‘Sahara Life should not procure new business’

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‘Sahara Life should not procure new business’
SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT HYDERABAD, JUNE 23, 2017 21:05 IST
UPDATED: JUNE 23, 2017 21:13 IST
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th24BUSAHARA
Someone filling out Restraining Order.
IRDAI order allows company to service existing business

Insurance regulator IRDAI, which earlier this month had appointed an administrator to manage the affairs of Sahara India Life Insurance, on Friday directed the company not to procure new business.

The company is directed “not to procure/collect proposal deposits/underwrite new business with immediate effect, i.e., close of business on June 23, 2017,” the regulator said in its order.

Advising Sahara India Life to inform all concerned such as agents and intermediaries of the direction, it said the company should ensure that it did not conduct new insurance business immediately on receipt of the order.

However, the company is directed to “continue to collect and account for renewal premium; and service the existing business and policyholders, unhindered,” the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India said.

IRDAI had on June 12 appointed its General Manager (F&A-NL) R.K.Sharma as administrator of the company and asked him to file a report on the most advantageous course of action in the interest of the policy holders. There were reasons to believe that Sahara India Life “is acting in a manner [that is] likely to be prejudicial to the interests” of the policy holders, the regulator had stated.

[Source”pcworld”]

Crude oil holds near 7-month lows on global oversupply

Oil prices steadied just above seven-month lows on Tuesday after news of increases in supply, a trend which has undermined the attempts by OPEC and other producers to support the market through reduced output.

Benchmark Brent was up 15 cents at $47.06 by 0820 GMT. On Monday, it fell 46 cents, or 1 per cent, to settle at $46.91 a barrel.

That was its lowest close since November 29, the day before the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers agreed to cut output by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) for six months from January.

US crude oil was 15 cents higher at $44.35 a barrel. It fell 54 cents on Monday to $44.20, its lowest close since November 14.

Both benchmarks are down by around 15 per cent since late May, when OPEC, Russia and other producers extended their limits on production until the end of March 2018.

“Recent data points are not encouraging,” Morgan Stanley analysts said in a research note. “Identifiable oil inventories – both crude and product in the OECD, China and selected other non-OECD countries – increased at a rate of (about) 1 (million bpd) in Q1.”

OPEC supplies jumped in May as output recovered in Libya and Nigeria, two countries exempt from the production reduction agreement.

Libya’s oil production rose more than 50,000 bpd to 885,000 bpd after the state oil company settled a dispute with Germany’s Wintershall, a Libyan source told Reuters.

Nigerian oil supply is also rising, industry figures show. Exports of Nigeria’s benchmark Bonny Light crude oil are set to reach 226,000 bpd in August, up from 164,000 bpd in July, loading programmes show.

“The increasing August export programme in Nigeria and the jump in Libyan oil output should pressure oil prices further in the short term,” said Tamas Varga, senior analyst at London brokerage PVM Oil Associates.

“If we get bearish US oil statistics this week, we could see a test of $45 on Brent,” Varga said.

US oil production has been rising quickly this year, feeding the global glut. Data on Friday showed a record 22nd consecutive week of increases in US oil drilling rigs.

But Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the oil market is heading in the right direction and just needs time to rebalance, the London-based newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported on Monday.

 [Source”timesofindia”]

RBS: Small shareholders demand a say in bank bosses’ pay

RBS

Small investors in RBS are pushing for the bank to set up a shareholder committee to give them a bigger say in areas such as executive pay.

Groups representing small shareholders argue they should be involved in ensuring good corporate governance.

Investors hope RBS will serve as a test case so other companies will consider installing a shareholder committee.

RBS said it had not seen full details but pledged to “look closely” at it once it had.

The way companies are managed – and how much bosses are paid – has been been under particular scrutiny this year following the collapse and loss of 11,000 jobs at BHS and the revelations about pay and working conditions at Sports Direct.

Chief executives of FTSE 100 companies have a median pay package of £4.3m, according to the High Pay Centre, which works out at 140 times that of the average worker.

In November, the government issued a Green Paper to explore improving how companies are run.

It proposed that a shareholder committee could be set up “to scrutinise remuneration and other key corporate issues such as long term strategy and directors’ appointments”.

The UK Individual Shareholders’ Society (ShareSoc) and the UK Shareholders’ Association (UKSA), who represent retail (individual) investors, said: “We suggest that this initiative will significantly benefit corporate governance at RBS, and represents a valuable opportunity for RBS to lead the way in exploring a concept which works well in other countries.”

