(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 30th June 2020) London, Uk – –
Chancellor extends Future Fund to include firms that have moved their HQs abroad
The chancellor is expanding a £500m fund for UK startups hit by the coronavirus crisis, to ensure firms that shifted their headquarters abroad can still access the scheme.
The Future Fund will now benefit companies that are seen as British in all but name, having moved their parent company to tap US investors or take advantage of so-called accelerator programmes. Accelerators like US-based Y Combinator often ask firms to set up a US entity in order to access financing, mentorships and expert networks overseas.
Future Fund applicants will still have to prove that at least half of their staff are based in the UK and that they make at least 50% of their revenues from UK sales, the Treasury said.
“This change means that those startups who have strived to be the very best, and taken opportunities to grow their business, will be able to benefit from our world-leading Future Fund,” chancellor Rishi Sunak said.
The changes come amid a surge in demand for the scheme, which will see the government take stakes in British startups that struggle to repay loans due to the coronavirus crisis.
The Future Fund offers convertible government loans worth between £125,000 and £5m to companies that have previously raised at least £250,000 of equity investments. Those loans are matched pound-for-pound by private investors, but the government debt will convert to equity if the loans are not repaid.
The fund is meant to help startups, in sectors like tech and life sciences, that may have otherwise struggled to survive, let alone grow, throughout the coronavirus crisis.
The government initially committed £250m in loans as part of a £500m fund that was equally shouldered by private investors. However, the government has now approved £320m worth of future fund loans to more than 320 early-stage firms.
The Treasury has not confirmed whether there is a cap for the expanded fund, which originally launched on 20 May.
Business secretary Alok Sharma said: “As we restart our economy, it is crucial that our innovators and risk-takers get all the support they need to flourish.
“Our decision to relax this rule recognises the importance of many of the UK’s most cutting-edge startups as we bounce back from coronavirus.”
Unlike other government programmes, such as the bounce back loan scheme (BBLS) and the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS), Future Fund loans are distributed by the state-owned British Business Bank rather than high street lenders.
Figures released on Tuesday showed that the trio of government-backed loan schemes led by commercial banks – covering BBLS, CBILS and the scheme for larger businesses known as CLBILS – hit a milestone, with more than 1m firms granted emergency funding so far.
Government data showed that banks had approved more than 1m loans worth £42.9bn as of 28 June. More than 1.3m businesses have applied.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 29th June 2020) London, Uk – –
The supermarket chain moves to further bolster its own online operation as a delivery partnership with Ocado nears its end.
Waitrose says it is to open a third warehouse in London to cope with surging demand for grocery deliveries in the capital amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
The John Lewis Partnership said it expected the fulfilment centre, in the Greenford area of west London, would create 800 jobs once completed.
The COVID-19 lockdown since March has forced the supermarket sector to bolster online shopping capabilities to cope with a rising tide of orders.
Waitrose said it had seen online orders surge by more than 100% over the past few months and admitted it had been unable to meet demand within London.
The chain had announced in May that it was to open a second warehouse in Enfield by September.
Waitrose said the third centre, to be operated with logistics specialist Wincanton, would “significantly further increase the availability of delivery slots for customers in and around the capital”.
It hoped to have the Greenford site operational in time for Christmas saying that, when completed, it would have quadrupled the number of delivery slots available to customers in London in under a year.
Waitrose has a current delivery partnership with Ocado but it will be going it alone completely in the autumn as the pure online grocery retailer enters into a joint venture with M&S.
New Waitrose executive director, James Bailey, said: “While we've already pulled forward our online expansion plans by six months we know there are still lots of people who want to shop online with us and currently can't.
“This is especially the case in London, where we've seen a significant and prolonged surge in demand for our online offer. This new centre will help us better serve the London area with a much broader range of slots.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 29th June 2020) London, Uk – –
Travel companies say holiday bookings have “exploded” after the government announced current restrictions will be eased.
Ministers said from 6 July, blanket restrictions on non-essential overseas travel will be relaxed in the UK.
Holidaymakers will be allowed to travel to certain European countries without having to spend 14 days in quarantine upon their return.
A spokesperson for TUI said the move was a “hugely positive step forward”.
“We've already seen bookings increase by 50% this week, versus last [week], with holidays to Spain and Greece looking the most popular this summer,” said Andrew Flintham, managing director of TUI UK and Ireland.
Lastminute.com said it experienced an 80% increase on holiday sales compared to last week, largely attributed to the announcement of Spain lifting the quarantine for Brits.
