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Boots finance chief resigns a year after failed sale plan

Boots UK

The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Boots has stepped down one year after the company’s US parent abandoned its sales plans.

Michael Snape, who served as CFO for nearly five years, resigned last month from the Nottingham-based company. His position will be filled by Sam Hunter, an existing finance executive at Boots.

It remains unclear whether Snape, who joined the chain in 2018 from Tesco, has secured another job opportunity.

Read More: Twitter head of content moderation quits after Elon Musk’s criticism

A spokesperson for Boots said Snape played a crucial role in the successful transformation of the company and wished him well in his future endeavors.

In June of the previous year, Walgreens Boots Alliance terminated discussions with potential buyers after months of negotiations.

However, many insiders in the retail industry anticipate the sale process will be revisited by the health and wellbeing giant, listed in New York, within the next 18 months.

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Boots currently operates over 2,200 stores in the UK, but this figure is expected to decrease as the company reevaluates its physical store portfolio.

In the last full financial year ending on August 31, 2022, the company reported a nearly tripled pre-tax profit of £137 million as its business rebounded following the final COVID-19 lockdown in the UK.

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Recession-proof jobs: 7 industries that will always be hiring!

A stethoscope

In times of economic uncertainty, one of the biggest concerns for individuals is job security.

The fear of losing a job or struggling to find new employment can be overwhelming.

However, there are certain industries that have proven to be resilient even during times of recession.

These industries are not only able to weather the storm but also continue to thrive and provide job opportunities.

If you’re looking for a recession-proof career, here are seven industries that will always be hiring.

Read more: Directors Guild reaches tentative deal with Hollywood studios

Healthcare and Medical Services

The healthcare industry is one of the most stable and recession-proof sectors. Regardless of economic conditions, people will always need medical attention. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals are always in demand.

With the ageing population and advancements in medical technology, this industry is expected to grow even further.

Information Technology (IT)

In today’s digital age, the demand for IT professionals is ever-increasing.

From software developers to cybersecurity experts, the IT industry offers a wide range of career opportunities.

Technology is an integral part of our lives, and businesses heavily rely on IT infrastructure and services. As a result, IT professionals are always sought after, making it a recession-proof industry.

Read more: Ronald Wayne: The man with no regrets over selling Apple stake now worth $200 billion

Education and Training

Education will always be vital and continues to be a priority for individuals and societies.

Teachers, professors, trainers, and educators will always be needed to impart knowledge and skills.

As the job market evolves, there will be a growing demand for continuous learning and upskilling, creating opportunities in the education and training sector.

Government and Public Services

Government agencies and public services play a vital role in society, regardless of economic conditions.

Job opportunities in areas such as law enforcement, firefighting, public administration, and social services are relatively stable

These positions often come with job security, benefits, and opportunities for advancement.

Utilities and Energy

Utilities such as electricity, water, and gas are essential for everyday life. The demand for energy and the need for infrastructure maintenance ensure job stability in this sector.

Careers in renewable energy, electrical engineering, and resource management are also on the rise as the world shifts towards a greener future.

Read more: Google Maps was sued after woman walked onto busy road with no pavements and was hit by motorbike

Food and Agriculture

People need to eat, and the food and agriculture industry will always be in demand.

From farming and food production to distribution and retail, there is a wide range of job opportunities available.

With the growing emphasis on sustainable practices and organic farming, there is also room for innovation and entrepreneurship in this sector.

Environmental and Waste Management

As awareness of environmental issues increases, the demand for professionals in environmental and waste management grows as well.

Jobs in recycling, waste reduction, pollution control, and sustainability consulting are likely to remain stable.

The need for environmental protection is a long-term concern, making this industry recession-proof.

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While no industry is entirely immune to economic fluctuations, these seven career options have demonstrated resilience even during times of recession. Pursuing a career in these fields can provide a sense of security and stability.

Additionally, the rapid advancement of technology and the growing focus on sustainability offer further opportunities for growth and specialization within these industries.

