15 Businesses That Are BOOMING due to Coronavirus

Source: Alux

This Alux video we'll try to answer the following questions: What businesses are profiting from the corona outbreak? Which industries are making money from the global pandemic? How to make money during the coronavirus pandemic? How to make money from covid19? How to survive as a business on lockdown? How to prepared for a global recession? Why are some businesses thriving from the pandemic? Why are some businesses making money from the global outbreak? Why are companies getting money from the government? What is coronavirus? How is coronavirus affecting the economy?

Revamped loan scheme will make ‘big difference’ says Royal Bank of Scotland

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

A revamped loan fund for ailing firms hit by the coronavirus lockdown will have an immediate impact, RBS has said.

RBS chairman Sir Howard Davies admitted there had been problems but expects to see a “sharp increase” in lending to small firms in the next few days.

On Thursday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak overhauled the scheme amid claims banks were taking advantage of the crisis.

The government has pledged to guarantee £330bn of loans but only £145m has been lent so far.

Small firms say they have struggled with onerous eligibility criteria for the government-backed loans, which are being issued by High Street banks and other lenders.

They have also complained of facing interest rates of up to 30% and being asked to make unreasonable personal guarantees.

It comes as the UK is facing recession as large parts of the economy are shut down.

On Friday, the influential Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) survey showed Britain's dominant services industry suffered its biggest slump in March since 1996, sinking from a reading of 53.2 to 34.5.

Any figure below 50 marks contraction.

Mr Sunak said that under changes to the Coronavirus Business Interuption Loan Scheme (CBILS):

  • Applications will not be limited to businesses that have been refused a loan on commercial terms, extending the number who benefit. However, the Treasury has not capped the interest rates banks can charge.
  • Banks will be banned from asking company owners to guarantee loans with their own savings or property when borrowing up to £250,000
  • Larger firms with a turnover of up to £500m will also be eligible for more help – with state-backed loans of up to £25m available to firms with revenues of between £45m-500m.

Sir Howard, who used to chair the Financial Services Authority (now known as the Financial Conduct Authority), told the BBC's Today programme that the process of checking borrowers' eligibility had been “difficult”.

He also said RBS had struggled with the demand after inquiries about the loans jumped “by 45 times” in a week.

“I think we have to accept that the scale of this process and the speed with which it's been put in place has caused challenges for everybody,” he said.

“But we've had good discussions with the Treasury and small firms, and I think the changes announced overnight will make a quite a big difference.”

On Wednesday, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said it would “completely unacceptable” if any banks were unfairly refusing funds to good businesses in financial difficulty.

He also referenced the financial crisis – when taxpayers bailed out a number of the UK's largest banks – suggesting lenders should now repay the favour.

However, Sir Howard told the BBC that comparing the current crisis to 2008 was “rewriting history”.

“In the last crisis the problem was that the banks didn't have the money to lend, there was a credit crunch.

“We're not in that position at all. The banks have got the money to lend, we have a large amount of capital, we are not constrained in the volumes we can lend.”

On Thursday, Mr Sunak said the government was making “great progress” on supporting businesses to help manage their cashflows but needed to take “further action” by extending the scheme.

Analysis: By Simon Jack

There has been widespread concern, acknowledged by the government, that some of the emergency measures to provide financial assistance to businesses are not working.

Too few firms felt able or willing to take on loans that carried an 80% government guarantee to the lender but not the borrower. The Treasury has announced new rules, meaning business owners asking to borrow less than £250,000 will no longer have to offer up personal guarantees.

Perhaps most importantly, the requirement for companies to have first tried to get a normal commercial loan elsewhere will be dropped.

However, they are still loans. Companies wishing to take them out will be 100% liable for the debt and the government has not capped the interest rate banks can charge even though banks are able to borrow at close to 0%.

The loans may now be available to more businesses but what's not clear is whether firms want them.

‘Big step forward'

Labour welcomed the measures but accused the government of being “behind the curve” when implementing support measures.

“There remain huge gaps in support for employees and self-employed that must be addressed immediately if people are to avoid facing serious hardship in this crisis,” said shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

The head of the Confederation of British Industry, Carolyn Fairbairn, described the changes as a “big step forward” although she said more detail was needed.

“Each week brings unprecedented levels of economic support and it's encouraging to see the government stepping in where urgent help is needed.”

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, told the BBC's Today programme: “It's a very necessary and timely intervention by the chancellor, because clearly, businesses were being promised interest-free, fee-free, government support by the banks.

“Time and time again, the FSB has heard from our members and other small businesses who've approached banks seeking these emergency loans that they were being offered anything but.”

Stephen Jones, the chief executive of UK Finance which represents the banks, also welcomed the changes.

Speaking to the Today programme, he said: “It was clear that those viable businesses, who were required to be offered under the terms of the scheme commercial lending under commercial terms, felt aggrieved that they were not given access to the scheme and therefore the change gives the scheme to all businesses who are capable of repaying debt after this crisis is over.

“This change is extremely welcome and it means that banks will not be forced to make very unenviable assessments in terms of who cannot or can access the scheme in terms of viable businesses out there.”

UK government to cover the losses of bus companies in England over the next three months

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 4th April 2020) London, Uk – –

The government will cover the losses of bus companies in England over the next three months to ensure that services can still run.

The UK's bus industry says passenger numbers have “fallen off a cliff” since the government advised people against all non-essential travel.

That caused bus firms to cut services.

But a new £167m fund will ensure that bus companies can cover their costs on essential services so that key workers, such as NHS staff, can get to work.

Similar agreements are already in place in Scotland and Wales. The deal in Wales includes free bus travel for NHS workers.

Hundreds of millions of pounds of support measures from local and central government have been dedicated to the UK's bus industry to ensure that companies can survive through the coronavirus crisis and keep a reduced bus network moving.

The latest figures from the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), which represents bus and coach companies in Britain, showed that passenger numbers were down by 75%, although the numbers from bus operators suggest numbers are even lower.

Empty buses

With people advised to stay at home, many buses around the UK are being driven around with no passengers on them at all.

CPT boss Graham Vidler said the funding would “plug the gap” between the costs of running essential routes and the income received by companies. He said that would allow “critical journeys to continue”.

Government support is conditional on bus companies operating about half of their routes.

Operators have also pledged not to let buses carry more than 50% of their maximum capacity to ensure that social distancing is possible on board.

Stagecoach said on Friday that its local regional bus companies were currently seeing sales at about 15% of “normal levels”.

Martin Griffiths, the chief executive of Stagecoach, said that in a “very challenging period”, the new funding would mean “key workers can still get to and from work, and that communities can still access other services”, such as shopping for food or picking up medicines.

Stagecoach added that its Megabus inter-city bus service in England and Wales would be suspended by Sunday 5 April.

Transport groups Go-Ahead and FirstGroup also said they had seen huge falls in bus use, with passenger numbers and revenues down by about 90%.

Go-Ahead boss David Brown said the government funding package was “crucial” to ensure the company could provide essential services.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapp, emphasised that people should “stay at home if possible”. However, he described buses as a “lifeline for people who need to travel for work or to buy food”.

“It's absolutely vital we do all we can to keep the sector running,” he said.

Bus companies aim to temporarily lay off around half their staff who will then receive income under the government's coronavirus job retention scheme.