The list of travel corridors with the UK is due to be published next week and is expected to include Spain, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Belgium, Turkey, Germany and Norway – but not Portugal or Sweden.
It comes as it was announced a further 100 people had died from the virus in the UK, with a further 890 people testing positive, as of 27 June.
‘Traffic light system'
John Keefe, director of public affairs at Eurotunnel, said phones had been “ringing off the hook”.
Eurotunnel saw an increase of bookings weeks ago, suggesting that many holidaymakers had already started to “discount the quarantine measures”, said Mr Keefe – but bookings “exploded” when the announcement was made on Friday.
Foreign Office advice against all but essential international travel has been in place since 17 March.
Under the new rules, a traffic light system will be introduced – with countries classified as green, amber or red depending on the prevalence of coronavirus. The UK is likely to discuss arrangements with countries over the coming days.
A government spokesman said measures would give people “the opportunity for a summer holiday abroad” while also boosting the UK economy – but stressed the relaxation depended on risks staying low.
The government said it “wouldn't hesitate to put on the brakes” if the situation changes.
While the UK government is responsible for border controls, the Scottish and Welsh governments say that public health and the response to the pandemic are devolved matters.
Both warned they had yet to decide to implement the measures.
Ministers in Scotland said it was “disappointing” that the announcement was made before all four UK nations held discussions.
Tourism businesses in Wales are not due to reopen until 13 July, a week after the travel restrictions are due to ease elsewhere.
In a statement, it said: “The Welsh Government continues to explore the UK Government's proposals for Air Bridges and awaits confirmation of a four-nation ministerial meeting to discuss the issue further.”
Portugal has seen a rise in the number of new cases in and around Lisbon recently, while Sweden is also unlikely to be on the list because the infection rate there is higher than in the UK. They are both likely to be classified as red.
But the government spokesman conceded there would be nothing to stop someone avoiding quarantine by flying into a Spanish airport, driving over the border into Portugal for their holiday and returning by the same route.
UK travellers will still have to hand over the address they plan to stay at on their return from abroad, no matter which country they are coming back from. And they will also be legally required to wear face coverings on planes and ferries.
How do holidaymakers feel?
Jon San Jose, 38, will be travelling to Spain with his wife and two young children in August to celebrate his mother-in-law's 60th birthday.
To minimise risks, they have decided to take the Eurotunnel to France and then drive to Alicante, Spain, where they will be joined in a villa by the rest of the extended family.
Jon and his wife Karleen welcomed the government announcement, after having doubts the birthday celebration would still go ahead, and said they are doing all they can to limit risks.
“We probably won't eat out more than once or twice,” said Jon. “We're probably going to stay in the villa for most of the time. If anything it will be less risk going there than staying [in the UK] at the moment.”
Portugal's Secretary of State for Tourism Rita Baptista Marques told BBC Breakfast her country had been named the most secure destination in Europe by the World Tourism and Travel Council and is a “clean and safe destination”.
She added that the situation is “completely under control”, with significant testing being carried out.
But Greece's Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis suggested that it could be up to three weeks before the country is happy to open up an air bridge to the UK, as discussions with health experts are continuing.
Spain lifted its state of emergency last Sunday, reopening its borders to visitors from most of Europe and allowing British tourists to enter the country without having to quarantine.
Travel industry group ABTA said the travel sector “eagerly” anticipates confirmation of the list of countries, which “should encourage customers to book”.
“The blanket Foreign Office advice against all but essential travel is still a major impediment to travel, however, and we look forward to the government adopting a similar risk-based approach to that advice,” it said in a statement.
The UK introduced rules requiring all people arriving in the UK to self-isolate for 14 days on 8 June. It was widely criticised by the travel industry and MPs of all parties.
What are the current quarantine rules?
People arriving in the UK should drive their own car to their destination, where possible, and once there they must not use public transport or taxis
Arrivals must not go to work, school, or public areas, or have visitors – except for essential support. They are also not allowed to go out to buy food, or other essentials, where they can rely on others
Those arriving in England, Wales and Northern Ireland could face a fine of £1,000 if they fail to self-isolate for the full 14 days, while they face a £480 fine in Scotland. The maximum fine for repeat offenders in Scotland is £5,000
“Our new risk-assessment system will enable us to carefully open a number of safe travel routes around the world – giving people the opportunity for a summer holiday abroad and boosting the UK economy through tourism and business,” said a government spokesman.
“But we will not hesitate to put on the brakes if any risks re-emerge.”
