Heathrow Airport urged government to reopen the UK border to fully vaccinated EU and US travellers

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 26th July 2021) London, Uk – –

The company behind the UK's largest airport says that unless the government takes immediate action to help reopen the skies across core US and European markets, the aviation industry will need further financial support.

Heathrow Airport has urged the government to reopen the UK economy to fully vaccinated travellers from the EU and US by the end of the month after revealing coronavirus crisis losses of almost £3bn to date.

The company said expensive COVID testing requirements were hampering an effective reopening of the skies, while it also reported that the UK was falling behind its EU rivals in international trade by being slow to remove restrictions.

Heathrow said fewer than four million people travelled through the hub airport during the first six months of 2021 – a level that would have been surpassed by 18 days' worth of traffic in pre-pandemic times.

It posted a loss before tax of £868m compared to a figure just above £1bn for the same period last year, as demand for international travel slumped in the face of the first lockdowns Europe-wide.

The figure took its cumulative losses to £2.9bn, Heathrow said, adding: “Recent changes to the government's traffic light system are encouraging but expensive testing requirements and travel restrictions are holding back the UK's economic recovery and could see Heathrow welcome fewer passengers in 2021 than in 2020.”

It said that cargo volumes remained 18% down on pre-pandemic levels while rivals, such as Frankfurt and Schiphol, were up by 9%.

“Britain is losing out on tourism income and trade with key economic partners like the EU and US because ministers continue to restrict travel for passengers fully vaccinated outside the UK,” the statement continued.

It said that unless the government acted, the sector must be continue to be supported through an extension of the furlough scheme beyond September and business rates relief – the latter worth almost £120m to Heathrow.

Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “The UK is emerging from the worst effects of the health pandemic, but is falling behind its EU rivals in international trade by being slow to remove restrictions.

“Replacing PCR tests with lateral flow tests and opening up to EU and US vaccinated travellers at the end of July will start to get Britain's economic recovery off the ground.”

He was speaking following a weekend in which COVID checks were blamed for long queues at Heathrow's arrivals halls on what was its busiest day of the year so far.

Significant waiting times were also reported at check-in desks and at UK airports more widely where staff shortages as a result of the so-called ‘pingdemic', that has forced personnel to self-isolate if identified as a close contact by the NHS COVID app, were blamed for waits of over two hours.

By James Sillars

Food workers exempt from quarantine rules

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 23rd July 2021) London, Uk – –

Supermarket depot workers and food manufacturers will be exempt from quarantine rules as the government tries to prevent food supply problems.

The move comes after the rising number of retail workers being forced to self-isolate began to affect the availability of some products.

The government said workers, regardless of vaccination status, could do daily Covid testing instead of isolating.

Up to 10,000 workers are expected to qualify for the scheme.

The new daily contact testing measures are beginning at 15 supermarket depots, followed by 150 depots next week, but they will not apply to supermarket store staff.

Environment Secretary George Eustice told BBC Breakfast that shop staff had been excluded from the scheme because their inclusion would have been a “really significant undertaking”.

“You're talking then thousands of different shops and many more people and we still want to maintain the test, trace and isolate system.”

However, he added that the government would keep the policy “under review, but we think this is a sensible first step”.

“We're never going to take risks with our food supply chain,” he added.

The government's move comes as supermarkets said the supply of some products was being affected by the “pingdemic” keeping staff away from work.

A record 618,903 people were told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid app between 8 and 15 July.in England and Wales.

While some retailers said they may have to close stores, they played down fears of food shortages, saying the problems were not widespread.

It will mean workers who are alerted by the app or contacted by NHS Test and Trace will be able to continue working if they test negative, whether or not they are vaccinated.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said “disruption is limited at the moment”, but it was vital that the government rolled out the scheme as fast as possible and was prepared to take further action if necessary.

Separately, the government outlined plans to allow other key industries in England to deploy daily Covid testing instead of self-isolation for a limited number of essential workers. In this case, the scheme will only apply to workers who are fully vaccinated.

This scheme covers sectors including transport, emergency services, border control, energy, digital infrastructure, waste, the water industry, essential defence outputs and local government.

The policy applies only to workers named on a list kept updated by officials – it is not a blanket exemption for all employees in a sector.

Analysis: By Faisal Islam

This intervention should alleviate genuine concerns in the food industry about supplies. Hundreds of designated sites – supermarket depots and food manufacturers – will be able to administer the tests that will enable workers to skip the need for self-isolation.

This will be the case whatever the vaccination status of the worker. It is not sector-wide and will not, for example, apply to actual supermarket stores.

But it should be enough to stop some of the sporadic shortages become a systemic issue. Shoppers should feel reassured.

More generally, the help in other sectors is limited.

The government clarified that the scheme announced earlier this week to allow named double-vaccinated workers approved by letter to avoid isolation would apply to 16 sectors, from energy to waste to medicine and essential transport.

The bar is high. The government is trying to keep the Test and Trace system intact as a second line of defence against the pandemic. It is as tricky a balancing act as it has always been.

Hannah Essex, co-executive director of the British Chambers of Commerce, said that while the announcement would be a relief to some businesses, “it will leave many more still facing critical staff shortages and lost revenue as the number of people being asked to isolate remains high”.

CBI director general Tony Danker agreed, warning: “The current approach to self-isolation is closing down the economy, rather than opening it up.”

Businesses have already exhausted contingency plans to get in extra staff and are “at risk of grinding to a halt in the next few weeks”, he added.

Phil Langslow, trading director at Cheshire-based County Milk Products, which provides dairy products to the likes of Nestle and Kellogg's, said the government move was “a step in the right direction“.

“People having to isolate meant that a number of our suppliers, the service providers that are doing the transport for us, have just said they cannot cope. Roughly half of the deliveries that we would expect to be done are not being done routinely and we're having to scramble to actually get product to its destination on time.

“If you think of the food chain as just that – as a chain, and like any chain, you're only as good as the weakest link – if you cannot get your goods to the market, then you've got a problem,” he told the BBC's Today programme.

Scotland has also launched a system of exemptions from self-isolation, covering workers in sectors such as health and social care.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said daily testing of food industry staff would “minimise the disruption caused by rising cases in the coming weeks, while ensuring workers are not put at risk”.

