Published: 30 July 2021
The number of people on furlough has fallen sharply, with young people moving off the government scheme fastest, new figures show. The BBC reports that at the end of June, 1.9 million people were still on furlough, the lowest level since the start of the pandemic and half a million fewer than in May. In the last three months, younger people came off furlough twice as fast as all other age brackets. Almost 600,000 under-25s had left the scheme in that time, the Treasury said. At the same time, more than a million people in hospitality and retail have left the scheme. Chancellor Rishi Sunak hailed the latest figures, saying they showed the government's policies were working. At the peak of the pandemic in May last year, nearly nine million people were on furlough.
The US economy has recovered to surpass its pre-pandemic peak in the last quarter, although growth was slower than expected. GDP grew at an annualised rate of 6.5% between April and June, according to the bureau of economic analysis, but fell short of a forecast 8.5% growth rate because of supply chain constraints.
Dairy firm Arla, which supplies milk to all major UK supermarkets, has said a lorry driver shortage has forced a cutback on deliveries. UK managing director Ash Amirahmadi said the firm normally supplied 2,400 stores a day but had been experiencing driver shortages since early April. "Last Saturday, there were 600 stores that we couldn't deliver milk to," he told the BBC, as he warned of a summer of disruption and urged the government to act.
Guinness maker Diageo has revealed that net sales rose by 16% to £12.7 billion for the year to June, and underlying operating profits jumped by 18% to £3.7 billion. Despite facing significant disruption due to the pandemic, as bars closing for long periods around the world, Diageo’s performance was driven by a strong recovery in North American as US bars and restaurants reopened, sparking a jump in tequila and scotch sales, and in Europe, sales grew by 4% as strong supermarket sales largely offset the impact of hospitality closures.
Cineworld said this morning that it has secured $200 million in additional loans from existing lenders. The company, which had net debt of $8.3 billion at the end of 2020, also renegotiated existing debt agreements to reduce minimum liquidity requirements and relax limitations on the use of cash as more cinemas reopen. The cinema chain sunk to its first-ever loss in 2020/21 as the pandemic shut theatres and delayed movie releases.
Meanwhile the Everyman cinema chain says all of its 33 venues reopened safely in May and June, having been closed for 20 weeks within the last 12 months because of lockdowns. Admissions in the period since re-opening until 1 July reached 66% of 2019 levels, despite restrictions such as the Rule of Six, table service, 50% capacity restrictions in venues, and social distancing all being in place during this period.
FTSE 100 miners Anglo American have reported a 1,000% increase in half-year profits, as the reopening of economies around the world leads to surging demand for metals. Revenue rose 114% in the first six months of the year to reach $21.7bn and profit attributable to shareholders hit $5.2bn, compared with $471m in the same period last year. The company's half-year profits are more than double what it made in 2020 as a whole, Yahoo Finance UK reports.
Sky News has learnt that Tipico, a German sports-betting group majority-owned by CVC Capital Partners, has joined the £1.5bn race to take control of William Hill’s UK operations. City sources told Sky that Tipico had tabled a "credible" offer for William Hill, which was acquired by US firm Caesars Entertainment in April this year in a £2.9bn deal. Caesars now wants to sell the company's famous brand and all of its operations outside the US, and has hired advisers from Deutsche Bank to conduct an auction. Also in the running are Apollo Global Management, 888 Holdings and Betfred.
NatWest has followed in the footsteps of Barclays and Lloyds, announcing a £750m share buyback programme and a 3p dividend. This morning the bank posted a pre-tax profit of £2.5bn for the six months to June, up from a loss of £770m in the previous year.
Sky News reports that investment fund Paulson & Co – which at one stage ranked among Wall Street’s most successful hedge funds - is ploughing £15m into the money-saving app founded by Dame Jayne-Anne Gadhia, the former Virgin Money chief. The app, Snoop, which launched 15 months ago, uses machine-learning to track consumers' bills and spending patterns, using the data to provide money-saving tips.
Dating app Bumble says its 700 employees can take unlimited paid leave providing their manager approves it, and if they can still manage to complete their work. The BBC says the move comes after the firm temporarily closed its offices in June for a week to combat workplace stress. The new leave policy was announced alongside a series of other changes, including a plan to shut the office for a week two times a year.
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