Boots and John Lewis to cut 5,300 jobs

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Thur, 9th July 2020) London, Uk – –

The cuts are the latest to hit the retail sector and come a day after Rishi Sunak announced a “plan for jobs” to spur recovery.

High street chain Boots and department store chain John Lewis are cutting a total of more than 5,000 jobs – blamed on the impact of COVID-19.

Boots plans to axe 4,000 workers in a major shake-up while John Lewis said that eight of its shops were set to remain closed after the lockdown, putting 1,300 workers at risk.

The Boots restructuring will affect around 7% of the its workforce, in particular at its Nottingham support office.

Store deputy and assistant manager and customer adviser roles across the country are also facing the axe, while 48 Boots Opticians sites will close.

The John Lewis closures, which include two full-size department stores in Birmingham and Watford plus six smaller shops, were blamed on the impact of the pandemic in accelerating the shift from in-store shopping to online.

Boots pointed to a similar trend.

The cuts add to thousands already announced this week – with logistics firm DHL cutting 2,200 roles at Jaguar Land Rover sites, newspaper publisher Reach axing 550 workers and Pret A Manger closing 30 shops, putting at least 1,000 jobs at risk.

Meanwhile, the UK boss of Burger King warned in a BBC interview that as many as 10% of its 530 stores may not be able to survive – threatening up to 1,600 jobs.

The announcements from Boots and John Lewis come a day after a “plan for jobs” announced by Rishi Sunak which offered measures including a VAT cut for the hospitality and tourism sector.

It was criticised by the retail industry which was not given similar help.

Boots stores were among “essential” retailers allowed to stay open during the lockdown but still saw sales fall 48% over the last three months.

The business, owned by US-listed Walgreens Boots Alliance, said that the cuts represented an “acceleration” of its transformation plans to improve profitability across the business.

Sebastian James, managing director of Boots UK, said: “The proposals announced today are decisive actions to accelerate our transformation plan, allow Boots to continue its vital role as part of the UK health system, and ensure profitable long-term growth.

“I am so very grateful to all our colleagues for their dedication during the last few challenging months.

“They have stepped forward to support their communities, our customers and the NHS during this time, and I am extremely proud to be serving alongside them.”

“In doing this, we are building a stronger and more modern Boots for our customers, patients and colleagues.

“We recognise that today's proposals will be very difficult for the remarkable people who make up the heart of our business, and we will do everything in our power to provide the fullest support during this time.”

Walgreens said in a quarterly update to investors that the impact of COVID-19 on sales in the latest quarter was up to $750m (£584m), mainly reflecting its international division which includes Boots.

It said that footfall was down 85% in April, with customers advised to leave home only for food and medicine.

“While most Boots stores remained open throughout the UK lockdown to provide communities with pharmacy and essential healthcare, our largest premium beauty and fragrance counters were effectively closed,” Walgreens said.

It said the performance of the UK business, together with ongoing uncertainty related to the pandemic, would mean a write-down of $2bn (£1.6bn) on its value – sending the wider group to a $1.7bn (£1.3bn) loss for the third quarter.

Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, said: “Even before this crisis, Boots had issues.

“Many of its stores need investment, its proposition lacks clarity, and it faces growing competition from both specialist and generalist beauty players alike.

“The pandemic and its aftermath will simply exacerbate these problems and have a materially negative impact on the business – which is one of the reasons why Walgreens has been quick to write down the intrinsic value of the division.”

By John-Paul Ford Rojas

Aerospace engineer Rolls-Royce burns through 3 billion pounds, expects more cash outflows

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 9th July 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Aerospace engineer Rolls-Royce (RR.L) burned through 3 billion pounds ($3.8 billion) in the first half as the hours flown by its engines halved due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and said it expected a further 1 billion pound outflow in the second half.

The British company, which makes engines for the Boeing 787 and Airbus 350, said flying hours fell 75% in April, May and June, and it had only seen a marginal improvement since.

Chief Executive Warren East said Rolls had started reviewing options for strengthening its balance sheet, and it had 8.1 billion pounds at hand even after the first-half outflow.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a shock across the entire civil aviation industry,” East told reporters on Thursday.

“Across the first half of this year, widebody engine flying hours, which we get paid for under our servicing contract, were half of what they were last year.”

Rolls has announced at least 9,000 job cuts, mainly in its civil aviation business, which has born the brunt of the coronavirus impact. Its defence business had been resilient, East said, while power systems had been impacted in part.

East said sites could be cut as well as jobs.

