Burger King, Tinder, Cadbury: Everything that matters this morning

Good morning and welcome to Marketing Week’s round-up of the news that matters in the marketing world today.

Tinder owner exits Russia over a year on from Ukraine invasion

Match Group, which owns dating app brands such as Tinder and Hinge, has said it will stop operating in Russia, more than a year on from the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The group said its brands are currently “taking steps to restrict access to their services” in the country and will fully withdraw by the end of June. It cited human rights reasons for its withdrawal from the country.

Other digital services providers, such as Netflix and Spotify, pulled out of the company shortly after the invasion began in February 2022. Match has made little comment on its Russian business until now, except citing the negative impact the war was having on its European business in March 2022.

Tinder and other apps being withdrawn from Russia will make its citizens immediately take notice, said Mark Dixon, founder of the Moral Ratings Agency, a campaign group advocating for brands to leave the country.

However, speaking to the BBC, he questioned why the decision has taken a year.

“What has changed in the last year that made it wake up now? Putin has been relentlessly attacking Ukraine since he invaded the country,” Dixon said.

“Tinder is fast for dating action but slow on moral action. It should just switch it off tomorrow.”

READ MORE: Tinder swipes left on Russia a year after invasion

Greene King sees profits rise as it pushes for value

Greene King has seen its profits grow rapidly in the last year due to progress on its strategic focus of value during the cost of living crisis.

The pub chain reported a full year operating profit of £192.6m for 2022, versus £18.6m in 2021, when Covid restrictions had a negative impact on much of its business. The company’s revenue also increased by over 62% versus 2021 to £2.18bn.

The chain said it focused on adapting its menu to provide value for consumers amid the cost of living crisis. However, its CEO Nick Mackenzie told Sky News consumer confidence has remained “depressed” throughout the year, but that demand was buoyed by events like Christmas and the World Cup.

“We still have the challenges around energy, we still have labour cost inflation in our business as well and food inflation is still high,” he told the broadcaster, but expressed his hope that these pressures would start to ease this year.

READ MORE: Cost of living: Greene King sees some costs start to ease as it toasts bounce in annual profits

Burger King hails progress on digital transformation

Source: Shutterstock

Burger King’s business has been “fundamentally transformed” by its digital transformation, including increased in-app ordering and delivery.

In the restaurant brand’s French and Spanish businesses over seven in 10 orders are now made through digital channels, reported parent company Restaurant Brands International.

“Digital ordering has fundamentally changed the business over the years and will continue to be a major driver of growth for the next several years,” CEO Joshua Kobza told investors during a call today.

He said different markets were seeing digital growth in varying areas, for example, in Spain, delivery is leading growth. He added some franchisees are moving away from digital kiosk ordering due to the progress they’ve seen in in-app ordering.

Kobza added learnings from Burger King’s digital progress were being applied across markets.

In the UK, Burger King rolled out its first-ever loyalty scheme ‘Your Burger King’ in July 2022 after a trial in Scotland. However, only around half of its UK restaurants are participating. Points through the scheme can be redeemed on the Burger King app, which also allows customers to order.

The business, which includes restaurant brands Popeyes and Tim Hortons as well as Burger King, reported its results earlier today for its first quarter, which ended 31 March. It saw system-wide sales growth of 15% year-over-year to $9.38bn.

In the Burger King International segment specifically, which covers all of the brand’s restaurants outside of the US, sales rose by 12%.

Cadbury desserts recalled over listeria fears

Six Cadbury desserts, produced by Müller, have been recalled due to fears the products may contain listeria bacteria.

Listeria causes the rare infection listeriosis. According to the NHS, this is usually not serious, with most people experiencing only mild symptoms for a few days, or no symptoms at all. However, it can be more dangerous for those who are pregnant, over 65, people who are immunocompromised, and children.

The NHS says the bacteria can trigger symptoms including high temperature, aches and pains, chills, feeling or being sick, and diarrhoea.

The products being recalled include Cadbury Flake Chocolate Dessert and Cadbury Crunchie Chocolate Dessert. While these products bear the Cadbury name, they are produced under licence from Mondelez by Müller.

Müller says it will issue full refunds for any of the impacted products. It also reports the incident is isolated, and that it is carrying a full investigation.

READ MORE: Six Cadbury chocolate desserts recalled by Müller over listeria contamination fear

Vice Media reportedly close to bankruptcy

Vice Media, the pioneering digital media platform, which was once valued at almost $6bn (£5bn) is close to bankruptcy, according to reports.

The media company has been seeking a sale to avoid bankruptcy, reports The New York Times, and has been involved in talks with at least five companies. It is reportedly seeking a sale at about $1.5bn(£1.2bn), which is a significant slide from its previous valuation of $5.7bn (£4.6bn) in 2017.

Vice’s assets include Vice News, Motherboard, Refinery29 and Vice TV. The media brand began as a punk magazine in Montreal almost 30 years ago, before expanding into digital media.

Alongside companies like BuzzFeed, which last week announced the closure of its BuzzFeed News operation, it rose quickly to become a pioneer in a digital media sphere which once seemed brimming with potential.

The company had investments from larger media brands such as Disney, which once explored buying Vice. Disney invested $400m (£320m) into the business, which it wrote off as worthless in 2019.

