Business Briefing

Lego builds digital strategy after record sales

Rail upgrades to derail Easter travel, Buffett joins $100bn club, and other breaking business news

1

Retail

Lego is ‘lockdown winner’

Lego is piecing together plans for future growth in its digital and online operations after announcing a record year for sales. 

With families seeking ways to keep entertained at home, Lego’s toy bricks have made the Danish toy giant a “lockdown winner”, Bloomberg says. Newly published figures show that the company’s revenues increased by 13% last year to 43.7bn kroner (£5bn). And consumer sales rose by 21% - the steepest hike in five years.

But Lego is out to achieve even better results, launching a “hiring spree” to recruit “hundreds of computer experts” in the UK, Denmark and China as part of plans to “speed up” the growth of its digital games and online sales operation, the BBC reports. 

CEO Niels Christiansen told the broadcaster that the company had already made “large-scale investments in initiatives designed to support long-term growth” but will now be “accelerating” its digital transformation.

2

Energy 

Tory ‘Red Walls’ to put ‘wind in sails’ of green industrial revolution

Boris Johnson is turning up the dial on the UK’s green energy push by pledging a total of £95m in funding for offshore wind power projects that will create more than 6,000 jobs. 

The plans will see the prime minister “handing more government cash” to two of the Tories’ “Red Wall” areas, Sky News reports. Able Marine Energy Park in Humberside will get £75m, with the other £20m going to the Teesworks Offshore Manufacturing Centre in Teeside.

Announcing the handouts, Johnson said: “During the Industrial Revolution over 200 years ago, wind powered the sails of ships from the Humber and Teesside trading goods around the world.

“Now, the Humber and Teesside will put the wind in the sails of our new green industrial revolution, building the next generation of offshore wind turbines whilst creating 6,000 new green jobs in the process.”

3

Retail

M&S

Getty Images

M&S to sell rival clothing brands online

Clothing from brands including Hobbs, Jules, Sloggi and Triumph will be sold on the Marks & Spencer website from this spring under newly announced online expansion plans.

In a statement, the high-street chain said that as part of an ongoing “transformation programme” designed to “turbocharge online growth”, a total of 11 rival labels will feature under the new “Brands at M&S” banner.

M&S director of brands Neil Harrison added: “The exciting mix will offer our 22 million customers product we already know they love and introduce them to some new brands.”

Not everyone is convinced, however. M&S “has tortured itself and its customers for years with its efforts to develop in-house brands”, says The Guardian’s Nils Pratley, and is committing “more heresy” with the plan to sell rivals’ clothing.

4

Transport

Train passengers urged to ‘minimise travel’ over Easter 

Would-be rail users hoping to make the most of lockdown easing with an Easter bank holiday getaway are being urged to think again. 

England’s lockdown restrictions are due to ease on 29 March to allow up to six people or two households to meet outdoors. But “just days after England’s stay-at-home order is lifted”, rail services will be disrupted by engineering work, Sky News reports.

Network Rail is set to carry out 600 projects costing a total of £116m over the four-day Easter weekend. The company’s CEO, Andrew Haines, said that “while the majority of routes are unaffected”, passengers should “check their journey in advance”. 

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris urged rail users to “minimise travel” over the upcoming break.

5

Rich list 

warren-buffett.jpg

2013 Getty Images

Buffett becomes sixth member of $100bn club

US business tycoon Warren Buffett has finally gained entry to the $100bn club at the age of 90.

Buffett joins five other people including Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk in the “exclusive” group, after hitting the landmark figure despite having “given away billions of his wealth to charity”, says the BBC.

The nonagenarian’s fortune reached a new high of $100.3bn yesterday, according to the Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List, following recent share price gains by investment firm Berkshire Hathaway, of which he is chair.

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