Ohtani Jerseys Make Massive 6-Figure Waves on MLB’s Marketplace

A Shohei Ohtani Game Used Jersey from July the 2nd in a game against the Orioles closed for a whopping $121,800 on the Major League Baseball marketplace located at MLB Auctions! And that’s not all, with around 1 day left, Ohtani’s 2021 All-Star Jersey is currently on Auction at $111,160!

Timing is crucial for the best Auction results. Ohtani’s All-Star Jersey was listed online for sale the day of the All-Star game. Commerce Dynamics, the technology company powering MLB Auctions published this report on how leagues like MLB and NHL have developed seamless memorabilia listing processes for their Marketplaces. 

These Auctions will bring in a solid chunk of charitable revenue for the Angels Baseball Foundation and MLB Charities respectively. MLB’s success in enabling revenue recovery for their partners through the Marketplace model is emblematic of the potential for Sports brands that can launch and scale their own ecosystems.

This sentiment was brilliantly encapsulated in Deloitte’s 2021 Outlook for the US Sports industry:

“Organizations should consider breaking away from traditional category management, especially in the area of technology, and develop complex stories and platforms in which multiple vendors can participate.” – Deloitte 2021 Outlook for US Sports IndustryRead more on how Sports entities are driving revenue recovery with their own Marketplaces here

London accounts for almost half of foreign investment into UK

New figures highlight the UK’s north-south divide and the dominance of London when it comes to foreign investment in the UK.

In the pre-pandemic year of 2019, the value of inward foreign direct investment (FDI) stock in London (£660.8bn) was more than three times greater than the second-highest inward position for the South East (£197.6bn).

FDI in London accounted for close to half (42.4%) of the UK’s inward FDI position in 2019, increasing to 55.1% for London and the South East combined, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The figures also suggest that for every job in London there was £108,656 of FDI stock, and £39,727 per job in the South East. The average for the other English regions plus Northern Ireland was £20,801 for each job.

Investment from the European Union represented the highest proportion of inward investment in most UK countries and regions, with the exceptions being London, Scotland and the North East.

The UK government has made the “levelling up” of the UK regions a priority to help spread economic prosperity to all parts of the country.

Shops and pubs forced to close after staff ‘pinged’

Business groups have urged the UK government to allow fully vaccinated people not to self-isolate after being “pinged” by the NHS Covid app.

Shops, factories and pubs across the country have been forced to reduce their hours or temporarily close due to staff shortages caused by people being informed by NHS Test and Trace that they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

In the week to 7 July more than 500,000 people in England and Wales were “pinged” by the app, a rise of 46% on the previous week.

Grocery chain Iceland has had to shut some of its stores as 1,000 staff are self-isolating, and pub chain Greene King has closed 33 pubs for the same reason, BBC News reports.

Marks & Spencer has also seen a sharp rise in the number of workers being notified by the NHS app, and said it may have to reduce hours if there are shortages.

Meanwhile, Vauxhall has reduced daily shifts from three to two at its Luton plant because of the number of employees told to self-isolate, and Nissan and Rolls-Royce have warned that staff shortages could affect production.

From 16 August, people who have been fully vaccinated will not have to self-isolate if they are “pinged” by the NHS app. Instead, they will be advised to take PCR test as soon as possible.

Business representatives including the British Retail Consortium and the CBI have said that this change should be brought forward immediately.

“With restrictions being lifted and cases rapidly increasing, we urgently need a surefooted approach from government, creating confidence to secure the recovery,” said CBI president, Lord Karan Bilimoria.

“This starts by immediately ending the self-isolation period of 10 days for people who are double-jabbed and providing a route out of isolation for those not yet fully vaccinated through daily lateral flow tests. Against the backdrop of crippling staff shortages, speed is of the essence.”

Online sales likely to remain high post-pandemic

Over half of all retail sales around the world will still be online after the Covid-19 pandemic, new research suggests.

