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Coronavirus LIVE Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Friday, November 13

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, November 13

Update #8058 - 13.08 Caffe Nero launches restructuring process

Coffee chain Caffe Nero is launching a company voluntary arrangement after it said the coronavirus pandemic had "decimated trading".

The chain, which employs 6,000 people across 800 UK shops and 200 overseas, is looking to renegotiate terms with landlords and creditors.

SEE MORE 

Update #8057 - 12.22 Tesco takes action to hit net zero in UK by 2035

Tesco has announced a partnership with Low Carbon to create three new solar farms, as the supermarket fast tracks its commitment to reach Net zero by 2035.

Stores to be fitted with solar panels as part of major renewable electricity roll-out, with 60 already fitted. The solar farms in Essex, Anglesey and Oxfordshire will generate up to 130GWh of energy per year.

The announcement coincides with the news that Tesco has put 30 electric delivery vans on the road this month, with plans to have a fully electric home delivery fleet by 2028.

Tesco UK and ROI CEO Jason Tarry said: "In 12 months' time, the UK will host the most critical climate change summit of the decade, known as COP26. At Tesco we want to play our part.

"That's why we've brought forward our ambition to reach net zero in our UK operations by 15 years and made a series of new commitments to help us achieve that target, including reaching a new milestone today in our journey to using 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030." 

Update #8056 - 12.13 Number of job adverts rises to 1.36 million for first time since early March

In the first week of November, as the new England-wide lockdown was introduced, there were 1.36 million active job postings in the UK according no new research by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).

This is the first time that figure has been passed since the second week of March, just before the first lockdown was announced.

However, six regions of England continue to record lower numbers of active job postings than March. London's labour market is lagging furthest behind, with 18.7 per cent fewer job adverts than March, followed by the West Midlands (-9.3 per cent) and Yorkshire & the Humber (-6.8 per cent).

REC chief executive Neil Carberry said: "Unemployment and redundancy numbers earlier this week showed that this is a tough moment for our jobs market. But we also know that there are always jobs being created by those businesses who can, and as this data reveals, there is hope to be found in many places and sectors." 

Update #8055 - 12.06 Whitbread looks to reduce planned job losses

The extension of the furlough scheme could see Whitbread reduce the number of planned job losses by more than half.

Whitbread, which owns Premier Inn hotels and Beefeater restaurants as part of the group, announced in September it was cutting up to 6,000 jobs after seeing sales for the previous is months fall by 77.2 per cent.

READ MORE  

Update #8054 - 12.00 Positive signs among falling confidence

Confidence among the South West's small businesses continues to fall - but there are some glimmers of positivity.

The Federation of Small Businesses latest quarterly report revealed South West businesses were among the most positive with 40 per cent expecting to grow rapidly in the next 12 months.

And although 18 per cent of SMEs in the region said they had seen a decrease in staff, 15 per cent have increased numbers meaning the South West had the slowest rate of SME employment decline in England.

SEE MORE 

Update #8053 - 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 figures show the UK death toll of people with coronavirus rose to 50,928 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 563 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 33,470 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 1,290,195 since the outbreak began.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 5,697 as of Thursday afternoon - an increase of 164 on the day before.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 1,446 cases (increase of 34)

Cheltenham - 1,135 (increase of 27)

Stroud - 1,021 cases (increase of 27)

Tewkesbury - 688 (increase of 20)

Cotswolds - 802 cases (increase of 34)

Forest of Dean - 605 cases (increase of 22)

Thursday, November 12

Update #8052 - 15.27 Furlough extension will not match initial cost

Extending the furlough scheme until the end of March will not cost as much as the £40billion it has to this point, according to a senior Treasury official.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would be extended to March 31 after it had been due to close at the end of October.

Treasury director general for tax and welfare Beth Russell told the Public Accounts Committee: "We wouldn't expect it to be as high as that.

"Given the restrictions in the spring and the restrictions that we are now expecting for the next few months, we would expect it to be quite a bit lower than that."

The Office for Budget Responsibility is due to publish an official cost estimate on November 25.

Update #8051 - 15.05 Booksellers call for essential change

The chief executive of Waterstones has called on the Government to follow the lead of other countries by classing book shops as essential retailers.

Book shops have been forced to close during England's November lockdown but other retailers which sell books, such as supermarkets and WHSmith, remain open.

Mr Daunt said: "Closing us while most of our neighbours are open still, including in many of our locations, literally next door to a WHSmith selling identical products to us, it's absolutely absurd."

His calls were echoed by The Booksellers Association in a letter to government ministers.

Update #8050 - 14.55 Pandemic sends WHSmith towards big loss

WHSmith has reported a pre-tax loss of £226million for the 12 months to the end of August - down from a profit of £135million last year.

