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Gloucestershire Business News

Coronavirus LIVE Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Friday, August 28

The ongoing coronavirus situation is changing by the hour with announcements being made about businesses and services that are being forced to adapt and change.

Punchline is committed to trying to keep you up to date with all the news that matters to you and your business.

Our team will update this story throughout the day, to ensure that the latest important developments can be found in one - clickbait free - place.

If you or your business has any news, views or advice to share with the Gloucestershire business community, get in touch with Punchline team at news@moosemarketingandpr.co.uk.

Friday, August 28

Update #1342 - 17.21 Council urges business owners to stay alert this bank holiday weekend

Tewkesbury Borough Council and Gloucestershire Constabulary have teamed up to help hospitality businesses stay covid-secure over the bank holiday.

Environmental health officers and neighbourhood policing teams have had a regular presence across Tewkesbury Borough, checking in on cafes, bars and restaurants to make sure they have the right safety measures in place to minimise the spread of COVID-19.

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Update #1341 - 16.16 Lottery fund cash will help charity's vital work for children and families during Covid-19 crisis

Cheltenham-based WellChild has received support from The National Lottery Community Fund for its vital work for seriously ill children and their families during the coronavirus pandemic.

The charity was allocated a grant of nearly £90,000.

Since the start of the pandemic, WellChild has sent out more than a quarter of a million items of PPE to families caring at home for children with long-term complex health needs.

READ MORE  

Update #1340 - 14.30 Cheltenham Literature Festival line-up unveiled

Richard Osman, Nick Hornby, Claudia Winkelman, Gavin & Stacey co-creator Ruth Jones and two show-stealing Labradors are among the star names who will be appearing at a Cheltenham Literature Festival with a difference.

The world's oldest festival, which runs from October 2-11, will feature more than 160 digital and in-person events and will be live streamed for the first time.

More than 100 events will be broadcast live from the Town Hall and Everyman Theatre in front of a socially-distanced live audience. Sky Arts will also show highlights of the 76th festival.

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Update #1339 - 14.14 Campaign seeks to get workers back in the office

The Government is to launch a campaign to get people back to their workplaces to coincide with the return to school next week.

Adverts will appear in newspapers advising employers on making offices COVID-secure as it aims to encourage people to feel safe to return.

The drive follows warnings of the damage being done to city and town centre businesses by the lack of office workers providing their normal custom - sandwich chain Pret A Manger having announcing 3,000 jobs are to go after a collapse in sales.

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Update #1338 - 12.29 Business confidence in shorter supply across South West

Business confidence in the South West is lower than the rest of England despite a rise during in August, according to new monthly figures.

The latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, which questions 1,200 businesses monthly, found confidence across the region rose by two points to -25 per cent.

That compares to a national rise of eight points to -14 per cent with only Scotland (-35) showing less confidence - the South East becoming the first to register a positive reading since March as it soared from -31 per cent to one per cent.

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Update #1337 - 12.27 Screwfix set to open 30 additional stores

Hardware retailer Screwfix has announced plans to open 30 new outlets across the UK by January 2021.

The business, with locations in Gloucester, Stroud and Tewkesbury, added that the new openings demonstrate its continued growth and increased demand for convenience despite the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

These new stores are expected to create up to 300 jobs and adds to the company's goal of having 800 sites across the UK. They have opened upwards of 50 stores a year for the last decade.

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Update #1336 - 10.30 Gatwick loses £321m over six months

Gatwick airport has announced losses of £321million for the first six months of the yer due to the collapse in overseas travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this week the airport said it was cutting 600 jobs to cope with the changes in the travel industry.

With planes grounded for months, passenger numbers dropped by 66 per cent over the six months to June.

Revenues fell by 61 per cent to £144million.

Heathrow has reported a loss of £1.1billion for the same period.

Update #1335 - 10.28 Business confidence in short supply across South West

Business confidence in the South West is lower than the rest of England despite a rise during in August, according to new monthly figures.

The latest Business Barometer from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, which questions 1,200 businesses monthly, found confidence across the region rose by two points to -25 per cent.

That compares to a national rise of eight points to -14 per cent with only Scotland (-35) showing less confidence - the South East becoming the first to register a positive reading since March as it soared from -31 per cent to one per cent.

