Aldi plans to create 4,000 new jobs in 2021

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 28th Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

The German-owned chain says it is opening new stores and refurbishing others, as well as investing in click and collect services.

Discount supermarket Aldi has said it expects to create 4,000 new jobs in 2021 as part of a £1.3bn two-year investment plan.

The German-owned chain, now the UK's fifth biggest by market share, said the investment would include new and upgraded stores and distribution centres as well as a recently announced “click and collect” service.

Under the plan, a total of 7,000 jobs will have been created over this year and next.

Aldi's expansion is set to add 100 new stores in the UK over 2020 and 2021, taking it closer to its long-term target of 1,200 by 2025.

Its announcement came as it reported an 8.3% rise in sales to £12.3bn to 2019, which it said compared with a more sluggish 1% for the grocery market overall.

Aldi said pre-tax profits – which had dipped the year before – rose by 49% to £271.5m as it benefited from “efficiencies of scale” while continuing to invest in keeping prices low.

The chain, together with discount rival Lidl, has been gnawing away at the market share of larger rivals Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons with its lower-price model.

But they have lagged behind the bigger chains in the development of online delivery, missing out on the surge in that market during the coronavirus pandemic.

However they have both now invested in “click and collect” offerings.

In May, Aldi revealed plans to deliver groceries to homes in the UK for the first time through a partnership with Deliveroo.

Giles Hurley, chief executive for Aldi UK and Ireland, said the supermarket's response to the pandemic had been “heroic and historic”, adding that its commitment to low prices was “more important than ever”.

Mr Hurley last week reassured customers that stores remained fully stocked and urged them to “continue to shop considerately” as fears about a rise in panic-buying prompted some rivals to ration key products.

By John-Paul Ford Rojas

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How Palantir Built Data-Mining Empire

Source: CNBC

After 17 years, data analytics company Palantir is making its public market debut. Best known for its sometimes controversial work with U.S. government agencies like the CIA, the DoD and ICE, Palantir has increasingly been working with commercial customers as well, which investors hope will put it on a path to profitability.

Tesco becomes the latest supermarket to limit sales of some items

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

Tesco has become the latest supermarket to place limits on the number of items shoppers can buy, following a similar move by rival Morrisons.

It has introduced a three-items per customer limit on flour, dried pasta, toilet roll, baby wipes and anti-bacterial wipes.

The supermarkets are acting to prevent a repeat of the panic-buying that led to shortages in March.

Tesco said it had “introduced bulk-buy limits on a small number of products”.

It said this was “ensure that everyone can keep buying what they need”.

“We have good availability, with plenty of stock to go round, and we would encourage our customers to shop as normal,” it said.

The supermarket has introduced additional limits for a small number of products online, such as rice and canned veg.

Morrisons introduced a limit of three items per customer on some ranges on Thursday, including toilet rolls and disinfectant products.

It said stock levels “were good”, but it wanted to “make sure they were available for everyone”.

No shortages

In March, UK supermarkets were forced to take steps to prevent shoppers from panic-buying around the height of the pandemic.

Many introduced limits on the number of certain items that customers could buy, such as flour, pasta or toilet roll.

Enhanced measures introduced in recent weeks have not triggered stock-piling by customers, according to several supermarkets approached by the BBC earlier this week.

Asda said it still had good availability in-store and online, while Waitrose said it had “good levels” of stock and that it had also looked at the items people bought early in lockdown and planned ahead accordingly.

“We would like to reassure customers that there is no need to worry about buying more than they need,” a spokesperson said.

An Iceland spokesperson said: “There are no shortages and there will be no shortages so long as people continue to shop responsibly for what they actually need.”

The British Retail Consortium said supply chains were good and has urged consumers to “shop as you normally would”.

Director of food and sustainability at the BRC, Andrew Opie, said: “Supply chains are stronger than ever before and we do not anticipate any issues in the availability of food or other goods under a future lockdown.

“Nonetheless, we urge consumers to be considerate of others.”

Aldi boss Giles Hurley has written to customers saying: “There is no need to buy more than you usually would. I would like to reassure you that our stores remain fully stocked and ask that you continue to shop considerately.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak gives businesses extra flexibility on repaying COVID-19 loans

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 24th Sept 2020) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak said on Thursday he would introduce a new scheme to give businesses flexibility to repay loans taken out during the coronavirus crisis, giving them up to 10 years to repay the loans rather than six.

Under the government’s Bounce Back Loan Scheme, 1.3 million small businesses have taken out a total of 38.0 billion pounds ($48.4 billion) in loans worth up to 50,000 pounds each, from banks which have received a 100% state guarantee.

