The government has provided an emergency loan to a Cardiff-based steel producer in the first taxpayer-funded bailout under its “Project Birch” scheme for firms struggling during the coronavirus crisis. Stepping in as the economic fallout intensifies, the government said it was lending to Celsa Steel UK to enable the firm to keep operating, and to secure more than 1,000 jobs at the company, including more than 800 positions at its main sites in South Wales. The government did not disclose the size of the loan, although media reports have suggested the loan would be worth about £30m.
The owner of High Street restaurant chains Café Rouge and Bella Italia has gone into administration. Ninety-one Casual Dining Group outlets will close immediately, and 1,900 of the firm's 6,000 staff will lose their jobs. Administrators Alix Partners are seeking offers for all, or parts, of the remaining business. UK firms have announced thousands of job cuts this week as the impact of the pandemic on the economy continues. Casual Dining Group, which also owns the Las Iguanas chain, applied in May to appoint administrators at the High Court as it found it increasingly hard to pay its rents.
A huge John Lewis store which only opened in 2013 may remain permanently closed. Ashford's two-storey 'at home' branch has been shut since lockdown began with no reopening date in sight. Now bosses at the department store chain say it is “highly unlikely” all of their sites will welcome customers again. Kent's other John Lewis stores at Bluewater and Tunbridge Wells both reopened last month. Ashford's shop created 125 jobs when it opened - cost £7m to build and goes across 40,000 sq ft. The store was given planning permission in October 2011 but work started on the site in April 2013 after 18 months of delays.
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