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BP Sells Global Petrochemical Business In $5 Billion Deal



As part of its plan to reinvent itself through the energy transition, BP has agreed to sell its global petrochemicals business to UK’s Ineos for US$5 billion, the supermajor said on Monday.

The US$5-billion deal with Ineos includes the sale of BP’s global aromatics, acetyls, and related businesses and is expected to be complete by the end of this year, pending regulatory and other approvals.

The manufacturing plants and their primary products that str part of the sale include those in Cooper River, South Carolina, Texas City, Texas, and the Eastman bp Texas City Production Agreement. Outside America, the businesses included in the sale are manufacturing plants in Hull, UK, and Geel in Belgium, as well as stakes in plants in China, Malaysia, South Korea, and Taiwan.

The agreed sale is the next strategic step in the reinvention of BP from an oil and gas company to an energy company that could compete in the energy transition, BP said. 

The transaction also helps the supermajor to achieve its target for US$15 billion in asset divestitures a year ahead of schedule.

“Strategically, the overlap with the rest of bp is limited and it would take considerable capital for us to grow these businesses. As we work to build a more focused, more integrated bp, we have other opportunities that are more aligned with our future direction,” chief executive Bernard Looney said in a statement.

“Today’s agreement is another deliberate step in building a bp that can compete and succeed through the energy transition,” the top executive added.

Earlier this month, BP said it would cut 10,000 jobs or around 15 percent of its workforce. As BP aims to reinvent itself as an energy company and a net-zero company by 2050 and sooner, the UK-based supermajor is resorting to job cuts—most of which are in office-based positions, to reduce its costs as the downturn has severely affected its finances. 

By Tsvetana Paraskova for

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Queen’s University team launches new platform to support Canadian small businesses – Kingston News




A new marketplace-style platform allows consumers to purchase gift certificates, pre-purchase products, and pre-book services to be redeemed at any future time. Designed in Kingston by a team at Queen’s University, SupportSME is a free platform designed to help support small and medium businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Participating business include restaurants, barber shops, beauty salons and spas, fitness centers, dental offices, physiotherapy and massage clinics, arts & entertainment venues and shops.

“Small businesses are facing extraordinary challenges right now, and the need for creative solutions and supports has never been greater. That’s why I’m thrilled to see the launch of, a national platform proudly designed here in Kingston,” says Mayor Paterson. “SupportSME provides a simple and effective way for residents to support their favourite local businesses, and offers much need help to small business owners and employees during this critical time.”

Through, small businesses have a way for loyal customers to access them, even if they are not yet able to safely open their doors. The platform creators hope these local businesses can perhaps stay afloat and receive support from their regular customers, and residents of Kingston, until they can welcome customers back to their brick and mortar locations.

“It was great news to hear that a team from the Smith School of business was building a platform to help small businesses reach a larger audience for gift certificate sales,” said Tim Pater, owner and operator of the Black Dog Hospitality Group. “I was approached by the developers and ended up onboarding all four of our restaurants. The process was quick and user friendly, it would be easy for any business to participate!”

The SupportSME platform operates on a nonprofit basis. It’s simple for businesses to get set up and completely free to use. Business owners can create an account at, and confirm through Stripe to enable them to issue the certificates to customers.

SupportSME is now a featured local program supporting small businesses via #SmallBusinessEveryDay initiative by The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses. Read more about the #SmallBusinessEveryDay initiative on their website:

Customers can browse available certificates and services on their website or on the SupportSME app, available for iOS and android.

Jessica is a freelance writer with a startup content writing business. She loves raising her family here in Kingston and tries to attend the amazing events around town. You can find more of her writing on her blog A Modern Mom’s Life, and see what she gets up to with her family on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

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Business Leaders Urge Trump to Leave DACA Alone After Court Ruling




A group of prominent business leaders urged President Trump on Saturday to leave in place a program affecting roughly 800,000 young immigrants who are shielded from deportation, saying it would disrupt the economy and impact the battle against the coronavirus.

The letter, from members of the Coalition for the American Dream, an alliance of business and industry leaders, comes after the Supreme Court ruled last month that the Trump administration improperly wound down the Obama-era program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, a finding that was made on procedural grounds. The signers of the letter included executives with Amazon, General Motors, Hilton Worldwide, Target, Apple, Google and Facebook, as well as groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and almost every sector of the manufacturing industry.

“As large American employers and employer organizations, we strongly urge you to leave the DACA program in place,” members of the group wrote about the program, which applies to people who were brought to the United States as children. “DACA recipients have been critical members of our work force, industries, and communities for years now, and they have abided by the laws and regulations of our country in order to maintain their DACA status.”