“To give those businesses more time and greater flexibility to repay their loans, we are introducing Pay-as-you-Grow. This means loans can now be extended from six to 10 years, more than halving the average monthly repayment,” Sunak told parliament.

“Businesses who are struggling can now choose to make interest only payments, and anyone in real trouble can apply to suspened repayments altogether for up to six months.”

Reporting by David Milliken and Andy Bruce

Michael Gove warns haulage firms of queues up to 7,000 trucks if they do not prepare for Brexit

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 23rd 2020) London, Uk – –

Michael Gove has written to hauliers to warn that if they do not prepare now for Brexit they could face queues of up to 7,000 trucks in Kent, confirming internal cabinet analysis of the potential disruption caused by the UK’s departure from the single market in January.

The letter also warns of two-day delays for cargo travelling to the EU through Dover or Folkestone ferry or Eurotunnel trains in what it is describing as the “reasonable worst-case scenario”.

“The biggest potential cause of disruption are traders not being ready for controls implemented by EU member states on 1 January 2021,” Gove wrote in the letter seen by the Guardian. “It is essential that traders act now and get ready for new formalities.”

The warnings were contained in confidential government documents revealed by the Guardian earlier this month.

Gove is due to outline the scenario work, which the Cabinet Office stressed was not a forecast, in the Commons on Wednesday.

The letter has enraged industry leaders and the haulage industry, which has been begging for details of the preparations they will have to make as a matter of urgency for the last six months.

It came the day both Logistics UK, which represents the freight industry, and the Port of Dover said the government’s efforts to shift blame for lack of Brexit preparations on to the industry was wrong-headed.

Tim Reardon, the head of EU exit policy, told the Treasury select committee that government funds had yet to be released for vital infrastructure at Dover port.

The money needed to be “issued rather than talked about”, he said.

The chair of the committee, the Conservative MP Mel Stride, said the government appeared to be leaving it “incredibly tight” and questioned why “in the latter part of September” there was still “talk about money being available for spades in the ground”.

While industry leaders were protesting that the technology for hauliers may not be ready for beta-testing until the end of November, a succession of government leaders have been pushing a narrative that it will be industry or the EU that will be to blame if there are queues in Kent.

On Tuesday, the environment secretary, George Eustice, claimed it would be down to “slipshod” EU planning even though France put the first spades in the ground for no-deal Brexit infrastructure 18 months ago.

Dover port confirmed on Tuesday that trucks without the complete paperwork for EU requirements would be turned away and not allowed on ferries, fuelling fears of queues on the British side.

Gove warned changes were coming with or without a deal.

The Cabinet Office document, reported by the Guardian prevrously, states that, in its reasonable worst-case scenario, 30-50% of trucks crossing the Channel will not be ready for the new regulations coming into force on 1 January, while a “lack of capacity to hold unready trucks at French ports” could reduce the flow of traffic across the strait to 60-80% of normal levels.

“This could lead to maximum queues of 7,000 port-bound trucks in Kent and associated maximum delays of up to two days,” the documents said..

Such delays could be in place for at least three months, hauliers have been warned, as alternative routes are sought and supply chains get to grips with the new systems and requirements.

In his letter, Gove said: “Irrespective of the outcome of negotiations between the UK and EU, traders will face new customs controls and processes. Simply put, if traders, both in the UK and EU, have not completed the right paperwork, their goods will be stopped when entering the EU and disruption will occur.

“It is essential that traders act now and get ready for new formalities.”

But sector chiefs have accused the government of failing to do enough in recent weeks over the threat of post-Brexit border delays.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA), meanwhile, said its meeting on Thursday with Gove was a “waste of time” as it did not engage with the detailed actions needed to be taken.

Responding to the worst-case scenario document, the RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett, said: “We’ve been consistently warning the government there will be delays at ports but they’re just not engaging with industry on coming up with solutions.

“Traders need 50,000 more customs intermediaries to handle the mountain of new paperwork after transition but government support to recruit and train those extra people is woefully inadequate.

“The answers to the questions that we raised in our letter to Mr Gove and subsequent roundtable meeting last Thursday still remain unanswered – and our concern continues to grow.”

Nike sportswear giant expects permanent shift to online sales

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 23rd Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

Sportswear firm Nike has seen a huge rise in online sales as it bounces back from a coronavirus slump.

The US company saw digital sales rocket 82% during the June to August quarter, offsetting falling revenue in its stores.

On Tuesday, Nike posted revenue of $10.6bn (£8.3bn) as many of its key markets recovered including China.

