Enterpreneur

Royal Mint to stop production of £2 and 2p coins due to excess stock

The Royal Mint will not produce any new £2 or 2p coins for at least a decade, as its stocks remain high because of the slump in use of cash, a trend that has accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic.

The rapid decline in demand for coins has left the Mint, which has been producing coins in Britain for more than 1,000 years, with a mountain of excess stock.

It reported in March 2020 that it had stocks of £2 coins 26 times over its target, and was eight times over target for 2p coins.

The fall in the use of cash has been detailed by a report from the National Audit Office (NAO), which monitors the effectiveness of public bodies.

A decade ago, cash was used in six out of 10 transactions, but by 2019 that had fallen to less than three in 10, and some forecasts suggest it may

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Ministers consider half-term lockdown to break infection cycle

Ministers are considering a half-term lockdown as they scramble for a plan to stem rising infection rates.

Boris Johnson has been told that he has little more than a week to find a plan B if the “rule of six” does not bring the epidemic under control. He has accepted advice from the chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, that rising case numbers must be reversed in the coming weeks but has not decided how to do this.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, this morning refused to rule out a second national lockdown, saying that it was “the last line of defence” but one that was proven to work.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies is understood to have modelled a two-week “circuit breaker” lockdown to break chains of infection and prevent a return to rapid exponential growth.

It came as further restrictions are due to be announced across the North

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Sharp fall in airlines, pubs and restaurants shares as fears of second lockdown grow

Some of Britain’s biggest travel and leisure companies retreated sharply this morning as the government confirmed that it was considering a second national lockdown.

The number of new coronavirus cases is doubling every seven to eight days, and Boris Johnson and his team are mulling the reintroduction of tougher restrictions. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said that the government would do “whatever is necessary to keep people safe”.

Travel and leisure companies bore the brunt of the first lockdown, with many starved of income for months. Investors, wary of a repeat, were quick to ditch airlines, pubs groups and restaurant owners this morning.

IAG, the British Airways owner, dropped 12¾p, or 9.9 per cent, to 116¾p; shares in Restaurant Group, Wagamama’s parent, fell 3½p, or 6.2 per cent, to 52½p; and JD Wetherspoon, the no-frills pub chain, was marked down 39p, or 4.5 per cent, to 822½p.

Banking stocks

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People shopping more locally in lockdown, says Co-op

Grocery chain the Co-op saw sales rise in the first half of the year as customers shopped closer to home and ate out less during the pandemic.

Like-for-like sales in food, which strip out the effect of new shops opening, increased by 8.8% in the six months to 24 July.

Its boss said: “We are living in unprecedented times, but the response of our Co-op has been exceptional.”

Co-op expects coronavirus-related costs to hit £97m for the full year.

Chief executive Steve Murrells told the BBC’s Today programme that the boost in sales was largely down to “people shopping more locally during the crisis”.

“We’re finding that when lockdowns happen… the average basket size doubles, but also local deliveries are very popular.”

Mr Murrells added that 1.7 million new households had shopped at a Co-op store for the first time during the pandemic.

Total revenues for the group increased by

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Victoria’s Secret secures Next chapter in deal saving 500 hundred jobs

Next has agreed a deal that will resurrect Victoria’s Secret UK and save 500 jobs.

The fashion-to-homeware retailer is to take a majority 51% stake in a joint venture with US-owned Victoria’s Secret after the lingerie firm’s UK arm was placed in administration in June following weak coronavirus lockdown trading that forced all non-essential stores to shut.

L Brands, the company behind Victoria’s Secret, agreed the deal following a bid process led by administrators which attracted interest from dozens of parties including M&S.

It was revealed back in July that Next had been granted a period of exclusivity to secure an agreement – complicated by the fact that cuts to rent bills also had to be secured from Victoria’s Secret landlords.

It had 25 leasehold stores at the time of its collapse and employed 800 people.

Victoria secret

Under the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, Next gets the majority of

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