Saturday Update

Greggs cuts 820 jobs; Ulster Bank chair quits

Greggs cutting jobs


Takeaway bakery chain Greggs is to cut more than 800 jobs as a result of the pandemic slowdown.

CEO Roger Whiteside has warned that it “will not be profitable” if sales continue at current rates.

In a statement posted on its employee information website he said: “COVID trading conditions have forced this action onto our business and we are all very saddened by the need to part company with around 820 friends and colleagues, many of whom have worked with us for many years.”

He went on to say that “the battle with COVID hasn’t gone away and is intensifying further” as lockdown measures continue to be in place across the UK.

Mr Whiteside added: “At lockdown levels of sales, even after all of the mitigating action that we have taken, Greggs will not be profitable as a business and there can be no room for complacency.”

Ulster Bank chairman quits

Ulster Bank’s new chairman Ruairí O’Flynn has resigned just two months after taking the post and after its owner, NatWest RBS group, launched a review into its future.

Mr O’Flynn was appointed in September and it was announced that he is leaving “for personal reasons”.

It is understood Mr O’Flynn was fully aware of NatWest’s strategy before taking the role, and staff at the Irish bank were told on Friday that there is no link between the departure and the review, according to the Irish Independent.

“Ruairí has resigned as Ulster Bank chairman for personal reasons, a search for his successor is under way,” a spokeswoman for Ulster Bank said.

Wall street hits record, Covid test firms recover

The S&P 500 notched a record closing high on Friday, rising 1.36% with upbeat earnings reports helping to drive optimism about the economy along with hopes for successful COVID-19 vaccines.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.37% and the Nasdaq Composite was 1.02% higher.

In London, shares in Covid testing firms rebounded following investor concerns that saw millions wiped off market values.

Synairgen shares surged after data from trials of its inhaled Covid-19 treatment, SNG001, published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, showed positive results in hospitalised patients.

SNG001 – Synairgen’s inhaled formulation of interferon beta-1a – was shown to be well tolerated and patients who received the drug had greater odds of improvement and recovered more rapidly, the company said.

Synairgen shares closed 18.8% higher at 120p.

Shares in Scottish firm Omega Diagnostics, which is part of a consortium behind a new testing kit, also rose, up 16.7% at 56.5p. The shares fell on Thursday following a report doubting the accuracy of its tests, a claim the consortium and the Department of Health and Social Care rejected.

The FTSE 100 remained under water all day on Friday despite Wall Street rising, but recovered from a low of 6280 to close 22.55 points (0.36%) lower at 6,316.39.

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