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Gloucestershire Business News

Coronavirus LIVE Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Friday, October 30

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, October 30

Update #1786 - 17.00 Update on coronavirus cases in the UK

The government's Department of Health and Social Care has released the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

It has been said that a further 274 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 4.02pm today (October 30).

The latest total COVID death toll for the UK now sits at 46,229 - which specifically includes those that have died within 28 days of a laboratory-confirmed positive COVID test.

Across the UK, 24,405 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 989,745 since the outbreak began. 

Update #1785 - 15.56 GFirst survey plotting the future of the office

Working from home has become part of the new normal over the past few months and looks set to remain so for quite some time.

And GFirst LEP, Gloucestershire's Local Enterprise Partnership, is looking to compile data on current and future working patterns across the Gloucestershire business community in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Businesses across Gloucestershire are being asked to answer a short survey about flexible working, working from home and plans for the future after Covid-19.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #1784 - 15.47 ICO fines Marriott Hotels £18.4million after data breach

The ICO has fined Marriott International Inc £18.4million for failing to keep millions of customers' personal data secure.

Marriott estimates that 339 million guest records worldwide were affected following a cyber-attack in 2014 on Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc.

The attack, from an unknown source, remained undetected until September 2018, by which time the company had been acquired by Marriott.

ICO's investigation found that there were failures by Marriott to put appropriate technical or organisational measures in place to protect the personal data being processed on its systems, as required by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

Update #1783 - 14.55 New Cheltenham branch close to home on The Range

A Cheltenham shop has opened its doors on a new branch after making the short move from its former home.

The Range opened today at the site of the former Homebase site at Centrum Park, having moved along Tewkesbury Road.

Owner and founder Chris Dawson said: "Opening our updated Cheltenham store is a very proud moment for me and the company.

"Providing Cheltenham with this new and improved store has been in the planning stages for some time, so it is fantastic to finally be able to welcome our customers to their new local store.

"The Christmas department is full of so many varied products that I'm sure our new customers will definitely find something they love to make this festive season extra special."

READ MORE 

Update #1782 - 13.09 VIDEO Punchline Talks: Friday Briefing

Punchline brings you business news from around Gloucestershire and beyond in one place every day - now we are taking things a step further with a weekly video briefing.

Each Friday, Punchline-Gloucester.com editor Mark Owen will be joined by a panel of experts to assess the week's big stories.

WATCH THE LATEST VIDEO 

Update #1781 - 12.28 Waitrose to recruit more than 1,800 drivers and pickers

Supermarket chain Waitrose has announced it will be recruiting nearly 1,850 additional drivers and pickers this Christmas for its online delivery service.

The combination of temporary and permanent roles will help meet the surge in customer demand for the Waitrose.com service, picking and delivering online orders in Waitrose shops and also within two online fulfilment centres in Enfield and Coulsdon.

Positions will cover both the home delivery and grocery click & collect services offered by Waitrose.

"This year our online shopping operation has more than trebled, and we know that the demand for our Waitrose.com service will continue throughout the festive season," said Laura Burbedge, director of online at Waitrose.

"These additional Waitrose.com drivers and pickers will allow us to better support our customers over the Christmas period with their online grocery orders."

Update #1780 - 11.58 Laura Ashley begins 'NEXT' chapter

Laura Ashley has announced a new partnership with fashion brand NEXT plc to reintroduce their home products online and in stores nationwide.

Global advisory, restructuring and investment firm Gordon Brothers rescued Laura Ashley from administration in April 2020 and acquired its brand, archives and related intellectual property.

Laura Ashley's 147 stores as well as manufacturing and logistics operations were not included in the sale, and these parts of the business remain for sale.

SEE MORE 

Update #1779 - 11.12 House price growth reaches five-year high

Findings by banking group Nationwide have revealed that annual house price growth in October has risen by the highest rate since January 2015.

