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Gloucestershire Business News

Coronavirus LIVE Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Friday, January 22

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, January 22

Update #8288 - 14.37 Key coronavirus rate drops below landmark figure

The UK's coronavirus R number, which measures the rate at which the virus is spreading, has dropped below one for the first time since the start of December.

Figures from the Government's scientific advisors put the number at between 0.8 and one.

In the South West, the R number is between 0.9 and 1.2, the same as the Midlands.

The R number reflects how many people are infected by each person who contracts the virus with any rate below one indicating infections are in retreat.

Update #8287 - 12.03 Next pulls out of race to buy Arcadia brands

Fashion chain Next has revealed that it will not be bidding to buy Arcadia Group's brands Topshop and Topman.

In a statement, the business said that it had been "unable to meet the price expectations of the vendor" so would not be purchasing the brands out of administration.

According to reports Mike Ashley's Frasers Group, Authentic Brands and JD Sports, Asos and Boohoo are said to still be interested in the sale.

Next said it wished "the administrator and future owners well in their endeavours to preserve an important part of the UK retail sector". 

Update #8286 - 11.34 John Lewis Christmas sales better than expected

Department store John Lewis Partnership has revealed sales across the Black Friday and Christmas period were better than expected.

The business has now upped its profits guidance, a positive change from the September forecast of a small profit or loss for the 2020/2021 period.

John Lewis added that they were repaying a £300 million Covid-19 loan to the Government two months early.

A statement read: "Despite the headwinds of the last year when John Lewis stores were closed for several months, and future trading volatility, the partnership believes it has sufficient liquidity going forward".

Annual results for the group are due on March 11 

Update #8285 - 10.44 Borrowing continues to hit record levels

UK borrowing reached another record level last month as it reached its highest December level.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed government borrowing reached £34.1billion, the third highest month since records began in 1993.

It took the total borrowing for the financial year to £270.8billion - up £212.7billion on a year ago - with the forecast to the end of March reaching £393.5billion.

Update #8284 - 08.45 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 94,580 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 1,290 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 37,892 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 3,543,646 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 4,973,248 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of January 20.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 18,466 as of Thursday afternoon - an increase of 251 on the previous day.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 781.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 5,340 cases (increase of 96)

Cheltenham - 3,126 cases (increase of 24)

Stroud - 2,928 cases (increase of 28)

Tewkesbury - 2,412 cases (increase of 32)

Cotswold - 2,127 cases (increase of 35)

Forest of Dean - 2,533 cases (increase of 36)

Thursday, January 21

Update #8283 - 12.36 Pets at Home sees £302m sales boost

Pet supplies retailer Pets at Home has revealed a like-for-like sales rise of 17.5 per cent in the last quarter of 2020, as it benefited from people getting pets during lockdowns.

The business saw total revenue jump by 18 per cent to £302m in the 12 weeks to December 31, boosted further over the Christmas period with December like-for-like sales up 19.3 per cent.

READ MORE 

Update #8282 - 12.33 Young at heart of new business ambition

Young people are looking to take employment matters thrown up by the coronavirus pandemic into their own hands by forming their own businesses.

A survey of more than 2,000 people for business services company Mushroombiz found 15 per cent of respondents aged 18-24 plan to start their own enterprise this year.

Unemployment is predicted to peak at 7.5 per cent during the summer - up from four per cent before the pandemic - with younger people among those hardest hit.

Mushroombiz managing director Ed Surman said: "Young people leaving school and university are rejecting the shrinking job market to take back control of their futures from Covid-19."

SEE MORE 

Update #8281 - 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 93,290 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 1,820 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 38,905 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 3,505,754 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 4,609,740 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of January 19.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 18,215 as of Wednesday afternoon - an increase of 242 on the previous day.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 774.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 5,244 cases (increase of 78)

Cheltenham - 3,102 cases (increase of 38)

Stroud - 2,900 cases (increase of 31)

Tewkesbury - 2,380 cases (increase of 47)

Cotswold - 2,092 cases (increase of 29)

Forest of Dean - 2,497 cases (increase of 19)

Wednesday, January 20

Update #8280 - 12.26 Dixons Carphone online sales jump 121 per cent

Online and High Street retailer Dixons Carphone has revealed an impressive sales increase during the Christmas period.