The letter went on to say that “their work and commitment to our companies, their families and communities are critical to our nation’s strength, especially since there are tens of thousands of DACA recipients working as front line doctors and nurses and in other critical industries fighting Covid-19.”

“This is no time to disrupt the economic recovery of our companies and communities, nor time to jeopardize the health and safety of these vulnerable individuals,” the letter said, noting that polls have consistently shown voters don’t want to see DACA recipients deported. “We ask that you leave DACA in place and refrain from taking any additional administrative actions that would negatively impact the DACA program.”

Mr. Trump has suggested he would try again to rescind the program, which he has alternately praised and criticized.

On Friday, in an interview with the Spanish-language network Telemundo, Mr. Trump gave a confusing statement about his plans to write an immigration-related executive order in about four weeks.

“DACA is going to be just fine,” Mr. Trump said, adding that he was going to issue a “big executive order. I have the power to do it as president and I’m going to make DACA a part of it.”

Then he immediately said, “But, we put it in, and we’ll probably going to then be taking it out.” At another point, he said that it would be a “very big bill” that would call for merit-based immigration and include a DACA provision. He then said there would be a “road to citizenship” in the executive order — which he repeatedly confused with a piece of legislation. Presidents cannot create a pathway to citizenship without congressional action.

Almost immediately after Mr. Trump’s interview, a White House spokesman issued a statement that was quite different from what the president said. The statement said that Mr. Trump was working on an executive order to “establish a merit-based immigration system to further protect U.S. workers,” something that the White House has been planning for weeks. The statement made clear it would not relate to DACA or a “road to citizenship.”

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‘My parents helped me pack lube’: from sex toys to bidets, the lockdown businesses that boomed | Business




For most businesses, the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic were an economic horror story measured in job losses and plummeting sales graphs. But this was not the case for everyone. As lockdown measures were imposed around the globe, certain companies struggled to cope with sudden demand from a confined populace with new, highly specific needs.

So what was it like to be the focus of such frenzied consumer interest? How did they cope with self-isolating staff and faltering supply chains? And what are their hopes now the world is tentatively reopening? Here, five different companies reflect on their accidental boom.

‘We’ve donated product to nurses’

Polly Rodriguez, CEO and co-founder of Unbound, in New York

At the beginning of Covid-19, on 31 March, someone tweeted: “All my strongest soldiers on life support” with a video of all these vibrators charging. She tagged us, and it went viral; I think a million people watched it. Suddenly we had all this traffic. The second surge happened on 15 April, which, it so happens, was the day the US federal government gave a lot of people a cheque to get through the crisis. People had this discretionary income that they were spending on our products.

From then we were at a new normal: sales were up by 150% compared with this time last year. This is usually our slowest time of year, because people are travelling and spending on vacations, but every day we’d wake up and say, “Are the numbers going to go down? Is this the day it ends?” It’s like being on a rollercoaster, thinking, it’s got to stop somewhere. And it honestly hasn’t.

We have a stimulating lubricant that has sold really well – 8,500 units in three months – which is probably down to couples trying to make sex a little more interesting. I moved back to the Midwest to stay with my parents for a while, and my mom, dad and boyfriend had to help me get about 2,000 lubricants into packaging. Vibrators are our bestsellers – particularly Bender, a £55 dual stimulation product; pretty soon we ran out of inventory. We were scrambling to set up remote working systems and paying an exorbitant amount to ship product from China, because so many of the commercial flights we use were grounded.

Morale has been tough. We’re a small startup and it has been hard to hear people on the team say that they miss being in the office and seeing other people. I’ve encouraged staff to take a mental health day when they need it. For me, there was one day when I was working from home, I had no groceries, an investor call in 10 minutes and a new, five-month-old puppy. I ran downstairs to grab some delivered food, the puppy freaked out because he didn’t know where I was, and when I came back up he had sprayed diarrhoea everywhere. I burst into tears.

We made more than $400,000 in April which, traditionally, is our slowest month; there was a wholesale order for $70,000 in a single day. It’s weird to have your business doing well during such a sombre time. But I don’t feel guilty; I feel proud. We’ve donated product to nurses. It’s a remarkable thing, that in such a horrific time people are still giving themselves permission to experience pleasure. I think [sex toy] sales will stay at this level until there is a vaccine. It’s going to take a while before normal human behaviour – and the option to have sex with someone you don’t know that well – returns. Humans are sexual by nature. That’s not going to change.