He said the restructuring would drive a recovery in free cash inflow to at least 750 million pounds in 2022.

Its shares, which are down 58% since the start of the year, were down 8% at 265 pence at 0821 GMT.

Analysts at JP Morgan, who have argued that Rolls needs to issue 6 billion pounds of equity to ensure its future, said the trading update was “materially worse” than its expectations.

“If there is a second wave of COVID-19 or a slower than hoped for recovery then it is very possible, in our view, that the UK government will need to step in to save Rolls-Royce,” they said.

The first-half outflow included a 1.1 billion pound fall in engine flying hours receipts and deliveries and a 1.1 billion pound hit from the voluntary end of invoice factoring, which it used to align cash receipts with deliveries, Rolls said.

($1 = 0.7911 pounds)

Reporting by Paul Sandle

Chancellor Sunak unveils diners 50% “eat out to help out” discount

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 8th July 2020) London, Uk – –

Diners will get a 50% discount off their restaurant bill during August under government plans to bolster the embattled hospitality sector.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled the “eat out to help out” discount as part of a series of measures to restart the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The deal means people can get up to £10 off per head if they eat out between Monday and Wednesday.

Mr Sunak also said VAT on hospitality and tourism would drop to 5%.

The reduction, from 20%, will be in place for the next six months.

As he announced the discount, the chancellor said the UK was facing a “unique moment” because of Covid-19, adding: “We need to be creative.”

Pubs and restaurants reopened on Saturday after more than three months in lockdown, with safety measures in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Mr Sunak sought to reassure the public that it was safe to dine out. “I know people are cautious about going out. But we wouldn't have lifted the restrictions if we didn't think we could do so, safely,” he said.

The discount will not apply to alcohol, but to food and soft drinks up to £10 per person.

The Treasury said the 50% discount can be used unlimited times during August and applies to participating restaurants, cafés, and pubs across the UK.

Mr Sunak said the plan was aimed at getting “customers back into restaurants, cafes and pubs” and protecting “the 1.8 million people who work in them”.

Businesses that want to take part in the scheme will have to register through a website that opens on Monday 13 July.

Mr Sunak said: “Each week in August, businesses can then claim the money back, with the funds in their bank account within five working days.”

He added that the cut in VAT, from 20% to 5%, would apply to “eat-in or hot takeaway food from restaurants, cafes and pubs; accommodation in hotels, B&Bs, campsites and caravan sites [and] attractions like cinemas, theme parks and zoos”.

The lower tax rate will be implemented next Wednesday, 15 July, and will remain in place until 12 January 2021.

Caroline Roylance, owner of The George pub at Fordingbridge, Hampshire, said she would be applying for the “eat out to help out” scheme.

The pub reopened on Wednesday after being closed since 23 March, when the coronavirus lockdown was implemented.

She said the discount and the VAT cut “will help us make it through the next few months, because trade is unlikely to return to pre-Covid levels for some time”.

“Saying that, it's been surprisingly busy today, which is encouraging, but it's still not July busy,” said Mrs Roylance. “It's a start though.”

‘Challenges ahead'

UK Hospitality, the trade body which represents the industry, “warmly” welcomed the moves, as well as Mr Sunak's plans to stem unemployment through schemes such as creating thousands of job placements for young people.

However, UK Hospitality's chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said: “This doesn't mean we are out of the woods and there are still significant challenges ahead.

“The biggest of these is the spectre of rent liabilities, which many businesses are still facing from their closure period. We are going to need government support on this before too long.”

Meanwhile, the exclusion of alcohol from the “eat out to help out” discount hit some pub groups' share prices.

Mitchells & Butler's share price jumped by 7.3% to 175p towards the end of Mr Sunak's statement, when he revealed the VAT cut for the hospitality and leisure industries, as well as the dining out discount.

But once it became clear it did not include alcohol, Mitchell & Butler's share price fell “just as quickly as it spiked up”, said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

Marston's share price also dropped 6.1% to 48.98p. JD Wetherspoon's share price fell 2% to 986p.

Uber join forces with Thames Clippers London to launch commuter boat service

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 8th July 2020) London, Uk – –

US firm will buy naming rights for fleet and piers, and users can book journeys on its app

Uber is to extend its reach in London by taking to the water, with the Thames Clippers commuter service to be rebranded Uber Boat and bookable through the US company’s app.

A formal partnership will be launched this summer, allowing Uber users to book a Thames river journey through the app, and board using a QR code on their phone. Uber will buy the naming rights for the 20-strong fleet of river boats and Thames Clipper’s piers from Putney to Woolwich, in a rolling contract expected to last for at least three years.