Ecommerce consultancy Wunderman Thompson Commerce surveyed more than 28,000 consumers across 17 countries on their current and future shopping habits for its Future Shopper Report 2021.

Almost three-quarters (72%) said that online shopping came to their rescue in 2020 and 73% said ecommerce would be more important to them in 2021. One contributing factor for 60% of global shoppers was becoming more comfortable using digital technology, while 41% said they are frightened about shopping instore in the wake of Covid-19.

Online marketplaces saw their popularity rise during the pandemic, with 42% of all online spend globally going to sites such as Amazon, Alibaba, JD.com, Mercado Libre and eBay.

While not everyone is happy about their dominance, two-thirds (64%) of consumers said they are excited by the prospect of buying everything through one retailer or marketplace in the future.

At the same time, however, more than half (56%) of global consumers supported the idea of Amazon paying more taxes — rising to over two-thirds (69%) in the UK and 70% in the US.

Hugh Fletcher, global head of consultancy and innovation at Wunderman Thompson Commerce, said: “Ecommerce can no longer be treated as the supplementary sales channel. Global shoppers have clearly stated that, in the future, it will be their primary channel for retail purchasing.

“For some organisations, and particularly marketplaces, they are reaping the rewards of investing in a strong online presence, while the news has been littered with stories of businesses who have not identified these changing demands going bust.”

Fletcher added: “2021 and beyond will usher in an era of more diverse online offerings, with marketplaces, direct-to-consumer brand sites and social commerce all having a key role to play. Businesses must ensure that this more complex online landscape complements their overall retail offering which needs to span digital and physical.”

Trials of four-day week ‘an overwhelming success’

Large-scale trials of a reduced working week in Iceland have proved successful and led to many employees working shorter hours.

In two trials conducted between 2015 and 2019, around 2,500 employees — over 1% of Iceland’s entire working population — were paid the same amount for a reduced working week of 35-36 hours.

The results have been analysed for the first time in a joint project by UK think tank Autonomy and the Association for Sustainability and Democracy (Alda) in Iceland.

Productivity and service provision remained the same or improved across the majority of workplaces, the researchers said.

At the same time, workers reported feeling less stressed and said their health and work-life balance had improved.

The researchers described the trials as “an overwhelming success” and highlighted the fact that they remained revenue neutral for both the city council and the government.

Since the trials were completed, 86% of Iceland’s workforce have either moved to shorter hours for the same pay, or will gain the right to.

“The Icelandic shorter working week journey tells us that not only is it possible to work less in modern times, but that progressive change is possible too,” said Gudmundur D. Haraldsson, a researcher at Alda.

“Our roadmap to a shorter working week in the public sector should be of interest to anyone who wishes to see working hours reduced.”

Firm considers rival offer for Morrisons

A bidding war could be on the horizon for Morrisons after a US investment firm said it was considering making a rival offer for the UK’s fourth largest supermarket chain.

The announcement from Apollo Global comes days after Morrisons agreed to a £6.3bn takeover by US private equity firm Fortress Investment Group, the owner of Majestic Wine.

This deal is subject to shareholder approval, but has been recommended by the supermarket group’s board of directors.

A short statement issued by Apollo on Monday said that the company was “in the preliminary stages of evaluating a possible offer for Morrisons”.

However, no approach has yet been made.

In June, Morrisons turned down an offer worth £5.5bn from another private equity firm, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, claiming the bid significantly undervalued the business.

Analysts have speculated that other bidders could throw their hat into the ring, including Amazon, which has a partnership with Morrisons.

HMRC offers lifeline to struggling firms

UK businesses that owe money to the government have been reassured that enforcing insolvency for repayment of the debt will be a “last resort” as the country emerges from the pandemic.

Many firms have a backlog of taxes that will become due, including VAT.

HMRC has the status of “preferential creditor” when company insolvencies involve unpaid VAT and income tax. This means it is paid first in the event of a corporate failure.

