The extension of the job furlough scheme has been welcomed by a baking industry suffering from the collapse of the foodservice market.Chancellor Rishi Sunak this week announced that the scheme to pay workers on leave because of coronavirus will be extended to October. It is estimated a quarter of the UK workforce is now covered by the scheme.Employees will continue to receive 80% of their monthly wages up to £2,500 until the end of July, but the government will ask companies to contribute to the cost of the scheme from August, when employers will be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time.Baking industry trade groups have said the scheme has been essential during the outbreak.Although there has been a huge increase in demand for bread at retail, many bakery businesses have been hit hard by the closure of trade customers such as pubs, restaurants and schools.“Some of our members, where foodservice is an integral part of their business, have seen a significant decrease in sales,” said Federation of Bakers chief executive Gordon Polson.“During these difficult times and while the foodservice industry remains affected by Covid-19, we believe this government support is essential in helping to ensure the future of many businesses in the bread and bakery industry.”Trade group Scottish Bakers said its members were reporting that 80% of bakery businesses had now furloughed staff, with a significant proportion of the sector ceasing to trade altogether.The organisation added that this meant almost half of all Scottish bakery shops and all bakery cafés were now closed, and that many bakers feared they would be unable to continue trading or remain viable for much longer.“This announcement by the Chancellor offers a real lifeline to many struggling small and medium-sized bakery businesses throughout Scotland,” said Scottish Bakers chief executive Alasdair Smith.“The extension will allow businesses to more carefully plan their escape from lockdown and begin to bring back staff in a more measured way over a longer period of time. This will help them build up their capacity as demand for their products begins to recover with greater freedom of movement for our population.”He added that being able to plan as far forward as the end of October was a welcome extra relief for businesses and would help to preserve many jobs in the sector.
Well-respected boxing trainer Ronnie Shields doubts the May 2 super fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Maweather Jr. will end in a knockout, even though members of both camps insist that a stoppage is possible.Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, told On the Ropes Boxing in a recent interview that he believes the “Pacman” will win by knockout.”I don’t have a round, but the thing is, we have to break him down first, and I think in the later rounds, I believe Manny will knock him out,” Roach said.Meanwhile, Mayweather Promotions chief executive Leonard Ellerbe guaranteed that the American – known for his defensive wizardry – will go for a knockout if the opportunity presented itself.”A lot of it will play out on how both fighters come out from the opening bell, but if Floyd sees the opportunity, I know for a fact that he will finish him off,” said Ellerbe during Mayweather’s open workout Tuesday in Las Vegas.Shields is not so convinced, however. “I don’t think so,” he answered when asked by On the Ropes Boxing if fans will see a knockout come May 2.”I think Floyd’s defense is too good, and I don’t believe Floyd punches hard enough, because of his hands, to knock Manny out,” he explained.He believes the bout is more likely to end on a cut than on a knockout.Shields is favoring Mayweather in the bout because the American “knows how to win, he knows how to pull out victories.””Pacquiao, he knows how to lose,” Shields said. “Floyd is a very intelligent fighter, and when you look at it, he picks you off very quickly. Once he does that, he’s a very difficult guy to fight.” Pacquiao has more power than Mayweather, Shields conceded, but is at a disadvantage because he is the smaller fighter. At the same time, Shields doubts Mayweather can knock out the “Pacman” because the American has “bad hands.””Everyone in boxing knows Floyd has bad hands,” he said. “At the same time, when he hits you, he can sting you, but he knows how to put combinations together that really take effect.””Once Floyd gets the judges to really watch him land solid punches, then I just think that Manny is not going to be able to overcome it,” he added.Nevertheless, the fight will be close, Shields said.”I really think it’s going to be a good, close fight. I don’t think one guy is going to dominate the other guy for 12 rounds, because Manny is such a good fighter,” said Shields. “But I just feel the edge is going to be to Floyd, because Floyd knows how to pull out victories. Manny has tried in a lot of fights, but in a lot of fights, he’s lost,” he added.