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applehospital.jpgApple's retail store building crew got a surprise when they uncovered the remains of a 15th century hospital on the site where the company's newest Madrid store was being built.

The hospital, originally known as San Andres hospital, was used to treat victims of the plague in the 1800s. The hospital was demolished in 1854 leaving behind the small remains of the foundations uncovered by the Apple building crew.

Alongside the hospital, a church was found in 2009, during the construction of a new rail station. The church remains were preserved behind glass in the church's mezzanine for viewing by the public.

It seems Apple will do the same so visitors of the store can enjoy another piece of the area's great history; Apple are going to build the store around the hospital's foundations, leaving them intact in the basement with glass panels built into the store's basement flooring for viewing. It is still unclear if the public will be able to view the ruins, or if the basement will be for employee use only. But Apple have been advised to trace an outline of the historic sites walls on the store's flooring, as well as an informative plaque to explain the reasoning behind the tracing of the floor.

Unfortunately we don't know when the new Apple store will open, but I'm sure it will hold onto its piece of history with pride. The store itself is going to be an absolute monster, measuring in at 6,000 square meters, making it one of Apple's largest flagship stores.

hmv-funny.jpgA new twist in the HMV administration story has come today, with rumours that supermarket chain Asda may be looking into snapping up the ailing record stores.

If Asda do wish to pursue the buyout, they'll now likely have to go up against or enter into talks with Hilco. Hilco owns HMV Canada, which has already bought up HMV's debt and is looking into buying the business outright in what could be a £50m deal.

Asda join the likes of GAME as interested parties in the HMV brand, despite the fact that GAME themselves narrowly survived an administration a short while ago.

HMV still employs 2,400 people in its remaining 120 stores. It's expected that Asda would bring the HMV brand into its own stores, selling CDs, DVDs, games and other media as it did with its successful Disney concessions last year.

hmv-funny.jpgThe full list of HMV stores set for closure has been published by the retail chain's administrators Deloitte.

Despite restructuring group Hilco buying HMV's debt last month, 66 stores up and down the UK are still set to close.

"As part of our ongoing review of HMV's financial position, we have now completed a review of the store portfolio and have identified 66 loss making stores for closure." Deloitte's Nick Edwards.

"This step has been taken in order to enhance the prospects of securing the business' future as a going concern.

"We continue to receive strong support from staff and are extremely grateful to them for their commitment during an understandably difficult period. All other key stakeholders remain very supportive and I continue to be hopeful of securing a future for the restructured business."

Though the list below is unlikely to expand, it's still possible that the administrator may make last minute decisions to keep some of these stores open, should they prove potentially profitable once more:

  • Ashton Under Lyne
  • Barnsley
  • Bayswarer Whiteleys
  • Bexley Heath
  • Birkenhead
  • Birmingham The Fort
  • Blackburn
  • Boston
  • Bournemouth Castlepoint
  • Bracknell
  • Burton Upon Trent
  • Camberley
  • Chesterfield
  • Croydon Centrale
  • Dumfries
  • Durham
  • Edinburgh Fort Kinnaird
  • Edinburgh Gyle Centre
  • Edinburgh Ocean Terminal
  • Edinburgh Princes St
  • Edinburgh St James
  • Falkirk
  • Fulham
  • Glasgow Braehead
  • Glasgow Fort
  • Glasgow Silverburn
  • Huddersfield
  • Kirkcaldy
  • Leamington Spa
  • Leeds White Rose
  • Loughborough
  • Luton
  • Manchester 90 Mkt St
  • Moorgate
  • Orpington
  • Rochdale
  • Scunthorpe
  • South Shields
  • Speke Park
  • St Albans
  • St Helens
  • Stockton On Tees
  • Tamworth
  • Teesside
  • Telford Resite
  • Trocadero
  • Wakefield
  • Walsall
  • Walton on Thames
  • Wandsworth
  • Warrington
  • Watford
  • Wellingborough
  • Wigan
  • Wood Green
  • Workington
  • Wrexham
  • Ballymena
  • Belfast Boucher Rd
  • Belfast Forestside
  • Coleraine
  • Craigavon
  • Derry
  • Lisburn
  • Newry
  • Newtownabbey

hmv-funny.jpgFollowing last week's administration woes, HMV may be on the verge of being saved as "restructuring specialists" Hilco have agreed to buy the company's sizeable debts.

