Coronavirus: Eased travel restrictions see holiday bookings ‘explode’

( via – – 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. 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.”

Why The New Media Loves Fortnite

Source: Alux

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This Spectacular 700-square-foot FLOATING HOME is Self-Built and Fully Off-Grid

Source: Exploring Alternatives

This stunning 700-square-foot, self-built float home is fully off-grid with solar power, a pellet stove, a composting toilet, and an evaporation grey water system that ensures nothing is dumped overboard! It has an open concept kitchen, living and dining space, a master bedroom and bathroom on the main floor, two bedrooms on the second floor, and the wraparound deck up top gives 360 degree views.

Marks & Spencer and Next vying for control of British operations of Victoria’s Secret

( via– Fri, 26th June 2020) London, Uk – –

Sky News has learnt that the pair are interested in becoming Victoria's Secret's parent company's new UK franchise partner.

Marks & Spencer (M&S) and Next, Britain's two best-known clothing retailers, are vying to take control of the British operations of Victoria's Secret, the lingerie brand.

Sky News has learnt that the two high street giants are among the parties interested in becoming Victoria's Secret's parent company's new UK franchise partner.

At least one other unnamed party is also understood to have expressed an interest in a deal with Deloitte, which was appointed as the chain's administrator earlier this month.

News of the talks has emerged on the same day that Victoria's Secret is reopening roughly a third of its 25 UK shops following the three-month coronavirus lockdown.

Industry sources said that any bidder wanting to franchise the Victoria's Secret brand in the UK and retain a physical footprint would seek fundamentally restructured rental terms from any ongoing stores.

The Victoria's Secret shops which reopen on Friday are said to have struck revised rent deals with their landlords.

The interest from M&S and Next effectively sparks a bidding battle between the two most prominent clothing retailers in Britain.

M&S's involvement is likely to be of particular interest to retail analysts.

At its recent full-year results, the company said it would open its digital platform and largest stores “to complementary guest brands to broaden appeal and increase online growth”.

M&S already controls 27% of the UK lingerie market, with 36% of the market for bras, so it is unclear whether any franchise deal could attract interest from competition watchdogs.

Analysts suggested that Next was a more likely franchisee for the Victoria's Secret brand, owing to its success selling third-party products from the likes of Abercrombie & Fitch, Boss and Under Armour.

The sale process, which is at an early stage, was triggered last month when one of the world's most prominent women's underwear groups announced that its UK arm was pursuing a ‘light touch' administration – a process that allows its existing management to remain in control of the business while offering protection from creditors.

The insolvency only affects the UK operations, and has no impact on its presence in the US or other markets.

Victoria's Secret's parent company, L Brands, had been in discussions about being taken over by Sycamore Partners, a private equity firm, before the talks were abandoned last month.

Despite its profile, Victoria's Secret has struggled financially in the UK, making an operating loss of £170m in the year to 20 February.

Uncertainty over the future of its UK outlets underlines the broader trend in British retailing, which has seen vast numbers of chains refusing to pay their full rent bills for the third quarter, with footfall and sales at a fraction of the usual levels because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Analysts believe that the pandemic has accelerated a structural shift across the industry, with clothing retailers such as Cath Kidston, Debenhams, Laura Ashley and Monsoon Accessorize among those to fall into administration since March.

Some have emerged to resume trading, but with drastically reduced physical footprints.

At the time of Deloitte's appointment as administrator, Rob Harding, a partner at the firm, said: “This is yet another blow to the UK high street and a further example of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the entire retail industry.

“The effect of the lockdowns, combined with broader challenges facing bricks and mortar retailers, has resulted in a funding requirement for this business, resulting in today's administration.”

M&S and Next declined to comment, while a spokesman for Victoria's Secret UK said: “We continue to work closely with Deloitte to review a range of possible outcomes.”

UK’s biggest shopping centres owner, Intu, warns it’s likely to call in administrators

( via – – Fri, 26th June 2020) London, Uk – –

The owner of some of the UK's biggest shopping centres, Intu, has warned that it is likely to call in administrators.