Before the coronavirus outbreak the government had earmarked funding to reopen bus routes which had been cut in recent years. Some of that money is now being spent on keeping existing routes running.

Any losses incurred by bus companies since the government advised people against all but essential travel should be covered under the rescue package.

By Tom Burridge

Hundreds of loans have been made under UK coronavirus scheme – Treasury

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

LONDON (Reuters) – Hundreds of loans have been made under an emergency scheme launched last month to help small and medium-sized companies get access to bank credit during the coronavirus crisis, a spokesman for Britain’s finance ministry said.

“There are hundreds of these loans that have gone out,” the Treasury spokesman told reporters when asked about reports of companies struggling to use the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. “Cash has very much gone out the door.”

By William Schomberg

EasyJet grounds entire fleet of planes due to virus

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 30th Mar 2020) London, Uk – –

EasyJet has grounded its entire fleet of planes and said it cannot give a date for when they will restart.

The budget airline said it had made the move due to the “unprecedented travel restrictions” imposed by governments globally due to the virus pandemic.

It had already cancelled most flights but had been running rescue flights to repatriate Britons stranded abroad.

The move came as regional airline Loganair said airlines were unlikely to survive without a government bailout.

The pandemic has had a severe impact on airlines, Loganair boss Jonathan Hinkles told the BBC's Tom Burridge.

He said that any airline saying it could survive without government help “would probably be lying”.

‘Challenging time'

EasyJet said its cabin crew would be furloughed, with staff paid 80% of their wage from 1 April through the government's job retention scheme.

The budget airline's boss Johan Lundgren said he was “working tirelessly” to make sure the airline was “well positioned to overcome the challenges of coronavirus”.

“I am extremely proud of the way in which people across EasyJet have given their absolute best at such a challenging time,” he added.

EasyJet's headquarters are at London Luton Airport and it has 331 planes. In normal times, it serves 159 airports and 1,051 routes.

Mr Lundgren said the airline had operated its last rescue flight on Sunday 29 March, but would continue to offer further rescue flights “as requested”.

The vast bulk of flights to and from the UK have been grounded due to travel restrictions imposed to control the spread of coronavirus, with many airlines expected to seek government help to survive.

Virgin Atlantic has already indicated that it will seek a bailout and other airlines are expected to follow suit.

The government has said it will only step in to help struggling airlines “as a last resort” on a case-by-case basis.

But industry group the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has warned of an “apocalypse” in the aviation sector as it urged governments around the world to help.

Loganair's Mr Hinkles warned that the connectivity of remote Scottish islands and rural communities across the UK “cannot be maintained without air services”, arguing that government support for his airline was “essential”.

Loganair operates routes to the UK's most remote airports such as Barra in the Outer Hebrides, where 19-seater planes land on the beach.

It is still running a higher proportion of its flights than other airlines because some travel to the most remote parts of the UK is still considered essential.

The airline is still ferrying people, mail and essential goods, such as pharmaceutical products, out to about 15 island airports.

Some of the most remote routes are subsidised by the Scottish government.

‘We have to fly'

Nevertheless, the Scottish carrier has had to ground half of its fleet and dramatically slash its flying schedule. This has put its entire operation in jeopardy.

“We can't just shut down”, Mr Hinkles said. “Morally, we have to fly.”

‘In the national interest'

Every airline is now negotiating with leasers, hoping that they will be granted more flexibility over payments.

Aside from the immediate problem of keeping the operation going, which Mr Hinkles believes is “in the national interest”, the longer-term problem is how quickly airlines like his can recover from the crisis – whenever travel restrictions are lifted.

He says that predictions within the industry about when airlines will fully recover are bleak.

“When a hairdresser is allowed to reopen, there will be a queue of people who need a hair cut,” he says. “That won't be the case with aviation.”

All airlines have called for additional support measures from the government to weather the storm.

The industry group Airlines UK and the Airport Operators Association have asked the government to cover air traffic control charges and payments to the Civil Aviation Authority until the end of this year.

Airlines also want a six-month suspension of the Air Passenger Duty tax, which brings in £3bn every year to the Treasury.

The boss of Loganair said the impact of the pandemic on aviation had been “fast and severe” and that continued support would be needed once the height of the crisis has passed.

In the case of his regional airline, he warned that it would be “easier to support the infrastructure which is there, rather than to try and build that infrastructure” in the future.

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said that the aviation sector is “important to the UK economy”.

They added: “We are willing to consider the situation of individual firms, so long as all other government schemes have been explored and all commercial options exhausted, including raising capital from existing investors.”

Retailers seeing overwhelming demand in trade due to coronavirus

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 30th Mar 2020) London, Uk – –

As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, many retailers are seeing trade collapse, but others are overwhelmed by demand.

“We're as busy as at Christmas time,” says the owner of an online coffee business, “we're selling double.”

An outdoor games supplier is in the same position: “We've sold out of table tennis tables – they're the new loo roll.”

While families are stuck at home, they’re keen to find ways of keeping their minds and bodies active, well-fed and refreshed, as their purchasing choices reveal.

So, what's booming?

1. Bicycles and exercise gear

Whether for exercise or for a safer means of travel, bicycle sales are speeding up.

“People are thinking, I want to have independence,” says Will Butler-Adams, chief executive of the folding bike company, Brompton.

“I think sales in the UK across the industry are probably up around 15%.”

Meanwhile, the London Cycle Workshop is twice as busy as normal, servicing older bikes for customers trying to avoid public transport or “just looking for something to do”.

Retailer Halfords is also reporting a rise in sales of exercise bikes, saying: “People who are not able to get out still want to exercise indoors.”

Toby Clark, from Mintel market research, says his teams are seeing reports of “really high sales of home exercise equipment, as people try to compensate for the fact that they now can't get to the gym”.

John Lewis backs that up. The department store has seen a “significant uplift” in home gym equipment and other fitness products.

2. Outdoor and indoor games

Games supplier Andy Beresford says his entire stock of outdoor table tennis tables is sold and a delivery due this week is pre-sold.

“I've sold 124 tables in the last week, he says, “In the same week last year, I sold just 15.”

Orders took off when the government said schools would have to close.

Andy, whose business Home Leisure Direct is based just outside Bristol, has sold an “awful lot” of pool tables as well.

His pool table stock has halved from 500 to 250.

3. Home and garden items

Phil Jones of JustSeed in Wrexham, which sells a wide range of plant seeds, says he had to stop taking orders after a rush for staples including carrots, lettuce, beans and tomatoes.

“It's just the sheer volume,” he says, “We're catching up with a massive surge.”

Two of the biggest seed companies, Marshalls and Suttons, have stopped answering the phone.

For some buyers, there is a worry about fresh vegetables running short, but Phil says many are just looking for an activity.

“They've been meaning to do the veg patch for years and it's something educational to do with the kids,” he adds.

Another specialist retailer, Franchi Seeds, has taken down its website temporarily, saying “people are panic buying”.

Indoors, more people are taking up sewing and knitting as a way to beat the boredom of confinement.

London-based department store Liberty says sales of sewing accessories are currently up 380% on last year, while purchases of their craft kits have risen 228%.

4. Reading matter

Another pursuit that’s popular with people who have time on their hands right now is settling down with a good book. And perhaps surprisingly, fictional accounts of epidemics are in great demand.

