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(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Thur, 9th July 2020) London, Uk – –
The cuts are the latest to hit the retail sector and come a day after Rishi Sunak announced a “plan for jobs” to spur recovery.
High street chain Boots and department store chain John Lewis are cutting a total of more than 5,000 jobs – blamed on the impact of COVID-19.
Boots plans to axe 4,000 workers in a major shake-up while John Lewis said that eight of its shops were set to remain closed after the lockdown, putting 1,300 workers at risk.
The Boots restructuring will affect around 7% of the its workforce, in particular at its Nottingham support office.
Store deputy and assistant manager and customer adviser roles across the country are also facing the axe, while 48 Boots Opticians sites will close.
The John Lewis closures, which include two full-size department stores in Birmingham and Watford plus six smaller shops, were blamed on the impact of the pandemic in accelerating the shift from in-store shopping to online.
Boots pointed to a similar trend.
The cuts add to thousands already announced this week – with logistics firm DHL cutting 2,200 roles at Jaguar Land Rover sites, newspaper publisher Reach axing 550 workers and Pret A Manger closing 30 shops, putting at least 1,000 jobs at risk.
Meanwhile, the UK boss of Burger King warned in a BBC interview that as many as 10% of its 530 stores may not be able to survive – threatening up to 1,600 jobs.
The announcements from Boots and John Lewis come a day after a “plan for jobs” announced by Rishi Sunak which offered measures including a VAT cut for the hospitality and tourism sector.
It was criticised by the retail industry which was not given similar help.
Boots stores were among “essential” retailers allowed to stay open during the lockdown but still saw sales fall 48% over the last three months.
The business, owned by US-listed Walgreens Boots Alliance, said that the cuts represented an “acceleration” of its transformation plans to improve profitability across the business.
Sebastian James, managing director of Boots UK, said: “The proposals announced today are decisive actions to accelerate our transformation plan, allow Boots to continue its vital role as part of the UK health system, and ensure profitable long-term growth.
“I am so very grateful to all our colleagues for their dedication during the last few challenging months.
“They have stepped forward to support their communities, our customers and the NHS during this time, and I am extremely proud to be serving alongside them.”
“In doing this, we are building a stronger and more modern Boots for our customers, patients and colleagues.
“We recognise that today's proposals will be very difficult for the remarkable people who make up the heart of our business, and we will do everything in our power to provide the fullest support during this time.”
Walgreens said in a quarterly update to investors that the impact of COVID-19 on sales in the latest quarter was up to $750m (£584m), mainly reflecting its international division which includes Boots.
It said that footfall was down 85% in April, with customers advised to leave home only for food and medicine.
“While most Boots stores remained open throughout the UK lockdown to provide communities with pharmacy and essential healthcare, our largest premium beauty and fragrance counters were effectively closed,” Walgreens said.
It said the performance of the UK business, together with ongoing uncertainty related to the pandemic, would mean a write-down of $2bn (£1.6bn) on its value – sending the wider group to a $1.7bn (£1.3bn) loss for the third quarter.
Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, said: “Even before this crisis, Boots had issues.
“Many of its stores need investment, its proposition lacks clarity, and it faces growing competition from both specialist and generalist beauty players alike.
“The pandemic and its aftermath will simply exacerbate these problems and have a materially negative impact on the business – which is one of the reasons why Walgreens has been quick to write down the intrinsic value of the division.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 9th July 2020) London, UK —
LONDON (Reuters) – Aerospace engineer Rolls-Royce (RR.L) burned through 3 billion pounds ($3.8 billion) in the first half as the hours flown by its engines halved due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and said it expected a further 1 billion pound outflow in the second half.
The British company, which makes engines for the Boeing 787 and Airbus 350, said flying hours fell 75% in April, May and June, and it had only seen a marginal improvement since.
Chief Executive Warren East said Rolls had started reviewing options for strengthening its balance sheet, and it had 8.1 billion pounds at hand even after the first-half outflow.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a shock across the entire civil aviation industry,” East told reporters on Thursday.
“Across the first half of this year, widebody engine flying hours, which we get paid for under our servicing contract, were half of what they were last year.”
Rolls has announced at least 9,000 job cuts, mainly in its civil aviation business, which has born the brunt of the coronavirus impact. Its defence business had been resilient, East said, while power systems had been impacted in part.
East said sites could be cut as well as jobs.