The firm, which owns the Trafford Centre, the Lakeside complex, and Braehead, said it had not reached an agreement in financial restructuring talks with its lenders.

Its centres are expected to stay open if it falls into administration, at least in the short term.

Intu has already warned that longer term some of its centres may close.

The company is the UK's biggest shopping centre group, with 17 centres in the UK and three in Spain.

Should Intu fall into administration, the shopping centres are likely to remain open while the administrators decide what course of action they want to take.

Options will include trying to sell the centres on to other potential buyers.

Retail analyst Richard Hyman said he expected that most of Intu's shopping centres “will live to fight another day”.

“Possibly not all, but most,” he said. “There are some very good and important centres in Intu's portfolio.”

Intu had been struggling even before the coronavirus outbreak, and about 132,000 jobs in the company and in its wider supply chain will be in question should the firm fall into administration.

Retail expert Kate Hardcastle said one area of concern was Intu's £4.5bn debt, given the declining value of its shopping centres.

They “just aren't worth the value they once were”, she told BBC Breakfast.

While the coronavirus crisis forced the closure of all non-essential shops, retailers had already been under pressure from a host of factors including changes in shopping habits as people move online.

Big shopping centre landlords such as Intu rely on big retailers for their revenues – but in recent years retailers have been asking landlords for rent reductions due to the pressures they are under, Ms Hardcastle said.

Coronavirus effects

Mr Hyman said that retailers were already under pressure before the coronavirus pandemic, and had too much floor space.

The pandemic had then speeded up a shift to online shopping.

“What would have taken five years to evolve – we're seeing that happen now,” he said.

“People have been forced to shop online. When the dust settles, some of that spend will come back to physical stores – but not all of it will.”

Intu's centres were partially shut during the coronavirus lockdown, with only essential shops remaining open. The company had about 60% of shopping centre staff and about 20% of head office employees on furlough.

In its update to investors on Friday, Intu said it had failed to reach agreement in discussions with lenders on so-called “standstill” terms, under which it would look to defer interest payments on its large and complex debts.

It was also seeking agreements from its wide range of creditors, from big banks to hedge funds, for them not to take action if it breached certain terms on its loans.

Intu has already lined up administrators KPMG as a “contingency”.

Royal Mail announces 2,000 managerial job cuts

( via – – Thur, 25th June 2020) London, Uk – –

Company announces one in five managerial jobs will go and says cuts will not involve delivery staff

Royal Mail has announced a cost-cutting plan that will involve slashing about 2,000 jobs in a move accelerated by the Covid-19 crisis.

One in five of its near-10,000 management roles will go by March 2021, in areas including IT, finance, marketing and sales. The company’s 90,000 postal workers would not be affected by the cuts, Royal Mail said.

The sweeping changes follow years of declining profits and a failure to respond quickly enough to the drop in letter volumes and a boom in parcels linked to online shopping.

The company said the pandemic had accelerated that shift towards more parcels and fewer letters being sent. It also warned that its UK business, which swung to an annual loss, would continue to be loss-making this year.

Royal Mail Group’s interim executive chairman and a former boss of British Airways, Keith Williams, said: “Covid-19 has accelerated those trends, presenting additional challenges.”

He added that “immediate action” would help to save £130m in staff costs next year. The company also aims to slash spending by a further £300m over the next two years.

Williams described the job cuts as “regrettable”, adding: “We are committed to conducting the upcoming consultation process carefully and sensitively. We will work closely with our managers and their representatives during this difficult period, including supporting them as they transition into the next stage in their careers.”

The Unite union – which represents around 6,000 managers at Royal Mail, said the cuts were a devastating blow to its members. “[It] is a classic example of trying to reposition a business to create a viable long-term future, while feeling under pressure to make short-term cuts that only hinder that transition.”

“We will be pressing the top management to clarify how sweeping away the very employees managing the transition process is going to produce faster and better company decisions for the benefit of customers,” Unite added.