But business leaders want the government to ensure this is used to help struggling companies restructure their finances to survive, rather than to shut them down.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said in a letter to business groups this week that HMRC will take a “cautious approach to enforcement of debt owed to government” which has been accrued during this period.

The letter to the Institute of Directors and insolvency trade body R3, first reported by the Financial Times, added that enforcement of debt repayment was more likely to take place when companies failed to engage with HMRC rather than simply because they could not afford to pay.

“A flexible approach will be taken with those companies who engage with HMRC, with a view to bringing their debt into a managed arrangement,” Kwarteng explained.

Britain seeks to join trans-Pacific trading area

Britain is starting negotiations to join a free trade area in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is made up of 11 countries including Australia, Canada and Japan.

New Zealand, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam are also founder members of the trade area, which was established in 2018 and covers a market of around 500 million people.

The UK applied to join CPTTP in January after leaving the European Union.

“This part of the world is where Britain’s greatest opportunities lie,” commented International Trade Secretary Liz Truss. “We left the EU with the promise of deepening links with old allies and fast-growing consumer markets beyond Europe, and joining the high-standards Trans-Pacific Partnership is an important part of that vision.”

According to the Department for International Trade, membership would open new markets for Britain’s services industries, reduce tariffs on exports such as cars and whisky, and create new opportunities for UK farmers.

CPTPP has strong rules to support workers’ rights, as well as strong environmental provisions. The bloc also has strong rules against unfair trade practices like favouring state-owned enterprises, protectionism, discriminating against foreign investors, and forcing companies to hand over private information.

The free trade area would “uphold the UK’s right to regulate in its national self-interest, rather than forcing harmonisation on its members,” the UK government said.

Tourism and hospitality boost UK economy in May

Businesses that were among the worst hit by lockdown helped the UK’s economic recovery to accelerate last month, according to the latest Lloyds Bank UK Recovery Tracker.

The report showed that 11 out of 14 sectors reported faster growth in output month-on-month in May, up from nine in April, as the UK moved further out of lockdown.

The strongest growth was seen in the tourism and recreation sector, with pubs, hotels, restaurants and travel agents benefiting from a release of pent-up consumer demand.

Transport — including bus and rail operators, and providers of logistics services — also bounced back during May.

Lloyds also revealed that all 14 sectors monitored by the monthly tracker reported job creation during May, up from 12 sectors in April and the highest number since April 2015.

Employment increased in tourism and recreation for the first time since January 2020 as businesses benefited from the relaxation of lockdown restrictions.

The strongest rate of job creation was seen in manufacturing as firms increased their workforces to meet rising international demand for goods.

“When we look at the pace of growth, sectors that have been acutely affected by Covid-19 restrictions are now outpacing sectors that have been able to operate more freely during lockdown,” commented Jeavon Lolay, head of Economics and Market Insight at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

“Whether the four-week delay to further easing of restrictions will impact this trend is unclear. But while the delay is understandably disappointing for many businesses, there’s no denying that the economy is now on a much sounder footing.”

British Airways and Ryanair investigated over refunds

The UK competition authority is investigating British Airways and Ryanair for failing to give refunds for flights that customers could not legally take because of coronavirus restrictions.

While the UK was under lockdown it was unlawful for people to travel for non-essential reasons.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said that during these periods the two airlines refused to give refunds and instead offered vouchers or the option to rebook.

By failing to offer people their money back, both firms may have breached consumer law and left people unfairly out of pocket, the regulator said.

The CMA’s investigation only concerns flights that were not cancelled.

“While we understand that airlines have had a tough time during the pandemic, people should not be left unfairly out of pocket for following the law,” said CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli.

“Customers booked these flights in good faith and were legally unable to take them due to circumstances entirely outside of their control. We believe these people should have been offered their money back.”

British Airways said it had acted lawfully, while Ryanair said it had refunded a small number of people after looking into their specific cases.