Business Briefing

Autumn holiday bookings surge amid summer travel uncertainty

Brits ‘rediscover their love of reading’, Tesla posts biggest ever profit, and other breaking business news

1

Tourism 

Brits seek an autumn getaway 

Uncertainty over summer travel has seen a seasonal shift with airlines, resorts and tour operators all experiencing a surge in bookings for later in the year. Reservations are up by 80% compared with 2019 as holidaymakers switch peak summer breaks for autumn getaways, the Evening Standard reports. 

Despite the UK’s vaccine success, “growing numbers of Britons are believed to be abandoning hope of an international holiday until later in the year”, The Times says. The restart of foreign travel combined with Europe’s sluggish start to its inoculation programme are the “biggest drivers in the shift in booking patterns”.

Autumn bookings with Thomas Cook were up 50% on normal levels, the BBC reports. And luxury tour operator Kuoni said customers were “holding out for October half term”. According to Thomas Cook, Greece is the most popular destination for autumn breaks, with Rhodes the most in-demand island. 

International travel is due to be permitted from 17 May, but the “traffic-light” system for countries will not be known until nearer that date. 

2

Economy 

UK economy predicted for strongest annual growth since 1941 

Britain’s gross domestic product (GDP) is forecast to expand by 6.8% this year – the strongest annual growth since the Second World War. In January the EY Item Club had estimated a 5% growth in GDP, but the group upgraded its forecast after businesses “adapted better to Covid controls”, says The Guardian

In another forecast, investment bank Goldman Sachs has predicted a “striking” growth rate of 7.8% for the UK economy, Sky News reports. This is stronger than its expectation for the US, where “Joe Biden’s multi-trillion dollar stimulus effort is firing up recovery”.

3

Companies 

Standard Life Aberdeen rebrands as ‘Abrdn’ 

standardlifeaberdeen.com

Standard Life Aberdeen rebrands as ‘Abrdn’ 

Standard Life Aberdeen has announced that it will rebrand as “Abrdn”. Dropping the “e” but still pronounced “Aberdeen”, the change will be part of the investment giant’s aim to create a “modern, agile, digitally-enabled brand”, the Edinburgh Evening News reports.  

The group’s new name and logo have “so far been met with equal parts bafflement and amusement”, says the Financial Times, but the Abrdn rebrand “could still turn out to be a success”. 

“Rebrands are like new boots,” said Fred Burt, chief executive of brand consultancy Olix Consulting. “They are always uncomfortable to start with, but if made well, they’ll fit perfectly once broken in. Abrdn is certainly at the painful stage at the moment but things could change.”

4

Automotive 

Tesla posts biggest ever quarterly profit

Tesla, the world’s most valuable carmaker, has posted the biggest quarterly profit in its history. After a record number of electric vehicle sales, Elon Musk’s company revealed profits of $438m (£315m) for the first three months of the year, more than 30% above its previous record six months ago. 

The figures are a sign that Tesla is “putting lingering doubts about profitability behind it as it enjoys growing demand for its battery-powered vehicles”, says The Telegraph

Tesla is “purring along well”, Reuters reports, with deliveries hitting almost 185,000 cars in the first quarter, more than double the same period last year. The company also has factories under construction in Austin, Texas and outside Germany’s capital Berlin, which will “increase capacity further”. 

5

Books

Books

Brits ‘rediscover their love of reading’

People in the UK have “rediscovered their love of reading” after total consumer book sales increased 7% to £2.1bn in 2020, according to data released by the Publishers Association.

Last year sales of fiction titles were up 16% to £688m, non-fiction increased 4% to £1bn and audio downloads rose 37% to £133m. Print was down 6% to £3.4bn but digital was up 12% to £3bn.

“Publishing has proved incredibly resilient throughout the significant challenges of 2020,” said Stephen Lotinga, chief executive of the Publishers Association. “It’s clear that many people rediscovered their love of reading last year and that publishers were able to deliver the entertaining and thought-provoking books that so many of us needed. [However] we shouldn’t ignore the fact that it’s been a particularly challenging year for education publishers and many smaller publishers.”

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