At number two in Amazon UK’s chart of most sold books of the week is The Eyes of Darkness by Dean Koontz. Although it was written in 1981, it describes a virus called Wuhan-400, in what appears to be an uncanny prediction of the coronavirus.

Another novel that is selling well is The Plague by French author Albert Camus. UK publisher Penguin says its sales in the last week of February were 150% up on last year and it is reprinting the book. Its sales have also risen sharply in France and Italy.

5. Electrical goods

As supermarket bosses have been telling us, there is collectively £1bn more worth of food in our houses than before the stockpiling rush started.

But where does it all go? You have to have somewhere to store it.

As a result, freezers and fridges have zoomed up the list of products people are searching for on online marketplaces.

There is a rush for laptops as well, also for office equipment, because many are finding that slouching on the sofa is not the best way to work.

Dixons Carphone said it had seen very good sales of equipment for home working (laptops, printers), for home entertainment (TVs, gaming consoles) and for home living (fridges, freezers, kitchen appliances), with same-store sales up 23%.

6. Coffee

Rave Coffee, selling exotic coffees from an industrial unit in Cirencester, is having to take on more staff to cope because demand has doubled.

“We have 11 members of staff and need another five,” says Vikki Hodge, who runs the business.

“People were buying our coffee for their office supply, now they are getting it at home,” Vikki explains.

“Where I had one office ordering, I might get 10 people ordering from their living room.”

Small firms ‘struggling'

But even the businesses doing well in the crisis remain in danger.

Andy from Home Leisure Direct says he has stopped taking orders for table tennis tables after factories closed in France, Spain and Italy.

“I think we'll go into lockdown before the end of the week,” he says, “I'll mothball the business.”

Andy has 40 staff, many of whom will have no work to do, so he is planning to apply for government funding to help with the wages.

Vikki from Rave Coffee is acutely aware that the businesses surrounding her on her industrial park in Cirencester are having to shut down.

“I can see the worry on their faces. They are small businesses struggling,” she says.

She believes keeping going is not just about providing more jobs. It's about providing funding for the firms which need help.

“We will pay our VAT and PAYE on time,” Vikki adds, “It goes in the pot to help them.”

By Simon Gompertz and Robert Plummer

Chancellor to reveal new COVID-19 Cash handouts for self-employed

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Thur, 26th Mar 2020) London, Uk – –

The monthly cap is likely to be lower than the £2,500 announced for staff employees last Friday.

A coronavirus bail-out for the self-employed is being unveiled by the chancellor after pressure from MPs, but handouts could go to only one in three of the five million who work for themselves.

Rishi Sunak will announce an emergency package at Boris Johnson's daily Downing Street news conference, promising help for groups such as builders, taxi drivers, hairdressers and childminders.

But while he will promise to match the 80% of earnings he promised staff employees last Friday, the monthly cap is likely to be lower than the £2,500 in that coronavirus scheme because many self-employed pay less tax.

And it is likely only about 1.7 million, a third of the UK's self-employed, will qualify, with those who have separate earnings as company employees and those on Universal Credit – already promised help – excluded. Coronavirus UK tracker: How many cases are in your area – updated daily

MPs have been warned that the aid package for the self-employed is highly complicated. And Treasury officials worked through the night in a race against time to complete preparations for its Downing Street launch.

In the Commons on Tuesday, Mr Sunak – poised to unveil his second massive state bailout for workers in less than a week – told MPs: “We will not be able to protect every single job or save every single business.”

And at Prime Minister's Questions, under pressure from MPs of all parties, Mr Johnson admitted: “I cannot, in all candour, promise that we will be able to get through this crisis without any kind of hardship at all.”

Later, at his latest Downing Street news conference, the prime minister revealed: “You'll be hearing more from Rishi Sunak, the chancellor tomorrow, about what we're doing to help the self-employed.”

He added: “I think people do understand the complexity of their working arrangements has made it harder to come up with the right tailored programme and that is coming forward tomorrow.”Coronavirus: The infection numbers in real time

At PMQs, Mr Johnson promised MPs: “We will do whatever we can to support the self-employed, just as we are putting our arms around every single employed person in this country.”

Pressed by the SNP leader Ian Blackford, Mr Johnson promised “parity of support” for the self-employed, matching the handouts announced by the Chancellor last week for those in salaried employment.

“There are particular difficulties with those who are not on PAYE schemes,” Mr Johnson said. “We are bringing forward a package to ensure that everybody gets the support that they need.”

Attacking the delay, Jeremy Corbyn challenged the PM: “The self-employed are having to choose whether they go to work or stay at home and face losing their entire livelihood, relying instead on an overstretched welfare system, which could pay as little as £94 per week.

“One self-employed person said that they need to pay for baby food, rent, council tax and insurance for the car they use for work, being ‘faced with a decision to feed your family and pay your bills, or stay at home and not get paid'.

“Why has it taken the prime minister so long to guarantee income for all self-employed workers? There are millions of them – our economy has changed.”

Later, in his final Commons speech as Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell told MPs: “If people claim fraudulently while still working, they will rightly be prosecuted.

“But right now millions of cabbies, childminders, plumbers, electricians, painters and decorators and actors have all lost work or closed down their businesses.

“As have builders, designated as the self-employed under the construction industry scheme and they have no income. They need a solution, now.”

And in the final minutes before the Commons adjourned for Easter, Labour and SNP MPs protested angrily over the Chancellor preparing to unveil his package when Parliament is no longer sitting.

But the Commons Leader, Jacob Rees-Mogg, told MPs: “I have been informed that it is a complicated package that is not in fact ready for announcement today. Had it been ready today, it would have been brought forward today.

“The Government are keen to get on with this announcement, which will provide support and comfort to a large number of the self-employed.

“There is no discourtesy to the House. It is being worked on as quickly as possible, but it is not yet ready. The plans have not been completed.

“What has been announced, and what was announced by the Prime Minister at his press conference, is that the plans will be announced tomorrow and they will be completed in time for tomorrow's press conference.”

By Jon Craig: Chief political correspondent

UK turns to Dyson for 10,000 ventilators to fight coronavirus

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 26th Mar 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain made an emergency order of 10,000 ventilators designed at breakneck speed by bagless vacuum cleaner company Dyson, the first fruits of an industry-wide call to arms to prepare for the looming peak of the coronavirus outbreak.

Ahead of an expected surge of cases that could overwhelm Britain’s publicly funded health service, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made an urgent appeal to manufacturers 10 days ago to build ventilators to help keep patients alive.

Billionaire founder James Dyson said he had drawn on the company’s expertise in air movement, motors, power systems, manufacturing and supply chain to design and build an entirely new ventilator, The CoVent, that could be deployed in this time of “grave international crisis”.

“The core challenge was how to design and deliver a new, sophisticated medical product in volume and in an extremely short space of time,” Dyson said on Wednesday evening in an email to staff seen by Reuters.

“The race is now on to get it into production.”

Dyson will have to secure approval from the British medical regulator for the device and its manufacturing process. If it receives the green light, production could start early next month.

The company revolutionised the vacuum cleaner market with its bagless cyclonic device in the 1990s and has since gone on to build air purifiers, hand dryers and fans from its base in south west England and manufacturing plants in Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.

