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Gloucestershire Business News

Coronavirus LIVE Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Friday, April 30

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 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, April 30

Update #8651 - 11.53 Number of empty shops continues to soar

The number of empty shops has continued to soar, with one in seven across Britain now vacant, according to new research.

All areas of the country saw a rise but the North of England suffered the biggest hit, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

In the first quarter of 2021, the overall GB vacancy rate increased to 14.1 per cent, from 13.7 per cent in the final quarter of 2020. It was 1.9 percentage points higher than in the same point in 2020. This marks three years of increasing vacancy rates.

READ MORE  

Update #8650 - 11.25 WHSmith plans to open 100 new travel stores

WHSmith plans to expand its travel business by opening 100 new shops, despite heavy losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It has earmarked 68 stores to open at airports and railways stations across the US, with the remaining shops planned for the UK, Australia and the rest of Europe, as reported by Retail Gazette.

Before the pandemic, more than half of WHSmith's sales and profits were from stores at railways stations, hospitals, airports and motorway services.

In the half year to February, sales at its travel stores fell 65 per cent to £150 million.

Update #8649 - 10.35 Co-op to scrap plastic bags for life

The retailer said many customers are regularly buying bags for life and using them just once, leading to an increase in plastic production, as reported by Retail Gazette.

The bags will be taken out of circulation in all 2600 stores from today, with stock expected to be completely finished by the end of the summer.

The plan aims to remove 29.5 million bags for life, or 870 tonnes of plastic, from Co-op stores every year.

Update #8648 - 08.30 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 UK figures show the total number of deaths within 28 days of positive test rose to 127,502 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 22 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 2,445 people have tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hour period and 4,414,242 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 34,094,048 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of April 28 and 14,043,961 have received their second dose.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county since the start of the pandemic sits at 22,480, as of Thursday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test remains at 952.

New cases for the latest 24 hour period are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 6,387 cases (increase of one)

Cheltenham - 3,757 cases (increase of four)

Stroud - 3,756 cases (increase of two)

Tewkesbury - 2,923 cases (no change)

Forest of Dean - 3,089 cases (no change)

Cotswold - 2,568 cases (increase of three) 

Thursday, April 29

Update #8647 - 12.37 The White Company boosted by online sales

Fashion and homeware retailer The White Company has seen a rise in full year profits, thanks to strong online sales.

The retailer, which has a store in Cheltenham, said group operating profit was up four per cent to £14.1 million in the 12 months to 1st August last year, as reported by Retail Gazette.

Turnover also increased by four per cent to £226.3 million during the same period, despite store closures during the first national lockdown.

READ MORE  

Update #8646 - 11.29 Dixons Travel to be no more

Dixons Carphone has revealed plans to close its airport store business, after the Government scrapped tax-free airside shopping in January.

With 35 stores, the electrical and technology retailer said that although the closure will affect 400 staff, all employees would be offered alternative roles within the group.

Dixons Travel said in a statement: "We do not expect passenger numbers to recover sufficiently to compensate for the removal of airside tax-free shopping by the UK government from 1 January.

"This has led to the difficult decision to close this business." 

Update #8645 - 10.15 Profits double at Apple as iPhone sales surge

In its recent financial results, Apple has said that a surge in iPhone sales has led to a doubling of profits since the start of the pandemic.

The business has seen sales of its phones, apps and other tech devices grow throughout the lockdown worldwide, as customers spent more time online.

Sales in China particularly nearly doubled, helping Apple to achieve overall revenues for the first quarter of $89.6bn (£64.2bn), up mre than 50 per cent on last year. Profit also rose to $23.6bn, up from $11.3bn in 2020.

Chief executive Tim Cook said: "This quarter reflects both the enduring ways our products have helped our users meet this moment in their own lives, as well as the optimism consumers seem to feel about better days ahead for all of us." 

Update #8644 - 08.30 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 UK figures show the total number of deaths within 28 days of positive test rose to 127,480 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 29 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 2,166 people have tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hour period and 4,411,797 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 33,959,908 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of April 27 and 13,581,076 have received their second dose.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county since the start of the pandemic sits at 22,470, as of Wednesday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test remains at 952.

