Work-at-home change ‘will have devastating impact’ on UK economy

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Business groups have reacted with dismay to the prime minister’s call for people to work at home where they can. The CBI said that it was a “crushing” blow that would have a “devastating impact”. It marks a change in policy following a government advertising campaign to get people back to work where safe. Campaign group London First said it would discourage people from returning to workplaces and risk “derailing an already fragile recovery”. ‘Crushing blows’ CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn told the BBC: “We know we need to avoid a second national lockdown at all if we possibly can, but…

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Hackers target business owners with Covid-19 VAT deferral scam

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Business owners have been the target of a new email phishing scam purporting to be from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). The scam, which was uncovered by accountancy outsourcing specialists Lanop Outsourcing, uses official HMRC branding and graphics to convince victims that their VAT deferral application has been rejected. At least 100 company owners have reported receiving the realistic scam email through Lanop Outsourcing clients. To aid struggling businesses during Covid-19, HMRC allowed payments of VAT between March 2020 and June 2020 to be deferred until 31st March 2021. Cyber criminals have used the scheme to trick business owners into…

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Victoria’s Secret secures Next chapter in deal saving 500 hundred jobs

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Next has agreed a deal that will resurrect Victoria’s Secret UK and save 500 jobs. The fashion-to-homeware retailer is to take a majority 51% stake in a joint venture with US-owned Victoria’s Secret after the lingerie firm’s UK arm was placed in administration in June following weak coronavirus lockdown trading that forced all non-essential stores to shut. L Brands, the company behind Victoria’s Secret, agreed the deal following a bid process led by administrators which attracted interest from dozens of parties including M&S. It was revealed back in July that Next had been granted a period of exclusivity to secure…

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Veuve Clicquot Bold Women Award winners 2020 announced

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Anne Pitcher, Group MD, Selfridges has been announced as the winner of the 2020 Bold Woman Award by Veuve Clicquot. The 48th woman to be honoured with the award, Anne is recognised for her work in promoting leadership roles for women in fashion, anchoring the business growth strategy in sustainability and driving retail innovation with great care and consideration for its people. Pitcher follows in the footsteps of an impressive roster of extraordinary business women, including past winners Jo Whitfield, CEO of Co-op Food, Liv Garfield, CEO of Severn Trent and renowned architect Dame Zaha Hadid. The Bold Woman Award…

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Andrew Lloyd Webber tells ministers UK theatres face ruin

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Andrew Lloyd Webber has warned Britain’s performing arts scene is at the point of no return as he pleaded for a definite reopening date for theatres without social distancing. The theatre impresario told MPs this morning that despite all the mitigations such as compulsory facemasks and increased ventilations theatres were able to deploy, Public Health England was still behaving like a “brick wall”. He said his companies were “bumping up against banking covenants” adding that a full reopening date was needed now to save the sector from devastation. A number of performing arts companies, including the National Theatre, have already…

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Ann Summers threatens landlords with CVA process over shop rents

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Retailer Ann Summers has warned its stores’ landlords they must take “a more pragmatic approach” to negotiations over rents. The lingerie and sex toy chain said if this did not happen, it would ask to formally restructure its debts through a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA). Chief executive Jacqueline Gold said landlords needed to recognise the retail landscape had changed. Writing in Retail Week, Ms Gold said the ultimatum was “no idle threat”. She said many landlords had been open to renegotiating rental costs but that others continued “to bury their heads in the sand”. “I’m grateful to those landlords who…

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Virgin Atlantic gets creditor approval for £1.2bn ‘milestone’ rescue package

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Creditors are on board with Virgin Atlantic’s plans to emerge into clear skies from a period of brinkmanship that had left the long-haul airline staring at bankruptcy. The business founded by Sir Richard Branson, 69, has won overwhelming support from its creditors for what it calls a £1.2 billion solvent recapitalisation. Virgin Atlantic said that it would go to the High Court next Wednesday to get final legal clearance for its financial rescue. The creditor support was “a significant milestone in safeguarding our future”, it said in a statement, hailing the scheme as a successful “private-only scheme” after an embarrassing…

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KFC suspends ‘finger lickin’ slogan in response to coronavirus pandemic