Separately, British engineer Babcock (BAB.L) said it had joined forces with a leading medical equipment company to design a ventilator, while carmakers and aerospace groups are waiting for the government to sign off on an alternative design.

The companies, including some of the biggest names in Formula 1 racing and aerospace such as McLaren and Airbus (AIR.PA), are racing to boost production after the government said it did not have enough ventilators in its armoury.


Britain currently has about 8,000 ventilators with another 8,000 on order to come into the health system in a week or so.

By 0900 GMT on Wednesday some 9,529 people had tested positive for the virus in the United Kingdom while 463 patients had died.

Britain is working to acquire more testing kits to help establish whether people have previously been infected with coronavirus, as opposed to antigen tests which show if someone has the virus as they are experiencing symptoms.

Many staff within the National Health Service (NHS) have not been tested, a major concern for health workers and a cause of mounting criticism of the government’s response.

Chris Whitty, the government’s top medical adviser, said testing was vitally important but a global shortage of the materials needed was causing a supply bottleneck.

“Every country is wanting this new test, for a disease that wasn’t actually being tested for anywhere three months ago,” England’s chief medical officer told a Downing Street news conference on Wednesday.Slideshow (2 Images)

Britain has bought 3.5 million antibody testing kits – largely used to determine if someone has already had the virus – and is currently making sure they work before distributing them.

They will first be used to test health workers.

By Paul Sandle, Kate Holton

US Senate agree massive economic relief package worth more than $1.8 trillion

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 25th Mar 2020) London, Uk – –

US President Donald Trump and the Senate have agreed a massive economic relief package worth more than $1.8 trillion (£1.5tn).

The package includes money to bail out industries that have been affected by the coronavirus crisis.

Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell described it as a “wartime level of investment” in the economy.

Markets surged in the US on Tuesday in anticipation of a deal, and shares rose in Europe and Asia on Wednesday.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones jumped by 11.4% on Tuesday – its biggest one-day gain since the Great Depression.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index closed 8% higher on Wednesday following news of the relief deal.

Markets in Europe were also trading higher, with London's FTSE 100 index up more than 1%.

Full details of the deal agreed in the US will not be published until later on Wednesday. However, it is expected to contain measures to help people pay bills if they are laid off because of the virus, expand unemployment assistance by $250bn and get $350bn in emergency loans to small firms.

Mr McConnell said it would also “stabilise” key industrial sectors and give money to hospitals and other healthcare providers which were having difficulty getting equipment.

“We're going to pass this legislation later today,” Mr McConnell added.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called the package “the largest rescue package in American history”. He said it was a “Marshall Plan” for hospitals. “Help is on the way, big help and quick help.”

Separately on Tuesday, President Trump said he wanted to get the economy up and running again by Easter.

He said he was speaking to the Coronavirus Taskforce about when to open the US for business and that the Easter weekend -12 April – presented a “beautiful time, a beautiful timeline” and that he hoped to be able to open at least some sections of the country.

Reacting to news of the stimulus package, Tom Stevenson, investment director at fund manager Fidelity International, said: “It's good news, but we're not out of the woods yet.

“When markets are falling, you get these big rallies but you shouldn't get stuck on that. They do bounce around in these situations.”

The latest swing in share prices continues a period of unprecedented volatility as markets react wildly to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

This month alone has seen the Dow having the five biggest daily gains and five biggest falls of its 135-year history.

Many countries are now working on stimulus packages to support their economies, but these plans have received mixed responses from investors.

The US rescue package follows five days of intense negotiations to try to agree a deal that will provide aid for American workers and businesses.

Before it becomes law the deal must get through the Republican-controlled Senate, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives and be signed by President Trump.

The US central bank, the Federal Reserve has already announced $4tn in extra lending to help stimulate the economy in the face of the coronavirus.

Last week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin predicted that US unemployment could reach 20%. On Thursday, the Treasury Department will release last week's new jobless claims, and the numbers are expected to be in the millions.

A Goldman Sachs report estimated that the nation's gross domestic product in the second quarter could shrink by 24%, dwarfing the previous 10% record decline in 1958.

Global spread

America is more than midway through a 15-day attempt to slow the spread of the virus through social distancing.

Nearly 19,000 people have died with coronavirus across the planet since it emerged in China's Wuhan province in January, and more than 420,000 infections have been confirmed.

Southern Europe is now at the centre of the pandemic, with Italy and Spain recording hundreds of new deaths every day.

Governments around the world have responded by locking down societies in the hope of slowing the spread of the virus.

Chemical firm in the UK plan to build two hand sanitiser factories in 10 days

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 24th Mar 2020) London, Uk – –

Ineos in talks with NHS on supplying products to hospitals for free

Ineos, the chemicals company controlled by the billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, is planning to build two hand sanitiser factories in just 10 days as part of the effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The UK’s biggest private company by sales aims to produce a million bottles of hand sanitiser a month when the plant is in operation, with talks under way with the NHS on supplying the products to hospitals for free.

One factory will be at an existing Ineos site at Newton Aycliffe, near Middlesbrough, while the other will be built in Germany.

Other companies have pledged to use their factories to make hand sanitiser. The independent brewer BrewDog made its first deliveries of free hand sanitiser from its distillery in Aberdeenshire to the NHS’s Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, while France’s LVMH, owner of brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moët & Chandon and Hennessy, has also pledged to switch over its perfume factories.

Tom Crotty, a director at Ineos, said the company had started planning for the factory a week ago, after increasing alcohol production and receiving fast-tracked regulatory approvals.

Ineos is Europe’s largest producer of two of the key ingredients of hand sanitiser, isopropyl alcohol and ethanol, at its factories in Grangemouth, Scotland, and in Germany, but it had found that hand sanitiser producers were all running at full tilt.

“We figured that we’d already pushed as much of our product as possible into these uses but there’s a limit on capacity to produce the gel,” Crotty said. Switching the lines would cost about £2m in the short term, he added, but the company had not yet assessed the potential size of the longer-term market, given the urgent need.

Ratcliffe, whose stake in Ineos is thought to have made him Britain’s third richest person with an £18bn fortune, said he hoped to produce “very substantial supplies” of hand sanitiser for hospital and private use, with talks under way with retailers on making 50ml “pocket bottles” and 250ml containers available to consumers.

Ineos’s pledge comes as the manufacturing sector in Britain and around the world tries to adjust to the needs of countries in pandemic lockdowns.

The UK government last week asked companies to step forward to help it produce ventilators to help people for whom Covid-19 made breathing difficult.

Aerospace and automotive manufacturers were among those asked by Boris Johnson to rapidly retool their factories to build ventilator parts, with a need for 20,000 at short notice.

The aircraft manufacturer Airbus and the carmakers Nissan and McLaren are among the companies thought to be working to produce parts, using existing facilities that in many cases already have the clean environments needed for medical devices.

By Jasper Jolly

Coronavirus: Sports Direct U-turns on opening after widespread criticism

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Tue, 24th Mar 2020) London, Uk – –

Sports Direct has performed a U-turn on keeping its shops open during the coronavirus lockdown following a backlash over its plans.

The government has ordered all UK shops selling non-essential goods to close.

Sports Direct initially said it would remain open as it was “uniquely well placed to help keep the UK as fit and healthy as possible”.

