A group set up to raise funds for personal protective equipment has collected £226,296 and received a PPE shipment from China.

Masks for Scotland, the charity spearheaded by Jill Belch, Professor of Vascular Medicine at the University of Dundee, and supported by Scottish actors Alan Cumming and Joanna Vanderham and music producer Mr Hudson said that 20,000 isolation gowns from China are to be distributed to those in the frontline of the community this week.

Jill Belch, Professor of Vascular Medicine at the University of Dundee in Scotland said: “We are absolutely delighted to announce that these gowns have arrived for immediate distribution."

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She said: "This delivery has been made possible thanks to four key players: the UK Government who flew the gowns into Manchester free of charge, the Scottish Government who organised the customs and transport  logistics from the Chinese factory, DHL who transported the gowns to Glasgow and Angela Higgins, the Glasgow entrepreneur who arranged transport to their storage area kindly provided by Perth Airport owner, Morris Leslie.

"And of course, big thanks as well as to all the people who are giving what they can in this fight against coronavirus.

“We have so far delivered nearly 9,000 pieces of PPE all over Scotland, and these additional gowns are especially useful in protecting staff and patients from the virus. We are delighted to have them arrive safely.”

The Scottish Government’s Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation Ivan McKee said:  “We appreciate the successful fundraising of Masks for Scotland and the work of its large number of volunteers and donors who have delivered welcome donations of additional PPE to protect health and care workers.

“We have received thousands of offers of support from organisations and it is fantastic to see so many businesses and charities step up to support the national response. We were pleased to help to organise today’s delivery of 20,000 gowns from China supporting Masks for Scotland resolve logistics and customs challenges to get this PPE to frontline services in Scotland.”

Mr Cumming and Ms Vanderham earlier made videos encouraging people to donate with £15 buying a gown a mask and visor and £100 "protects six medical staff a day".

Billionaire and Stagecoach Group co-founder Dame Ann Gloag was among those who made early donations to the appeal.

French Connection has warned it could run out of cash within months if it is not able to raise funds from its banks.

The company said it had struggled to access government loan schemes designed to prop up ailing businesses, blaming "tight" constraints on which firms qualify.
Along with all other non-essential shops in the UK, French Connection's stores have been forced to close to slow the spread of coronavirus.

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The brand said it is still selling to some of its wholesale customers, and that online sales have spiked by 44% over the last six weeks. But the business has still taken a massive hit from the shutdown.

The board said it is in "active discussions" with a number of potential funders, and is confident of finding enough cash to support the business until French Connection can stand on its own feet again.

But if banks and other funding partners refuse to help out, it could leave the business in a precarious position.

"Without securing additional funding and should the current Covid-impacted trading levels continue, the company's cash resources will eventually be eroded in the coming months," French Connection told shareholders on Tuesday.
Its shares fell 7% on the news.

Management said they had "attempted to participate in as many of the Government's support initiatives as is possible".

Staff are on government-supported furlough, and French Connection's stores have picked up rates relief.

"It has however proved very challenging for us, in line with other retailers, to access any other government funds due to the tight qualification constraints that have been imposed and to date we have been unable to access any further funding from these schemes," it said in a statement.

It added: "We look forward to returning to more normal levels of trade as the situation evolves, although we do not expect this for some time to come."

Catering giant Compass has launched a bid to raise £2 billion equity to shore up its balance sheet as it warned of a "profound impact" from the coronavirus pandemic.

The world's largest catering group said the proceeds from the mammoth share placing would help it weather the crisis, which has devastated the global hospitality industry.

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The pandemic has seen schools close and events cancelled worldwide, with catering to businesses also decimated as lockdown has forced offices to shut and workers to stay at home.

This has knocked Compass hard, with around 50% of its business closed in April.
Group chief executive Dominic Blakemore warned: "The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on Compass.

"Given the uncertainty in the short-term outlook, today we have launched a £2 billion equity raise to reduce leverage and increase our liquidity.

"A strong balance sheet will allow us to weather the crisis whilst continuing to invest in the business."

The share placing comes on top of efforts to slash its cost base by £500 million a month in April, including axing its final shareholder dividend payout and cutting executive salaries.

Compass unveiled the equity raise as it posted a 16.9% plunge in operating profits to £759 million for the six months to March 31.

On an underlying basis, earnings fell 10% to £854 million.

The group had warned in March of a first-half profit hit of up to £225 million from coronavirus.

Shares in the group fell 4% after its interim results and share placing.

But Greg Johnson, an analyst at Shore Capital, said the equity raise means the group's balance sheet is now "now bullet-proofed and well positioned to build on post recovery".

Compass had already issued an alert in February over a potential currency impact of up to £745 million on full-year earnings.

But the group said at the time that cost-cutting was offsetting lower catering demand among business and industry clients in Europe.

Compass is axing up to 4,000 jobs over the next two years as part of earlier cost-cutting efforts.