ShareSoc and UKSA will present RBS with a resolution for the proposal to be included on the agenda at the bank’s annual general meeting in May, where investors would then be given the chance to vote on the measure.

A spokesman for RBS, said: “We have not yet received the final draft resolution. Once it has been delivered we will look closely to ensure that it complies with all corporate governance and listing guidelines.”

 

 

[Source:- BBC]

What’s moved money, oil and shares in 2016?

Pound sterling

Massive political events have made 2016 a standout year – what impact have these had on the pound, shares and the price of oil?

The pound

Sterling’s move this year has been dominated by the impact of the referendum.

Against the dollar it is down more than 15%.

Yes, there have been other factors at play. There always are many strands to what happens to financial market process. But the currency fell very sharply in the early hours of 24 June as it became clear which way the vote had gone.

Why a weaker currency? It’s partly about the Bank of England and its policies. The Bank’s governor Mark Carney had signalled strongly that he expected leaving the EU to lead to weaker economic growth.

The markets took that as meaning that there would be cuts in interest rates and perhaps a resumption of the Bank’s “quantitative easing” programme – buying financial assets with newly created money. The Bank duly met the market’s expectation in August.

Lower interest rates mean lower returns for investors in the currency where rates are reduced so its value tends to fall. QE has the same effect, partly because it also tends to drive down interest rates across the economy.

The decline against the dollar also reflects expectations about the US Central Bank moving in the opposite direction.

All year financial markets have been wondering when will the Federal Reserve raise interest rates again – after last year’s move, the first since 2008 at the depths of the financial crisis.

The Fed did eventually take action in December.

The EU referendum has also created uncertainty about the outlook for the British economy, though the most pessimistic expectations about the immediate aftermath of a no vote have been proved wrong. The uncertainty may also have contributed to the decline in the value of sterling.

Top 100 company shares

It has certainly helped the London stock market that the British economy has continued to grow reasonably well this year.

But the fall in sterling was also an important factor supporting shares. It does make it easier for exporters to compete internationally.

For some, the biggest companies on the market there is another advantage. Many of them – miners and oil producers for example – earn a lot of revenue in foreign currency especially dollars.

The fall in sterling means that is worth more when converted into pounds, boosting both the profits and share price of the companies concerned.

So we had a strong gain, 14%, in the FTSE 100 share index. The less international 250 index – gained a more modest 3%.

Oil

The price of crude oil is now about double the low it reached in January. The market has been driven to a large extent by the rather laborious return to the stage of OPEC, group that includes most of the leading oil exporters.

Often in the past a fall in the price of oil led to an OPEC attempt to reverse the development by agreeing to cut production – though it’s another question how effectively the member countries would implement any such deal.

The fall that began in mid-2014 met no immediate response. Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest player, was thought to welcome the pressure that falling prices put on shale oil producers in the United States.

The Saudis also wanted a bigger contribution from other OPEC countries, notably Iran. Eventually though, the response came.

In September the group agreed in principle to act and then in November a new production ceiling was agreed with some non-OPEC members agreeing to take part.

The result: oil prices are still around half the June 2014 level, but a lot healthier for oil exporters than there were a few months ago.

Gold, still golden?

The precious metal is ending the year with a price rise of about 9%.

But it was a lot higher mid-year – more than a third higher than at the start of 2016.

Earlier in the year, things in the US looked rather different.

Expectations of an interest rate rise receded and some even wondered if the Fed might join the European and Japanese move towards negative rates.

The prospect that investors might have had to pay to keep money on deposit made gold look more attractive.

As the US economy gathered some strength later in the year that concern receded and the gold price turned down.

Far from going down, US rates were eventually increased.

Traditionally gold has been seen as an investment offering protection against inflation.

Since Donald Trump won the US Presidential election markets have thought there might be more inflation coming as he seeks to boost the economy with tax cuts and perhaps spending on infrastructure.

The gold price has moved up moderately in the last couple of weeks, though if it was a response to the election it was a delayed one.

In any event inflation in many developed economies is gradually picking up a little from very low levels.

So perhaps that suggests there is more room for gold to gain too if some investors think they want an anti-inflation hedge.

