option for up to 250,000 people in the UK who use BSL each day. Since undertaking the trial, the Bank is now looking to test the technology with a wider group of customers.

BSL is a unique language with its own sentence structure and contains a number of key differences to both spoken English, and Signed Supported English (SSE). This means that for customers who use BSL as their first language, many communications are often hard to understand.

Signly enables customers to scan Signly-enabled literature on their smartphone which provides translations into BSL through augmented reality. The trial incorporated Signly’s functionality into both written and online material, enabling hard of hearing and deaf customers to use BSL to understand the financial material they were being shown.

In addition to trialling Signly functionality, Lloyds Bank currently provides a wealth of ways for customers to interact with their bank. These include Text Relay and SignVideo, a signed video service which provides deaf customers with access to an online interpreter. For those with visual impairments, customers can access large print, braille and recorded literature.

Nick Williams, Lloyds Bank’s Consumer Digital director said,

“We are always looking for new ways to support our customers and trialling this new technology is a great example. Alongside SignVideo, Text Relay and our interpreting service, Signly provides a new tool to make it easier to engage with the Bank. Improving our services to make them simple and intuitive for all our customers is key to removing barriers of financial exclusion.”

Mid-Size Businesses Lead from the Front on Job Creation and Wage Increases in 2015
BankingSecurities

Mid-Size Businesses Lead from the Front on Job Creation and Wage Increases in 2015

Against a positive backdrop of continued falling unemployment and wage growth outstripping inflation in recent months, 67% are planning to take on new staff (compared to 62% in 2014) and 82% are set to increase wages, a significant increase on last year (67%).

Amongst businesses of all sizes, half (50%) of those surveyed are looking to increase staff2, and 61% are also planning to increase wages, with 42% saying they will boost wages for their entire workforce. Further good news is that the number of businesses planning to reduce staff over the next year has halved, from 10% last year to 5% this year.

When looking at the types of roles businesses are looking to fill, middle and junior management employees continue to be the most in demand across businesses of all sizes, with 83% of hiring businesses planning to hire at this level. 78% of the largest businesses are likely to hire at a senior level, the highest of all the turnover bands and a significant jump up from 2014, when under half (46%) were looking for senior candidates.

Almost half (48%) of mid-size businesses reported skills shortages, the highest of any turnover bracket surveyed. In contrast, only one in five (21%) of the smallest businesses said skills shortages affected them.

Kevin Wall, Chairman, Barclays Corporate Banking, said: “Skills shortages are most evident amongst the mid-size businesses surveyed, and the increases they are planning in both hiring and wages may be an attempt to address this imbalance. This is positive news for employees as firms compete for talent but also, in the longer term, for businesses themselves as they look to ensure they are well-positioned for future growth opportunities.”

Buoyant hiring trends extend to apprentices, with almost a third (32%) of businesses surveyed planning to take them on this year, an encouraging sign given the focus on bringing down the UK’s broadly flat youth unemployment rate3. The largest businesses offer the most significant opportunity for apprentices, with almost three quarters (73%) saying they plan to take them on this year, up from 57% a year ago. In contrast, just under a quarter (24%) of the smallest businesses surveyed plan to take on apprentices, a small increase from 21% last year.

The survey suggests that, where businesses are hiring apprentices, they may be starting to play a key role in helping to address skills gaps. Amongst businesses reporting skills shortages, almost half (48%) say they are lacking in their main business activity. However, 41% of businesses that are planning to take on apprentices are likely to involve them in this area, a possible move to help resolve this issue. Of the largest businesses reporting skills shortages, 35% are predominately lacking in their engineering departments and the same number (35%) said they were looking to take on apprentices in this area of their business.

Kevin Wall added: “Businesses are becoming increasingly engaged with apprenticeships, hiring more year on year, but it would appear to be the largest businesses that are really ramping up their hiring. Smaller businesses may feel more constrained by resources but grants and support available to help SMEs take on apprentices could open the door to talented new employees, and ultimately bring these businesses tangible commercial benefits.”

UKFI to Sell Further Part of Lloyds Banking Group
BankingSecurities

UKFI to Sell Further Part of Lloyds Banking Group

UK Financial Investments (UKFI) the government-mandated company which manages HM Treasury’s shareholdings in banks subscribing to its recapitalisation fund, has announced its intention to sell a further part of HM Treasury’s shareholding in Lloyds Banking Group plc. The disposal of these shares will be by way of a placing to institutional investors.

