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Tuesday Updates

Daily Business Live: Gatwick cuts jobs; Royal London

4.45pm Markets

The FTSE 100 index closed up 2.79%, or 143.82 points, at 5,294.90.

On Wall Street at 5pm GMT the S&P 500 is up 4.08%.

The Nasdaq index is up 4.11% and the Dow Jones is up 2.35%.

Gatwick corp pic


Gatwick Airport is axing 200 temporary fixed contract workers and CEO Steve Wingate is taking a 20% salary cut as it tackles a downturn in traffic.

It will be closing the airport to flights between midnight and 05.30 from Tuesday – except for emergency landings – and closing two of the airport’s six piers due to fewer passengers.

Further action is also likely to be announced in coming days to reduce the airport’s ‘operational footprint’ in response to this “very serious, ongoing situation”.

In terms of capital expenditure, the airport is deferring spending on its investment programme for the foreseeable future.

Stewart Wingate, chief executive, and his executive team will take a 20% salary cut and waive any bonus for the current financial year. 


The supermarket chain plans to create 3,500 jobs to expand its delivery services.

The company said it is expanding home delivery with new ways of getting shopping to people and more slots for customers to help during the coronavirus crisis.

Oil price

Brent Crude futures price has fallen 0.93% to $29.77, the first time it has slipped below $30 since January 2016.


Vehicle production has been suspended at Nissan’s Sunderland Plant.

In a statement the company said: “Further measures are currently under study as we assess supply chain disruption and the sudden drop in market demand caused by the COVID-19 emergency.”

Ford and Volkswagen (see below) have also today announced plans to shut plants in continental Europe, while the French group PSA and Fiat Chrysler both announced shutdowns on Monday.

JD Wetherspoon


JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has described the UK government’s advice to stay away from pubs and restaurants as a “tactical error.”

Mr Martin suggested that the best path for the UK would be to admit that most people will get the virus, while protecting the elderly and sick, thereby building up group immunity.

He said the hospitality industry adds £120bn ($146.5m) a year in tax and provides six million jobs. Wetherspoon alone contributes £2m a day in tax, according to the company.

Diageo support

Drinks firm Diageo has announced a £1m package of measures to help support the British drinks trade, in particular bartenders in the free trade across Britain. A similar community fund is being set up in Ireland.

Dayalan Nayager, managing director Great Britain, Ireland and France, said: “The British drinks trade is facing one of its most challenging times ever and we want to help our communities when they need us most. 

“We all need to come together to support the trade and I would urge all my fellow drinks producers to do what they can to help our British pubs, bars and retailers and restaurants over the next few months.”

Phone mast

Mobile services

All major mobile networks in the UK went down or had problems, leaving millions of British workers struggling to work from home.

There has been a spike in the number of office workers staying home to work after Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to avoid all unnecessary travel. 

EE told the BBC it is something “that is affecting all operators and we are working closely to fix it”.

The problem is being blamed on “interconnect issues” stemming from one operator, O2.

“We don’t believe it is connected to the rise in home working [due to the coronavirus],” added EE.

O2 posted on its website that some customers were experiencing issues with its voice service.

Laura Ashley

Laura Ashley

Fashion and furnishings chain Laura Ashley has filed for administration.

The retailer had been in talks with stakeholders over refinancing, but it said its “revised cash flow forecasts and increased uncertainty” mean it will not be able to secure these funds in sufficient time.

The retailer operates 150 stores in the UK and employs about 2,700 staff.

It has hired advisers from PwC to oversee the administration.

Full story here

Barry O'Dwyer

Barry O’Dwyer: outstanding

Royal London

Insurer Royal London has reported a 5% dip in life and pensions sales to £10.7 billion, adding that the decline has been “industry wide”. European embedded value (EEV) operating profit before tax was 5.1% higher.

However, overall assets under management rose 22% to £139bn.

Unveiling his first results since joining from Standard Life Aberdeen, Barry O’Dwyer, group chief executive, said: “Royal London had a successful 2019 despite last year’s political and economic uncertainty.

“Our investment performance has been outstanding with 98% of active funds outperforming their three-year benchmark.

“Our robust capital position means we do not expect the virus to have any material long-term impact on our business.”

Full story


Shares in the catering giant slumped by a fifth this morning, making it the FTSE 100’s biggest faller so far today.

It follows a warning that the coronavirus would cost it up to £225m in lost revenue.

Its shares were down 21% or 234p at 887.40p in mid-morning trade.

Smart Metering Systems

Pre-exceptional EBITDA was up 14% to £58.9m (2018: £51.6m) for the year to the end of December.

Proposed FY20 dividends increased to 25p and grow at least in line with RPI p.a. to 2024.

Alan Foy, chief executive, said: “A 14% increase in EBITDA in extremely challenging markets, is a testimony to our market position and operational capabilities.”


The owner of currency firm Travelex has called in accountants to prepare for possible insolvency.


Volkswagen Group has confirmed that the company plans to shut down production temporarily at a number of its European plants before the end of the week.


Amazon has said it will hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in the US to deal with a surge in sales during the coronavirus pandemic.

The online retail giant also said it would increase pay for its staff in the UK, US and Europe.

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