The majority of firms continued to see demand negatively affected by COVID-19 on their business during August

FULL STORY 

Update #1334 - 10.25 Pret serves up 300 job losses

Three hundred jobs are to go at sandwich chain Pret A Manger - more than one third of the company's workforce.

The chain, which has an outlet in Cheltenham, was closed for much of lockdown and has been hit by a drop in demand from stay-at-home office workers and had already announced plans to close 30 branches.

Chief executive Pano Christou said: "Although we're now starting to see a steady but slow recovery, the pandemic has taken away almost a decade of growth at Pret.

"We've managed to protect many jobs by making changes to the way we run our shops and the hours we ask team members to work.

"I'm hopeful we'll be able to review all these changes now that trade is improving again."

Update #1333 - 08.26 Latest coronavirus figures for Gloucestershire

The latest data for coronavirus cases and deaths of patients with COVID-19 were released yesterday by the Government's department of health and social care and NHS England.

In Gloucestershire, confirmed coronavirus deaths remain at 223 according to figures released by NHS England - no increase since August 19.

It has been reported that of those who have died, 195 were being cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals while 35 were being treated through Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 1,972 as of Thursday afternoon - an increase of five.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 569 cases

Cheltenham - 458 cases

Stroud - 286 cases

Tewkesbury - 272 cases

Cotswolds - 223 cases

Forest of Dean - 169 cases

Thursday, August 27

Update #1332 - 17.12 Update on coronavirus cases in the UK

The Government's Department of Health and Social Care has released the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

It has been said that a further 12 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 16.00 today (August 27).

The latest total COVID death toll for the UK now sits at 41,477 - which specifically includes those that have died within 28 days of a laboratory-confirmed positive COVID test.

Across the UK, 1,522 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 330,368 since the outbreak began.

Update #1331 - 17.07 The Range to create 50 jobs in Cheltenham

Value home, leisure and garden retailer The Range is set to open its new branch in Cheltenham in the autumn.

The new store will open on October 30 in the former Homebase store at Centrum Retail Park. It will replace the existing branch located just half a mile away on Tewkesbury Road.

The new The Range will provide a much larger retail space than the current store. Existing staff will move to the new store, which is also expected to create 50 new roles, boosting the Cheltenham economy during a difficult time for retail.

The existing store will close on Thursday 29th October, the day before the new one launches. In preparation for the move, it will be holding a big clearance sale.

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Update #1330 - 17.04 New Look's CVA proposal criticised

Fashion retailer New Look has been criticised by the British Property Federation for inaccuracies in its CVA proposal, which will move many of its UK stores to a turnover rent.

The membership organisation didn't agree with the retailer's claim that its CVA proposal reflects best practice, as reported by Retail Gazette.

New Look, which has a store in Cheltenham, is seeking a three-year rent holiday for 68 of its stores, and a move to turnover based leases for 402 other stores under the terms of its CVA, which launched yesterday (26th August).

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Update #1329 - 14.48 Rolls-Royce losses soar to £5.4billion

Rolls-Royce has announced record losses with a warning that the demand for jet engines could take five years to recover.

The engineering giant, which has a base in Gloucester, announced a pre-tax loss of £5.4billion for the first half of the year with the coronavirus pandemic hitting air travel.

It has previously announced plans to cut 3,000 UK jobs as part of a restructuring which will see around 20 per cent of its 50,000 global staff leaving.

Factories in Nottinghamshire and Lancashire had their closures confirmed yesterday.

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Update #1328 - 14.46 Properties selling at rapid rate since lockdown

Properties are selling quicker as the market deals with pent-up demand following the coronavirus lockdown, according to new research.

Property website Zoopla said three-bedroom homes have been selling in 24 days over the last three months - 12 days quicker than the same time last year.

Even the slowest selling properties - one-bedroom flats - are quicker than normal at 34 days.

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Update #1327 - 12.39 New payment for low-income residents self-isolating

People on low incomes who need to self-isolate and are unable to work from home in areas with high incidence of COVID-19 will benefit from a new payment scheme starting on September 1.

Starting with a trial in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Oldham to ensure the process works, eligible individuals who test positive with the virus will receive £130 for their 10-day period of self-isolation.

Other members of their household, who have to self-isolate for 14 days, will be entitled to a payment of £182.