A mini-boom in the housing market has seen house price growth rise by 5.8 per cent, up 0.8 per cent on September's five per cent rise.

Nationwide said the continued growth is prompted by people looking to move rather than improve, and green enhancements appear high up on the agenda.

"Activity is likely to slow in the coming quarters, perhaps sharply, if the labour market weakens as most analysts expect, especially once the stamp duty holiday expires at the end of March," said Robert Gardner, Nationwide's chief economist.

"The outlook remains highly uncertain and will depend heavily on how the pandemic and the measures to contain it evolve as well as the efficacy of policy measures implemented to limit the damage to the wider economy."

Update #1778 - 10.34 Quarterly pre-tax profits better than expected for NatWest

High street bank Natwest has reported a pre-tax profit of £355 million for the third quarter of 2020.

This figure is a big difference from the £75m loss expected for the period, said to be aided by the amount the bank had set aside to deal with loan defaults as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Natwest revealed that impairment charges which had previously been forcast at £628 million instead came in at £254 million, resulting in a total figure at the lower end of the banks £3.5 billion to £4.5 billion prediction.

Chief executive Alison Rose said: "These results demonstrate the resilience of our underlying business and the strength of our balance sheet in the face of significant continued uncertainty.

"Although impairments were relatively low in the quarter and we have seen some positive trends across our customer base, the full impact of Covid-19 remains very unclear."

Update #1777 - 08.35 Latest coronavirus figures for 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.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 4,068 as of Thursday afternoon - an increase of 105.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 1,083 cases (increase of 33)

Cheltenham - 872 cases (increase of 17)

Stroud - 625 cases (increase of 17)

Tewkesbury - 518 cases (increase of nine)

Cotswolds - 543 cases (increase of 17)

Forest of Dean - 427 cases (increase of 12) 

Thursday, October 29

Update #1776 - 16.58 'Antiquated' rates could force closures warn Shoe Zone

Shoe Zone said it could be forced to close 90 shops in the next 18 months if business rates are reintroduced in April.

The shoe retailer, which has outlets in Gloucester, Cheltenham, Stroud and Tewkesbury, said 45 branches would shut before the rates - which were suspended in April - are reintroduced in April 2021.

And chief executive Anthony Smith warned 45 more would follow suit in the next 12 months.

READ MORE 

Update #1775 - 16.50 Update on coronavirus cases in the UK

The government's Department of Health and Social Care has released the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

It has been said that a further 280 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 4.00pm today (October 29).

The latest total COVID death toll for the UK now sits at 45,955 - which specifically includes those that have died within 28 days of a laboratory-confirmed positive COVID test.

Across the UK, 23,065 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 965,340 since the outbreak began.

Update #1774 - 16.45 Pizza Express to lose another 1,300 jobs

Pizza Express is to cut a further 1,300 jobs across its UK restaurants as coronavirus restrictions after customer numbers fall.

The company, which operates 370 restaurants in the UK announced plans to axe 1,100 roles and close 73 outlets two months ago.

No further sites will shut as part of the latest plans with a mixture of compulsory and voluntary redundancies.

Managing director Zoe Bowley said: "Our aim throughout these extremely challenging times has been to keep our team members and customers safe and to retain jobs for as long as possible.

"Unfortunately, the recent increase in Covid-19 cases is again causing footfall to decline across the UK."

Update #1773 - 15.37 Airbus suffers big loss as Covid continues to cripple aerospace industry

European aerospace firm Airbus has revealed a deep loss in its third quarter as it plans for an uncertain future.

The business has reported a £2.5 billion loss in the first nine months of 2020, compared to a £2 billion profit in the same period in the previous year.

Blamed predominately on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, Airbus revenue also fell by 35 percent due to the slowing of new aircraft deliveries. It said it has 135 undelivered planes.

A statement released with the quarterly financial results said: "The COVID-19 pandemic is weighing on the performance of development, production, flight testing, aircraft delivery and retrofit activities."