Royal Mail shares were down 11% to 159p after the announcement on Thursday, making it the biggest faller on the FTSE 250 index.

While delivery staff were not targeted by the cuts, Royal Mail confirmed there would be a gradual decline in frontline workers as it started to automate the processing of letters and parcels.

Postal workers and managers accounted for a portion of the 2,000 full-time roles that were lost in the past year. The company said this was partly due to voluntary redundancy programmes, but also accounted for staff who quit or retired and weren’t replaced.

“There’s been a reduction in the number of frontline people, year-on-year for the last 12-15 years,” said Stuart Simpson, who is serving as interim chief executive of the UK branch of Royal Mail.

“We’ve now got 20 parcel sorting machines distributed across the country. The last one of which we just installed about a month ago. So we are continually, making change, we just need to do it at a faster rate,” Simpson said.

The cuts were announced alongside Royal Mail’s annual results, and a month after the surprise departure of Rico Back, who had been with the company for three decades but left after less than two years as chief executive.

Williams said: “We agreed with Rico to leave. The one thing we’re calling out today is that we need a quicker pace of change.”

Pre-tax profits for the year to March 2020 fell by a quarter to £180m. Revenues over the period rose by about 2.5% to £10.8bn. Letter volumes fell 8% over the year, while parcel volumes rose 2% – less than expected.

Royal Mail said the pandemic resulted in a strong jump in UK parcel deliveries at the end of the financial year, which was offset by a drop in letters – especially from advertisers – and international parcels. The company said it was also hit by unexpected costs to cover protective equipment, social distancing measures and overtime pay for staff.

“At the heart of this plan is our intention to move from being a UK-focused letters business that also delivers parcels to an international parcels business that delivers letters in the UK. The rationale underpinning our strategy is, in fact, even more compelling now that we are dealing with the consequences of Covid-19.”

Executives expect the UK business to be loss-making this year, as it weathers a “deep recession” both at home and abroad. In the worst-case scenario, it expects a 15% drop in UK economic growth over its 2020-21 financial year, which will slash domestic revenues by up to £600m. Its UK business swung to an operating loss of £140m in the year to March, having reported a profit of £72m a year earlier. Revenues rose just 1.6% to £7.7bn.

“The unprecedented nature of the Covid-19 pandemic means the outlook is difficult and volatile,” Royal Mail said.

The company has cancelled any potential dividend for the next financial year, but told investors it planned to restart payouts by the 2021-22 financial year.

By Kalyeena Makortoff

Jet2 and Eurostar announce cuts to summer flights and trains

( via – – Wed, 24th June 2020) London, Uk – –

Jet2 and Eurostar have announced that they will be cancelling some summer flights and trains in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Eurostar is cutting direct services to three French cities due to lack of demand and difficulties implementing protection measures on long journeys.

Separately, pilots union Balpa has said that airline Jet2 is to make 102 pilots redundant.

The airline will be reducing its flying programme for 2020 and 2021.

Eurostar said: “As we restart our service, we are focusing our timetable on our routes between capital cities, which have the highest demand from customers at the moment and shorter journey times.”

The company said its services were operating with restrictions on food service, the compulsory wearing of masks, significantly increased hygiene measures and high-frequency cleaning.

However, these standards were “more challenging to maintain on long distance routes”.

Eurostar's direct summer services to Lyon, Avignon and Marseilles, which were meant to start in May, will no longer be run at all in 2020 or 2021.

Instead, the rail company will focus on its main routes between London, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam.

A spokesman for Jet2 said that the airline was facing “complicated” challenges relating to the coronavirus crisis and “changes on an almost daily basis”, which had resulted in the need to reduce its flying programme.

“Sadly, the overall effect of these reductions has been the need to propose a number of colleague redundancies across our business.”

He said the company had “every confidence” that it would “bounce back from the unprecedented demands currently placed on the company” but it did have to make “difficult decisions in the current climate”.

Jet2, which has bases at airports in Leeds, Birmingham, Stansted, Newcastle, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast, is the latest airline to issue formal notice of redundancy and start a consultation process with its workforce.