It will be available to people currently receiving either Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit.

Update #1326 - 12.14 July car production down more than 20 per cent as uncertainty reigns

UK car manufacturing output fell -20.8 per cent in July as 85,696 units rolled off production lines, according to industry figures released today.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) found that the month saw the ramp up of production continue, as global lockdown measures eased and nearly all factories reopened, however, social distancing measures and ongoing economic uncertainty still stifled output.

Car production for the UK market improved compared with May and June. However, it still fell by a dramatic -37.1 per cent year-on-year, with just 13,434 units leaving factory gates.

In the year to date, the impact of the pandemic on key markets, including the UK, means that overall production remains down -39.7 per cent.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive  said: "As key global markets continue to re-open and UK car plants gradually get back to business, these figures are a marked improvement on the previous three months, but the outlook remains deeply uncertain." 

Update #1325 - 10.56 Restaurants add their own extensions to Eat Out scheme

Many restaurants are planning to fund the Eat Out to Help Out scheme once it comes to an end on Monday.

As reported on Punchline-Gloucester.com yesterday, more than 64 million diners used the discount scheme designed to get people eating out to help the restaurant and pub industry which was forced to shut throughout the coronavirus lockdown.

Harvester and Toby Carvery are among the restaurant chains planning to continue funding the scheme, rather than claiming the money back from the Government, with many independent and local establishments following suit.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "The hospitality sector is still fragile and faces other challenges, but prolonging the Eat Out scheme could help businesses back to stability and enable them to safeguard jobs and livelihoods."

Update #1324 - 10.53 Gatwick airport shedding 600 jobs

Gatwick airport has revealed plans to cut 600 jobs as it battles to contend with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on travel.

The cuts represent around a quarter of the workforce at the airport which is operating from only one of its two terminals with passengers down 80 per cent on last August.

Virgin Atlantic announced in May it would no longer fly from the airport while British Airways has made hundreds of staff redundant as it cut back operations at Gatwick.

Chief executive Stewart Wingate said: "If anyone is in any doubt about the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on the aviation and travel industry, the proposed job losses are a stark reminder.

"We are in ongoing talks with government to see what sector specific support can be put in place for the industry. This support will not only help Gatwick but the wider regional economy which relies on the airport."

Update #1323 - 10.07 People scammed out of thousands of pounds as police warn public

Gloucestershire Constabulary is warning the public to be aware of a scam call where fraudsters claim to be police, after two people were conned out of thousands of pounds.

One incident was reported to police at around 12.30pm on Friday after a woman in Cirencester had withdrawn thousands of pounds from her account and gave the cash to a fake courier.

The woman had been contacted by a man who claimed to be from Scotland Yard, telling her that her bank card had been used fraudulently.

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Update #1322 - 08.29 Latest coronavirus figures for the UK and Gloucestershire

The latest data for coronavirus cases and deaths of patients with COVID-19 were released yesterday by the Government's department of health and social care and NHS England.

Updated figures released on Wednesday show the UK death toll of people with coronavirus rose to 41,465 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 16 on the previous day's figures.

In Gloucestershire, confirmed coronavirus deaths remain at 229 according to figures released by NHS England - no increase for several weeks.

It has been reported that of those who have died, 194 were being cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals while 35 were being treated through Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 1,975 as of Wednesday afternoon.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 566 cases

Cheltenham - 456 cases

Stroud - 286 cases

Tewkesbury - 273 cases

Cotswolds - 225 cases

Forest of Dean - 169 cases

Wednesday, August 26

Update #1321 - 17.10 Three in four workers not victims of discrimination

Ageism is the most common form of perceived discrimination in the workplace, according to new research.

But almost three quarters (73 per cent) of British workers said they have never felt discriminated against at work with their current employer

The survey by payroll and HR firm ADP found eight per cent of respondents say they have been discriminated against on the grounds of their age

People aged 18-24 are the most likely to feel affected (19 per cent), followed by 25-34 (10 per cent) and those over 45 (six per cent).

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Update #1320 - 16.44 UK looks set to lose £22billion from missing tourists and visitors

A staggering £22billion looks set to be lost from the UK economy due to the collapse of international travel during 2020, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

Travellers and tourists are staying away from the UK in droves because of continuing uncertainty around travel restrictions designed to curb the spread of COVID-19.