"After nine months of 2020 we now see the progress made on adapting our business to the new COVID-19 market environment. Despite the slower air travel recovery than anticipated, we converged commercial aircraft production and deliveries in the third quarter and we stopped cash consumption in line with our ambition," said Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury. 

Update #1772 - 15.05 Rapid downturn in economic prediction

A key forecast for the UK economy has been downgraded - just weeks after the previous prediction.

The International Monetary Fund's annual review said the UK's GDP is set to plunge 10.4 per cent, having forecast a 9.8 per cent fall earlier this month.

It also lowed the expected growth in 2021 from 5.9 per cent to 5.7 per cent with the ongoing rise in coronavirus cases blamed for the change.

Update #1771 - 14.35 Furlough's final weeks bring spike in online CVs

The final weeks of the furlough scheme has seen 670,000 UK workers upload or update their online CVs on a leading job website, according to new figures.

Job site Indeed said the surge represents a quarter of the 2.7 million CVs refreshed or added to its site over the past six months.

The end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on Saturday could push millions out of work with furlough replaced by a new Job Support Scheme.

Of CVs uploaded or refreshed, 32 per cent listed more than 10 years of work experience while half 16 per cent came from younger workers with less than two years of professional experience.

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Update #1770 - 13.20 GE Aviation sees profits brought down to earth

GE Aviation saw its operating profit tumble by 79 per cent as the coronavirus pandemic continued to have a huge impact on the aviation industry.

The manufacturing giant, which employs more than 1,600 people designing and manufacturing electronic and mechanical systems at its Bishop's Cleeve site, said profit fell to $356million during the third quarter.

The figure comes on revenue of $4.9billion, a 39 per cent fall on the same period last year, with commercial engine and service revenue of $2.7billion (down 55 per cent).

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Update #1769 - 12.49 Hornby sales steam ahead

Model railway maker Hornby has revealed a rise in sales in the six months to the end of September, aided by the national coronavirus lockdown.

The business, that also makes Corgi cars and Scalextrics kits, has seen a 33 per cent surge in sales.

Sales for the group reached £21.1 million, up from £15.9 million in 2019. Net profit hit £200,000, a stark difference from the £2.5m loss last year.

Hornby said that product lines performing best included model aeroplane brand Airfix, and model paint range Humbrol.

Chief executive Lyndon Davies said: "Hornby has moved into profitability, the growing sales and margins built on the back of the introduction of some fantastic new products, new technology and the changing environment."

Update #1768 - 11.27 Fall in US imports hits car numbers

UK factories produced five per cent fewer cars in September than last year as the total remained on course to end the year below one million for the first time since 1999.

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders revealed 114,732 during the month - the lowest September in 25 years.

While domestic demand (27,199 vehicles) was up 14.5 per cent on last year, exports to the United States were down 30 per cent with the figure to the EU down 3.3 per cent.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "These figures are yet more grim reading for UK automotive as coronavirus continues to wreak havoc both at home and in key overseas markets.

Update #1767 - 11.23 Retail helps Shell beat forecasts

Shell has outstripped profit forecasts for the third quarter as record earnings from retail made up for the affects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Adjusted earnings for the Anglo-Dutch giant over the three months were down 80 per cent to $955million, but still well above predictions of $146million.

Earnings from the marketing division, which includes the world's largest retail network, were up 10 per cent at $1.6billion.

Update #1766 - 08.25 Latest coronavirus figures for 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.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 3,963 as of Wednesday afternoon - an increase of 117.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 1,050 cases (increase of 19)

Cheltenham - 855 cases (increase of 27)

Stroud - 608 cases (increase of 20)

Tewkesbury - 509 cases (increase of 11)

Cotswolds - 526 cases (increase of 22)

Forest of Dean - 415 cases (increase of 18)

Wednesday, October 28

Update #1765 - 16.54 Pied Piper Appeal Christmas raffle goes virtual

The Pied Piper Appeal has taken its Christmas raffle online - and it is set to be the biggest to date.