The price at which the placing shares are sold will be determined by way of an accelerated book building process. The book will open with immediate effect following this announcement.

The placing is expected to comprise approximately 5.35 billion of the company’s ordinary shares, representing approximately 7.5% of the issued ordinary capital of the company. As a result of the placing, the overall size of HM Treasury’s shareholding in the company will be reduced from approximately 32.7% to approximately 25%. UKFI and HM Treasury have undertaken to the bookrunners named below not to sell further shares in the company for a period of 90 calendar days following the completion of the placing without the prior written consent of a majority (by participation) of the bookrunners.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch, J.P. Morgan Securities plc, Morgan Stanley Securities Limited and UBS Limited have been appointed to act as bookrunners in connection with the placing.

Lazard & Co., Limited is acting as capital markets adviser. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP is acting as legal counsel to UKFI in respect of English and US law.

Details of the placing price and the number of placing shares will be announced in due course.

HMRC Receipts Up by £21bn
BankingSecurities

HMRC Receipts Up by £21bn

Increased income tax revenues and a phenomenal rise in Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) receipts have boosted an overall tax take in the last twelve months, which is £21 billion (4.47%) higher than in the year preceding say London chartered accountants Blick Rothenberg LLP.

Frank Nash, partner at Blick Rothenberg, said: “The latest HMRC tax statistics released today (22nd May) showed an extraordinary rise in National Insurance contributions and SDLT revenues, which in the last quarter alone were £680million more (41% higher) than that of the same three month period in 2013.”

The stats showed a 3.15% increase in PAYE receipts and 4.8% increase in National Insurance takings over the same period.

“The Office for National Statistics released figures last week showing that unemployment is at a five year low of 2.21 million, and so clearly the impact of more people in jobs is starting to come through in the PAYE and NIC figures, which are up just over £9bn in the past 12 months,” said Nash.

The figures also indicated that HMRC has collected £100million from the Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED) for 2013/14, which is a third up on the budgeted amount of £75 million. However, initial figures for April collections so far show only £40million collected for 2014/15 charge which was due by the end of that month.

“This will indicate either that residential properties are being removed from companies, which is what HMRC wants, or that further ATED charges have not yet been collected,” added Nash.

Stamp Duty Exemption “Will Encourage Investment in SMEs”
BankingSecurities

Stamp Duty Exemption “Will Encourage Investment in SMEs”

The stamp duty exemption for securities trading on growth markets, coming into effect on Monday 28th April, will give investors a further reason to back ambitious companies but is unlikely to have much impact on where issuers choose to list, says a partner at law firm Hogan Lovells.

The new exemption, announced in last year’s budget, is intended to incentivise investor participation in the UK’s growing small and medium-sized quoted businesses. It is widely viewed as a positive move by the government, particularly amongst the Small and Medium Enterprise community. Shares traded on certain growth markets, including AIM and the new High Growth market, will qualify.

Maegen Morrison, a partner in Hogan Lovells’ London office, says that, traditionally, larger funds and investors have been wary of investing in “start-ups” which are seen as high-risk and whose stock tends to be relatively illiquid, and so the forthcoming exemption gives investors a further reason to back ambitious companies. “But we are unlikely to see any significant impact on where issuers choose to list,” she says. “Investors will want to consider the whole investment story of new businesses – and lower investment costs will be an added bonus, rather than a game changer.”

The exemption is only available to companies trading on growth markets which do not have a full listing elsewhere. This is to allow growing companies to benefit from the exemption, whereas companies with full listings on other markets are likely to be larger and more established.

While this means that there will be companies which do not qualify for the exemption, and therefore will have a competitive disadvantage regarding qualifying companies on the same market, investors will make decisions based on the whole “investment story” of the issuer, rather than be swayed by lower investment costs, says Morrison.

“However, where such companies are fully listed on stock exchanges for historical reasons (for example, on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange) but the majority of their investor base has migrated to a growth market, such as AIM, we may see those companies choosing to de-list from those exchanges but maintain their trading on the growth market in order to afford their investors the benefit of the new exemption,” Morrison adds.

