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Gloucestershire Business News

Coronavirus LIVE Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Friday, December 4

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, December 4

Update #8154 -12.54 Evans Jones support 12 charities of Christmas

On the 12th day of Christmas, Evans Jones will give something a bit more useful to a charity than 12 drummers drumming.

And the Cheltenham-based planning and property experts will be providing more practical help across the festive period than lords-a-leaping, maids-a-milking and the odd partridge in a pear tree.

This year has seen charities take a massive hit in their income as events and fundraising opportunities were ruled out by the coronavirus pandemic - just as many of them have seen demand for their services rises.

For this reason, Evans Jones decided to do things a bit differently this year.

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Update #8153 - 12.58 Primark remains confident despite lockdown hit

Primark's owner insists the fashion chain is still on course for improved annual profits, despite estimating it lost £430million in sales during the latest batch of lockdowns across Europe.

Associated British Foods had previously predicted a loss in sales of £375million during the lockdowns.

Issuing an update before today's annual general meeting, the company said it had made a 25 per cent saving in operating costs during the period of lockdown and predicted a similar pent-up demand ahead of Christmas as it saw after the initial restrictions were ended in June.

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Update #8152 - 11.38 More retailers pay back business rates relief

Pets at Home has become the latest retailer to hand back business rates relief received during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company will return £28.9million, following discount retailer B&M who said it would repay around £80million.

Leading supermarkets Tesco (£585m), Sainsbury's (£440m), Asda (£340m), Morrisons (£274m) and Aldi (£100m) have announced they will be returning money saved during the rates holiday.

But Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Co-op have said they will not be following suit.

Update #8151 - 11.33 Leisure and retail takes biggest hit in hiring

Recreation and travel saw the biggest drop in hiring throughout October according to new research by LinkedIn.

The survey revealed hiring in the sector was down 43 per cent on the same month last year while the retail sector fell by 20 per cent in the same period.

LinkedIn UK country manager Josh Graff said: "The pandemic has accelerated the shift to online shopping and in-store staff are paying the highest price.

"We know that people in the retail sector are passionate about their work and have highly transferable skills, specifically in customer service and experience."

Update #8150 - 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 60,113 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 414 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 14,879 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 1,674,134 since the outbreak began.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 8,113 as of Thursday afternoon - an increase of 152.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 492 - a rise of six on the day before.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 2,262 cases (increase of 55)

Cheltenham - 1,583 cases (increase of 22)

Stroud - 1,421 cases (increase of 22)

Tewkesbury - 1,032 cases (increase of 29)

Cotswolds - 979 cases (increase of 14)

Forest of Dean - 836 cases (increase of 10)

Thursday, December 3

Update #8149 - 13.25 Punchline Says: Think local to keep giving this Christmas

Most of the events of 2020 have been out of our control, but there is one thing which we can all do to help ensure a merry Christmas for more people - back local traders.

Punchline-Gloucester.com is backing calls for shoppers to support local and independent businesses this December after months of closures, restrictions and uncertainty.

And if local Gloucestershire businesses tag @PunchlineGlos on social media, we will retweet and share their posts outlining their festive offerings.

READ MORE 

Update #8148 - 12.35 Topshop owner leaves gift card holders short

Arcadia, which went into administration earlier this week has said shoppers at Topshop and other of its brands will only be able to use gift cards for half of their order.

The company has said that while purchases using gift cards online are temporary unavailable, once the technical issue has been resolved, the cards will only be valid for 50% of a purchase.

In a statement, Arcadia said: "Gift cards have been temporarily switched off until further notice. I can confirm you are still able to use gift cards in store, you will only be able to apply 50% of the gift card to your purchase.

"Apologies for the inconvenience that has been caused." 

Update #8147 - 11.00 ProCook makes short move at Gloucester Quays

Staff at ProCook's Gloucester Quays shop did not just return to work this week - they began life in new premises.

The kitchen and cookware retailer, which is based in Gloucester, opened the doors on a 2,500sq ft store in the outlet mall when they were able to resume trading with the change in coronavirus restrictions.

During the November lockdown, staff have been busy preparing the shop inside the Quays, having previously been alongside one of the entrances in High Orchard Street.

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Update #8146 - 10.58 Sainsbury's and Aldi to pay back £540 of rates relief

Two of the UK's biggest grocers have pledged to hand back a combined £540 of business rates relief that received from the Government to cope with the pandemic.

Both supermarkets, whose sales have jumped during 2020, said the decision was due to the fact that they had been allowed to stay open in lockdown.