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KFC is temporarily dropping the ‘It’s finger lickin’ good’ slogan it has used in its advertising for 64 years and launching its first global campaign in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The campaign launching today shows various images of KFC– including an outdoor ad and a number of shots of its infamous bucket of chicken – with the ‘finger lickin’’ part of its slogan pixelated out. It ends with the line: “That thing we always say? Ignore it. For now.” The campaign will run across TV, press, social media and digital. Outdoor ads will feature KFC buckets with disclaimers, saying…

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Most successful British F1 team Williams bought by US-based investment firm

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The Williams Formula One team have been bought by US-based investment firm Dorilton Capital after being put up for sale in May. The announcement of the purchase, valued at £136m, comes in the week that all 10 F1 teams signed up to the new Concorde Agreement governing the sport, which has been designed to ensure a more level-playing field in the future. The team, founded by Sir Frank and Sir Patrick Head in 1977, has remained fiercely independent but poor performance in recent years has now forced it to seek outside investment and formally put itself up for sale in May…

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The Rolling Stones are opening their first shop in London

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Think Soho’s Carnaby St, think peacocking tailors and epoch-defining musical moments from the Swinging Sixties onwards. Jimi Hendrix shopped on it, Paul McCartney met his first wife Linda at a bar just off it and The Jam even wrote a song about it. Stands to reason, then, that another of the bands most closely connected to the Carnaby’s broad musical history, The Rolling Stones, will be opening their first ever “flagship store” on the street on 9 September. Titled “RS No. 9 Carnaby” the entirely black (save for occasional fleshy flashes of the band’s John Pasche-designed “Tongue and Lip” logo)…

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Commuters face 1.6% increase in season ticket prices next year

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Commuters face a 1.6% rise in rail fares next year – under a rule linking the increase to the latest inflation figure. The Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure for July, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), is used to cap increases in regulated fares, which includes season tickets on most commuter routes. It is lower than the RPI reading of 2.8% in July 2019 and the lowest for the month since 2015, meaning rail users should face smaller price rises next January than they did at the start of this year. However there has been speculation about whether…

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Heathrow boss tells Boris Johnson to “get a grip” of coronavirus quarantine policy

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Boris Johnson has been told to “get a grip” of his coronavirus quarantine policy as Heathrow Airport pushes for the 14-day isolation period to be shortened. The travel hub’s chief executive said today that the prime minister needs to act swiftly to stop “holding back the recovery of the UK economy” due to the restrictions on many travellers arriving in the country. The airport has revealed plans for a new testing facility which it hopes will lead to the end of the two-week mandatory quarantine for those returning from countries removed from the UK’s safe list. Arriving passengers will be…

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Stormzy gives £500,000 to fund scholarships for disadvantaged students

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Stormzy has donated £500,000 to fund educational scholarships for students from disadvantaged backgrounds as part of his commitment to becoming a major philanthropist supporting black British causes. His gift to the Black Heart Foundation is the first major funding arrangement made since the rapper announced plans in June to give away £10m over a decade to help organisations that are dedicated to fighting racial inequality in the UK. Stormzy’s donation will cover the cost of awarding cash grants to about 50 students, providing support to people of any age who need financial assistance to take part in any educational activity,…

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Victoria Beckham to axe 20 workers in bid to keep fashion brand afloat

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Victoria Beckham is set to make 20 staff redundant at her loss-making fashion label to ‘future-proof’ it after the coronavirus pandemic. The news comes just months after reversing plans to furlough employees. Mrs Beckham’s company, with its flagship Mayfair store which sells £2,000 dresses and £1,000 handbags, will also halve the number of annual fashion collections after being hard-hit by the Covid-19 crisis. The blow for the staff come just two months after she came under fire for deciding to furlough 30 members of staff. Public outcry prompted her to reverse the decision, insisting her team’s welfare ‘means everything to…

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Lloyds dives into the red as bank expects £3.8bn of bad loans

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Lloyds Banking Group has plunged into the red after it booked a £3.8bn provision for bad loans arising from the coronavirus crisis. Results covering the first half of the year showed a pre-tax loss of £602m compared to profits of £2.9bn for the same period in 2019. Lloyds said it had set aside £2.4bn for possible loan losses in the three months to June alone as the UK economy became mired in the coronavirus lockdown. It was almost £1bn more than financial analysts had expected. Such provisions have become a staple of bank reporting since the crisis began – with…

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