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This stunning 700-square-foot, self-built float home is fully off-grid with solar power, a pellet stove, a composting toilet, and an evaporation grey water system that ensures nothing is dumped overboard! It has an open concept kitchen, living and dining space, a master bedroom and bathroom on the main floor, two bedrooms on the second floor, and the wraparound deck up top gives 360 degree views.
Making the perfect fried chicken as we know it — juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside — used to be a luxury. But a man named Harland Sanders changed that after mastering his own recipe – inside a gas station.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 26th June 2020) London, Uk – –
Sky News has learnt that the pair are interested in becoming Victoria's Secret's parent company's new UK franchise partner.
Marks & Spencer (M&S) and Next, Britain's two best-known clothing retailers, are vying to take control of the British operations of Victoria's Secret, the lingerie brand.
Sky News has learnt that the two high street giants are among the parties interested in becoming Victoria's Secret's parent company's new UK franchise partner.
At least one other unnamed party is also understood to have expressed an interest in a deal with Deloitte, which was appointed as the chain's administrator earlier this month.
News of the talks has emerged on the same day that Victoria's Secret is reopening roughly a third of its 25 UK shops following the three-month coronavirus lockdown.
Industry sources said that any bidder wanting to franchise the Victoria's Secret brand in the UK and retain a physical footprint would seek fundamentally restructured rental terms from any ongoing stores.
The Victoria's Secret shops which reopen on Friday are said to have struck revised rent deals with their landlords.
The interest from M&S and Next effectively sparks a bidding battle between the two most prominent clothing retailers in Britain.
M&S's involvement is likely to be of particular interest to retail analysts.
At its recent full-year results, the company said it would open its digital platform and largest stores “to complementary guest brands to broaden appeal and increase online growth”.
M&S already controls 27% of the UK lingerie market, with 36% of the market for bras, so it is unclear whether any franchise deal could attract interest from competition watchdogs.
Analysts suggested that Next was a more likely franchisee for the Victoria's Secret brand, owing to its success selling third-party products from the likes of Abercrombie & Fitch, Boss and Under Armour.
The sale process, which is at an early stage, was triggered last month when one of the world's most prominent women's underwear groups announced that its UK arm was pursuing a ‘light touch' administration – a process that allows its existing management to remain in control of the business while offering protection from creditors.
The insolvency only affects the UK operations, and has no impact on its presence in the US or other markets.
Victoria's Secret's parent company, L Brands, had been in discussions about being taken over by Sycamore Partners, a private equity firm, before the talks were abandoned last month.
Despite its profile, Victoria's Secret has struggled financially in the UK, making an operating loss of £170m in the year to 20 February.
Uncertainty over the future of its UK outlets underlines the broader trend in British retailing, which has seen vast numbers of chains refusing to pay their full rent bills for the third quarter, with footfall and sales at a fraction of the usual levels because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Analysts believe that the pandemic has accelerated a structural shift across the industry, with clothing retailers such as Cath Kidston, Debenhams, Laura Ashley and Monsoon Accessorize among those to fall into administration since March.
Some have emerged to resume trading, but with drastically reduced physical footprints.
At the time of Deloitte's appointment as administrator, Rob Harding, a partner at the firm, said: “This is yet another blow to the UK high street and a further example of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the entire retail industry.
“The effect of the lockdowns, combined with broader challenges facing bricks and mortar retailers, has resulted in a funding requirement for this business, resulting in today's administration.”
M&S and Next declined to comment, while a spokesman for Victoria's Secret UK said: “We continue to work closely with Deloitte to review a range of possible outcomes.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 26th June 2020) London, Uk – –
The owner of some of the UK's biggest shopping centres, Intu, has warned that it is likely to call in administrators.
The firm, which owns the Trafford Centre, the Lakeside complex, and Braehead, said it had not reached an agreement in financial restructuring talks with its lenders.
Its centres are expected to stay open if it falls into administration, at least in the short term.
Intu has already warned that longer term some of its centres may close.
The company is the UK's biggest shopping centre group, with 17 centres in the UK and three in Spain.
Should Intu fall into administration, the shopping centres are likely to remain open while the administrators decide what course of action they want to take.
Options will include trying to sell the centres on to other potential buyers.
Retail analyst Richard Hyman said he expected that most of Intu's shopping centres “will live to fight another day”.
“Possibly not all, but most,” he said. “There are some very good and important centres in Intu's portfolio.”
Intu had been struggling even before the coronavirus outbreak, and about 132,000 jobs in the company and in its wider supply chain will be in question should the firm fall into administration.
Retail expert Kate Hardcastle said one area of concern was Intu's £4.5bn debt, given the declining value of its shopping centres.