Last week Vice announced it was cancelling its popular news program Vice News Tonight as part of a restructuring which will make 100 people redundant.

READ MORE: Vice Media reportedly headed for bankruptcy

Tuesday, 2 May

HSBC triples profits in first three months of 2023

HSBC has posted a pre-tax profit of $12.9bn (£10.3bn) in the first three months of 2023, an unexpected tripling of profit from $4.2bn (£3.3bn) during the same period last year, according to the bank’s latest trading report.

Revenue jumped by 64% to $20.2bn (£16.2bn) compared to the same period 12 months ago, with the company crediting the rise to higher interest rates across the world, as well as infrastructure savings.

The positive figure has led to the bank announcing its first dividend of 10 cents per share since before the pandemic in 2019, as well as announcing it would buy back $2bn worth of shares.

Part of the increase comes from the purchase of the collapsed Silicon Valley Bank’s British business (SVB UK), which it bought in March for a nominal £1, in a deal partly brokered by the UK government and the Bank of England. It says its profits got a £1.2bn boost from this deal.

Group chief executive Noel Quinn says the “strong first quarter performance” provides further evidence that its “strategy is working” and that HSBC would continue to “meet our customers’ needs” through its internationally connected franchises.

“We remain focused on continuing to improve our performance and maintaining tight cost discipline, but we also saw an opportunity to invest in SVB UK to accelerate our growth plans,” adds Quinn.

READ MORE: HSBC says UK buyout boosted profit by $1.5bn

Walkers healthier alternatives proving popular

Walkers says 30% of its sales now come from “healthier snacks”.

The UK snack company launched an ambition for 50% of sales to come from products classified as non-HFSS (those not high in fat, salt or sugar) or sold in portions of 100 calories or less by 2025.

One year on from launching this goal, and following an investment of £35m to drive innovation and new products launches, Walkers is making progress.

The company says two-thirds of all new product launches last year, including its Walkers 45% Less Salt snack, are classified as non-HFSS.

Jason Richards, general manager of PepsiCo UK & Irelands, says the figures proves there’s “and increasing appetite for healthier choices in the UK” and the company is “confident” it can reach its 2025 target.

He adds: “Walkers has long been a leader in the development of healthier snacks, and last year we stepped up our efforts, setting our boldest ambition yet. I’m immensely proud of how far we’ve come in a year by reshaping our portfolio.”

Qantas appoints first female CEO

QantasQantas has promoted its chief financial officer Vanessa Hudson to CEO.

The Australian airline, which has suffered a rocky reputation of late thanks to perceptions of poor customer service and frequent cancellations, has been searching for a replacement to long-time head Alan Joyce for some time now.

Hudson will be the first woman to hold the position when she takes over in November.

The airline’s chair, Richard Goyder, says the appointment allows for a “smooth transition”.

“Vanessa has a deep understanding of this business after almost three decades in a range of roles both onshore and offshore, across commercial, customer and finance. She has a huge amount of airline experience and she’s an outstanding leader,” says Goyder.

Shares in the company fell by 2% in early trading as investors showed initial doubt that Hudson will be able to turn around the airline’s flagging fortunes.

Hudson, who has worked at Qantas for 28 years, spoke of her great “understanding” of the organisation as to why she will be able to take the airline forward.

“I think the experience that I’ve had, and also recently, in helping manage through Covid, places me in a great position to look forward in terms of all of the investments that are coming with new aircraft, but also continuing to invest in our customers,” says Hudson.

READ MORE: Vanessa Hudson to replace Alan Joyce as Qantas CEO

Food inflation jumps 15.7% year on year

Food prices have continued to rise in the UK as inflation impacts shoppers.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has released new figures showing food inflation was up at 15.7% in April compared to the same time last year, up from 15% in March, and despite a general fall in wholesale costs.

This fall is what leads Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, to claim food prices “should start” to come down in the next few months “as the cut to wholesale prices and other cost pressures filter through”.

She adds that retailers are “committed to helping their customers and keeping prices as low as possible”.

Major retailers, such as Sainsbury’s and manufacturers like Unilever, have been forced to deny in recent weeks they have been profiteering from inflation amid the drop in wholesale prices.

Sainsbury’s boss Simon Roberts said the company was “absolutely determined to battle inflation for our customers” but admitted prices could take months to fall as other inflationary factors, like energy and labour costs, continued to rise.

READ MORE: Food prices jump despite drop in wholesale costs

BP posts better-than-expected first quarter results

BP has posted first-quarter profits of $5bn (£4bn) for the first three months of 2023.

Profits are down from the $6.2bn it made in the same period last year when the energy crisis was at its peak, but is still much stronger than the $4.3bn that had been forecast by analysts.

The results, the second-best in the company’s history, is sure to reignite debate about whether a windfall tax should be placed on the profits of oil and gas firms.

Labour last night called for the government’s energy profits levy, introduced in 2022, to be made tougher in light of the news.

BP says it will increase its dividend and would reward investors by buying back $1.75bn of its own shares.

Oil and gas prices have been falling since last summer but remain high and are expected to remain so until the end of 2023.

READ MORE: Bumper BP profits reignite debate over tougher windfall tax



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