 

 
[Source:- BBC]

India sees long bank queues as rupee deadline passes

Old 500 rupee notes

There have been long queues outside many banks in India as people tried to deposit discontinued banknotes ahead of a deadline that has now passed.

An estimated 40% of cash dispensers are empty, meaning people are unable to withdraw new notes to replace the old ones they have handed in.

There has been widespread disruption since Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in November that 500 and 1,000 rupee notes would no longer be legal.

The move as meant to curb corruption.

It has divided opinion, especially over how the ban was implemented.

Early last month the government scrapped the 500 and 1000 rupee notes to crack down on undeclared money and fake cash.

Some people, including those of Indian origin living abroad, will be able to exchange the notes in branches of India’s central bank until 31 March 2017 – but the process will be more complicated than going to a regular bank.

Parliament is preparing laws that will make it a criminal offence to hold the old notes from 1 April 2017 onwards.

Together the two notes represented 86% of the currency in circulation and there have been chaotic scenes in India ever since, with people having to spend hours queuing outside banks and cash machines which have been running out of money.

ATM queues and cash withdrawal limits mean getting currency can still be tricky, and there have been several changes of the rules around how much money people can access or deposit.

The government hopes the measures will encourage more people to have bank accounts and move towards a society less reliant on cash.

But there are concerns that many poorer people and those in rural areas have yet to get bank accounts.

Local firms which allow people to make digital payments both online and in shops have reported a surge in transactions as people look for cashless alternatives.

The government says the move has been a success with the banks flush with cash and significant increases in tax collection.

But critics argue the move has failed to root out corruption and unearth illegal cash, since most of the money in circulation has been put back into the financial system. Instead, they say, the economy which was growing at a rapid pace, has slowed down significantly.

 

 
[Source:- BBC]

 

EU Referendum: five changes for your finances following the vote

Bureau de change

A direct impact on somehowever no longer all – factors of our budget has been felt following the UK‘s vote to leave the ecu.

some of the modifications might also nicely only be transient but experts say that they ought to be considered while earning profits picks.

similarly, extra essential, modifications are anticipated whilst the UK negotiates the terms of its go out from the eu.

within the intervening months, the health of the UK financial system may be key.

So, in the brief term, that is what has modified:
1. vacation money

For each £100 exchanged through uk holidaymakers, they may be receiving the equal of £9 less in euros or £12 less in US dollars now than they did earlier than the vote.

the autumn in the value of the pound is the clearest exchange to our price range due to the referendum selection.

The pound hit a 31-12 months low in opposition to the dollar on Monday.
2. Retirement profits

Many heaps of humans who’ve saved for a retirement use these budget to shop for an annuity – a everyday income for the relaxation in their life.

The charges available, in different words that earnings that may be sold from those financial savings, have been falling gradually over the last year.

“The activities of the beyond couple of days have given new momentum to that trend,” stated Tom McPhail, head of retirement policy at Hargreaves Lansdown.

two principal providers reduce annuity prices on Monday, with one decreasing charges by means of about two percent factors.

buying an annuity is a one-off decision. as soon as an annuity is bought, then there is no going back, so timing is fundamental, professionals say.
photo copyright AP
three. Investments

Uncertainty has created volatility in the markets – with the value of banks and some housebuilders being especially badly hit.

buyers might also have seen the price of their portfolios fall, however really it depends on where they’ve placed their cash.

as an instance, the charge of gold hit a year high on Friday. The gold charge regularly rises in instances of uncertainty as it is considered as a haven asset.

Investments are lengthytime period choices, so they’ll get better their price in time.
4. Housing outlook

this is barely extra hard to choose, but switch rateswhich are frequently the precursor to changing mortgage rateshad been falling for the reason that vote to depart the ecu.

If mortgage interest fees observe, then housebuyers and those remortgaging might also see the cost of their month-to-month repayments end up a piece less expensive.

charges have been at historically low tiers these days, but creditors may additionally decide that less expensive fees are had to tempt what can be a smaller pool of first-time buyers, movers and people looking to remortgage.

The view on the markets is that the housing region, particularly in London, might be hit through uncertainty. Any fall in house fees could be welcomed via first-time consumers.
five. Petrol fees

The Petrol shops association and the AA motoring business enterprise has warned drivers that a 2p to 3p increase within the price of a litre of gasoline have to be predicted through the quit of the week.

