January 3, 2017 / 12:44 AM / a year ago

PRESS DIGEST- British Business - Jan 3

Jan 3 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories on the business pages of British newspapers. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

The Times

Shopper numbers plunged dramatically at the weekend in a sign that experts said augured badly for the new year. Visits to shopping centres were down by a half on New Year's Day compared with the same day in 2016, according to Springboard retail intelligence. bit.ly/2iwJgiK

KPMG has emerged as the government's favourite accountant, earning more than half the money spent on accounting advisers from the Big Four firms in the past year. bit.ly/2hLwSws

The Guardian

The liquidators of BHS are conducting a detailed investigation into property transactions that took place during the regimes of Philip Green and Dominic Chappell, including whether the directors of the retailer breached their duties. FRP Advisory is undertaking a "massive exercise in data collation", according to one source close to the winding up of BHS. bit.ly/2iwKEBS

Harrods has been accused of shortchanging its restaurant staff in the latest row over how service charges added to diners' bills are shared among workers. The union representing Harrods waiters and kitchen staff believes the Qatari owner of the upmarket London department store retains up to 75 percent of the service charge. bit.ly/2iwNqas

The Telegraph

Scottish islanders are exploring ways of loosening ties with Scotland and the U.K. following the Brexit vote including full independence, it has emerged. More than half of Orkney's councillors have forced through a motion demanding an investigation into "greater autonomy or self-determination" amid the vote to leave the European Union and a possible second independence referendum. bit.ly/2hLFdR2

Thousands of new homes to help first-time buyers on to the property ladder will be built on brownfield land, Prime Minister Theresa May will announce on Tuesday, her second big housing pledge in as many days. bit.ly/2hLz876

Sky News

Len McCluskey has insisted he still backs Jeremy Corbyn, despite appearing to distance himself from the Labour leader in a newspaper interview. The Unite leader suggested in a Daily Mirror interview that if opinion polls are "still awful" by 2019 Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell may quit. bit.ly/2hLwA95

The Independent

Theresa May's New Year's message pledging to be mindful of both Leave and Remain voters during Brexit negotiations has been dismissed as "utterly meaningless" by leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron. ind.pn/2hLHAU1

Labour is on course to retain as few as 150 MPs at the next general election as it sheds voters to all other parties, a stark new report warns. Support for Jeremy Corbyn's party could plunge as low as 20 percent at the election in 2020 based on its current poll ratings, the Fabian Society has calculated. ind.pn/2hLFW4x (Compiled by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru)

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