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Coronavirus LIVE Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Friday, February 26

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, February 26

Update #8443 - 11.28 Pets At Home lead way

The pandemic boom in pet ownership has seen Pets At Home upgrade its profits guidance for the fourth time since September.

Stronger than expected trading during the latest lockdown has seen the company increase forecasts of pre-tax profits from £77million to £85million

A company statement said: "Notwithstanding this challenging external environment, our performance over the last eight weeks has been ahead of expectations, with continued strong and broad-based growth across all channels and categories."

Like-for-like sales rose by 17.5 per cent in the final three months of 2020.

Update #8442 - 11.26 Asda plans put jobs at risk

Up to 5,000 jobs could be at risk after Asda began consultations with staff over major restructuring plans.

Around 800 jobs are likely to go if two stores used for online orders are closed with 1,100 store management roles set to change, although Asda said that would lead to an increase in jobs overall.

The company said 4,500 jobs would be created by an expansion of its online offering.

Asda was recently bought by the Issa brothers, owner of the EG garage business, and private equity form TDR Capital.

Update #8441 - 11.24 Brakes remain on UK car production

UK car production slumped by 27 per cent as it made the lowest number in January for more than a decade.

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed little more than 86,000 cars came off the production line during the month - down 32,262 on last year.

It was the 17th consecutive month of falling output.

Update #8440 - 11.21 British Airways wants passes to help finances soar again

IAG, the owner of British Airways, has called for digital health passes to help people return to flying after posting record losses.

The company, which includes Iberia and Aer Lingus among its airlines, reported an operating loss of £6.5billion for 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic grounded many flights.

Chief executive Luis Gallego said: "Getting people travelling again will require a clear road map for unwinding current restrictions when the time is right.

"We know there is pent-up demand for travel and people want to fly.

"We're calling for international common testing standards and the introduction of digital health passes to reopen our skies safely."

Update #8439 - 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 122,070 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 323 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 9,985 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 4,154,562 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 18,691,835 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of February 24 and 700,718 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 21,592, as of Thursday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test has risen to 931.

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

Gloucester - 6,193 cases (increase of seven)

Cheltenham - 3,591 cases (increase of seven)

Stroud - 3,538 cases (increase of nine)

Tewkesbury - 2,809 cases (increase of three)

Cotswold - 2,482 cases (increase of five)

Thursday, February 25

Update #8438 - 12.56 Primark predicts £1.5bn sales slump from covid store closures

In-store only fast fashion chain Primark's lost sales are expected to pass £1.5 billion, due to store closures due to lockdown.

Owners of the business, Associated British Foods, which continues to dismiss the idea of trading online, said that group sales and adjusted operating profits would be lower than last year for the six months to February 27.

Temporary closure of stores due to the pandemic are expected to have severely impacted Primark's performance with sales of £2.2billion predicted - a drop of almost 40 per cent on the same period last year. 

SEE MORE 

Update #8437 - 11.34 BAE Systems sees sales rise despite challenges

BAE Systems defied the "challenging backdrop" of the pandemic to post an increase in sales and profits in 2020.

The aerospace and security giant, which has a base in Brockworth, said sales rose by four per cent to £20.86billion last year.

Preliminary full year result revealed earnings before tax were up by £15million to £2.13 billion with operating profit rising by £31million to £1.93billion.

READ MORE 

Update #8436 - 10.26 IKEA plans to launch new 'buy back' service

Flat pack furniture giant IKEA has announced plans to launch its 'buy back' scheme in the UK, allowing customers to return used items that they no longer need.

After being postponed in November due to the pandemic, the scheme is due to kick off once restrictions lift on non-essential retail.

Hege Saebjornsen, country sustainability manager for IKEA UK and Ireland, said: "Last year, IKEA was piloting Buy Back in our Edinburgh and Glasgow stores to explore how we support our customers to lead more sustainable lives, step by step.

"Irrespective of the trial being shorter than planned due to store closures, we believe strongly in the idea and moreover, believe that providing customers with more convenient ways to give their products a second life is the right thing to do."

Update #8435 - 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 121,747 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 442 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 9,938 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 4,144,577 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 18,242,873 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of February 23 and 669,105 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 21,555, as of Wednesday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test has risen to 927.

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

Gloucester - 6,186 cases (increase of seven)

Cheltenham - 3,584 cases (increase of eight)

Stroud - 3,529 cases (increase of 13)

Tewkesbury - 2,806 cases (increase of five)

Cotswold - 2,477 cases (increase of eight)

Wednesday, February 24

Update #8434 - 12.51 Lloyds annual profits fall 72 per cent

Lloyds Banking Group has revealed a 72 per cent slump in annual pre-tax profits in 2020, to £1.2billion, as earnings are hit by weak rates and the prospect of a surge in sour loans.

The bank, which has a base in Barnwood, has set out plans to expand its insurance and wealth businesses in a drive for further profitability.

Although lower than expected, the biggest hit to profit is said to have come from a £4.2bn charge for loans that are expected to sour as a result of the coronavirus crisis. 

READ MORE 

Update #8433 - 09.47 Heathrow reports £2billion loss

Heathrow Airport has posted its latest financial results, revealing a £2bn annual loss as passenger numbers dropped as a result of the coronavirus.

The airport normally has around 80 million passengers per year, but in 2020 numbers dropped to just 22.1 million.