But after widespread criticism, it now says it will not open “until we are given the go-ahead by the government”.

Sports Direct's chief financial officer, Chris Wootton, said the chain was contacting the government “at all levels” to confirm whether its shops were deemed to provide an essential service.

But Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said on Tuesday morning that he could not see “any justification” for it to stay open.

“The key thing we need to do is make sure people wherever possible stay at home. Yes it's important people exercise but that should be done once a day and it's a basic thing,” he told ITV's Good Morning Britain.

“People can walk, run or cycle, they should, but there is no reason for a store like Sports Direct to remain open.”

The retailer had argued that it provided an essential service. Bosses at the company said the sports equipment it sells can be used to exercise at home at a time when gyms have been closed.

In a letter written by Frasers Group, which owns Sports Direct and Evans Cycles, Mr Wootton had said: “Thus our Sports Direct and Evans Cycles stores will remain open where possible to allow us to do this (in accordance with the government's current social distancing guidance).

“There is no one else that has the range of product and range of stores to make this reasonably accessible for the whole population.”

Bicycle shops are on the list of retailers that are allowed to stay open during the shutdown.

But Paddy Lillis, general secretary of the shop workers' trade union Usdaw, told the BBC's Today programme: “I can't see how it [Sports Direct] is an essential service. It's a sports clothing company.

“In my mind, an essential service would include food and medicine and the supply chain around that,” as well as the National Health Service, he said.

Sports Direct's initial plan to stay open drew widespread backlash on social media.

Ian Lavery MP, chair of the Labour Party, told the company's founder and chief executive Mike Ashley to “take some responsibility”.

Who on earth does Mike Ashley think he is ????

He’s now prepared to endanger the life of his employees and the public at large.

Selling sports wear is not a essential service

Take some responsibility SHUT UP SHOP

End of Twitter post by @IanLaveryMP

Which retailers will close?

A number of High Street retailers and food chains had already shut prior to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's announcement on Monday evening, which set out strict new measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

The government has now issued a list of which “essential” retailers are allowed to stay open. They include:

  • Supermarkets and other food shops
  • Pharmacies
  • Petrol stations
  • Newsagents
  • Bicycle shops
  • Home and hardware stores
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • Garages
  • Pet shops
  • Post Offices
  • Banks

Businesses will still be able to take online orders and deliver items to people's homes.

The government this week said it would pay the wages of employees unable to work due to the coronavirus pandemic, in a move aimed at protecting people's jobs.

It will pay 80% of salary for staff who are kept on by their employer, covering wages of up to £2,500 a month.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday:

  • A closely-watched economic survey indicated there had been “record slump” in UK business activity in March as emergency public health measures dealt a “severe blow” to the economy. The compilers of the survey said the figures suggested “a recession of a scale we have not seen in modern history is looking increasingly likely”
  • Waitrose became the first UK supermarket to announce it would limit the number of people who could be in a store at any one time
  • B&Q said it would close temporarily to prepare its stores for selling “essential products”
  • The boss of the Wetherspoon pub chain said its staff should feel free to take jobs at supermarkets such as Tesco while its pubs remain closed.

Many retail and hospitality firms have warned the pandemic could see them collapse, wiping out thousands of jobs, as life in the UK is put on hold.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of retail lobby group the British Retail Consortium, said many shops had already closed temporarily.

“Any retailers that remain open will be following the very latest government public health guidance to ensure they do everything they can to ensure the safety of customers and staff,” she said.

Worries over self-employed

The government had already ordered pubs, restaurants and cafes to close amid concerns that people were ignoring its advice to keep social contact to a minimum.

Monday night's announcement came as the number of UK deaths from coronavirus hit 335, while there were 6,650 confirmed cases.

Many of the big brands to have already announced closures have promised to pay their staff for several weeks until the government's coronavirus job retention scheme kicks in.

However, concern is growing about the millions of self-employed and gig economy workers who will be forced to rely on benefits in the absence of targeted support.

Neil Carberry, boss of lobby group the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, said the announcement reinforced the need for businesses and workers to access government support measures “as quickly as possible”.

“With the economy and jobs market in lockdown, all employers can do is stand by their staff as far as possible and reap the benefits during the post-crisis comeback,” he added.

UK manufacturing sector warns of layoffs and demand immediate help

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 19th Mar 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – British manufacturers demanded an immediate deferment of tax and social security payments, warning the government that thousands of layoffs were imminent as the coronavirus crisis hits the economy.

“There are alarm bells going off right across the manufacturing sector with the prospect of substantial lay-offs looming,” Stephen Phipson, chief executive of Make UK, said in a statement on Thursday.

“Order books are collapsing and this is creating immediate cashflow issues for companies which need addressing within days not weeks.”

The group welcomed measures rushed out by British finance minister Rishi Sunak to help companies, many of which are facing virtual shutdowns in business, but it called on him to go further because the crisis was deepening so quickly.

Make UK urged Sunak to agree to an immediate deferment of payments of value-added and payroll taxes and of social security contributions for at least three months.

The group called for a ramping up of government money to support sick pay costs which was announced last week and for help paying the wages of workers who are laid off or put on short-time working, similar to schemes in France and Germany.

It also called for an extension of pension scheme valuation cycles and a longer period for companies to publish their financial accounts.

Sunak has previously said he is working on plans to support employment.

Writing by William Schomberg; editing by Michael Holden and Kate Holton

UK to unveil rescue package for businesses threatened with collapse by coronavirus outbreak

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 17th Mar 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will on Tuesday unveil a rescue package for businesses threatened with collapse by the coronavirus outbreak as budget forecasters said the scale of the borrowing needed might resemble the immense debt splurge during World War Two

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who told people to avoid pubs, clubs, restaurants, cinemas and theatres on Monday, was expected to address the nation alongside finance minister Rishi Sunak later on Tuesday.

Sunak last week announced help for business, including some tax suspensions for smaller firms, alongside emergency moves by the Bank of England.

But the virtual shutdown of swathes of the economy since then has forced the government – like many other countries around the world – to come up with a new plan.

Britain’s independent budget office drew comparisons with World War Two.

“Now is not a time to be squeamish about public sector debt,” Robert Chote, head of the Office for Budget Responsibility, told lawmakers.

“In some ways it’s like a wartime situation,” Chote said. “We ran during the Second World War budget deficits in excess of 20% of GDP five years on the trot and that was the right thing to do.”

OBR member Charlie Bean said there was a “very good argument” for the government to act as insurer against coronavirus losses and any attempt to forecast what would happen to the economy in the next year or two was “pie in the sky”.

But Bean also said the economic damage from coronavirus should prove to be less than the hit caused by the global financial crisis a decade ago.

In his first budget statement to parliament last week, Sunak promised 30 billion pounds of measures to support public healthcare, affected businesses and provide broader economic stimulus in the face of the coronavirus.

On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said his government would guarantee 300 billion euros worth of loans, and promised that no French company would be allowed to collapse.

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, called for more government action.

“Government has got to do more on the upfront costs facing businesses,” he told the BBC.

Suspension of tax bills would be the most useful immediate step, he said.


British companies have already been hit by the crisis. The world’s biggest catering firm, Compass Group (CPG.L), warned that its half-yearly operating profit would be lower than expected.

