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Gloucestershire Business News

Coronavirus LIVE Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Friday, May 21

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, May 21

Update #8701 - 13.07 Kingfisher raises forecast as B&Q sales boom

Parent company of B&Q and Screwfix has revised its profits forecast after it said sales have continued to rise amid the DIY boom.

For it's first quarter to April 30, the group said total sales reached £3.44billion, which is an increase of 60 per cent on the year before.

Like-for-like sales also grew, with Kingfisher reporting a 64.2 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2020.

It added that e-commerce sales for the quarter were also up 63 per cent, making up 21 per cent of total group sales.

Kingfisher chief executive Thierry Garnier said: ""With the strong start to the year, we now anticipate first half sales and adjusted pre-tax profit to be ahead of our previous expectations."

Update #8700 - 12.15 CMA gives Virgin and O2 merger green light

Following a provisional clearance last month, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is now allowing the proposed merger of Virgin Media and Mobile with O2 to go ahead.

Both Virgin and O2 sell wholesale services to a number of mobile operators in the UK. Virgin supplies wholesale leased lines to mobile operators and O2 provides its mobile network to companies that do not have their own.

The CMA was initially concerned that, following the merger, Virgin and O2 could raise prices or reduce the quality of these wholesale services. If this were to happen, it could lead to other companies being forced to offer lower quality mobile services or increase their retail prices which would negatively impact consumers.

Martin Coleman, CMA Panel Inquiry chair, said: "After looking closely at the deal, we are reassured that competition amongst mobile communications providers will remain strong and it is therefore unlikely that the merger would lead to higher prices or lower quality services." 

Update #8699 - 10.25 Retail sales boom as shops reopen

A fashion spending surge by consumers has helped to boost retail sales 9.2 per cent last month, according to new data from the Office of National Statistics.

While sales overall were more than 10 per cent higher than pre-pandemic levels, sales of clothing rose by nearly 70 per cent when compared with March.

As non-essential shops reopened, online spending decreased in April by 5.6 per cent when compared with March. Online food sales saw the largest decline of 11.4 per cent.

British Retail Consortium chief executive, Helen Dickinson said: "Improved weather during April meant greater sales of fashion, particularly in outerwear and knitwear, as the public renewed their wardrobe and made plans to meet friends and family outdoors." 

Update #8698 - 10.15 Elon Musk UK visit fuels Tesla factory rumours

A visit to the UK by Tesla boss Elon Musk has led to rumours that he is considering building a Tesla factory here.

The Daily Telegraph reported that the trip coincided with a search by UK officials for "a major new car plant" location.

Flight tracking software revealed that Mr Musk's private jet landed at Luton Airport from California, and then moved onto Germany.

Neither the government nor Tesla have confirmed the speculation surrounding the visit. 

Update #8697 - 09.18 Higher plastic bag charge comes into force today

The cost of a single-use plastic carrier bag has gone up from 5p to 10p in England today.

All stores, regardless of size, now have to apply the charge to customers from May 21 onwards.

By increasing and extending the charge to all retailers, the government said it hoped the use of single-use carrier bags would fall by 70-80 per cent in small and medium sized businesses.

Environment minister Rebecca Pow said: "Everyone wants to play their part in reducing the scourge of plastic waste that blights our environment and oceans. The 5p bag charge has been hugely successful, but we can go further." 

Update #8696 - 08.12 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 127,701 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

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

Across the UK, 2,874 people have tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hour period and 4,455,221 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 37,250,363 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of May 19 and 21,239,471 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 22,613, as of Thursday afternoon.

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

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

Gloucester - 6,411 cases 

Cheltenham - 3,775 cases

Stroud - 3,805 cases

Tewkesbury - 2,936 cases

Forest of Dean - 3,102 cases

Cotswold - 2,587 cases 

Thursday, May 20

Update #8695 - 11.15 Stroud council pays £4.1million in Restart Grants with more available

Stroud District Council has been offering Government grants to businesses which have been adversely affected by national lockdowns and periods of local restrictions.

On March 3, the Government introduced the Restart Grants Scheme to provide support to businesses in one off grant payments for those in non-essential retail, hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym business premises.

To qualify, the business must be a business ratepayer, must have been trading on April 1, 2021 and be in one of the relevant sectors.

Leader of Stroud District Council, Doina Cornell said: "I feel extremely proud that we are able to offer help to those struggling during these difficult times.

"It is important that we spread awareness of these grants so that smaller businesses are aware of the support available. We are encouraging anyone who hasn't already, to apply and receive the help we are offering." 

Update #8694 - 10.25 Qantas cuts costs to deal with pandemic

Australian airline Qantas has announced new cost-cutting measures to help it get back on track following the pandemic.

Plans include a two-year wage freeze, offering voluntary redundancy to cabin crew in in its international business and cutting travel agents' commissions for international flights.

Qantas said it will report an annual loss before tax of more than £1.1bn (A$2bn), as reported by the BBC.

But the company sees positives ahead, with domestic air travel looking set to top pre-Covid levels. And a travel bubble with New Zealand and continued demand for cargo services are helping to offset losses.

