Tory drugs, Uber air taxis and fashion retail bright spots
Planet Business: Political buccaneers and a reflective billionaire take centre stage
Theresa May, still prime minister of the UK, steps into the glare of London Tech Week. Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP
Image of the week: The Great Exhale
No, this is not quite the end of mad pictures of Theresa May, though it might genuinely be the beginning of the end. While May, no longer Conservative party leader but still prime minister, was preparing to address a London Tech Week gathering on Monday, the runners and riders to replace her kicked off an eclectic mix of campaign strategies, which variously included admitting to taking cocaine (Michael Gove), admitting to taking cannabis (Jeremy Hunt, Esther McVey, Dominic Raab, Matt Hancock, Andrea Leadsom), admitting to taking opium (Rory Stewart) and not having taken any drugs at all (Sajid Javid, Matt Harper), promising a “a buccaneering approach” to global trade after Brexit (Raab again) and being amusingly shaded by television presenter Lorraine Kelly (McVey again). Quite what Boris Johnson was getting up to is anybody’s guess.
In numbers: Pre-flight flight
10. Minutes it will apparently take somebody to travel from Melbourne’s central business district to the Australian city’s airport with an “Uber Air” taxi. “Ground transportation” to the necessary “skypad” is not included in this calculation.
4. Number of years before commercial operations will begin, at the earliest. Melbourne this week joined Dallas and New York as a “test city” for the service.
4. Number of passengers who will fit on Uber’s planned electric aircraft which, like helicopters, will have a vertical take-off and landing capability. What can go wrong?
Getting to know: Friede Springer
German billionaire Friede Springer is the main owner of European media group Axel Springer, founded by her late husband, a one-time journalist who built a newspaper and magazine empire in post-war Germany. Originally the nanny of Axel Springer’s offspring, she later became his fifth wife and duly inherited his stake in the Bild and Die Welt newspaper publisher when he died in 1985. The underestimated widow then fended off attempts by others to gain control of the company, taking it for herself instead. It’s only now, when faced with the threat posed to business models by Google and Facebook, that she is seeking an investment partner. Enter US private equity group KKR, which plans to buy out minority shareholders with an offer valuing the company at €6.8 billion. No matter how KKR’s offer pans out, Springer (76) is expected to retain her holdings and her influence.
The list: Fashion tips
Online clothing retailer Boohoo, owner of the PrettyLittleThing and Nasty Gal brands, is sashaying into holiday season with a stylish 39 per cent surge in group sales, while Spanish retail giant Inditex also posted decent figures this week. But which trends are giving their top lines this joy?
1. Floral prints: Boohoo knows its summer florals from its winter ones.
2. Jewel-toned blazers: Inditex-owned Zara can’t help shifting them.
3. Colour-block clothes: Take one strong colour, add another, maybe throw in some white in the middle and what have you got? A national flag-like approach to dressing.
4. Maxi-dresses: According to Zara, hemlines are as low as they can go this summer without being trod on.
5. Ankle boots: Just perfect to be hidden under those maxi-dresses.