Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week:
- Marks & Spencer to close over 100 stores by 2022
Reported by Anna Flaherty
In what is said to be an attempt to help the company to survive, M&S have decided to expand their closure plan and to close a further 14 stores. This is now the third announcement of closures, with their having already been an announcement of 22 closures to take place. This announcement is a result of the company’s plans to move a third of its sales online; a response to the challenges online shopping poses to many high street stores. As a consequence of this change in tact, up to one thousand employees could lose their jobs – Usdaw, the shopworkers’ trade union, has accused M&S of “salami slicing”. In other words, with there already having been three announcement of closures, what is there to stop there being many more?
Sacha Berendji, M&S’ retail operations director, was quoted saying that “closing stores isn’t easy but it is vital for the future of M&S”. This reflects the changing nature of the industry, and the need for companies to adapt if they are to survive these changes. Other companies, such as New Look, House of Fraser, and Mothercare are also closing many stores, showing how this issue is a common one for high street stores. Time will only tell whether or not the risk taken by closing stores will pay off.
- Legal Aid Housing Contracts: The Next to Go...
Reported by Dan Petch
With the current situation of legal aid, it is no surprise that next on the agenda of cut backs is the provision of legal aid in housing cases.
The London Law Centre expressed its fears for legal aid provision in housing courts as the High Court recently rejected its bid for a new contract.
The scheme currently offers face-to-face guidance and the possibility of representation for those who find themselves in court facing possession proceedings. Its aim is to be there for those who do not know how or where to find legal advice. The service is free for those in need on the day of their court hearing, regardless of financial circumstances.
The Ministry of Justice is planning on condensing the current 113 national schemes into 47 larger ones. The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) also plans to introduce new price-competitive tendering contracts, coming into force in Autumn. Planned changes aim to streamline the provision of legal aid – but under the surface it simply appears to be a way to cut government spending in the most crucial areas of society.
80% of the 900 cases heard last year which had representation or guidance provided by the South West Croyden Legal Centre avoided eviction orders. “Law centres used to go to court for free to stop evictions. We did it because we believed no one should face losing their home without professional advice” the charity said.
The High Court was asked on Monday to quash the MOJ’s tendering changes.
Read more here.
- UK has not renewed Roman Abramovich’s visa
Reported by Andrew MacDonald
The UK has yet to renew a visa for Roman Abramovich, the Russian oligarch and owner of Chelsea football club. Reports suggest he has faced delays in the process of renewing his investor visa after it expired last month.
According to two people close to him, he has returned to Russia.
After the poisoning of ex-Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia, with a nerve agent in Salisbury in March, there have been calls to curb the influence of oligarchs in the UK.
Experts say that it is not clear if the delay is related to the worsening relations between the Russian Federation and the UK.
The US is also on a similar stance to the UK concerning Russian oligarchs. In late January, the US Treasury Department released a list naming Russian businessmen that are closely affiliated with the Russian government. Mr Abramovich was named in the list.
Abramovich, who has a fortune of an estimated £9.3bn, was once the governor of the remote Chukotka region in Russia’s Far East. He started to grow his net worth in the early 1990s through the oil and gas industries in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union.
He did not attend Saturday’s FA Cup final at Wembley, where Chelsea beat Manchester United 1-0.