A move into fix-scheduled commuter boats is a first for Uber. Users will still pay the same price and although there are hopes for an integrated service, for now they will not be able to book an end-to-end journey with a connecting car. Thames Clippers tickets will still be available to buy elsewhere and the boats remain part of the Oyster network.

Sean Collins, Thames Clippers’ co-founder and chief executive, said: “In our 22nd year of operation it is key that we continue to support London and its commuters with the ease of lockdown and return to work. The new partnership will allow us to link the two travel modes of river and road, providing Londoners and visitors with even more options to commute, visit, explore and enjoy our city by river.”

Uber’s regional general manager for northern and eastern Europe, Jamie Heywood, said: “Many Londoners are looking for new ways to travel around the city, particularly when they start commuting back to work.”

The boat service resumed on 15 June after being closed when the coronavirus outbreak took hold. It has reduced capacity and passengers must wear face masks, in line with Transport for London (TfL) guidance. Last year 4.3m passengers used the Thames Clippers service, which remains majority-owned by AEG, the owner-operators of the O2entertainment venue.

TfL has yet to renew Uber’s licence to operate private hire cars in London. Uber’s application for a new licence was rejected in November because of safety fears after some drivers were found to have faked their identity. It has been allowed to continue operating pending an appeal – which was originally due to have been heard in a magistrate’s court this week. However, because of the impact of the pandemic on TfL’s resources, the hearing has been postponed until September.

TfL said it granted licences to river operators such as Thames Clippers “who comply with our high safety standards” but played no role in any partnerships with other businesses and organisations.

By Gwyn Topham

Britains government coronavirus lending rises to £45 billion

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com –Tue, 7th July 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s government has underwritten £45 billion of borrowing by businesses hit by the coronavirus and spent more than £27 billion so far to support jobs, finance ministry figures showed on Tuesday.

Total spending under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which supports 9.4 million jobs and is the costliest government coronavirus measure, rose to £27.4 billion as of July 5 from £25.5 billion a week earlier.

State-backed lending to small businesses – which receives a 100% government guarantee – rose to £30.93 billion. Lending to medium-sized and large firms increased to £11.49 billion and £2.58 billion respectively in two programmes which offer an 80% guarantee to lenders.

Reporting by David Milliken

Mirror and Express publisher Reach to cut 550 jobs in an overhaul designed to cut costs by £35m

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue 7th July, 2020) London, Uk – –

The group said more readers are turning to digital but a downturn in advertising means revenues are not keeping pace.

Newspaper publisher Reach is to axe 550 jobs, or 12% of its workforce, in an overhaul designed to cut costs by £35m a year.

The group includes the Mirror, Express and Daily Star titles, as well as Scotland's Daily Record and regional dailies such as the Liverpool Echo and the Manchester Evening News.

Reach's announcement came as it reported a 27.5% plunge in quarterly revenue and said it was facing “structural change” in the sector accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Online readership has grown but reduced demand for advertising means this has not been matched by growth in revenues.

Reach said the shake-up would create a “more centralised structure bringing together national and regional teams across print and digital”.

It said the changes would “significantly increase efficiency and remove duplication while maintaining the strong editorial identity of our news brands”.

The cuts will also affect commercial and finance operations, which will see a switch to “fewer locations and a simpler management structure”.

Chief executive Jim Mullen said: “Structural change in the media sector has accelerated during the pandemic and this has resulted in increased adoption of our digital products.

“However, due to reduced advertising demand, we have not seen commensurate increases in digital revenue.

“To meet these challenges and to accelerate our customer value strategy, we have completed plans to transform the business and are ready to begin the process of implementation.

“Regrettably, these plans involve a reduction in our workforce and we will ensure all impacted colleagues are treated with fairness and respect throughout the forthcoming consultation process.”

Reach said revenue for the second quarter to 28 June was down 27.5% on the same period last year.

The group saw a 29.5% decline for print and a 14.8% fall for digital.

“Circulation remains significantly below pre-COVID-19 levels with local advertising continuing to be challenging,” it added.

Reach said there had been “modest but encouraging improvements in circulation and national digital revenue” in June as lockdown restrictions have eased.

It said its shake-up meant that temporary pay cuts imposed in the face of the pandemic would be ended though senior managers including the chief executive will still be subject to a 20% reduction, and annual bonuses remained suspended.

Shares fell 14% on the day.