In May, Virgin Atlantic announced that it would be slashing more than 3,000 jobs in the UK across its business and would end its operation at Gatwick airport, as a result of the pandemic.

The airline said it had to apply for emergency loans from the government in order to avoid collapse.

And in June, German airline Lufthansa said it would cut 22,000 jobs and have 100 fewer aircraft, just weeks after the German government injected €9bn to prevent it from going bust.

Ryanair and EasyJet have also announced that they will be cutting between 15-30% of their workforces, while British Airways is proposing to make 12,000 of its 45,000 staff redundant.

‘Through the mill'

Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said he was concerned about the “knee-jerk” way in which airlines like Jet2 had been responded to falling customer numbers due to the pandemic.

“Many of the pilots whose jobs are on the line in Jet2 have just recently moved there after having lost their jobs at Thomas Cook – these pilots have been through the mill already,” he said.

Mr Strutton said Jet2 played an “extremely important role” at airports in the north of the UK, and it was important that it did not collapse:

“Once again, I reiterate my call for the government to step in, call for a job cuts moratorium, and work on a strategic support package to help this industry get through this crisis.”

Coronavirus: These are the new rules businesses must implement to reopen

( via– Wed, 24th June 2020) London, Uk – –

Businesses will have to work with each other and transport operators to ensure there is no crowding on streets.

Pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, hotels and historic sites will have to keep customers' details for 21 days under plans to limit the spread of coronavirus.

New guidance for England has been issued to businesses that are allowed to reopen from 4 July so they remain “COVID secure” as lockdown rules are relaxed.

The guidance includes advice on Boris Johnson's reduction of the two-metre rule to one metre if two is not viable – but only with “risk mitigation” such as face masks.

The government has provided advice for four different types of businesses: restaurants, pubs and bars, “close contact services” such as hairdressers, spas and tailors, hotels, and “heritage locations” such as churches and historic houses.

All of them must keep a temporary record of customers for 21 days and help NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed.

Restaurants, bars, pubs and takeaways:

  • Businesses in the same area need to consider the “cumulative impact” of many venues re-opening by working together, with local authorities and travel operators to assess the risk and apply “additional mitigations”
  • This could include further lowering capacity, staggering entry times to avoid queues, arranging one-way travel routes between transport hubs and venues, advising patrons to avoid particularly crowded forms of transport or routes
  • Plan for social distancing in the event of adverse weather conditions
  • Ensure customers do not need to “unduly” raise their voices to hear each other by not playing loud music or TV
  • Reducing number of surfaces touched by staff and customers – so ordering food and drinks directly to the table instead of at the counter.

Close contact services (hairdressers, beauty salons, tattoo studios, spas, massage therapy and tailors):

  • Place markings on the floor to show people where to sit
  • Encourage customers to turn up to appointments exactly on time, and on their own, so they do not congregate in waiting areas
  • If there is a queue this should be outside
  • Customers should be seated away from each other and side to side, with at least one metre between them
  • Till points must have perspex screens while doors and windows are to be kept open to increase ventilation
  • Screens should be used, where practical, to create a barrier between work stations
  • Hairdressers must wear a protective visor that extends below the chin, but do not need to wear a face mask
  • Disposable equipment must be used, and if it cannot then it should be washed between clients
  • Customers can choose to wear a face mask but it is not mandatory, and must wash or sanitise hands when entering
  • They must bring their own drinks, and if not, disposable cups must be used
  • No magazines
  • Music must be turned down low so people do not shout
  • Blow drys are allowed.

Hotels and guest accommodation:

  • Private rooms with en suite bathrooms, or one designated shower per guest room, can reopen
  • Outdoor accommodation, such as campsites, can reopen with shared shower facilities if clear use and cleaning guidance is provided but all other shared facilities should be closed
  • Reception areas must be cleaned more and screens placed in between guests and staff
  • Minimise lift usage, drop off room service outside and encourage tips to be added to the bill
  • Housekeeping staff must following handwashing guidance and make a checklist of all hand contact surfaces to be cleaned
  • Guests should be encouraged to wear masks in corridors
  • Clean keys and key cards between guests
  • Make staff accessible via phone, emails and guest apps and encourage contactless payment or pre-payment
  • Business events at hotels are not allowed.

