Business Briefing

Mars House - the first NFT digital home - sells for $512,000

‘Young DIY-ers’ boost B&Q sales, nightclubs face bouncer shortage, and other breaking business news

1

Technology 

Take a virtual tour of Mars House

Jack Dorsey’s first tweet selling for $2.9m (£2.1m) is not the only digital deal making the headlines today in the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). A virtual property called “Mars House” has also been sold on marketplace SuperRare for 288 ether cryptocurrency - the equivalent of $512,000 (£371,694).

Designed by Toronto artist Krista Kim, Mars House is described by SuperRare as “the first NFT digital house” and is a 3D digital file that can be experienced in virtual reality.

The sale of the NFT digital property “might be most easily understood as the most expensive game of the Sims to ever be played”, says The Guardian.

Kim created Mars House using software that is commonly used to develop video games, architecture and design magazine Dezeen reports. She says it was designed to be a “light sculpture”.

2

Retail

B&Q sales boosted by ‘new generation of DIY-ers’

Doing up a home is not just for property developers and retirees - it’s also become a popular activity for younger people. Since the start of the pandemic, a new generation of “young DIY-ers” has emerged and 18-34 year-olds are “doing more home improvements than any other age group”, the BBC says. 

Kingfisher, which owns retail outlets B&Q and Screwfix, has reported a “sharp rise” in full-year sales and profits. The company saw a 44% increase in profit and £12.3bn in sales in the year to 31 January. Kingfisher boss Thierry Garnier said “all of this is very encouraging for the future of our industry”. 

3

Food

‘Dramatic dip’ in salmon, beef and cheese exports to EU

The end of the Brexit transition period has had a huge impact on exports of fish and meat from the UK to the EU. In January there was a “dramatic dip” compared with the previous year with salmon exports the “hardest hit”, Yahoo! Finance reports. 

According to the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), salmon exports fell by 98% year-on-year, beef fell by 91.5% and cheese was down 85.1%. This was a total fall of 75.5% from January 2020, the FDF revealed in its monthly snapshot. Dominic Goudie, head of international trade at FDF, said it was “extremely worrying” that January exports had fallen by more than 75% and that businesses were facing “significant challenges”. 

4

Employment

Payroll numbers rise but under-25s bear brunt of job losses 

In the three months to February the number of workers on UK company payrolls increased by almost 200,000, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Despite signs that the jobs market “may be stabilising”, the number on payrolls is still 693,000 lower than last February, the BBC reports. 

In an interview with the BBC’s Today programme, ONS head of economic statistics Sam Beckett warned there was still a lot of uncertainty in the jobs market and that “young people have borne much of the brunt”. He said: “Around two-thirds of the fall is under-25s and London has been particularly hard hit.”

5

Night-time economy

Bouncer ‘exodus’ could delay reopening of nightclubs

The reopening of the UK’s night-time economy could face further delays due to a shortage of bouncers and doormen. There has been an “exodus” of security staff during the coronavirus pandemic, says Yahoo! Finance, with many staff “forced to find work elsewhere” after bars, pubs and clubs were shut.

Under the four stage roadmap out of lockdown, nightclubs will be allowed to reopen no earlier than 21 June. However, the UK Door Security Association says more than half of the sector’s vacancies may be left unfilled and warns that many venues risk being unable to reopen safely. 

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