New cases for the latest 24 hour period are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 6,386 cases (increase of two)

Cheltenham - 3,753 cases (no change)

Stroud - 3,754 cases (increase of one)

Tewkesbury - 2,923 cases (increase of two)

Forest of Dean - 3,089 cases (increase of two)

Cotswold - 2,565 cases (increase of one)

Wednesday, April 28

Update #8643 - 12.06 CBI responds to Covid Recovery Commission blueprint

The Covid Recovery Commission of ten business leaders, including chairs and chief executives representing AstraZeneca, Heathrow, Vodafone, Shell and Tesco, has published a major report today, 'Ambition 2030': A Partnership for Growth'.

The paper argues that, "the pandemic has had a bigger impact on our economy than any event in the last 300 years."

Analysis by the Commission reveals that the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities with unemployment, mortality rates and mental health cases rising fastest in the most deprived communities across the UK. 

READ MORE 

Update #8642 - 11.10 Cost of Covid high for Sainsbury's

Sainsbury's has slumped to a £261m loss, despite a big rise in food sales during the pandemic.

Like-for-like sales were up 8.1 per cent for the year to 6th March, but Sainsbury's spent £485m on Covid-related costs, including changing store layouts and paying colleagues who were shielding or self-isolating, as reported by the BBC.

The supermarket giant also paid back business rates relief on its stores.

Sainsbury's expects to see profits bounce back later this year.

Update #8641 - 10.25 Google profits soar

Google owner Alphabet saw earnings skyrocket in the first quarter, as people stuck at home used more of its services.

Net profit soared by 162 per cent to a record $17.9bn (£12.9bn) in the three months to March as advertising revenue increased by a third, as reported by the BBC.

Sales at Google's search business were up 30 per cent to $31.9bn (£23bn) in the quarter, while sales at YouTube increased by 49 per cent to $6bn (£4.3bn).

The rise is a result of businesses spending more on online advertising as economies around the world have reopened.

Update #8640 - 08.30 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 UK figures show the total number of deaths within 28 days of positive test rose to 127,451 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 17 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 2,685 people have tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hour period and 4,409,631 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 33,843,580 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of April 26 and 13,201,811 have received their second dose.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county since the start of the pandemic sits at 22,463, as of Tuesday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test remains at 952.

New cases for the latest 24 hour period are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 6,384 cases (no change)

Cheltenham - 3,754 cases (increase of one)

Stroud - 3,753 cases (increase of two)

Tewkesbury - 2,921 cases (increase of two)

Forest of Dean - 3,087 cases (increase of four)

Cotswold - 2,564 cases (increase of four)

Tuesday, April 27

Update #8639 - 11.43 UK growth prospects significantly brighter

The UK is said to be on course for its strongest annual growth since 1941, according to economic forecaster EY ITEM Club.

Data shows that GDP is expected to grow by 6.8 per cent this year, after shrinking by only one percent in the first quarter instead of the three to four per cent expected.

The EY ITEM Club report also suggests that the economy will return to pre-pandemic levels by the second quarter of next year, three months earlier than predicted.

Howard Archer, chief economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club, said: "Our latest forecast suggests that the UK economy will emerge from the pandemic with much less long-term 'scarring' than was originally envisaged and looks set for a strong recovery over the rest of the year and beyond."

Update #8638 - 11.40 Holidaymakers moving plans to autumn

Holidaymakers are increasingly putting off summer holidays and planning autumn breaks instead, due to uncertainty over international travel.

Thomas Cook said autumn bookings were up 50 per cent on normal levels, while luxury tour operator Kuoni said customers were making plans for October half term, as reported by the BBC.

International travel is set to return on 17th May, subject to a 'traffic-light' system categorising different countries. But the list of 'green light' countries Brits can travel to safely isn't yet known and will be subject to change.

Update #8637 - 10.52 Shopping trips will help economy to bounce back

Britain is set to see a big return to spending by shoppers as lockdown restrictions ease, according to new research.

Research by Deloitte found "going to a shop" topped the list of leisure activities people are most likely to do after lockdown, as reported by the BBC.

Deloitte's survey found that six out of 10 people planned a return to the shops within a month of restrictions lifting. It said high levels of saving and the success of the vaccination rollout would lead to a surge in spending in the coming months.