Heritage locations (historic buildings, monuments, sites, parks, gardens):

  • Introduce a pre-booking system, stagger entry times and ensure new guidance is summarised clearly for guests at the entrance
  • Arrange one-way travel routes between transport and the location, as well as in venues if social distancing is an issue
  • Encourage visitors to avoid handling products while browsing
  • Visitors who do not observe social distancing and hand washing measures should be refused services or entry
  • Restrict numbers to avoid overcrowding and limit tour numbers to avoid guides shouting
  • Find out the best way to regularly clean surfaces, this may be difficult for sensitive historic surfaces so they may have to be covered or rooms closed
  • Have temporary markings to stop overcrowding, taking into consideration any possible lasting damage on historic surfaces – free standing signs are best
  • Clean toilets more and have a visible cleaning schedule
  • Clean audio guides between uses
  • Stop repair work if there is no way to social distance
  • Give volunteers extra time to get up to speed with new ways of working
  • No indoor performances
  • Guided tours may have to be stopped if building layout cannot accommodate social distancing
  • Have a test run of new arrangements to make people feel safe and welcome.

Mercedes-Benz cars struck a deal with Nvidia to produce cars from 2024 with a chip and software platform

( via — Tue, 23rd June 2020) London, UK —

(Reuters) – Semiconductor maker Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) said on Tuesday it struck a deal with Germany’s Daimler Mercedes-Benz (DAIGn.DE) to provide cars produced from 2024 with a chip and software platform that can eventually be used for autonomous driving functions.

“We intend to join forces to create a software-defined vehicle and deploy this across the entire next generation’s fleet,” Nvidia Senior Director of Automotive Danny Shapiro told reporters.

Shapiro declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal. The deal covers chips and software for the vehicle system.

The new partnership followed Daimler’s move last week to pause a development alliance with rival German luxury carmaker BMW in the area of automated driving.

Shapiro said the high-end Nvidia Drive AGX Orin Platform – an autonomous vehicle processor – would be standard in every Mercedes-Benz vehicle. With that in place, consumers will be able to update the car’s software the way smartphones are updated today.

Asked how the Mercedes-Benz partnership will affect Nvidia’s decade-long collaboration with Audi AG (NSUG.DE), Shapiro said neither arrangement was exclusive. With Mercedes-Benz there is “a huge dedication, huge energy, huge investment from both companies to bring this to market,” he said.

Mercedes-Benz sold 2.39 million cars worldwide in 2019. The two companies have been working together on autonomous driving and artificial intelligence car technology for over five years.

Reporting by Jane Lanhee Lee

JD Sports buys back Go Outdoors chain for £56.5m after pushing it into administration

( via– Tue, 23rd June 2020) London, Uk – –

Options included a sale – but JD Sports decided Go Outdoors had a potential future in the group “if fundamentally restructured”.

JD Sports has bought back its Go Outdoors chain for £56.5m after putting it into administration.

The move will “preserve as many jobs as possible”, JD Sports said, with a major restructuring plan aimed at retaining the “majority” of stores.

Go Outdoors sells camping, fishing and cycling equipment and employs about 2,400 staff.

On Saturday, Sky News had exclusively revealed that Go Outdoors was on the brink of administration – four years after retail giant JD Sports Fashion first bought it for £100m.

Sky's City editor Mark Kleinman said then that JD was expected to use an insolvency process to restructure the chain, which trades from 67 shops.

Manchester-based JD Sports, which has a market value of £6.3bn, was said to be keen to retain control of a slimmed-down Go Outdoors.

On Tuesday evening, JD Sports confirmed it had hired administrators from Deloitte.

Options for Go Outdoors included a sale, but JD Sports said the business had a potential future within the wider group “if fundamentally restructured”.