For its previous quarter revenues were down by more than a third as it tackled store closures and lockdowns globally.

Nike chief executive John Donahoe said the shift to online sales could be a permanent trend.

“We know that digital is the new normal. The consumer today is digitally grounded and simply will not revert back,” Mr Donahoe said.

Sales are growing in its major markets including China, Japan, South Korea and the UK, while its core North American market is declining.

Nike's shares rose more than 10% in late trading in the US, as the results were better than Wall Street had expected.

Direct selling

Nike has been using its website and shopping apps to release limited edition footwear.

The sportswear giant has been transforming itself to sell directly to customers over the past few years, reducing its store presence and retail partners.

While many gyms have been closed during the pandemic, sportswear makers have reported strong demand for more casual attire as more people work and exercise at home.

Rival Adidas said last month that it was seeing improving sales trends while yoga pants maker Lululemon posted a 157% jump in its online business.

Like many other retailers, Nike is still limiting the number of people who can come into its stores at once to try to help curb the spread of the virus.

But when people do visit, they're coming with the intent to buy, Nike said.

B&Q and Screwfix to return £23m of furlough pay after reported increase in sales and profits

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 22nd Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

Kingfisher’s shares rise as it reports increase in sales and profits during the pandemic

The DIY group behind B&Q and Screwfix has said it intends to return £23m of furlough pay to the government after sales and profits at its UK business climbed during the pandemic.

Sales rose 3.7% at Kingfisher’s UK business in the six months to 31 July – despite several weeks during which stores were closed or only partially open – as families snapped up garden decking, vegetable seeds, paint and other decorating materials to improve their homes during the national lockdown.

Retail profits in the UK rose more than 47% to £411m as the company benefited from £45m in business rates relief and cut spending on non-essential store maintenance, marketing and IT.

Thierry Garnier, the Kingfisher chief executive, said: “The crisis has prompted more people to rediscover their homes and find pleasure in making them better. It is creating new home improvement needs, as people seek new ways to use space or adjust to working from home. It’s also clear that customers are becoming more comfortable with ordering online.”

Shares jumped 9% after the update on Tuesday morning, making Kingfisher the top riser on the FTSE 100.

The group, which also owns the Castorama and Brico Dépôt DIY chains in France and home improvement stores in Poland, Romania, Russia, Spain and Portugal, said it had made £55m in total furlough claims across all its markets in the first half of the year.

It intends to pay back the £23m received in the UK unless there are any “material changes in the trading environment” and has also said it will not be claiming the £1,000 per staff member bonus for rehiring workers on the furlough scheme.

Kingfisher told shareholders it would not be paying a half-year dividend as it hoards cash to see it through potentially tougher times towards the end of the year.

Total sales for the group slid 1.1% to £5.9bn in the half year as growth in the UK, Poland and Romania was offset by continued declines in France, Russia and southern Europe. But pretax profits jumped 62.4% to £398m after cost savings, government bailouts and the cancellation of the dividend.

Online sales rose 164% to account for nearly 20% of total sales – up from 7% a year ago – as the group stepped up its plan to pick and deliver orders from stores.

Fears of a slowdown because of economic hardship caused by the pandemic are yet to be felt at the DIY group. Sales rose nearly 17% between the end of July and 19 September.

The company said availability in its stores had been affected because suppliers were struggling to keep up with “exceptional demand” for paint, decorating materials, outdoor and building materials ranges.

By Sarah Butler

Premier Inn owner Whitbread to cut 6,000 jobs

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 22nd Sept 2020) London, UK —

(Reuters) – Premier Inn owner Whitbread WTB.L plans to cut up to 6,000 jobs at its hotels and restaurants as the COVID-19 pandemic ravages the travel and hospitality industries and the British government winds down a job support scheme.

The company said on Tuesday it had begun formal consultations on the cuts, which equate to 18% of its workforce, and expected a large proportion of them to be voluntary.

“We expect demand to remain subdued in the short to medium-term and the UK Government’s furlough scheme to come to an end in October,” Whitbread said in a statement, explaining the cuts.

Its shares were down 2.9% to 2,047 pence at 0709 GMT.

Travel and leisure businesses have been among the worst hit by the pandemic, with billions of dollars in business trips and holidays cancelled.

Britain’s pubs and restaurants are also bracing for a new round of restrictions to tackle a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

The owner of the Beefeater, Brewers Fayre and Bar + Block chains, Whitbread had already said last month it would cut around 15%-20% of head office roles.

Holiday-Inn owner InterContinental Hotels IHG.L announced a 10% reduction in jobs at the corporate level last month, while Pret A Manger and PizzaExpress are among food chains to have announced layoffs.

