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The Drum’s Daily Briefing: Next sales up, ChatGPT sued and Qantas data breach


By The Drum, Editorial

May 1, 2024 | 7 min read

Our quickfire analysis of the brand, marketing and media stories that might just crop up in your meetings and conversations today.


Next's sales rise offer hope for all UK retailers

Next sales rise as clothes and shoe sales blossom

Clothing and homeware retailer Next has seen its full-price sales rise by 5.7%, more than the 5% rise the brand had been predicting earlier this year, which comes as a positive marker for the whole UK fashion sector.

Next has around 500 physical stores in the UK and Ireland and a large online operation, which means its performance is closely watched as an indicator of broader retail conditions.

The retailer attributes this sales rise to easing price pressures on consumers, which is boosting shoppers’ desire to buy clothes and shoes.

Next has, however, stuck with its outlook – that it will generate £960n ($1.2bn) of pretax profit with group sales rising 6% this fiscal year – pointing to a likely weaker second quarter affected by colder-than-expected weather.

Since the start of the year, inflation has been easing in Britain, prompting more demand from shoppers. Clothing and footwear prices slid into deflation for the first time since January 2022 at the start of April as retailers sought to entice customers with promotions, according to the British Retail Consortium. That’s helping to boost consumer confidence.

However, the recent cold weather is not helping. Next said it expects sales to decline by 0.3% in the second quarter now, as last year’s warm weather has made for a tougher comparable period.

Source: Bloomberg

ChatGPT and Microsoft sued by eight US newspapers

Eight US newspapers are suing ChatGPT-maker OpenAI and Microsoft, alleging that the technology companies have been “purloining millions” of copyrighted news articles without permission or payment to train their artificial intelligence chatbots.

The group of newspapers, including The New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, Denver Post and others, collectively filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in a New York federal court.

The other newspapers involved in the lawsuit are MediaNews Group’s Mercury News, Denver Post, Orange County Register and St Paul Pioneer-Press, and Tribune Publishing’s Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun Sentinel. All of the newspapers are owned by Alden Global Capital.

A written statement from Frank Pine, executive editor for the MediaNews Group and Tribune Publishing, stated: “We’ve spent billions of dollars gathering information and reporting news at our publications, and we can’t allow OpenAI and Microsoft to expand the Big Tech playbook of stealing our work to build their own businesses at our expense.”

In December, the New York Times sued both OpenAI and Microsoft on similar grounds, alleging that the creation and training of ChatGPT involved the illegal use of copyrighted material. The Times said the tech companies’ product “threatens the Times’s ability to provide that service.”

Source: The Guardian

Millions using WhatsApp in countries where it is banned

According to WhatsApp boss Will Cathcart, tens of millions of people are secretly using technical workarounds to use the messaging platform in countries where the platform has been banned.

The statement casts further doubt on the reality of governments banning social media platforms when so much tech exists to enable users to get circumvent embargos.

TikTok is currently facing a potential ban in the US because US regulators are concerned about how Chinese owners ByteDance may be sharing private user data with the Chinese government.

Like many western apps, WhatsApp is banned in Iran, North Korea and Syria, while China last month joined the list of those banning users from accessing the secure platform. Other countries, such as Qatar, Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, restrict features such as voice calls.

Because WhatsApp can see where its users truly are, thanks to their registered phone numbers, bosses know that bans are not effective.

Cathcart told BBC News: “We have a lot of anecdotal reports of people using WhatsApp and what we can do is look at some of the countries where we’re blocking and still see tens of millions of people connecting to WhatsApp.”

Source: The BBC

Qantas data breach

Australian airline Qantas is the latest brand to suffer a data breach as it reveals it is investigating a privacy breach on its app that left customers with access to others’ personal details.

Some users reported seeing several boarding passes and flight details belonging to strangers, including names and frequent flyer information.

It took Qantas around three hours to fix the problem and the airline has apologized to customers, adding there was “no indication of a cyber security incident.”

Social media was flooded with criticisms of the carrier and posts from people claiming to be affected. Users on X shared screenshots of the glitch and alleged phishing attempts. Some appeared to show accounts posing as Qantas customer care agents asking for people’s personal information in order to assist them.

Some passengers told media outlets that the app breach appeared to allow them to cancel another passenger’s upcoming flight to Europe.

Source: The BBC

Co-op Live venue to open after delays and criticism

Co-op Live, the UK’s largest music and entertainment venue situated in Manchester, is due to open today after numerous delays and criticism from artists and attendees.

The £365m music venue, located in Eastlands next to Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, had first opened for a test preview to audiences earlier this month with an event featuring Rick Astley and Danny Jones from McFly.

But, following the test event, bosses at the arena – which can seat 23,500 people at full capacity – announced that its first set of gigs, made up of two homecoming shows from comedian Peter Kay, would be rescheduled following the need to continue works on the building.

Those shows, originally set for April 23 and 24, were rescheduled to this Monday and Tuesday before being rescheduled once again to May 23 and 24. Last Saturday’s show from The Black Keys was also rescheduled and will now take place on May 15.

But Co-op Live bosses have said that Wednesday night’s gig from American rapper A Boogie Wit da Hoodie will be taking place as scheduled.

Source: Manchester Evening News

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