He said the restructuring would drive a recovery in free cash inflow to at least 750 million pounds in 2022.
Its shares, which are down 58% since the start of the year, were down 8% at 265 pence at 0821 GMT.
Analysts at JP Morgan, who have argued that Rolls needs to issue 6 billion pounds of equity to ensure its future, said the trading update was “materially worse” than its expectations.
“If there is a second wave of COVID-19 or a slower than hoped for recovery then it is very possible, in our view, that the UK government will need to step in to save Rolls-Royce,” they said.
The first-half outflow included a 1.1 billion pound fall in engine flying hours receipts and deliveries and a 1.1 billion pound hit from the voluntary end of invoice factoring, which it used to align cash receipts with deliveries, Rolls said.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 8th July 2020) London, Uk – –
Diners will get a 50% discount off their restaurant bill during August under government plans to bolster the embattled hospitality sector.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled the “eat out to help out” discount as part of a series of measures to restart the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The deal means people can get up to £10 off per head if they eat out between Monday and Wednesday.
Mr Sunak also said VAT on hospitality and tourism would drop to 5%.
The reduction, from 20%, will be in place for the next six months.
As he announced the discount, the chancellor said the UK was facing a “unique moment” because of Covid-19, adding: “We need to be creative.”
Pubs and restaurants reopened on Saturday after more than three months in lockdown, with safety measures in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Mr Sunak sought to reassure the public that it was safe to dine out. “I know people are cautious about going out. But we wouldn't have lifted the restrictions if we didn't think we could do so, safely,” he said.
The discount will not apply to alcohol, but to food and soft drinks up to £10 per person.
The Treasury said the 50% discount can be used unlimited times during August and applies to participating restaurants, cafés, and pubs across the UK.
Mr Sunak said the plan was aimed at getting “customers back into restaurants, cafes and pubs” and protecting “the 1.8 million people who work in them”.
Businesses that want to take part in the scheme will have to register through a website that opens on Monday 13 July.
Mr Sunak said: “Each week in August, businesses can then claim the money back, with the funds in their bank account within five working days.”
He added that the cut in VAT, from 20% to 5%, would apply to “eat-in or hot takeaway food from restaurants, cafes and pubs; accommodation in hotels, B&Bs, campsites and caravan sites [and] attractions like cinemas, theme parks and zoos”.
The lower tax rate will be implemented next Wednesday, 15 July, and will remain in place until 12 January 2021.
Caroline Roylance, owner of The George pub at Fordingbridge, Hampshire, said she would be applying for the “eat out to help out” scheme.
The pub reopened on Wednesday after being closed since 23 March, when the coronavirus lockdown was implemented.
She said the discount and the VAT cut “will help us make it through the next few months, because trade is unlikely to return to pre-Covid levels for some time”.
“Saying that, it's been surprisingly busy today, which is encouraging, but it's still not July busy,” said Mrs Roylance. “It's a start though.”
UK Hospitality, the trade body which represents the industry, “warmly” welcomed the moves, as well as Mr Sunak's plans to stem unemployment through schemes such as creating thousands of job placements for young people.
However, UK Hospitality's chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said: “This doesn't mean we are out of the woods and there are still significant challenges ahead.
“The biggest of these is the spectre of rent liabilities, which many businesses are still facing from their closure period. We are going to need government support on this before too long.”
Meanwhile, the exclusion of alcohol from the “eat out to help out” discount hit some pub groups' share prices.
Mitchells & Butler's share price jumped by 7.3% to 175p towards the end of Mr Sunak's statement, when he revealed the VAT cut for the hospitality and leisure industries, as well as the dining out discount.
But once it became clear it did not include alcohol, Mitchell & Butler's share price fell “just as quickly as it spiked up”, said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.
Marston's share price also dropped 6.1% to 48.98p. JD Wetherspoon's share price fell 2% to 986p.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 8th July 2020) London, Uk – –
US firm will buy naming rights for fleet and piers, and users can book journeys on its app
Uber is to extend its reach in London by taking to the water, with the Thames Clippers commuter service to be rebranded Uber Boat and bookable through the US company’s app.
A formal partnership will be launched this summer, allowing Uber users to book a Thames river journey through the app, and board using a QR code on their phone. Uber will buy the naming rights for the 20-strong fleet of river boats and Thames Clipper’s piers from Putney to Woolwich, in a rolling contract expected to last for at least three years.