As a result, this year international visitor spending could plunge by 78 per cent compared to 2019 levels, equating to a loss of £60million a day, or £420million a week, to the UK economy.

Nearly three million jobs in the UK supported by travel and tourism are at risk of being lost in a 'worst case' scenario mapped out by WTTC economic modelling.

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Update #1319 - 15.22 Banks urged to keep supporting mortgage borrowers

The Financial Conduct Authority has urged banks to support anyone struggling to pay mortgages due to the coronavirus pandemic beyond the requirement for repayment holidays.

The scheme, which allows customers to defer payments for three months, has already been extended from the end of June to October 31.

And the FCA said lenders should consider further measures such as extending repayment terms.

Interim chief executive Christopher Woolard said: "We are proposing that firms contact their borrowers in good time before the end of a payment holiday, and work with them to come up with a tailored plan to help get them back on track."

More than 1.9 million borrowers have taken advantage of the scheme to delay payments since it was launched in March.

Update #1318 - 15.20 Mini cuts 400 jobs at Oxford factory

Around 400 jobs are set to go at the Mini car factory in Oxford.

Owners BMW said the jobs would come from the 950 agency personnel at the Cowley plant, which halted production in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Work resumed in May but BMW said work will shift from three shifts to two from mid-October.

Human resources director Bob Shankly said: "Our volume forecasts for 2020 have had to change. We have, therefore, made the difficult decision to adjust our shift patterns at Mini Plant Oxford from October.

"This will give us the flexibility we need to adapt our production in the short to medium term, according to developments in global markets."

Update #1317 - 15.17 UK hits unwanted spot on top of economic list

The UK economy suffered the biggest hit among the world's leading economies from April to June.

A contraction of 20.4 per cent topped the list of 37 countries compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Spain was next on the list at 18.5 per cent with an average decline of 9.8 per cent.

That average decline was the worst quarter on record, beating the 2.3 per cent drop during the financial crisis at the start of 2009.

Update #1316 - 14.58 Cotswold pub with new owners undergoes lockdown revamp

Following the successful launch of their first pub The Stump in Cirencester last year, its owners have announced the opening of their second pub in Gloucestershire.

The New Inn, an old roadside inn in the village of Coln St. Aldwyns, is re-opening this September after a complete renovation. The pub boasts 14 ensuite rooms and has been stripped back to its original features, along with the creation of an open kitchen that will form the heart and soul of the venue.

Owners Baz and Fred say that similar to The Stump in the village of Foss Cross, customers should expect a fun, vibrant space approachable for all ages.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #1315 - 14.56 Gloucestershire furlough figures paint 'increasingly scary' picture

Furlough numbers in Gloucestershire are "increasingly scary" according to a senior figure at Business West.

And Gloucestershire director Ian Mean believes the closure of the Government's Job Retention Scheme will spark an alarming rise in job losses.

Figures collated by GFirst LEP show 93,400 people were furloughed as the scheme began to be wound down at the end of July - up from 89,000 the previous month.

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Update #1314 - 13.22 Calls to leave Eat Out scheme on the menu

Fresh calls have been made to extend the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme after official figures showed it had attracted more than 64 million diners it its first three weeks.

The Treasury figures showed the scheme, which offers half price meals up to £10 off per person from Monday to Wednesdays in August, has seen 84,000 restaurants sign up and claim the discount back from the Government.

It is due to finish on Monday, but the Federation of Small Businesses have called on the Government to extend the initiative.

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Update #1313 - 13.05 Doors open on £5m Cinderford health centre

A £5million health centre has opened in Cinderford to replace the town's existing health centre.

The centre in Valley Road houses both Dockham Surgery and Forest Health Care and includes 20 multi-purpose consulting rooms, nurse treatment areas and first-rate facilities for reception and administration staff.

Dockham Surgery GP Dr Ingalill Sandys said: "We are thrilled to be opening the doors of our wonderful new surgery to our patients."

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Update #1312 - 12.13 Cirencester fashion store to close

Phase Eight women's clothing store will close in Cirencester next week.

The Market Place branch is set to close its doors permanently on 5th September.

The fashion brand has 100 standalone stores around the world, including branches in Cheltenham and Gloucester Quays, as well as concessions at department stores.