Johnson is under pressure to clarify whether he plans to formally order pubs and theatres to close after telling the public to avoid these businesses.

Business owners said the announcement would destroy demand, but unless the government mandated their closure they would be unable to claim on insurance policies.

“You can’t tell the nation to avoid ‘pubs and clubs’ and not officially ‘close us’ so that we can claim our insurance. Please help,” said Fraser Carruthers, who co-owns nightclubs, including Mahiki, which was popular with younger members of the royal family.

Shares in pub group Marstons (MARS.L) were down 28% and Mitchells & Butlers (MAB.L) down 16%.

New Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey promised more “prompt action” on Monday, less than a week after an emergency rate cut by the BoE as the scale of the coronavirus hit to the economy became clearer.

Investors are watching for another rate cut, possibly before the BoE’s next scheduled announcement on March 26, even though its room for manoeuvre has been reduced by last week’s action when its benchmark lending rate was cut to 0.25%.

The central bank is also expected to expand its 435 billion-pound government bond buying programme.

Additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan

Coronavirus pandemic forces airlines to lay off staff and cut more flights

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 16th Mar 2020) London, Uk – –

Travel restrictions and a slump in demand as a result of the coronavirus pandemic have forced airlines to lay off staff and cut more flights.

Ryanair is to ground the majority of its fleet, and says a full grounding of its planes “cannot be ruled out”.

British Airways owner IAG is planning to cut capacity by at least 75% in April and May.

EasyJet also said it may also have to ground most of its planes as a result of travel bans and falling demand.

Holiday company Tui has also said it will suspend the “majority” of its operations, affecting “package travel, cruises and hotel” bookings.

Passenger numbers and bookings have plummeted in recent weeks as countries closed their borders and holiday makers cancelled trips.

“There is no cash whatsoever coming in the doors,” said aviation analyst John Strickland, who warned that airlines could lose money very quickly.

Analysis: By Kevin Peachey

Mass cancellations of flights in an unprecedented situation may leave passengers unsure of their rights.

For those yet to fly out, it is relatively straightforward – you should be given a refund or, in some cases, the option to rebook for another date.

If this is part of a package holiday, then the entire cost of the holiday will be refunded. A separate hotel booking will require a call to the hotel, asking for leeway, or perhaps a travel insurance claim if the policy covers you.

For those trying to get home, an airline has a duty of care to get you back if they have cancelled your flight. This may mean flying with another airline or putting you on a different mode of transport. If an extra overnight stay is required, the airline should pay for that as well as the food you need.

However, for those who accept a refund for a cancelled return flight, the airline's duty of care ends at that point. You would then have to get yourself home, which could be difficult given the current restrictions.

Consumer organisation Which? has called on airlines and holiday firms to give clear, fast advice to customers as the situation changes.

IAG boss Willie Walsh, who was due to step down this month, will now stay in his post to manage the crisis.

“We have seen a substantial decline in bookings across our airlines and global network over the past few weeks and we expect demand to remain weak until well into the summer,” he said.

“We are therefore making significant reductions to our flying schedules,” he said, adding that the group had the flexibility to make further cuts if necessary.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary complained that governments had imposed travel restrictions “in many cases with minimal or zero notice”.

“We are organising rescue flights to repatriate customers, even in those countries where travel bans have been imposed,” he said.

EasyJet said it had cancelled a “further significant” number of flights.

“These actions will continue on a rolling basis for the foreseeable future and could result in the grounding of the majority of the EasyJet fleet,” it said.

The announcements hit the airlines' share prices, with EasyJet, Ryanair and IAG all trading down by around 20%.

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren called for government intervention to support the aviation industry.

“European aviation faces a precarious future and it is clear that co-ordinated government backing will be required to ensure the industry survives and is able to continue to operate when the crisis is over,” he said.

The boss of BA had already told staff that it planned to ground flights “like never before” and lay off employees in response to the coronavirus.

In a memo to staff titled “The Survival of British Airways”, Alex Cruz warned that the airline industry was facing a “crisis of global proportions” that was worse than that caused by the Sars virus or 9/11.

IAG – which also owns Iberia and Aer Lingus – said it had suspended flights to China, reduced capacity on Asian routes, cancelled all flights to, from and within Italy as well as making other changes to its network.

Meanwhile, bosses at Virgin Atlantic said they would write to the prime minister to ask for emergency financial measures for airlines in the UK.

The company will be significantly affected by US travel restrictions, which will hit all transatlantic routes from Tuesday.

Should the government bail British airlines out?

Analysis: By Domonic O'connell

The coronavirus has hit them hard and Virgin Atlantic, the airline founded and still part-owned by Sir Richard Branson, has called for government cash – support totalling perhaps £7.5bn to tide the sector over.

But airlines are not speaking with one voice. IAG, the owner of British Airways, has pointedly not asked for a bailout, and this morning went out of its way to point to its substantial cash reserves – more than £9bn in total.

A senior source at IAG told me that there were “better uses” for taxpayer's money than bailing out airlines – a thinly-veiled jibe at Virgin Atlantic.

IAG's chief executive, Willie Walsh, was vociferous in his opposition to a bail out for Flybe, and it's clear he will also fight a handout for Virgin Atlantic, which is BA's direct competitor on lucrative routes out of Heathrow.

What will the government do?

A one-off intervention to save a single airline would be unusual, but airline experts say across the board help – the suspension of air passenger duty and time to pay on National Insurance and tax – are likely.

Aviation analyst Mr Strickland said cancelling flights meant airlines had no cash coming in whatsoever.

“People are understandably not booking for flights in the weeks and months ahead,” he told the BBC.

“Even those booking that were held, a substantial number of those, of course, have been cancelled.”

He described the reduction in operations as “stunning”, warning that “airlines can bleed very, very quickly”.

“Stemming the blood loss… by cancelling flights and parking aircraft is one thing, but airlines are both capital and labour intensive so there has to be support of the costs that cannot be avoided even if an airline is grounded,” Mr Strickland said.

Over the weekend, Scandinavian airline SAS said it would temporarily halt most of its flights until conditions for commercial aviation improved.

As a result, the airline said it would temporarily lay off up to 10,000 employees, or 90% of its total workforce.

Last week, Norwegian airlines said it would cancel 4,000 flights and temporarily lay off about half of its staff because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Aviation analyst Chris Tarry told the BBC those kind of staff reductions could lead to a permanent change.

“We are going to see shrinkage,” he told the BBC's Today programme.

“We've seen airlines talk about voluntary redundancies then we move into the next stage of that, which is permanent reductions.”

Global pandemic ‘could cost millions of tourism jobs’ says leading industry body

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 13th Mar 2020) London, Uk – –

The global coronavirus outbreak means millions of travel and tourism jobs are at risk, says a leading industry body.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) says up to 50 million jobs could be lost because of the pandemic.

Its chief executive, Gloria Guevara, said the outbreak “presents a significant threat to the industry”.

The news comes after thousands of international flights were cancelled and some insurance firms suspended travel cover for new customers.

New figures from the WTTC suggest that the travel sector could shrink by up to 25% in 2020.

The trade body is calling on governments to take several steps to protect the industry, including:

  • Removing or simplifying visas where possible, as well as reducing costs
  • Relaxing “unnecessary barriers” at ports and airports
  • Reduce travellers' taxes such as Air Passenger Duty
  • Increase budgets for promoting travel destinations.