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Salesforce to donate $10 to charity for each day employees come into office

Salesforce has promised to give money to local charities in return for employees coming into the office.

In a bid to incentivize employees, the company has launched a charitable initiative called “Connect for Good.”

According to a report by Fortune, for every day an employee shows up to work between June 12 and June 23, Salesforce will donate $10 to a local charity.

READ MORE: Salesforce could cut more jobs to boost profits

The company aims to raise a substantial amount, between $1 million and $2.5 million, through this initiative.

The news of the fundraising campaign was shared in Salesforce’s #all-salesforce Slack channel and was subsequently reported by Fortune.

Employees have the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process by voting for the local charities they would like the donations to go to.

This move by Salesforce comes as the company has been struggling to maintain its desired level of productivity during the pandemic.

The CEO, Marc Benioff, expressed concerns about the lower productivity of new hires brought on board in 2021 and 2022 in a previous internal Slack message, as reported by CNBC in December.

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With a global workforce of over 79,000 employees, Salesforce is a cloud software giant that has faced significant challenges in the past 18 months.

The company witnessed the departure of top executives and faced pressure from activist investors. However, it recently announced improved financial results and is steadily progressing toward its 30% margin target.

A Salesforce spokesperson told Insider: “Giving back is deeply embedded in everything we do, and we’re proud to introduce Connect for Good to encourage employees to help raise $1 million for local nonprofits.”

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Merck sues US government over new law allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices


Pharmaceutical giant Merck has sued the Biden administration for granting Medicare the authority to negotiate prices with drugmakers for the first time directly.

The lawsuit, submitted in a Washington federal court, marks the pharmaceutical industry’s significant response to a substantial change in health policy set to take effect in 2026. 

Democrats introduced the Medicare-negotiation program last summer as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, positioning it as a means to lower drug prices.

Read More: Eli Lilly to pay $13.5 million in class-action lawsuit over insulin pricing

Under the law, only select drugs without market competition for several years will be subject to negotiation with Medicare. 

Despite this , Merck, which amassed $14.5 billion in profit last year, argues the law will hinder its ability, along with other companies, to make risky investments in new treatments.

Numerous drug makers have already said they may cut specific drug development programs due to the projected impact on their revenue, with some re-evaluating their research plans.

Merck seeks a court order or alternative legal remedy to exempt itself from participating in the negotiation program.

Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services, said the Biden administration would “vigorously defend” the law, asserting “the law is on our side.”

Read More: SEC sues Binance for alleged illegal use of customer funds

In Tuesday’s (June 6) complaint, Merck’s legal representatives from Jones Day contend the Medicare-negotiation program is unconstitutional. 

They argue the program would force Merck to supply its products at government-set prices.

They say it violates the Fifth Amendment’s clause prohibiting the government from seizing private property for public use without compensation. 

They also claim the program would infringe on Merck’s freedom of speech by compelling the company to sign an agreement it does not agree with following negotiations.

Read More: Delta Air Lines faces class action lawsuit over carbon-neutral claims

However, industry experts say the constitutional arguments put forth by Merck are weak and face an uphill battle in court.

Dr. Ameet Sarpatwari, an expert in pharmaceutical policy at Harvard Medical School, said what Merck considers “coercion” is, in fact, the establishment of a freer and more rational marketplace, addressing a crucial root cause of high drug prices.

Experts also note the negotiation process allows drugmakers to reject Medicare’s final offer and walk away without a deal if dissatisfied, albeit subject to a tax. 

Merck’s suit argues that for one of its drugs, refusing an offer could result the loss of tens of millions of dollars in taxes on the first day, escalating to hundreds of millions daily after a few months.

In September, the government plans to announce the initial ten drugs subject to negotiation in 2026. 

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Merck’s widely used diabetes drug, Januvia, will likely be included.

The program may impact Merck’s long-term plans for its highly successful cancer drug, Keytruda. 

When negotiations begin in 2028 for drugs administered in healthcare settings, Keytruda could be one of the first products targeted.

Regardless of the program’s focus, Keytruda’s sales are expected to decline in 2028 as it faces competition for the first time. 