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Update #1311 - 11.58 Lister survey reveals digital lockdown revolution

More than nine in 10 businesses have used video conferences since the introduction of coronavirus restrictions, according to a new survey.

Zoom was the overwhelming favourite for respondents to the survey of customers by Lister Communications on how they have changed ways of working and communicating.

The Stonehouse firm found 93 per cent of respondents had used video calls since the introduction. Many said they had used multiple platforms including Zoom (83 per cent), Microsoft Teams (65 per cent) and Horizon Collaborate (12 per cent).

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #1310 - 10.39 Backing for Virgin's £1.2billion rescue plan

Creditors have backed a £1.2billion rescue plan for the troubled Virgin Atlantic airline.

The package, which is designed to secure the airline's future for at least 18 months and save 6,500 jobs, will be put before the High Court in London for approval on September 2.

Under the plan, unsecured creditors are expected to receive 20 per cent less than they are owed with repayments rescheduled.

US airline Delta, which owns 49 per cent of Virgin Atlantic, said it is "firmly supportive" of the company.

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, the airline's main shareholder, will provide £200million as part of the rescue deal.

Update #1309 - 10.38 Government changes lessons on masks for schools

The Government has reversed its policy on wearing masks in schools with pupils needing to don protective coverings in corridors when they return for the new term in England.

And headteachers will have the option to introduce masks for pupils and staffs throughout the school.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the decision was made following fresh advice from the World Health Organisation.

Update #1308 - 10.05 Big rise in retail returns

Research by the Royal Mail suggests many Brits regretted lockdown purchases, with retail returns in July up by 25 per cent on last July.

Customers in the South East were most likely to return unsuitable or ill-fitting items, with St Albans and Watford top of the list.

Many retailers extended return periods during lockdown, giving consumers more time to make a decision on their purchases. The continued closure of fitting rooms in many shops meant more customers trying clothes on at home before returning them.

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Update #1307 - 08.53 Latest coronavirus figures for Gloucestershire

The latest data for coronavirus cases and deaths of patients with COVID-19 were released yesterday by the Government's department of health and social care and NHS England.

In Gloucestershire, confirmed coronavirus deaths remain at 229 according to figures released by NHS England - no increase for several weeks.

It has been reported that of those who have died, 194 were being cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals while 35 were being treated through Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 1,972 as of Tuesday afternoon.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 566 cases

Cheltenham - 456 cases

Stroud - 286 cases

Tewkesbury - 272 cases

Cotswolds - 223 cases

Forest of Dean - 169 cases

Update #1306 - 08.51 Legislation launches move for greener supply chains

Businesses in the UK could be banned from using products from land which has been deforested illegally.

New legislation proposed by the Government would require businesses operating in the UK to operate due diligence on they supply chains.

And Unilever, who have a factory in Gloucester, is partnering with a US tech company in a bid to tackle deforestation and environmental threats in its supply chains.

READ MORE 

Tuesday, August 25

Update #1305 - 16.52 Update on coronavirus cases in the UK

The Government's Department of Health and Social Care has released the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

It has been said that a further 16 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 16.47 today (August 25).

The latest total COVID death toll for the UK now sits at 41,449 - which specifically includes those that have died within 28 days of a laboratory-confirmed positive COVID test.

Across the UK, 1,184 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours.

Update #1304 - 16.16 John Lewis switches on Christmas website

The unveiling of John Lewis' Christmas advert has become one of the main signals that the festive season is on its way.

And now the retailer has responded to a demand for festive products by opening up its online Christmas shop early.

It may be four months today until Christmas, but searches online for the likes of lights, trees and hampers have increased by almost 300 per cent compared to 2019, prompting John Lewis to open the specialist section of its website 10 days earlier than a year ago.

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Update #1303 - 16.15 Council offers £10,000 funding for community groups

Community groups and organisations struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic are being offered the chance to apply for a support grant from Gloucester City Council.

The funding has been made available following work by city council into the impact of the pandemic on the voluntary and community sector.

One-off financial grants will be made to groups experiencing financial difficulties and those that need to make adaptations in the wake of coronavirus.

The council has set aside £10,000 for the initiative and groups can apply for grants of up to £1,000, which will be awarded on a first come, first served basis.