But Ms Guevara added: “Travel and tourism has the strength to overcome this challenge and will emerge stronger.”

The tourism industry has been massively affected by the spread of coronavirus, as many countries have introduced travel restrictions in an attempt to contain its spread.

Cruise ship firm Princess Cruises is suspending all operations for 60 days. One of its cruises was kept off the cost of San Francisco for five days after 21 passengers tested positive for the virus.

British Airways, EasyJet and Norwegian Air have all also cut flights in response to the outbreak.

Korean Air even warned that the coronavirus could threaten its survival.

Chinese airline passenger numbers dropped by 84.5% last month, highlighting the huge economic impact on the country where the virus originated.

Its aviation regulator said on Thursday that the drop had caused a 21bn-yuan (£2.35bn) fall in revenue.

Travel industry experts have expressed concerns about Chinese tourists being kept at home.

In the UK, for example, there were 415,000 visits from China in the 12 months to September 2019, according to VisitBritain.

Chinese travellers also spend three times more than an average visitor to the UK at £1,680 each.

As more large-scale events are cancelled and the number of flight cancellations increases, there are fears the industry could take a bigger hit.

Budget 2020: Companies with rateable value of less than £51,000 will be eligible for tax holiday

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 11th Mar 2020) London, Uk – –

Tens of thousands of England's retail, leisure and hospitality firms will not pay any business rates in the coming year, the chancellor has announced.

Companies with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be eligible for the tax holiday, Rishi Sunak said.

The measure applies to firms including shops, cinemas, restaurants and hotels.

It is part of a package of “extraordinary” measures to support the UK economy in the face of disruption from the coronavirus outbreak.

“That is a tax cut worth over £1bn, saving each business up to £25,000,” Mr Sunak said.

Business rates are a tax on properties that are used for commercial purposes, and are charged based on an estimate of what it would cost to rent the property on the open market: the “rateable value”.

Mr Sunak described the business rates holiday as an “exceptional step” that would benefit museums, art galleries, theatres, caravan parks, gyms, small hotels, sports clubs and night clubs, all of whom will be hard hit if customers stay away to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Businesses have been calling for a review of business rates for several years, arguing they make it hard for bricks and mortar retailers to compete with online rivals.

The chancellor said business rates as a whole would be reviewed later in the year.

The head of retail and consumer at Pinsent Masons, Tom Leman, said the announcement would be “extremely welcome news” for small businesses.

“On the basis the coronavirus is not a long-term issue for these businesses, it is crucial that they have the liquidity to see them through the worst.

“This will definitely help the cause and hopefully see many of them come out the other side ready to benefit from the increased spending power prompted by the money people are currently saving on their discretionary spend.”

UK’s government estimated spending to leave EU cost £4.4 billion | NAO

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Fri, 6th Mar 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s government has spent at least 4.4 billion pounds of taxpayers’ money on preparations to leave the European Union, the public spending watchdog said on Friday, in the first detailed estimate of the cost of Brexit.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said in a report that most of the money was spent on staff costs, building new infrastructure and paying for external advice.

Although some ministries had to supplement their spending from existing budgets, the government overall only spent about 70% of the 6.3 billion pounds allocated to cover the cost of preparations, the report said.

In an indication of the upheaval that Brexit caused within government, the report said no fewer than 22,000 government officials were working on Brexit at the peak when Britain was on the verge of leaving the EU without a divorce deal last October.

“This report provides, for the first time, a clear picture of how much government has spent and what that money has been spent on,” said NAO head Gareth Davies.

Britain left the European Union at the end of January, its biggest geopolitical upheaval in decades in which it turned its back on 47 years of membership of the world’s largest trading bloc.

Officials had to increase training for customs officials, hire more staff to negotiate trade deals and improve infrastructure around ports.

More than half of the money was spent by three departments: Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Home Office, along with HM Revenue and Customs.

The NAO said their estimate only focused on the cost of government preparations and excluded future costs such as the 39 billion pound divorce bill agreed with the EU.

It also said the report does not come to a value-for-money conclusion, while there were limitations in the information provided by departments and the estimate is only the minimum level of spending by the government.

Lawmaker Meg Hillier, who chairs parliament’s public accounts committee, said the data was limited and that the finance ministry seemed unconcerned by the lack of transparency.

Overall, 1.9 billion pounds was spent on paying government employees, 1.5 billion went on new infrastructure and 288 million pounds was spent on external advice.

By Andrew MacAskill

Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s food supplies claim rejected by supermarket

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

A leading supermarket executive has told the BBC he is baffled by Health Secretary Matt Hancock's comments the government was working with retailers to ensure uninterrupted food supplies.

His exact words were: “Matt Hancock has totally made up what he said about working with supermarkets.

Mr Hancock told BBC Question Time: “We are working with the supermarkets”.

But the retail executive said: “We haven't heard anything from government directly.”

He went on to say sales of cupboard basics like pasta and tinned goods have “gone through the roof”.

While the supermarket was largely keeping up with demand, teams are working “round the clock” to keep shelves stocked.

“We are using processes and staffing levels we set up in case of a no-deal Brexit.” The executive added: “While I think people don't need to panic buy and should just shop normally, I'm not sure the government can guarantee all food supply in all instances.”

What do I need to know about the coronavirus?

There is no suggestion that there are food shortages, but people bringing forward some purchases was creating logistical challenges, he said.

A source at a rival supermarket said that while it had some overarching discussion with the departments for agriculture and business about overall readiness, it had not a conversation about ensuring uninterrupted food supplies.

When asked specifically about Mr Hancock's comments, the supermarket said it did not recognise them.

A question that supermarkets are asking themselves internally is whether they could ramp up their online delivery to meet the demands of large numbers of people self- isolating.

The answer to that was no. Online delivery is only 6-7% of the overall market. “We can't switch a whole load of new vans on overnight.”

While one supermarket said it was working round the clock, another said there was healthy demand but they were operating “very much within tolerable limits”.

By Simon Jack

Ford factory closure: Bridgend braces for fallout

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 5th Mar 2020) London, Uk – –

The town’s biggest employer is to leave after 40 years, leaving many residents fearful of the future

In May, Ford will clock up 40 years of making car engines in Bridgend, south Wales. But the anniversary will pass without any celebration. Just months later, by 25 September, the production lines will come to a halt for the final time.

About 1,700 people were working at the 60-acre site halfway between Cardiff and Swansea when the closure was announced in June 2019, with Ford blaming “changing customer demand and cost”.

Dick Jenkins, a 47-year-old electrician, has clocked in and out of the plant for three decades, the only workplace he has ever known, since he joined a few days after his 17th birthday.

“I have never filled out a CV until now because I never had to. It’s scary. I know I’m not alone, but whatever happens next will only be the second job I have ever had.”

The community is braced for the loss of some of the region’s best-paid manufacturing jobs.

The average Ford salary is £41,000, according to the GMB trade union, and the carmaker has spent a significant sum of money to close the factory. A source described the redundancy and pension payouts for workers as the most generous they had ever seen.