The business said that its online revenue had grown by 121 per cent, with sales of electricals jumping 11 per cent on a like-for-like basis for the 10 weeks to January 9.

It added that the most popular items were large screen TVs, smart tech, food preparation, health and beauty as well as all areas of computing and gaming.

Group chief executive Alex Baldock said: "We've continued to trade strongly, both in the UK and Internationally, while ensuring colleague and customer safety is paramount.

"We're winning online, where we're the biggest and fastest-growing specialist technology retailer in all our markets." 

Update #8279 - 10.56 December helps WHSmith deliver slight recovery

Improved Christmas performance helped WHSmith reach a "stronger cash position than anticipated" but the high street retailer is burning through up to £20million in cash each month.

Group revenue climbed to 67 per cent of pre-pandemic levels last month as the company saw sales reach 92 per cent of those before coronavirus (up from 82 per cent in November).

It helped revenue for the 20 weeks to January 16 reach 87 per cent of the same period the previous year, but sales in the travel division were just 36 per cent of 2019 levels in December.

Group sales for the financial year so far are less than half last year's total.

Chief executive Carl Cowling said: "We remain well placed to navigate our way through this ongoing period of uncertainty and benefit from the recovery of our key markets in due course."

Update #8278 - 10.54 Inflation rise exceeds expectations

Inflation rose above predictions in December despite many shops being forced to close due to coronavirus predictions.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics put the Consumer Price Index at 0.6 per cent - up from 0.3 per cent in November and above the widely forecast 0.5 per cent.

Clothing prices were partly behind the rise with travel costs and petrol prices also up as some restrictions were eased, although vegetables and meat were among falling food prices.

UK inflation remains well below the Bank of England's target of two per cent.

Update #8277 - 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 91,470 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 1,610 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 33,355 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 3,466,849 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 4,266,577 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of January 18.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 17,973 as of Tuesday afternoon - an increase of 168 on the previous day.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 820.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 5,166 cases (increase of 53)

Cheltenham - 3,064 cases (increase of 29)

Stroud - 2,869 cases (increase of 23)

Tewkesbury - 2,333 cases (increase of 25)

Cotswold - 2,063 cases (increase of 17)

Forest of Dean - 2,478 cases (increase of 21)

Tuesday, January 19

Update #8276 - 15.10 BPE extends deal with Gloucester Rugby

BPE Solicitors have renewed the company's relationship as an official partner of Gloucester Rugby.

The Cheltenham-based solicitors have been official partners with the Premiership club in 2018 and has been involved with business interests and the Gloucester Rugby Foundation.

READ MORE 

Update #8275 - 15.00 Tewkesbury among 82 HSBC branch closures

The Tewkesbury branch of HSBC will close at the end of July as part of the bank's plans to restructure its network of outlets.

The High Street bank is due to shut on July 30 as part of 82 closures across the country in the next eight months.

It takes the total of HSBC closures to 511 as part of the changes set out last year with the introduction of four new types of branches - full service, cash service, countless digital services and pop-up branches.

READ MORE 

Update #8274 - 12.08 EasyJet Holidays sees bookings surge 250 per cent

Airline EasyJet has revealed that bookings for this summer ate up 250 per cent on last year, with May proving to be the most popular month for holiday-goers.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren told the BBC that this offers confidence for the travel industry post-Covid.

He added: "We know there is pent up demand - we have seen that every time restrictions have been relaxed, and so we know that people want to go on holiday as soon as they can.

"We have been pleased to see that some customers are making plans for their summer holidays now, with EasyJet holidays bookings for summer 21 up 250 per cent, compared to the same time last year, and with May currently proving to be the most popular month for holiday bookings at the moment." 