Hilco - who bought out HMV Canada in 2011 - have bought the debt from lenders Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland, a process that must be completed before any company can take full control of HMV. Though HMV owed £176 million, Hilco would have bought only part of this debt as the first step to acquiring the business.

"Hilco UK confirms that it has acquired HMV's debt from the group's lenders. It has not bought the business itself," reads a statement from the firm.

"Hilco believes there to be a viable underlying HMV business and will now be working closely with Deloitte who, as administrators, are reviewing the business to determine future options."

Hilco are not the first to offer HMV a lifeline. with Universal Music, Universal Studios, Warner Music, Warner Studios and Sony all said to be willing to cut the price of CDs and DVDs in order to keep the stores open, as well as offering generous credit terms to any potential buyer.

Over 4,000 jobs are currently at risk thanks to HMV's administration.

hmv-funny.jpgHigh street entertainment retailer HMV may be about to be offered a lifeline after entering administration last week.

The chain, now in the hands of administrators Deloitte, may get a helping hand from Universal Music, Universal Studios, Warner Music, Warner Studios and Sony, who are said to be willing to cut the price of CDs and DVDs in order to keep the stores open, as well as offering generous credit terms to any potential buyer.

HMV is one of the only major dedicated entertainment retailers on the high street, and the studios and labels are hoping to maintain a physical presence on the high street away from the cut-throat pricing of supermarkets and online retailers.

50 companies are said to be interested in picking up the HMV brand, including Hilco, the restructuring company that owns HMV Canada. Surprisingly, gaming retailers game are also said to be interested in picking up some HMV stores, despite narrowly surviving their own administration last year.

Over 4,000 jobs are currently at risk thanks to HMV's administration.

Via: The Sunday Times

ipad shopping.jpegIt might be all grim on the high street given the recent failures of Blockbuster, HMV and Jessops but seemingly online sales continue to soar thanks to mobile and tablet devices.

According to IMG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, online retail sales exceeded expectations in December, with a month-on-month growth on November of 12% and a year on year growth of 17.5% year-on-year growth. Consumers spent an estimated £78bn at online retail stores in 2012 and IMRG/Capgemini are forecasting that the online retail market will grow by 12% in 2013, with consumers spending £87bn online.

Particularly strong were sales through mobile devices (including tablets) with over 300 per cent growth from 2011 and 2012. And as mobile devices proved popular as gift choices this Christmas, it seems likely this growth will be continued throughout 2013.

Chris Webster, head of retail and technology, Capgemini, said: "The big stand out is mobile commerce and its growth in the last 12 months has been staggering. The developments in the technology and the steps taken by retailers to improve their mobile services have seen a shift from browsing, to a fully fledged commerce site integral to our shopping experience.

"Visits and sales from either a smartphone or a tablet device are nearly four times higher than last year - we are reaching a point where we are spending longer on our phones shopping than making calls."

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Blockbuster.jpgBlockbuster is the latest high-street chain to succumb to the ongoing financial recession, announcing that the video and game rental store is to enter administration.

The store's fortunes had been on the decline for many years, struggling to make ends meet in the wake of the rise of internet movie piracy, web streaming through services like Netflix and LoveFilm, and LoveFilm's own postal movie and game rental services.

4,190 jobs across 528 stores are now at risk.

Sky News posted the following statement from Lee Manning of Deloitte, the firm's appointed joint administrator:

"We are working closely with suppliers and employees to ensure the business has the best possible platform to secure a sale, preserve jobs and generate as much value as possible for all creditors. The core of the business is still profitable and we will continue to trade as normal in both retail and rental whilst we seek a buyer for all or parts of the business as a going concern.

"During this time gift cards and credit acquired through Blockbuster's trade-in scheme will be honoured towards the purchase of goods."

The news follows similar woes for HMV, who entered administration yesterday, and Jessops who went into administration last week.

More news as we get it, but are thought are with anyone whose livelihood has been affected by administration procedures this week.

