Plans for Shopify’s new major office in downtown Vancouver could be up in the air, after the e-commerce company signalled on Thursday it will transition into a permanent work-from-home model, even after COVID-19.
Tobi Lutke, CEO of Shopify, announced the new direction in a series of tweets, stating that Shopify is now a “digital by default company” and “office centricity is over.”
“Until recently, work happened in the office. We’ve always had some people remote, but they used the internet as a bridge to the office. This will reverse now,” he wrote.
“The future of the office is to act as an on-ramp to the same digital workplace that you can access from your work-from-home setup. This means that the work experience should be the same for everyone who works together at Shopify no matter where they are working from.”
Meetings will continue to be conducted virtually, and employees will use the “best digital communications tools to work together.”
All of its offices will remain closed until 2021 to rework these workspaces for the company’s “new reality.” After this, most of the employees will work remotely.
This direction creates some uncertainty for Shopify’s new Vancouver office, scheduled to open in late 2020.
In January, Shopify announced its plans for the new office, occupying over 70,000 sq. ft. across four levels of Four Bentall Centre at 1055 Dunsmuir Street. At the time, this was described as a custom-designed space “where employees will thrive.”
This was deemed as a research and development hub for the company, with a focus on software development. The office would employ up to 1,000 people, with positions such as backend developers, data engineers, mobile developers, web developers, product designers, and product managers.
They said their investment in Vancouver “will create jobs, support our local merchants, partners and community organizations.”
In a statement to Daily Hive, Brittany Forsyth, the Chief Talent Officer of Spotify, said the company is committed to retaining its recruiting hubs at its current and future Canadian markets, and other global locations.
“Digital by default is the mental model we’ll use to transform our ways of working, so we can match the ingenuity and creativity we’re seeing our merchants exhibit as they adapt,” she said.
A Shopify spokesperson also added they are drawing from the experiences of their support team and others who have worked from home this way for years. The office locations will remain closed until at least next year to allow for a redesign of their office spaces.
The company already has a smaller local presence at Three Bentall Centre at 595 Burrard Street.
“COVID is challenging us all to work together in new ways. We choose to jump in the driver’s seat, instead of being passengers to the changes ahead. We cannot go back to the way things were. This isn’t a choice; this is the future,” wrote Lutke.
Shopify is headquartered in Ottawa, and has offices in Toronto, Montreal, Waterloo, San Francisco, Berlin, Vilnius, Shenzhen, Sydney, Tokyo, Singapore, Bangalore, London, New York City, and Stockholm. It employs over 5,000 people worldwide. It recorded revenues of nearly $1.6 billion in 2019.
In 2018, the company announced it was investing as much as $500 million to open a new 254,000-sq-ft office at The Well in downtown Toronto. It was slated to open in 2022. Another new office location is located near this hub.
Gold prices in China fall as net imports from Hong Kong drop – Aljazeera.com
China’s gold imports via Hong Kong in April fell short of its exports for the first time since at least 2011, as measures to contain the spread of coronavirus hammered demand in the top consumer.
Net imports in April crashed by about 176 percent to minus 10.3 tonnes versus the previous month, data from the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department showed on Monday. The drop came after net gold imports nearly trebled to 13.523 tonnes in March.
“China’s gold price was trading at too big a discount compared to the overseas price, so gold imports fell a lot because supply inside the country is abundant already,” Samson Li, a Hong Kong-based precious metals analyst at Refinitiv GFMS, said.
Dealers in China, which is a top global consumer, sold gold at discounts of up to $50 to $70 an ounce ($1.61 to $2.25 a gramme) versus benchmark spot prices last month, the most on record according to data going back to 2014.
“At the same time, gold flowed out from mainland China to Hong Kong, thus it turned from net imports to net exports in April, the first time since 2011,” Li said.
Exports to Hong Kong stood at 14.513 tonnes, compared with 0.685 tonnes reported for March.
China’s total gold imports via Hong Kong plunged more than 70 percent to 4.213 tonnes from 14.208 tonnes in March.
The fall in shipments followed a slide in demand for the precious metal as the country battled the coronavirus pandemic. Beijing dropped its annual growth target for the first time on Friday.
The Hong Kong data may not provide a complete picture of Chinese purchases as gold is also imported via Shanghai and Beijing.