Businesses from across Gloucester have donated to the 100 prizes with the top prize £500 donated by Aaron Court and Dan Slater of the Blue Bamboo bar at Gloucester Docks.

And there have been donations from further afield with prizes from Roger Federer, Real Madrid, Kate Moss and David Walliams.

Pied Piper aims to help sick children and their families in Gloucester and with charities' fundraising efforts hit by the coronavirus, organiser Tony Bowden is eyeing an ambitious target.

Mr Bowden is a director of Smart Communications who have helped create the online raffle at piedpiperappeal.co.uk with tickets priced £2.50 or five for £10.

FIND OUT MORE 

Update #1764 - 16.33 Update on coronavirus cases in the UK

The government's Department of Health and Social Care has released the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

It has been said that a further 310 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 4.01pm today (October 28).

The latest total COVID death toll for the UK now sits at 45,675 - which specifically includes those that have died within 28 days of a laboratory-confirmed positive COVID test.

Across the UK, 24,701 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 942,275 since the outbreak began.

Update #1763 - 15.52 Boeing continues descent with another loss

Aviation giant Boeing has announced a loss of more than £350million for the third quarter of the year.

And the US planemaker has announced a further 7,000 job losses, taking the total cut in the workforce during the coronavirus pandemic to 30,000.

The £354million loss for the three months to September 30 was the company's fourth consecutive quarterly decline.

It compares to a $1.2billion profit in the same period last year and means revenues for the first nine months of 2020 were down 30 per cent to $42billion.

Update #1762 - 15.04 Council looks for views on climate change strategy

Stroud District Council is looking for views on the best way to lead its responses to climate change.

The council is carbon neutral and says minimising carbon footprint, adapting to climate change and improving recycling rates among its main priorities.

And with the aim of helping the whole district become carbon neutral by 2030, it is holding a series of consultations to help shape its strategy.

READ MORE 

Update #1761 - 14.20 Mobile firms to be banned from selling locked handsets

Mobile phone companies will be banned from selling 'locked' handsets, under a range of new rules announced by Ofcom.

The likes of BT, EE, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone still sell mobile phones that cannot be used on other networks unless they are unlocked. This is a potentially complicated process for consumers which can also cost around £10.

Ofcom said their research found that more than a third of people who decided against switching said this put them off.

SEE MORE 

Update #1760 - 14.19 Chancellor confirms one-year spending review

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has confirmed he will outline a one-year review of Government spending plans next month.

The Government was expected to publish a multi-year review but after the affects of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy has seen them change plans.

The 2021-22 Spending Review, which will set out resource and capital budgets for departments and grants for devolved administrations - will be published on November 25.

READ MORE 

Update #1759 - 13.13 Civic Society attacks "mistaken" planning changes

Cheltenham Civic Society has criticised the Government's plan to reform the planning system, which it labelled "fundamentally mistaken".

In a 35-page response to the Government's Planning for the Future White Paper, which proposes the biggest planning reform in 70 years, the Civic Society criticised the proposed zonal system.

The proposals would introduce a three-zone system allocating all land and properties into growth, renewal or protection areas which would remove much of the development control process except in protected areas.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #1758 - 13.00 Prices fall slower as restrictions tighten

Retail prices for non-food items across the UK fell by the smallest amount since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to new figures.

The British Retail Consortium said its shop price index revealed an annual fall in prices of 1.2 per cent in October, compared with a fall of 1.6 per cent drop in the previous month.

While the rise in food prices remained steady at 1.2 per cent in both months, non-food prices fell by 2.7 per cent in October, compared to 3.2 per cent in September.

Purchases of non-food items were above pre-pandemic levels last month.