Net Sales of Long-Term UCITS Increase Significantly
BankingSecurities

Net Sales of Long-Term UCITS Increase Significantly

The main developments in February 2014 in the reporting countries can be summarized as follows:

• UCITS enjoyed a second consecutive month of strong net inflows in February amounting to EUR 49 billion, albeit down from EUR 69 billion in January. This drop in net inflows can be attributed to negative net flows out of money market funds during the month.

• Long-term UCITS (UCITS excluding money market funds) attracted net inflows of EUR 51 billion, being the largest net inflows since January 2013, and up from EUR 40 billion in January 2014.

o Net sales of bond funds jumped during February to EUR 24 billion from EUR 13 billion in January.
o Equity funds enjoyed increased net inflows of EUR 12 billion compared to EUR 10 billion in January.
o Balanced funds recorded net sales of EUR 12 billion, down from EUR 15 billion.

• Money market funds experienced net outflows of EUR 2 billion in February, after registering large net inflows in January of EUR 29 billion.

• Total non-UCITS recorded net sales of EUR 11 billion, down from EUR 13 billion in January. Net inflows into special funds (funds reserved to institutional investors) remained constant at EUR 9 billion during the month.

• Total assets of UCITS increased 2.4 percent in February to EUR 7,140 billion.
o Total assets of non-UCITS rose 0.9 percent in February to EUR 2,849 billion.
o Overall, total assets of the investment fund industry increased 2.0 percent to stand at EUR 9,988 billion at month end.

Bernard Delbecque, Director of Economics and Research commented:
“A strong demand for bond funds was the main driver behind the increased net sales of long-term funds in February, reflecting expectations of continued subdued inflation and low interest rates.”

Citigroup to Resolve Repurchase Claims
BankingSecurities

Citigroup to Resolve Repurchase Claims

Citigroup has announced that it has reached an agreement with 18 institutional investors, represented by Gibbs & Bruns LLP, regarding the resolution of certain legacy Securities and Banking private-label securitisation representation and warranty repurchase claims.

Under the agreement, Citigroup will make a binding offer to the trustees of 68 Citi-sponsored mortgage securitisation trusts to pay $1.125 billion to the trusts, plus certain fees and expenses, for which Citi has taken an additional charge of approximately $100 million in the first quarter of 2014.

The 68 trusts covered by the agreement issued in the aggregate $59.4 billion of residential mortgage-backed securities and represent all of the trusts established by Citi’s legacy Securities and Banking business during 2005-2008 for which Citi affiliates made representations and warranties to the trusts. The agreement, if accepted by the trustees, would release Citi’s obligation to repurchase mortgage loans sold into the trusts, or make the trusts whole, for outstanding or potential claims for breaches of representations and warranties on the loans.

The company released the following statement: “This settlement resolves a significant legacy issue from the financial crisis and we are pleased to put it behind us.”

The agreement would not release potential investor claims relating to alleged misrepresentations in the offering documents associated with these private-label securitisations, nor any potential regulatory actions. Further, the agreement does not cover mortgage loans sold through private-label securitisation trusts via Citi’s consumer mortgage business in CitiMortgage, Inc. The agreement is conditioned on, among other things, acceptance by the trustees of the applicable trusts, and court approval, if sought by the trustees.

LuxCSD Cut Custody Fees for Equities
BankingSecurities

LuxCSD Cut Custody Fees for Equities

As part of LuxCSD’s initiative to support the dematerialisation of securities of all types, LuxCSD announced custody fee cuts for equities by 50%, effective from 1 April 2014. This fee reduction results in an alignment of the equity and bond custody fees.

The aim is to encourage corporations to dematerialise existing physical securities and to newly issue securities in dematerialised form. Custody of equities in dematerialised form significantly reduces inefficiencies, risks and costs for the industry and increase the level of transparency regarding the chain of holders of a Luxembourg security.

In March 2014, LuxCSD has successfully handled its first dematerialisation of physical shares – the BIP Investment Partners Luxembourg equities with a volume of EUR 400 million.

Patrick Georg, General Manager of LuxCSD, said: “By cutting the custody fees for equities by 50% we aim to attract more corporates to dematerialise physical shares and to follow the example of BIP Investment Partners. We strongly support dematerialisation as best practice in securities custody and issuance.”

The change in Luxembourg law governing the dematerialisation of physical securities adopted in April 2013 is expected to further enhance the appeal of securities issued and dematerialised in Luxembourg.