UK Treasury plans Future Fund expansion after demand surge

The Treasury is set to expand a coronavirus bailout scheme aimed at supporting British start-ups to include those that have been blocked after moving their headquarters overseas to tap US investors.

The government is expected to end up with stakes in scores of the UK’s start-ups under its Future Fund programme, which offers loans of up to £5m that can convert into equity stakes in promising tech businesses that are struggling to survive the lockdown. 

The scheme is now set to be expanded, according to people familiar with the matter, to allow more start-ups to join given the strong demand in its first month in operation.

The Future Fund has so far been open only to companies incorporated in the UK, although this has meant that British entrepreneurs who have moved their legal headquarters overseas to raise funds from international investors have been left out.

Treasury officials have raised concerns

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Coronavirus, fuel demand in focus

A kayaker passes in front of an offshore oil platform in the Guanabara Bay in Niteroi, Brazil, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020.

Dado Galdieri | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Oil prices rose in early trade on Friday, extending gains from the previous day on optimism about recovering fuel demand worldwide, despite surges in coronavirus infections in some U.S. states and indications of a revival in U.S. crude production.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained 15 cents, or 0.4%, to $38.87 at 0009 GMT but were on track for a slight drop for the week.

Brent crude futures rose 22 cents, or 0.5%, to $41.27, but were also heading towards a decline for the week.

Analysts said satellite data showing strong pick-ups in traffic in China, Europe and across the United States pointed to a recovery in fuel demand.

Congestion in Shanghai in the past few weeks was higher than

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Coronavirus: Surge in demand for wine and cooking sauces during lockdown | Business News

Wine merchant Naked Wines and cooking sauce maker Premier Foods have reported a surge in demand during the lockdown.

Naked said sales were up 81% in April and May compared to the same period last year as the pandemic drove “significantly accelerated trading patterns”.

Meanwhile, Bisto and Mr Kipling maker Premier Foods said sales since the end of March were up by about 20% driven by demand for cooking sauces, gravy and baking ingredients.

The update from Naked Wines came as it disclosed its first annual results since spinning off bricks-and-mortar retailer Majestic – reporting a loss of £5.4m as it invested in attracting new customers.

The results covered the year to 30 March, a period when revenues rose by 14%. The first two months of the subsequent financial year saw sales climb by 81%.

However, the company said there was “considerable uncertainty” about how long the trend would last

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Coronavirus: B&Q boosted by ‘exceptional demand’ during lockdown | Business News

B&Q owner Kingfisher has reported a surge in sales after the chain saw “exceptional demand” during the lockdown period.

Chief executive Thierry Garnier said people were taking on DIY projects as they were spending more time at home and had fewer leisure and travel options.

Kingfisher said like-for-like sales for the second quarter ending on 13 June were 21.8% ahead of the same period last year, lifted by online revenues rising by as much as fourfold.

The reopening of B&Q stores in the UK from mid-April – which saw long queues build up outside branches – contributed to the strong performance as well.

Kingfisher, which also owns Screwfix, plus European chains including France-based Castorama, is recruiting 3,000-4,000 more staff to cope with demand.

April: Long queues as chain reopens

The group said it could not provide specific guidance for the 2020/21 financial year given the uncertainty around the pandemic.


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