They “just aren't worth the value they once were”, she told BBC Breakfast.
While the coronavirus crisis forced the closure of all non-essential shops, retailers had already been under pressure from a host of factors including changes in shopping habits as people move online.
Big shopping centre landlords such as Intu rely on big retailers for their revenues – but in recent years retailers have been asking landlords for rent reductions due to the pressures they are under, Ms Hardcastle said.
Mr Hyman said that retailers were already under pressure before the coronavirus pandemic, and had too much floor space.
The pandemic had then speeded up a shift to online shopping.
“What would have taken five years to evolve – we're seeing that happen now,” he said.
“People have been forced to shop online. When the dust settles, some of that spend will come back to physical stores – but not all of it will.”
Intu's centres were partially shut during the coronavirus lockdown, with only essential shops remaining open. The company had about 60% of shopping centre staff and about 20% of head office employees on furlough.
In its update to investors on Friday, Intu said it had failed to reach agreement in discussions with lenders on so-called “standstill” terms, under which it would look to defer interest payments on its large and complex debts.
It was also seeking agreements from its wide range of creditors, from big banks to hedge funds, for them not to take action if it breached certain terms on its loans.
Intu has already lined up administrators KPMG as a “contingency”.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 25th June 2020) London, Uk – –
Company announces one in five managerial jobs will go and says cuts will not involve delivery staff
Royal Mail has announced a cost-cutting plan that will involve slashing about 2,000 jobs in a move accelerated by the Covid-19 crisis.
One in five of its near-10,000 management roles will go by March 2021, in areas including IT, finance, marketing and sales. The company’s 90,000 postal workers would not be affected by the cuts, Royal Mail said.
The sweeping changes follow years of declining profits and a failure to respond quickly enough to the drop in letter volumes and a boom in parcels linked to online shopping.
The company said the pandemic had accelerated that shift towards more parcels and fewer letters being sent. It also warned that its UK business, which swung to an annual loss, would continue to be loss-making this year.
Royal Mail Group’s interim executive chairman and a former boss of British Airways, Keith Williams, said: “Covid-19 has accelerated those trends, presenting additional challenges.”
He added that “immediate action” would help to save £130m in staff costs next year. The company also aims to slash spending by a further £300m over the next two years.
Williams described the job cuts as “regrettable”, adding: “We are committed to conducting the upcoming consultation process carefully and sensitively. We will work closely with our managers and their representatives during this difficult period, including supporting them as they transition into the next stage in their careers.”
The Unite union – which represents around 6,000 managers at Royal Mail, said the cuts were a devastating blow to its members. “[It] is a classic example of trying to reposition a business to create a viable long-term future, while feeling under pressure to make short-term cuts that only hinder that transition.”
“We will be pressing the top management to clarify how sweeping away the very employees managing the transition process is going to produce faster and better company decisions for the benefit of customers,” Unite added.
Royal Mail shares were down 11% to 159p after the announcement on Thursday, making it the biggest faller on the FTSE 250 index.
While delivery staff were not targeted by the cuts, Royal Mail confirmed there would be a gradual decline in frontline workers as it started to automate the processing of letters and parcels.
Postal workers and managers accounted for a portion of the 2,000 full-time roles that were lost in the past year. The company said this was partly due to voluntary redundancy programmes, but also accounted for staff who quit or retired and weren’t replaced.
“There’s been a reduction in the number of frontline people, year-on-year for the last 12-15 years,” said Stuart Simpson, who is serving as interim chief executive of the UK branch of Royal Mail.
“We’ve now got 20 parcel sorting machines distributed across the country. The last one of which we just installed about a month ago. So we are continually, making change, we just need to do it at a faster rate,” Simpson said.
The cuts were announced alongside Royal Mail’s annual results, and a month after the surprise departure of Rico Back, who had been with the company for three decades but left after less than two years as chief executive.
Williams said: “We agreed with Rico to leave. The one thing we’re calling out today is that we need a quicker pace of change.”
Pre-tax profits for the year to March 2020 fell by a quarter to £180m. Revenues over the period rose by about 2.5% to £10.8bn. Letter volumes fell 8% over the year, while parcel volumes rose 2% – less than expected.
Royal Mail said the pandemic resulted in a strong jump in UK parcel deliveries at the end of the financial year, which was offset by a drop in letters – especially from advertisers – and international parcels. The company said it was also hit by unexpected costs to cover protective equipment, social distancing measures and overtime pay for staff.
“At the heart of this plan is our intention to move from being a UK-focused letters business that also delivers parcels to an international parcels business that delivers letters in the UK. The rationale underpinning our strategy is, in fact, even more compelling now that we are dealing with the consequences of Covid-19.”
