Coronavirus: More than £1bn being held in refunds for cancelled holidays | UK News

Customers are waiting for more than £1bn in refunds due to package holidays being cancelled because of coronavirus.

The estimate from Which? was based on results from a survey of more than 7,500 people who had a package holiday cancelled as a result of the pandemic, as well as population figures.

Around 9.4 million people have had a package holiday cancelled since the UK’s first lockdown in March and, of those who requested a refund, 21% were still waiting at the beginning of October.

More than four out of 10 people told Which? they had waited longer than a month for their refund.

The average cost of a cancelled holiday was £1,784, the research found.

Holiday companies are required to refund money within 14 days after a trip is cancelled.

However, the number of cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic has left many of them overwhelmed.

The situation is set to get worse after new rules are introduced across England later this week, banning most international travel.

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “Without meaningful intervention from the government and the regulators in this space, many people will struggle to get their money back.

“The CMA must take firm action against any operators that are continuing to drag their feet on refunding holidaymakers and the government must urgently set out how it will support travel companies in fulfilling their legal obligations to passengers.”

During the summer, the Competition and Markets Authority launched an investigation into package travel companies’ handling of cancellations and refunds.

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Gymshark: Ex-pizza delivery boy’s fitness wear brand valued at over £1bn | UK News

A 28-year-old former pizza delivery boy has become of the UK’s wealthiest young entrepreneurs after agreeing a deal which valued his business at over £1bn.

Ben Francis was a 19-year-old student when he founded Gymshark, a fitness clothing brand, from his parent’s garage in 2011.

Mr Francis rapidly expanded the company after gaining traction on social media.

He confirmed on Friday that the company has sealed an investment deal which will value the company, which is based in Solihull in the West Midlands, at more than £1bn.

It has gained the mammoth valuation after the US-based private equity firm General Atlantic sealed an investment in the company to take a 21% stake.

The deal will value Mr Francis’ stake, of around 70% of the company, at more than £700m.

The retail business currently employs around 500 staff and raked in revenues of over £250m in its last fiscal year.

Mr Francis said: “It has been an incredible ride over the last eight years to get to this point, but today signals the next chapter in the Gymshark story.

“We are nothing without our community, so we will use this new investment partnership to get even closer to them on a truly global scale.

“I’m incredibly proud of what Gymshark has achieved to date from our roots in Birmingham, but it’s all about looking forward.

“I firmly believe Gymshark has the potential to be to the UK what Nike is to the US and Adidas is to Germany, and today is a significant step to realising that.”

Gabriel Caillaux, co-president, managing director and head of General Atlantic’s European business, said: “We believe Gymshark is an authentic, disruptive and differentiated brand.

“Against a backdrop of rising social media usage, rapid growth of e-commerce and increasing focus on health and wellness, Gymshark is positioned to seize the opportunity of further growth.”

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Coronavirus: Primark orders £1bn in fashion stock after ‘encouraging’ re-opening | Business News

The owner of Primark says it is placing over £1bn in orders for the autumn and winter season ahead following an “encouraging” start to coronavirus lockdown re-openings.

Associated British Foods (ABF) used a trading update to the City to paint a largely upbeat picture of Primark’s fortunes, despite recording a 75% slump in sales during its third quarter and forecasting a hit of almost two-thirds to the chain’s annual profits.

It comes as high street rivals announce thousands of job losses – with the parent firms of Topshop and even Harrods among those cutting staff on Wednesday alone.

 Members of the public queue outside a branch of Primark in Brighton
Primark’s city centre locations have not tended to trade as well as those in retail parks, according to ABF

Primark closed all its stores in March as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions demanded the shuttering of all non-essential retail.

It was unable to trade at all during that time because of its refusal to launch online.

All 153 stores in England resumed trading, in line with the easing of rules, on 15 June.

ABF said that since the re-opening of its first European stores on 4 May, sales on a like-for-like basis were just 12% down during the seven weeks to 20 June.

Sales in the week ended 20 June, which had more than 90% of total Primark selling space open, hit £133m with trading in England and Ireland ahead of the same week last year, ABF said.

It said its retail park stores had been particularly busy as pent-up demand among shoppers resulted in queues outside many outlets, though it admitted city centre shops had not proved as busy because of weak tourism and commuter activity.

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The company said the fashion chain had already placed orders worth £800m for the looming autumn-winter season and that sum would exceed £1bn soon.

ABF’s third quarter trading update showed group revenue from continuing businesses for the 40 weeks ended 20 June was 13% lower than the same period last year – with Primark’s woes partly offset by growth in its grocery and ingredients arms.

Shares – down 24% in the year to date – were almost 8% higher in early Thursday dealing after the trading update.

The company said: “Nearly all Primark stores are now trading again and we estimate that, absent a significant number of further store closures, adjusted operating profit for Primark, excluding exceptional charges, will be in the range £300-350m for the full year compared to £913m reported for the last financial year.”

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Coronavirus: Venezuela in bid to force Bank of England to hand over $1bn of gold | World News

Venezuela’s central bank has launched a legal claim in an effort to force the Bank of England to hand over £830m ($1.02bn) of the country’s gold it holds.

A document submitted in a London court follows a request Caracas made to the Bank of England in April to sell part of its gold reserves there and send the proceeds to the United Nations.

Venezuela says it wants to use the gold to raise cash to fund its coronavirus response, amid US sanctions.

The collapse in global oil prices and quarantine measures designed to quell the COVID-19 outbreak has further crippled the country’s beleaguered economy under the presidency of Nicolas Maduro, whose leadership is not recognised by dozens of nations including the UK and the US.

People queue for food from a charity in Caracas, Venezuela, where the poverty-stricken country’s economy has been crippled further by COVID-19

Submitted in a commercial court and dated 14 May, the claim says the Venezuelan central bank “seeks an order requiring BoE to comply with the proposed instruction”.

Once transferred to the United Nations Development Programme, the funds would be used to buy healthcare equipment, medicine and food to address Venezuela’s “COVID-19 emergency” the document seen by Reuters news agency said.

“The foot-dragging by the Bank of England is critically hampering Venezuela and the UN’s efforts to combat COVID-19 in the country,” Sarosh Zaiwalla, a London-based lawyer representing the country’s central bank, said in a statement.

The bank offers gold custodian services to many developing nations.

A total of 749 coronavirus cases and 10 deaths have been registered by Venezuela, but health workers say the country’s battered medical system could be overrun if the outbreak worsens there.

The Bank of England has declined to comment on the claim, while the Venezuelan central bank did not respond to a request to comment from Reuters.

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