‘Pingdemic’ hit Iceland and Greene King in latest reported major staff absences

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 19th July 2021) London, Uk – –

Business leaders are asking the government to drop self-isolation requirements immediately for those who have been “pinged” by the COVID-19 app but have been fully vaccinated after a number of industries reported major staff absences.

Iceland supermarkets and Greene King pubs have become the latest to be affected by the so-called “pingdemic” – which is disrupting businesses as workers receive alerts telling them to self-isolate.

Greene King said it has had to close 33 pubs in the past week while Iceland's boss Richard Walker told the BBC more than 1,000 staff were off due to COVID and it has shut a number of stores.

Pub chain Wetherspoons told Sky News it had “maybe a couple of hundred” staff off and had not had to close any sites though in a few cases some had opened “a couple of hours later than normal”.

Elsewhere the AA's chief executive Jakob Pfaudler emailed customers to apologise to those who “may have had a longer wait than usual” because call centres had been “impacted by the recent surge in the Delta variant”.

The latest updates add to the picture of disruption across the economy that has been reported in the past few days from the meat processing sector to car manufacturing and transport networks.

That has prompted calls from business leaders for an immediate change to the rules so that those who have been fully vaccinated from the virus do not have to isolate.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwateng acknowledged that it was the “single biggest issue” being raised with him by company bosses but told LBC “there isn't any movement on it”.

Mr Kwarteng said there had been no change to the 16 August date for when the self-isolation requirement for those who have been double jabbed will be eased.

However, rules for frontline health and social care workers are being eased.

A spokesperson for Greene King, which runs 2,500 pubs, hotels and restaurants in the UK, said people having to self-isolate because of app alerts was “becoming an increasing problem”.

“In the last week alone we had to temporarily close 33 pubs, which is making it even more challenging to rebuild trade as we reopen and is very disruptive for our team members,” they said.

“Along with the rest of the hospitality industry we are calling on the government to roll out a ‘test to release' scheme to impacted industries allowing people to continue working if they receive a negative lateral flow test result.”

It comes after rival Young's last week said 350 of its staff were self isolating due to COVID rules.

Meanwhile, trade body UK Hospitality said about a fifth of workers in the sector were self-isolating.

Marks & Spencer chief executive Steve Rowe said at the weekend that the number of staff isolating meant the chain might have to reduce opening hours.

He warned it was a “major issue across every industry at the moment”, adding: “Our COVID cases are roughly doubling every week and the pinging level is about three to one of COVID cases, so we're seeing that growing exponentially.”

Tim Morris, the chief executive of UK Major Ports Group, said a number of big port operators had reported 10% of their staff being work.

On Saturday, disruption to transport networks from the London Underground to buses in East Yorkshire was reported.

Last week, the British Meat Processors' Association said it was also facing shortages and that if the situation deteriorated further some production lines might have to be shut down altogether.

At Britain's biggest car plant in Sunderland, hundreds of workers were off self-isolating while at the other end of the country, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars said the situation had pushed it to a “critical point” which might mean it having to halve production.

By John-Paul Ford Rojas

Tesco and John Lewis will ask customers and staff to wear face masks

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 15th July 2021) London, Uk – –

Retailers set out their policies for shops in England in run-up to end of restrictions on 19 July

Tesco and John Lewis have joined Waterstones and Sainsbury’s in recommending that customers and staff continue to wear face masks in their shops in England beyond 19 July despite an easing of mandatory safety measures relating to Covid-19.

A Tesco spokesperson said it was asking customers and staff “to be on the safe side” and “encouraging” them to wear masks. The company added that other measures such as limiting customer numbers in stores and separate entrances and exits would also continue.

In Scotland and Wales, legislation still requires shoppers and staff to wear masks, unless exempt.

A Tesco spokesperson said: “Since the start of the pandemic, we have focused on ensuring everyone can get the food they need in a safe environment. Having listened to our customers and colleagues, we will continue to have safety measures in place in our stores; these include limiting the number of people in store at any time, protective screens at every checkout, hand sanitiser stations and regular cleaning.”

John Lewis said that while it recommended wearing a face covering, “the decision over whether to do so or not, when in our shops [in England], will be for each individual to take, based on their own judgment”.

The company said it would be retaining screens in front of tills, hand-sanitising stations and store-cleaning measures put in place since the beginning of the pandemic.

From 19 July it will no longer be mandatory for people to wear masks in shops in England. However, the government has said it “expects and recommends that people continue to wear a face covering in crowded, enclosed, spaces”.

Businesses must also carry out health and safety risk assessments, provide adequate ventilation and turn away those with coronavirus symptoms.

Many companies are expected to continue with at least some of the existing measures because of their duty towards the safety of staff and because most customers say they feel safer shopping with masks and other precautions in place.

By Sarah Butler

Waterstones shoppers encouraged to wear face coverings after July 19

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 14th July 2021) London, Uk – –

Waterstones says it will encourage its customers to continue wearing face coverings in its stores after they cease to be compulsory after July 19.

It is one of the first major chains to state a firm policy on mask wearing.

Businesses are weighing up what approach to take once Covid measures become a matter for them to decide.

Some shop workers and staff are worried that abandoning masks will put their health at risk, but others have reacted with anger at Waterstones' move.

Waterstones said in a tweet: “Following the lift of restrictions on 19 July across England, we will observe new government guidance. Given our enclosed browsing environment, we encourage our customers to wear face masks and observe social distancing, respecting the safety of staff and fellow book lovers.”

The tweet has attracted a mass – and mixed – response. Many are in favour of its position.

Critical care nurse, Kimberley Anne, said: “@Waterstones ! As an ITU nurse, I am so exhausted with all these waves of Covid and I personally feel more at ease bookshopping with a mask. I am freaking out already using the tube.”

But Talk Radio presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer, said: “I make a point of buying books at my local @Waterstones rather than ordering on Amazon because I want bookstores to thrive, but if I go into your store and a member of staff asks me to wear a mask, you will lose my business forever.”

Forthright

From Monday 19 July the government has said wearing face coverings in England will be recommended but not mandatory.

Transport companies have been the most forthright in setting out their policies. London Transport said on Tuesday it would require passengers on the Tube, bus and its overground railways to wear masks.

Airlines including BA and Ryanair have already confirmed face masks will still be compulsory after 19 July.

