Monday Update

Daily Business Live: Carluccio’s; EY quits audit; easyJet

4.45pm: Markets

After spending most of the session in the red, the FTSE 100 managed to end the day in positive territory, closing at 5,563.74 +53.41 (0.97%).

2pm: Carluccio’s in administration

Restaurant chain Carluccio’s has been placed in administration and most of the 2,000 staff furloughed while options are considered by business advisory firm FRP.

Carluccio’s, founded in 1991, has 71 restaurants and delis in the UK.

The directors blamed the decision to put the business into administration on a sustained period of challenging trading conditions, which have been exacerbated by COVID-19 and the broader issues currently facing the UK’s retail and hospitality sector.

This meant the company faced significant cashflow pressures and as a result was ultimately unable to meet its financial obligations as they were due.

1.40pm: Bancon plan

Plans for the next phase of homes at Maidencraig South have been lodged with Aberdeen City Council by luxury homebuilder, Bancon Homes.

The proposal is for 208 homes on the site opposite Dobbies Garden Centre, at the Western edge of the city. This is the latest phase of an approved masterplan for 825 homes, as well as commercial and retail outlets.

1.10pm: Prince Charles on mend

The Prince of Wales has ended seven days of self-isolation, after testing positive for coronavirus.

Prince Charles, 71, has been staying at Balmoral where he began displaying mild symptoms of the disease.

1pm: Brighthouse

The troubled retailer Brighthouse has gone into administration.

Customers of the rent-to-own chain must continue making the monthly payments required to keep their household goods, with the administrator Begbies Traynor now acting as the collecting agent.

12.15pm: FNZ deadline

Scottish fintech firm FNZ has been given a deadline to address the competition regulator’s concerns over its proposed £150m purchase of an Australia-based rival.

Full story here

Noon: Markets

After falling by more than 3% this morning, the FTSE 100 has rebounded and is now down 38.69 points (0.7%) at 5,471.64.

10.50am: Cummings gets symptoms

Number 10 adviser Dominic Cummings has gone into self-isolation after developing coronavirus symptoms over the weekend

10.30am: Salmond warning

Alex Salmond

Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to think carefully before allowing her predecessor Alex Salmond to relaunch his political ambitions within the SNP, says the Scottish Tories.

9am: EY quits audit

EY has resigned as auditor of Finablr, parent of foreign exchange provider Travelex, after the troubled payments firm, saying it had concerns over the FTSE 250 company’s governance.

EY had made clear that a condition for continuing to act as auditor was that a number of changes be made to the composition of the board. Two directors resigned but the board was unable to accommodate all of EY’s requirements.

Trading in the firm’s shares was suspended earlier this month after Finablr warned it was preparing for potential insolvency. It has launched an investigation into its finances. 

8.25am: Ted Baker CEO

Ted Baker, the fashion chain, has appointed Rachel Osborne as chief executive.

Full story here

8.20am: FirstGroup GWR contract

FirstGroup is to continue operating Great Western Railway services in southwest England from 1 April. The agreement runs until 31 March 2023, with a possible extension of up to one further year at the Department for Transport’s discretion.

8.15am: Markets

The FTSE 100 fell in early trade by 72.63 points (1.32%) to 5,437.70.

7.30am: Easyjet grounds fleet

Edinburgh airport Easyjet

EasyJet has grounded its entire fleet of 330-plus planes after agreeing a two-month furlough for cabin crew.

Full story here

7.10am: Kier remains operational

The construction company has put in place “extensive continuity and mitigation plans” to ensure that it can operate safely and in line with the Government’s latest guidance. 

“If sites or workplaces are not able to operate to this standard, we will either implement modifications to their layout or working practices or close them.”

Approximately 80% of the company’s sites or workplaces continue to operate, although it recognises that this may change. 

The company’s 6,500 employees,  including the executive committee, and the board have taken a reduction in pay.

Full story here

7am: Macfarlane pay cut

Macfarlane lorry

The board of packaging company Macfarlane will waive 25% of their salaries and fees from April until September and the executive directors have deferred payment of their 2019 bonuses.  All non-critical operational and capital spend has stopped.

The board will not pay the proposed final dividend of 1.76 pence per share. This will reduce cash outflows by £2.8 million in the second quarter of 2020..

Full story here

6.30am: Oil at 18 year low

Maersk oil field

Oil prices fell below $20 a barrel for the first time in 18 years hit by a fall in demand and the supply war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, which has flooded the market with cheap crude.

Brent futures were down 6.7%, or $1.68, to $23.25 a barrel as of 0249 GMT, after earlier dropping to $23.03, the lowest since November 2002.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell as far as $19.92, near an 18-year low hit earlier this month, and was last trading down 5.4%, or $1.17, at $20.34 a barrel.

The FTSE 100 – 27% down on where it started the year – looks set for a subdued start to the week, following further falls in Asia’s main markets overnight.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 3.5% amid lingering concern that the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak could be far more damaging than current predictions.

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