Reuters news agency
Would Shoppers Come Back As Malls Open
Malls across the country are beginning to open their doors after weeks of government-mandated shutdowns, but both operators and retail tenants are stepping into uncharted territory amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the near-term, operators are focused on reopening their properties safely, but there’s a larger concern that shoppers — who have embraced e-commerce and curbside pickup since the pandemic’s outset — will be unimpressed upon returning to malls as many stores remain closed and new safety measures change the experience.
Tim Sanderson, head of Canadian retail at Jones Lang LaSalle, said he’s worried about a repeat of U.S. retail giant Target’s ill-fated attempt to penetrate the Canadian market, where supply chain issues resulted in empty shelves and annoyed customers who left and never came back.
“This is the experience that I fear, that we fear, could happen in the malls,” he said. “Someone goes to a shopping centre, goes through all of the protocols involved, walks into the shopping centre, and the store she came for is not even open, but also, the experience is going to be underwhelming.”
Sanderson emphasized that the safety measures malls have rolled out, such as one-direction travel, reduced or eliminated seating, physical distancing requirements and increased security to enforce policies, may be detrimental to the shopping experience but are crucial as a resurgence of the pandemic is the worst-case scenario.
“If we re-open business, and then the government has to lock it down again, I think that’s just bad for everybody in a whole lot of ways, not just shopping and retail, but peoples psyche and everything,” he said.
Mall owners have a strong incentive to get their properties open safely, as rents have plummeted following the provincial orders to close.
Owners were only paid about 20 to 25 per cent of their expected April rent, and around 15 per cent in May.
“There’s lots of talk among the retail and landlord community about what rents look like going forward, people have had a major, major impact to their sales.”
But he said there hasn’t been much progress as nobody’s in a position to say what sales will look like, or what rent levels will be affordable.
Mall owners, like many other landlords, have engaged tenants in rent deferrals to help struggling tenants.
Ivanhoe Cambridge has given deferrals to the “vast majority” of tenants “in solidarity with the difficult circumstances,” said spokeswoman Katherine Roux Groleau.
Some landlords are stepping in to help in other ways. Brookfield Asset Management, which has extensive mall holdings especially in the U.S., has said it’s ready to invest $5 billion US in large retailers to keep them afloat.
The situation could also lead to a return of pure percentage deals, where rent is tied to sales, especially for restaurant tenants, said CBRE Ltd. vice chair Paul Morassutti.
The crisis, however, will likely also accelerate the trend already underway of mall properties moving away from strictly retail, especially as numerous retailers like Reitmans, Aldo, Pier 1 and others go into creditor protection.
“This pandemic has accelerated the timing for some of those stores,” said Ray Wong, vice president at Altus Group.
“It’s not just the pandemic, they were having challenges before, and this just pushed them along.”
He said that while some premier shopping centres like Yorkdale Mall in Toronto will continue to see high demand, others in secondary markets could see an accelerated switch to more mixed used condos and rentals and office, while some in smaller markets might not survive as retail spaces at all.
“Certain malls or certain shopping centres, it may not be viable to have retail there and it may be redeveloped to other types of uses.”
The coronavirus outbreak, and the resulting shift to working from home, could also make people more reluctant to take long commutes and will instead gravitate to suburban hubs, like a massive development Oxford has planned for central Mississauga to further the trend of diversifying mall properties.
“It will be really interesting to see the discussion on the office front, with more people working from home, not wanting to do the two-hour commute on the subway, that they prefer locations that are closer to where they live, especially in the suburbs,” said Wong.
“It’s a constant juggling act to figure out what will work.”
Edited By Miller Harry
'We are excited by these results': Saskatoon lab plans human trials after potential COVID-19 vaccine shows promise in animal tests – CTV News Saskatoon
human clinical trials for a Saskatoon research lab’s potential COVID-19 vaccine could begin as early as this fall.
In a news release, the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac), said the vaccine proved “highly effective” in ferrets, animals which are widely used for COVID-19 modelling.
“Proving that the vaccine is effective in ferrets is a key milestone in the development pathway,” VIDO-InterVac director Dr. Volker Gerdts said in the release.
During the trial, the vaccine decreased viral infection in the animals’ upper respiratory tract to “almost undetectable levels.”
More trials are planned for the coming months, which will include safety studies that could clear the way for human clinical trials this fall.
As the lab’s vaccine research continues VIDO-InterVac is also in the process of readying a vaccine manufacturing facility.
“We are excited by these results and are continuing to develop our vaccine towards regulatory approval,” project leader Dr. Darryl Falzarano said.
The University of Saskatchewan-based lab received a
from the federal government for its COVID-19 research in March.
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