City&FinanceBriefing 30 Tuesday, 4 August 2009 London Lite Inbrief Starbucks aims to profit with a quicker cuppaTHE recession is forcing a change of direc- tion at coffee-house Starbucks. To serve as many customers as possible it is adopting lean Japanese techniques, signalling an end to scooping coffee beans from below the counter and wasting time over-ordering pastries. Starbucks claims it is already helping the bottom line. However, some baristas fear the drive for efficiency will put customers off, or turn them into coffee-making robots. The initiative, being put into practice at more than 11,000 American branches, is the brainchild of Scott Heydon, the companys vice-president of lean thinking and a student of the Toyota production system. He and his 10-strong lean team are touring the US with a stopwatch and a Mr Potato Head toy that managers have to put together and re-box in less than 45 seconds. Heydon hopes to cut the time employees spend making drinks so it can cut the number of workers it employs, or make more coffees with the same number. The chain has been hard hit by the recession, as coffee drinkers trade down to cheaper stores for their caf- feine fix. But Starbucks said last month it had slowed the decline of sales. BY Hugo duncan William Hill on a loser as slump takes its toll THE recession is hitting the High Street bookie as William Hill today warned the City it will miss its profit targets because of the disappearance of weekend punters from the betting shop. Britains second-largest bookmaker warned it is under pressure. We are seeing rising unemployment and constraints on consumer spending, said chief executive Ralph Topping. Topping had previously indicated that he believed the industry was recession- proof. The bookies are also being hit by more fundamental problems. We are seeing weaker horse- racing margins because there are simply too many bookies chasing not enough punters, he said. Football has become an ever more important market for us. When the football season finished those discretionary punters who would also bet on the racing have gone away and we do not expect to see them again until the start of the new [football] season. And there is an issue with the flat-racing product. Compared to National Hunt racing it has lost its attraction for many punters. Hills half-year pre-tax profits slumped 17% to 91 million though revenues were 5% higher at 515 million boosted by a doubling in income from its online business. Bid to end rip-offby stores THE Competition Commission today said the Government should appoint an ombudsman to stop supermarkets ripping off suppliers. The Commission which has long been at war with the big grocery chains led by Tesco said it has recommended an ombudsman to arbitrate on disputes between retailers and suppliers, and oversee a code of practice. Commission head Peter Freeman said pressure on suppliers ultimately hurts consumers. Australia Dollars 1.8918 Canada Dollars 1.7133 Denmark Kroner 8.3182 Eurozone Euro 1.1204 Hong Kong Dollars 12.2800 Japan Yen 150.6100 New Zealand Dollars 2.3474 South Africa Rand 12.1100 Sweden Kronor 11.5000 Switzerland Francs 1.7048 UAE Dirham 5.7538 United States Dollars 1.5943 TouriST raTeS DOWN 22.13 at 4659.61 fTSe 100 dow joneS nikkei -$ UP 114.95 at 9286.56 UP 22.54 at 10,375.01 DOWN 0.02 at $1.6926 >>for all the latest City share prices, call 0905 817 1694* or visit thisismoney.co.uk * Calls cost 75p/min from a BT landline & last approx 1 min per quote. not all stocks are available Marstons cheer from ashes lift l MARSTONS, the brewer and pub operator behind Pedigree beer, is enjoying an Ashes boost. In the 43 weeks to 1 August sales were up 1.9%, a better performance than rivals can boast. Pedigree, the official beer of England cricket, has seen sales more than double since the season began. It has just raised 165 million from investors to fund the building of 60 new pubs. Lean cuisine: 11,000 Starbucks are speeding up their service Xstrata off 68% buturgesmerger l MININg giant Xstrata today reported a 68% fall in profits, as the companys boss said it needs to go ahead with a proposed 40 billion merger with rival Anglo- American if it is to compete with the titans of the global mining industry. Larger groups achieve superior, more consistent returns, said chief executive Mick Davis. Prices website dives by 87% l BANKS remaining reluctant to lend has caused profits to plummet at Moneysupermarket. com, but the price comparison website said today that trading has finally started to pick up. Despite posting an 87% drop in pre-tax profits to 1.9 million for the first six months of the year, it made a special payout to shareholders to reflect its confidence. aiG in 4m offer to its new boss l AMERICAS government- controlled AIg, which was integral to the credit crisis through reinsuring billions of dollars of duff loans in its Mayfair office, has proposed paying its new chief executive Robert Benmosche a package between $7 million (4.1 million) and $10 million. It is subject to government approval. prices?propertyfornextWhere more...muchand trusttoreportsWhich rise?pricesWill sell?youShould thisismoney.co.uk/house-prices adviserfinancialownyourBe index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html