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Update #1302 - 16.11 Mental health services available for people needing support

Services to support people who have been struggling with their mental health as a result of the coronavirus crisis are still available.

Gloucestershire County Council launched a number of new services in April in response to the Covid-19 outbreak to supplement existing services for anyone struggling with anxiety, health, finances, job security or any other issues that may have been contributing to mental health difficulties.

The council would like to remind everyone of the services available, which are easy to access and do not necessarily need a referral from a health professional.

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Update #1301 - 15.09 CBI reveals worst year for jobs since 2009

The last year has seen the largest loss of retail jobs in the UK since the financial crisis according to the latest figures.

And the Confederation of British Industry said is expects the rate of job losses to rise.

The CBI's quarterly employment balance, which measures job changes across the previous year, sank from -20 in May to -45 by August.

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Update #1300 - 13.29 DFS posts note of caution after surge in sales

DFS has reported a surge in revenue to kick off its new financial year after posting a loss over the previous 12 months.

And the furniture retailer has warned of more uncertainty in the coming months with the twin hurdles of the coronavirus and Brexit.

DFS reported the loss of £58million for the 12 months to June as revenues dropped by £271m with deliveries suspended for a lengthy period during the coronavirus lockdown.

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Update #1299 - 12.47 Is studying and earning at the same time the way forward post-Covid?

A Gloucestershire firm is among apprenticeship companies hoping for a surge in interest as GCSE with A-level results published.

Although university applications are up, Cirencester-based Apprenticeship Management Group believes doing an apprenticeship is viewed as a good way to weather the coronavirus downturn.

With the university experience subdued due to COVID-19 regulations, director John Henry said an apprenticeship offers interaction at both the workplace and the place of learning.

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Update #1298 - 12.44 Care home reopening doors to respite care

A Cheltenham care home is poised to become one of the first specialist dementia facilities to reopen its respite care facility following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Queensbridge manager Lisa Stanton walking with resident Barbara

Queensbridge, which has remained opened throughout the pandemic and had no reported cases of COVID-19, will offer respite care for up to six weeks from September 1.

Around 1,500 people are living with dementia in the town, around a quarter of them with advanced dementia.

READ MORE 

Update #1297 - 11.04 KFC to drop slogan over coronavirus hygiene concerns

Fast food chain KFC has announced the suspension of its 64-year-old 'Finger Lickin' Good' slogan due to it not fitting with coronavirus guidance.

The business said that the saying will return when the time is right, but for now messaging will change. New advertising images have been released showing the slogan pixelated.

Catherine Tan-Gillespie, global chief marketing officer at KFC said: "We find ourselves in a unique situation - having an iconic slogan that doesn't quite fit in the current environment

"While we are pausing the use of It's Finger Lickin' Good, rest assured the food craved by so many people around the world isn't changing one bit."

Update #1296 - 10.34 Co-operative Bank losing jobs as it shuts branches

The Co-operative Bank has said it plans to cut around 350 jobs and close 18 branches.

It said staff in the branches earmarked for closure would be affected, together with middle management and head office roles.

Chief executive Andrew Bester said: "We're not immune to the impact of recent events, with the historically low base rate affecting the income of all banks and a period of prolonged economic uncertainty ahead, which means it's important we reduce costs and have the right-sized model in place for the future.

"The bank ins in a resilient position given the significant progress we've made in recent years and our focus is on maintaining this as we continue to support our customers through the crisis."

Update #1295 - 08.50 Latest coronavirus figures for Gloucestershire

The latest data for coronavirus cases and deaths of patients with COVID-19 were released yesterday by the Government's department of health and social care and NHS England.

In Gloucestershire, confirmed coronavirus deaths remain at 229 according to figures released by NHS England - no increase for several weeks.

It has been reported that of those who have died, 194 were being cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals while 35 were being treated through Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 1,967 as of Monday afternoon.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 566 cases

Cheltenham - 455 cases

Stroud - 282 cases

Tewkesbury - 272 cases

Cotswolds - 223 cases

Forest of Dean - 169 cases

Update #1294 - 08.47 Minster innovation centre clears planning hurdle

Plans for an innovation hub which forms part of major new project for the centre of Cheltenham which has secured £3.1million in government funding have been approved.

Cheltenham Borough Council has given the all clear to the hub on the site of the existing Chester Walk car park site.

