Business Briefing

1,500 homes to be created from empty offices in City of London

Shoppers snap up Crocs, revenues soar at Google owner Alphabet, and other breaking business news

1

Economy 

Post-pandemic action plan unveiled for London’s Square Mile 

The number of people living in the City of London will increase by around 20% by the end of the decade after plans were revealed to convert empty office space into new homes. 

As of March last year there were about 7,850 residences in the Square Mile, but the City of London Corporation wants to create at least 1,500 new residential units by 2030 as a way to use vacant space. 

New homes are not the only part of the City’s post-pandemic action plan. There are also proposals to “boost its cultural and creative industries” and “focus on digital infrastructure”, the Financial Times reports. 

“The Square Mile must evolve in order to provide an ecosystem that remains attractive to workers, visitors, learners and residents,” said Catherine McGuinness, policy chair at the City of London Corporation. “This will involve encouraging growth, fostering talent from all backgrounds, providing a vibrant leisure offer and offering outstanding environments.” 

2

Technology 

Revenues and profits soar at Google owner Alphabet 

Alphabet, the parent company of Google and YouTube, has reported record profits for the second consecutive quarter. 

Buoyed by millions of stay-at-home consumers shopping and searching online, Alphabet’s net profit for the first three months of the year soared to $17.9bn (£12.9bn), more than double the $6.8bn (£4.9bn) recorded a year ago, and revenues also surged 34% to $55.3bn (£38.4bn). 

Despite the strong results, Alphabet chief financial officer Ruth Porat said it was “too early to forecast the extent to which these changes in consumer behaviour and advertising spend will endure”.

3

Retail 

Questlove wore gold Crocs on the red carpet at the Oscars

Questlove wore gold Crocs on the red carpet at the Oscars

Chris Pizzello-Pool/Getty Images

Consumers snap up Crocs 

Crocs, the foam clogs loved by comfort-seeking consumers, have become a must-have item during the pandemic. It’s not just shoppers who are enjoying the brand though, but also investors. Shares in the shoe manufacturer have surged by 13% after it reported record sales in the first quarter of the year. 

From January to March, Crocs sales increased 64% to $460m (£331m) and pre-tax profit rose to $122.5m (£88.3m), compared to the same period last year. After record revenues of $1.4bn (£1bn) last year the company has also raised its 2021 sales forecast.

The shoe brand is back in fashion, and at this week’s Academy Awards musical director Questlove wore a spray-painted gold pair on the Oscars red carpet. “Whether you love them or loathe them, Crocs are making a comeback,” the BBC says.  

4

Automotive 

Lotus plans all-electric future for its sports cars 

British sports car brand Lotus has announced a £2.5bn plan that will see it commit to building electric vehicles in the UK and lead to a “ten-fold rise in production”, the Financial Times reports. The company hopes to switch to selling only electric cars by 2028.

Lotus’s newest model, the Emira, will launch in July and be its “last pure petrol sports car”, the BBC reports. “This is one last hurrah for the internal combustion engine cars, and then we move into the electrification future,” said Lotus managing director Matt Windle.

5

Property

Eglon House is listed for sale via estate agent Aston Chase

Eglon House in Primrose Hill, London

Aston Chase

Tim Burton’s former London home is on the market for £20m 

A five-bedroom property in north London formerly rented by Hollywood director Tim Burton is for sale with an asking price of £20m. Eglon House, which is an ode to Pierre Chareau’s iconic Maison de Verre (House of Glass) in Paris, is described as an “industrial masterpiece” and listed with estate agent Aston Chase

The vast living and work space in Primrose Hill has 13,000 sq ft of accommodation and includes a remarkable swimming pool that doubles as a cinema room.

Burton rented Eglon House from 2016 to 2019 and used the east wing of the property to write and produce live-action Disney film Dumbo. The west wing was used as accommodation for executives and staff working on the film.

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