Executives expect the UK business to be loss-making this year, as it weathers a “deep recession” both at home and abroad. In the worst-case scenario, it expects a 15% drop in UK economic growth over its 2020-21 financial year, which will slash domestic revenues by up to £600m. Its UK business swung to an operating loss of £140m in the year to March, having reported a profit of £72m a year earlier. Revenues rose just 1.6% to £7.7bn.
“The unprecedented nature of the Covid-19 pandemic means the outlook is difficult and volatile,” Royal Mail said.
The company has cancelled any potential dividend for the next financial year, but told investors it planned to restart payouts by the 2021-22 financial year.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 25th June 2020) London, UK —
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Wirecard (WDIG.DE) collapsed on Thursday owing creditors almost $4 billion (£3.2 billion) after disclosing a gaping hole in its books that its auditor EY said was the result of a sophisticated global fraud.
The payments company filed for insolvency at a Munich court saying that, with 1.3 billion euros (£1.2 billion) of loans due within a week its survival as a going concern was “not assured”.
Wirecard’s implosion came just seven days after EY, its auditor for more than a decade, refused to sign off on the 2019 accounts, forcing out Chief Executive Markus Braun and leading it to admit that $2.1 billion of its cash probably didn’t exist.
“There are clear indications that this was an elaborate and sophisticated fraud involving multiple parties around the world,” EY said in a statement.
EY said while it was completing the 2019 audit, it was provided with false confirmations with regard to escrow accounts and reported them to the relevant authorities.
Wirecard declined to comment following EY’s statement.
The financial technology company is the first member of Germany’s prestigious DAX stock index to go bust, barely two years after winning a spot among the country’s top 30 listed companies with a market valuation of $28 billion.
“The Wirecard case damages corporate Germany. It should be a wake-up call for reforms,” said Volker Potthoff, chairman of corporate governance think-tank ArMID.
Creditors have scant hope of getting back the 3.5 billion euros they are owed, sources familiar with the matter said. Of that total, Wirecard has borrowed 1.75 billion from 15 banks and issued 500 million in bonds.
“The money’s gone,” said one banker. “We may recoup a few euros in a couple of years but will write off the loan now.”
The collapse of Wirecard, once one of the hottest fintech companies in Europe, dwarfs other German corporate failures. It has shaken the country’s financial establishment, with Felix Hufeld, the head of regulator BaFin, calling the scandal a “total disaster”.
Wirecard shares, which were suspended ahead of an earlier announcement that it would seek creditor protection, crashed 80% when trading resumed. They have lost 98% since auditor EY questioned its accounts last Thursday.
EY, one of the world’s “Big Four” accountancy and consulting firms, faces a wave of litigation in a debacle that has drawn comparisons with Arthur Andersen’s disastrous oversight of U.S. energy company Enron.
German law firm Schirp & Partner said that with Wirecard now effectively sidelined, it would file class actions against EY on behalf of shareholders and bondholders.
“It is frightening how long Wirecard AG was able to operate without being objected to by the auditors,” partner Wolfgang Schirp said.
Wirecard’s new management had been in crisis talks with creditors but pulled out on Thursday morning “due to impending insolvency and over-indebtedness”.
The insolvency filing did not include its Wirecard Bank subsidiary, which holds an estimated 1.4 billion euros in deposits and is already under emergency management by BaFin.
A second source close to talks with creditors said although the company had a healthy core, it had faked two-thirds of its sales. This meant there was no way it could repay all its debt, notwithstanding all the legal challenges it will face.
The ascent of Wirecard, which was founded in 1999 and is based in a Munich suburb, was dogged by allegations from whistleblowers, reporters and speculators that its revenue and profits had been pumped up through fake transactions.
Braun fended off the critics for years before finally calling in outside auditor KPMG late last year to run an independent investigation.
KPMG, which published its findings in April, was unable to verify 1 billion euros in cash balances, questioned Wirecard’s acquisition accounting and said it could not trace hundreds of millions in cash advances to merchants.
“Today is a complete vindication for those that exposed the fraud,” said Fraser Perring, who bet on a fall in Wirecard’s shares and co-authored a 2016 report that alleged fraud.
The Munich prosecutor’s office, which is investigating Braun on suspicion of misrepresenting Wirecard’s accounts and of market manipulation, said: “We will now look at all possible criminal offences.”
Braun was arrested on Monday and released on bail of 5 million euros a day later. Former chief operating officer Jan Marsalek is also under suspicion and believed to be in the Philippines, according to justice officials there.