However, Merck had expected substantial revenue from a new formulation of Keytruda currently in development, which could be subject to negotiation under the government’s program if approved.

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Media powerhouses push for protection against generative AI

The New York Times

As artificial intelligence advances, newsroom leaders are taking action to protect their content from AI-driven aggregation and disinformation. 

Major media organizations such as The New York Times and NBC News are in talks with a trade union, media firms, and big tech platforms to set guidelines for using their content by natural language AI tools.

One emerging generative AI trend can generate text or images in response to complex queries. 

Read More: “We’re all scared a bad guy could grab it” – Bill Gates on Artificial Intelligence

Programs like Open AI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard are trained on vast amounts of publicly available information, including journalism and copyrighted art. 

Concerns arise when these programs generate content that resembles or directly lifts from original sources, potentially undermining publishers’ business models.

It will diminish trust in online news and flood the digital space with inaccurate or misleading information.

Digital Content Next, the trade union representing over 50 major US media organizations, recently released seven principles for the “Development and Governance of Generative AI.” 

Read More: Meta surges in AI dominance with leaked software

These principles address critical issues such as safety, compensation for intellectual property, transparency, accountability, and fairness. 

They aim to initiate discussions and do not impose industry-defining rules. 

Industry leaders who actively engage in dialogues and workstreams to address the matter recognize the urgency to establish rules and standards for generative AI.

Generative AI presents both opportunities and threats to the news industry. 

Read More: Apple limits employee use of ChatGPT over data leak concerns

Amid the struggle faced by digital media companies due to dominant platforms like Google and Facebook, there is a push for Big Tech companies to compensate news organizations for the content used to train AI models.

In addition to financial concerns, the news industry recognizes the crucial need to combat the spread of misinformation facilitated by AI. 

Establishing the authenticity of content becomes a significant challenge, and misinformation can cause confusion, panic, and damage to brands. 

Newsrooms and technology companies are working on methods to verify content, including visual verification and encoding information in images to identify if they were created using AI. 

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The fight against disinformation may lead to an “AI policing AI” scenario, where both media and technology companies invest in software capable of identifying and labeling real versus fake content.

While the US government may regulate AI development by Big Tech, the pace of regulation might lag behind the speed at which technology is deployed. 

Media executives anticipate potential challenges and recognize the need for swift solutions through partnerships and digital maturity. 

With AI evolving rapidly, collaboration among industry players and regulatory measures will play a crucial role in navigating the complex landscape of AI in newsrooms.

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Coinbase hit with SEC lawsuit as crypto crackdown intensifies


The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a lawsuit against Coinbase for operating as an unregistered broker.

This comes as the second major regulatory action in two days targeting a prominent crypto firm, following the SEC’s suit against Binance and its founder on Monday, June 5.

The SEC’s move reflects Chair Gary Gensler’s efforts to exert regulatory control over the entire cryptocurrency industry. 

Read More: SEC sues Binance for alleged illegal use of customer funds

The commission has been focusing on enforcing its regulations on prominent players rather than just peripheral companies and currencies.

Unlike the lawsuit against Binance, the SEC’s complaint against Coinbase does not name CEO Brian Armstrong as a defendant or allege mishandling of customer funds. 

Coinbase criticized the SEC’s “enforcement-only approach” and called for transparent legislation instead.

Analysts suggest Coinbase is in a challenging position, with limited alternatives beyond defending its operations in court. 

The company’s stock and bonds experienced significant declines following the SEC’s announcement.

Read More: Former Coinbase manager settles SEC insider trading charges

The SEC claims Coinbase traded at least 13 crypto assets that should have been registered as securities and subject to regulatory scrutiny.

The company was allegedly required to register as an exchange, brokerage, and clearing agency.

Coinbase allowed trading 254 digital tokens on its platform, including well-known assets like Solana, Cardano, and Filecoin. 

The SEC argues Coinbase deprived investors of necessary disclosures and protections, exposing them to significant risks.