The cuts are the latest to be announced across the economy as the pandemic bites.

Thousands of jobs have been affected as companies from Pret A Manger to Airbus see the pandemic take a heavy toll on business activity.

Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said: “Today's announcement is a shock and body-blow for our members in Reach who have, in the words of the chief executive today, shown ‘heroic' efforts to sustain the company through the massive problems arising from a pandemic lockdown over the last three months.

“It will be poor reward for hard-working journalists who have shown great flexibility and adaptability to uproot from their offices to switch to working from home, with all the stress and difficulties that have arisen, to then find there is no job for them in a redundancy process that they have now been pitched into.”

By John-Paul Ford Rojas

UK firms to be paid £1,000 bonuses to hire young people

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 6th July 2020) London, Uk – –

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to unveil a raft of big-spending measures aimed at creating thousands of jobs.

Companies will be paid £1,000 bonuses by the government to hire young people as trainees, the chancellor will announce as part of his rescue plan for Britain's post-coronavirus economic recovery.

In a hotly anticipated “emergency budget” on Wednesday, Rishi Sunak will unveil a raft of big-spending measures aimed at creating thousands of jobs to replace those lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bonuses for employers who hire young people into training programmes in England will come in a £111m scheme which will pay direct government subsidies for taking on trainees for the first time.

The money will be available for trainees aged 16 to 24 and will be capped at 10 jobs per employer, or £10,000.

Employers will be able to determine how to spend the £1,000, as long as it directly or indirectly contributes to training.

The scheme, in which thousands of young people will be given the skills to secure a job, will be part of the largest-ever expansion of traineeships the country has ever seen, the chancellor is expected to tell MPs on Wednesday.

Unveiling his plan to help kick-start the economy, following on from Boris Johnson's “New Deal” speech last week, Mr Sunak will say he aims to give more 16 to 24-year-olds “the tools they need to enter the world of work”.

The government is concerned that many of the people who have lost their jobs during the pandemic are in industries such as hospitality where the bulk of employees are under 30 and many under 25.

The chancellor's statement this week is not officially a budget and there will not be the photo outside 11 Downing Street with the famous red box, but it will be a response to huge job losses and dire forecasts of mass unemployment.

As part of the new traineeships, which will last from six weeks to six months, young people will receive maths, English and CV writing training as well as guidance about what to expect in the workplace.

They will also receive a high-quality work placement of 60 to 90 hours.Government vows £1.57bn lifeline for arts – but no plans to resume live shows

Evidence shows that three-quarters of 18 to 24-year-olds who complete traineeships move on to employment or further study within 12 months.

The expanded scheme will be in place in England from September.

The government will also provide £21m to the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland through the Barnett formula so they can follow suit.Coronavirus UK tracker: How many cases are in your area – updated daily

A Whitehall source said: “Young people's employment prospects are expected to be disproportionately affected by the economic fallout of coronavirus.

“Expanding traineeships will be part of a wider package to support young people and to ensure they have the skills and training to go on to high quality, secure and fulfilling employment.”

But according to the UK's biggest construction trade union, the PM's promise to “build, build, build” the UK back to economic health will not work unless urgent action is taken to avert a crisis in skills and apprenticeships.

Unite claims a lethal combination of employers' long-standing reluctance to invest in apprentices, widespread redundancies because of the pandemic, and a reluctance to recruit new entrants is likely to result in 20,000 fewer apprentices this autumn, vastly down from the 47,284 in England last year.

“The prime minister's pledge to ‘build, build, build' the country's way out of this pandemic-caused crisis won't get very far without a workforce,” said Unite's assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail.

“Construction apprenticeship training is in danger of collapsing as an after effect of the pandemic, which is why we're calling on the chancellor to make it clear when he announces his plans for recovering the economy this coming week that our young workers will be given a chance of a career in construction,” Ms Cartmail added.

“At the moment, for every one good quality apprenticeship, there are 1,000 applicants. Young workers have to scale this huge mountain so it is only right that they have the chance to complete their apprenticeship and have a job at the end of their training.”

By Jon Craig Chief Political Correspondent

Accountancy giants face revamp amid criticism

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 6th July 2020) London, Uk – –

The UK's biggest accountancy firms have been told to ring-fence their audit arms from their consultancy units by 2024 in a major shake-up of the sector.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has told the “Big Four” they must submit separation plans by October.

It follows the collapse of several high-profile companies that had been approved by auditors, such as government contractor Carillion.

The FRC said the changes would lead to better audits “in the public interest”.

