More than 2,000 employees of energy supplier SSE are set to lose their jobs as new owner Ovo announced sweeping redundancies across its business.

Ovo will ask its staff to apply for voluntary redundancy as it tries to shed 2,600 roles after the coronavirus crisis forced it to speed up integration plans, it said on Tuesday.

Around eight in 10 of these will be among the workers who came to Ovo as part of its £500 million deal to buy SSE's retail arm.

Most of the lost jobs will be among those who work out in the field, such as meter readers and home service engineers.

READ MORE: Danny O’Neil steps down as chairman of Glasgow plant-hire group GAP after 14 years

"There is never an easy time to announce redundancies and this is a particularly difficult decision to take. But like all businesses, we face a new reality and need to adapt quickly to enable us to better-serve our customers and invest in a zero carbon future," said chief executive Stephen Fitzpatrick.

Ovo said that the Covid-19 outbreak, which has forced many of its fieldworkers to stay at home, has accelerated changes that were already happening in the energy sector.

For instance, customers are now being told to read their own meters.

"We are seeing a rapid increase in customers using digital channels to engage with us and, in our experience, once customers start to engage differently they do not go back. As a result, we are expecting a permanent reduction in demand for some roles whilst other field-based roles are also heavily affected," Mr Fitzpatrick said.

Mr Fitzpatrick was expected to share the news in a live online town hall with thousands of employees on Tuesday morning.

It is a big change for the Ovo founder, who has been more used to hiring people than firing them since setting the firm up in 2009.

Already among the biggest challengers on the energy market, Mr Fitzpatrick's business ballooned to become Britain's second biggest energy supplier after acquiring SSE, the Perth-based owner of Scottish Hydroelectric.

At the time of the takeover was announced last September, Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and North Perthshire, said that he had been reassured during a meeting with SSE that there would be no job losses.

Ovo will also close two offices, in Glasgow and Reading, that it acquired as part of the SSE deal and a third, in Selkirk, that joined Ovo when it rescued Spark Energy in 2018.

Luggage brand Antler has slashed 164 jobs after falling into administration.

The company, which operates 18 stores and one concession, said it has hired administrators from corporate finance firm KPMG.

Administrators said the company has had to make the vast majority of the firm's 199 staff redundant after it was "profoundly impacted" by the coronavirus pandemic.

READ MORE: Should accountancy giants cut fees amid coronavirus crisis?

KPMG partner and joint administrator Will Wright said: "Like so many companies across the retail and travel sectors, Antler has been profoundly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Although the business was trading well prior to the virus outbreak, restrictions imposed at the start of the lockdown period prompted the closure of Antler's retail and wholesale outlets, while the impact on international travel has also significantly affected sales.

"With uncertainty over the lifting of travel restrictions placing further financial strain on the business, the directors concluded that they had no option but to appoint administrators.

"We will continue to trade the business via its online channels while we assess options for this iconic brand and would invite any interested parties to make contact with us at the earliest opportunity."

The Government has extended the size of loans available to larger businesses which have been affected by coronavirus.

The Treasury said companies will now be able to receive up to £200 million from the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), which previously had a maximum payout of £50 million.

READ MORE: Scottish Olympic medallist smells the coffee in latest business venture

It said that loans under the expanded scheme will be made available to firms from Tuesday May 26.

The CLBILS scheme was introduced last month by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to support companies with sales of between £45 million and £250 million.

It was introduced for firms who are ineligible for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) intended for smaller firms, and the Bank of England's Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF), which has been accessed by very large firms, such as easyJet.

The Government said it has handed out £359 million through the CLBILS scheme, while it has provided 36,000 loans worth more than £6 billion through the CBILS scheme.

Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen said: "We're determined to support businesses of all sizes throughout this crisis and our loans and guarantees have already provided over £32 billion to thousands of firms.

"Today we're increasing the maximum loan to £200 million to make sure companies get the help they need."

Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chamber of Commerce, said: "It is good to see the Government continue to listen to business concerns and make improvements to existing schemes.

"These important changes could make a real difference to larger firms in particular and, alongside the other lending support schemes, will help ensure that more businesses of all sizes get access to the finance they need to help weather this unprecedented economic storm."

Companies borrowing more than £50 million through CLBILS will be subject to restrictions on dividend payments, senior pay and share buy-backs during the period of the loan, the Treasury added.