But most retailers have taken a more cautious approach, and many, including leading supermarkets, have not yet said anything concrete.

Timpsons shoe repair and key cutting chain, which has more than 2,000 shops, is leaving mask wearing as a matter of personal choice for customers.

Its boss said: “I don't think the way it's going we've got any right, we shouldn't expect them to do so, that's entirely up to the customer.”

But he said his staff would be asked to wear masks.

Jewellery retailer Beaverbrooks is going further. It told the BBC it would keep all of its current safety measures in place, including welcome barriers, hand sanitisation stations and serving screens.

It said staff would still be wearing visors or masks. But it added that although it could not force customers to wear masks, it would prefer them to continue to wear masks in its stores.

‘Violence and abuse'

Aside from Sainsburys, which said last week that mask wearing will be a matter of personal choice for customers, leading supermarkets have not so far publicly stated their approach. Morrisons says it is waiting for further guidance from the government.

Some shoppers are uncomfortable with anything other than a clear safety policy. Commenting on Waterstones' move, Denys Whitley tweeted: “‘Encourage' is not strong enough. Mask-wearing must be mandatory. Non-masked are not respecting the safety of staff or fellow book-lovers… With this policy, I'll be sticking to the pathetic selection on Amazon.”

Shop workers union Usdaw had previously urged the government not to lift Covid safety measures in shops.

According to a recent survey, it found violence, verbal abuse or threats of violence towards shopworkers had increased from between 25-50%, with face coverings the trigger for 15% of the incidents.

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary, said: “Shopworkers already face violence and abuse when enforcing these measures and we are concerned that, when restrictions no longer have the force of the law behind them, this could result in further abuse, threats and violence towards retail workers.”

UK travellers to Portugal must quarantine from today

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 28th June 2021) London, Uk – –

The new rules come into effect on Monday and will last until at least 11 July, the Portuguese government says.

British travellers to Portugal who are not fully vaccinated against coronavirus must quarantine for 14 days on arrival from today.

Anyone travelling to mainland Portugal by air, land or sea, will have to prove they have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine at least two weeks ago, or have to isolate.

The new rules, introduced by the Portuguese government, come into effect on Monday and will last until at least 11 July.

They state that quarantine can be “at home or a place indicated by health authorities”.

Portugal is currently on the UK government's amber travel list, which means passengers also have to isolate for 10 days when they arrive back in Britain.

It was taken off the green list, which doesn't require passengers to quarantine, last month over concerns about a rise in cases.

Germany is also trying to get the European Union to ban all travellers from the UK – regardless of whether they have had a coronavirus vaccine or not – according to The Times.

Angela Merkel wants the EU to classify the UK as a “country of concern” due to high rates of the Delta variant that first emerged in India.

The chancellor wants other member states to follow Germany's example by demanding all UK arrivals isolate for 14 days – whether they are jabbed or not.

French President Emmanuel Macron has said he will support mandatory 14-day quarantine for all unvaccinated passengers, the newspaper reports.

Currently, people who are not fully vaccinated are only allowed to travel from the UK to France if they can prove it is essential.

They have to prove they have tested negative for the virus and isolate for seven days on arrival.

Those who are fully vaccinated against COVID do not need to quarantine, but must prove their vaccination status.

Ms Merkel's proposals will be discussed by senior EU officials in the coming days.

But the prospect of a summer washout for holiday firms hit UK-listed travel shares with the parent firm of British Airways falling more than 4%.

TUI, easyJet and Ryanair were also among the fallers.

However, countries such as Spain, Greece, Malta, Cyprus and Portugal, who rely heavily on UK tourists, are expected to resist calls for tougher rules..

Portugal's new restrictions only apply to those who have not been double jabbed.

Malta will move to the UK's green list at 4am on 30 June, but passengers will stay have to isolate on arrival under local rules. Another update on the UK government's travel list is due early next month.

TV ban on pre-9pm junk food adverts to be Introduced by UK Government

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 24th June 2021) London, Uk – –

Online restrictions also toughened for marketing foods high in fat, salt and sugar but ad industry brands move ‘draconian’

The government has confirmed it is to introduce a pre-9pm ban on junk food advertising on TV and tighten restrictions online, as reported by the Guardian on Wednesday.

The new restrictions, which come into force from the end of next year, have been branded as “draconian” by the advertising industry.

The rules, which will ban the advertising of products deemed to be high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS), will not apply to marketing by smaller companies of less than 250 employees.

“We are committed to improving the health of our children and tackling obesity,” said Jo Churchill, public health minister.

“The content youngsters see can have an impact on the choices they make and the habits they form. With children spending more time online, it is vital we act to protect them from unhealthy advertising.”

Some foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt that are not viewed as traditional “junk food” – such as honey, Marmite and avocados – will still be allowed to feature in advertising.

The tightening of restrictions online mean that paid-for ads on sites including Facebook and Google by big brands will also be banned. However, companies will be able to show marketing on their own websites and social media accounts.

Ryanair accuses PM of mismanaging the reopening of the skies to allow hassle-free holidays

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 16th June 2021) London, Uk – –

Chief executive Michael O'Leary accuses the PM of mismanaging the reopening of the skies to allow hassle-free holidays.

Ryanair has hit out at the UK government's traffic light system for global travel, describing the meagre green list of destinations as a “red list shambles”.

The airline, Europe's largest carrier, spoke up amid growing industry anger that holidays abroad are being discouraged at a time when COVID-19 vaccine rates should, they argue, be prompting a reopening of the skies.

They accuse the government of taking a harsh approach compared to many destinations in the EU, though ministers say the caution is justified given the surge in the Delta variant strain.

The removal of Portugal from the UK's green list earlier this month means people returning from every major viable tourist nation must self-isolate.

All travellers returning from amber locations must take a pre-departure coronavirus test, two post-arrival PCR tests costing around £100, and self-isolate for 10 days.

EasyJet revealed on Tuesday that it had moved aircraft from the UK to Germany in response to the countries'
differing approaches to coronavirus travel restrictions.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary called for a pragmatic approach in a bid to help the sector get back on its feet after unprecedented losses and damage inflicted on the wider economy.

He said: “The UK's COVID travel policy is a shambles.

“The green list is non-existent because countries such as Malta and Portugal, with lower COVID case numbers than the UK and rapidly rising vaccination rates, remain on amber.