A move into fix-scheduled commuter boats is a first for Uber. Users will still pay the same price and although there are hopes for an integrated service, for now they will not be able to book an end-to-end journey with a connecting car. Thames Clippers tickets will still be available to buy elsewhere and the boats remain part of the Oyster network.
Sean Collins, Thames Clippers’ co-founder and chief executive, said: “In our 22nd year of operation it is key that we continue to support London and its commuters with the ease of lockdown and return to work. The new partnership will allow us to link the two travel modes of river and road, providing Londoners and visitors with even more options to commute, visit, explore and enjoy our city by river.”
Uber’s regional general manager for northern and eastern Europe, Jamie Heywood, said: “Many Londoners are looking for new ways to travel around the city, particularly when they start commuting back to work.”
The boat service resumed on 15 June after being closed when the coronavirus outbreak took hold. It has reduced capacity and passengers must wear face masks, in line with Transport for London (TfL) guidance. Last year 4.3m passengers used the Thames Clippers service, which remains majority-owned by AEG, the owner-operators of the O2entertainment venue.
TfL has yet to renew Uber’s licence to operate private hire cars in London. Uber’s application for a new licence was rejected in November because of safety fears after some drivers were found to have faked their identity. It has been allowed to continue operating pending an appeal – which was originally due to have been heard in a magistrate’s court this week. However, because of the impact of the pandemic on TfL’s resources, the hearing has been postponed until September.
TfL said it granted licences to river operators such as Thames Clippers “who comply with our high safety standards” but played no role in any partnerships with other businesses and organisations.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com –Tue, 7th July 2020) London, UK —
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s government has underwritten £45 billion of borrowing by businesses hit by the coronavirus and spent more than £27 billion so far to support jobs, finance ministry figures showed on Tuesday.
Total spending under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which supports 9.4 million jobs and is the costliest government coronavirus measure, rose to £27.4 billion as of July 5 from £25.5 billion a week earlier.
State-backed lending to small businesses – which receives a 100% government guarantee – rose to £30.93 billion. Lending to medium-sized and large firms increased to £11.49 billion and £2.58 billion respectively in two programmes which offer an 80% guarantee to lenders.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 6th July 2020) London, Uk – –
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to unveil a raft of big-spending measures aimed at creating thousands of jobs.
Companies will be paid £1,000 bonuses by the government to hire young people as trainees, the chancellor will announce as part of his rescue plan for Britain's post-coronavirus economic recovery.
In a hotly anticipated “emergency budget” on Wednesday, Rishi Sunak will unveil a raft of big-spending measures aimed at creating thousands of jobs to replace those lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bonuses for employers who hire young people into training programmes in England will come in a £111m scheme which will pay direct government subsidies for taking on trainees for the first time.
The money will be available for trainees aged 16 to 24 and will be capped at 10 jobs per employer, or £10,000.
Employers will be able to determine how to spend the £1,000, as long as it directly or indirectly contributes to training.
The scheme, in which thousands of young people will be given the skills to secure a job, will be part of the largest-ever expansion of traineeships the country has ever seen, the chancellor is expected to tell MPs on Wednesday.
Unveiling his plan to help kick-start the economy, following on from Boris Johnson's “New Deal” speech last week, Mr Sunak will say he aims to give more 16 to 24-year-olds “the tools they need to enter the world of work”.
The government is concerned that many of the people who have lost their jobs during the pandemic are in industries such as hospitality where the bulk of employees are under 30 and many under 25.
The chancellor's statement this week is not officially a budget and there will not be the photo outside 11 Downing Street with the famous red box, but it will be a response to huge job losses and dire forecasts of mass unemployment.
As part of the new traineeships, which will last from six weeks to six months, young people will receive maths, English and CV writing training as well as guidance about what to expect in the workplace.
They will also receive a high-quality work placement of 60 to 90 hours.Government vows £1.57bn lifeline for arts – but no plans to resume live shows
Evidence shows that three-quarters of 18 to 24-year-olds who complete traineeships move on to employment or further study within 12 months.
The expanded scheme will be in place in England from September.
The government will also provide £21m to the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland through the Barnett formula so they can follow suit.Coronavirus UK tracker: How many cases are in your area – updated daily
A Whitehall source said: “Young people's employment prospects are expected to be disproportionately affected by the economic fallout of coronavirus.
“Expanding traineeships will be part of a wider package to support young people and to ensure they have the skills and training to go on to high quality, secure and fulfilling employment.”