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Update 1757 - 11.16 Heathrow loses £1.5bn as Paris takes title as Europe's busiest airport

London airport Heathrow has been overtaken by Paris Charles de Gaulle as Europe's busiest airport as passenger numbers have dropped dramatically due to the coronavirus crisis.

It has been revealed that Heathrow welcomed around 19 million travellers in the first nine months of 2020, whereas £19.3m used Paris Charles de Gaulle.

The airport recorded a loss of £1.5 billion in the first nine months of the year, as it saw passenger numbers diminish. Travellers between July and September were down more than 84 per cent when compared to the same period last year.

Revenue for the third quarter dropped by 72 per cent year on year to £239 million and earnings before tax and interest fell to £37 million.

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: "Britain is falling behind because we've been too slow to embrace passenger testing. European leaders acted quicker and now their economies are reaping the benefits. 

"Let's make Britain a winner again. Bringing in pre-departure COVID tests and partnering with our US allies to open a pilot airbridge to America will kickstart our economic recovery and put the UK back ahead of our European rivals."

Update #1756 - 10.33 Remembrance begins at home as service cancelled

Gloucester's annual Service of Remembrance at the city's war memorial will not be held this year with people being encouraged to mark the occasion at home.

With coronavirus restrictions ruling out the customary Remembrance Sunday commemorations on November 8, the city's mayor Councillor Kate Haigh will pay her respects at the cemeteries in Tredworth Road.

She will be joined by representatives of the Royal British Legion, City Marshall, Sword Bearer and council leader Councillor Richard Cook.

Update #1755 - 10.30 Online sales rise at Next

The high street and online retailer has said its sales for the past three months are higher than those for the same period in 2019.

Bolstered by a 23 per cent jump in e-commerce sales, Next has announced that total sales are up 1.4 per cent on last year's figures.

The business said that its out-of-town retail stores are performing better than those on high streets and in shopping centres.

Formal wear sales for both men and women are reportedly weak, whereas homewares and children's wear remain strong.

Next has also increased its full year profit before tax forecast to £365million, which is £65million higher than that given in September.

Update #1754 - 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.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 3,846 as of Tuesday afternoon - an increase of 49.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 1,031 cases (increase of 14)

Cheltenham - 828 cases (increase of four)

Stroud - 588 cases (increase of eight)

Tewkesbury - 498 cases (increase of 11)

Cotswolds - 504 cases (increase of four)

Forest of Dean - 397 cases (increase of eight)

Tuesday, October 27

Update #1753 - 17.00 Update on coronavirus cases in the UK

The government's Department of Health and Social Care has released the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

It has been said that a further 367 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 4.00pm today (October 27).

The latest total COVID death toll for the UK now sits at 45,365 - which specifically includes those that have died within 28 days of a laboratory-confirmed positive COVID test.

Across the UK, 22,885 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 917,575 since the outbreak began. 

Update #1752 - 16.25 The Duchess of Cornwall visits Westonbirt

The Duchess of Cornwall, Royal Patron of the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum charity, visited Forestry England's Westonbirt, The National Arboretum.

On her first official visit to the arboretum since opening the Biffa Award Welcome Building in 2014, the Duchess took in the spectacular autumn colour display and found out more about the arboretum's work and activities in conservation, education and participation.

The Duchess enjoyed a walk along the arboretum's STIHL Treetop Walkway, which opened in May 2016. The walkway gives visitors to the arboretum the opportunity to discover the hidden world of the canopy and climb 13m high into the trees, on a 300m walk through the treetops.

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Update #1751 - 14.36 High street numbers fall as restrictions take hold

The number of people shopping at retail venues across the UK fell last week as tighter coronavirus restrictions took hold in parts of the country.

According to data research company Springboard, footfall was down 1.2 per cent on the previous week with a 32.9 per cent on the same week last year.

The high street took the brunt of the fall with a three per cent drop, compared to a 0.1 per cent decline in shopping centres and a 1.3 per cent increase at retails parks.

