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Ryanair vows 5-day refund turnaround after COVID criticism

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October 28, 2021

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ryanair on Thursday vowed to repay customers within five days for cancelled flights in a renewed customer service push after criticism about how it handled refunds at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The budget airline, Europe’s largest, said refunds would be processed into a new online wallet function within 24 hours of a flight being cancelled, allowing customers to book new flights immediately or opt to get the funds back within five working days.

Ryanair was one of a number of airlines criticised during the pandemic for resisting issuing cash refunds to people who could not take their flights due to COVID-19 restrictions, which the airlines said were outside of their control.

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Some customers also complained of delays to refunds for cancelled flights and unwieldy refund request processes.

Britain’s competition authority in June launched enforcement action against Ryanair over a failure to offer refunds rather than rebooking to passengers who were barred from taking flights under lockdown rules. But earlier this month it withdrew the action.

Ryanair said it had paid refunds in justified cases after reviewing each case.

In September Ryanair joined a group of European airlines in agreeing to refund passengers whose flights were cancelled during the pandemic, and committed to provide better information on passengers’ rights in future.

Ryanair said it was making a fresh customer service push to build on its 2014 ‘Always Getting Better’ campaign when Chief Executive Michael O’Leary vowed to stop doing things that “unnecessarily piss people off”.

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A new feature of its app promised real time push notifications and videos from its operations centre to inform customers of their flight status and any disruptions.

It also said customers would be able to makes changes to flights or passengers’ names via the app rather than calling a customer service agent.

(Reporting by Conor Humphries and Padraic Halpin; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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Walmart veteran Biggs to step down as CFO next year

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November 29, 2021

By Uday Sampath Kumar

(Reuters) -Walmart Inc said on Monday longtime executive Brett Biggs will step down from his role as chief financial officer of the world’s largest retailer next year.

Biggs, the finance chief since 2015, helped oversee a period of rapid change at Walmart as the brick-and-mortar retailer launched and expanded a number of initiatives to help fend off competition from Amazon.com Inc.

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Walmart made its biggest overseas investment in 2018 with a $16 billion deal to buy a majority stake in Indian online marketplace Flipkart, and beefed up its U.S. e-commerce business through the purchase of apparel retailers Modcloth and Bonobos.

Monday’s announcement came as a surprise to some analysts who had viewed Biggs as next in line for Walmart’s top job.

“Bret Biggs was a candidate to ultimately succeed Doug McMillon as CEO, given his long tenure at the company and broad experience across business units and functions outside of finance,” said Jason Benowitz, senior portfolio manager at Roosevelt Investment Group.

“However, we expect McMillon to serve many more years at the helm,” Benowitz added.

Walmart’s shares were down 1% in late morning trade.

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Biggs had held several finance positions, including CFO of the company’s international division and U.S. business, since joining the company in 2000.

Biggs will remain in the role until a successor is named next year, Walmart said, adding he will continue to represent the company as a board member of its fintech startup until January 2023.

The startup, a joint venture with investment firm Ribbit Capital, aims to develop financial products for Walmart’s employees and customers.

Walmart said it was considering internal and external candidates to replace Biggs, as the company deals with surging labor and supply chain costs that have eaten into its profit margins.

(Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli, Shounak Dasgupta and Sriraj Kalluvila)

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Cyberpunk maker CD Projekt misses quarterly profit forecast

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November 29, 2021

(Reuters) – CD Projekt, the Polish video game maker behind “Cyberpunk 2077”, missed expectations on Monday with its third-quarter net profit, weighed down by higher costs.

The company’s flagship game has helped to boost sales and earnings this year but its third-quarter net profit of 16.3 million zlotys ($3.92 million) was down 78% from the previous quarter, missing analyst expectations for a 51% drop to 36 million zlotys.

(Reporting by Anna Pruchnicka; Editing by David Goodman)

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Cyber Monday spending expected to slow as shoppers see fewer deals

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November 29, 2021

By Uday Sampath Kumar

(Reuters) -U.S. retailers are estimated to generate online sales of up to $11.3 billion on Cyber Monday, a decline in growth from a year earlier as fewer discounts and limited choices due to global supply chain disruptions deter shoppers.

Retailers had also spread out promotional deals across more weeks this year to protect profit margins from surging supply chain costs and to better manage inventories amid widespread product shortages ahead of the Christmas shopping season.

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Those attempts have pinched sales on what are traditionally some of the biggest shopping days of the year, with Adobe Analytics data over the weekend showing spending online during Black Friday fell for the first time ever.

“Online sales on big shopping days like Thanksgiving and Black Friday are decreasing for the first time in history, and it is beginning to smooth out the shape of the overall season,” said Taylor Schreiner, director, Adobe Digital Insights.

U.S. spending on Cyber Monday, which gained popularity in the mid-2000s, is expected to be between $10.2 billion and $11.3 billion, according to estimates from Adobe. 

That translates to roughly flat growth at the midpoint compared to last year’s $10.8 billion, which was a near 15% jump from 2019.

Excitement on social media around Cyber Monday is also ebbing.

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“Cyber Monday continues to be extremely relevant, particularly in the digital world, but the buzz has been more muted than we’ve seen in recent history,” said Rob Garf, general manager of retail at Salesforce.

Discount rates in the United States in the week leading up to Cyber Monday were on average 8% lower than they were last year, according to Salesforce.

The holiday season kicks off just as the new Omicron coronavirus variant has triggered uncertainty over the economic reopening, but experts say it is too early to predict the impact on consumer spending.

(Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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