The present day figures from Experian Catalist display that there has only been a completely mild rise over the weekend however, as wholesale gasoline fees are quoted in dollars, the falling price of the pound way the cost at the pumps is probable to rise.
photograph copyright PA

And here are a few fundamental elements affecting our personal budget that have not modified:
safety of savings

despite the fact that safety is based totally on an eu agreed stage, the first £seventy five,000 of savings in keeping with man or woman, in step with organization is blanketed and safe should a financial institution, constructing society or credit union move bust.
hobby rates

The financial institution of england‘s financial coverage Committee has now not made any emergency exchange to the bank price that is at its document low of 0.five%. The committee next meets inside the middle of July. were there to be a cut, then debtors could see higher deals but savers should get decrease returns. the alternative is true if the MPC determined to raise the financial institution rate. The price has been unchanged due to the fact 2009.
Taxes

HM sales and Customs has positioned a recorded message on its helpline stressing that taxes, tax credits and toddler blessings stay the identical. “the whole thing is continuing as normal. No laws have changed,” the message says.
Availability of coins

coins machines had been saved topped up, in keeping with hyperlink – the network for the majority of the ATMs within the united kingdom. “As a long way as we are able to see throughout the hyperlink community, there’s no proof of a rush for cash and volumes and values are inside normal ranges for this time of yr,” it said. “compared to the identical weekend closing yr hyperlink volumes have been down 4% and values by using 6%, however terrible climate, the european football championships, worldwide rugby fits and month give up being days later inside the week will possibly have accounted for a whole lot of this alteration.”

UK stocks and pound keep to recover

Trader in London

uk stocks and the pound have persevered to regain some of the ground lost within the wake of the Brexit vote.

After rising 2.6% on Tuesday, the FTSE 100 percentage index changed into up 2.2% at 6,277.forty one by noon.

The pound rose 0.75% in opposition to the dollar to $1.3443, although sterling nevertheless remains well underneath tiers reached before the referendum.

Analysts also warned that the rally of the past couple of days is probably quick-lived.

stocks and the pound are continuing to company but the publish-Brexit fact will bite sooner or later,” said Joe Rundle, head of trading at ETX Capital.

“What we are seeing in the FTSE is wish in Britain being able to trip it out by ultimate part of the single marketplace. This seems like wishful thinking.”
The market actions come as eu Union leaders are meeting for a 2nd day at a summit in Brussels.

The leaders are collecting with out the United Kingdom after its vote to go away the bloc. On Tuesday, David Cameron stated endured change and safety co-operation with the eu could be vital.
Over the worst?

The pound had risen as excessive as $1.50 on Thursday as buyers anticipated a ‘remain‘ vote, however by using Monday it had plunged to a 31-year low in opposition to the dollar.

Sterling rose zero.four% in opposition to the euro on Wednesday to about €1.21. earlier than last week’s referendum it were buying and selling around €1.30.
on the near of alternate on Thursday last week, the FTSE one hundred stood at 6,338.10. but, within the volatile exchange following the referendum end result the index had dropped 5.6% by means of the cease of Monday.

The FTSE 250 – which contains extra uktargeted agencies – slumped thirteen.7% inside the two buying and selling periods following the referendum end result. On Tuesday, it rose three.6% and the index was 1.9% better on Wednesday.

shares in Asia persisted to upward push on Wednesday, and inventory markets throughout Europe have been additionally better. Germany’s Dax index rose 1.eight% at the same time as France’s Cac forty changed into 2.5% higher.

Joshua Mahony, marketplace analyst at IG, stated: “there may be a self assurance within the city that perhaps the implications to this vote won’t be as immediate nor a ways achieving as many first of all thought, imparting opportunities for good deal hunters to seize shares at a reduction.

however, he introduced: “The big query is whether or not the worst is over, and the solution is unlikely to be sure.

“Sentiment is almost totally dictated by means of unknown portions for the approaching months or even years, in which the next most important occasion coming while or if article 50 is enacted.

“As such, having this type of lengthy length with this enormous cloud striking over financial markets will be not likely to assist confidence and risk appetite.”
stocks in the economic region – which had been especially difficult-hit inside the wake of the referendum – persevered to get better, with Prudential up 6% and Barclays three.2% higher.

The will increase got here no matter credit rating agency Moody’s slicing its outlook on the UK banking area to “negative” from “solidpast due on Tuesday.

Moody’s also downgraded its outlook on the ratings of some of uk banks and insurers.

After losing some ground on Tuesday, the fee of gold edged up zero.4% to $1,317.50 an oz.