The high street retail saw sales sink to just 17 per cent of the previous year's in April as lockdown forced shops to close and hit trade at railway and airport branches.

Sales had recovered to 59 per cent of 2019 levels by October.

Revenues at the group's travel business remained less than half of the previous year as total revenues for the year were down by a third at just over £1billion.

Update #8049 - 10.46 Winter warning as UK grows out of economy

The UK economy moved out of recession with record growth in the third quarter - but it was not enough to make up for the losses of the previous six months.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed GDP grew by 15.5 per cent from July to September after the UK emerged from the initial coronavirus lockdown.

But the economy remains 8.2 per cent smaller than before the start of the pandemic.

The economy grew for the fifth consecutive month in September but the rate of 1.1 per cent was smaller than previous months.

READ MORE 

Update #8048 - 10.42 Extra bank holiday to mark jubilee

The UK will get an extra bank holiday and a four-day weekend to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.

The May bank holiday in 2022 will move to Thursday, June 2 with the following day becoming an additional bank holiday.

Events will be held across the four-day weekend to mark the 70th anniversary.

Update #8047 - 10.27 Homebase on the lookout for new owner

DIY chain Homebase has announced it is looking for a new owner as it heads into the next stage of its transformation programme.

Homebase, which has stores in Gloucester and Stroud, has been owned by Hilco since 2018. It closed its Cheltenham store in 2019.

The retailer's chief executive said the chain has delivered strong sales growth throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, as reported by Retail Gazette.

It is looking for new owners in the next year to drive its next stage of growth. Homebase said there were a number of interested parties and it aims to secure new ownership by Easter 2021.

READ MORE 

Update #8046 - 10.25 Takeaway services given an extra year

Restaurant, pubs and cafes will be allowed to offer takeaway services without seeking extra permission until March 2022.

Relaxed rules permitting takeaway services without going through the planning process, brought in at the start of the first lockdown, were due to end on March 23, 2021 - a year on from the introduction of coronavirus restrictions.

But the measure, together with rules making it easier for businesses and communities to host markets and stalls, has been extended for at least another year.

SEE MORE 

Update #8045 - 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 figures show the UK death toll of people with coronavirus rose to 50,365 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 595 on the previous day's figures - the largest rise since the middle of May.

Across the UK, 22,950 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 1,256,725 since the outbreak began.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 5,533 as of Wednesday afternoon - an increase of 106 on the day before.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 1,412 cases (increase of 18)

Cheltenham - 1,108 (increase of 18)

Stroud - 994 cases (increase of 32)

Tewkesbury - 668 (increase of eight)

Cotswolds - 768 cases (increase of 13)

Forest of Dean - 583 cases (increase of 17)

Wednesday, November 11

Update #8044 - 12.53 Sales slump at Wetherspoons

Pub chain Wetherspoons has revealed a slump in sales which boss Tim Martin said is down to "baffling and confusing" regulations facing the industry.

The business reported a 27.6 per cent fall in like for like sales in the 15 weeks to November 8, as more restrictions across the UK has seen a drop in demand.

It predicted that the new lockdown in force across England would see the firm burn through £14 million in cash.

Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin said: ""For any pub or restaurant company trading in different parts of the UK, and for customers generally, the constantly changing national and local regulations, combined with geographical areas moving from one tier to another in the different jurisdictions, are baffling and confusing."

"The entire regulatory system is a complete muddle." 

Update #8043 - 12.30 Gloucester-based aerospace firm lifts profit forecast

Aerospace defence company BAE Systems has raised its earnings forecast for the year, boosted by a strong demand for its products throughout the pandemic.

With a base at Gloucester Business Park in Brockworth, the organisation released an update to the stock exchange this morning, November 11.

The statement said that the group is keeping its full-year guidance for sales and cashflow unchanged but expected its earnings per share to be slightly higher than previously predicted.

SEE MORE 

Update #8042 - 12.28 Supermarkets press for longer Sunday hours

Supermarkets have launched a fresh push to extend Sunday trading hours in the run-up to Christmas.

According to Sky News, bosses at some of the country's biggest supermarkets are urging the Government to relax the rules which prevent them from opening for more than six hours.

They say the change for December, which would require legislation, would ease congestion and help to safeguard customers' safety during coronavirus pandemic.

Proposals to allow longer Sunday hours met with opposition from Conservative MPs earlier this year.

Update #8041 - 11.12 Refinancing complete at New Look

New Look has said that it has completed a restructuring program of its finances in a move to reduce costs after sales have been seriously affected by the pandemic.