Numbers in Wales were down 3.8 per cent, almost all down to the introduction of tighter restrictions and the closure of most shops from Saturday.

Update #1750 - 14.25 New £3.8m Performing Arts Centre takes shape

A crucial phase in the construction of the new £3.8million Performing Arts Centre in Chipping Campden has been completed this week, with the final section of the steel frame now finished.

Chipping Campden School is in the process of building a new performance centre that is hoped will transform arts education in the North Cotswolds and become a much-needed community asset. The project is set to be completed in time for the next academic year.

Principal John Sanderson said: "It is very rewarding to see the framework for our future home of the performing arts taking shape. Now more than ever, communities need a vibrant creative hub on their doorstep."

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #1749 - 14.19 Forest calls for help after getting caught in the middle

The leader of Forest of Dean District Council has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson asking for help as the area finds itself stuck between differing coronavirus restrictions in England and Wales.

Councillor Tim Gwilliam said the Forest has been hit by stricter 'firebreak' regulations introduced across the border in Wales, but has not been given the support available to Welsh businesses.

He wrote: "Our proximity to Wales on our westernmost border means we are directly affected by the decision of the Welsh Government to institute a 'firebreak'.

"The porousness of the border is, in normal times, a strength for us, allowing tourists and workers to cross the border and come into the Forest each day from Wales."

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Update #1748 - 12.18 Change in approach for buy-to-let market

One in 10 landlords plan to purchase properties according to a new report - compared to just three per cent at the end of last year.

Research by insurers Simply Business said 82 per cent of landlords said they had no plans to buy at the end of last year, with only three per cent looking to add more than one property.

But with the introduction of the Stamp Duty holiday in July, 10 per cent are looking to purchase multiple property and just five per cent said that intended to sell.

Lockdown may have also pushed up demand in greener towns and villages with figures from property website Rightmove revealing searches have doubled for homes in small towns and villages.

READ MORE  

Update #1747 - 11.28 Cath Kidston eyes digital future

Cath Kidston has put digital and global growth at the heart of a transformation plan.

The retailer, which entered administration in April, said online sales accounts for 85 per cent of its business after investment from parent company Baring Private Equity Asia.

The Piccadilly shop in London will reopen next month as its only high street presence in the UK.

Sixty UK outlets, including one at Gloucester Quays, closed earlier this year with the loss of more than 900 jobs.

Update #1746 - 11.26 Whitbread posts loss as occupancy falls

Premier Inn owners Whitbread said the rise in coronavirus cases has seen a drop in custom during October after reporting a loss in the first half of the year.

Whitbread, which includes the Beefeater and Brewers Fayre chains, reported a pre-tax loss for the first half of the year of £724.7million - compared with a £219.8million profit the previous year.

It said the initial relaxing of coronavirus restrictions saw Premier Inn UK occupancy rise to 51 per cent in August and 58 per cent in September, before slowing again this month.

Update #1745 -11.24 BP back in profit over last quarter

BP has reported a profit in the third quarter after suffering a heavy loss in the previous three months.

The multi-national oil and gas company, which announced plans to cut 10,000 jobs in June, said underlying replacement cost profit reached $86million from July to September.

That figure, the equivalent to net income, compares to a loss of $6.7billion in the previous three months.

But it is a long way off the $2.2billion profit it made in the same period in 2019.

Update #1744 - 11.20 HSBC banks on restructuring as profits fall

HSBC has seen profits fall by 35 per cent over the last three months as it looks to accelerate a restructuring plan.

Europe's largest bank saw pre-tax profit for the third quarter fall to £2.3billion as revenues were down by 11 per cent.

Record low interest rates have hit earnings and the bank said it would cut costs more than previously outlined, although it did not say if that meant more jobs would go on top of the 35,000 it is in the process of losing.

Full details of the restructuring are expected with its full-year results in February.