The 2,000sq ft innovation centre by Workshop Cheltenham, which includes a GFirst LEP growth hub, headquarters for Cheltenham Festivals and cafe plus community spaces, is part of the wider Minster Innovation Exchange project.

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Monday, August 24

Update #1293 - 17.18 Update on coronavirus cases in the UK

The Government's Department of Health and Social Care has released the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

It has been said that a further four people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 4pm today (August 24).

The latest total COVID death toll for the UK now sits at 41,433 - which specifically includes those that have died within 28 days of a laboratory-confirmed positive COVID test.

Across the UK, 853 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours, with a total of 326,614 positive cases since the outbreak began.

Update #1292 - 17.05 Raytheon teams up with Navy charity to drive STEM learning

Raytheon UK has launched a long-term charity partnership designed to drive the company's commitment to STEM learning.

The defence and aerospace technology company, which has a base in Gloucester, has teamed up with the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity for a series of STEM activities for young students and families.

During the week of the events (which runs until Friday), the company will encourage students to build their science, technology, engineering, and mathematics knowledge through activities designed by Raytheon UK's STEM ambassadors.

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Update #1291 - 15.51 Frasers Group buys part of DW Sports from administration

Part of DW Sports has been bought out of administration by former rival Frasers Group.

The owners of House of Fraser and Sports Direct have bought 40 leisure clubs and 31 shops as part of the £37million deal.

It is expected to save 922 jobs at the sports retailer and him group which went into administration earlier this month.

DW Sports had outlets in Gloucester and Cheltenham.

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Update #1290 - 15.25 Anti-drink and drug drive campaign reaches halfway point

More than 40 people have been arrested as Gloucestershire Constabulary reaches halfway through its summer anti-drink and drug drive campaign.

Between August 3-16, 25 people were arrested on suspicion of drink driving offences, 15 people for drug driving offences and three people for both drink and drug driving offences.

So far 20 of those arrested have been bailed to attend court.

Ahead of the weekend police are urging drivers to not act in an irresponsible way by driving after they've been drinking alcohol or taking drugs.

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Update #1289 - 15.08 Figures show shoppers continuing to return

Retailers across the UK saw a 4.1 per cent jump in shopper numbers last week according to the latest figures.

Researcher Springboard said the jump followed a 0.8 per cent rise the previous week, although it remained 30.7 per cent below the same week 12 months ago.

Footfall in local high streets and small towns have seen the better recovery, down 34.1 per cent in historic towns and 28.3 per cent in market towns.

But big city centres are still feeling the brunt of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic which were 49.8 per cent lower than the previous year.

Shopping centres saw the biggest increase during the week, up 7.1 per cent, compared with 3.2 per cent in high streets and 2.7 per cent in retail parks.

Update #1288 - 14.34 Travel needs help to keep moving warns ABTA

Travel industry trade body ABTA has called for "tailored support" to stem the flow of job losses.

Around 65 per cent of travel firms have been affected by redundancies with about 39,000 jobs lost to date, according to the Association of British Travel Agents.

And after STA Travel became the latest big-name casualty of the pandemic, ABTA warned things will get worse without help.

It has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to ask for further support with moves such as a suspension of Air Passenger Duty for next summer, warning that 96 per cent fear a second lockdown would have a serious impact on their ability to survive.

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Update #1287 - 13.16 COVID-19 causes law firms to jump three years into the future

The coronavirus lockdown has accelerated many law firms three years into the future, according to a Cheltenham based audit, tax, advisory and risk firm Crowe.

Ross Prince, partner in the Professional Practices Group, said: "For years, many law firms, particularly the small to medium sized ones, have been thinking about step changes to their business models, including technology solutions as well as agile and remote working for employees.

"However, the timescales for these change projects have been compressed by the pandemic, with firms surprised at how much they have been able to achieve when circumstances forced them to 'get on with it'."

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Update #1286 - 11.38 Tesco creates 16,000 jobs on back of online boom

A huge rise in online sales is behind the creation of 16,000 new jobs at supermarket giant Tesco.

The UK's largest supermarket chain said the roles, which are expected to be largely filled by workers who joined on a temporary basis at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, will include 10,000 putting together orders and 3,000 drivers.

Tesco, which has already created 4,000 jobs since the start of the pandemic, said online customers have risen from 600,000 to 1.5 million a week.