Additionally, the SEC classified Coinbase’s staking program, Coinbase Earn, as an unregistered security, contradicting the company’s stance.

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Coinbase went public in April 2021 and is one of the few publicly traded crypto companies. 

Major shareholders include Vanguard, Fidelity, and Morgan Stanley. 

The increased scrutiny from regulators could jeopardize over a third of Coinbase’s revenue.

Despite the regulatory challenges, Coinbase has been expanding internationally, launching operations in Bermuda, and hiring personnel in Singapore, Brazil, and Canada.

The SEC’s lawsuit against Coinbase highlights its determination to regulate the crypto industry, setting the stage for potentially significant changes in the regulatory landscape.

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Reddit cuts about 90 employees and slows hiring plans


Reddit is laying off around 90 employees and slowing hiring as part of a restructuring.

CEO Steve Huffman said the aim is to prioritize funding for projects and work towards achieving profitability by next year.

These job cuts account for approximately five percent of its total workforce, currently around 2,000 employees.

Read More: Spotify to cut 200 jobs in podcasting division

Huffman said: “We’ve had a solid first half of the year, and this restructuring will position us to carry that momentum into the second half and beyond.”

Reddit will reduce its hiring goals for the remainder of the year to around 100 hires, down from the initial plan of 300.

The social media platform, founded in 2005, is known for its subreddit message boards covering diverse topics.

It also has popular “ask me anything” sessions featuring celebrities, politicians, and experts. 

After being acquired by Condé Nast in 2006, Reddit became an independent entity under the ownership of Condé Nast’s parent company, Advance Publications, in 2011. 

Read More: ZoomInfo to cut three percent of headcount in strategic restructuring move

Steve Huffman assumed the role of CEO in 2015.

Although Reddit filed to go public at the end of 2021, the company has not yet proceeded with the initial public offering. 

Its primary revenue stream is derived from advertising.

But last month, it planned to charge certain third-party developers, including artificial intelligence companies, for access to its application programming interface (API) as part of an update to its terms of service.

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The downsizing trend has affected numerous technology companies this year and the end of the previous year.

It includes major players like Amazon, Meta, Alphabet, and Microsoft. 

Many of these companies cited inflation and rising interest rates as contributing to workforce reductions, with some acknowledging overhiring in recent years.

Beyond the tech sector, companies across various industries, such as McDonald’s, Walt Disney, Accenture, McKinsey, and Hasbro, have also announced layoffs.

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UK’s top bosses paid millions during cost of living crisis

National Grid

The UK’s top bosses have been raking in millions of pounds in pay, despite the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, and National Grid are among the companies that have rewarded their chief executives with substantial pay packages, as disclosed in annual reports released on Tuesday.

John Pettigrew, the high-profile energy executive at National Grid, saw his earnings rise to £7.2 million in the last financial year, up from £6.6 million the previous year.

Read More: UK civil servants to continue strikes despite improved pay offer from government

While his fixed pay decreased, his variable pay, which includes bonuses and long-term incentives, increased from £5.2 million to nearly £6 million.

Simon Roberts, the CEO of Sainsbury’s, enjoyed a 36 percent pay increase last year, taking home £4.9 million, beating the pay of his counterpart at rival Tesco.

This increase was largely attributed to a £2.3 million long-term bonus, in addition to a £1.7 million annual bonus and a 3.5 percent raise in basic pay.

Read More: Gannett CEO faces backlash as journalists strike over layoffs and pay issues

At Marks & Spencer, the co-chief executives, Stuart Machin and Katie Bickerstaffe, both received over £2 million in pay last year due to a surge in sales and profits.

Machin earned £2.5 million, including a £1 million bonus, while Bickerstaffe earned £2.25 million, with a bonus of £989,000.

These remunerations have come under scrutiny as supermarkets and energy companies have faced accusations of profiteering during a period of rampant food inflation and an energy crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Read More: Thames Water CEO’s £1.5m pay package sparks controversy

The disparity between executive pay and the struggles faced by families has been criticized by advocacy groups, highlighting the challenges faced by households experiencing the energy bills crisis and living in cold and damp homes.

