Tonic maker Fever-Tree saw sales from supermarkets and off-licences surge 24% in the first full month of lockdown, helping it to absorb the loss of trade through restaurants, pubs and bars.

The on-trade segment of the business usually accounts for about 50% of its revenue in the UK, so the shutdown has hit Fever-Tree sales hard. However, chairman Bill Ronald said the business has coped reasonably well during the crisis, with its core range of tonics faring especially well.

"Although we have been impacted by the Covid-19 crisis, we are well positioned to manage our way through the current situation," Mr Ronald said.

The business has a net cash position of £128 million for the 2019 financial year, he said.

"While the on-trade remains fully or partially closed across many of our regions, the group's performance across the off-trade continues to be very encouraging," he added.

"Management remain focused on delivering our long-term strategy and we are confident the group will be well placed once the current period of uncertainty ends."

Cost of UK response to Covid rises to £132.5bn

The UK’s emergency spending and tax cuts to soften the economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic is likely to cost £132.5 billion, according to the country’s budget watchdog.

The £9bn increase in the latest estimate from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) is linked to higher costs for the two wage subsidy schemes at the heart of the Government’s attempts to slow a surge in unemployment.

The OBR said the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for employees covered more low-earning workers than it previously assumed, reducing the flow of income taxes back to the Government and raising the net cost. It has also raised the price tag for the Government’s scheme for self-employed people, which was extended last week by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

The estimated cost of the Government’s emergency response measures includes the loss of tax revenues along with other tax and spending measures. The cost is now more than twice the UK Government’s total annual borrowing last year.

22 Debenhams stores to remain closed for good

Debenhams has said it will re-open 50 of its stores in England on June 15 as coronavirus restrictions are eased.

But the retailer, which recently entered administration, said it will only re-open 120 stores after a series of closures, having entered the lockdown with 142 stores.

It plans to open three stores in Northern Ireland on June 8, with its two other sites in the region opening shortly after. It will then reopen 50 stores in England on June 15, with the remainder following later in the week.

Debenhams said preparations for the re-openings are "well under way", with strict social distancing and hygiene procedures being implemented across all stores.

Meanwhile, its stores in Scotland and Wales will reopen once Government restrictions are eased, it said.