“Meanwhile, UK citizens, almost 80% of whom will be vaccinated by the end of June, continue to face COVID restrictions on travel to and from the European Union, despite the fact that the majority of the European Union citizens will also be vaccinated by the end of June.”

He said a vaccine-driven approach would “at least allow the UK tourism industry to plan for what is left of the summer season and get hundreds of thousands of people back to work.

“It is time for Boris Johnson to end his gross mismanagement of COVID and the recovery from COVID, and take advantage of the UK's successful vaccine programme,” he added.

Retailers face ‘tsunami of closures’ over unpaid rent from landlords

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 31st May 2021) London, Uk – –

Two-thirds of big retailers expect to face legal action from their landlords when a suspension of aggressive debt collection ends in June, a survey says.

Many shops have been shut for long periods in lockdown, accruing £2.9bn in rental arrears, the British Retail Consortium said.

The BRC said a rush to collect could lead to a “tsunami of closures” and urged the government to act.

The government said it is considering how it can help firms with rent issues.

The government introduced a code of practice last year to address the outstanding debt issues. It also put curbs on aggressive debt collection practices until 30 June.

But of the 24 major retailers surveyed – who account for more than 5,000 UK stores – two-thirds described the code as “ineffective” because it was voluntary.

A similar proportion said they faced legal action against at least one of their stores when the suspension ends.

Furthermore, 80% of tenants said some landlords have given them less than a year to pay back rent arrears accrued during the pandemic.

BRC boss Helen Dickinson said: “Many retailers have taken a battering over the pandemic, but they are now getting back on their feet and playing their part in reinvigorating the economy.

“The unpaid rents accrued during the pandemic… are a £2.9bn ball and chain that hold back growth and investment and could result in a tsunami of closures.

“Government must ringfence the rent debts built up during the pandemic, giving retailers breathing space as they wait for footfall and cash flows to return.

“With this in place, all parties can work on a sustainable long-term solution, one that shares the pain wrought by the pandemic more equally between landlords and tenants.”

Already, one in seven shops lie empty, with this number expected to rise, BRC research suggests.

But the British Property Federation, which represents commercial landlords, played down the findings saying most landlords and tenants had already reached agreements on rent.

In April the government launched a “call for evidence” to help monitor the progress of negotiations between tenants and landlords.

It also sought views on steps it could take after 30 June, ranging from a phased withdrawal of current protections to legislative options targeted at businesses most impacted by Covid.

A business department spokesman said: “The government is considering responses to a call for evidence on commercial rents and how to best to support businesses; an announcement on next steps will be made in due course.”

Holidaymakers giving up on getaways this summer due to ‘lack of clarity’ on rules, says travel firm TUI

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 12 th May 2021) London, Uk – –

The travel giant said booking numbers fell with customers “choosing to defer to future seasons” – but remained bullish overall.

Holidaymakers have been giving up on getaways this summer thanks to a “lack of clarity” on the easing of travel restrictions, latest trading figures from TUI suggest.

The German-based travel giant said 2.6 million customers were booked for its peak season, down from 2.8 million reported in February – with some putting off their holidays into the future.

Summer 2021 booking levels were 69% lower than those seen at the same point ahead of summer 2019, before the pandemic struck.Which nations are on the green travel list?

TUI said the “small reduction” since earlier this year reflected “customers choosing to defer their booking to future seasons due to the lack of clarity provided by governments on lifting of travel restrictions”.

But the company also said that there had been a “clearly evident” pick-up in demand in recent weeks, with new bookings doubling since April on signs of a restart in tourism.

UK plans published last week showed 12 countries would be on a “green list” when rules start to ease on 17 May – meaning those returning from them do not have to quarantine.

But while Portugal was included, other typical mass tourism destinations for British holidaymakers such as Spain, Italy and France were left out.

Chief executive Fritz Joussen told Sky's Ian King Live that it was “amazing how cautious” the UK had been given the success of its vaccine programmes and suggested places such as Mallorca and the Greek islands should have been on the list.

The TUI figures also pointed to pent-up demand ready to be unleashed this winter, with UK bookings up 17% on pre-pandemic levels, and summer next year – with an increase of 293%.

They came as TUI reported a pre-tax loss of €1.54bn for the six months to the end of March, compared with a loss of €849m a year earlier.

Revenues of €716m were down 89% with travel restrictions imposed across the company's key European markets for the majority of the period.

TUI said it was planning for capacity this summer at three-quarters of 2019 levels, with it reopening focusing on destinations such as Greece, the Balearics and the Canaries “with anticipated good vaccinations rates and low infection rates”.

Chief executive Fritz Joussen said: “The prospects for early summer 2021 make me optimistic for tourism and for TUI.

“They are significantly better than in the first pandemic year, 2020.”

TUI's shares – which have climbed by more than 40% since the start of the year – fell nearly 3% on the latest update.

By John-Paul Ford Rojas

Price for International travel set to rise this summer, warns travel boss

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 7th May 2021) London, Uk – –

Prices for international travel are set to rise this year due to pent-up demand and fewer aeroplanes in service, a travel boss has warned.

Booking.com's chief executive Glenn Fogel told the BBC that holiday “prices are already going up”.

Many airlines have significantly reduced the number of flights they operate due to travel restrictions.

However, Tui's UK boss Andrew Flintham said it would be “a long time” before holiday firms try to boost profits.

‘Pent-up demand'

Mr Fogel said that despite huge demand, uncertainty makes it hard for airlines to plan bringing more planes back into service.

“There's so much pent-up demand,” said Mr Fogel. “Everybody wants to go travelling, but we all want to do it safely.”

John Grant, an aviation analyst with global travel data provider OAG said this will have a knock-on impact on air fares as travel restrictions are eased.

“That will, in the short term, create a rush of pent-up demand and revenge spending,” he said.

“In turn, the airline algorithms will detect an uptick in demand and move prices up accordingly”.

The government will shortly announce which foreign destinations holidaymakers from England can visit from 17 May without needing to quarantine on their return.

Air fares to Portugal – which is expected to be on the green list – have already started to rise as airlines respond to higher demand.

According to PA, British Airways is charging £530 for a flight from Heathrow to the Algarve on 17 May, compared with £276 two days earlier.