The business said it had completed a comprehensive financial recapitalisation transaction, after the High Court sanctioned New Look Financing PLC's Scheme of Arrangement.

It added that recapitalisation would reduce long-term debt and provide financial strength to the organisation.

Chief executive Nigel Oddy said: "Looking ahead, notwithstanding the challenging market conditions, we are focused on delivering our strategy to enhance our position as a leading convenient broad appeal fashion destination." 

Update #8040 - 08.34 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 figures show the UK death toll of people with coronavirus rose to 49,770 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 532 on the previous day's figures - the largest increase since the middle of May.

Across the UK, 20,412 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 1,233,775 since the outbreak began.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 5,427 as of Tuesday afternoon - an increase of 123 on the day before.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 1,394 cases (increase of 32)

Cheltenham - 1,090 (increase of 24)

Stroud - 962 cases (increase of 27)

Tewkesbury - 660 (increase of 13)

Cotswolds - 755 cases (increase of 16)

Forest of Dean - 566 cases (increase of 11) 

Tuesday, November 10

Update #8039 - 15.39 Lockdown rush helps rising grocery sales

Grocery sales in the UK rose by almost seven per cent in October - helped by a late surge as consumers prepared for a looming lockdown.

Total sales were 6.9 per cent up on last October and rose 7.2 per cent in the final week of the month.

Figures from market researcher Nielsen said store visits fell by 12 per cent but the average spend was up by a fifth on a year ago.

Online sales soared by 87 per cent with the fastest growth coming in frozen food (16 per cent), alcohol (15 per cent) and packaged grocery (11 per cent).

Update #8038 - 15.36 McDonald's look to plants for fresh ideas

McDonald's is introducing a line of plant-based burgers as the market for meat alternatives grow.

The McPlant range - which will also contain chicken substitutes and breakfast sandwiches - will be available from next year.

Predictions from Barclays put the value of the meat alternative market at £106billion by 2029.

Update #8037 - 12.39 Silver lining for Gloucestershire in unemployment figures

Unemployment across the UK rose to 4.8 per cent in the three months to September - but Gloucestershire saw a slight fall in the rate in October.

Figures from GFirst LEP said the rate of people claiming unemployment benefits dipped slightly last month to 4.7 per cent with around 1,000 fewer unemployed people.

And GFirst chief executive David Owen said job vacancies in the county edged up to 21,000 last month, 10 per cent down on October 2019 but an improvement on July and August.

National figures from the Office for National Statistics showed the rate of unemployment rose from 4.5 per cent across the third quarter of the year.

SEE MORE 

Update #8036 - 11.55 Analysts predict "write off" year for WH Smith

High street retailer WH Smith is predicted to post an annual loss of more than £70 million after the coronavirus pandemic closed stores.

Analysts at Investec have said they expect the business to report a pre-tax loss of between £70 and £75 million for the year to August 31 when it publishes its annual results on Thursday.

In August WH Smith said 1,500 would be at risk due to a large fall in sales due to the pandemic. 

Update #8035 - 11.20 Premier Foods sees sales boost throughout pandemic

Maker of Bisto, Ambrosia and Mr Kipling's cakes Premier Foods has revealed an exceptional demand for its products throughout lockdown.

The business reported a profit rise of 50 per cent for the six months to September, hitting £47.7 million.

They added that with more people eating at home due to lockdown restrictions, the brands had gained more than one million more customers during the period.

Alex Whitehouse, chief executive at Premier Foods told BBC News: "The longevity of this increased demand is likely to be linked to the duration of these new measures." 

Update #8034 - 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 figures show the UK death toll of people with coronavirus rose to 49,238 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 194 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 21,350 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 1,213,363 since the outbreak began.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 5,304 as of Monday afternoon - an increase of 109 on the day before.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 1,362 cases (increase of 16)

Cheltenham - 1,066 (increase of 12)

Stroud - 935 cases (increase of 41)

Tewkesbury - 647 (increase of 12)

Cotswolds - 739 cases (increase of 20)

Forest of Dean - 555 cases (increase of eight)

Monday, November 9

Update #8033 - 14.54 Markets respond to positive vaccine tests

Stock markets received an instant lift after news of positive trial results for a possible coronavirus vaccine.

The FTSE 100 rose more than five per cent with shares in Pfizer, the drug firm behind the vaccine which it said was 90 per cent effective in trials, up 14 per cent.

Beleaguered travel firms also turned in the right direction with IAG, owners of British Airways, up 35 per cent and aviation engine make Rolls-Royce rising 45 per cent.

But online delivery firms turned in the other direction, shares in Ocado falling by more than nine per cent and Just Eat more than seven per cent.