But according to the UK's biggest construction trade union, the PM's promise to “build, build, build” the UK back to economic health will not work unless urgent action is taken to avert a crisis in skills and apprenticeships.
Unite claims a lethal combination of employers' long-standing reluctance to invest in apprentices, widespread redundancies because of the pandemic, and a reluctance to recruit new entrants is likely to result in 20,000 fewer apprentices this autumn, vastly down from the 47,284 in England last year.
“The prime minister's pledge to ‘build, build, build' the country's way out of this pandemic-caused crisis won't get very far without a workforce,” said Unite's assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail.
“Construction apprenticeship training is in danger of collapsing as an after effect of the pandemic, which is why we're calling on the chancellor to make it clear when he announces his plans for recovering the economy this coming week that our young workers will be given a chance of a career in construction,” Ms Cartmail added.
“At the moment, for every one good quality apprenticeship, there are 1,000 applicants. Young workers have to scale this huge mountain so it is only right that they have the chance to complete their apprenticeship and have a job at the end of their training.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 6th July 2020) London, Uk – –
The UK's biggest accountancy firms have been told to ring-fence their audit arms from their consultancy units by 2024 in a major shake-up of the sector.
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has told the “Big Four” they must submit separation plans by October.
It follows the collapse of several high-profile companies that had been approved by auditors, such as government contractor Carillion.
The FRC said the changes would lead to better audits “in the public interest”.
It said separating accountancy firms' audit departments from the rest of their operations would protect auditors “from influences from the rest of the firm that could divert their focus away from audit quality”.
The watchdog also said it would ensure “auditors act in the public interest and work for the benefit of shareholders of audited entities and wider society”.
The Big Four accountancy firms – KPMG, EY, PwC and Deloitte – came in for heavy criticism in the wake of Carillion's collapse which cost 2,400 people their jobs and – according to the National Audit Office – left the taxpayer on the hook for £148m.
At the time, MPs said the failure Carillion exposed the UK's audit market as a “cosy club incapable of providing the degree of independent challenge needed”.
Since then holiday company Thomas Cook, which was audited by PwC and subsequently EY, has gone bust.
More recently, the German payments firm Wirecard disclosed a €1.9bn (£1.7bn) hole in its accounts, and subsequently filed for insolvency. It was audited by EY.
The FRC's chief executive, Sir Jon Thompson, said: “Operational separation of audit practices is one element of the FRC's strategy to improve the quality and effectiveness of corporate reporting and audit in the UK.”
Among the 22 principles for operational separation that accountancy firms should implement, audit practices should produce a separate profit and loss account.
Firms should also have a separate board to ensure “independent oversight of the audit practice”.
Over the last 40 years, Nintendo has provided countless hours of video gaming entertainment. But with the rise of the Switch, the company took a huge step forward. And during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, finding one was harder than finding toilet paper. Here’s how the Nintendo Switch took the gaming world by surprise and became one of the most popular consoles on the market.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Thur, 2nd July 2020) London, Uk – –
Associated British Foods signals confidence in demand among shoppers ahead but forecasts a slump in Primark profits.
The owner of Primark says it is placing over £1bn in orders for the autumn and winter season ahead following an “encouraging” start to coronavirus lockdown re-openings.
Associated British Foods (ABF) used a trading update to the City to paint a largely upbeat picture of Primark's fortunes, despite recording a 75% slump in sales during its third quarter and forecasting a hit of almost two-thirds to the chain's annual profits.
It comes as high street rivals announce thousands of job losses – with the parent firms of Topshop and even Harrods among those cutting staff on Wednesday alone.
Primark closed all its stores in March as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions demanded the shuttering of all non-essential retail.
It was unable to trade at all during that time because of its refusal to launch online.
All 153 stores in England resumed trading, in line with the easing of rules, on 15 June.
ABF said that since the re-opening of its first European stores on 4 May, sales on a like-for-like basis were just 12% down during the seven weeks to 20 June.
Sales in the week ended 20 June, which had more than 90% of total Primark selling space open, hit £133m with trading in England and Ireland ahead of the same week last year, ABF said.
It said its retail park stores had been particularly busy as pent-up demand among shoppers resulted in queues outside many outlets, though it admitted city centre shops had not proved as busy because of weak tourism and commuter activity.Coronavirus recovery plan: Boris Johnson channels 1930's US ‘new deal' with building strategy
The company said the fashion chain had already placed orders worth £800m for the looming autumn-winter season and that sum would exceed £1bn soon.
