Supermarket sales figures have captured the way Covid has caused big changes in the way we live, from lager-fuelled barbecues and home-cooked roasts replacing nights in the pub and ready meals, to lower sales of makeup, deodorant and even toothbrushes pointing to people letting themselves go a bit, according to The Grocer’s annual Top Products Survey. (The Guardian)
The owner of the Upper Crust and Ritazza chains is clinging on to hopes that the arrival of Covid-19 vaccinations will lead to a recovery of its food outlet business in airports and railways after reporting a heavy loss (The Times £). Upper Crust owner SSP Group has plunged to a £425.8million annual loss as travel restrictions caused footfall at their outlets in railway stations and airports to collapse (The Daily Mail).
The FT writes: “Trading, once it recovers, will need to absorb deferred rents and refit costs. A redundancy programme that sliced 69 per cent off labour costs has the potential to cause lasting problems for a company that often described people as the key to its success.” (The Financial Times £)
“Upper Crust owner is one of the pandemic’s biggest losers,” writes Ben Marlow in The Telegraph. Confusing Covid guidance from the Government has dashed hopes of a revival at SSP. (The Telegraph)
Washington could repeal tariffs on Scotch whisky and cashmere within weeks, its chief trade negotiator has said (The Times £). The UK and the United States are hoping to reach an agreement on reducing trade tariffs, according to Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative in Donald Trump’s outgoing administration (The Guardian).
Coca-Cola is to cut about 2,200 jobs in its global workforce as part of a restructuring plan. The soft drinks giant’s restructure has been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic which has seen the widespread closure of venues where Coke is sold. (The BBC)
A former owner of the Findus brand has beaten Cranswick, the listed food company, in the race to buy one of Britain’s best-known pet food manufacturers. (Sky News)
M&S Will bounce back from Covid: Boss Steve Rowe tells the Daily Mail it’s a Christmas like no other with smaller turkeys – and socially-distant bra fitting. It has been a traumatic year for M&S, but it is battling to reinvent itself for a post-Brexit, post-Covid world. Every shopper in Britain is hoping 2021 will be the year that our best-loved, but deeply-troubled retailer, will finally bounce back. (The Daily Mail)
Pub and bar bosses have attacked the government over “scandalous” measures that have left them struggling to survive, as a review of the tiered system of coronavirus restrictions offered no respite (The Guardian). The boss of pub chain J D Wetherspoon has blamed “flawed” scientific advice on coronavirus fatality rates for renewed curbs on the hospitality sector (Sky News).
Sterling broke through the $1.36 level yesterday as currency investors regained confidence that Britain and the European Union are on the cusp of signing a free trade agreement (The Times £). Shares rallied and the pound surged to its highest level since 2018 as hopes grew that the UK could be on the cusp of striking a Brexit deal (The Daily Mail).
A company co-owned by the billionaire Issa brothers who are buying Asda was fined for “appalling” safety breaches, a BBC investigation has found. One worker lost a finger in a bubble wrap machine in 2012, and another lost four fingers in 2015, weeks after the brothers resigned as directors. (The BBC)
Households received a shot of confidence this month as the cornavirus vaccination programme got under way (The Times £).