HSBC set aside $8-13billion for bad loans due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Update #1743 - 10.30 Update on Gloucestershire's mobile testing unit locations for October 2020

An important part of minimising and managing any future spread of Covid-19 is the speed at which people can be tested and isolation measures put in place, should an outbreak occur.

The mobile testing unit is now available at locations across the county.

Please see this week's locations here. 

Update #1742 - 08.31 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 44,998 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 102 on the previous day's figures.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 3,797 as of Monday afternoon - an increase of 77.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 1,017 cases (increase of 20)

Cheltenham - 824 cases (increase of 13)

Stroud - 580 cases (increase of 14)

Tewkesbury - 487 cases (increase of nine)

Cotswolds - 500 cases (increase of 14)

Forest of Dean - 389 cases (increase of seven)

Monday, October 26

Update #1741 - 16.45 Gloucester Cathedral's Beacon of Hope appeal receives £250,000 boost

Gloucester Cathedral is closing in on its £1million appeal target as the Diocese of Gloucester commits vital funds to support the Beacon of Hope appeal.

Having been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, Gloucester Cathedral stands to lose up to £1.3million by 2021 in lost visitor and events income.

Launched in June, the Beacon of Hope Appeal aims to raise £1million by Christmas to ensure the Cathedral can remain open and fully operational. 

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Update #1740 - 16.00 Clark's look for changed rent agreement

Footwear chain Clark is understood to be starting talks with shop landlords about closures and rent cuts.

Sky News reported the retailer, founded by the Clark family in 1825, is meeting with landlords about a potential company voluntary arrangement which would involved a move to rent payments based on turnover.

Any restructuring could involve up to 50 shop closures across the UK.

Update #1739 - 15.03 New jobs for M&S online Christmas

A move to a digital Christmas will see Marks & Spencer create 500 seasonal jobs.

The fixed-term contracts would involve staff at its online distribution centre at Castle Donington.

The high street retailer announced 400 new permanent roles in July.

Update #1738 - 14.55 Families urged to use offers of holiday food help

Dame Janet Trotter has thanked charities, business and organisations in Gloucestershire which have made free or cheap meals available for families throughout half term.

And the former Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, who chairs Child Friendly Gloucestershire, urged families to take up the offers of help to ensure no child goes hungry during the holiday.

She said "I am very pleased these local initiatives for Gloucestershire children will ensure that, in these difficult times, no child will go hungry in the half-term period.

"We are working hard to ensure that our young people grow up healthily and I would like to thank all those who are going the extra mile to make sure this happens."

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Update #1737 - 12.50 Covid-19: Police respond to tourism concerns

With more areas of England moving into Tier 2 and 3 Covid-19 restrictions, and people in the county determined to keep levels of the virus down, Gloucestershire police has been engaging with locals and tourists around safe behaviour.

Superintendent Jane Probert from the Forest and Gloucester Local Policing Area said: "Gloucestershire Constabulary is continuing to take part in patrols around the county, as in recent weeks local communities have raised concerns about tourists going to a number of beauty spots.

"In response to local concerns, Neighbourhood Policing Teams have been conducting patrols and proactively engaging with tourists and residents to encourage safe and responsible behaviour in line with coronavirus guidelines. One area that has seen a heightened number of visitors is the Forest of Dean, which has a number of attractions such as cycling centres and hiking venues."

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Update #1736 - 12.30 Global aircraft orders grind to a halt

Commercial aircraft orders for the third quarter are the lowest on record after just 13 aircraft orders were placed worldwide, according to new research from industry body ADS.

July and August, with four and nine orders respectively, were responsible for the only aircraft orders in Q3 after no orders were placed in September. This equates to a decline of 91.4 per cent on the same quarter in 2019.

Commercial aircraft deliveries for the same period also show the impact the pandemic continues to have on the sector with 173 aircraft being delivered, the worst Q3 on record.

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Update #1735 - 12.01 UK job market continues to struggle

With fewer people returning to the high street and working from home set to continue, research has found that the British job market continues to struggle.