It said separating accountancy firms' audit departments from the rest of their operations would protect auditors “from influences from the rest of the firm that could divert their focus away from audit quality”.

The watchdog also said it would ensure “auditors act in the public interest and work for the benefit of shareholders of audited entities and wider society”.

The Big Four accountancy firms – KPMG, EY, PwC and Deloitte – came in for heavy criticism in the wake of Carillion's collapse which cost 2,400 people their jobs and – according to the National Audit Office – left the taxpayer on the hook for £148m.

At the time, MPs said the failure Carillion exposed the UK's audit market as a “cosy club incapable of providing the degree of independent challenge needed”.

Since then holiday company Thomas Cook, which was audited by PwC and subsequently EY, has gone bust.

More recently, the German payments firm Wirecard disclosed a €1.9bn (£1.7bn) hole in its accounts, and subsequently filed for insolvency. It was audited by EY.

The FRC's chief executive, Sir Jon Thompson, said: “Operational separation of audit practices is one element of the FRC's strategy to improve the quality and effectiveness of corporate reporting and audit in the UK.”

Among the 22 principles for operational separation that accountancy firms should implement, audit practices should produce a separate profit and loss account.

Firms should also have a separate board to ensure “independent oversight of the audit practice”.

How Nintendo Switch became one of the most popular consoles on the market

Source: CNBC

Over the last 40 years, Nintendo has provided countless hours of video gaming entertainment. But with the rise of the Switch, the company took a huge step forward. And during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, finding one was harder than finding toilet paper. Here’s how the Nintendo Switch took the gaming world by surprise and became one of the most popular consoles on the market.

Three of Europe’s biggest airlines end legal challenge to UK’s quarantine policy

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Fri, 3rd July 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Three of Europe’s biggest airlines said on Friday they would end a legal challenge against the British government after it scrapped its quarantine rule for travellers coming from some of the most popular tourist destinations.

The government said the policy would be ended for English holidaymakers to countries such as France, Spain and Italy, although it would be maintained for the United States.

The policy announcement coincided with a planned court hearing for a legal challenge to the measures by British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair.

The airlines heavily criticised the government’s introduction of a blanket rule that all travellers arriving from abroad must self-isolate for 14 days on June 8, saying it jeopardised the industry’s recovery from the crisis.

However, they agreed to end the legal challenge after the government said it would publish a list of countries to which the rules would not apply.

“The blanket quarantine introduced by the UK Government on everyone entering into England was irrational and has seriously damaged the economy and the travel industry,” the airlines said in a statement.

“Today’s publication of a list of countries is a first step. We look forward to the publication of the rationale behind the decision-making and the continued lifting of the quarantine from safe countries.”

Tom Hickman, representing the airlines, had earlier argued that the restrictions on travellers were stricter than those imposed at the height of the coronavirus lockdown, and that the rate of infection in different countries should be taken into account.

The government said the policy was a crucial step to avoid a second wave of COVID-19, and their lawyers said that the measures had been justified and proportionate.

By Alistair Smout

A full list of countries for which quarantine will not apply published, for those arriving back in England

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 3rd July 2020) London, Uk – –

A full list of countries for which quarantine will not apply to people arriving back in England has been published.

Countries including Greece, Spain, France and Belgium are on the list, which comes into effect from 10 July.

But countries such as China, US, Sweden and Portugal are not, meaning arrivals from those have to isolate for 14 days.

Scotland and Wales are yet to decide whether to ease travel restrictions and described the changes as “shambolic”.

The quarantine rules will also remain in place in Northern Ireland for visitors arriving from outside of the UK and Republic of Ireland.

The restrictions came into place in early June in a bid to stop coronavirus entering the country as the number of cases was falling.

Speaking at the Downing Street press briefing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Instead of quarantining arrivals from the whole world, we will only quarantine arrivals from those countries where the virus is sadly not under control.”

People travelling from the 59 places and 14 British overseas territories on the list will not have to quarantine on arrival in England unless they have travelled through a place which is not exempt.

Passengers will still be required to provide contact information on arrival in England.

Some of those on the list include popular short-haul destinations such as Turkey and Cyprus, as well as long-haul locations including Australia, Barbados, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand and Vietnam.

However, some countries will require visitors to isolate on arrival or will bar them from entering at all, such as New Zealand.

The Foreign Office is expected to update its travel guidance on Saturday, including naming which countries will have a reciprocal arrangement with the UK and not require British visitors to quarantine on arrival.