Existing staff will be transferred as part of the pre-pack administration sale, they added.

Peter Cowgill, executive chairman of JD Sports, said: “As a consequence of COVID-19, Go Outdoors was no longer viable as previously structured and would have absorbed capital at an unsustainable rate for the foreseeable future.

“Having investigated all available options for the business, we firmly believe that this restructuring will provide Go Outdoors with a platform from which it can progress whilst remaining a member of the group.

“Most importantly, we are pleased that it will protect the maximum number of jobs possible.”

Michael Magnay, joint administrator, said: “Like many high street retailers, Go Outdoors Ltd has been seeking to address a number of underlying business challenges in the current UK retail environment, which have been exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19.

“This successful sale will provide Go Outdoors with an opportunity to restructure its business to secure its future for the long term.

“I'm particularly pleased that we have been able to secure the employment of all the company's workforce, and we'd like to thank all employees and key stakeholders for their support throughout this process.”

By Sharon Marris

Will Rishi Sunak cut shop prices to boost the High Street?

( via – – Mon, 22nd June 2020) London, Uk – –

“Timely, temporary and targeted” was the advice given to the Treasury Select Committee on stimulating the economy by the former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers in the depths of the 2008 financial crisis.

These words found their way into the pre-Budget documents to describe the immediate 13-month VAT cut from 17.5% to 15% announced by then Chancellor Alistair Darling.

The same phrase was used by current Chancellor Rishi Sunak in his Budget in March to describe the first steps in pandemic support packages. And, following Germany's temporary 3% cut in VAT, the prospect of a similar tax cut is again up for discussion in the UK.

The policy is certainly timely, because it can be enacted with immediate effect. And because it is reversible, it serves as a temporary stimulus.


In 2008, it was argued that a general VAT cut was targeted because it was aimed at supporting consumer confidence. But that is far more debatable. It certainly was expensive, though. The upfront cost was £13bn over two years, amount to half of the Darling stimulus package.

Most of this shifted spending in time into the cheaper VAT period. The net impact? A 1% increase in retail sales, just shy of the 0.5% overall boost to consumers predicted by the Treasury at the time, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

The argument floating around government earlier in the month was that there was little point in stimulating shops, restaurants and pubs that were not open. Physically enabling trade would be a prerequisite.

The thinking in Germany was to incentivise spending and consumer confidence as soon as retail reopened, rather than see those who could not physically spend during lockdown, and were so forced to save, choosing to maintain high savings.

Consumer confidence

The point about the temporary cut is to get money flowing in the economy quickly. It has some interesting quirks as a policy. Back in late 2008, 43% of local shops only changed their prices at the till, leaving shelf prices unchanged. It is a considerable logistical cost to do so.

However, the impact on consumer confidence was marked. There was a significant rise in sentiment towards both buying household goods and making major purchases, according to the Nationwide consumer confidence survey.

The major purchases index went above boom time levels and continued even after VAT went back up, but then fell sharply when VAT was increased again under the Coalition in January 2011.

The considerations here are whether the Treasury chooses to make this truly targeted on particular sectors – such as pubs and restaurants, rather than pass further boost to say mainly online retailers.

The cost may be less than normal, too, given VAT revenues are in any case going to be sharply down. But it is still pricey.

Also, it is unclear how much additional difference a 2.5% cut in prices will really achieve on top of already anticipated reopening sales and price cuts?

Wherever things go, a clear decision will be needed quickly. Speculating that VAT will be cut in the near future will simply serve to delay purchases, as consumers wait for an anticipated saving.

By Faisal Islam

Consumer numbers up 45% as high streets shops reopened in England

( via – – Mon, 22nd June 2020) London, Uk – –

Footfall down 54% compared with 2019, but uplift expected when Scotland and Wales reopens

Shoppers flocked back to the high streets in England over the past week as non-essential stores reopened but numbers remained well down on a year earlier, according to the latest survey of retail footfall.

Springboard, a company that measures the number of potential customers at retail outlets across the UK, found that footfall in the week starting 15 June was up 45% on the previous week.

