Government-backed loans, British pound, Laura Ashley, Apple, e-scooter legalisation: your commercial news round-up

updated on 19 March 2020

As we near the end of another week, the global coronavirus pandemic is still dominating the front pages, twitter feeds and even our own LCN news stories.

  • During a news conference earlier in the week, UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed the introduction of government-backed loans worth £330 billion and a three-month mortgage holiday. These “unprecedented” measures have been implemented in a bid to support businesses and families facing difficulties as a result of the pandemic. In his announcement, the chancellor spoke about the crisis as “not a time for ideology and orthodoxy” but instead “a time to be bold, a time for courage”. Addressing businesses and families, he said: “This government will give you all the tools you need to get through this.”
  • Currently trading at $1.15, the pound has plummeted to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985 due to fears over the outbreak’s impact on the economy. Chief analyst for Neil Wilson said: "This is the worst sustained period of sterling selling that I can recall," he says. "The government's massive fiscal package undoubtedly means more borrowing for the UK economy - how do we pay for all this?"
  • Laura Ashley has gone into administration after it was unsuccessful in securing third-party backing or additional funding support. According to City AM, the outbreak has had “an immediate and significant impact on trading”. In addition, many other businesses have no insurance cover, as standard policies do not appear to cover forced closure by the authorities.
  • Responding to coronavirus fears, Vauxhall’s parent company PSA Group revealed that all of its European manufacturing plants will be closed. It stated that the Ellesmere Port and Luton factories are due to close this week, with no plans to reopen until at least Friday 27 March. PSA Group also confirmed that its staff at UK plants for Peugeot, Citroen and Opel will continue to receive their wages during the lockdown.
  • In other news, the French competition regulator Autorité de la Concurrence has fined tech-giant Apple £990 million for anti-competitive agreements with Tech Data and Ingram Micro. These wholesalers were also fined.
  • As part of a ‘transport revolution’, the Department for Transport has proposed to legalise e-scooters on public roads – currently, they can be used only on private land. A £90 million trial will take place in four areas of the United Kingdom, with the goal to make journeys “easier, smarter and greener”. According to the Law Gazette, the existing law states that riders caught on public roads or footpaths could face a £300 fixed-penalty notice and six points on their driving licence. As well as e-scooters, drones delivering medical supplies will also be piloted.

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