Miki Agrawal and Jason Ojalvo of Tushy, with one of their bidet attachments (just seen in blue)

Miki Agrawal and Jason Ojalvo of Tushy, with one of their bidet attachments (just seen in blue). Photograph: Chris Buck/The Guardian

‘Bidets used to scare people. Suddenly it was like we were on a rocket ship’

Miki Agrawal, founder, and Jason Ojalvo, CEO of Tushy, a bidet attachment company based in New York

JO In early March, we started to see a little uptick in sales and my first instinct was that [because of the virus] everyone wanted to be more hygienic, and that a bidet would give them that. We ship internationally, and the Tushy Classic – our bestselling bidet attachment – costs $79 and takes 10 minutes to install [it fits under the seat and is attached to the cistern with a hose]. Then the viral videos of people fighting over toilet paper came out. On 9 March, we did twice what we’d normally sell; the next day it was three times; the day after that it was maybe 20 times, and we had a million dollar sales day when we sold more than 10,000 bidets.

We had a team night out – we call it Forced Fun – and it was this last hurrah, where everyone was on edge and weirded out in this empty bar. The early challenge was production capacity, which we managed to up by about six times. A big part of that was convincing our factories in Asia that it wasn’t just one crazy day, or one crazy week. In April, we changed our revenue target for the year, from $20m to $50m. We also had to hire a dozen new people.

We also sell bamboo butt towels, for people who want to stop buying toilet paper and pat dry. A new, two-month shipment sold out in two or three days. So people are going zero waste and to the next level. I don’t think people will go back now they have discovered bidets, because it’s a game changer – it’s like being given an iPhone and then having to go back to using a rotary dial.

MA It’s a weird product that scares some people. A lot of the negative connotations come from the fact that US soldiers in the second world war associated bidets with the French brothels they visited, so they came back to puritanical America and shunned them. We fully launched Tushy in 2016; the last four years have been about getting people to go against generational attachment to toilet paper and say, “OK, I’ll wash my butt.” We’ve been using humour and a ton of education to lead them towards that cliff edge. So the whole coronavirus thing was just like everyone jumping off at once.

I was in California on sabbatical when everything exploded. I remember FaceTiming the team and everyone was like, this is fun. But after a few days, we were trying to forecast how much stock we needed – and we just couldn’t; I felt the pressure and sadness of the world. It was like we were on a rocket ship, so after a few weeks of the insanity I decided to come back to New York.

If we hit the $50m target, the team will earn a double bonus. Down the road, we’re planning a heated bidet seat. Even though the toilet paper shortage has passed, things are not going back. That part of our body has been neglected and deemed taboo for societal reasons for so long. What we’re saying is, clean it properly, respect it and honour it.

Paul Bodger, Managing Director of Origin Fitness at the companies office in Edinburgh

Paul Bodger, managing director of Origin Fitness. Photograph: Robert Ormerod/The Guardian

‘Two refurbished rowing machines sold in the 60 seconds it took to put them online’

Paul Bodger, MD of Origin Fitness, an exercise equipment company in Edinburgh

A lot of our products are manufactured in China and Taiwan, so we started hearing about factories shutting in January, and that home fitness sales were taking off in Asia. But in early March, our website went bananas. Online sales jumped 1,900%; revenue from those jumped 2,300%, an increase of more than £1m. We were getting a million page views a day and our website, which isn’t built for that traffic, kept crashing. We put a couple of refurbished rowing machines on the site one day and in the 60 seconds it took our web manager to add them, they were sold.

On 17 March, we stopped accepting new orders online, and did the same for two weeks in April. It took the heat and emotion out of the situation. We don’t specialise in retail – about 98% of our business is commercial sales to gyms and other organisations. So I had to furlough most of the staff; when gyms do reopen, the market is going to be slow. Before we ran out of stock, the e-commerce was a lifeline. And I, with other senior management, have been working dispatch, driving forklifts and packing 100kg weights. It’s tough work, but has helped me understand the business again.

Our product range covers everything from £8 dumbbells to exercise bikes costing £5,000; a lot is high-end and not designed for home use. Equipment for online or app-based circuit training – medicine balls especially – exploded. Olympic bars ran out; I thought that would mean the plates that go with them would stop selling, but they didn’t. I imagine there are a lot of people out there lifting our weights with broom handles.

For a lot of customers, it was almost like we were sending their medicine. They would tell us we were helping not just their physical health but their mental health. A good home gym will set you back £10,000, but we had people spending twice that. I keep thinking, are people going to keep this stuff, or is eBay going to be flooded with it? I hope they will keep hold of it, because they won’t want to get caught out again.

Photo of the team at Brixton Cycles in Brixton, London

Lincoln Romain (far right) and Georgina Taylor (on counter) with the team at Brixton Cycles. Photograph: David Yeo/The Guardian

‘People can’t believe you’ve transformed their bike from a garden ornament into something useful’

Lincoln Romain and Georgina Taylor, workers at Brixton Cycles, a staff-owned bike shop in London

LR I’ve been here 30 years. When the pandemic started, I remember thinking that if we had to shut for three months, I didn’t know how we would survive. We’re a non-profit organisation and it’s hand-to-mouth.