But with numbers influenced by later reopenings in Scotland and Wales, restrictions on public transport and a shift to online shopping, footfall was down 54% on the same week in 2019.

Footfall indicates the number of people going to high street stores, shopping centres and retail parks and is not a measure of how much each consumer spends. Numbers were at their weakest during April, when they were down 80% year on year, but Springboard said reopening non-essential stores in England had resulted in the biggest change since the start of the lockdown in late March.

There were smaller weekly increases of 11.5% in Scotland and 8.5% in Wales, with Scotland not due to open non-essential stores – excluding those in shopping centres – until the end of the month and Wales only opening its non-essential shops on Monday.

Footfall in London’s West End remained severely affected by a lack of international visitors to the UK and the difficulties in accessing public transport. Footfall in the West End last week was down 81% on the same week a year earlier, while in Scotland and Wales the year-on-year falls were 67% and 69% respectively.

Diane Wehrle, the insights director at Springboard, said: “The overall result for the UK was subdued by Scotland and Wales where retail reopening is yet to happen.

“We anticipate an additional uplift to come when retail in these areas of the UK also reopens and the hospitality and entertainment industry is given the green light to resume trading in the coming weeks.”

Springboard, which records 70m footfall counts a week at 4,500 counting points across 480 different shopping sites across the UK, said activity had risen by more than 30% each day from the same day in the week before, apart from on Thursday, when the rise was limited to 25% by heavy rain.

The Real Reason The Aunt Jemima Brand Is Changing Its Name

Source: Mashed

On June 15, 2020, Miami-based singer-songwriter Kirby Maurier posted a TikTok video called “How Not to Make a Racist Breakfast” that drew attention to the fact that many brands' logos and images, like Aunt, are still deeply rooted in offensive stereotypes. As the video quickly went viral, it drew a lot of attention from both social and mainstream media, with Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian tweeting in disbelief, “How is Aunt Jemima not canceled?”

How Beats By Dre Leveraged The Strategies of Sneaker Culture And Became A Multi-Billion Dollar Brand

Source: CNBC

Few brands have risen to the top of American pop culture as quickly as Beats by Dre. Beats was founded on a novel idea: use the principles of hype culture to sell headphones. That strategy turned over-the-ear-headphones from a niche product to a cultural phenomenon. Here’s how Beats by Dre leveraged the strategies of sneaker culture to become one of the most recognizable brands in the world.

15 Reasons Why POOR People Hate the RICH

Source: Alux

This Alux video well try to answer the following questions: What are some dumb reasons why the poor hate the rich? Why do poor people hate the rich? Why do poor people hate rich people? Why do some poor people hate the rich? Why do people, especially the poor, hate the rich? Why can't people accept that there will always be poor and rich people in any society? What do poor people think about rich people? What are some valid reasons to hate the rich? Why are people hating billionaires? Why do normal people hate billionaires? Are rich people just hoarding resources? Are billionaires hoarding resources? Are rich people corrupt? Why do rich people have nice things? Why do poor people envy rich people? What do rich people think of poor people? Why do we hate billionaires? Why do we envy successful people? Do the rich keep poor people poor? Are rich people greedy?

UK officials in talks with a number of European countries over relaxed quarantine rules

( via – – Fri, 19th June 2020) London, Uk – –

The government is planning to relax its travel quarantine rules in early July for some countries.

Talks are taking place between UK officials and those in a number of European countries, including Portugal.

However, the UK hopes to make an announcement on 29 June that it has secured a number of “travel corridors”.

The government had previously said that the quarantine would be reviewed every three weeks and 29 June marks the end of the first three-week period.

A travel corridor would mean that two people travelling in both directions between two countries would not have to self-isolate after they travel.

A senior aviation source has told the BBC that the quarantine could remain throughout the summer for anyone arriving from countries which do not have a travel corridor with the UK.

Portugal's foreign minister previously said that anyone in the UK thinking of going to Portugal this summer would be “most welcome” despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Augusto Santos Silva said he hoped an “air bridge” between the UK and Portugal could be secured by the end of June.