A Ryanair flight from Stansted to Lisbon costs £262 on 19 May, PA found, more than double the price of £128 on 14 May.

But Tui's managing director for the UK and Ireland, Andrew Flintham, told BBC Breakfast said travel firms were unlikely to push up prices anytime soon.

“Our prices are very, very stable. They're pretty much like for like, flat, year over year. There isn't a big increase in there.

“We've got plenty of holidays to sell. I think everybody in the industry has.

“It'll be a long time before the idea of trying to increase prices to make more money. We want to get people away on holiday, having a great time, because we think they genuinely all deserve it.”

Confusing systems

A lack of clarity about how governments will go about recognising vaccine and testing statuses from other countries is troubling the travel industry, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Fogel believes a single system would be helpful: “So many different people in so many different governments are talking about different programmes, but right now, there is nothing out there that is unified, so it's very confusing.

“I listened to the prime minister of Italy saying how they want to let people into Italy soon and you just have to prove that you have a vaccine and it'd be great.

“And my thinking is, well, I have my vaccine myself, but how do I prove it? Do I just bring my little white card that I got in the US that said I got it, is that going to be good enough? We need some clarifications.”

Several systems are being explored, including the International Air Transport Association (IATA)'s travel pass, which is being trialled by a number of airlines.

Meanwhile, the European Union is working on having a digital pass ready in time for the summer holidays.

Split society?

The idea of a scheme that allows passengers who have had the vaccine to travel has proved divisive.

The UK equality watchdog recently warned it could create a “two-tier society, whereby only certain groups are able to fully enjoy their rights”.

That's a view supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) but Mr Fogel disagrees.

“It's true that if you're not vaccinated, you may not be able to enter a country under this type of a system,” he said.

“But I'm okay with that. Because the alternative is what – nobody gets to go in? That doesn't make a lot of sense to me.”

He added that there are countries that people cannot go into if they don't have proof of vaccination against yellow fever, for example.

“There's nothing wrong with using technology to prove you are a safe traveller that can help get the industry up faster,” said Mr Fogel.

Financial pain

The lack of clarity has hurt the finances of Booking.com's US owner Booking Holdings, which also owns Kayak and rentalcars.com.

Revenues for the three months to the end of March fell to $1.1bn (£790m) – 50% lower than the same period a year ago.

Figures from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) reflect a similar picture across the industry, showing tourism's value to the global economy fell from nearly $9.2tn in 2019 to $4.7tn in 2020.

As a share of the global economy that equates to a fall from 10.4% to just 5.5%.

But Mr Fogel, who is chief executive of both the Dutch-based Booking.com and its parent firm Booking Holdings, told investors that there is still reason to be optimistic things will improve.

“While the pace of vaccine distribution remains frustratingly slow in most places around the world, Israel, the UK and the US are benefiting from successful vaccine distribution programs,” he said.

“In each of these countries, we have seen encouraging booking trends, which supports our view that vaccine distribution is key to unlocking pent-up travel demand.”

By Jonathan Josephs


KPMG UK staff to work in offices up to four days a fortnight from June

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 6th May 2021) London, UK —

Accounting firm KPMG told its on Wednesday that they will work in the office for up to four days in a fortnight starting next month under a hybrid working model drawn up after the recent decline in COVID-19 cases in the country.

“As part of the firm's new hybrid way of working, from June onwards, the expectation will be that KPMG's people spend up to four days in the office spread over a fortnight, with the rest spent at home or at client sites,” KPMG spokeswoman Zoe Sheppard said in an emailed statement.

KPMG UK head Bill Michael resigned in February after reports that he told staff to “stop moaning” about the impact of COVID-19 on their lives. He was replaced by Jon Holt. 

Sheppard said the hybrid plan was drawn up incorporating feedback from staff.

On Tuesday, Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) asked U.S.-based employees to return to working in the office by mid-June and in the United Kingdom to return by mid-July.

JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) said last week it was targeting U.S. workers' return to office on a rotational basis from July.

Some 36% of employees in Britain did at least some work from home last year as the coronavirus outbreak closed many workplaces, a jump from around 26% in 2019, the country's statistics office said in April.

By Kanishka Singh

British Airways-owner IAG to power 10% of its flights with sustainable aviation fuel by 2030

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur 22nd April 2021) London, UK —

British Airways-owner International Airlines Group (ICAG.L) committed to powering 10% of its flights with sustainable aviation fuel by 2030, seeking to make progress towards its longer term goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The group's pledge comes on the same day as a U.S.-led climate change summit hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden, aimed at securing commitments from governments on cutting carbon emissions. 

IAG said on Thursday that it plans to purchase one million tonnes of sustainable jet fuel each year by 2030, which will be the equivalent of removing one million cars from Europe's roads each year.

The sustainable fuel generally produces up to 70% less carbon than fossil fuels, offering airlines a way to become greener while continuing to fly, before less carbon-intensive hybrid, electric or hydrogen aeroplane options become available from the late 2030s.

IAG, an Anglo-Spanish company, is headquartered in Britain, which has one of the world's most ambitious climate change targets, aiming to cut carbon emissions by 78% by 2035.

Due to the pandemic, flying is currently at very low levels, but at the same time, pressure is growing on carriers to cut emissions.

“It’s clearly challenging to transition to a low carbon business model but, despite the current pandemic, we remain resolute in our climate commitments,” IAG chief executive Luis Gallego said in a statement.

Airlines hope that by reducing their carbon footprints, they can win back passengers who, due to COVID-19, have realised they do not need to fly as much.

Gallego said that government support would be critical to helping attract investment to get sustainable aviation fuel plants up and running and producing sufficient volumes for the future.

IAG plans to invest $400 million in developing sustainable aviation fuel over the next 20 years, including building a household waste to sustainable jet fuel plant in the UK.

PureGym racked up millions of workouts post-lockdown as sites reopen

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 21st April 2021) London, Uk – –

Fitness fans took part in millions of workouts in the week after lockdown restrictions eased in England.

The chain PureGym said that more than one million workouts took place across the 240 sites that had reopened.

David Lloyd Leisure also told the BBC that footfall in its clubs in England had been “extremely positive”.

But the boss of trade body UK Active warned that its members had suffered huge losses in lockdown and called for government support.