UPDATE: HMV no longer accepting gift cards

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hmv-funny.jpgFollowing the announcement that high street retailer HMV are to go into administration, financial services firm Deloitte and HMV administrators have confirmed that HMV stores will no longer be accepting gift cards.

Though shops remain open, vouchers can no longer be used in purchases, with the company ceasing trading on the London Stock Exchange.

"The board regrets to announce that it has been unable to reach a position where it feels able to continue to trade outside of insolvency protection," a HMV statement to the BBC reads.

The board, "understand that it is the intention of the administrators, once appointed, to continue to trade whilst they seek a purchaser for the business."

One of the oldest names on the high street after first opening its doors in 1921, many feel that, considering the strength of the HMV brand, the company took too long to adapt to the rise in online shopping, where 10 years ago it could well have been a true competitor to Amazon.

"While figures from the 2012 Digital Music Index showed file-sharing to be rife right across the UK, the upshot of this is that there are millions of fans accessing music each day," said Gregory Mead, CEO of Musicmetric.

"The challenge for retailers like HMV has been to find ways to tap into this - but you'd be hard pressed to be able to walk into an HMV store and buy songs directly on to your iPod.

"The changing face of music, and that digital technology has overhauled the way we interact with records, means that artists can engage directly with fans, meaning physical retailers have needed to evolve as well. While previously it was all about CD releases and the Sunday chart show, now the most important thing is knowing where your fanbase is and what drives them so you can market to them directly and maximise revenues from a myriad of sources."

For the full statement from HMV regarding the administration, click here.

HMV to go into administration

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HMV.jpgHMV is to go into administration, with 239 stores now facing closure and over 4,000 staff members facing unemployment.

Following the closure of Jessops last week, HMV (an abbreviation of His Master's Voice), has struggled to match the strong competition of online stores, as well as cut price CDs and DVDs in supermarkets. Even a recent shift towards technology and hardware has failed to keep the chain above water.

In the past, HMV has defended against financially difficulties by selling off assets including the Hammersmith Apollo venue and Waterstones book chain, but the future is looking very bleak now, having issued a warning that it might breach bank loan agreements in December.

As the last major high street music shop, it's thought that the major record labels (hoping to maintain a presence on the high street) may lend a helping hand, and that restructuring to fewer, smaller stores could also save the brand.

HMV was first opened by Sir Edward Elgar in 1921, with the first store opening on Oxford Street in London.

The following statement has been released to Music Week:

"On 13 December 2012, [HMV] announced that as a result of current market trading conditions, the Company faced material uncertainties and that it was probable that the Group would not comply with its banking covenants at the end of January 2013. The Company also stated that it was in discussions with its banks.

"Since that date, the Company has continued the discussions with its banks and other key stakeholders to remedy the imminent covenant breach. However, the Board regrets to announce that it has been unable to reach a position where it feels able to continue to trade outside of insolvency protection, and in the circumstances therefore intends to file notice to appoint administrators to the Company and certain of its subsidiaries with immediate effect.

"The Directors of the Company understand that it is the intention of the administrators, once appointed, to continue to trade whilst they seek a purchaser for the business.

"It is proposed that Nick Edwards, Neville Kahn and Rob Harding, partners of Deloitte LLP, will be appointed as the administrators of the Company and certain of its subsidiaries.

"The Company's ordinary shares will be suspended from trading on the London Stock Exchange with immediate effect."

cometshutters.jpgFinancially-stricken high street electronics retailer Comet will hold a stock-clearing "fire sale" following the news that the company has been put into administration.

Items will be sold at "everything must go" prices, with £120 million worth of stock to go. Though a date for the sale has yet to be announced, administrators Deloitte announced that those with Comet gift cards will be able to use them during the sale, despite the gift cards not being accepted in recent days since the administration team moved in.

Neville Kahn of Deloitte announced: "Following our appointment as Administrators to Comet at 4:30pm on Friday afternoon, it was necessary to temporarily suspend the acceptance of gift cards as a means for payment in order to allow the Joint Administrators time to assess the financial position of the company and collate information about the quantity, value and nature of gift cards in circulation.

"Having now had the opportunity to do so, we are very pleased to inform Comet customers that the Company will be able to accept gift cards which have been purchased and paid for in full by members of the public.