A proposed traffic light system, which would have seen countries marked as red, amber or green depending on the prevalence of the virus, has been dropped, the Department for Transport confirmed.

A list of countries which will be exempt from the Foreign Office's advice against “all but essential travel” from Saturday has also been published.

The advice has been lifted for Portugal but only for the Azores and Madeira.

Portugal's Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva told BBC Radio 4's PM programme: “We are very disappointed with the decision of the British authorities. We think it is senseless and unfair.

“It is quite absurd the UK has seven times more cases of Covid-19 than Portugal so we think this is not the way in which allies and friends are treated.”

His prime minister, António Costa, tweeted comparing the UK's number of coronavirus cases with that of the Algarve, a popular holiday destination, saying: “You are welcome to spend a safe holiday in the Algarve.”

The government said information for travel into Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be published in due course by the devolved administrations.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said finalising the list of countries had been delayed – after scrapping the quarantine was announced last week – in the hope that the four UK nations could reach a joint decision.

He said there was “still an opportunity” for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to co-ordinate and therefore make the changes more simple.

But the first ministers of both Scotland and Wales have criticised the government, with Nicola Sturgeon saying Scotland could not be dragged along by the UK government's “shambolic decision making”.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said the approach had been “utterly shambolic”.

However, he added it was likely the Welsh government would impose the same measures as in England, provided the chief medical officer for Wales gave approval.

Mr Johnson said in a televised coronavirus briefing from Downing Street that the nations of the UK were following “very similar paths but at different speeds”.

Asked if a family from Scotland could drive to England and fly out and back from an overseas country to get around different quarantine rules the prime minister said that while he knew the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales had a “slightly different take” on it the “convoy is very much going in the same direction”.

“I'm sure we'll get there together and common sense will apply.”

The introduction of the quarantine on 8 June was met with criticism from the travel, tourism and hospitality industries and the easing of restrictions on arrivals from some countries has been welcomed.

A statement on behalf of airlines Ryanair, easyJet and British Airways said the move to quarantine people had been “irrational” and had seriously damaged the economy and industry.

It added the carriers wanted clarification on how countries included on the lists were selected.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of industry body Airline UK, said the lists gave “a clear path to opening further predominantly long-haul destinations in the weeks ahead”.

TUI UK and Ireland managing director Andrew Flintham said the company was pleased the government had confirmed “summer holidays are saved” and said it was a “significant step forward” for the industry.

The chief executive of Booking Holdings, which owns the brands Booking.com and Kayak.com, called for a coordinated effort from governments around the world to set out principles as to why someone can travel from one country to another.

Glenn Fogel told BBC World News current measures were “totally chaotic” but he welcomed England's announcement saying the UK is “an important part of the global tourism industry”.

VisitBritain director Patricia Yates said the lifting of travel restrictions for some of the “largest and most valuable visitor markets” was a “timely boost” for the industry.

Pilots union, the British Airline Pilots Association, said it was an important first step and said it was working with authorities to make sure the return to operations would be safe for pilots, passengers and crew.

An Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) spokeswoman said there was likely to be a strong demand for holidays and it was important people considered how this might affect their plans.

“It is especially important that customers also check the latest Foreign Office travel advice before booking, to establish if there are entry restrictions or self-isolation procedures on arrival, or any other measures they need to comply with, in the destination they are planning to visit,” she said.

A High Court challenge by British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair against the government's 14-day quarantine is set to be withdrawn, their barrister Tom Hickman QC said.

Primark to place over £1bn in fashion stock orders for the autumn and winter season

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Thur, 2nd July 2020) London, Uk – –

Associated British Foods signals confidence in demand among shoppers ahead but forecasts a slump in Primark profits.

The owner of Primark says it is placing over £1bn in orders for the autumn and winter season ahead following an “encouraging” start to coronavirus lockdown re-openings.

Associated British Foods (ABF) used a trading update to the City to paint a largely upbeat picture of Primark's fortunes, despite recording a 75% slump in sales during its third quarter and forecasting a hit of almost two-thirds to the chain's annual profits.

It comes as high street rivals announce thousands of job losses – with the parent firms of Topshop and even Harrods among those cutting staff on Wednesday alone.

Primark closed all its stores in March as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions demanded the shuttering of all non-essential retail.

It was unable to trade at all during that time because of its refusal to launch online.

All 153 stores in England resumed trading, in line with the easing of rules, on 15 June.

ABF said that since the re-opening of its first European stores on 4 May, sales on a like-for-like basis were just 12% down during the seven weeks to 20 June.