On Tuesday, PureGym revealed an “awful” 92% crash in annual profits to £11m due to Covid lockdowns.

Revenues slumped by nearly 40% as its UK gyms were shut for half of the year's trading days.

But the discount gym chain said tens of thousands of new members have joined since restrictions eased in England.

Its chief executive Humphrey Cobbold said: “Whilst the financial trading performance was frankly awful, that was out of our hands.”

He added: “We are more than satisfied with the recent reopening in England, which included 10 brand new sites.

“Member response and new joiners support our view that underlying demand for gyms is strong.”

Mr Cobbold told the BBC in February that it was burning about £500,000 a day on average over eight months of closure.

PureGym has since reopened gyms in 240 locations in England and 40 in Switzerland as restrictions have begun lifting. Those in Scotland are set to reopen in April, with Wales and Northern Ireland due to follow in May.

David Lloyd Leisure clubs told the BBC that footfall had been “extremely positive” across its gyms, pools and outdoors exercise classes in England since 12 April.

A spokeswoman said there was a “strong indication that members are committed to getting back to their fitness routines”.

“Feedback from those who have returned has been incredibly positive, not just for the facilities operating in a Covid-secure manner, but also the chance to reconnect”.

Huw Edwards, chief executive of industry body UK Active, said: “It's great to see so many people returning to their local gyms, pools and leisure centres, which proves how essential these facilities are to our communities and how greatly they've been missed.

“However, our members suffered huge losses during lockdown and were closed during their busiest months, so thousands of facilities still require greater financial and regulatory support in order to recover.”

He pointed out that about 400 sites across the UK had been forced to close permanently because of the pandemic, while others may suffer if their business model relies on indoor classes, which are not permitted until 17 May in England.

“Now is the time for the government to support our sector for our future health and wellbeing,” he said.

Heathrow says airport Covid checks are becoming ‘untenable’

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 14th April 2021) London, Uk – –

Heathrow has said that long queues caused by extensive Covid checks at the airport are becoming “untenable”.

Chris Garton, chief solutions officer at Heathrow, told MPs on the transport committee that some travellers faced waits of up to six hours.

On more than one occasion police had had to intervene because queuing was “not something passengers want to do”, he added.

Foreign travel is only permitted for certain reasons at the moment.

Mr Garton said that all passengers, regardless of nationality, had to be thoroughly vetted before they left or entered the UK to ensure they complied with coronavirus legislation.

However, he said that the queues would become a “much bigger” problem if rules on foreign travel are relaxed on 17 May, as the government is planning.

Currently, he said about 10-15,000 people arrive at the airport each day, and “certainly more than half are having delays in excess of 2-3 hours each day”.

He said the current system is a “tremendous burden on officers at the border” and that the Home Office had not provided enough officers.

“We would like to see more resources at the border,” he told the MPs.

He said maintaining social distancing was hard as the airport was never built to “have so many people held up” in queues.

The BBC has contacted the Home Office for comment.

People in England can start thinking about booking foreign holidays again this summer, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said last week.

But he said the cost of the Covid tests required needed to be driven down, amid criticism from the travel industry.

Mr Shapps has gave more detail on the traffic light system which will see countries graded on their risk.

Passengers will have to take the tests before leaving and on returning – even from low-risk “green” countries.

By Simon Browning

Covid lockdown eases as pubs gardens, shops and hairdressers reopen in England

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 12th April 2021) London, Uk – –

For the first time in months pub gardens, shops and hairdressers are reopening in England, as rules are also eased in the rest of the UK.

Some pubs and salons opened at midnight, with one landlord saying there was a “sense of celebration”, and shoppers queued outside Primark stores.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged everyone to “behave responsibly”.

Northern Ireland's “stay-at-home” order is ending and some rules are also being relaxed in Scotland and Wales.

The PM had planned to have a celebratory pint to mark the measures easing, but that has been postponed following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh on Friday.

Nicholas Hair, landlord and owner of the Kentish Belle pub in Bexleyheath, south-east London, said there was a “sense of celebration” in the early hours of Monday as it opened to midnight pubgoers.

“I'm hoping that this is a sort of rebirth, and that we are reopen for the foreseeable,” he said.

But the British Beer and Pub Association has estimated that only 40% of licensed premises have the space to reopen for outdoor service.

Marika Smith, general manager of Hough End Leisure Centre, Withington, Manchester, says she “has not slept the last two nights” in anticipation of reopening.

“All of the swimming is fully booked, you can't get on any, and the same for the busy parts of this evening, 6-7 o'clock is fully booked,” she said.

Another business that reopened at midnight in England was Secret Spa, which offers at-home salon and spa treatments in London, Manchester and Brighton.

Co-owner Emily Ewart-Perks said it had “been such a long time coming”, saying: “Everyone has really missed the social contact of the day-to-day job and making clients happy.”

She said they have experienced a “surge of bookings”, including “a lot of 6am haircuts”.

PureGym at Coventry Skydome reported more than 50 members using its gym in the opening 30 minutes on Monday morning.

The rule changes in England from Monday include:

  • All shops can reopen
  • Hairdressers, beauty salons and other close-contact services can open
  • Restaurants and pubs are allowed to serve food and alcohol to customers sitting outdoors
  • Gyms, spas, zoos, theme parks, libraries and community centres can all open
  • Members of the same household can take a holiday in England in self-contained accommodation
  • Non-essential journeys between England and Wales are allowed
  • Up to 15 people can attend weddings and 30 can attend funerals
  • Children can attend any indoor children's activity
  • Care home visitors will increase to two per resident
  • Driving lessons can resume, with tests restarting on 22 April

In Northern Ireland, the remaining school year groups 8-11 will return to the classroom. The stay-at-home message is being relaxed and up to 10 people from two households can meet in a private garden.

  • Shoppers told ‘stay safe' as Welsh stores reopen
  • ‘Everyone's raring to get back to the gym'

In Scotland, pupils at schools in six council areas go back to school today. Not everyone is returning on Monday because differing term times mean some schools are still closed for the Easter holidays.

After a drop in Covid cases prompted the Welsh Government to bring forward some dates for reopening, all students will return to face-to-face teaching on Monday.

Non-essential shops can also reopen, close-contact services can resume, driving lessons can restart and travel in and out of Wales from the rest of the UK is allowed.