Total sales for Whitbread’s UK and international businesses plunged 76.8% in the six months ended Aug. 27, as it closed hotels and restaurants during national lockdowns.

Since reopening, the company said its UK accommodation sales had been ahead of the market and it had seen strong demand in tourist spots, although demand had remained subdued in metropolitan areas and London.

It added its UK restaurants were boosted by the government’s Eat Out To Help Out subsidy scheme and hotel occupancy rates had recovered from March lows to average 51% in August, still far short of industry norms from before the crisis.

Whitbread, which sold its Costa Coffee chain to Coca-Cola KO.N in 2018, expects one-off costs from the layoffs to be about 12-15 million pounds.

Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru

Lockdown fears cause shares to fall sharply in travel, hotel and pubs

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 21st Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

Leading shares across Europe have fallen sharply in morning trading amid fears that a renewed rise in coronavirus cases will blight economic prospects.

In London, the benchmark FTSE 100 share index was down more than 3%, with airlines, travel firms, hotel groups and pubs leading the rout.

Worst hit was British Airways owner IAG, which slumped more than 12%.

Similar falls were seen on markets in Paris, Frankfurt and Madrid.

Banking shares were affected by an extra set of concerns as allegations of money-laundering surfaced in leaked secret files.

HSBC, the bank at the centre of the scandal, saw its share price fall more than 5% in London, but the revelations dragged down the entire sector, with Barclays, Lloyds and NatWest all dropping about the same amount.

The downward trend affected all but a handful of stocks on the UK's 100-share index. Only online delivery service Just Eat, supermarkets Tesco and Morrisons and miner Fresnillo made it into positive territory.

The FTSE 250 index, seen as a better reflection of the health of the UK economy, was down 4% by lunchtime.

One of its biggest fallers was pub and restaurant owner Mitchells & Butlers, which dropped more than 15% as concerns grow that the hospitality industry would have most to lose from a fresh lockdown.

The pound also lost ground against the dollar, falling 0.47% to $1.2863 by lunchtime. It fell marginally against the euro to €1.0910.

Why does all this matter to me?

Many people are more affected by stock market falls than they might think.

There are millions of people with a pension – either private or through work – who will see their savings (in what is known as a defined contribution pension) invested by pension schemes. The value of their savings pot is influenced by the performance of these investments.

Pension savers mostly let experts choose where to invest this money to help it grow and a proportion will be in shares.

Widespread falls in share prices are likely to be bad news for these investments, although pension investors stress these are long-term investments and are designed to ride out bouts of weakness.

Analysis: By Theo Leggett

There has certainly been an element of European unity on the markets today, with the FTSE 100 index in London, the Cac 40 in Paris, the Dax in Frankfurt and the Ibex in Madrid all suffering similar falls.

The reason behind the gloom seems pretty clear. With the number of Covid-19 cases multiplying rapidly here and in many European countries, there's a real prospect of new restrictions on daily life. In some regions – such as Madrid, for example – they're already in place.

The fear is that although these measures are unlikely to be as severe as the lockdowns in spring, they will nonetheless weigh on economic activity and could stifle the post-lockdown recovery.

Shares are down across the board, but inevitably, the companies which rely on people being able to get out and about and mingle are among the worst affected.

Airlines, tourism firms and hospitality businesses have already had a dreadful year – and investors know they can ill afford further setbacks.

‘Bitter pill'

Coronavirus cases have been surging in many European countries, as governments strive to avoid another round of national lockdowns.

In the UK, top scientists are warning that the country is at a “critical point” in the pandemic and “heading in the wrong direction”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is understood to be considering a two-week mini-lockdown in England – being referred to as a “circuit-breaker” – in an effort to stem widespread growth of the virus.

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ”The FTSE 100 is worst hit among its European peers with a storm of pessimistic news swirling, affecting sectors across the board.”

She added that concerns for the travel industry had had a “domino effect”, with aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls Royce hit, as investors saw no end to the falling demand for new planes.

At the same time, the prospect of evening coronavirus curfews, after a summer of recovering sales, was “a bitter pill to swallow” for the hospitality industry,

If you add the prospect of a no-deal Brexit into the murky mix, there is little surprise so many investors seem to have caught a severe case of the jitters today.”

£215m in furlough cash voluntarily returned by UK firms

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 21st Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

UK firms have voluntarily returned more than £215m to the government in furlough scheme payments they did not need or took in error.

According to HMRC figures, some 80,433 employers have returned cash they were given to help cover workers' salaries.