Sales in the week ended 20 June, which had more than 90% of total Primark selling space open, hit £133m with trading in England and Ireland ahead of the same week last year, ABF said.

It said its retail park stores had been particularly busy as pent-up demand among shoppers resulted in queues outside many outlets, though it admitted city centre shops had not proved as busy because of weak tourism and commuter activity.Coronavirus recovery plan: Boris Johnson channels 1930's US ‘new deal' with building strategy

The company said the fashion chain had already placed orders worth £800m for the looming autumn-winter season and that sum would exceed £1bn soon.

The company said: “Nearly all Primark stores are now trading again and we estimate that, absent a significant number of further store closures, adjusted operating profit for Primark, excluding exceptional charges, will be in the range £300-350m for the full year compared to £913m reported for the last financial year.”

ABF's third quarter trading update showed group revenue from continuing businesses for the 40 weeks ended 20 June was 13% lower than the same period last year – with Primark's woes partly offset by growth in its grocery and ingredients arms.

Shares – down 24% in the year to date – closed 4% higher on Thursday after the trading update.

Pippa Stephens, retail analyst at GlobalData, said Primark's value offer would help maintain its appeal in the months ahead.

She wrote: “Though Primark has severely suffered since the outbreak of COVID-19, as store closures and a lack of a transactional website forced it to suspend trading for nearly three months, its sales since reopening have been promising.

She added: “Since online penetration for clothing & footwear will remain strengthened in the long term as a result of the pandemic, Primark should rethink its bricks-and-mortar only strategy for the future, in order to mitigate the impact of reduced in-store sales densities and capitalise on spend shifting online.”

By James Sillars

Dozens of countries exempt from UK travel quarantine from Monday

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Thur, 2nd July 2020) London, Uk – –

Dozens of countries will be exempt from a travel quarantine from Monday, UK government sources have indicated.

Currently, most people arriving into the UK from anywhere apart from the Republic of Ireland have to self-isolate for two weeks.

Ministers had previously indicated they were working to establish a relatively small number of travel corridors.

Travel and tourism companies have been calling for urgent clarity over the corridors amid rising bookings.

Last weekend, the government said it would relax its advice on travel abroad and would rate countries as either green, amber or red, depending on the prevalence of the virus.

Now government sources have indicated that a very long list of countries is likely to be published by the end of this week.

It is possible that up to 75 countries deemed low or very low risk will be exempt from the UK's quarantine from Monday, 6 July.

Some of the countries on this new list do still have restrictions on people travelling in the other direction, from the UK.

Other higher-risk countries, such as the US, will be categorised as red.

Analysis: Tom Burridge

So the government is about to announce something which aviation bosses, many MPs and some scientists have advocated from the beginning – a targeted quarantine which only impacts people arriving into the UK from high risk ‘red' countries.

It is the opposite of the government's blanket-style approach which has been in place for less than four weeks.

You could call it a ‘U-turn'.

For days, if not weeks, the government has indicated that it wanted a relatively small number of bilateral-style ‘travel corridors', namely with European nations, where the virus is under control.

It appears that approach hit a number of hurdles.

Some countries, like Greece, weren't willing to reciprocate in the short-term.

While there was nothing to stop people travelling into the UK from a higher risk country, via a lower risk one to avoid the quarantine.

The optics concerning Portugal are illuminating. First it seemed to be top of the list of exemptions. Then last week sources indicated it was off the list. The situation regarding Portugal now is unclear.

The process was further complicated by both the Welsh and Scottish governments saying they might follow a separate approach.

Travel companies will be pleased about a much longer list of exemptions but they've been pulling their hair out over the confusion, and the delay in making a final announcement, which is now expected by the end of this week.

And critics will question why the government did not go for a more nuanced approach in the first place.

Presentational grey line

It seems that agreeing a small number of travel corridors with specific countries was fraught with risk. The Scottish government has expressed concern about plans to relax the quarantine and it is still in discussion with officials and politicians in Westminster.

Travel companies have called on the government to publish its list as soon as possible, to end the confusion.

George Morgan-Grenville, chief executive of travel company Red Savannah and long-time critic of the quarantine rules, told the BBC he was “very encouraged” by news that a clarification was imminent.

He said the restrictions had been “a disaster for the industry, which had been prevented from getting back on its feet”.

Your travel rights

Most people intending to travel overseas when restrictions are lifted may find their travel insurance does not cover every risk created by coronavirus.

A number of new policies will now cover medical treatment for Covid-19 which has been caught while in a resort.

