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Trafford Centre owners ‘likely’ to go into administration

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Seth Whales

The owners of the Trafford Centre, Intu, have announced they are ‘likely’ to go into administration after talks about the future of the company have failed. 

The company made headlines this week due to its struggles with £5bn debt, with the future of the company up in the air.

Earlier this week the Intu confirmed they had put KPMG on standby as administrator, and was reported to be negotiating deals with lenders.

The company has now issued a new statement saying that these talks look to have been unsuccessful. 

Mike Peel

Intu says it is likely to make a further announcement ‘as soon as possible’, with a key agreement with creditors expiring on Friday at 11:59pm, the Manchester Evening News reports.

This uncertain future could lead the Trafford Centre to temporarily close. The company warned if it went into administration ‘there is a risk that centres may have to close for a period’.

In a statement, the company said: “On 23 June 2020, Intu Properties plc (“Intu”) provided an update on discussions with key stakeholders to progress its standstill strategy ahead of the revolving credit facility covenant waiver expiry at 11:59 p.m. this evening, 26 June 2020.

“Since that update, discussions have continued with the Intu Group’s creditors in relation to the terms of standstill-based agreements.

Jonathan Palombo

“Unfortunately, insufficient alignment and agreement has been achieved on such terms. The Board is therefore considering the position of Intu with a view to protecting the interests of its stakeholders.

“This is likely to involve the appointment of administrators. A further announcement will be made as soon as possible.”

Intu – which was already under financial pressure – has struggled in the coronavirus pandemic. In May, they threatened ‘robust action’ against large tenant businesses who haven’t paid rent throughout the lockdown.

The company says that for the first quarter of the year, the company only received 40% of rent and services charges which were due by the end of March 2020.

Intu Properties own nine of the country’s top 20 shopping centres and has been struggling for some time due to a shrinking high street market. 

Seth Whales

In 2018, the company made a £1.2bn loss due to the collapse of several big name retailers, along with many others pushing for insolvency plans to reduce rents known as company voluntary agreements.

On Tuesday this week, as Intu announced that KPMG was working on a ‘contingency plan’ for administration, it said: “Further announcements will be made as appropriate.

“Notwithstanding the progress made with lenders, Intu has also appointed KPMG to contingency plan for administration. In the event that Intu Properties plc is unable to reach a standstill, it is likely it and certain other central entities will fall into administration.

“In this situation, all property companies would be required to pre-fund the administrator to provide central services to the shopping centres. If the administrator is not pre-funded then there is a risk that centres may have to close for a period.”

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Holidaymakers in Ibiza and Majorca will have to wear a face mask at all times in public

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Alex Watson

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Holidaymakers who are jetting to Majorca and Ibiza will have to wear face masks, it has been confirmed today. 

The Balearic Islands have confirmed that they are tightening the rules of mask-wearing. The news comes just hours after Catalonia revealed it will be making face masks obligatory at all times in public. 

It has yet to be confirmed if wearing a face mask will be mandatory on the beach.

Only yesterday did Catalonia extend the exceptions of their rules on making people wear face masks on the beaches.

Oscar Nord/Unsplash

If you fail to follow the rules, meaning wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth, you will be hit with a hefty €100 fine.

Until now in Spain, face masks have only been obligatory in public places such as shops, and public spaces where social distancing of 5 feet cannot be maintained.

The change means tourists will be expected to wear masks also at any point outside, although practising sport or children under six are exempt. 

For those living under the same roof, wearing a face mask while travelling in the same car is not compulsory. 

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Police are expected to provide advice to foreign holidaymakers who may be unfamiliar with the new rules before they start issuing fines. 

News regarding the rules in Costa del Sol are yet to be announced. 

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Free TV licences for pensioners will officially be axed from August

It’s expected it will effect 3.7 million pensioners.

Alex Watson

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It has been confirmed that millions of pensioners will be stripped of free TV licenses from August 1st. 

The BBC has announced there will be no extension to the two-month stay-of-execution that was triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. 

It is estimated that 3.7 million over-75s will now have to pay £157.50 a year to watch their favourite TV shows. 

In the 2017 Conservative election, they pledged to protect free licenses for the rest of Parliament, which was set to run until 2022. 

However, the BBC had been responsible for the lifeline from June 2020 following a deal agreed in 2015. 

The BBC says keeping licenses free for all over 75s would cost £745 million. Instead, the corporation is introducing restrictions that mean only over-75s who receive Pension Credit will be eligible. 

BBC chairman Sir David Clementi said: “The decision to commence the new scheme in August has not been easy, but implementation of the new scheme will be Covid-19 safe.

“The BBC could not continue delaying the scheme without impacting on programmes and services.

“Around 1.5 million households could get free TV licences if someone is over 75 and receives Pension Credit, and 450,000 of them have already applied.

“And critically it is not the BBC making that judgment about poverty. It is the Government who sets and controls that measure.

“Like most organisations the BBC is under severe financial pressure due to the pandemic, yet we have continued to put the public first in all our decisions.

“I believe continuing to fund some free TV licences is the fairest decision for the public, as we will be supporting the poorest oldest pensioners without impacting the programmes and services that all audiences love.”

Shadow Culture Minister, Chris Matheson, issued a last plea for the government to take responsibility in the Commons today. 

He said: “The BBC is cutting jobs and content to pay for the cost of the licence dumped on them by the Government – and pensioners are forced to choose between eating and watching TV.”

Culture Minister Matt Warman said: “The fact is that the BBC has had a generous licence fee settlement and it is deeply disappointing that they have chosen to go down the path that they apparently are going down.

“I would, of course, hope that there is yet time to reconsider that because he is right to say that television has been vital comfort for many people in the last few months.

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Boots to cut more than 4,000 jobs due to ‘significant impact’ of coronavirus

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Lewis Clarke / Geograph

Boots has said that more than 4,000 jobs are to be cut, about 7% of its workforce.

According to Boots, the company is consulting on plans to restructure its head office and store teams, as well as closing 48 Boots Opticians stores.

A Boots spokesman has said the move was part of action to mitigate the ‘significant impact’ of coronavirus, and will particularly affect staff who work in the Nottingham support office.

Some deputy and assistant manager, beauty adviser and customer adviser roles will also be affected across its stores.

As well as the job cuts, 48 Boots Opticians stores will also close, the Mirror reports.

Sebastian James, managing director of Boots UK, said: “The proposals announced today are decisive actions to accelerate our transformation plan, allow Boots to continue its vital role as part of the UK health system, and ensure profitable long-term growth.

“I am so very grateful to all our colleagues for their dedication during the last few challenging months.

“They have stepped forward to support their communities, our customers and the NHS during this time, and I am extremely proud to be serving alongside them.

“In doing this, we are building a stronger and more modern Boots for our customers, patients and colleagues.

“We recognise that today’s proposals will be very difficult for the remarkable people who make up the heart of our business, and we will do everything in our power to provide the fullest support during this time.”

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