Business must collaborate – without it the world is brutal and terrifying

Companies should simultaneously compete and work together, says Jonathan Rowson, but there is a moral case for loading the dice to support greater collaboration

I was recently introduced to Pandemic. Unlike zero-sum competition games such as chess, Pandemic is a cooperative board game that helps focus the mind on winning in the context of sustainability. The threat in Pandemic is the end of the world and, although the focus is public health rather than ecological collapse, the same principles apply.

In Pandemic, players have to cooperate to keep four virulent diseases under control and can only win or lose as a team that actively collaborates. In its emphasis on coordinating diverse forms of expertise (dispatcher, medic, scientist, researcher or operations expert) to address complex challenges, the game shares some overlaps with my view that climate change should be understood as problem with seven dimensions – science, law, technology, money, democracy, culture and behaviour.

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Poundland puzzles over how to keep it cheap and in reach

CEO Jim McCarthy has to convince the regulator about the merits of its takeover of rival 99p Stores and expand successfully in a crowded market

If you gave Poundland’s chief executive a quid every time he says “amazing value” while accompanying him to a store, your outlay would be considerably more than the £4.72 that shoppers spend on an average visit.

Checking out the bargain chain’s Fulham outlet in west London, Jim McCarthy is gobsmacked by a sudden run on goldfish bowls – apparently being snapped up by students across the UK as makeshift cocktail glasses that can be shared by multiple tipplers dunking in straws. He marvels at other oddball bestsellers for the chain, such as two-for-a-pound Aloe Vera drinks which are selling more than some top drinks brands. And he is gutted that the company has sold out of selfie-sticks despite buying in tens of thousands of the gadgets. “We’re getting more in,” he says, firmly.

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Competition watchdog is wrong to let supermarkets off the hook

The CMA’s lamentable report on pricing has rightly been met with hoots of derision

So the supermarkets have won. Which? may try to put a gloss on the story, but the Competition and Markets Authority has largely dismissed the evidence of dodgy deals and bogus pricing, saying it is “not occurring in large numbers across the whole sector” and that retailers are generally taking compliance seriously.

But it was never the case that supermarkets were breaking the law. Deals and promotions can be, and nearly always are, meticulously compliant with the letter of the law. Yet at the same time they can be entirely bogus. It is the law that needs to be changed.

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Watchdog’s report on big six power companies flawed, say former regulators

Critics argue energy price control proposed by CMA will restrict competition further and attribute increased profits in sector to regulatory interventions

Five former energy regulators have launched a withering attack on the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) dismissing its recent report on the big six power suppliers as fundamentally flawed.

Prof Stephen Littlechild, ex-head of Offer, Clare Spottiswoode, former head of Ofgas, and others expressed “grave concerns” about the CMA’s conclusion that the energy companies have been overcharging and condemned its proposed remedy of barring price rises.

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Watchdog weighs up options for greater rail competition

Mainline routes could work better if UK rail network is opened up to let two operators work each franchise, says competition watchdog

The UK’s rail network could be opened up to greater competition between operators under proposals being considered by a watchdog.

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The CMA’s feeble report on dodgy supermarket pricing will solve nothing

The competition watchdog’s report on mis-pricing advocates limp compliance overseen by an ever-dwindling force of local trading standards officers

When household budgets are under pressure and food prices are among consumers’ top financial worries, it is not good enough for supermarket shoppers to be duped into thinking that they’re snaffling a bargain.

With summer holidays on our minds, most of us are familiar with the barrage of permanently “half-price” suntan creams on sale in a well-known UK high street chemist. It is similar to the popular supermarkets’ discounted wine offers which make it impossible to know the “real” price.

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British Gas slashes bills by 5%, in move to benefit almost 7 million customers

But company criticised after wholesale gas prices fall 20% on last year, as big six accused of collecting £1.2bn in excess profits in recent industry survey

British Gas has cut prices by 5% just days after a financial regulator accused the big six energy suppliers of amassing £1.2bn of excess profits in the five years to 2013.

The company said the reduction in gas bills from 27 August would benefit nearly 7 million customers, but critics argued the cuts were not as deep as they should have been and noted that electricity prices were left untouched.

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Car hire firms to improve practices following competition review

The Competition and Markets Authority secures agreements for major firms to look again at pricing and sales tactics and fuel and damage policies

Millions of holidaymakers who hire a car abroad will soon enjoy better terms and conditions after five of the sector’s biggest firms agreed to make changes following concerns about hidden costs and “potentially unfair” practices.

The UK competition watchdog has led a Europe-wide review which has resulted in the five firms – Hertz, Avis Budget, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Europcar and Sixt – agreeing to introduce improvements to areas that frequently lead to complaints, such as less-than-transparent pricing information, high-pressure sales tactics, fuel policies and damage inspections.

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Why new rules should switch to a default price cap on gas and electricity

A safeguard tariff is a better idea than anything offered by Ofgem, and while the CMA’s report is unremarkable, finding that households overpay by £1.2bn a year calls for regulator action

It is possible there a few people who haven’t heard that it is possible to change one’s supplier of gas and electricity, but there can’t be many. The Competition and Markets Authority would like more – a lot more – to do the deed.

Ofgem, the industry regulator, has been saying the same thing for a couple of decades, only to find its cries received with utter indifference in many quarters. By contrast, the CMA has an idea to improve the lot of those who are too lazy, or too baffled by complexity, to save themselves £160 a year or thereabouts.

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Millions of Britons are overpaying for energy, says competition report

Inquiry prompted by Labour’s pledge to freeze prices will encourage people to shift energy providers but will not call for dismantling big six firms

A long-awaited report by a financial regulator into the energy market has concluded that customers are to blame as much as companies for paying over the odds for their power.

Householders could save up to £160 a year by switching to lower-cost providers, the report said. However, the Competition and Markets Authority has resisted calls for a break-up of the big six energy companies.

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