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Barclays relocates to a new Milan HQ

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Enrico Chiapparoli, Barclays Country CEO, Italy
Enrico Chiapparoli, Barclays Country CEO, Italy

Barclays has moved to a new, improved HQ for its Italian operations in The Medelan building in Piazza Cordusio, Milan.

The relocation caps a momentous year for the bank as it celebrates its 50th anniversary in Italy, and further demonstrates its commitment to the Italian market as a key element of its growing Barclays Europe entity.

The new HQ in The Medelan retains Barclays’ presence in the heart of Milan, with the bank moving from its former location on Via della Moscova, to its new home between the Duomo and Castello Sforzesco. The improved office space sets up the bank for further growth in Italy across its Investment, Corporate and Private Bank businesses.

The state-of-the-art facilities offer employees a brand-new experience, enjoying refurbished spaces that will bring colleagues together in a shared working environment, coupled with modern technology that supports greater collaboration and a more flexible workspace. Reflecting new ways of working, employees will be able to use a dedicated app to book the space they need before they arrive at the office and maximise their collaboration time with colleagues and clients. The improved working environment will allow the bank to focus on its priority to accelerate colleagues’ development and attract the best external talent to the organisation.

Crucially, the new office is built in a way that reduces energy consumption: the LEED platinum building is aligned with Barclays’ strategy of transitioning to a low-carbon economy and its ambition to become a net zero bank by 2050.

Alongside the physical move for Barclays that confirms the importance of Italy for the bank, Italian bankers are also thriving at Barclays globally, with the recent hires of Enrico Massaro as Head of Consumer Retail Group, EMEA and Pietro Raguso as Managing Director, Leverage Finance in London, as well as the promotion of Rossella Bellini to Head of Corporate Banking for Italy.

Enrico Chiapparoli, Country CEO, Italy, said: “This is an exciting move for Barclays. The Medelan is an historic building that has been modernised with outstanding, sustainable facilities, so it’s a perfect match for us – an historic institution established in 1690 that has been in Italy for 50 years and continues to innovate. We are delivering the power of the entire bank to help Italian businesses navigate change and achieve their bold visions for the future, what we call ‘powering possible’ for Italian corporates. We will use our new base as a springboard to further support our clients and the broader Italian economy for many years to come.”

Francesco Ceccato, CEO, Barclays Europe, said: “Barclays is proud to celebrate its cinquantenario and The Medelan symbolises our future ambition for the bank in Italy. We look forward to welcoming everyone to our new home.”

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Disneyland Paris renames theme park in $2 billion revamp

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Facade os Disney Paris with Disney's characters standing in front of it
The transformation of Walt Disney Studios Park will see it almost double in size.

Disneyland Paris has unveiled a new name for Walt Disney Studios Park as part of the park’s US$2 billion transformation.

Walt Disney Studios Park will become Disney Adventure World when the new immersive area, World of Frozen, opens.

The transformation of Walt Disney Studios Park will see it almost double in size.

“We’re changing the story of Walt Disney Studios Park, evolving from ‘how it’s done’ soundstages to celebratory theatres and adventures that come to life in immersive worlds,” said Tom Fitzgerald, chief storytelling executive at Walt Disney Imagineering and senior creative executive for Disneyland Paris.

“These fully realised adventure worlds will become the focus of the park’s new identity and appear as realms that guests discover as they navigate deeper within the park and are invited to participate in adventures inspired by our most beloved stories.”

As part of the rebrand, the park’s entrance is also being reimagined, with the current design replaced with ‘crafted décor that pays homage to historic movie theaters in Hollywood and the entertainment industry as a whole.’

“Embracing a transformation that involves the overhaul of more than 90 percent of Walt Disney Studios Park since its debut in 2002, we’re unveiling a fresh creative vision that has completely redefined our second gate,” said Natacha Rafalski, president of Disneyland Paris.

Previous investments in the property include World of Pixar, which opened at the park in 2021 and Avengers Campus (2022).

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EU economy forecast to grow 1.0% in 2024

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A woman paying for services at a beauty shop
Expected economy growth is largely due to consumers spending more this year | Photo: Christiann Koepke

The Commission has published this week a new forecast for the European Union economy, with a more upbeat scenario for consumers. After a downturn in economic activity in 2023, inflation rates will continue to drop and the EU economy should gradually grow in 2024. This is largely driven by ‘consumers spending more, thanks to higher wages and more job opportunities,’ it is believed. 

Concretely, the EU economy should grow 1.0% in 2024. The euro area economy should reach 0.8% of growth. In 2025, GDP will grow even more. Meantime, EU inflation has fallen dramatically since it peaked in 2022. It is expected to wind down to 2.7% in 2024 and to 2.2% in 2025.  

The jobs market is also performing well. Despite the slowdown in activity, the EU economy created more than 2 million jobs in 2023. Activity and employment rates of people aged 20-64 hit new record highs in the last quarter of the year. In March 2024, the unemployment rate in the EU stood at a record low of 6.0%. 

Some challenges remain. For instance, investment growth is slowing since fewer new homes are being built, which affects various industries. As a result, it is expected that interest rates will drop more slowly than anticipated. 

The Commission publishes four economic forecasts throughout a given year, covering GDP and inflation data for all Member States, the EU and the euro area. 

In the UK the scenario is also looking positive, with the Office for National Statistics having recently confirmed that the UK unemployment rate for January to March 2024 (4.3%) is above estimates of a year ago (January to March 2023), and increased in the latest quarter. 

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Mango to strengthens its presence in the UK with 20 store openings

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Mango store facade at Oxford street, London
At the close of the 2023 financial year, Mango had 60 stores in the UK

Mango, one of Europe’s leading fashion groups, continues its expansion and brand consolidation plan in the UK with more than 20 store openings planned for 2024. Growth is focused on expanding its presence in London and Scotland, as well as the arrival for the first time in several cities in Northern Ireland and central and southern England.

“The UK is one of the priority markets for Mango’s international growth. The increased presence in London and our arrival this year in some cities where we have not been present until now will consolidate the Mango brand and help us to strengthen it internationally,” says Daniel López, Mango’s Director of Expansion and Franchising.

The company plans four store openings in London this year, in addition to last February’s opening of a store in the Windsor Yards shopping centre in the heart of historic Windsor, close to Windsor Castle

Mango will also increase its presence in Scotland with store openings in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and for the first time will reach cities in Northern Ireland, as well as central and southern England. 

The new Mango store will incorporate the New Med Mediterranean-inspired store concept, reflecting the spirit and freshness of the brand. Sustainability and architectural integration are the key to this new design that conceives the Mango store as a Mediterranean home with different spaces in which warm tones and neutral colours predominate, combined with traditional, handcrafted, sustainable and natural materials such as ceramics, tuff, wood, marble, esparto grass and leather.

 
Mango has been present in the UK since 1999. In 2021, the company strengthened its presence in the country with the opening of a new flagship store on Oxford Street in London and three other stores in Manchester, Edinburgh and Derby. 

Last year, Mango opened more than 10 stores, mainly in the south and centre of the country, in major cities such as Bristol, London, Manchester and Leeds. Key among them was the store opening in Westfield Stratford City, one of the largest shopping centres in the UK. In addition, the company arrived for the first time in Brighton with a 470 m2 store in the Churchill Square shopping centre.

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