Update #8693 - 10.20 Vaccine rollout extended to 34 and 35-year-olds

People in England aged 34 and 35 are now being offered a coronavirus jab, the NHS has confirmed.

NHS England has said more than a million people aged 34 and 35 will receive a text message on May 20 or 21 asking them to book their Covid-19 vaccine appointment.

Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England, said: "The success of the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme, the biggest in history, is not by accident but down to careful planning and precision by NHS staff who have now delivered 48.5 million doses across England in less than six months.

""Getting the vaccine is the single most important step we can take to protect ourselves, our families and our communities against COVID-19, so when you're called forward, book your appointment and join the tens of millions who have already been jabbed." 

Update #8692 - 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 127,694 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

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

Across the UK, 2,696 people have tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hour period and 4,452,527 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 36,985,505 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of May 18 and 20,870,453 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 22,613, 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 - 6,410 cases

Cheltenham - 3,776 cases

Stroud - 3,804 cases

Tewkesbury - 2,932 cases

Forest of Dean - 3,104 cases

Cotswold - 2,587 cases

Wednesday, May 19

Update #8693 - 15.30 Inflation rate doubles in April

Annual inflation in the UK more than doubled last month, led by an increase in the cost of energy and clothing.

The annual Consumer Prices Index rose from 0.7% in March to 1.5% in April, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics.

A rise in the price of oil has pushed up petrol and diesel costs.

The ONS says figures are affected by the fall in prices at the onset of the pandemic last year.

Clothing and footwear prices, for instance, rose by 2.4% between March and April, compared to a fall of 1.5% last year.

Update #8692 - 12.40 Jaguar Land Rover loss and chip shortage

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), owned by India's Tata Motors, has announced a pre-tax loss of £861 million for the last financial year.

This comes as a shortage of semi-conductors is affecting recovery, after a year that was badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Vehicle sales last year were down 13.6% overall, but in China they jumped by 127% in the final quarter, up 23.4% year on year.This is reflected in the 20.5% increase in revenue overall for the first three months of 2021 (Q4) up to £6.5 billion.

Jaguar Land Rover Chief Financial Officer Adrian Mardell said: "We are pleased to have been able to continue to generate improved cash flow and profitability in Q4, despite the ongoing challenges of Covid-19 on retailers and the supply chain."

The company is facing difficulties getting semi-conductors, which is having an impact on production plans for the current quarter.Last month JLR had to stop production at its two main factories in Britain due to a lack of chips.

CEO Thierry Bollore said: "Jaguar Land Rover is well placed to emerge from the pandemic as a stronger and more resilient company that is able to navigate and capitalise on the opportunities ahead."

During the year, Jaguar Land Rover successfully launched its new range of 21 Model Year vehicles, incorporating the very latest technologies.Twelve of the company's models now have an electrified option, contributing to 62% of sales, including eight plug-in hybrids, eleven mild hybrids and the all-electric Jaguar I-PACE.

Update #8691 - 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 127,691 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

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

Across the UK, 2,412 people have tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hour period and 4,450,392 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 36,811,405 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of May 17 and 20,546,452 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 22,608, 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 - 6,409 cases

Cheltenham - 3,788 cases

Stroud - 3,803 cases

Tewkesbury - 2,932 cases

Forest of Dean - 3,101 cases

Cotswold - 2,585 cases

Tuesday, May 18

Update #8690 - 11.10 37-year-olds to be invited for vaccines from today

People aged 36 or 37 can expect to receive a text from the government, as they will be eligible for a Covid-19 jab from today.

The news comes as cases of the Indian variant are on the rise, with 2,323 cases reported across 86 local authority areas.

There are 19 people in hospital in Bolton with the variant and eight in Blackburn, most of whom haven't had a jab, as reported by Sky.

The mobile vaccine centre in Blackburn is now offering doses to 'any adult', as the government refuses to rule out the possibility of local lockdowns.

Update #8689 - 10.05 Jab can be stored for longer

The Pfizer Covid vaccine can be stored at fridge temperature for much longer than previously recommended.

The need for transport and storage at very low temperatures was the biggest disadvantage of the Pfizer jab.

But now the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has said that unopened vials of thawed vaccine can be kept in the fridge for up to a month, compared to the current limit of five days, as reported by the BBC.

Update #8688 - 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 127,684 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

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

Across the UK, 1,979 people have tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hour period and 4,452,756 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 36,704,672 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of May 16 and 20,287,403 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 22,647, 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 - 6,415 cases (increase of four)

Cheltenham - 3,786 cases (increase of two)

Stroud - 3,812 cases (increase of one)

Tewkesbury - 2,938 cases (no change)

Forest of Dean - 3,105 cases (no change)

Cotswold - 2,591 cases (increase of two)

Monday, May 17

Update #8687 - 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 127,679 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

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

Across the UK, 1,926 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 4,450,777 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 36,573,354 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of May 15 and 20,103,658 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 22,638 as of Sunday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 951.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 6,411 cases

Cheltenham - 3,784 cases

Stroud - 3,811 cases

Tewkesbury - 2,938 cases

Forest of Dean - 3,105 cases

Cotswold - 2,589 cases

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