Local businesses fear the impact on the town nonetheless. Craig Williams, 34, runs Capelli Salons at the bottom of the town’s main shopping street, where takeaway restaurants and a row of barber shops sit alongside vacant premises.Advertisement

On a wet weekday afternoon, behind the hairdresser’s steamed-up windows, a couple of clients are being shampooed and blowdried. When the Ford closure was first announced “there was almost mass panic”, and a few regular customers stopped coming.

“If their husbands or whoever worked there, we are going to lose custom. It’s a luxury to have hair and beauty done, you’ve got a priority to pay your mortgage,” said Williams.

Ford is the town’s largest employer and its biggest business rates payer. Property consultancy Altus Group calculates the plant paid £1.6m in rates in 2019-20, far more than any other company in the town.

Business rates, which are paid as a proportion of the value of the property owned by a company, are pooled in Wales between councils, and distributed centrally, meaning the effect of the shortfall will also be felt further afield.

Six villages or estates in the Bridgend local authority area are among the nation’s 10% most deprived, according to the most recent Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation. One is Bettws, a former mining village in Ogmore valley, where a colourful mural on the community centre wall recalls its industrial heyday.

In the 1970s, when the region began to lose mining and heavy industry, Wales enjoyed some success attracting foreign investment, often to Bridgend, with its proximity to the M4 motorway.

However many locals can reel off a list of the big foreign firms that have come and gone: Sony, LG, Bosch – and concerns remain about the long-term future of Tata Steel in Port Talbot.

The Ford workers and the Welsh government hope new arrivals will help to fill the hole left by Ford. The chemicals firm Ineos will assemble its Land Rover Defender-inspired 4×4 at a plant being built next to the Ford factory.

But the first car will not roll off the line until 2021, and Ineos is initially hiring only 200 staff. Jenkins has sent his CV and is awaiting a response. Other Ford workers are looking to Aston Martin Lagonda, which will start building its first SUV at St Athan, 10 miles from Bridgend, in the summer. However both of those companies combined will employ only a fraction of the Ford workforce.

The Welsh government has responsibility for economic development among its devolved powers over health, education, transport and planning. A block grant received from the UK government accounts for the majority of Cardiff’s £20bn annual budget.

Many in Wales feel overlooked by Westminster, and believe they are at the back of the queue after the English regions and other UK nations.Advertisement

“Wales is only equivalent to 5% of the English population, it gets forgotten about,” says Victoria Winckler, the director of the Welsh thinktank the Bevan Foundation. “The UK government must not wash its hands of places in Wales.”

Infrastructure is not a devolved power, an issue that rankles locally, especially since the former transport secretary Chris Grayling in 2018 scrapped plans to electrify the rail line beyond Cardiff.

The £106bn for the HS2 high-speed line connecting London with Birmingham and the north of England was “another reminder of the gross inequality,” said Huw David, a Labour councillor and leader of Bridgend county borough council. “We are still waiting for them to electrify the railway between the capital and Swansea, the second city, never mind high-speed.”

Local Carwyn Jones was first minister of Wales until 2018, and the Labour politician is in his final term as Welsh assembly member for Bridgend. He believes Westminster has “let Wales down sorely” over infrastructure and energy strategy, chiefly the scrapped £1.3bn Swansea tidal lagoon project and the cancelled £16bn nuclear power station on Anglesey.

Bridgend went blue for the first time in 32 years in the election, making the serial entrepreneur Jamie Wallis only the constituency’s second Conservative MP since its creation in 1983, with a majority of just over 1,000.

His office did not respond to requests for comment.

One in six workers in Bridgend are employed in manufacturing, according to the TUC, double the UK figure. Future economic success means securing high-tech, quality jobs, says Jones.Advertisement

“We’re not going to compete with low-cost economies even if we try. We want to attract jobs into Bridgend and elsewhere on the basis that we have a skilled workforce and a pipeline of training,” he said.

Spectrum Technologies offers those kind of jobs, if a limited number, with a 58-member workforce that makes laser-marking equipment for aircraft wires and cables.

The chief executive, Peter Dickinson, plans to take on a handful of new employees in the next year, but has historically found it hard to recruit engineers from the company’s doorstep.

Lamenting the local rail, road and air infrastructure, Dickinson says if he was choosing where to locate the company now, he would not pick Bridgend, “unless and until there is a levelling up and the government addresses the issues that impact both the region and us as a company”.

By Joanna Partridge

JMW Turner new £20 notes enter circulation

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 20th Feb 2020) London, Uk – –

At least 2bn polymer notes are to be rolled out across the country from Thursday

The new polymer £20 note featuring the artist JMW Turner is to go into circulation, as the Bank of England begins a mammoth operation to replace the most popular banknote in the country.

At least 2bn have been printed, and the Bank expects half of the country’s cash machines to have switched over within the next fortnight.

In Scotland, Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale will launch their polymer £20 notes on 27 February, with Royal Bank of Scotland following on 5 March. Banks in Northern Ireland will also change over in 2020, but there is no specific date.

Judging by the huge popularity of earlier polymer note issues, the Bank of England said it expected to see queues outside its Threadneedle Street head office when it opened its doors at 9am.Advertisement

Not all bank branches will be stocking the new £20 immediately. For example, Santander said only 12 of its branches would have the new note from Thursday. They include branches in Birmingham, Cardiff and Leeds.

The note will feature Turner’s portrait in front of The Fighting Temeraire, his tribute to the ship that played a distinguished role in Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. It will also be the first note to include the signature of Sarah John, the Bank of England’s chief cashier since 2018.

The Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, chose Tate Britain, which is home to the most important Turner collection, to launch the new note. The Fighting Temeraire, which is currently in the National Gallery, will be on view at Tate Britain in the autumn for a major Turner exhibition.

He said: “I am delighted that the work of arguably the single most influential British artist of all time will now appear on another 2bn works of art – the new £20 notes that people can start using today.”

The Bank said the banknote will be the single biggest switchover to polymer attempted anywhere in the world. While first adopted by Australia in 1988, US dollars and euros have so far resisted the switch to plastic.

According to the Bank of England, if the new £20 notes were laid end to end, they would stretch around the world almost seven times and weigh a total of 1,780 tonnes. The notes are manufactured in England by De La Rue.

Unlike the launch of the polymer £5 and £10 notes, Britain’s central bank has not set a date for when the older paper-cotton notes will stop being legal tender, so they can continue to be used in circulation. It said it will give at least six months’ notice of any withdrawal date.

The Bank is opting for polymer over traditional paper because it is cleaner, longer-lasting and harder to forge.

Old notes removed from circulation are either turned into compost, or burned to generate electricity.

Despite the fact that non-polymer £5 and £10 notes are no longer legal tender, £1.5bn worth are still in existence. The Bank of England said as of July 2019, there were 118m old £5 notes and 93.8m £10 notes that had not been returned.

But individuals have the right in perpetuity to bring old notes to the Bank of England and swap them for a new note of the same value.

Unlike in the eurozone, where the €50 is the most common note in circulation, the British have traditionally preferred lower denominations.

There are about 2bn paper £20 notes in circulation, compared with 1.1bn £10 notes, 400m £5 notes and 350m £50 notes.

Despite the decline in the use of cash, the total value of notes in circulation has remained broadly static in recent years. The Bank said it had found that while people were carrying the same amount of cash as before, it stayed longer in purses and wallets than before before being spent.

By Patrick Collinson