The company said: “Nearly all Primark stores are now trading again and we estimate that, absent a significant number of further store closures, adjusted operating profit for Primark, excluding exceptional charges, will be in the range £300-350m for the full year compared to £913m reported for the last financial year.”
ABF's third quarter trading update showed group revenue from continuing businesses for the 40 weeks ended 20 June was 13% lower than the same period last year – with Primark's woes partly offset by growth in its grocery and ingredients arms.
Shares – down 24% in the year to date – closed 4% higher on Thursday after the trading update.
Pippa Stephens, retail analyst at GlobalData, said Primark's value offer would help maintain its appeal in the months ahead.
She wrote: “Though Primark has severely suffered since the outbreak of COVID-19, as store closures and a lack of a transactional website forced it to suspend trading for nearly three months, its sales since reopening have been promising.
She added: “Since online penetration for clothing & footwear will remain strengthened in the long term as a result of the pandemic, Primark should rethink its bricks-and-mortar only strategy for the future, in order to mitigate the impact of reduced in-store sales densities and capitalise on spend shifting online.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed 7th July 2020) London, Uk – –
Property values down by 0.1% compared with June 2019, says Nationwide
Annual house price growth ground to a halt in June, with property values down by 0.1% year on year, according to Nationwide building society.
It was the first time annual house price growth has been in negative territory since December 2012, with a month-on-month fall of 1.4% taking the average UK house price to £216,403. The monthly fall was less severe than a 1.7% decline recorded in May.
Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “It is unsurprising that annual house price growth has stalled, given the magnitude of the shock to the economy as a result of the [coronavirus] pandemic.
“Economic output fell by an unprecedented 25% over the course of March and April – almost four times more than during the entire financial crisis.
“Housing market activity also slowed sharply as a result of lockdown measures implemented to control the spread of the virus.”
Gardner said that as lockdown measures eased, housing market activity was likely to edge higher in the near term, albeit remaining below pre-pandemic levels.
He added: “Nevertheless, the medium-term outlook for the housing market remains highly uncertain. Much will depend on the performance of the wider economy, which will in turn be determined by how the pandemic and restrictions on activity evolve.”
As well as releasing monthly house price figures for the whole of the UK, Nationwide published quarterly figures, looking at house price growth across the UK’s nations and regions.
Gardner said no UK regions had price falls when comparing April, May and June with the same period in 2019.
He said: “The north-west was the strongest performing region, with annual price growth picking up slightly to 4.8%.”
He said average house prices in London were just 3% below all-time highs recorded in 2017 and 55% above their 2007 levels.
Across the UK, house prices remain 19% higher than in 2007.
Gardner said: “Scotland was the strongest performing nation in quarter two, with annual price growth picking up to 4.0%.
“Conditions remained subdued in Wales and Northern Ireland, which saw annual price growth of 1.0% and 0.1% respectively.”
Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former residential chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), said: “Prices are being kept in check by affordability issues and more supply gradually becoming available.
“But demand is picking up as some buyers emerge from enforced confinement in unsuitable property and/or relationships to take advantage of continuing low interest rates, while sellers are more realistic.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Wed, 1st July 2020) London, UK —
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain should consider increasing its unemployment benefits to help get people into the kind of work that is likely to be in demand after the coronavirus lockdown, the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund said.
Gita Gopinath told lawmakers in Britain’s parliament on Wednesday that the first priority for governments was to scale back gradually their support programmes for workers affected by the COVID-19 crisis, including state job retention schemes.
Then, as governments seek to get people back to work, the focus should be on reallocating resources in the labour market, or moving people into jobs where demand will be strong, which would initially increase reliance on unemployment support.
“In case of the UK, you could make a case for temporarily increasing the support under that because the UK has one of the lower replacement rates among advanced economies in terms of unemployment insurance,” Gopinath said.
Britain’s job retention scheme currently covers more than 9 million jobs – equivalent to around one in three private sector employees – and it is due to expire at the end of October.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said Britain is very likely to need a bigger employment support programme.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak is due to spell out the government’s next moves to support the economy on July 8.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 30th June 2020) London, Uk – –
Chancellor extends Future Fund to include firms that have moved their HQs abroad
The chancellor is expanding a £500m fund for UK startups hit by the coronavirus crisis, to ensure firms that shifted their headquarters abroad can still access the scheme.