By Arno Schuetze, John O'Donnell, Additional reporting by Joern Poltz, Hans Seidenstuecker and Edward Taylor
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 24th June 2020) London, Uk – –
Jet2 and Eurostar have announced that they will be cancelling some summer flights and trains in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Eurostar is cutting direct services to three French cities due to lack of demand and difficulties implementing protection measures on long journeys.
Separately, pilots union Balpa has said that airline Jet2 is to make 102 pilots redundant.
The airline will be reducing its flying programme for 2020 and 2021.
Eurostar said: “As we restart our service, we are focusing our timetable on our routes between capital cities, which have the highest demand from customers at the moment and shorter journey times.”
The company said its services were operating with restrictions on food service, the compulsory wearing of masks, significantly increased hygiene measures and high-frequency cleaning.
However, these standards were “more challenging to maintain on long distance routes”.
Eurostar's direct summer services to Lyon, Avignon and Marseilles, which were meant to start in May, will no longer be run at all in 2020 or 2021.
Instead, the rail company will focus on its main routes between London, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam.
A spokesman for Jet2 said that the airline was facing “complicated” challenges relating to the coronavirus crisis and “changes on an almost daily basis”, which had resulted in the need to reduce its flying programme.
“Sadly, the overall effect of these reductions has been the need to propose a number of colleague redundancies across our business.”
He said the company had “every confidence” that it would “bounce back from the unprecedented demands currently placed on the company” but it did have to make “difficult decisions in the current climate”.
Jet2, which has bases at airports in Leeds, Birmingham, Stansted, Newcastle, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast, is the latest airline to issue formal notice of redundancy and start a consultation process with its workforce.
In May, Virgin Atlantic announced that it would be slashing more than 3,000 jobs in the UK across its business and would end its operation at Gatwick airport, as a result of the pandemic.
The airline said it had to apply for emergency loans from the government in order to avoid collapse.
And in June, German airline Lufthansa said it would cut 22,000 jobs and have 100 fewer aircraft, just weeks after the German government injected €9bn to prevent it from going bust.
Ryanair and EasyJet have also announced that they will be cutting between 15-30% of their workforces, while British Airways is proposing to make 12,000 of its 45,000 staff redundant.
‘Through the mill'
Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said he was concerned about the “knee-jerk” way in which airlines like Jet2 had been responded to falling customer numbers due to the pandemic.
“Many of the pilots whose jobs are on the line in Jet2 have just recently moved there after having lost their jobs at Thomas Cook – these pilots have been through the mill already,” he said.
Mr Strutton said Jet2 played an “extremely important role” at airports in the north of the UK, and it was important that it did not collapse:
“Once again, I reiterate my call for the government to step in, call for a job cuts moratorium, and work on a strategic support package to help this industry get through this crisis.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 24th June 2020) London, Uk – –
Businesses will have to work with each other and transport operators to ensure there is no crowding on streets.
Pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, hotels and historic sites will have to keep customers' details for 21 days under plans to limit the spread of coronavirus.
New guidance for England has been issued to businesses that are allowed to reopen from 4 July so they remain “COVID secure” as lockdown rules are relaxed.
The guidance includes advice on Boris Johnson's reduction of the two-metre rule to one metre if two is not viable – but only with “risk mitigation” such as face masks.
The government has provided advice for four different types of businesses: restaurants, pubs and bars, “close contact services” such as hairdressers, spas and tailors, hotels, and “heritage locations” such as churches and historic houses.
All of them must keep a temporary record of customers for 21 days and help NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed.
Restaurants, bars, pubs and takeaways:
Businesses in the same area need to consider the “cumulative impact” of many venues re-opening by working together, with local authorities and travel operators to assess the risk and apply “additional mitigations”
This could include further lowering capacity, staggering entry times to avoid queues, arranging one-way travel routes between transport hubs and venues, advising patrons to avoid particularly crowded forms of transport or routes
Plan for social distancing in the event of adverse weather conditions
Ensure customers do not need to “unduly” raise their voices to hear each other by not playing loud music or TV
Reducing number of surfaces touched by staff and customers – so ordering food and drinks directly to the table instead of at the counter.
