Afternoon Coffee: SSE and Npower to Merge Household Energy Businesses, A U.S. Coffee Shop Bubble

AdobeStock/Nongnuch Leelaphasuk

Energy giants SSE and Npower plan to combine their household energy businesses in forming what would be the U.K.’s second biggest energy supplier, with a collective 12.7 million customers, the Guardian reports. If the merger goes through, the new energy firm would be close to the size of British Gas, leading to worries over a market monopoly.

A U.S. Coffee Shop Bubble?

Readers, the composition of the Afternoon Coffee column you read every day, more likely than not, is powered by coffee. And so AC should be thrilled by the news that the number of coffee shops in the U.S. has increased by 16% in the last five years. But as it turns out, Americans’ collective caffeine dependence has both been a boon for Arabica supply chains and a headache for coffee shop profit margins, as specialty coffee shops find themselves competing with Starbucks, McDonald’s and even grocery store coffee aisles.

Move Aside, iPhones!

Apple is working on an augmented-reality headset that could be available for purchase as soon as 2020, Bloomberg reports. The device would use a new chip and operating system, instead of using a smartphone as its display and engine.

Soft Skills Wanted

An understanding of blockchain and analytics will go far if you’re a supply chain professional, but MIT’s Yossi Sheffi argues in the Wall Street Journal that the focus on technology has been to the detriment of soft skills such as communication and leadership that are just as crucial.

"Rapid technological innovation, globalization, and increasing market volatility are helping accelerate the pace of change in supply-chain management," Sheffi writes. "To perform effectively in this environment, professionals need to hone their ability to communicate with people working across wide range of disciplines and a variety of geographies."

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