The Future Fund will now benefit companies that are seen as British in all but name, having moved their parent company to tap US investors or take advantage of so-called accelerator programmes. Accelerators like US-based Y Combinator often ask firms to set up a US entity in order to access financing, mentorships and expert networks overseas.
Future Fund applicants will still have to prove that at least half of their staff are based in the UK and that they make at least 50% of their revenues from UK sales, the Treasury said.
“This change means that those startups who have strived to be the very best, and taken opportunities to grow their business, will be able to benefit from our world-leading Future Fund,” chancellor Rishi Sunak said.
The changes come amid a surge in demand for the scheme, which will see the government take stakes in British startups that struggle to repay loans due to the coronavirus crisis.
The Future Fund offers convertible government loans worth between £125,000 and £5m to companies that have previously raised at least £250,000 of equity investments. Those loans are matched pound-for-pound by private investors, but the government debt will convert to equity if the loans are not repaid.
The fund is meant to help startups, in sectors like tech and life sciences, that may have otherwise struggled to survive, let alone grow, throughout the coronavirus crisis.
The government initially committed £250m in loans as part of a £500m fund that was equally shouldered by private investors. However, the government has now approved £320m worth of future fund loans to more than 320 early-stage firms.
The Treasury has not confirmed whether there is a cap for the expanded fund, which originally launched on 20 May.
Business secretary Alok Sharma said: “As we restart our economy, it is crucial that our innovators and risk-takers get all the support they need to flourish.
“Our decision to relax this rule recognises the importance of many of the UK’s most cutting-edge startups as we bounce back from coronavirus.”
Unlike other government programmes, such as the bounce back loan scheme (BBLS) and the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS), Future Fund loans are distributed by the state-owned British Business Bank rather than high street lenders.
Figures released on Tuesday showed that the trio of government-backed loan schemes led by commercial banks – covering BBLS, CBILS and the scheme for larger businesses known as CLBILS – hit a milestone, with more than 1m firms granted emergency funding so far.
Government data showed that banks had approved more than 1m loans worth £42.9bn as of 28 June. More than 1.3m businesses have applied.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 29th June 2020) London, Uk – –
The supermarket chain moves to further bolster its own online operation as a delivery partnership with Ocado nears its end.
Waitrose says it is to open a third warehouse in London to cope with surging demand for grocery deliveries in the capital amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
The John Lewis Partnership said it expected the fulfilment centre, in the Greenford area of west London, would create 800 jobs once completed.
The COVID-19 lockdown since March has forced the supermarket sector to bolster online shopping capabilities to cope with a rising tide of orders.
Waitrose said it had seen online orders surge by more than 100% over the past few months and admitted it had been unable to meet demand within London.
The chain had announced in May that it was to open a second warehouse in Enfield by September.
Waitrose said the third centre, to be operated with logistics specialist Wincanton, would “significantly further increase the availability of delivery slots for customers in and around the capital”.
It hoped to have the Greenford site operational in time for Christmas saying that, when completed, it would have quadrupled the number of delivery slots available to customers in London in under a year.
Waitrose has a current delivery partnership with Ocado but it will be going it alone completely in the autumn as the pure online grocery retailer enters into a joint venture with M&S.
New Waitrose executive director, James Bailey, said: “While we've already pulled forward our online expansion plans by six months we know there are still lots of people who want to shop online with us and currently can't.
“This is especially the case in London, where we've seen a significant and prolonged surge in demand for our online offer. This new centre will help us better serve the London area with a much broader range of slots.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 29th June 2020) London, Uk – –
Travel companies say holiday bookings have “exploded” after the government announced current restrictions will be eased.
Ministers said from 6 July, blanket restrictions on non-essential overseas travel will be relaxed in the UK.
Holidaymakers will be allowed to travel to certain European countries without having to spend 14 days in quarantine upon their return.
A spokesperson for TUI said the move was a “hugely positive step forward”.
“We've already seen bookings increase by 50% this week, versus last [week], with holidays to Spain and Greece looking the most popular this summer,” said Andrew Flintham, managing director of TUI UK and Ireland.
Lastminute.com said it experienced an 80% increase on holiday sales compared to last week, largely attributed to the announcement of Spain lifting the quarantine for Brits.
The list of travel corridors with the UK is due to be published next week and is expected to include Spain, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Belgium, Turkey, Germany and Norway – but not Portugal or Sweden.
