In this week's roundup, we look at a legal wrangle over who should own the trademark to the word “Iceland”, a PR crisis over at Reddit and the Black Friday sales figures so far
Reddit CEO caught in post-tweaking row
It’s never easy for business leaders to read something nasty about themselves but most will probably be advised to keep calm and let the PR team handle it. This wasn't the strategy taken by Steve Huffman, founder and CEO of Reddit, the news aggregator and forum. After Reddit banned a community board dedicated to discussing a conspiracy theory involving Hillary Clinton, some Reddit users left negative comments about the entrepreneur.
In retaliation, Huffman has tampered with certain posts to replace mentions of his username with mentions of the moderators of a pro-Donald Trump subreddit. Or, as he put it, he was “trolling the trolls”. But you can't pull the wool over the eyes of the Reddit community. After some suspicious users checked the archives, they realised that Huffman had been doing some editing on the sly.
“As the CEO, I shouldn’t play such games, and it’s all fixed now,” Huffman said after being outed. “Our community team is pretty pissed at me, so I most assuredly won’t do this again.”
Icelandic government takes legal action against Iceland Foods
Does a country and its native businesses own the rights to its name? The Icelandic government certainly thinks so. It’s questioning the legality of Iceland Foods’ ownership of the trademark registration for the word “Iceland”, claiming that the company is making it more difficult from brands hailing from Iceland to market themselves abroad. The country's ministry for foreign affairs claims the brand has “aggressively pursued” Icelandic companies attempting to use ‘Iceland’ as part of their trademark, adding that it was only escalating the matter because negotiations have broken down – a point Iceland Foods disputes.
In response to the government's decision, Iceland Foods has called on the government to reach out to it directly and said: “We very much regret that the government of Iceland has apparently decided to take legal action over the use of the name Iceland.” It seems this is one relationship that’s gotten more than a little frosty.
Black Friday gets underway both online and offline
While bargain-loving South Africans wrestled over loo roll, British shoppers have been comparatively more calm as Black Friday got underway. Still, retailers have already reported strong sales figures. And while the annual shopping event started out offline, online sales have been growing each year.
John Lewis, for example, has experienced higher-than-expected sales overnight on its website, with shoppers placing around five orders every second. And it seems many people were snapping up a quick bargain on their mobile phones before heading into work, if the retailer's sales reports are anything to go by. Its busiest sales period was between 8am and 8.30am this morning, while mobile sales were about a fifth higher between 8am and 9am. Similarly, Argos said its website received 500,000 visits between midnight and 1am – a 50% increase from the previous year.
The shopping frenzy is far from over but already this year's Black Friday has provided a fascinating glimpse into consumer shopping habits.
Nearly a third of City workers predict their employers may leave Britain
In his first autumn statement, chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond revealed that the Brexit vote has caused GDP growth to be 2.4% lower than it would otherwise have been while also committing to a £500,000 investment in fintech firms. But the brunt of the pain may still lie ahead. According to a new report from Morgan McKinley, the recruitment agency, over 30% of City workers think their employer could move operations out of the UK once Britain has formally completed the Brexit process.
“Recently, there has been a lot of concern around the threat of the UK losing passporting rights, with emphasis placed on the continued importance of freedom of movement for EU nationals,” the company's report said.
While many businesses welcome Hammond's plans, it remains to be seen if the City will have to brace itself for an exodus of employers in the not-too-distant future.