The money returned is a tiny part of the £35.4bn claimed under the scheme up until 16 August, the latest date for which statistics are available.

Officials believe £3.5bn may have been paid out in error or to fraudsters.

HMRC said it welcomed employers who have voluntarily returned grants.

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – or furlough scheme – workers placed on leave have received 80% of their pay, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

At first this was all paid for by the government, but firms are now having to make a contribution to wages as well.

As of 15 September, companies and other bodies had returned £215,756,121 in grants, according to data obtained by the PA news agency through a freedom of information request.

Some of the money was returned, while other firms simply claimed smaller payouts the next time they were given furlough cash.

HMRC said: “HMRC welcomes those employers who have voluntarily returned CJRS grants to HMRC because they no longer need the grant, or have realised they've made errors and followed our guidance on putting things right.”

The CJRS was launched in April to support businesses that could not operate, or had to cut staffing levels, during lockdown. But companies have been urged to repay the taxpayer cash they receive if they feel they can afford to do so.

Choosing to repay

Housebuilders Redrow, Barratt and Taylor Wimpey have both returned all the furlough money they have claimed. So too have Games Workshop, distribution giant Bunzl and the Spectator magazine.

Others such as Primark and John Lewis have said they will not claim money under the Jobs Retention Bonus, which pays firms £1,000 for every employee they bring back from furlough and keep employed until the end of January.

The government has rejected calls to extend the furlough scheme when it ends on 31 October, despite warnings that it could trigger a wave of job cuts.

HMRC said: “To tackle the impact the pandemic had on people's jobs, businesses and livelihoods, the government introduced one of the most generous and comprehensive packages of support in the world, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

“So far, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has helped 1.2 million employers across the UK furlough 9.6 million jobs, protecting people's livelihoods.”

US Richest Zip Code In Miami’s Exclusive Members-Only Island

Source: BI

Just three miles from Miami sits an exclusive, members-only island that's home to millionaires and celebrities. Here, residents drive around in golf carts, lounge on beaches with sand imported from the Bahamas, and easily get COVID-19 antibody tests. Business Insider tours the richest zip code in America, where condos can cost up to $40 million.

Why Eye-catching car colors are still mainly found on sports cars

Source: CNBC

A common complaint in today's automotive press, and often among buyers, is that all cars these days look the same. A few colors are trendy both in the United States and around the world, and they are, well, not colorful. Eye-catching car colors are still found on sports cars, halo vehicles, and limited editions. But they are vastly outnumbered by sober, conservative, achromatic colors. So how did these colors get popular? It has to do with practicality, human psychology, and technology.

UK retail sales increase boosted by spending on household goods and DIY -ONS

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 18th Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

British retail sales have continued to increase for the fourth consecutive month, boosted by spending on household goods and DIY, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said retail sales volumes rose by 0.8% between July and August.

Sales are now 4% higher than in February, when a pandemic was declared.

“Retail sales continued to grow, further surpassing their pre-pandemic level,” the ONS said.

“Sales of household goods thrived as the demand for home improvement continued and, despite a dip this month, online sales remained high,” said Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS.

Spending on household goods was particularly strong in August, with retailers reporting a 9.9% jump in sales of homeware products compared with the pre-pandemic levels seen in February.

But August's increase was smaller than the post-lockdown rebound seen in July, when retail sales volumes grew 3.6%.

High Street ‘under pressure'

Online sales also fell by 2.5% in August when compared with the previous month. But the strong growth in the number of customers shopping online during the pandemic has meant that sales were still 46.8% higher than in February.

Although online retailers might have seen higher numbers of clicks in recent months, many High Street stores are still struggling to attract customers after lockdown measures were eased nationally.

The volume of items sold in clothing shops, for example, still stood 15.9% below February's pre-pandemic levels in August.

“Clothing stores continued to struggle with sales still well below their February level. Overall, the switch to greater online sales means the High Street remains under pressure,” Mr Athow added.

‘Mixed bag' recovery

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “The recovery remains a mixed bag, with high growth in online sales, while city centre shops suffered as a result of low footfall.”

She added: “With further lockdowns looming, the government must provide clarity on the impact it will have for shops.

“Retailers have invested hundreds of millions making stores safe and secure for customers during the pandemic; this includes perspex screens, social distancing measures and additional hygiene measures. As such, retail remains a safe space for consumers, even under local lockdowns.”

While August saw some consumers returning to city centres to take advantage of the government's Eat Out to Help Out scheme, industry figures have suggested those areas might struggle to reach pre-pandemic levels of footfall.