Sainsburys boss Simon Roberts said: "With regional restrictions likely to remain in place for some time, we believe it is now fair and right to forgo the business rates relief that we have been given on all Sainsbury's stores.

Boss of Aldi UK Giles Hurley echoed this message, adding that returning the full value of its business rates relief was "the right decision to help support the nation".

Update #8145 - 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 59,699 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 648 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 16,170 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 1,659,256 since the outbreak began.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 8,031 as of Wednesday afternoon - an increase of 70.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 489 - a rise of three on the day before.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 2,233 cases (increase of 26)

Cheltenham - 1,572 cases (increase of 11)

Stroud - 1,411 cases (increase of 12)

Tewkesbury - 1,015 cases (increase of 12)

Cotswolds - 971 cases (increase of six)

Forest of Dean - 829 cases (increase of three)

Wednesday, December 2

Update #8144 - 13.18 Forest MP rebels as tier restrictions introduced

Shops across Gloucestershire were reopening their doors today as the county entered updated tier two coronavirus restrictions, despite a rebellion by Conservative MPs against ongoing lockdown measures.

Forest of Dean MP Mark Harper was among the 56 Conservatives who were part of the biggest revolt against the current Government, but it was not enough to prevent measures passing by 291 votes to 78.

Mr Harper said: "I wanted to support the Government, but they have made it impossible for me to do so by not providing sufficient evidence their approach will do more good than harm.

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Update #8143 - 11.30 Cirencester court back in session to shift backlog

Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl has welcomed the Ministry of Justice announcement that it has agreed to adopt the former magistrates' court in Cirencester as a Nightingale Court.

The decision comes with more than 1,000 criminal cases waiting to be heard in Gloucestershire - a new record and more than double the start of the pandemic.

Nationally, the estimated waiting list stretches into seven figures.

The PCC offered use of the building, which also doubled as a crown court, to Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunal Service in April and work is underway to bring it into full working order.

The first hearings are due to the place January and he said it was good news for hundreds of victims, witnesses and defendants awaiting justice.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #8142 - 10.47 Tesco to repay £585m rates relief

Supermarket chain Tesco has said it will repay the £585million worth of business rates relief it has received this year to help cope with the effects of the coronavirus.

Tesco said it was immensely grateful for the financial and policy support provided by the governments of the UK, but its business had proven resilient in the most challenging of circumstances.

Group chief executive Ken Murphy said: "While business rates relief was a critical support at a time of significant uncertainty, some of the potential risks we faced are now behind us.

"Every decision we've taken through the crisis has been guided by our values and a commitment to playing our part. In that same spirit, giving this money back to the public is absolutely the right thing to do by our customers, colleagues and all of our stakeholders." 

Update #8141 - 10.30 Council safely serving the public in Tier 2

Gloucestershire County Council has announced which services will reopen or stay the same, as Tier 2 restrictions come into force today (2nd December).

Gloucestershire is deemed 'high' risk and subject to Tier 2 restrictions now that the national lockdown has been lifted. In line with this, the council has assessed which of its services can continue.

Receptions will remain closed to the public, apart from for where pre-arranged appointments have been made.

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Update #8140 - 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 59,051 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 603 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 13,430 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 1,643,086 since the outbreak began.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 7,961 as of Tuesday afternoon - an increase of 103.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 486 - a rise of five on the day before.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 2,207 cases (increase of 48)

Cheltenham - 1,561 cases (increase of 12)

Stroud - 1,399 cases (increase of 17)

Tewkesbury - 1,003 cases (increase of 12)

Cotswolds - 965 cases (increase of four)

Forest of Dean - 826 cases (increase of 10) 

Tuesday, December 1

Update #8139 - 12.48 Big losses for tile retailer

Tile retailer Topps Tiles has swung to an annual loss and predicts more pain ahead for its commercial business, as it struggles with coronavirus disruptions to the construction industry.

The company, which has stores in Cheltenham, Gloucester, Cirencester, Stroud and Moreton-in-Marsh, reported a statutory loss before tax of £9.8 million in the year to 26th September, compared with a profit of £12.5 million last year, as reported by Reuters.

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Update #8138 - 12.13 Advent calendar opens the window on local businesses

Forget chocolates or festive images behind windows, Gloucester has its own advent calendar shining a light on small, independent businesses throughout the run-up to Christmas.

The Shop Local Advent Calendar will highlight a different city business each day and tell the story of the people behind the counter.

A joint venture between Gloucester City Council and Gloucester Business Improvement District, the initiative is backed with a social media campaign and will highlight businesses' hopes for Christmas, their best-selling products and why being part of a local community is so important to them.

