Business Roundup for Spain and the UK

Business Roundup for Spain and the UK

BRAZIL VISIT: Brazil’s Mines and Energy minister Alexandre Silveira, Ignacio Galan and Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva Photo credit: Iberdrola

Iberdrola in Brazil  IBERDROLA chairman Ignacio Galan and Brazil’s president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva recently visited the company’s pioneering energy complex.

The €630 million plant, which is located in Paraiba, in the northeast of the country, will supply electricity to 1.3 million homes while preventing the emission of more than 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year, Galan said.

The complex consists of 15 wind farms equipped with a total of 136 turbines and an installed capacity of 471.2 megawatts,  plus two solar plants with 228,000 panels and a 149.2 megawatt-peak capacity.

Four-day reservations THE results of the UK’s four-day week pilot scheme were largely positive.

Ninety-two per cent of the 60 or more companies taking part, which ranged from marketing agencies to fish-and-chip shops, said they would consider introducing a shorter week, with 30 per cent prepared to make a permanent change.

Of almost 3,000 employees, 71 per cent reported reduced burnout and improvements in physical health and wellbeing.

Nevertheless, the trial didn’t work for every business and some firms dropped out early on, while others have not yet moved to the four-day system.

Even companies happy to continue with the reduced hours said they were having to meet new challenges arising from a shortened working week.

Tous shines bright JEWELLERY and accessories company Tous closed 2022 with record sales and its highest profits in almost 15 years.

Ceasing operations in Russia following the Ukraine invasion had a negative impact of €7 million after Tous closed seven shops there and transferred 49 to its local partners. Nevertheless, growth was 17 per cent up on 2021 and 4 per cent above that of pre-pandemic 2019.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) grew 26 per cent year-on-year to €101 million and the Catalan company’s net profits rose 60 per cent to €35.7 million.

“In a complicated and changing socio-economic environment, we have been brave and presented our new brand identity – which has been very well received – to stay ahead of the market,” said the company’s CEO Carlos Soler-Duffo.

No thanks ONLY 9 per cent of Britain’s over-50s who are retired said the Budget’s pensions giveaway would entice them back to work.

Measures included an increase in the annual pension allowance, eliminating the lifetime limit and hiking the amount that those who have drawn funds can put back each year, but the “back to work” Budget did not sway retirees.

“For most, saving enough to breach the lifetime allowance or the annual pension allowance is a distant pipedream and for others little could induce them back to work,” financial experts agreed.

B&Q goes Local B&Q could open at least 50 small and medium-sized stores across Britain.

The DIY multinational is meeting the demand for accessible local stores where goods ordered online could also be picked up, B&Q sources said.

The chain already has B&Q Locals in London and the group has earmarked locations for another 50 nationwide.

Medium-sized sites of between 4,000 and 5,000 square metres are likewise under consideration, in contrast to traditional B&Q centres occupying 12,000 square metres, while the new high street stores would range from 300 to 800 square metres.

Safe landing SPAIN’S banking sector is in an “immensely” stronger position than it was in 2008.

Financial experts pointed out that owing to regulators’ demands that were made in the wake of the previous financial crisis, banks have had to create an anti-crisis safety net.

This has been designed to protect the economy during a hypothetical financial catastrophe and to rule out the need for a bailout that requires public money.

According to their results made public at the end of last year Spain’s six principal banks can count on an anti-crisis safety net of €213 billion, €43 billion more than required by the European Central Bank.

Down to earth AENA has lost 90 per cent of the court cases that it has brought against rent defaulters.

Spain’s airports group had unsuccessfully hoped to be able to overturn new legislation affecting the rents paid by retail tenants, but 24 out of 26 sentences were entirely or partly in favour of claimants.

All had called for re-negotiated rents owing to the absence of passengers during the pandemic but the group considered that amendments to the law, obliging it to drop rents during this time, were unconstitutional.

Costly support ENERGY SUPPORT pushed up UK government borrowing last month to its highest level for February since records began in 1993.

The gulf between spending and income from taxes rose to £16.7 billion (€18.9 billion), the Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced.

The ONS explained that this was largely due to this year’s outlay on energy schemes.

At the same time, the interest paid on government debt amounted to £6.9 billion (€7.8 billion) in February, £1.3 billion (€1.5 billion) less than in February 2022, owing to changes in the inflation rate that determines the interest the government pays on its debts.

In orbit again RICHARD BRANSON’S foundering Virgin Orbit project has been thrown a last minute multi-million lifeline.

The company was recently preparing insolvency plans following its much-publicised but failed satellite launch from Cornwall two months ago.

Instead, Virgin Orbit shares rose when it emerged that the company would be signing a £160 million (€180.9 million) deal with a Texan venture capital investor, Matthew Brown.

Talks between Brown and Branson commenced when Virgin Orbit announced that it was pausing operations and furloughing most employees while it sought financial support.

Brown, who has already invested in Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Rocket Lab, will acquire a controlling stake in Virgin Orbit through his family firm, Matthew Brown Companies,

Virgin Orbit’s finances have suffered since a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger raised £186 million (€210.1 million) and not the £313 million (€353.6 million) that was expected.

Just Eat on a diet JUST EAT, the takeaway delivery firm, will cut 1,870 UK jobs following reduced sales.

The company experienced a 9 per cent slowdown last year once Covid restrictions were relaxed and diners could return to pubs and restaurants.

As a result, the firm will no longer employ its own couriers, using contractors instead and triggering 1,700 job losses plus 170 operational roles.  Drivers and riders affected by the cut-down have received six weeks’ notice.

Unlike Just Eat drivers, couriers were classed as company employees, receiving an hourly rate, an uncapped bonus and benefits that included sick pay.

“We propose to transition away from the worker model for couriers,” a spokeswoman said. “This is just a small part of our overall delivery operations in certain parts of six UK cities,” she added.

Comings and goings MARIO VAZ takes over Vodafone’s Spanish division at the end of March.

This coincides with the exit of the company’s Irish-born CEO, Colman Deegan, following a series of poor quarterly results.

Vaz has had a successful track record in Portugal, which has many points in common with the Spanish market.  These include a fully-developed market that combines telephone and data communication within a single network and aggressive competition from the entry of new low-cost operators.

Vaz now faces the challenge of returning Vodafone España to increased earnings and profits, as it faces competition from budget operators like the increasingly-present Digi.

Not enough AMAZON employees working in the UK are planning further industrial action.

The strike warning came as they dismissed a 50p (56.5 cents) pay rise, bringing the minimum hourly pay for warehouse workers to £11 (€12.42).

The company argued that with this latest increase an Amazon worker’s minimum pay will have risen by 10 per cent over the past seven months, putting it above the legal minimum rate of £10.42 (€11.77) an hour for the over-23s.

“We have listened to Amazon workers and the message is very clear,” said Amanda Gearing, a senior official from the GMB union which has backed workers at the Coventry warehouse in the first-ever strikes by Amazon’s UK employees.

“This new pay rate is an insult,” she declared.  “In response we will be consulting over the next few days and announcing a new wave of action.”

It doesn’t add up

SPAIN’S young are no longer attracted to a career in accountancy.

Multinationals and small firms worldwide have been warning governments for some time of a decrease of newly-qualified students choosing to become accountants or auditors.

This has become apparent not only at university when young people decide on the studies and future careers, explained a spokesperson for one of the Big Four accountants, Deloitte, Ernst & Young (EY), PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG).

“It’s not only that fewer graduates want to become accounts,” they said.  “Many decide to leave and go on to something different after working for two or three years.”

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Written by

Linda Hall

Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at