"At this stage, it is necessary to maintain the temporary suspension on gift cards which have been issued to people on behalf of a corporate customer, for example by insurers, pending clarification from the relevant providers as to whether Comet has received payment in full for these cards."

Though we may all be able to bag a bargain through Comet's inevitable sale, spare a thought for the 6,000 employees of the brand. Unless a buyer can be found, many will find themselves unemployed in the run up to Christmas.

Via: Mirror

cometshutters.jpgFollowing on from our post earlier today highlighting high-street gadget retailer Comet's current financial woes, it's now been confirmed that the company will go into administration next week.

As many as 240 shops could be set to close, with some 6,000 jobs now at risk.

It's the second time in less than a year that the company's future has been called into question, with current owners OpCapita buying the brand for just £2 back in February.

However, the brand's fortunes have not turned around, with Comet thought to have lost around £35 million since April.

OpCapita were faced with Comet with the same problems as gaming retail chain GAME did before OpCapita stepped in to save it. Comet were under pressure from electronics manufacturers to pay for stock up front rather than from the profits of falling sales. Comet is now trading without credit insurance, meaning that the brand cannot guarantee to electronics manufacturers that they will get money back after sales.

We'll keep you updated with the fate of Comet as this story unfolds.

Via: Guardian

cometshutters.jpgUK gadgets and electronics high street retailer is in serious financial trouble, a report published by the Telegraph reveals today. Owners OpCapita may be forced to put the chain into administration.

In an ironic turn, OpCapita now face with Comet the same problems as gaming retail chain GAME did before OpCapita stepped in to save it, with Comet under pressure from electronics manufacturers to pay for stock up front rather than from the profits of falling sales. Comet is now trading without credit insurance, meaning that the brand cannot guarantee to electronics manufacturers that they will get money back after sales should something happen to the chain.

For GAME, this lead to big-name titles such as Mass Effect 3 being missing from shelves, and now Comet are in a position where high profile gadgetry could be missing from stores.

OpCapita have claimed that offers have been made for the brand, but whether or not it will be enough to save the 6,000 jobs now under threat remains to be seen.

Via: Telegraph

tweet-shop.jpgShort on cash but dying for a snack? How about paying for a bite to eat by the tweet?

That's the idea behind the Tweet Shop pop-up shop in London, a new standalone retail outlet for Special K cereal.

The store has been created to mark the launch of the brand's new savoury crisps range, with customers asked not for money at the till, but instead a tweet on Twitter about the new snack bag.tweet-shop-customer.jpg"The value of positive endorsements on social media sites is beyond compare so we're excited to be the first company to literally use social currency instead of financial currency to launch this new product in our bespoke Special K shop," said Special K's Sarah Case.

"This is big news for Special K and we are hoping the brand's move into crisps and the high street will create a major buzz on and offline."

The Tweet Shop on Soho's Meard Street, London, is open from 9am to 5pm on Tuesday 25th September to Friday 28th September. To claim your tweet-bought crisps, head down to the store and show the Special K ladies in red proof of your tweets.

tesco logo.gifTesco have launched a new supermarket shopping experience at Gatwick Airport, where shoppers can scan items before their flight, ready for a delivery when they return to home turf.

The North Terminal at Gatwick airport now has ten terminals featuring a range of Tesco's most popular items to browse. When shoppers find an item they like, they can add it to an online order by scanning it with the Tesco iPhone and Android apps. You'll then have a delivery of fresh food ready for you when you return home, jetlagged and loaded down with suitcases.

The first scheme of its kind in the UK, Tesco are trying out a two week trial of the service, following a successful trial in the company's South Korean market.

"Our business in Korea is teaching us a lot about how customers and technology are transforming shopping," said Tesco's Internet Retailing Director, Ken Towle.

"It gives us a unique window into the future and the chance to try out exciting new concepts. The virtual store blends clicks and bricks, bringing together our love of browsing with the convenience of online. It's a chance to showcase what we can do to the 30,000 people a day who will depart from Gatwick's North Terminal, many of whom will have a genuine need to fill their fridges when they get home, and we're looking forward to hearing what they think."

