McDonald’s sets up investigations unit after sexual harassment claims: McDonald’s UK has appointed a new unit to crack down on sexual harassment and bullying after admitting the business has “fallen short”. Chief executive Alistair Macrow said the investigation handling unit will be able to refer cases to specialist investigators. It comes after more than 100 past and present workers at McDonald’s said they were sexually harassed or assaulted or subjected to racism or bullying following a BBC investigation. “The allegations I have heard this week are personally and professionally shocking,” said Macrow. “I would like to reiterate my unreserved apology to, and empathy with, all those affected in any way, and I commend their bravery in coming forward. We have clearly fallen short in some critical areas, and I am determined to root out any behaviour or conduct that falls below the high standards of respect, safety and inclusion we demand of everyone at McDonald’s as detailed in our global brand standards.” Macrow said the unit, run by HR and legal professionals, will be in place until at least the end of the year. He said: “Any substantiated breaches of our code of conduct will be met with the most severe measures up to, and including, dismissal.” He also promised to appoint external experts who can evaluate what happens when a member of staff complains about a colleague. The BBC report contained allegations of complaints falling on deaf ears and not being escalated. The outside experts will assess whether the way McDonald’s escalates issues is effective and accessible and how much employees understand it. Macrow said. It is crucial that people feel safe and able to speak up. Clearly this has not been the case in some parts of our business. I will engage recognised external experts in this area and from there lead a company-wide conversation aimed at ensuring there is wholehearted confidence in and support for a ‘speaking up’ culture. This will include ensuring all managers are clear on how to respond when issues arise. I will make sure that everyone is in no doubt of my own unequivocal insistence on zero tolerance of harassment of any kind and to ensure our non-negotiable message of respect and inclusivity is heard clearly throughout our business. Alongside this I am going to assemble a panel of restaurant crew employees from across the country to operate as an advisory group to help embed ‘speak up’ confidence throughout our business with special regard for our tens of thousands of younger employees. We must, and we will, always operate to the highest standards – and that is my mission over the coming months. We intend to move at a pace in line with the gravity of the issues but also ensuring we are fair and accurate in our investigations, and any resulting enhancements.” In February, McDonald’s signed an agreement with the equality watchdog to improve how it handles sexual harassment allegations. In 2019, the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union said it had spoken to 1,000 women who reported being subjected to sexual harassment and abuse while working at McDonald’s.
Fuller’s sets out share buyback details: Fuller’s has set out the details of the share buyback programme it announced earlier this week, which will see the pub company repurchase up to one million A shares. The business said that move was consistent with its capital allocation framework and reflects the board’s view that the group’s current share price represents a “significant discount to the company’s underlying net asset value”. It said: “The company has today entered into an arrangement with Numis Securities to repurchase up to one million ‘A’ ordinary shares of 40p each in the company. The share purchases will be made on the company's behalf and in accordance with the arrangement and, in the case of any purchases made during closed periods and/or at any time when the company has inside information, shall be made independently of and uninfluenced by the company. Any purchase of ordinary shares effected pursuant to this programme will be carried out on the London Stock Exchange and executed in accordance with, and subject to limits prescribed by, the listing rules and in accordance with the authorisation granted to the Board by shareholders at the annual general meeting of the company held on 20 July 2023.” Earlier this week, Fuller’s reported it had continued to make strong progress with total sales for the first 15 weeks to 15 July rising by 17.1% and like-for-like sales for the same period up by 15.1%. The business said that increased tourism and events, along with workers returning to their offices, had contributed to like-for-like sales growth of 17.9% in its City and central London sites.
Higher interest rates and mortgage costs hit consumer confidence: Consumer confidence has fallen for the first time in six months after rapidly rising interest rates and mortgage costs dealt a blow to households already battling a cost of living crisis. The Times reported the closely watched monthly measure of household sentiment compiled by GfK fell by six points to minus 30 in July, reversing the steady recovery that began at the start of the year. All six measures of the survey – which include future and current perceptions of personal finances, major purchases and views on the state of the economy – fell in July. The dip coincides with surging mortgage costs this month as financial markets speculate on further aggressive interest rate rises from the Bank of England to quell sticky inflation. Joe Staton, client strategy director at GfK, said that recent consumer resilience had “suddenly collapsed” this month amid a swirl of bad economic news. “There are clear concerns for the coming year for our personal finances and for the wider economy, with these measures down six and eight points, respectively,” Staton said. “Reality has started to bite and as people continue to struggle to make ends meet, consumers will pull back from spending – as is clear from the seven-point drop in this month’s measure of major purchase intentions. All in all, it’s bad news. People are feeling economic pain and this confidence deficit needs to be reversed before the gains this year are lost.”
Businesses held back by struggle to recruit staff: Employers are still struggling with labour shortages and would need the entire population of Birmingham twice over to fill every vacancy, according to the latest snapshot of Britain’s labour market. The Times reported employers ran active job advertisements for 2.25 million jobs in the week to 9 July – 53% more than in the equivalent period in 2022, according to the latest data from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation. They placed 193,000 new job ad postings that week, which was 9% higher than a year earlier. Firms were also leaving job ads open for longer than normal because of difficulties in finding people, the REC said. The findings suggest employers are in a relatively confident mood about future demand, but prompt concerns that the shortages could push up wages and feed through into higher selling prices and fresh inflationary pressures. Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC, said. “It would require around double the population of Birmingham to fill all these posts.” Notable increases in job ads for driving instructors, paramedics and animal care services showed some of the greatest pressure points. Previous REC research found shortages of bar staff, waiters, bakers and cooks. Pubs, cafés, restaurants and other hospitality businesses were having to reduce opening hours, service offers or trading days despite plentiful demand, Carberry said. “It is so frustrating for hospitality firms that they can’t take full advantage of the anticipated strong demand this summer because of the failure to overcome labour shortages,” he added. “Wages have risen fast in this sector and firms have invested much more in hospitality career development, but even this isn’t enabling firms to move fast enough.”