It said last year had been the toughest year in its 75-year history but expected passenger numbers to improve in 2021 to around 37.1 million.

The pandemic saw Heathrow cut more than 1,000 jobs across the business, and place two airport terminals into hibernation.

Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: "Despite £2bn of losses and shrinking to passenger levels we haven't seen since the 70s, I am hugely proud of the way that our colleagues have kept our passengers safe and the UK's hub airport open for vital supplies throughout.

"We can be hopeful for 2021, with Britain on the cusp of becoming the first country in the world to safely resume international travel and trade at scale. 

Update #8432 - 08.33 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 121,305 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 548 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 8,489 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 4,134,639 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 17,916,181 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of February 22 and 642,788 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 21,506, as of Tuesday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test has risen to 925.

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

Gloucester - 6,179 cases (increase of two)

Cheltenham - 3,576 cases (increase of four)

Stroud - 3,516 cases (increase of five)

Tewkesbury - 2,801 cases (increase of one)

Cotswold - 2,469 cases (increase of one)

Tuesday, February 23

Update #8431 - 12.48 Webinar: Randall & Payne online guide for consumer industry

The Government's roadmap is offering clues about the next steps on the economic recovery and Randall & Payne is giving businesses the chance to build on what comes next.

To help negotiate the issues facing businesses and take advantages of opportunities, Randall & Payne is hosting the latest in a series of webinars on February 25 (12.30-1.30pm).

The event, entitled 'What's ahead for the UK consumer goods industry - 2021 and beyond', will see partner Will Abbott and business consultant Paul Drabble explore a five-stage plan to help and support businesses, particularly in the food and drink, retail and leisure sectors.

FIND OUT MORE  

Update #8430 - 10.50 Unemployment hits five year high

UK unemployment rose to 5.1 per cent in the three months to December, its highest level for five years, according to the latest figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said 1.74 million people were unemployed between October and December, up 454,000 on the same period in 2019, as reported by the BBC.

The figures show 726,000 less people are on payrolls than before the start of the pandemic. Around 425,000 of those are aged under-25.

READ MORE 

Update #8429 - 10.40 Rise in holiday bookings following PM's road map

Travel firms say there has been a surge in overseas holiday bookings following lockdown exit plans announced by the Prime Minister yesterday (22nd February).

Restrictions on overseas travel are set to be lifted on 17th May at the earliest and despite some uncertainty, Tui, the UK's biggest holiday operator, said bookings were up 500 per cent overnight.

The company said bookings from July onwards have soared, with Greece, Spain and Turkey the most popular destinations, as reported by the BBC.

If government plans change, Tui has assured customers that anyone booking to travel between 17th May and the end of June can change their booking to a later date without a fee.

Update #8428 - 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 UK figures show the total number of deaths within 28 days of positive test rose to 120,757 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 178 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 10,641 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 4,126,150 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 17,723,840 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of February 21 and 624,325 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 21,489, as of Monday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test has risen to 923.

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

Gloucester - 6,177 cases (increase of five)

Cheltenham - 3,572 cases (increase of 15)

Stroud - 3,511 cases (increase of 12)

Tewkesbury - 2,800 cases (increase of 11)

Cotswold - 2,468 cases (increase of seven)

Monday, February 22

Update #8427 - 12.46 Asos relaunches Topshop online

E-commerce fashion brand Asos relaunched Topshop online on Sunday, after acquiring the brand for £295million earlier this month.

Despite previously selling Topshop items on its platform, the relaunch is exclusive to the Asos website and means it will be the only place shoppers can buy the brands products.

Asos paid £265 million for brands Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridges and £30 million for stock on February 1.

It is expected that the business will also relaunch the two other brands on its own site in the near future, although it is not yet known when. 

Update #8426 - 12.19 Worst January on record for aircraft orders

According to industry body ADS, just four aircraft orders were placed last month making it the worst January on record for orders, providing a stark comparison to last year's total which achieved a record month high of 296.

This is said to demonstrate a continued suppressed demand for aircraft due to the global pandemic and international travel restrictions.

"We are almost a year into the global pandemic and the UK's aerospace sector continues to struggle with draconian travel restrictions," said ADS chief executive Paul Everitt.

"Whilst I am confident travel demand will return, the timing of the recovery is now more difficult to predict. Co-ordinated international action is necessary to reopen borders and allow consumers to travel with confidence." 

Update #8425 - 10.35 Poundland profits drop despite plans to open 400 new stores

Poundland owner Pepco Group revealed a 30.8 per cent drop in underlying EBITDA to £198.2million in the year to September 30, blamed on closures due to Covid-19.

However, the discount store did see its full-year revenue rise by three per cent to £3billion in the same period, as it announced plans to open 400 new stores per year.

Whilst the new store openings are not planned for the UK (but instead across Europe) the brand will continue to add frozen and chilled grocery sections to its stores here following its purchase of Fulton Foods.

Pepco Group chief executive Andy Bond said: "With a strengthened proposition and more customers than ever across Europe being attracted to the discount sector, we believe that our future growth opportunity is now greater than a year ago."

Update #8424 - 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 120,580 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 215 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 9,834 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 4,115,509 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 17,582,121 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of February 20.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county since the start of the pandemic sits at 21,435, as of Sunday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 923.

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

Gloucester - 6,172 cases

Cheltenham - 3,557 cases

Stroud - 3,499 cases

Tewkesbury - 2,789 cases

Cotswold - 2,461 cases

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