It comes as it was announced a further 100 people had died from the virus in the UK, with a further 890 people testing positive, as of 27 June.
‘Traffic light system'
John Keefe, director of public affairs at Eurotunnel, said phones had been “ringing off the hook”.
Eurotunnel saw an increase of bookings weeks ago, suggesting that many holidaymakers had already started to “discount the quarantine measures”, said Mr Keefe – but bookings “exploded” when the announcement was made on Friday.
Foreign Office advice against all but essential international travel has been in place since 17 March.
Under the new rules, a traffic light system will be introduced – with countries classified as green, amber or red depending on the prevalence of coronavirus. The UK is likely to discuss arrangements with countries over the coming days.
A government spokesman said measures would give people “the opportunity for a summer holiday abroad” while also boosting the UK economy – but stressed the relaxation depended on risks staying low.
The government said it “wouldn't hesitate to put on the brakes” if the situation changes.
While the UK government is responsible for border controls, the Scottish and Welsh governments say that public health and the response to the pandemic are devolved matters.
Both warned they had yet to decide to implement the measures.
Ministers in Scotland said it was “disappointing” that the announcement was made before all four UK nations held discussions.
Tourism businesses in Wales are not due to reopen until 13 July, a week after the travel restrictions are due to ease elsewhere.
In a statement, it said: “The Welsh Government continues to explore the UK Government's proposals for Air Bridges and awaits confirmation of a four-nation ministerial meeting to discuss the issue further.”
Portugal has seen a rise in the number of new cases in and around Lisbon recently, while Sweden is also unlikely to be on the list because the infection rate there is higher than in the UK. They are both likely to be classified as red.
But the government spokesman conceded there would be nothing to stop someone avoiding quarantine by flying into a Spanish airport, driving over the border into Portugal for their holiday and returning by the same route.
UK travellers will still have to hand over the address they plan to stay at on their return from abroad, no matter which country they are coming back from. And they will also be legally required to wear face coverings on planes and ferries.
How do holidaymakers feel?
Jon San Jose, 38, will be travelling to Spain with his wife and two young children in August to celebrate his mother-in-law's 60th birthday.
To minimise risks, they have decided to take the Eurotunnel to France and then drive to Alicante, Spain, where they will be joined in a villa by the rest of the extended family.
Jon and his wife Karleen welcomed the government announcement, after having doubts the birthday celebration would still go ahead, and said they are doing all they can to limit risks.
“We probably won't eat out more than once or twice,” said Jon. “We're probably going to stay in the villa for most of the time. If anything it will be less risk going there than staying [in the UK] at the moment.”
Portugal's Secretary of State for Tourism Rita Baptista Marques told BBC Breakfast her country had been named the most secure destination in Europe by the World Tourism and Travel Council and is a “clean and safe destination”.
She added that the situation is “completely under control”, with significant testing being carried out.
But Greece's Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis suggested that it could be up to three weeks before the country is happy to open up an air bridge to the UK, as discussions with health experts are continuing.
Spain lifted its state of emergency last Sunday, reopening its borders to visitors from most of Europe and allowing British tourists to enter the country without having to quarantine.
Travel industry group ABTA said the travel sector “eagerly” anticipates confirmation of the list of countries, which “should encourage customers to book”.
“The blanket Foreign Office advice against all but essential travel is still a major impediment to travel, however, and we look forward to the government adopting a similar risk-based approach to that advice,” it said in a statement.
The UK introduced rules requiring all people arriving in the UK to self-isolate for 14 days on 8 June. It was widely criticised by the travel industry and MPs of all parties.
What are the current quarantine rules?
People arriving in the UK should drive their own car to their destination, where possible, and once there they must not use public transport or taxis
Arrivals must not go to work, school, or public areas, or have visitors – except for essential support. They are also not allowed to go out to buy food, or other essentials, where they can rely on others
Those arriving in England, Wales and Northern Ireland could face a fine of £1,000 if they fail to self-isolate for the full 14 days, while they face a £480 fine in Scotland. The maximum fine for repeat offenders in Scotland is £5,000
“Our new risk-assessment system will enable us to carefully open a number of safe travel routes around the world – giving people the opportunity for a summer holiday abroad and boosting the UK economy through tourism and business,” said a government spokesman.
“But we will not hesitate to put on the brakes if any risks re-emerge.”
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