Vacancies have reportedly failed to return to pre-pandemic levels across the 63 towns and cities analysed by the Centre for Cities think tank.

Aberdeen recorded the steepest fall, with a 75 per cent drop in job vacancies, alongside Edinburgh at 75 per cent and Belfast and Crawley at 55 per cent.

Overall, UK vacancies are said to be 46 per cent down on last year's level.

Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: "This could have potentially catastrophic long-term consequences for people and the economy. The government has told us to expect a tough winter and while local lockdowns are necessary to protect lives, it is vital that ministers continue to listen and reassess the level of support given to help people and places to cope with the months ahead."

Update #1734 - 11.36 Fresh calls for help as small firms' confidence takes a hit

Confidence among small firms has continued on a downward trend for a ninth consecutive quarter, according to a new study.

And the Federation of Small Businesses said the results of its quarterly Small Business Index backed its calls for fresh government support.

The FSB welcomed Chancellor Rishi Sunak's updates to coronavirus support packages last week but is calling for more support to help businesses which have received no income support, reduce hiring costs, ease the burden of business rates and provide more recourse for new start-ups.

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Update #1733 - 10.58 Debenhams deadline for would-be buyers

Potential bidders for troubled retailer Debenhams have been told to confirm interest by the end of business on Wednesday.

According to the Sunday Times, prospective buyers have been given the deadline to make a £300million rescue bid for the the department store chain which is in administration for the second time.

Alternative options include liquidating the company of offloading parts of the business to the group of hedge funds which owns its debts.

India's richest man Mukesh Ambani dropped out of the fight for Debenhams earlier this month with Mike Ashley's Frasers Group believed to be among the interested parties.

Gloucester is one of 124 remaining Debenhams stores in the UK with the company employing around 12,000 workers.

Update #1732 - 10.56 Home is where the office is for Lloyds

Lloyds Banking Group has told staff working from home that they can stay away from the office until at least the spring.

The majority of the group's 65,000 staff are working from home although staff are in high street branches of Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland.

A company statement said: "In line with guidance from the UK and national governments, and given the majority of our colleagues are working from home, we have asked them to continue to do so until at least spring."

Barclays has asked staff to return to working from home while Deloitte is closing four UK offices and offering employees new contracts to work from home.

Update #1731 - 10.34 Boots to launch 12-minute COVID-19 testing service

High street pharmacy Boots is set to offer a coronavirus test that can provide a result in 12 minutes to its UK stores.

Costing £120, the nasal swab test will be available in selected stores to people who are not showing symptoms of the virus.

Boots said that the tests aim to offer customers piece of mind and reduce inappropriate use of the government testing programme.

Seb James, managing director of Boots UK and ROI said: "We hope that by offering this testing option in local community stores, Boots can help ease pressure on the NHS and the Government by providing additional access to testing and crucial reassurances for people across the UK."

Update #1730 - 10.15 Royal Mail set to hire more than 30,000 additional workers

Postal delivery firm Royal Mail is looking to fill a record number of temporary positions this Christmas due to a surge in demand.

The business said it plans to employ 33,000 additional workers for the festive period.

Temporary workers will support more than 115,000 postmen and woman in permanent roles in sorting offices, devliery vans and data centres.

Around 1,000 new recruits will also work within the firm's new Covid-19 testing kit collection team.

Chief HR officer Sally Ashford said: "During these unprecedented times we believe it is critical that Royal Mail continues to deliver. We want to do our best to deliver Christmas for our customers and support the effort on the pandemic.

"This helps the whole country to celebrate and stay safe during these difficult times."

Update #1729 - 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 44,896 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 151 on the previous day's figures.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 3,720 as of Sunday afternoon.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 997 cases

Cheltenham - 811 cases

Stroud - 566 cases

Tewkesbury - 478 cases

Cotswolds - 486 cases

Forest of Dean - 382 cases

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