READ MORE ABOUT THE VACCINE 

Update #8032 - 14.51 Week of two halve for shopper numbers

Shopping numbers at retail destinations across the UK fell 15.4 per cent last week - despite a mini boom in the days leading up to the November lockdown in England.

Figures from retail data firm Springboard showed high street football was down 16.2 per cent in the seven days to November 7, while shopping centres saw customers fall 18.9 per cent and retail parks 9.7 per cent.

Compared to the same week last year, footfall was down 38.6 per cent.

For the first four days of the week, the figure was up 11.7 per cent on the previous week but that tumbled 46.7 for the final three days as lockdown was introduced across England.

Update #8031 - 13.01 Positive results from coronavirus vaccine trials

Tests on a coronavirus vaccine under development have revealed it is 90 per cent effective.

Developers Pfizer and BioNTech said 43,500 trials across six countries had raised no safety concerns.

And they are looking to apply for emergency approval for the vaccine by the end of November.

Pfizer chairman Dr Albert Bourla described the results as "a great day for science and humanity".

He said: "The first set of results from our phase three Covid-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine's ability to prevent Covid-19."

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #8030 - 12.30 Fund announced to help drones deliver COVID-19 tests and supplies

Projects harnessing the latest technology to support the fight against COVID-19 and other challenges like climate change have been backed by a new government fund.

The first 20 winning ideas will receive a share of £7 million which will fund projects ranging from the development of drones capable of delivering COVID-19 medical supplies to remote areas, to technology to enable remote inspections of infrastructure and construction sites.

It forms part of a wider £33.5 million investment with an additional 28 potential projects also in the pipeline for government backing.

SEE MORE 

Update #8029 - 12.27 John Lewis calls for more Christmas clarity

The Government has been urged to provide greater clarity on whether shops will be able to open in time for the pre-Christmas period.

Non-essential retail in England was forced to close last week as part of the November lockdown introduced in a bid to tackle the rising rate of coronavirus cases.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said lockdown measures should be eased when the current restrictions end on December 2 and revert to the three-tier system across England.

READ MORE 

Update #8028 - 10.38 All staff at Pandora to receive full pay throughout pandemic

High street and online jeweller Pandora has announced it has no plans to permanently close any of its stores despite the coronavirus crisis.

In an interview with the BBC, chief executive of the business Alexander Lacik said that all staff will continue to be paid in full, even if they are not at work.

Pandora reported a large growth in online sales, almost doubling in the three months to the end of September. E-commerce now accounts for 21 per cent of the company's £493m sales.

Mr Lacik added that despite the growth in online, physical retail are "incredibly profitable" and would continue being an important part of the industry, because consumers still want the hands-on experience.

Update #8027 - 10.08 Real living wage increases to £9.50

More than 250,000 people working for almost 7,000 real Living Wage employers throughout the country are set for a pay boost as the new Living Wage rates rise to £9.50 across the UK (20p increase), and £10.85 in London (10p increase).

The UK rate is 78p per hour more than the government minimum wage (for over 25s) and the London Living Wage is £2.13 per hour higher.

A full-time worker paid the new £9.50 real Living Wage will receive more than £1,500 in additional wages annually compared to the current Government minimum.

Laura Gardiner, Living Wage Foundation director, said: "It's an incredibly challenging time for us all, but today's new Living Wage rates will give a boost to hundreds of thousands of UK workers, including thousands of key and essential workers like cleaners, care workers, and delivery drivers who have kept our economy going."

Update #8026 - 09.52 SME manufacturers report slump in activity easing, says CBI

SME manufacturing output fell at a considerably slower pace in the three months to October, following July's record decline, according to the latest quarterly CBI SME Trends Survey.

The survey of 285 SME manufacturers reported that total new orders stabilised, following a survey-record pace of decline last quarter. Domestic orders were broadly unchanged, and export orders fell at a more moderate pace.

But while the decline in employment also slowed from the last quarter, the cut in headcount among SME manufacturers remained significant.

Business sentiment was roughly unchanged in the quarter to October, following a slight recovery in July. Export sentiment fell at a similar pace to the previous quarter.

Alpesh Paleja, CBI lead economist, said: "The thaw in activity seems to be melting for SME manufacturers, and it's encouraging that output and employment is set to grow in the quarter ahead. But a second national lockdown will inevitably mean that prospects are now looking bleaker."

Update #8025 - 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 figures released yesterday show the UK death toll of people with coronavirus rose to 49,044 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 156 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 20,572 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 1,192,013 since the outbreak began.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 5,195 as of Sunday afternoon.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 1,346 cases

Cheltenham - 1,054 cases

Stroud - 894 cases

Tewkesbury - 635 cases

Cotswolds - 719 cases

Forest of Dean - 547 cases

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