Top Stories

October 24, 2012

Corporate Reputation

Starbucks denies avoiding UK tax

Starbucks has admitted a quarter of its 600 UK-owned stores are running at a loss in a rebuttal of accusations of tax avoidance, blaming its low corporate tax payments on overexpansion. In an interview with the Financial Times, Troy Alstead, chief financial officer of the global coffee chain, said: “I look forward to the day when we pay a lot more tax … we have had a long history…and we made a lot of mistakes.” Starbucks, has come under fire from MPs and suffered threat of boycott from its customers after Reuters published an investigation showing that it had paid just £8.6m in the UK in corporate tax since 1998 and reported losses in years when it told investors that its UK operation was profitable.  (Financial Times*)

European probe looks at drug reporting by Roche

The European Medicines Agency is investigating whether Roche Holding met its legal responsibilities to report drug side effects. The review may lead to fines of as much as five percent of the company’s sales in the European Union.  The agency will decide whether Roche properly monitored the safety of the 19 drugs it markets in the EU. The case is the first of its kind. The agency began a review in June of the public-health implications of Roche’s failure to evaluate 80,000 reports of potential safety issues to determine whether they should have been flagged to the EU as suspected adverse reactions. (Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal)



Defeat of female board quota

A controversial plan to force all publicly traded companies to have 40 percent of women on their boards has been scrapped after lawyers ruled that mandatory gender caps were illegal under EU treaties. Viviane Reding, the EU’s justice commissioner, dropped the proposal on Tuesday, after championing the scheme which would oblige companies to abide by a Europe-wide quota by 2020 or face sanctions and fines. The proposal had faced stiff opposition from within the 26-member European Commission, but the legal services’ finding avoided a potentially divisive vote. (Financial Times*, Guardian)


Food & Beverage

Retailers to adopt single traffic-light label system

On Wednesday, the Government announced that all major supermarkets will adopt a version of "traffic-light labelling" to help end confusion about which are the healthiest and unhealthiest foods. Ministers have agreed with industry officials that leading food producers and retailers will use a consistent, UK-wide form of front-of-pack labelling from the middle of 2013. The aim is to make it easier for consumers to tell the fat, salt, sugar, saturated-fat and calorie content of foods from the colour used in the new labelling. Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl, which had opposed traffic lights, have now agreed to introduce them in some form, they join major retailers such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco. Of the top 10 supermarkets, only Iceland is still refusing to commit to using traffic-light labelling. (Guardian)

Inclusive Business

Employment must lead corporate responsibility investment in tough times, says new report

More than 80 per cent of British bosses say they have a duty to help socially disadvantaged people – but only a handful are taking up the challenge, says a new report Working Links, the employment specialist delivering the UK Government’s ‘Work Programme’. InThe Responsible Employer’ Working Links found that UK businesses overwhelmingly consider it their duty to help the UK address both economic (90%) and societal challenges (81%). And while 76% of employers consider ‘environment and sustainability’ as their top corporate responsibility priorities, only 12% say ‘recruiting from disadvantaged groups’ is their main priority. Some employers, such as Tesco and Morrisons have made strides to address these challenges, but more action is required, says the report. (Personnel Today)

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