However, the broader travel quarantine is expected to remain in place.

What are the new 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.

Anyone arriving from the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man does not have to complete a form or enter quarantine upon arrival in the UK.

There are also exemptions for workers in some industries such as road haulage and medical professionals who are providing essential care.

The travel industry has been vocal in its criticism of the government's quarantine rules, warning that the isolation period will deter visitors and put jobs at risk. Some airlines were in the early stages of legal action.

The manufacturing industry has also highlighted that fewer flights will restrict imports and exports, which will have a knock-on effect for the freight industry, as well as hampering the recovery of some businesses.

Despite criticism from businesses, Home Secretary Priti Patel said that the measures were “proportionate” and being implemented “at the right time” when they came into effect on 8 June.

By Tom Burridge, Transport correspondent

UK debt now larger than size of whole economy after government borrowed a record amount in May

( via – – Fri, 19th June 2020) London, Uk – –

The UK's debt is now worth more than its economy after the government borrowed a record amount in May.

The £55.2bn figure was nine times higher than in May last year and the highest since records began in 1993.

The borrowing splurge sent total government debt surging to £1.95trn, exceeding the size of the economy for the first time in more than 50 years.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the figures confirmed the severe impact the virus was having on public finances.

“The best way to restore our public finances to a more sustainable footing is to safely reopen our economy so people can return to work.

“We've set out our plan to do this in a gradual and safe fashion, including reopening high streets across the country this week, as we kickstart our economic recovery,” he added.

Income from tax, National Insurance and VAT all dived in May amid the coronavirus lockdown as spending on support measures soared.

This is the first time debt has been larger than the size of the economy since 1963, but it is not as high as the post-war peak of 258% in 1946-47.

Record high

The deficit – the difference between spending and tax income – for the first two months of the financial year (April and May) is now estimated to have been £103.7bn, £87bn more than in the same period last year, another record.

But the ONS estimates borrowing for the 2020-21 financial year will dwarf that at £298bn. That would be the largest deficit since World War Two.

It cautioned that due to the coronavirus, its official estimates were subject to greater than usual uncertainty.

The Office for National Statistics had previously said that April's borrowing figure was the highest since records began in 1993, but it subsequently revised the figure down to £48.5bn from £62bn.

The revision was due to higher than expected income from taxes and national insurance, as well as the spending on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme being lower than originally estimated.

Alex Tuckett, senior economist at consultants PwC, pointed to the 46% fall in the amount of VAT collected in the month, although it said the biggest issue for the government's finances was the £29bn it spent on the various support schemes for the economy.

“In the near term, there are signs the economy is recovering as the country re-opens, and this should boost tax receipts.

“However, these figures remind us that Chancellor Rishi Sunak faces a difficult backdrop to any summer fiscal event.”

Samuel Tombs at Pantheon Economics said the emergency support measures had placed a “colossal burden” on the public finances.

In a release packed with striking figures, he singled out the fact the government had needed to raise more cash in the first two months of this fiscal year than in total in any prior 10 fiscal years.

Analysis: By Dharshini David

Busting the overdraft, with a borrowing figure nine times as high as a year ago is not an easy thing for any government to swallow. In his first full year as Chancellor, Rishi Sunak is on track for the biggest public sector deficit since World War Two,

But it is, he reckons, a price worth paying to prevent a bigger cost to the economy, in terms of lost jobs and output. Billions have been pumped into supporting millions of jobs, and many businesses, while, on the other side, tax receipts have plunged. Those lifelines will be wound down in the coming months, and the government can borrow cheaply on financial markets to fund them.

But what happens next? As lockdown is eased, the Treasury is watching closely, knowing the recovery may need extra support – perhaps tax cuts or more spending. That will present the government with more bills – but failing to provide more help risks an even higher cost.

The chancellor is to present some sort of statement before Parliament ceases for the summer in July – that won't be a full Budget but may contain some measures to boost the recovery. The tough choices aren't over yet.