Analysis: By Simon Jack

Shoppers, gym fans, domestic holiday makers, outdoor drinkers and diners, plus those in need of a haircut will share the government's hope that today is an irreversible step towards old and cherished freedoms.

So will the business owners who will be welcoming them back.

But this significant easing of lockdown is also an important test.

Will customers want or be able to return in sufficient numbers for firms to break even and if they don't, what will it take to make the economy work again?

Only two in five hospitality venues have any outdoor space and the rules over future inside opening are still unclear.

The government and the opposition have distanced themselves from requiring Covid certificates for day-to-day life but the government has also hinted individual businesses may require them if they wish.

Hospitality chiefs have told the BBC they fear having to choose between two different ways to lose money – half empty venues without certificates or full ones with extra staff and hassle to check Covid status.

Demand may vary by sector.

Hairdressers are booked solid, retailers are hopeful of high footfall and are welcoming longer opening hours but some holiday parks are reporting subdued bookings as many of their public amenities remain closed.

It is a test for everyone – but a welcome one for most.

In a statement, the prime minister said the rule relaxations are “a major step forward in our roadmap to freedom”.

“I'm sure it will be a huge relief for those business owners who have been closed for so long, and for everyone else it's a chance to get back to doing some of the things we love and have missed,” he added.

“I urge everyone to continue to behave responsibly and remember ‘hands, face, space and fresh air' to suppress Covid as we push on with our vaccination programme.”

The rule changes in England marks the third easing since the country's third national lockdown began on 6 January.

There is a gap of at least five weeks between each step on the government's “roadmap” out of lockdown, to allow the impact of changes on infection rates and hospital admissions to be assessed.

  • Pupils begin full time return to secondary schools
  • NI's ‘stay home' order lifted as restrictions ease
  • Shoppers told ‘stay safe' as Welsh stores reopen

The next significant date is 17 May, when up to six people from different households could be allowed to socialise indoors.

Will cases now rise?

By BBC health correspondent Anna Collinson

As restrictions are eased, infections are expected to rise.

The government argues that the UK is in a strong position – with almost 40 million combined first and second vaccine doses now administered.

It doesn't view the reopening of non-essential shops and beer gardens as particularly risky – as long as people stick to the rules.

However, there are some scientists who fear today's relaxation has come too soon and they are concerned about virus hotspots in the East Midlands and parts of Yorkshire.

There are strict criteria that must be met before moving to the next stage of easing lockdown restrictions, including the continued success of the vaccine rollout and protecting the NHS from being overwhelmed with cases.

The next stage will be the planned return of indoor mixing and foreign travel on 17 May at the earliest – and it's these steps that are expected to pose the greater risk.

More than 32 million people in the UK have now had their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine and of those 7.4m have had their second dose.

A record total of 475,230 second doses were administered on Saturday – along with 111,109 first doses.

Mr Johnson praised the “record-breaking day” on Twitter, writing: “Thanks to everyone involved in this extraordinary effort which has already saved thousands of lives.”

The number of people dying in the UK within 28 days of a positive Covid test continues to fall steadily, with seven further deaths reported on Sunday.

That is the lowest daily death toll by this measure since 14 September 2020. However, there can be a lag in reporting coronavirus statistics during weekends.

Grant Shapps transport secretary: People can now think about booking foreign holidays

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 9th Apr 2021) London, Uk – –

The change in advice came as the government unveiled plans for a traffic light system to allow overseas leisure trips to resume.

People can “start to think” about booking foreign summer holidays, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has told Sky News.

The cabinet minister issued the change in advice, as the government unveiled plans for a traffic light system to allow overseas leisure trips to resume.

It comes just days after Downing Street published an official document that urged people “not to book summer holidays abroad until the picture is clearer”.

However, the government has refused to confirm whether foreign holidays will be permitted from 17 May – and where Britons will be able to travel without self-isolating on their return.

Mr Shapps also insisted he is trying to make foreign travel as affordable as possible amid criticism that a coronavirus testing requirement will drive up holiday costs

The traffic light “framework” includes making all UK arrivals take pre-departure and post-arrival COVID-19 tests.

Post-arrival tests must be the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) type which cost about £120, he said.

This has led to a backlash from the travel industry which has warned foreign holidays this year would be “just something for the wealthy”.

The sector wants travellers returning from low-risk countries to be allowed to take lateral flow tests, which are cheaper and quicker.

UK budget holiday airline Jet2 has suspended flights and holidays until late June due to uncertainty over government travel plans.

Asked on Sky News if people could start to book foreign holidays now, Mr Shapps said: “I'm not telling people that they shouldn't book summer holidays now, it's the first time that I've been able to say that for many months.”

He added: “For the first time people can start to think about visiting loved ones abroad or perhaps a summer holiday but we are doing it very, very cautiously as we don't want to see any return of coronavirus in this country.”

Mr Shapps said he was looking to “make it as affordable as possible to travel” and “drive down the costs” of tests.

He said: “Costs are definitely a concern. It is one of the factors this year. We have to accept we are still going through a global pandemic.

“We do have to be cautious and I am afraid that does involve having to have some tests and the like.

“But, I am undertaking today to drive down the costs of those tests and looking at some innovative things we could do.

“For example, whether we can help provide the lateral flow tests people need to take before they depart the country they are in to return to the UK and also drive down the costs of the tests when they get home if it is in the green category.

“We are trying to make it as practical as possible.”

Tim Alderslade, the chief executive of Airlines UK, said the framework “does not represent a reopening of travel as promised by ministers”.

He added: “The insistence on expensive and unnecessary PCR testing rather than rapid testing – even for low-risk countries – will pose an unsustainable burden on passengers, making travel unviable and unaffordable for many people.”Twice-weekly tests now available for free in England

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said the plan was “a blow to all travellers” and risked “making flying only for the wealthy”.

He added: “As the rest of British society and the economy opens up, it makes no sense to treat travel, particularly to low-risk countries, differently.”

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye told Sky News' Ian King Live programme: “The main concern is about the cost of all of this testing, particularly for people who are looking to go on a family holiday or for small businesses, who are on a very tight budget.

“The cost of all these PCR tests could be enormous.

“The government risks shooting itself in the foot here. I think the prime minister needs to deliver on his commitment to make testing cheap and easy.”

