Your Weekly Commercial Awareness Update – w/c 18th February

Your Weekly Commercial Awareness Update – w/c 18th February

Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week:

CMA casts doubt over Sainsbury’s-Asda Merger

Reported by Rui Ci Lee

The proposed Sainsbury’s-Asda merger has been put in doubt following the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)’s provisional findings which were released on 20th February 2019.

The planned GBP 10bn merger would see two of the four biggest retail grocers in the UK coming together and superseding Tesco to be the biggest player in the market, with a combined market share of 31%. In the provisional report, the CMA found that the merger could lead to substantial lessening of competition, potentially increasing prices and lessening choice for customers.

The deal could potentially harm competition in grocery shopping at supermarkets and online grocery shopping at both local and national levels. It could also inflate fuel costs at more than 100 locations where Sainsbury’s and Asda petrol stations overlap.

Following the report, Sainsbury’s share price fell by 15%. While the CMA states that the merger may still follow through if Sainsbury’s or Asda sell their assets or operations, some view the deal to be effectively dead. Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe described the number of stores that the combined entity would have to sell – more than 300 – to be ‘absurd’.

Laith Khalaf, a senior analyst at Hargreaves Landsdown, said that the CMA is not keen on the merger to proceed even if the necessary divestments are made. This is because ‘the combined entity may damage competition by being too weak, rather than too strong’.

Both firms have until 30 April 2019 to respond to CMA’s findings.  

Read more at BBC, The Guardian, and City AM.

Several large companies still show a large difference in the gender pay gap

Reported by Zara Smith and Emma Ducroix

The gender pay gap between men and women has widened over the past 12 months after close analysis on wage figures. The current gender pay gap has decreased to 8.4 per cent from 9.7 per cent, however there is still room to improve this figure.

Researchers have focused mainly on looking at the pay rates of people employed in middle ranking positions to assess whether men were being paid more on average than women.

There is a difference between the gender pay gap and unequal pay. Thus meaning women are paid less than men for the same work.

Unequal pay is illegal.

Companies in the private sector with more than 250 staff are now obliged to report their gender pay rates. However, only 10 per cent of private companies have reported their gender pay rates ahead of the scheduled deadline, which will be the 4th April.

Since the Equal Pay Act introduced in 1970, firms couldn’t give to women less than men for the same work. This is why the gender pay gap is not the same as unequal pay.

This year, the analysis was on the median pay gap: it’s the difference in pay between the middle-ranking woman and the middle-ranking man. (If you line up all the men and women working at a company in two separate lines in order of salary, the median pay gap will be the difference in salary between the woman in the middle of her line and the man in the middle of his).

The results from the research demonstrated that out of those 1,146 companies in the private sector, the median gender pay gap reported is 8.4% – which is a slight improvement from 9.7% last year.

The big companies with a wider pay gap include Kwik Fit, Npower and Virgin Atlantic. At Virgin Atlantic, the pay gap increased from 28.4 per cent to 31 per cent.

Banks remain the most wider pay gap reference such as RBS, who employee more than 5,000 workers, and Lloyds Banking Group.

If we consider their statements, they have both pledged to increase the number of women in senior roles.

According to Dharshini David, BBC economics correspondent, news that the gap is getting bigger in almost two out of five companies may bring dismay.

Moreover, he declared that a large gap points to women being clustered in more junior roles. Progressing them through the ranks could take years.

And, it is important to notice that the pay gap really opens up when women become mothers. The government says it will wait five years before reviewing the legislation.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) declared that forcing companies to report their pay gaps was not enough to eliminate pay disparities.

Alexandra Anders, EMEA Talent Director at Cornerstone OnDemand stated on the matter that: “It’s disappointing to see that many companies are reporting wider pay gaps than they were last year and reiterates the need for companies to reflect on their hiring practices and how they can manage and fix this going forward.”

“Closing the gender pay gap is not a quick fix, and employers may take time to see their gap close as they implement long term action plans,” the Government Equalities Office said in a statement.

For more information read here and here.

62-year-old Sentenced to Life Imprisonment Has Been Found to Have Murdered Before

Reported by Paige Waters

A 62-year-old man, Paul Plunkett, has been sentenced to life imprisonment after smothering his partner, Barbara Davison – 66 –, following an argument. Plunkett plead guilty to the murder of Davidson as was sentenced to life with a minimum of 23 years.  

However, following Plunketts sentences, it has been found that he was convicted of manslaughter in the 1990s for killing his girlfriend at the time. He strangled her. He also has a long history of convictions for violence against women.

He was charged two days after the discovery of Davidsons body. Plunkett continued to deny to the charge until he suddenly changed his plea shortly before the trial was due to begin. He is still insistent he did not mean to kill her, but he was trying to ‘shut her up’ during their argument.

This has raised an outcry from the public to the MPs to back a new law which will allow police to take proactive measures to find out whether a serious offender has a new partner. This would also allow them to decide whether they should disclose the information to their new partner.

A case from 2014 led to the Clare’s law. This law was named after Clare Wood who was raped, strangled and set alight by her partner whose history of violence towards women was not disclosed to her. This allows people to find out about their partner’s history of abuse but it is only disclosed on request.

It is a controversial topic whether the police should have full disclosure on whether to tell new partners of the history of abuse, if any, their partner has already been convicted of. However, it could be the only prevention to stop these horrific murders.

Find out more here.

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