Your Weekly Commercial Awareness Update – w/c 1st October 2018

Your Weekly Commercial Awareness Update – w/c 1st October 2018

Here are this week’s headlines, brought to you by our Student Commercial Awareness Team:

Coroner to challenge food labelling laws

Reported by Anna-Mei Harvey

In a time when we are arguably more perceptive and careful about what we eat than ever before, Pret a Manger have been told they need to increase the transparency of their ingredients following an inquest in to the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse.

The 15 year old collapsed and died whilst on a flight from London to Nice on 17th July 2016. The current position is that any and all ingredients ought to be labelled on outer packaging of food products to avoid this exact scenario. The question that then remains is: what of food made on site? Products that are made fresh on site are subjected to reduced labelling requirements meaning it was sufficient for general allergen warnings to be posted around the shop, instructing customers to consult staff for advice should they have any queries regarding the contents of a food item.

The acting senior coroner for west London, Dr Séan Cummings, declared that Natasha’s cause of death was a “catastrophic anaphylactic reaction from which she could not be saved. Natasha’ death therefore was arguably completely avoidable had she have been aware of the traces / contents of food(s) contained in her baguette.

That is not to say however that Pret a Manger acted negligently and failed to highlight the contents of the baguette but rather that they were following the current food labelling laws. The teens’ father who attended the inquest spoke outside the hearing and highlighted that if that is the case then the law, as is, is not be fit for purpose.

Clive Schlee, the chief executive of Pret a Manger, commented saying “All of us at Pret want to see meaningful change come from this tragedy,” he said.

For more information, see here and here.

C of A rules government’s child refugees cap partly unlawful

Reported by Jutha Cheewat

The charity organisation ‘Help Refugees’ brought a legal action against the UK government over the number of unaccompanied child refugees allowed in the UK by the Home Office.

The charity group has been trying to put forward the cause since 2017 against the decision of the then home secretary Amber Rudd. However, they could not persuade the High Court.

Help Refugees then appealed in July this year. According to Belfast Telegraph, their argument was that the figure “did not accurately reflect the capacity of local authorities” and that the consultation process was confusing. It then had a detrimental effect on the quota, only six children were granted permission to enter in Scotland.

Nathalie Lieven QC, who is representing Help Refugees at the Court of Appeal, also added that unsuccessful applicants were not told reasons for refusal. While the Home Office stood by the High Court’s earlier decision.

The Court of Appeal ruled those child refugees were given “patently inadequate” reasons for being refused entry to the UK. They should be entitled to a full explanation for refusal.

Nevertheless, the Charity failed to persuade the court to abandon the cap. Therefore, the number remains 480.

For more information, see here, here and here.

Bloomberg claims China spies had stolen data from Apple and Amazon

Reported by Rui Ci Lee

On Thursday 4 October 2018, Bloomberg released an article claiming that China had infiltrated almost 30 US companies, including Amazon and Apple. It was claimed that a tiny microchip was planted on server circuit boards at factories run by manufacturing subcontractors in China.

These factories supply hardware to Super Micro Computer (Supermicro), one of the world’s largest suppliers of server motherboards, whose clients include Apple and Amazon.

However, Apple, Amazon, and Super Micro have rejected Bloomberg’s claims. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs had called the story a ‘gratuitous accusation’ and the safety of supply chains was an ‘issue of common concern’.

Reporters Jordan Robertson and Michael Riley had undertaken a year-long investigation into this story. Bloomberg said that the testimony of six current and former national security officials can counter the denials to the story.

Read more on the BBC.

Unilever backs-out of relocation plan

Reported by Dan James

The maker of Marmite and Dove soap, Unilever, has scrapped its plan to move its headquarters to the Netherlands after growing criticism from investors. The organisation currently has head-offices in London and Rotterdam but earlier this year outlined plans to move all their offices to the Dutch city.

Pressure from investors has caused the company to back-out of the relocation plans. If the move had gone ahead, it would have apparently forced UK shareholders to sell their stakes.

“The board will now consider its next steps and will continue to engage with our shareholders,” the company said in a statement. However, chairman Marijn Dekkers said that the board continued to believe that simplifying Unilever’s Anglo-Dutch structure was in the firm’s best interests.

Unilever is currently one of the biggest firms in the UK’s FTSE 100 share index, valued at around £124bn. Under UK rules it would not have been eligible to be a member of the FTSE 100 had the proposed relocation been given the go-ahead.

Many speculated that the move was planned due to the Brexit decision – the firm denied this however. Chairman Marijn Dekkers said that the board continued to believe that simplifying Unilever’s Anglo-Dutch structure was in the firm’s best interests. 

Aviva Investors said it was “pleased” with Unilever’s decision to withdraw its proposal. David Cumming, Aviva Investors’ chief investment officer, said Unilever was looking for “protection” after a failed takeover bid by US food giant Kraft Heinz in 2017.

Read more on the BBC.

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