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Wed 20th Jun 2018 - Update: Greene King calls for minimum pricing in England, Starbucks unveils priorities
Greene King calls for minimum pricing in England after Wales move: Greene King has called on England to implement minimum pricing after the measure was adopted in Wales, Rooney Anand, Greene King chief executive, said: “Greene King welcomes the passing of the Bill in the Welsh Assembly. We have for a long time made the case for introducing Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) in order to reduce the health risks associated with harmful drinking and its detrimental impact on society. The potential benefits of MUP are clear. This policy will restrict the availability of cheap, high strength, alcohol which has been causing the most damage to communities across Wales, without impacting moderate drinkers who can continue to enjoy a drink responsibly. We urge the UK government to look again at MUP and examine how to implement this policy and reduce high risk drinking in England in the near future.” The cost of cheap, strong alcohol is set to rise in Wales after the National Assembly passed a new law introducing a minimum price. The Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Bill is part of the Welsh government’s wider efforts to reduce excessive drinking, recognising the impact it can have on people’s health and well-being. The new law will address longstanding and specific health concerns around the effects of excess alcohol consumption. It is estimated to lead to nearly 55,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions a year, costing the Welsh NHS more than £150 million annually. In 2016, there were 504 alcohol-related deaths in Wales. The legislation supports the Welsh government’s strategy to address hazardous and harmful drinking by tackling the availability and affordability of cheap, strong alcohol. Following approval by Assembly Members, the Bill will become law once it has received Royal Assent. Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said: “I’m very pleased the National Assembly has given its seal of approval to our landmark legislation. Last year alone, there were over 500 alcohol-related deaths and nearly 55,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions in Wales, with the direct health care costs attributable to alcohol amounting to an estimated £159 million. But even more of an issue is the devastation that lies behind these figures. Devastation for families, impacts on communities, and consequences for our NHS staff and support services as they all cope with the aftermath of alcohol-related death and disease, every day. This legislation provides us with an opportunity for a step change. It gives us a chance to do more to address alcohol-related harms. And ultimately, it gives us a chance to do more to try to save lives. This legislation takes a sensible, targeted approach to a very real and evident problem in Wales today. But it will be supported by a range of additional actions being taken forward to support those in need – forming part of the Welsh government’s wider Substance Misuse Strategy. Wales, like so many other western countries, has a problem with cheap, strong, readily-available alcohol. This legislation will make an important contribution to addressing this issue.”

Starbucks unveils strategic priorities to accelerate growth: Starbucks Corporation has announced a set of strategic priorities and corresponding operational initiatives to accelerate growth and create long-term shareholder value. Starbucks details three strategic priorities to regain revenue and earnings momentum: Accelerating growth in the US and China, the company’s targeted long-term growth markets; expanding and leveraging the global reach of the brand through the Global Coffee Alliance; and sharpening the focus on increasing shareholder returns. “While certain demand headwinds are transitory, and some of our cost increases are appropriate investments for the future, our recent performance does not reflect the potential of our exceptional brand and is not acceptable,” said Kevin Johnson, Starbucks president and chief executive. “We must move faster to address the more rapidly changing preferences and needs of our customers. Over the past year we have taken several actions to streamline the company, positioning us to increase our innovation agility as an organisation and enhance focus on our core value drivers which serve as the foundation to re-accelerate growth and create long-term shareholder value.” The company’s streamlining initiatives will enable greater agility in adapting more quickly to changes in consumer preferences. This includes accelerating product innovation around core beverages while leveraging the growing tea and refreshment category, as well as consumer behaviour trends towards health and wellness. Starbucks is optimising its US store portfolio at a more rapid pace in FY19, including shifting new company-operated store growth to underpenetrated markets, slowing licensed store growth, and increasing the closure of underperforming company-operated stores in its most densely penetrated markets to approximately 150 in FY19 from a historical average of up to 50 annually. In FY19, this will result in a slightly lower growth rate in net new company-operated stores. Starbucks is actively expanding the breadth and depth of digital relationships with current and new customers. The company has added five million new digitally registered customers since April 2018 and two million active Starbucks Rewards members year-over-year to 15 million, up 13% from the previous year. In FY19, the company expects newer digital initiatives to contribute one to two points of comp growth in the US, supported by a redesigned Starbucks Rewards program that provides customers more choice around redemptions and payment, as well as expanded personalisation capabilities for customers that have a digital relationship with the company. With the execution of the company’s strategic priorities expected to improve the return profile of the business, the company now expects to return approximately $25 billion in cash to shareholders in the form of share buybacks and dividends through FY20. This represents a $10 billion increase from the cash return target announced on November 2, 2017. In support of an accelerated return of cash to shareholders, the board of directors approved a 20% increase in the company’s regular quarterly dividend and declared a cash dividend of $0.36 per share payable on August 24, 2018, to shareholders of record as of August 9, 2018. This represents the 8th annual increase in the company’s regular quarterly dividend.

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