Update #8636 - 10.38 BA boss confident rich travellers will curb losses

The boss of British Airways has said that rich holiday makers buying premium aircraft seats will cushion the blow from a decrease in business and economy travellers.

Chief executive Sean Doyle reported that he was confident in the company's £6.5bn investment in refurbishing premium cabins, seats and lounges will pay off.

In an industry webinar, he said: "The reason we're very compelled by the investments is we have a significant premium leisure segment. A lot of people who travel in our premium cabins are travelling for leisure or visiting friends or relatives.

"That's been growing over the last decade and we think that will continue to grow - and that gives us a very effective buffer if the corporate segment is not recovering at the pace of other segments." 

Update #8635 - 10.16 High streets stand firm as initial rush slows

The rush of shoppers returning after the easing of coronavirus restrictions slowed in the second week according to the latest figures.

But high streets stood firm according to retail analysts Springboard with a just a 0.8 per cent drop on the previous seven days.

Numbers fell by 8.4 per cent at shopping centres and 3.5 per cent at retail parks as total footfall dipped by 3.4 per cent on the first week of reopening.

The total was 19.9 per cent down on the same week in 2019 although retail parks, which often contain supermarkets, were busier than two years ago.

Update #8634 - 08.35 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 UK figures show the total number of deaths within 28 days of positive test rose to 127,434 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

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

Across the UK, 2,064 people have tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hour period and 4,406,946 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 33,752,885 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of April 25 and 12,897,123 have received their second dose.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county since the start of the pandemic sits at 22,456, as of Monday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test remains at 952.

New cases for the latest 24 hour period are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 6,384 cases (increase of five)

Cheltenham - 3,753 cases (no change)

Stroud - 3,751 cases (increase of three)

Tewkesbury - 2,919 cases (no change)

Forest of Dean - 3,085 cases (increase of one)

Cotswold - 2,560 cases (increase of four)

Monday, April 26 

Update #8633 - 11.37 Owner of Missguided preparing to sell stake

The owner of online fashion brand Missguided is said to be preparing to sell a stake in the business for the first time, The Mail on Sunday has revealed.

With plans to drive global growth, boss Nitin Passi has appointed Rothschild to find potential investors for Missguided. It is reported that the initiative could raise as much as £100million.

Mr Passi told The Mail on Sunday: "We can still grow this business as we are, but we want to grow the business more aggressively. This is not for me to take money off the table, we want to put money into the business."

Update #8632 - 11.05 Gloucestershire NHS to allow hospital visitors

Visitors will be allowed on Gloucestershire's hospital wards from today, with some restrictions.

From Monday 26th April, one visitor per patient will be allowed in the county's hospitals for one hour each day. Visitors must be a close contact (from the same household or family bubble) and must book visits beforehand, at a prearranged time between 12noon and 6pm.

The changes will apply to Gloucestershire Royal and Cheltenham General Hospitals, as well as the county's seven community hospitals and five mental health and learning disability inpatient units.

Update #8631 - 10.58 Frasers Group ordered to pay rent arrears

Billionaire businessman Mike Ashley's Frasers Group has been ordered to cough up over unpaid rent built up since the beginning of the pandemic.

Master John Dagnall from the High Court ruled against the Sports Direct owner in its disagreement with landlords over rent arrears whilst stores remained closed.

Landlords AEQ UK Reit and Bank of New York Mellon (International) were awarded a summary judgement in for their claims of a undisclosed amount of unpaid rent relating to a Sports Direct shop in Blackpool.

Mr Dangnall said: "The situation of Covid and the Covid Regulations has been unprecedented and, in particular, with regard to its effect upon the entertainment sector but also the nonessential retail sector which has been deprived of the turnover which is the lifeblood of their businesses (and especially where there is no online equivalent). It is impossible not to feel sympathy for them." 

Update #8630 - 08.25 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 UK figures show the total number of deaths within 28 days of positive test rose to 127,428 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 11 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 1,712 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 4,404,882 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 33,666,638 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of April 24 and 12,587,116 have received their second dose.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county since the start of the pandemic sits at 22,443 as of Sunday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 952.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 6,379 cases

Cheltenham - 3,753 cases

Stroud - 3,748 cases

Tewkesbury - 2,919 cases

Forest of Dean - 3,084 cases

Cotswold - 2,560 cases

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