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.
Go back to the enewsletterIn a move to bring the vessels in line with Scenic Diamond and Scenic Emerald, Scenic is trimming capacity on eight of its European river cruise ships and upgrading onboard experiences for 2019.The Australian-owned luxury cruise operator has unveiled plans to slice up to six staterooms on eight of its so-called “Space Ships”, enabling it to increase the size of some existing staterooms and introduce two new 47m² Royal Owners suites.Scenic Royal Owners SuiteVessels to go under the knife include Scenic Amber, Crystal, Jade, Jasper, Jewel, Opal, Ruby and Pearl, all of which operate on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers.Passenger capacity will dip on Scenic Ruby and Pearl from 167 to 161, and will drop from 169 to 165 guests on the remainder of the fleet. The number of crew aboard the ships will remain unchanged.Scenic’s three-seat Salt Therapy Lounge.The size of the ships’ wellness centres will be boosted to include a Salt Therapy Lounge (which is unique to Scenic), along with a gym, hairdresser and massage room. The Salt Lounge is a humidity- and temperature-controlled room crafted from salt bricks that create a microclimate of a natural salt mine, said to have curative effects. The facility will feature three lounge chairs divided by curtains for privacy, low-level lighting and calming music. The Salt Therapy Lounge is available to guests to use as they desire.Scenic Diamond and Emerald, which sail on France’s Rhône and Saône rivers, underwent the same redesign last year.The bathroom in Scenic’s Royal Owners SuiteA spokesperson for Scenic told LATTE the upheaval will be carried out over the European winter when the ships are all in dry dock and will be ready for the start of the 2019 season.“[There will be] no interruptions to the cruise season at all,” the Scenic spokesperson said.Go back to the enewsletter