Close contact services (hairdressers, beauty salons, tattoo studios, spas, massage therapy and tailors):
Place markings on the floor to show people where to sit
Encourage customers to turn up to appointments exactly on time, and on their own, so they do not congregate in waiting areas
If there is a queue this should be outside
Customers should be seated away from each other and side to side, with at least one metre between them
Till points must have perspex screens while doors and windows are to be kept open to increase ventilation
Screens should be used, where practical, to create a barrier between work stations
Hairdressers must wear a protective visor that extends below the chin, but do not need to wear a face mask
Disposable equipment must be used, and if it cannot then it should be washed between clients
Customers can choose to wear a face mask but it is not mandatory, and must wash or sanitise hands when entering
They must bring their own drinks, and if not, disposable cups must be used
Music must be turned down low so people do not shout
Blow drys are allowed.
Hotels and guest accommodation:
Private rooms with en suite bathrooms, or one designated shower per guest room, can reopen
Outdoor accommodation, such as campsites, can reopen with shared shower facilities if clear use and cleaning guidance is provided but all other shared facilities should be closed
Reception areas must be cleaned more and screens placed in between guests and staff
Minimise lift usage, drop off room service outside and encourage tips to be added to the bill
Housekeeping staff must following handwashing guidance and make a checklist of all hand contact surfaces to be cleaned
Guests should be encouraged to wear masks in corridors
Clean keys and key cards between guests
Make staff accessible via phone, emails and guest apps and encourage contactless payment or pre-payment
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 23rd June 2020) London, UK —
(Reuters) – Semiconductor maker Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) said on Tuesday it struck a deal with Germany’s Daimler Mercedes-Benz (DAIGn.DE) to provide cars produced from 2024 with a chip and software platform that can eventually be used for autonomous driving functions.
“We intend to join forces to create a software-defined vehicle and deploy this across the entire next generation’s fleet,” Nvidia Senior Director of Automotive Danny Shapiro told reporters.
Shapiro declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal. The deal covers chips and software for the vehicle system.
The new partnership followed Daimler’s move last week to pause a development alliance with rival German luxury carmaker BMW in the area of automated driving.
Shapiro said the high-end Nvidia Drive AGX Orin Platform – an autonomous vehicle processor – would be standard in every Mercedes-Benz vehicle. With that in place, consumers will be able to update the car’s software the way smartphones are updated today.
Asked how the Mercedes-Benz partnership will affect Nvidia’s decade-long collaboration with Audi AG (NSUG.DE), Shapiro said neither arrangement was exclusive. With Mercedes-Benz there is “a huge dedication, huge energy, huge investment from both companies to bring this to market,” he said.
Mercedes-Benz sold 2.39 million cars worldwide in 2019. The two companies have been working together on autonomous driving and artificial intelligence car technology for over five years.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 23rd June 2020) London, Uk – –
Options included a sale – but JD Sports decided Go Outdoors had a potential future in the group “if fundamentally restructured”.
JD Sports has bought back its Go Outdoors chain for £56.5m after putting it into administration.
The move will “preserve as many jobs as possible”, JD Sports said, with a major restructuring plan aimed at retaining the “majority” of stores.
Go Outdoors sells camping, fishing and cycling equipment and employs about 2,400 staff.
On Saturday, Sky News had exclusively revealed that Go Outdoors was on the brink of administration – four years after retail giant JD Sports Fashion first bought it for £100m.
Sky's City editor Mark Kleinman said then that JD was expected to use an insolvency process to restructure the chain, which trades from 67 shops.
Manchester-based JD Sports, which has a market value of £6.3bn, was said to be keen to retain control of a slimmed-down Go Outdoors.
On Tuesday evening, JD Sports confirmed it had hired administrators from Deloitte.
Options for Go Outdoors included a sale, but JD Sports said the business had a potential future within the wider group “if fundamentally restructured”.
Existing staff will be transferred as part of the pre-pack administration sale, they added.
Peter Cowgill, executive chairman of JD Sports, said: “As a consequence of COVID-19, Go Outdoors was no longer viable as previously structured and would have absorbed capital at an unsustainable rate for the foreseeable future.
“Having investigated all available options for the business, we firmly believe that this restructuring will provide Go Outdoors with a platform from which it can progress whilst remaining a member of the group.
“Most importantly, we are pleased that it will protect the maximum number of jobs possible.”
Michael Magnay, joint administrator, said: “Like many high street retailers, Go Outdoors Ltd has been seeking to address a number of underlying business challenges in the current UK retail environment, which have been exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19.
“This successful sale will provide Go Outdoors with an opportunity to restructure its business to secure its future for the long term.
“I'm particularly pleased that we have been able to secure the employment of all the company's workforce, and we'd like to thank all employees and key stakeholders for their support throughout this process.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 22nd June 2020) London, Uk – –
“Timely, temporary and targeted” was the advice given to the Treasury Select Committee on stimulating the economy by the former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers in the depths of the 2008 financial crisis.