Entrepreneur and ex-Dragons' Den star Theo Paphitis told the BBC's Today programme: “It's really interesting as you see the confidence in the consumer in travelling outside their house. Our business outside the metropolitan areas… is remarkably stronger than it is within.

“It's the fact that people lose the confidence to go far outside their normal area of habitat,” he said.

“It will never be the same again – I really can't see our stores ever reaching the levels in metropolitan areas that they did before, because I think the genie's out of the bottle.”

Several High Street chains also announced job cuts in August as they battled to shore up their businesses during the pandemic.

Sandwich chain Pret A Manger announced it would cut 3,000 jobs, or more than a third of its workforce, while department store chains Debenhams and M&S said they would be cutting 2,500 and 7,000 jobs.

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said that the run-up to Christmas would be crucial for retailers.

“Retailers will be hoping that the fragile recovery is not derailed by more widespread lockdowns, rising unemployment or dented consumer confidence,” she said.

P&O Cruises cancel until 2021

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 18th Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

P&O Cruises has cancelled all its sailings until early 2021, further extending the suspension of its operations because of the continued spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The British cruise line, which is owned by the Carnival group, has repeatedly put its voyages “on pause”, most recently until mid-November.

All P&O’s Caribbean cruises have now been cancelled until the end of January 2021, and all cruises from or to Southampton have been suspended until the end of February. The company had already cancelled its longer cruises, including a round-the-world voyage, which ordinarily would have departed from Southampton in January.

P&O said that evolving restrictions on travel from the UK made the further cancellations necessary. Paul Ludlow, president of P&O Cruises, said the company was monitoring the situation closely and would reintroduce cruises when feasible.

The company was working with scientists and government on new health measures for use on board when cruises resume. “We cannot wait for restrictions to ease, borders to open and for us to once again be able to set sail for a new beginning,” Ludlow added.

Customers who have bookings on cancelled cruises will be notified, and will receive a full refund or a credit worth 125% of their booking for a future cruise.

Cruising was hit hard in the early stages of the pandemic, when passengers on Carnival’s Diamond Princess were confined to their cabins after hundreds became infected with Covid-19, while other ships also became breeding grounds for the virus.

Carnival cut hundreds of jobs in the UK in May.

Earlier this week, the group reported an almost $3bn (£2.3bn) quarterly loss, as much of its global fleet remains suspended, including its other British cruise line, Cunard.

However, earlier in September Carnival restarted its first cruise in months with a seven-day voyage operated by its Italian subisdiary, Costa. Its German cruise line, Aida, is due to resume sailings in the autumn.

By Joanna Partridge

Pinewood studio blockbuster visitor attraction set to create 3,500 jobs

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Thur, 17th Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

The company said the strategy comes at a time when the need for investment in economic recovery has never been higher.

Film studio Pinewood has announced a £450m expansion, including a blockbuster visitor attraction, which it says could create around 3,500 new jobs.

The announcement, details of which were first reported by Sky News, “comes at a time when the need for investment in economic recovery has never been higher”, the company said.

Pinewood, which has played host to many instalments of the James Bond and Star Wars franchises, will open Screen Hub UK on a 77-acre site next to the existing studio.

It will include a 350,000 sq ft “film-inspired international visitor attraction” called Pinewood Studio Experience.

Pinewood group chairman Paul Golding said: “We have been looking at a visitor experience for some time and feel that now is the right moment to bring it forward.

“The project will strengthen UK film and bring much needed jobs and spending.”

Pinewood said it would start consultation on its planning application for the scheme next week.

Its new visitor attraction is likely to feature many of the most famous films made at the site during its 84-year history.

Among those at least partly shot at Pinewood during the last year have been Rocketman, Mary Poppins Returns, 1917, Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker and the 25th James Bond film, No Time To Die, which is due to be Daniel Craig's final outing as 007.

The latest instalment of the Jurassic World series is currently filming at the Buckinghamshire studio.

Pinewood's plans will deliver a huge shot in the arm to a film industry which, like many others, has been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Filming across the television and movie sectors has been postponed or cancelled during the last six months, resulting in substantial delays to film releases and in turn dealing a heavy blow to the finances of cinema chains around the world.

Other big investments in UK film production capacity include a state-of-the-art film and TV studio being developed by Sky, the immediate owner of Sky News, at Elstree.

Next clothing retailer raises profit forecast again as sales increase

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 17th Sept 2020) London, UK —

By James Davey

LONDON (Reuters) – British clothing retailer Next NXT.L raised its profit outlook for the second time in two months as it reported strong recent trading, helped by cooler weather and shoppers having more spare cash because they aren't spending on foreign holidays.