However, people who need to cancel a holiday because they develop symptoms before going away, or are told to self-isolate at home, might not be covered.

People who bought an annual policy before the outbreak could have greater protection, depending on the terms and conditions of the cover.

Those on package holidays will get a refund or can rebook if travel restrictions are re-imposed but, as with new travel insurance, most will not get their money back if they pick up symptoms or are told to self-isolate just before they are due to travel.

UK property values down by 0.1% compared with June 2019 – Nationwide

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed 7th July 2020) London, Uk – –

Property values down by 0.1% compared with June 2019, says Nationwide

Annual house price growth ground to a halt in June, with property values down by 0.1% year on year, according to Nationwide building society.

It was the first time annual house price growth has been in negative territory since December 2012, with a month-on-month fall of 1.4% taking the average UK house price to £216,403. The monthly fall was less severe than a 1.7% decline recorded in May.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “It is unsurprising that annual house price growth has stalled, given the magnitude of the shock to the economy as a result of the [coronavirus] pandemic.

“Economic output fell by an unprecedented 25% over the course of March and April – almost four times more than during the entire financial crisis.

“Housing market activity also slowed sharply as a result of lockdown measures implemented to control the spread of the virus.”

Gardner said that as lockdown measures eased, housing market activity was likely to edge higher in the near term, albeit remaining below pre-pandemic levels.

He added: “Nevertheless, the medium-term outlook for the housing market remains highly uncertain. Much will depend on the performance of the wider economy, which will in turn be determined by how the pandemic and restrictions on activity evolve.”

As well as releasing monthly house price figures for the whole of the UK, Nationwide published quarterly figures, looking at house price growth across the UK’s nations and regions.

Gardner said no UK regions had price falls when comparing April, May and June with the same period in 2019.

He said: “The north-west was the strongest performing region, with annual price growth picking up slightly to 4.8%.”

He said average house prices in London were just 3% below all-time highs recorded in 2017 and 55% above their 2007 levels.

Across the UK, house prices remain 19% higher than in 2007.

Gardner said: “Scotland was the strongest performing nation in quarter two, with annual price growth picking up to 4.0%.

“Conditions remained subdued in Wales and Northern Ireland, which saw annual price growth of 1.0% and 0.1% respectively.”

Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former residential chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), said: “Prices are being kept in check by affordability issues and more supply gradually becoming available.

“But demand is picking up as some buyers emerge from enforced confinement in unsuitable property and/or relationships to take advantage of continuing low interest rates, while sellers are more realistic.”

UK should consider increasing its unemployment benefits after lockdown – IMF

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Wed, 1st July 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain should consider increasing its unemployment benefits to help get people into the kind of work that is likely to be in demand after the coronavirus lockdown, the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund said.

Gita Gopinath told lawmakers in Britain’s parliament on Wednesday that the first priority for governments was to scale back gradually their support programmes for workers affected by the COVID-19 crisis, including state job retention schemes.

Then, as governments seek to get people back to work, the focus should be on reallocating resources in the labour market, or moving people into jobs where demand will be strong, which would initially increase reliance on unemployment support.

“In case of the UK, you could make a case for temporarily increasing the support under that because the UK has one of the lower replacement rates among advanced economies in terms of unemployment insurance,” Gopinath said.

Britain’s job retention scheme currently covers more than 9 million jobs – equivalent to around one in three private sector employees – and it is due to expire at the end of October.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said Britain is very likely to need a bigger employment support programme.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak is due to spell out the government’s next moves to support the economy on July 8.

By William Schomberg

EasyJet pilots at risk of redundancy

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 30th June 2020) London, Uk – –

Easyjet has begun talks with unions on cutting up to 1900 UK-based jobs including more than 700 pilots after the collapse in air travel due to coronavirus.

The airline also said it was looking at the closure of three of its bases in the UK – London Stansted, London Southend and Newcastle, though the airports would remain part of its route network.

Easyjet had already announced last month that it was cutting up to 4,500 jobs, or 30% of its workforce, as a result of the pandemic.

On Tuesday, the carrier said that as part of this it had begun formal consultations with trade unions Unite and Balpa relating to all UK pilots and crew.

That number totals 1900 but the airline said it would seek to work with unions to try to minimise job losses.

Chancellor Sunak to expand £500m fund for UK startups hit by coronavirus

(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.

By Kalyeena Makortoff

Waitrose fulfilment centre, in Greenford west London to create 800 jobs

(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.”

By James Sillars