Update #8273 - 11.42 Big businesses told to speed up payments to SMEs

Large companies have been given less time to make payments to smaller suppliers under new changes to the UK's Prompt Payment Code (PPC).

Changes announced mean that firms that have signed up to the code must pay small businesses within 30 days instead of 60.

FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: "Ending our pernicious poor payment culture for good over the coming months will be fundamental to turning our hopes of economic recovery into reality". 

Update #8272 - 11.27 PM pledges help for EU export issues

Businesses which have run into problems exporting to the EU since the introduction of post-Brexit trading rules will be helped by a £23million fund.

The pledge comes from Prime Minister Boris Johnson following a protest which saw seafood hauliers park lorries outside Downing Street.

The Prime Minister said: "I sympathise and understand their frustrations and things have been exacerbated by Covid.

"Where business, through not fault of their own, have faced difficulties exporting where there is a genuine willing buyer, there's a £23million fund to help out."

He said the UK fishing industry had "great opportunities" despite the issues which have arisen in the first few weeks of the agreement.

Update #8271 - 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 89,860 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 599 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 35,535 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 3,433,494 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 4,062,501 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of January 17.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 17,805 as of Monday afternoon - an increase of 196 on the previous day.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 755.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 5,113 cases (increase of 62)

Cheltenham - 3,035 cases (increase of 25)

Stroud - 2,846 cases (increase of 24)

Tewkesbury - 2,308 cases (increase of 33)

Cotswold - 2,046 cases (increase of 20)

Forest of Dean - 2,457 cases (increase of 32)

Monday, January 18

Update #8270 - 11.48 UK house prices fall as tax deadline draws nearer

The website said prices for houses and apartments advertised between December 6 and January 9 dropped by 0.9 per cent when compared to the previous month.

However the number of buyer enquiries was up 12 per cent and sales agreed increased by 9 per cent in January so far, when compared to the same period in January 2020. 

Online property platform Rightmove has revealed a fall in the average price of property coming to the market, with some new sellers still hoping to tempt buyers and squeeze in a sale before the stamp duty holiday ends.

Update #8269 - 10.37 More brands suspend click-and-collect services

JD Sports, Topshop, Joules and Fat Face are the latest retailers to suspend click-and-collect services to customers in an effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

This follows department store John Lewis announcing last week that it would close its own click-and-collect offering and Scotland's ban on such services for non-essential retailers.

All four retailers have stopped offering the service in store, however Joules and TopShop continue to offer collection from CollectPlus and MyHermes parcel shops. 

Update #8268 - 10.25 Deadline approaches for Stroud's community funding applications

Groups and voluntary organisations in Stroud have two weeks left to apply for funds to help reduce inequality, promote wellbeing and support communities to recover in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 'Community Resilience and Wellbeing Grant' aims to support community groups and voluntary organisations throughout the district. Applications must be made by noon on Friday, January 29.

Stroud District Council community health and wellbeing manager, Emma Keating Clark said: "We have some brilliant community groups applying to us who have worked hard to support their residents throughout COVID-19. We've also heard from culture and heritage organisations which have had to close their doors but are still improving wellbeing through online content or creative lockdown projects."

READ MORE  

Update #8267 - 10.00 Next named frontrunner to buy Arcadia Group

Fashion chain Next has been revealed as the business in pole position to purchase Arcadia Group out of administration.

The Sunday Times reports that Next has made a bit for the Group, which includes Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Burton, Miss Selfridge and Wallis, in partnership with US hedge fund David Kempner.

Final bids are due in today, with retail rivals Boohoo Group, Frasers Group and Authentic Brands in partnership with JD Sports also thought to be in the running. 

Update #8266 - 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 89,261 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 671 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 38,589 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 3,395,959 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 3,857,266 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of January 16.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 17,609 as of Sunday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 752.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 5,051 cases

Cheltenham - 3,010 cases

Stroud - 2,822 cases

Tewkesbury - 2,275 cases

Cotswold - 2,026 cases

Forest of Dean - 2,425 cases

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