One in seven of Tesco's online orders now come from smartphones.

griffin-store-5.jpgLeading iPhone accessory makers Griffin have opened their first brick-mortar store. And despite the company hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, they've picked good old Blighty (and more specifically the Westfield shopping centre in Stratford to play host to it.

Showcasing their range, the store includes an indoor space for testing out their Helo TC remote controlled chopper range and a motorised 12 foot drop chute to prove how well protected their Survivor cases make Apple's iPads. There's even a charging station if your mobile battery needs a top-up
griffin-store-6.jpg"We've always wanted to open a store and experiment with that", Griffin's PR manager Jackie Ballinger told Tech Digest.

"It's been a really good opportunity for us to put our products on display in a way that we completely control. Many of our products are on display at over retail locations around the UK, but we don't have the level of control that we have here, the ability to demo our products like this and show them at their best."
griffin-store-4.jpgThe opening of the store also coincides with an updated range from Griffin that includes the nifty StudioConnect midi controller for use with Apple's Garageband on iPad, the affordable WoodTones earphones that are green-friendly thanks to being made from reclaimed wood, and the super-swish Col. Littleton line of leather cases, satchels and bags bringing a little bit of Tennessee style to the East End of London.

"The opening of our very first store celebrates a huge milestone for Griffin Technology. We have been leading the way in developing innovative and ground-breaking accessories for the past 20 years," said Mark Rowan, President of Griffin Technology.
griffin-store-1.jpg"This store will allow us to share our vision and our products with consumers' first-hand. And, with the spotlight very much focused on London and the 2012 Olympics, there's no better place to unveil our very first store than at Westfield, Stratford City. We will also be launching a number of new products exclusively at the store, so we are able to monitor consumer's reactions and feedback, before the products are launched to market elsewhere."

For more info, click here.

swisscheese.jpgIntroducing the Intelligent Cheese Counter, a new retail innovation that lets you buy cheese from an in-store seller, just by pointing at it through the display glass.

No this isn't a joke, and we're a couple of months early for April Fools' Day yet. This is a new in-store retail concept from the German Innovative Retail Laboratory, part of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence.

Designed to make the cheese buying process a little easier (an admittedly daunting task for cheese amateurs) it negates the slightly embarrassing problem of being unable to pronounce the name of a cheese, not knowing how it my taste, and what other foods or drinks it would go well with.

Using a 3D mounted camera just above the counter, the user simply points at their desired cheese, with the camera hooked up to a computer system that can pinpoint the direction of their finger within an accuracy range of two centimetres. Using two screens (one for the store clerk and one for the customer) the seller can then easily identify which cheese the customer is inquiring about, while the customer is shown a list of details about the cheese in question.

"It's a common problem. That soft, golden-yellow stuff at the back of the cheese counter looks so delicious and inviting, but you're too scared to order some because you don't know its name. And even if you do, you may not know how to pronounce it correctly. All you can do is point and hope for the best," reads the CeBit tradeshow listing.

"The intelligent cheese counter recognizes what product the customer is pointing at and displays it on screen for the customer and sales staff to see. It even provides additional information, such as the origin of the cheese or wines that go well with it."

Due to be revealed at this year's CeBit conference, there are no images available at the time of writing, but we envision a Minority Report-style future crammed full of these things. Preferably with some sort of virtual smell-masking app built in too.

For more info, check out the Innovative Retail Laboratory website.

ebay-image.jpgBy Becca Caddy

Over the past few years we've seen QR codes everywhere, on food, clothes and even gravestones. Yes, we said gravestones.

Well this Christmas, we'll be seeing hundreds of them on all kinds of clothes, gifts and furniture items, as online marketplace eBay intends to use them to make shopping even easier in its festive pop-up shop.

The brand is launching a new Christmas boutique in London at the beginning of December, which aims to give stressed shoppers the best of both worlds, the in-store browsing experience with the selection, deals and distinct lack of queuing we've become accustomed to online.