Then after Boris Johnson’s announcement about the lockdown [on 23 March], we found out bike shops were an essential business. People started turning up with bikes for repair, left, right and centre. You couldn’t move in the shop for bikes. One morning in April, we sold six in 30 minutes. They were shotgun sales, where people just wanted to ride out on something.

Very quickly we had to bring in social distancing, allowing only four people in the shop at a time. I had one guy approach me, so I put my hand out to get him to stay back, and he was offended. I was like, “Wow. There’s so much going on, people are dying, and people of colour like me are high risk. But you’re getting your nose slightly twisted because you didn’t want me to put my hand up?” On the whole, though, people have been good. More people are cycling, and I’m seeing local families out on bikes with their kids. I like that.

For many people, buying a new bike is not an option. So when you can revive a rusty old thing by giving it new cables and tyres, and oiling up the chain, their eyes light up. They can’t believe you’ve transformed this garden ornament into something useful.

GT It started with fixing zombie bikes: things that had been pulled from gardens and still had snails living on them. Now, a lot of new bikes in Europe and the UK seem to have sold out, so it’s incredibly frustrating – if our suppliers had more bikes, we’d be selling them. You develop a skill for letting people down gently. Every day people would call and ask for the same thing – a hybrid bike that costs around £400 – and I could hear in their voices that they had already phoned around 20 shops and were distraught.

All the money we’ve made has gone into future-proofing the co-op rather than on bonuses or pay rises, because you never know what’s round the corner. Even though we wish it was under different circumstances, it has been important for us to be open and help so many people. We pushed NHS staff up the queue, and we gave a second-hand bike to a psychiatrist who offered us free group therapy as part payment. I said I’d have to talk to the other co-op members, but maybe after this, it might be quite good.

I’m a cynic, and think maybe only 20% of people will stick with cycling. But those of us who rode a bike during lockdown all saw what a pleasant place the city could be with cleaner air and fewer cars on the road. I don’t like the idea of going back to how things were. The world has got a chance to make things a lot nicer – and riding bicycles can be a big part of that.

Photo of Jamie Stanford of Liberty Games for Booming Businesses feature

Jamie Stanford of Liberty Games. Photograph: David Yeo/The Guardian

‘A pool table isn’t a miracle product, but it brings families together’

Jamie Stanford, managing director of Liberty Games, a game table retailer in Epsom, Surrey

Our business started with renting coin-operated equipment to pubs and clubs 20 years ago. But, of course, the pool machine in a pub has been replaced by a dining table now. What we’ve found is that people want to replicate the experience at home, with air hockey, football tables and table tennis sets that start at under £100 and top out at £50,000.

In early March, people started asking, “Can you deliver before lockdown?” When the announcement came, people piled in. Demand was spiking at around four times the average level. A normal March might mean 80 transactions each day – we were selling more than 400 in a 24-hour period. We didn’t run out of stock immediately. I’d love to say that was because I’d been some wizard and predicted it; really, it was because after Christmas you have leftover stock. But then that got depleted, and, working from home, we were a company with one hand tied behind our backs.

I can picture a moment about two weeks into lockdown when I got back from the office at about 7pm, and looked at the sales graph. I refreshed and it jumped up by the equivalent of a week’s sales in one day. I had dinner, thought about how we’d manage that volume. Then I refreshed it again, and another week’s worth of sales had happened in an hour. That was overwhelming. But our delivery companies were set up to deal with seasonal changes in demand, so took on extra staff and vans. My staff were clocking overtime; our more experienced suppliers ringfenced stock; and I was driving sackloads of pool cue chalk to the post office. It was seven days a week, but we muddled through. There was a slightly guilty, awkward feeling to it, when things are so desperate for other businesses. But this stuff does give people a bit of a lift.

One lady who bought a table tennis top said, “This is the first time I’ve seen a smile on my teenager’s face in three years.” Most of us are introduced to games tables on holiday. They are not a miracle product, but they bring families together. If you’ve got a kid playing Xbox all day and not interacting with his dad or his mum, and a pool table turns up, the family has a communal, enjoyable game that they can try to master.

When restrictions started to ease on 13 May, we thought, OK, that’s it, things will settle down. But we still had the same level of demand. I think this [crisis] is changing the psychology of a lot of people. Going to a restaurant, you’ll just become hypersensitive to every cough, every droplet in the air. It will probably take as long as lockdown lasted for these attitudes to wear off. I’m sure the desire to buy a pool table or a football table will eventually wane. But this has surprised me every single day. So I’m done making predictions.

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