These words found their way into the pre-Budget documents to describe the immediate 13-month VAT cut from 17.5% to 15% announced by then Chancellor Alistair Darling.
The same phrase was used by current Chancellor Rishi Sunak in his Budget in March to describe the first steps in pandemic support packages. And, following Germany's temporary 3% cut in VAT, the prospect of a similar tax cut is again up for discussion in the UK.
The policy is certainly timely, because it can be enacted with immediate effect. And because it is reversible, it serves as a temporary stimulus.
In 2008, it was argued that a general VAT cut was targeted because it was aimed at supporting consumer confidence. But that is far more debatable. It certainly was expensive, though. The upfront cost was £13bn over two years, amount to half of the Darling stimulus package.
Most of this shifted spending in time into the cheaper VAT period. The net impact? A 1% increase in retail sales, just shy of the 0.5% overall boost to consumers predicted by the Treasury at the time, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
The argument floating around government earlier in the month was that there was little point in stimulating shops, restaurants and pubs that were not open. Physically enabling trade would be a prerequisite.
The thinking in Germany was to incentivise spending and consumer confidence as soon as retail reopened, rather than see those who could not physically spend during lockdown, and were so forced to save, choosing to maintain high savings.
The point about the temporary cut is to get money flowing in the economy quickly. It has some interesting quirks as a policy. Back in late 2008, 43% of local shops only changed their prices at the till, leaving shelf prices unchanged. It is a considerable logistical cost to do so.
However, the impact on consumer confidence was marked. There was a significant rise in sentiment towards both buying household goods and making major purchases, according to the Nationwide consumer confidence survey.
The major purchases index went above boom time levels and continued even after VAT went back up, but then fell sharply when VAT was increased again under the Coalition in January 2011.
The considerations here are whether the Treasury chooses to make this truly targeted on particular sectors – such as pubs and restaurants, rather than pass further boost to say mainly online retailers.
The cost may be less than normal, too, given VAT revenues are in any case going to be sharply down. But it is still pricey.
Also, it is unclear how much additional difference a 2.5% cut in prices will really achieve on top of already anticipated reopening sales and price cuts?
Wherever things go, a clear decision will be needed quickly. Speculating that VAT will be cut in the near future will simply serve to delay purchases, as consumers wait for an anticipated saving.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 22nd June 2020) London, Uk – –
Footfall down 54% compared with 2019, but uplift expected when Scotland and Wales reopens
Shoppers flocked back to the high streets in England over the past week as non-essential stores reopened but numbers remained well down on a year earlier, according to the latest survey of retail footfall.
Springboard, a company that measures the number of potential customers at retail outlets across the UK, found that footfall in the week starting 15 June was up 45% on the previous week.
But with numbers influenced by later reopenings in Scotland and Wales, restrictions on public transport and a shift to online shopping, footfall was down 54% on the same week in 2019.
Footfall indicates the number of people going to high street stores, shopping centres and retail parks and is not a measure of how much each consumer spends. Numbers were at their weakest during April, when they were down 80% year on year, but Springboard said reopening non-essential stores in England had resulted in the biggest change since the start of the lockdown in late March.
There were smaller weekly increases of 11.5% in Scotland and 8.5% in Wales, with Scotland not due to open non-essential stores – excluding those in shopping centres – until the end of the month and Wales only opening its non-essential shops on Monday.
Footfall in London’s West End remained severely affected by a lack of international visitors to the UK and the difficulties in accessing public transport. Footfall in the West End last week was down 81% on the same week a year earlier, while in Scotland and Wales the year-on-year falls were 67% and 69% respectively.
Diane Wehrle, the insights director at Springboard, said: “The overall result for the UK was subdued by Scotland and Wales where retail reopening is yet to happen.
“We anticipate an additional uplift to come when retail in these areas of the UK also reopens and the hospitality and entertainment industry is given the green light to resume trading in the coming weeks.”
Springboard, which records 70m footfall counts a week at 4,500 counting points across 480 different shopping sites across the UK, said activity had risen by more than 30% each day from the same day in the week before, apart from on Thursday, when the rise was limited to 25% by heavy rain.
On June 15, 2020, Miami-based singer-songwriter Kirby Maurier posted a TikTok video called “How Not to Make a Racist Breakfast” that drew attention to the fact that many brands' logos and images, like Aunt, are still deeply rooted in offensive stereotypes. As the video quickly went viral, it drew a lot of attention from both social and mainstream media, with Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian tweeting in disbelief, “How is Aunt Jemima not canceled?”