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Update #8137 - 12.02 Topshop owner Arcadia goes into administration

Arcadia, the owner of high street brands including Topshop, Burton, Miss Selfridge and Wallis has gone into administration, putting 13,000 jobs at risk.

Arcadia has hired administrators from Deloitte after the pandemic hit sales across the group hard, as reported by the BBC.

There are a number of Arcadia stores in the county - Topshop in Cheltenham and Gloucester, Burton in Gloucester and Cirencester and Dorothy Perkins in Gloucester and Cirencester. Miss Selfridge and Wallis also have concessions in Debenhams in Gloucester.

In a statement, Arcadia said no redundancies would be announced immediately and all stores will continue to trade as Deloitte considers the options available.

READ MORE  

Update #8136 - 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 58,448 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 205 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 12,330 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 1,629,657 since the outbreak began.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 7,858 as of Monday afternoon - an increase of 64.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 481 - a rise of six on the day before.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 2,159 cases (increase of 11)

Cheltenham - 1,549 cases (increase of 11)

Stroud - 1,382 cases (increase of nine)

Tewkesbury - 991 cases (increase of 14)

Cotswolds - 961 cases (increase of nine)

Forest of Dean - 816 cases (increase of 10)

Monday, November 30 

Update #8135 - 14.52 Rules changed to allow longer opening

Rules on shop opening hours in England are to be relaxed, allowing them to open for 24 hours in the run-up to Christmas and in January.

Local authorities have been given the opportunity to waive the rules from Monday to Saturday.

Announcing the changes in the Daily Telegraph, housing secretary Robert Jenrick said: "None of is, I suspect, enjoys navigating the crowds and none would relish that when social distancing is so important to controlling the virus.

"These changes mean your local shops can open longer, ensuring more pleasant and safer shopping, with less pressure on public transport."

Update #8134 - 13.05 Welsh pubs and restaurants to be banned from selling alcohol

The Welsh First Minister has announced that pubs, cafes and restaurants in Wales are to be banned from selling alcohol and will have to close at 6pm.

Venues will however be able to sell takeaway food and alcohol after that time.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said these restrictions and closures of indoor entertainment venues including cinemas, bingo halls, bowling alleys, soft play centres and casinos, will come into force from 18:00 on Friday and be reviewed on December 17.

Museums, galleries and heritage sites will also have to close, but outdoor visitor attractions can remain open and other Welsh coronavirus restrictions will remain the same. 

Update #8133 - 12.48 Arcadia problems slow Debenhams talks

The Arcadia retail group is believed to be on the brink of administration - which could affect a potential takeover deal for Debenhams.

Arcadia, which includes TopShop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins, is run by Sir Philip Green who owned British Home Stores which closed in 2016.

Although most of the well-known high street names are expected to remain open under any administration, which could could be introduced as early as today, 13,000 jobs would be at risk.

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Update #8132 - 12.30 Survey finds optimism in short supply

Business sentiment has deteriorated at an increased rate in consumer services according to the latest quarterly survey by the CBI.

And after showing signs of optimism in the three months to August, business and professional services saw a negative outlook over the last three months.

The survey, which questioned 229 companies in the first two weeks of November, revealed volumes are anticipated to decline at a slightly quicker pace over the next three months.

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Update #8131 - 12.23 Billionaire brothers make bid for Caffe Nero

The billionaire owners of petrol forecourt business EG Group have reportedly made a bid for coffee shop chain Caffe Nero.

Sky News reported that the Issa brothers have made an offer to Caffe Nero founder Gerry Ford.

The bid was placed over the weekend, prior to the chain finding out of landlords will agree to cut rent bills due to a drop in trade.

Reduced footfall and a drop in sales for the business during the pandemic has forced it to seek a rescue deal or a company voluntary arrangement (CVA).

The BBC reports that an insider has said Caffe Nero is an obvious extension to the EG Group owned by the brothers. 

Update #8130 - 11.06 Santa sold out on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR)'s 'Santa Experience' trains have sold out, a week before the first special train takes families to the 'North Pole' from Toddington on December 5.

At a time when many organisations have had to cancel their Santa experiences, the railway's volunteers - led by 'chief elf' Mike Leggett - have been working flat-out to make the trips both Covid-compliant as well as a memorable family occasion.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #8129 - 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 58,245 - 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, 12,155 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 1,617,327 since the outbreak began.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 7,794 as of Sunday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 475.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 2,148 cases

Cheltenham - 1,538 cases

Stroud - 1,373 cases

Tewkesbury - 977 cases

Cotswolds - 952 cases

Forest of Dean - 806 cases

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