Shares in Next were 2.3% higher at 0935 GMT as it followed the positive trend set this week by H&M HMb.ST and Inditex ITX.MC, the owner of Zara, as retailers start to recover from the mass closure of shops caused by coronavirus lockdowns.

“Even in the event of another (national) lockdown it looks like the company will still make a significant profit and still reduce its year-end debt,” Next Chief Executive Simon Wolfson told Reuters.

What Next calls its central guidance now assumes a pretax profit of 300 million pounds in the year to the end of January 2021. That is up from its view in July of 195 million pounds but less than half the 729 million made in 2019-20.

Inditex, the world’s largest clothing retailer, said on Wednesday it had returned to quarterly profit in the May to July quarter and that current trade showed a progressive return to normality.

H&M on Tuesday beat quarterly profit forecasts, helped by more full-price sales and strong cost control.

SALES GROWTH TO SLOW

Next, which trades from about 500 stores in the UK and Ireland, as well as 184 overseas outlets, and its Directory online business, said full-price sales in the last seven weeks were up 4% year-on-year.

Next, which does more than half of its business online, does not expect to sustain that growth. Its central scenario assumes that sales will be down 12% for the rest of the year.

That factors in the end of the UK government’s furlough job support scheme in October, colder weather worsening the effects of the pandemic and tightened social distancing rules depressing demand for gifts and clothing associated with traditional Christmas family gatherings.

The group forecast a 462 million pound reduction in net debt for the current financial year and Wolfson said it was looking for more small acquisition opportunities thrown up by the crisis.

The impact of coronavirus was stark in the six months to the end of July, when Next reported profit of only 9 million pounds, with full price sales down 33%.

Reporting by James Davey

UK inflation fell to a five-year low by Eat Out to Help Out scheme

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

The UK's inflation rate fell sharply to a five-year low of 0.2% in August as the effect of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme pushed down restaurant prices.

July's Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation figure had been 1%.

The VAT cut in the hospitality sector from 20% to 5% was also a factor, said the Office for National Statistics.

Low inflation – the rate at which prices of everyday goods and services rise – is good for consumers and borrowers, but can be bad for savers.

That is because it affects the interest rates set by banks and other financial institutions.

The eating out scheme, which ran from Monday to Wednesday in August, offered 50% off food up to the value of £10.

Discounts for more than 100 million meals were claimed through the scheme.

Prices in restaurants and cafes were 2.6% lower than in August last year, the first time they had been negative since records began in 1989, the ONS said.

Did anything else get cheaper?

The cost of clothing and footwear also fell significantly. And in an indication of the severe effect of the pandemic on travel and tourism, air fares dropped in price as fewer people travelled abroad because of quarantine restrictions.

The ONS said this was unprecedented for August, which is usually the peak month of the holiday season.

“The cost of dining out fell significantly in August thanks to the Eat Out to Help Out scheme and VAT cut, leading to one of the largest falls in the annual inflation rate in recent years,” said ONS deputy national statistician Jonathan Athow.

“For the first time since records began, air fares fell in August as fewer people travelled abroad on holiday. Meanwhile, the usual clothing price rises seen at this time of year, as autumn ranges hit the shops, also failed to materialise.”

It was the lowest inflation rate since December 2015.

What is inflation?

Inflation is the rate at which the prices for goods and services increase.

It affects everything from mortgages to the cost of our shopping and the price of train tickets.

It's one of the key measures of financial well-being, because it affects what consumers can buy for their money. If there is inflation, money doesn't go as far.

What does this mean for the economy?

Analysis: By Faisal Islam

A five-year low in the rise in consumer prices reflects the extraordinary action taken to try to get Brits back into town centres. The fall to 0.2% is overwhelmingly the result of the impact of Eat Out to Help Out and the temporary VAT cut for the hospitality sector.

It is a statistic that reaffirms what we already know, but also reflects some freakishly temporary factors. The chancellor's restaurant subsidy scheme is already over, the VAT cuts expire in January.

Inflation is likely to remain lower than its 2% target, except in the case of a further sharp fall in the value of the pound – for example, after a disorderly end to the post-Brexit trade talks. Either way, the Bank of England has more space for extra support to the economy in the coming months, without risking a surge in inflation.

Are prices going to fall any lower?

Probably not. Before the latest figures were published, there had been fears that the UK inflation rate might turn negative, giving rise to what is known as deflation.

Economists fear deflation because falling prices lead to lower consumer spending, as shoppers put off big purchases in the expectation that they will get cheaper still.