Gold is viewed as a safe asset in times of uncertainty and the rate of the precious metallic hit a twoyr high on Friday inside the wake of the referendum result.

government bonds also are taken into consideration safer investments. The go back on uk authorities bonds on Wednesday remained close to the report low reached on Monday, while the yield from a tenyr gilt dropped beneath 1% for the first time.

demand for government bonds rose after the referendum. This pushed up bond costs, and whilst the price of bonds rises their yield falls.

Brussels steel summit fails to find answer to oversupply problem

No breakthrough at gathering of 34 nations as Chinese state news agency says it is ‘lame and lazy’ to blame crisis on China

Workers check steel products at a factory in Dalian, China
Workers check steel products at a factory in Dalian, China. The UK business secretary, Sajid Javid, said China had recognised its problem of overcapacity. Photograph: China Daily/Reuters

The world’s largest steel-producing nations failed to make a breakthrough on the oversupply problem that has thrown the industry into crisis, at a meeting in Brussels.

Ministers from 34 countries, representing 93% of global steel production, attended Monday’s talks, on the day the Chinese state news agency said it was “lame and lazy” to blame China for the problem.

UK Steel, the industry lobby group, criticised the failure to take detailed action, as the future of Britain’s largest steelworks, Port Talbot, hangs in the balance.

The US deputy trade representative, Robert Holleyman, said the talks were not an academic issue “but an exercise dealing with real pain, with real people”.

“We are encouraged by the start of the discussions but we fully believe more most be done and more must be done urgently,” he said.

Overproduction of steel is driving plants around the world out of business and has brought the UK industry to the brink of collapse.

US and European steel producers have accused China of flooding world markets with heavily subsidised steel that makes it impossible for rivals to compete.

But China rejected this argument on Monday, saying the US and European Unionwere “also plagued by overcapacity to differing degrees”. China’s assistant trade minister, Zhang Ji, told ministers that the economic downturn since 2008 and falling demand was “the fundamental reason” behind excess capacity. He also highlighted “geopolitical conflicts, extremism and terrorism” as factors contributing to the problem.

Asked about this part of the Chinese speech, the EU trade representative, Cecilia Malmström, said: “I don’t really see the link to be honest.”

Meanwhile, China’s official state news agency Xinhua said blaming China for global problems in the steel industry was “a lame and lazy excuse for protectionism”.

“Blaming other countries is always an easy, sure-fire way for politicians to whip up a storm over domestic economic woes, but finger-pointing and protectionism are counterproductive,” the agency wrote in an English language commentary.

Although the remarks are not official policy, they are seen as an indication of the mood among China’s ruling class.

But in a tacit acknowledgement that China is producing too much steel, as economic growth rate falters, Beijing promised in February to cut production by 100m-150m tonnes and lay off half a million steelworkers over the next five years.

But no further measures were agreed at the one-day talks in Brussels, which included representatives from China, the US, European Union, Germany and the UK.

The UK business secretary, Sajid Javid, who was at the meeting, said China had “absolutely recognised the problem of overcapacity in their country”. He added: “They’re committing to do something about it and I think that’s a very positive step forward.”

Javid, who has been criticised for not doing enough to protect British steel, said the government had “started to be approached by interested parties” about buying the loss-making Tata plant at Port Talbot in south Wales, but that it was too early to say much more. “The important thing is, as we said all along, we will do everything we can to help with that sales process,” he said.

Tata Steel, the owners of the loss-making plant, and the British government are searching for a buyer, but chances of a rescue for the entire business are seen as remote, putting at risk 40,000 jobs connected to the plant.

Gareth Stace, the director of UK Steel, urged governments to “take rapid and decisive action” or “risk seeing their steel sectors wither on the vine and die”.

He said: “What we needed to see at today’s meeting was an agreement by national governments to take short-term, detailed actions to help address the steel sector crisis. However, having agreed what the problems are we appear to be no closer to finding international action to put in place solutions.”

[Source:- Gurdian]

Peroni and Grolsch sold as AB Inbev and SABMiller deal nears

Japanese brewer Asahi will buy Peroni and Grolsch in the UK and Europe, as well as London’s Meantime brewery

Grolsch beer
AB InBev confirmed it was putting Peroni, Grolsch and its Meantime brewery on the sale block in December 2015. Photograph: David Jones/PA

Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev has agreed a €2.55bn (£2bn) deal to sell European lager brands Peroni and Grolsch as it moves a step closer to sealing its takeover of SABMiller.