Online sales for the year are expected to hit £5.5billion - up from £3.3billion last year.

A company statement said: "As the supermarket's online business continues to grow, the number of new roles may increase further in the coming months."

Update #1285 - 11.20 JD Wetherspoon expects annual loss

National pub chain JD Wetherspoon has said it is expecting to make a loss in the year which ended in July, and has reported a fall in bar and food sales due to competition with supermarkets.

Reports released the company reveal that like-for-like bar and food sales were down 16.9 per cent for the 44 days to August 16. Wetherspoons blames this on supermarkets using their VAT advantage to 'subsidise lower beer prices, in particular, and have taken approximately half of pub beer sales'.

Tim Martin, chairman of JD Wetherspoons said: "The company expects to make a loss for the year ending 26 July 2020, both before and after exceptional items. Some of these exceptional items will be related to the Covid pandemic."

The business added that sales are gradually improving with 844 pubs now open out of a total of 873. It has seen a rapid acceleration recently, largely due to subsidised food, coffee and soft drinks in the early part of the week (Eat Out to Help Out scheme).

Update #1284 - 10.54 Ecclesiastical 'resilient" despite £60m loss

Ecclesiastical Insurance said the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on long-term investments were to blame for a pre-tax loss of almost £60million.

The Gloucester-based insurance group reported a pre-tax loss of £59.7million for the first half of the year - compared to a profit of £42.8million the previous year - as investments showed a loss of £48.9million.

Group chief executive Mark Hews said: "While our headline loss before tax is disappointing, in the main it has been driven by unrealised fair value losses on our investment portfolio.

"These are investments that are being held for the long term and on which we have already seen some recovery.

"We continue to take a long-term view beyond the current pandemic."

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Update #1283 - 10.50 Debenhams owners look at administration option

Celine Group Holdings, the parent company of troubled retailer Debenhams, is believed to be preparing for administration.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the move would have no impact on Debenhams' sales, staff or suppliers.

The retailer entered administration in April for the second time in a year and as shut 20 branches after failing to agree deals on fresh rents with 2,500 job losses announced last month taking the total cuts to around 6,500 since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Advisers Lazard were called in during July to work on a sale of the department store chain.

And last week restructuring firm Hilco Capital was reportedly approached to work on plans if a buyer is not found or Debenhams falls into liquidation.

Update #1282 - 10.24 John Lewis plans to improve price promise

British department store John Lewis is reportedly looking to review its famous "Never Knowingly Undersold" slogan.

When speaking to The Sunday Times, partnership chairwoman dame Sharon White said the catchphrase that has been used for 95 years is under review.

The promise phrase sees the business offer to refund the difference in price if a customer purchased one of its products but found it sold cheaper elsewhere within 28 days.

Ms White said: ""The proposition is important because it signifies being fair to society. We're reviewing it to improve it."

A spokesperson for John Lewis also told Sky News: "We've had fair value as part of our proposition for almost 100 years and fair value will continue to be part of our proposition going forward, whether that's in a more modernised form or not."

Update #1281 - 10.03 Management buyout of farm consultancy business

Cheltenham based law firm BPE Solicitors and accountancy firm Hazlewoods have acted for the management team on the buyout of FAI Farms Limited.

The new management team has acquired the entire shareholding of FAI Farms Limited for an undisclosed amount.

FAI Farms Limited is a research, data and consultancy business working to provide practical solutions for climate and food security based in Oxford. The management buy-out marks the latest step in their growth plans.

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Update #1280 - 08.40 Latest coronavirus figures for the UK and Gloucestershire

The latest data for coronavirus cases and deaths of patients with COVID-19 were released yesterday by the Government's department of health and social care and NHS England.

Updated figures released on Sunday show the UK death toll of people with coronavirus rose to 41,429 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 6 on the previous day's figures.

In Gloucestershire, confirmed coronavirus deaths remain at 229 according to figures released by NHS England - no increase for several weeks.

It has been reported that of those who have died, 194 were being cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals while 35 were being treated through Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 1,965 as of Sunday afternoon.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 565 cases

Cheltenham - 455 cases

Stroud - 281 cases

Tewkesbury - 272 cases

Cotswolds - 223 cases

Forest of Dean - 169 cases

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