While companies like National Grid have defended executive pay based on good business performance and long-term value creation, critics argue such high salaries are out of touch with the reality of many people’s lives.

Despite the pay increases for top bosses, it should be noted that some companies have implemented wage hikes for their shop-floor staff.

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Sainsbury’s provided a 10 percent pay rise for its shop-floor workers, while Marks & Spencer’s CEO pay increase was accompanied by a three percent raise for basic salary.

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£58 million Leicester Walkers Crisps factory boost to create 100 new jobs

Walkers Crisps

Walkers, renowned for producing beloved British crisps like Wotsits and Monster Munch, is set to receive a £58 million investment, leading to the creation of up to 100 new jobs at its Leicester site.

Owner Pepsico said the move represents the company’s largest investment in the UK in the past 25 years.

As the site commemorates its 75th anniversary, PepsiCo plans to install a new manufacturing line and replace existing machinery.

Read More: UK manufacturing giant Unipart could move investment to the US

The investment will also focus on enhancing employee facilities for the site’s workforce of 1,120, including the development of training areas, a new on-site restaurant, and meeting rooms.

PepsiCo’s investment aims to secure the future of the factory and position Walkers for long-term growth.

The planned production line will increase capacity and enable the production of more Walkers snacks, particularly the popular Wotsits and Monster Munch brands.

Read More: Microsoft appeals UK veto of Activision Blizzard takeover

With the completion of construction in 2024, some products, currently manufactured in Europe, such as Wotsits Giants and Monster Munch Giants, will be produced in Leicester.

Additionally, the funding will be allocated towards replacing ovens to run on renewable electricity, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by around 1,000 tonnes annually.

Compact packaging equipment will also be installed to reduce plastic usage in snack multipacks.

Read More: New UK Land Rover battery factory could create 9,000 jobs after government wins bid

PepsiCo responded to previous calls from campaigners by ensuring its packaging can now be recycled at major supermarkets.

The company plans to invest further in the development of healthier snack ranges.

Jason Richards, senior vice president and general manager at PepsiCo UK and Ireland told BBC: “In 2023 we’re celebrating 75 years of Walkers crisps, so there’s no better time to renew our commitment to Leicester – a city and community that have been crucial to our success in the UK.

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“As we look ahead to the next 75 years and future-proof our UK operations, this £58m investment will transform our manufacturing site and installing state-of-the-art equipment will help us deliver on our ambitions on packaging and health.

“Alongside upgrades to meet increased demand for our snacks, we’re proud to be investing in creating better facilities for our people, who remain at the heart of bringing our most loved snacks to households across the country.”

Furthermore, it will create new training opportunities and up to 100 positions to manage the increased workload resulting from the implementation of new equipment and technology.

This announcement follows PepsiCo’s £24 million investment in its Lincoln factory in 2021, as well as previous investments in the Leicester distribution center, and Walkers sites in Skelmersdale and Coventry.

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AO launches recruitment drive for more than 250 new staff


AO has initiated a recruitment campaign to hire over 250 new employees for its customer service specialists team.

The new hires will have the opportunity to follow a development pathway, allowing them to increase their starting salary from £24,000 to £31,000 within a year as they progress towards becoming customer service specialists.

This news comes after AO granted its contact centre agents pay raises of over 20 percent in the past year, accompanied by a performance-based bonus.

Read More: AO boss bans hybrid working and tells staff to get back to offices or quit

Jo Salisbury, AO head of contact centre transformation, told Retail Gazette: “Our customer service specialists go through AO’s Academy process, seeing them grow and develop their existing customer service skills.

“All colleagues will then have the opportunity to progress every three months, through four achievable development bands, to the stage where they are an expert on all things AO and earning a fantastic £31,000.”

Despite a 17.2 percent decline in sales at its core UK business in the third quarter, AO raised its profit expectations in January, affirming that the sales performance was in line with management projections.

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Additionally, AO previously highlighted the ongoing impact of the cost-of-living crisis, which contributed to widening half-year losses in November.

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