Monday Update

DB Live: Hays axes 880 jobs; DW Sports collapses; Hiscox loss

6.30pm: Hays Travel axes 880 jobs

Thomas Cook shop

The travel company that rescued many of the Thomas Cook branches when it went bust last year has announced it is cutting 878 jobs in response to the coronavirus crisis.

Now the UK’s largest independent travel agent, Hays said it has “made every possible effort” to avoid job losses but last month’s decision to reintroduce restrictions for people travelling back from Spain “triggered the cancellation of hundreds of thousands of holidays”.

6pm: M&Co ‘calls in administrators

The Scots family-owned M&Co fashion retailer will close dozens of stores under a deal being agreed with administrators.

Full story here

4.45pm: London close

London’s blue-chip FTSE 100 index managed a strong gain despite HSBC shares falling nearly 3% and US-China tensions still weighing on sentiment.

The index closed up 135.09 points, or 2.3%, at 6,032.85.

Royal Dutch Shell ‘A’ and ‘B’ shares gained 1.9% and BP ended up 2.1% ahead of its interim results on Tuesday.

On AIM, estate agency Purplebricks ended up 9.3% despite its annual loss widening to £13.2 million from £4.9m.

12.30pm: DW Sports in administration

Sports retailer and gym group DW Sports is to appoint BDO as administrators, with the loss of 1,700 employees as it closes its stores “for good”.

The company,  founded by former footballer and Wigan Athletic owner Dave Whelan,  operates 73 gyms and 75 retail sites across the UK but announced plans to shut 25 of its stores last month.

It has said it will now wind down its retail business for good, with its website ceasing to trade with immediate effect and closing-down sales beginning at its 50 remaining stores.

Fitness First, which is its sister company, will continue to operate as a separate company and its 43 sports clubs will be unaffected by the administration.

11am: Tony Macaroni plans expansion

Restaurant group, Tony Macaroni, is poised to inject new life into the struggling sector by rolling out its franchise throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Full story here

10.30am: Beef exports boost

Food processing firm AK Stoddart’s has secured a lucrative contract for its beef from Japan as further proof that Scottish quality meat is back on menus around the world.

Full story here

8.15am: London opens lower

The FTSE 100 slipped into negative territory as investors weighed rising coronavirus cases and weak earnings against prospects for more economic stimulus.

The index was 31.5 points (0.53%) lower 5,866.22.

Overnight, China’s SSE Composite index rose 1.7% and Japan’s Nikkei climbed 2.2%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.7%.

7am: Hiscox in loss

Ballater flood youtube

Hiscox swung to a loss in the first half as the Lloyd’s of London insurer set aside $232m (£177m) for Covid-19 related claims.

The company reported a pretax loss of $138.9m for the six months to the end of June compared with a $168m profit a year earlier. Gross premiums written fell to $2.236bn from $2.338bn.

Hiscox said the amount set aside for Covid-19 included $150m already disclosed for event cancellations, travel and other segments. The extra $82m includes exposure in the London market, UK and European property. travel bonds and third-party US health.

The company has refused to pay claims from UK businesses whose trading has been disrupted by the Covid-19 lockdown.

It is taking part in a court case brought by the Financial Conduct Authority to settle the matter. It reiterated its assessment that the claims could cost between £10m and £250m net of reinsurance.

Hammerson stake talks

Shopping mall operator Hammerson said it is in advanced talks to sell its 50% stake in joint venture VIA Outlets to its partner APG and is considering a rights issue to raise £500m.

The owner of Birmingham’s Bull Ring said footfall and sales have continued to improve after it reopened its flagship destinations across Europe and its third-quarter rent collection in the UK has risen to over 30%.

Metro Bank buys Ratesetter

Metro Bank has agreed to pay an initial £2.5m to buy the peer-to-peer lender RateSetter to expand in unsecured lending and increase returns.

The deal could cost Metro £12m if RateSetter meets targets.

4am: Tik Tok talks

President Donald Trump has agreed to give China’s ByteDance 45 days to negotiate a sale of short-video app TikTok to tech giant Microsoft, according to sources who have contacted the Reuters news agency.

US officials have said TikTok under its Chinese parent poses a national risk because of the personal data it handles. Mr Trump said on Friday he was planning to ban TikTok in the US after dismissing the idea of a sale to Microsoft.

State-backed newspaper China Daily called ByteDance the victim of a “witch hunt”.

ByteDance values the app at above $50 billion.

Today’s agenda

More trains: The number of services operating across Scotland’s Railway will increase from today All routes will have normal early morning, late night, and peak services. One hundred per cent of normal capacity will be provided during peak travel hours, although many seats will need to remain empty to maintain physical distancing

Cycle repairs: The Scotland Cycle Repair Scheme has opened to the public. The £1.5m scheme is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered through Cycling UK and participating retailers to provide free bike repair and maintenance work up to a value of £50. Almost 100 bikes shops – from Shetland to Dumfries – are already signed up to the scheme, with many more expected to join in the coming days.

Eating out scheme: Diners will benefit from up to 50% off meals at restaurants taking part in the UK government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme

Today’s top Daily Business headlines

Venture capital investors defy slump to back startups

Third of firms to talk with landlords over office space

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