The new boutique will stock a range of items and each will have its own unique QR code. Shoppers then use their phones to scan these QR codes to buy without the fuss, queuing, tills and even bags, because once you've purchased something it'll get delivered straight to your door. Goodbye awkward tube journey with 5,487,823 bags and no air!

eBay's new shopping concept seems like a brilliant idea, it gives us peace of mind that the items we're buying actually look good in real life and it's popping up (sorry) just in time for Christmas. However, just like buying things with a store card sometimes doesn't feel real, buying things by swiping your phone around like you're a little kid playing shop might not seem real too, so be careful you don't overdo it.

The store is open from the 1st to the 5th of December at 34 Dean Street, London, W1D 4PR.

Via Shiny Shiny

mBlox.png

Today it was announced that mBlox, a leader in mobile consumer interaction and payments announced mBlox Entrust. A suite of mobile payment solutions for both in-app and mobile web payments that make paying for goods and services safer and easier to use.

mBlox entrust for apps will enable merchants to have check out solution based in the app to handle payments. Methods will include Visa and Mastercard as well as other popular local and international methods which will give consumers a much easier and safer way to pay for their goods.

Once the customer has registered with the service it will manage the choice of payment, deliver payment authorisation, provide a transaction summary and can send text message based alerts to notify the customer whether the payment has been successful or not. Sensitive consumer payment information will be stored in a Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliant storage system and is not accessible if your mobile device is lost or stolen.

mBlox will also launch the service for the the mobile web sector expanding the range and the value of goods that can easily be purchased with either a credit or debit card. The service will also offer SMS payments for digital goods offering their customers an alternatie way to pay. The SMS will also be used for recurring payments, the consumer being sent a SMS message to remind them that a payment is due along with a way to pay it.

"With more and more consumers using mobile phones and tablets for their shopping needs, merchants need to adapt and capitalise on this opportunity. If consumers have to continually enter lengthy payment details on the small screen of a tablet or smartphone, their shopping experience will be a frustrating one, and they will take their business elsewhere."


Modern Warfare 3 2.jpg

Now we all knew this game would be big but none of us could have expect it to be this big, Modern Warfare 3 sold 6.5 million copies in North America and the United Kingdom in only 24 hours. Making Activision's wallets bulge with a staggering $400 million revenue in just one day.

These figures make it one of the largest entertainment launches to date, a number that ranks it alongside Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 which raked in $483 million for a world wide weekend release.

This dwarfs the release of Call of Duty Black Ops which managed to sell 5.6 million copies in 24 hours, making $360 million in North America and the United Kingdom. Again trumping the record sale set by Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 which achieved sales of $310 million and selling 4.7 million copies in the 24 hours that every Activision investor looks forward too.

Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activison Blizzard commented on the figures, "Other than Call of Duty, there has never been another entertainment franchise that has set opening day records three years in a row, Life-to-date sales for the Call of Duty franchise exceed worldwide theatrical box office for "Star Wars" and "Lord of the Rings," two of the most successful entertainment franchises of all time."

What is noteworthy as well on a day of large amount of money going into corporate hands, Activison have given something back. They have donated $3 million to the Call of Duty Endowment, a non-profit, public benefit corporation that provides job placement and training for war veterans. On top of the last donation of $2 million last year, they are giving a lot back to those who deserve it the most on the day where we remember soldiers and all their efforts.


ElderScrollslaunchatGAME_BowlesRexFeatures33.jpg

Last night saw the release of one of the most eagerly anticipated game releases of this year. Elder Scrolls Skyrim. Many stores around the country where hosting midnight openings for the hordes of gamers itching to get their hands on the fantasy RPG that is being hailed as the best Elder Scrolls yet.

Fresh from the clean up of the Modern Warfare 3 midnight launch three days ago, staff and gamers alike joined in the spirit of the game many dressed in fancy dress from the adventure game.

Thumbnail image for Elder_Scrolls_launcha_GAME.jpg

Some who had been queuing since wednesday morning finally got their hands on the game just after midnight. To keep themselves occupied through days of waiting, some found some cardboard from a local shop and fashioned weapons and armour to keep their spirits up.

The game features over 300 hours of gameplay with an intricate story and hundreds of side missions and weapons, this game is going to be responsible for a few relationships breaking down over this festive period; gamers glued to their TV's fighting off wooly mammoths, giants and huge dragons, while their partners quietly packing their bags.

Source: GAME

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