Thomas Pugh, UK economist at Capital Economics, said August's figure was probably “the low point” for inflation, but pointed out that it was unlikely to hit the Bank of England's 2% target within the next few years.

“The big picture is that it will be a few years before the economy is strong enough to sustain CPI inflation at the 2% target,” he said.

“The big risk to this view is a no-deal Brexit, which could cause a slump in the pound and, in turn, a temporary sharp rise in inflation to above 3.5%.”

Does this put more money in my pocket?

Not necessarily. Although prices went up very little in August, a look at the figures over the past three months shows that on average, inflation has outstripped growth in pay.

Inflation is calculated by looking at a “basket” of commonly purchased goods and comparing how much they cost now with last month and with the same time last year.

During the pandemic, the ONS has been unable to identify prices for many of the 720 items it usually monitors.

In August, the ONS said prices for only eight items were still unavailable, reflecting parts of the economy still unable to operate normally including cruises, live music, theatre, swimming pools and soft play sessions.

Tui UK committed to paying outstanding refunds by October

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 16th Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

Thousands said company was not paying refunds within required 14 days, says CMA

Tui UK has committed to paying any outstanding refunds for package holidays cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic by 30 September after the regulator received a deluge of complaints that the travel company was breaching consumer law.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said thousands of people had complained that Tui UK was not paying refunds within the 14 days mandated by consumer protection law.

Tui, Europe’s biggest holiday company and the biggest tour operator in the UK, will also write to all customers who have accepted credit notes in place of a refund to give them the option of converting it into a cash refund.

Tui has committed to regularly reporting the time it has taken to make refunds to customers over the coming year. The measures apply to all of Tui’s brands, including First Choice, Marella Cruises, Crystal and Skytours.

The pandemic has caused chaos for the global travel industry and has put severe financial pressures on companies as they struggled to refund customers for holidays that were no longer possible.

Tui last month reported a loss of €2bn (£1.8bn) in the first nine months of its financial year after revenues crashed by 98% between April and June, the period of the most intense lockdown restrictions in its main markets. It is cutting 8,000 jobs and has closed 166 UK and Ireland stores to cut costs.

However, the CMA has insisted that companies must abide by consumer protection laws.

Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s chief executive, said: “It’s absolutely essential that people have trust and confidence when booking package holidays and know that if a cancellation is necessary as a result of coronavirus, businesses will give them a full, prompt refund.”

Coscelli also raised the prospect of further action against the package holiday industry as the CMA investigates its response to the Covid-19 crisis.

The regulator has written to more than 100 package holiday businesses to remind them of their obligations to comply with consumer protection law and has opened investigations into a number of operators, it said.

A Tui spokeswoman said: “We remain sorry that holiday refunds took longer to process during the height of Covid-19. The volume of cancellations and customer contacts was unprecedented and at a time when retail stores, contact centres and offices were closed because of the nationwide lockdown.”

By Jasper Jolly

Domino’s Pizza to hire an additional 5,000 staff after virus sales boost

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 15th Sept 2020) London, Uk – –

Domino's is benefiting from its takeaway business model as dine-in rivals continue to reel from the lockdown earlier this year.

Domino's Pizza says it is hiring an additional 5,000 staff following the surge in demand for takeaway meals during the coronavirus crisis.

The chain, which reported a 5% leap in sales over the first half of its financial year covering the full UK lockdown, said its ability to remain open in that time meant more people had an opportunity to join the business.

The new jobs, which include chef and delivery driver roles, are on top of 6,000 positions previously announced by Domino's during the pandemic as its franchisees continue to open more outlets.

It builds on the recent trend of services with lockdown immunity, such as supermarkets and delivery firms, taking people on at a time when the wider economy is gearing up for a jobs crisis as the government's furlough scheme winds down.

The Bank of England has forecast that three million could be out of work by the year's end, given the damage that COVID-19 has inflicted on livelihoods.

Analysis by Sky News shows hospitality to be the third worst-hit part of the economy despite the lift from the government's Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

Domino's, as a takeaway venture, was not able to take part but had previously said sales growth was not damaged by the discount offering during August because demand was boosted by staycationers.

Its fortunes are in stark contrast to those of dine-in rivals Pizza Express and Pizza Hut Restaurants which are cutting outlets as a result of the lockdown damage and collectively placing more than 1,500 jobs at risk.

In its announcement on Tuesday, Domino's said it would also create 1,000 apprenticeships under the government's Kickstart scheme aimed at helping young people find careers.

Chief executive Dominic Paul said: “Together, these over 6,000 new roles will help Domino's continue to safely
serve our local communities as we head towards the busy festive period.”

By James Sillars