BREAKING NEWS: UK Govt to question HS2 Managing Director on rail project viability
The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee will next week take evidence from Alison Munro the Managing Director of HS2 and David Prout, Director General of the HS2 Group at the Department for Transport.
The Committee’s questions will focus on whether the £50bn projected budget for HS2 is realistic and achievable, how far the Department have considered alternatives to HS2 and whether time savings will be lost because of the out of town location of the proposed stations.
The proposed rail project, which is envisage would stretch from London and go out of the capital city to Birmingham then to Northern cities such as Leeds, Sheffiled and Manchester. This would naturally have huge ramifications for the rail freight industry within the UK and potentially wider Europe.
They will also hear from Professor Henry Overman, Professor of Economic Geography at the LSE. In this session questions will focus on Professor Overman’s criticism of KPMGs predictions for HS2’s wider economic benefits, how economic growth delivered by HS2 is likely to be divided between London and other cities and regions and how this growth will be achieved.
The evidence sessions will start at 3pm on Tuesday 28 October in Committee Room 1 of the House of Lords. Professor Overman’s session will start at 3pm, the second session with Alison Munro and David Prout is expected to start around 4pm.
The evidence session is open to the public. Anyone wishing to attend should go to Parliament’s Cromwell Green Entrance and allow time for security screening. You can watch the session live on the internet at www.parliamentlive.tv
Pandora and IBM digitise jewellery supply chain
Pandora has overhauled its global supply chain in partnership with IBM amid an ecommerce sales boom for its hand-finished jewellery.
The company found international success offering customisable charm bracelets and other personalised jewellery though its chain of bricks and mortar retail destinations. But in 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak forced physical stores to close, Pandora strengthened its omnichannel operations and doubled online sales.
A focus on customer experience included deploying IBM’s Sterling Order Management, increasing supply chain resiliency and safeguarding against disruption across the global value chain.
Pandora leverages IBM Sterling Order Management as the backbone it its omnichannel fulfilment, with Salesforce Commerce Cloud powering its ecommerce. Greater automation across its channels has boosted the jeweller’s sustainability credentials, IBM said, streamlining processes for more efficient delivery. It has also given in-store staff and virtual customer service representatives superior end-to-end visibility to better meet consumer needs.
Jim Cruickshank, VP of Digital Development & Retail Technology, Pandora, said the digital transformation journey has brought “digital and store technology closer together and closer to the customer”, highlighting how important the customer journey remains, even during unprecedented disruption.
"Our mission is about creating a personal experience and we've instituted massive platform changes with IBM Sterling and Salesforce to enable new digital-first capabilities that are much more individualised, localised and connected across channels and markets,” he added.
Pandora’s pivot to digital
The pandemic forced the doors closed at most of Pandora’s 2,700 retail locations. To remain competitive, it pivoted to online retail. Virtual queuing for stores and virtual product trials via augmented reality (AR) technology went someway to emulating the in-store experience and retail theatre that is the brand’s hallmark. Meanwhile digital investments in supply chain efficiency was central to delivering on consumer demand.
“Consumer behaviour has significantly shifted and will continue to evolve with businesses needing to quickly adapt to new preferences and needs,” said Kareem Yusuf, General Manager, AI Applications and Blockchain, IBM. “To address this shift, leading retailers like Pandora rely on innovation to increase their business agility by enabling and scaling sustainable supply chain operations using AI and cloud.”
Yusuf said Pandora’s success was indicative of how to remain competitive by “finding new ways to create differentiated customer experiences that protect their enterprises from disruptions to help mitigate risk and accelerate growth”.