Mark Tanzer, boss of travel trade organisation ABTA, said permitting the use of lateral flow tests would “make international travel more accessible and affordable whilst still providing an effective mitigation against reimportation of the virus”.

It has also been revealed the Civil Aviation Authority will be given additional enforcement powers to act on airlines that breach consumer rights, after many passengers struggled to obtain refunds when flights were grounded.

Goldman Sachs prepares staff to return to London office after Easter break

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 6th Apr, 2021) London, Uk – –

Investment bank could see 200 of its 6,000 London workers back in the office after Easter break

Goldman Sachs is preparing for hundreds more staff to go back to its London office this week as it eyes a return to pre-pandemic working conditions.

As many as 200 of the US investment bank’s workers could return to the main London office from Tuesday, joining several hundred staff who have been at their desks throughout several lockdowns. Goldman Sachs employs about 6,000 workers in London overall.

Bankers were classed as key workers if their jobs support the functioning of the economy and financial stability, meaning some have been allowed to work in the office throughout the pandemic.

At Goldman’s London office, between 200 and 300 workers such as financial traders have been travelling into work during the lockdowns because of their need to use specialised computer equipment.

Other banks are looking at similar plans. A small number of staff are expected to start returning to Credit Suisse from Monday 12 April, for example, although the return will be staggered.

The rapid pace of the UK’s vaccination programme and the easing of rules on travel have meant that some companies have considered plans to bring workers back to offices that have been vacated for a large part of the last year.

The government eased some lockdown restrictions on 29 March, although its official guidance remains that people should work from home where possible and minimise the number of journeys made.

Views on the future of work after pandemic restrictions ease appear to differ even within the banking sector. HSBC, the UK’s biggest bank, has said it will cut its property footprint by as much as 40% in the long term, and Lloyds Banking Group, the bank with the biggest UK high street presence, has said it will bring in working from home as a permanent lifestyle change, allowing it to cut 20% of its office space.

However, Goldman’s chief executive, David Solomon, has described working from home as an “aberration” that must be rectified “as soon as possible”.

Goldman’s working conditions have come under scrutiny during the pandemic after junior US analysts compiled a report in which they claimed they were subjected to 100-hour working weeks. After the report was leaked Goldman acknowledged that some people might be quite “stretched” by working from home, in part because the bank has enjoyed record trading volumes during the pandemic.

Based on the experience of England’s previous easing of lockdown rules it is thought that Goldman could accommodate about 1,000 workers in its London office while still observing social distancing rules, which are expected to remain in place in some form until at least 21 June.

Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

By Jasper Jolly

Wetherspoons Tim Martin demand end to “mayhem” of lockdowns and tier restrictions

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 19th March 2021) London, Uk – –

Mr Martin said “sensible policies” were needed to help the devastated hospitality sector recover from restrictions.

Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin has demanded an end to the “mayhem” of lockdowns and tier restrictions as the pub chain slumped to a £68m half-year loss.

The company reported a 54% fall in revenues to £431m for the six months to 24 January as COVID measures left pubs closed for much of the period.

Mr Martin, the pub group's chairman and an outspoken critic of the government's COVID-19 measures, called for “sensible policies” to help the hospitality sector recover.

He said companies had “made strenuous efforts” to comply with capacity, social distancing and hygiene regulations and that there had been “very few outbreaks of the virus in pubs”.

Wetherspoons' results included “exceptional” one-off cash charges of £7.5m to cover items such as placing pub screens between tables as well as topping up wages for furloughed workers – whose pay is being 80% subsidised by the government.

Mr Martin said it “remains to be seen” if ministers would stick to the roadmap for reopening, under which pubs and restaurants may serve customers outside from 12 April and indoors from 17 May.

He claimed that “knee-jerk reaction to the latest news… seems to have been the main generator of policy and regulations” thus far.

“The future of the industry, and of the UK economy, depends on a consistent set of sensible policies, and the ending of lockdowns and tier systems, which have created economic and social mayhem and colossal debts, with no apparent health benefits,” he said.

Wetherspoons, which runs 870 pubs in the UK, has previously announced that it will open patios, beer gardens and rooftop gardens at 394 pubs in England from 12 April.

Last autumn it reported its first annual loss in 36 years as the pandemic took its toll.

Mr Martin last month told Sky News that he aimed to bring back all 37,000 employees currently on furlough leave when his pubs reopen.

The British Beer and Pub Association has said that, for the industry as a whole, sales of beer in pubs fell by 56%, or £7.8bn, last year.

By John-Paul Ford Rojas

Oatly announced plans to open world’s biggest alt-milk factory in East Anglia

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 9th Mar 2021) London, Uk – –

Vegan brand will open plant in 2023, creating at least 200 jobs, as demand soars

Swedish alt-milk brand Oatly, which is gearing up for a US stock market listing, has announced plans to open one of the world’s biggest plant-based dairy factories in the UK.

The plant, in Peterborough, East Anglia, which will open in 2023, will have the ultimate capacity to produce up to 450m litres of oat milk a year. The plan will create at least 200 jobs, the company said.Can Oatly milk it? Oatmilk brand gears up for US stock marketRead more

Ishen Paran, the general manager of Oatly UK, said the UK market had become a “really important driver of the global plant-based movement” with the company seeing growing demand across the country. “We’re excited to supply this increased demand,” he said.

Oatly has enjoyed massive growth thanks to a combination of guerrilla marketing and good timing, as more people embrace a vegan or vegetarian diet. Its sales nearly doubled to $200m (£144m) in 2019 and were predicted to do the same in 2020.

UK sales of plant milks have jumped 16% to £278m in the past year, according to the data firm Nielsen. Within that, oat milk sales more than doubled to £73m. Oatly, the world’s biggest oat milk brand, has expanded its range to include yoghurts, spreads and ice-cream.

Last month Malmö-based Oatly confirmed plans for initial public offering that could value the business at as much as $10bn. The flotation follows last summer’s sale of a minority stake to a group of investors that included US private equity firm Blackstone, Oprah Winfrey and Jay-Z. That deal valued the company at $2bn.

On opening, the Peterborough site, which will source oats locally, will produce 300m litres of oat milk, but there would be scope to increase production to 450m litres. The decision to open a UK factory “means plant-based dairy will be more accessible for people to switch to, helping them to reduce their climate impact”, Oatly said.