Japanese brewer Asahi – known for its Super Dry beer – will buy Peroni and Grolsch in the UK and Europe, as well as London’s Meantime brewery, which are being put up for sale by AB InBev to help ease regulatory concerns over its £71bn takeover of SABMiller.

Asahi first tabled its offer in February and the pair have since been in exclusive talks.

The deal is dependent on the completion of the SABMiller takeover, which is set to go through in the second half of the year.

Asahi’s offer includes the Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime brands, as well as SABMiller’s Italian, Dutch and British operations that make and distribute the brands.

It also includes the global rights to the Grolsch, Peroni and Meantime brands, except in the US.

Asahi said on unveiling its offer in February that it had been looking to grow internationally “for some time”, adding that it hoped the deal would help the group “expand its growth platform in Europe and become a global player with a distinct position”.

Buying Peroni and Grolsch would allow Asahi to tap into growth outside a declining Japanese lager market, where it has a 38% share.

AB InBev confirmed it was putting Peroni, Grolsch and its Meantime brewery on the sale block in December, less than a month after formally agreeing the SABMiller takeover following protracted talks.

It is seeking to get the green light from authorities for the deal, which marks the largest takeover of a UK-based firm as well as the fourth biggest in global corporate history.

AB InBev has already announced the sale of SABMiller’s US joint venture, with partner Molson Coors agreeing to buy the remaining 58% stake in MillerCoors for €12bn.

SAB has invested heavily in Peroni in recent years, marketing the brand across Europe and the US to help cement the lager as a global brand, alongside Grolsch.

A sale of the Meantime brewery in Greenwich will bring to a close a brief spell under SAB’s ownership after it was bought by the group last May. SAB, which was founded in South Africa, snapped it up under plans to tap into the burgeoning UK craft beer market.

Meantime was founded 15 years ago by brewer Alastair Hook and its most popular brews include London Lager, London Pale Ale and London Porter.

[Source:- Gurdian]

Pret a Manger sales rise as vegetarian range pleases foodies

Sandwich chain, which started as a single shop in London’s Hampstead, opened 36 new branches worldwide last year, taking the total to 399

Pret a Manger in Putney, London
Pret a Manger in Putney, London. Photograph: Jason Alden/REX Shutterstock

Vegetarian options, the craze for avocados and booming business in the US helped Pret A Manger serve up record sales last year.

The sandwich chain’s sales for the year to December rose 13.9% to £676.2m with sales at branches open a year or more up 7.5%. Earnings before interest, tax and other items increased 14.5% to £84.3m.

Sales of vegetarian products saw double-digit growth as customers sought to cut down on meat. Pret sold 17,000 each week of a new beetroot, squash and feta salad, outstripping chicken and salmon options. Avocados, in favour with trendy foodies, were the chain’s fastest-growing ingredient, with customers consuming 5m of them in salads and sandwiches last year.

Clive Schlee, Pret’s chief executive, said almost 10,000 customers voted on social media on options for improving the chain’s vegetarian range. Pret will convert a branch in London’s Soho into a veggie shop and branches of the privately owned chain will sell two vegetarian special options each month over the summer.

Schlee said: “Last year thousands of customers told us they were trying to eat less meat. This year we have challenged ourselves to increase our vegetarian options in all shops, as well as opening a veggie-only pop-up shop to learn more from our customers.”

The 30-year-old company makes products in or very near its branches every morning instead of in large remote factories. Sales at its US operation, launched in 2001, rose 13.8% at established stores. New products and larger stores to suit American tastes helped drive sales in the US, where Pret has 65 branches.

The chain, which started as a single shop in Hampstead in London, opened 36 new branches worldwide last year, taking the total to 399, and added a shop in Dubai international airport early this year.

Schlee said: “These results represent another year of record sales for Pret. The highlights were a strong performance in the US – our newly opened Penn Station shop has the highest sales per square foot of any Pret in the world – and the opening of two very busy transport hub shops in Paris’s Gare de Lyon station and Nice airport.”

The majority of Pret’s 303 UK stores are in London, where it began life as an upmarket lunchtime option during the Thatcher era. The company said it expected to grow steadily in Britain, where it opened 23 shops last year, of which 12 were outside London.

[Source:- Gurdian]